Report from Toastmaster Meeting 8th February by Andrew Miller
It was a real pleasure to get back to Doncaster Speakers tonight. Due to a combination of Christmas and holidays (oh, the humanity), this was my first proper Toastmasters meeting since November.
Michael J Clarke was our Toastmaster for the evening and he set a very apt theme of “It’s a Journey”.
As well as our own personal journeys that we go through as we gain experience and learn new things, Toastmasters itself has gone through its own journey. From its humble beginnings back in 1924, it is now a truly global organisation with a membership equivalent to the population of Bradford. Now there’s a fact to chew over.
Bridget Pearson was our Grammarian for the evening and set us a challenging word of the day in “Peregrination”. Tied into our theme, it means a journey, especially a long or meandering one. Amazingly, the word was used quite extensively. I suspect I heard that word more times tonight than I will do for the rest of my life. Even if there was heavy use of the “crow bar” to get it in some times, it was good work by all the members.
It was also good to meet the two visitors this evening. Ben Mullins was back for his second visit and brought with him his business colleague, Simon Taylor. Good to meet the two of you and I look forward to seeing you both again soon.
We had two really great speakers this evening. Jean Stewart and Shelagh Jones, both doing speeches from Advanced Manuals.
Jean was playing to her strengths by delivering a project from the Humorously Speaking manual. “Promoting to the over-50s”, a slightly less than serious insight into the marketing techniques used by Saga holidays, funeral planners and equity release agencies.
With a complete change of pace, Shelagh was working from the Storytelling manual and had to deliver a known Folk Tale. So, we all gathered round her closely in a half circle and pretended to be 8 year olds as she regaled us with her interpretation of Little Red Riding Hood.
Two very different types and styles. How do you decide who to vote for? Well, it turns out we couldn’t as the vote for best speaker ended up being a dead heat, which felt about right.
To wrap up the first half, I facilitated an Education Session around “What Toastmasters has done for me”. I think it’s important to remember why we come to these meetings. The reason isn’t to win ribbons and complete manuals. There is a real world benefit and we heard some of those examples tonight, including being comfortable in doing a presentation to a group of children, becoming a recognised expert on local radio and helping with the rehabilitation of prisoners.
After the break we had Stephanie Bisby and Andy Howell come up and evaluate Jean and Shelagh’s speeches respectively. Both gave really strong and clear presentations, well structured, supportive and useful and I was really impressed with the standard, not having seen either of them evaluate before. Very well done.
In fact, when it came to the vote for Best Evaluator of the evening, the prize went to a very deserving Andy.
In the meantime, he was back at the front to oversee the Table Topics round.
Once again the journey theme was brought to the fore, with questions such as “Your most memorable journey”, “The first holiday you remember” and “If you could travel anywhere in time and space, where would you go?”
Well done our visitor, Simon, for volunteering to make his debut on the Toastmasters stage by taking part in the TT session. He gave a very good mini-speech on his own personal journey of self improvement.
The winner of Table Topics was, very much to my surprise and delight, me !! “Name three people that I would share a journey with on the Orient Express”. After bluffing my way through the first two (including Hercules Poirot. Well you would, wouldn’t you?), I suddenly remembered I’d better add my wife to the list. Otherwise, there would have been a murder that really wouldn’t have taxed Mr Poirot’s little grey cells to any length.
Some extra thanks you’s to Sean Gordon for evaluating the Table Topics and covering the Ah Counter role when Julie lost her voice. Alison Turner did a sterling job as Timekeeper and the whole evening was wrapped up by our President Jean Stewart.
The next meeting is on 22nd February. We have two speakers lined up, including an Ice Breaker from our newest member Steven Bisby. We also have an education slot from a Toastmaster legend, Phil Heath, who has offered to come down and give us tips on how to use our voice effectively.
Should be a really good meeting, so make sure you get yourself down there.
Have a good couple of weeks and I’ll see you on the 22nd