Why do we come to Toastmasters? For the most part it is to improve our speaking skills and as a social event.
But there is always more to each meeting than that. At this meeeting I was moved by a tale involving true love during WW2, learnt the value of challenging even the most basic of assumptions (Does 1+1 really = 2) and heard a first time speaker deliver an eloquent talk on relationships that really hit home. And to top off an already brilliant evening, we then had a trumpet solo at the end. Please keep on reading to get the full story.
Jean Stewart opened the evening on time and did the announcements in her inimitable style that always gets the evening off to a good start.
We had 6 new people attend, which made it very important that the night went well. Shane Lukas was the Toastmaster (host) for the evening and he made sure that they felt welcome, and that the evening went smoothly with an easy going control of the meeting and of course and good humour. Shane’s theme for the meeting was “Best Foot Forward”.
Lianna Cairns took on timekeeper for the first time. It is an important role which she executed with a clarity and focus that is rare to see in someone doing it for the first time.
Grammarian for the day was one of our resident word smiths Shelagh Jones, who always chooses interesting and challenging words. The word of the day was Diurnal, Shelagh gave us the definition ( during the day or daily; of each day ) and some examples of how it is used in context. The aim for the night was for us mere linguistic mortals to use the word correctly throughout the night, sadly it was only used 3 times but this then gave Shelagh time to point out other good (and not so good) uses of the English language.
Richard Bluck is an experienced member and took on the role of the Ah counter with an aim to help us all reduce the amount of filler words that we use (like ah, so, urmm). He presented each speaker with what they did and some guidance, with most just using a couple of these words and just a few examples where there were a lot of repeats. Always good guidance to help us all remove these distractions from our talks.
On the night we had 2 prepared speeches, delivered by speakers who were miles apart in experience but both were delivered very well.
First was Natalia Skorczewska who was presenting her very first prepared talk called People come and go, which I found to be emotional, information and eye opening when seen from her point of view. It is a talk that I will remember for a long time. Presentation wise, Natalia has a natural style that came across very well and helped the emotion of her speech. If this was her Ice Breaker first talk, I will certainly be looking forward to her next.
Bridget Pearson is Natalia’s mentor and took on the job of evaluating her talk. Bridget gave good feedback and even used her acting skills to give Natalia some hints on what she could improve as far as body language goes. As ever with Bridget, it was an energetic and informative session that will help Natalia next time.
The second speech was by Andrew Miller. He is an excellent speaker but this time he had the challenge of preparing and delivering a talk with very little notice. His subject of A fun Challenge was indeed a challenge to the audience perceptions of mathematics, assumptions and stress and was well received by the audience. Sadly he was pushed for time and has a request which I fully back to present this again but with a bigger time slot.
Pauline Westrop evaluated Andrew, which is a tough job, but she was up for it and presented him with the good points and the areas however small that he can improve on. She also did the very important thing of addressing each Andrews pre talk concerns one by one which gave him the feedback that he wanted.
Shane then finished the first half with his second role of the evening, a 15 minute education slot called Hot to Host where he set the scene on how to host a talk using Triggers to help you get in the right frame of mind. He then opened up to contribution from the audience to share our hints and tips. A very fun, educational session that I took some tips from.
The second half of the evening was dominated as per normal by the Table Topics, our impromptu speaking segment.
Hats off to Gerard Cahill who was our table topics master. He somehow managed to get 5 of the new people speaking, which is impressive. The topics were varied, a mix of difficulties but all thought provoking and challenging in their own ways with lots of opportunity for humour. Very entertaining and the standard of the first time talkers was impressive.
Michael J Clarke took to the stage to evaluate the table topics. As a founding member and long-time toastmaster, when he gives feedback it is always well thought out and extremely useful. I particularly liked the level at which he gives his recommendations to the experience level of each person. Simple general recommendation to the 5 first timers and more in-depth to the more experienced.
The final segment of the night is evaluation where we hear feedback from various people on the night. The General Evaluator (i.e. me) gave feedback on the general and specific highlights to those that did not have feedback (toastmaster, Timekeeper, evaluators etc). As I was not booed of the stage or the subject of rotten fruit being thrown I assume I did ok.
We had an extra special ending to the evening, with Natalia (our first speaker) attending on her birthday, Bridget smuggled in her trumpet (No idea how she did that as she sat next to Natalia all night) and she led us on a Happy Birthday rendition, a good end to the night. Listen to it here!
At Toastmasters we are all about development and trying new things and having our limits pushed. With that in mind, we can vote for winners of the Evening. Jean our immediate past President gave out he awards :
5 first time speaker ribbons (that might be a record)
Best Speaker was Natalia who also won an ice breaker ribbon
Best Table Topics went to Josephine, first time attending and gave the WW2 love story that moved us all
Best Evaluator was shared between Shelagh (Grammarian) and Pauline (Speech Evaluator)
It was my first time as General Evaluator, and it was a pleasure to do so on such a brilliant night.
Meeting report written by Andy Howell
Next meeting is on Monday February 13th starting at 7.00pm at the Regent Hotel.
Guests are very welcome to attend (no charge, of course!). Probably a good idea to have your meal before you come as we end around 9.315-9.30pm!