Evaluating our Open Evening
Derek (pictured on the front page of our website) took on the role of General Evaluator at our recent Open Evening. Here’s his report…
Congratulations to Doncaster Speakers Toastmasters on a hugely successful first “Open Day”. The Club rose to the occasion in the presence of a record number of guests, by holding an efficient and smoothly-run meeting once again.
Some of the time allocations for roles were shortened to give more time for interaction with the guests at break. Bearing this in mind, the report by the General Evaluator was to be as brief as possible whilst still giving the visitors a taste of what Toastmasters is all about. I think we all managed to portray our Club as having a good blend of professionalism and people having fun on the evening. As General Evaluator, I observed that members of this Club are clearly competent in the business of running a meeting. Top marks go to Yvonne McGowan who didn’t miss a beat while introducing her slot as Timekeeper as two late arrivals threatened to, but in the end did not, disrupt the proceedings. Doncaster Speakers showed the level of attainment that can be reached in a relatively short period of time by dedicated and committed membership.
It could be said that one thing of which we are all guilty is inconsistency when it comes to the small matter of segues. I am referring to those brief snippets of time in between the role introductions, speeches, table topics and reports, in which we are given an opportunity to provide a personal reaction or commentary – to offset the dry, business sections of the meeting. Some of us do it some of the time, but no one does it all of the time. A suggestion might be to give a bit more of a “personal” or biographical sketch of the speaker coming up to give a speech, anything to show we’re here for more than just to participate in a serious meeting.
A wonderful example illustrating this came from Toastmaster Louise Roffey with, “…wish you an enjoyable evening, particularly those of you who are here for the first time”, when introducing her role as Ah Counter. Another noteworthy instance came from Richard Bluck as he concluded his Table Topics session introduction with, “Good luck everyone”. He also gave some quick reactions/comments to each table topic speaker as soon as they delivered their talk. As I said, we could do with more of this throughout our meetings, i.e. become more “segue savvy”, which I think adds interest to the meetings.
This club has grown in leaps and bounds, with such a pace that it is difficult to appreciate just how far individual members have come since joining the group. One of the advantages of being responsible for the General Evaluation is that one takes the job of observing, listening and paying attention a little more seriously than one does normally in a meeting. The downside is that I feel I cannot bask in the joy of listening to a speech or table topic because I am busy making notes. One thing that I noticed was the employment of different evaluation and communication techniques. Fred Roberts began the introduction of her role as Grammarian with a question, as did Derek Badger when he began his speech. As we all know, starting with a question is an immediate attention grabber,… isn’t it? Several individuals used the well-known “sandwich technique” or C-R-C method of delivering an evaluation. For a club that has not been around for very long, there is a high level of sophisticated technical ability being exhibited by its membership.
In summary, we’ve got the basics down to an art; the meeting started on time, guests were made to feel welcome, the room was set up properly and housekeeping matters were addressed at the opening of the meeting. The Toastmaster of the day introduced the committee, gave some background information about the club and ran the meeting in a manner befitting of an accomplished Toastmaster. The speeches were top notch as were the evaluators of those speeches. The table topics were, as always, a highlight of the evening, with one of our welcomed guests, (Jean) being voted the best table topic speaker of the night.
The meeting ended on time with a feeling that the evening was enjoyed by all and anticipation that there will be soon some new members gracing the stage at the Base on Monday nights in the Doncaster Speakers Toastmasters Club.