Standing still is the path to stagnation and the beauty of Toastmasters is how easy it is for people to grab opportunities to push themselves, even if by just a little bit. Appropriately, the theme for this week’s meeting was “Learning and Development” and our Toastmaster of the evening was Jon Carvell, who has been a member for only three weeks and straight away has taken a stab at the top job of the day.
Providing an extra jangle to the nerves was the healthy number of new faces in the audience. As well as a couple of visitors, we also had four new members amongst the throng, which can throw an extra bit of responsibility onto the shoulders. We must of course, welcome aboard Diran, Hussain, Mwada and Christina and look forward to their first steps within the club.
In the meantime, Jon Carvell carried out his duties with aplomb, giving a great introduction to the meeting and setting an engaging and welcoming atmosphere. Above all, I felt like the front of the stage was a safe place to be, entirely due to the way that Jon had set things up.
The various roles being undertaken for the evening were introduced by Jon with grandeur and humour as he created dramatic titles for each position, including the Princess of Prose, Stephanie Bisby who, as Grammarian introduced “Endeavour” as word of the day. From there it was onto the meat of the meeting.
Unusually, we only had one speaker tonight. Lianna Cairns with a speech entitled “What is Phonics”. This was the 8th speech from the main programme, of which there are 10, so Lianna is very close to being awarded the Competent Communicator award. The them for this speech was to Get Comfortable with Visual Aids and Lianna chose to use a combination of slides and props to get her message across.
Lianna’s was able to draw on her experience as a primary school teacher to educate us all about how the English language is taught these days and the things that every child has to learn. An introduction to Phonics, the current curriculum system, was an eye opener for a number of people in the audience, the majority of whom are probably more familiar with the old parrot fashion approach to learning. I even learnt how I should have been holding my pen all these years. Let’s see if that can improve my handwriting.
The second half saw eventual evaluator award winner Jean Stewart, give a glowing review of Lianna’s speech followed by the improvised section of the meeting, Table Topics. Organised by Arthur Fenn this week, volunteers were given various scenarios where they had to give a farewell speech to someone that was important to them. Challenging but interesting, the award for best Table Topic of the evening was given to Becky Pennington, President of the Sheffield club who was visiting this evening in order to ensure that Doncaster Speakers maintain the high standards that they have developed.
One of the most challenging roles of the evening is that of Table Topics Evaluator, as the feedback is delivered almost instantaneously. Stefan Glover took on the challenge for the first time and in his second language. Another great example of pushing oneself.
The next challenge for everyone is the Club Competition, which takes place at the next meeting on 12th March. Everyone is welcome to attend and get involved in some way, shape or form – in fact, one of the day’s new members has asked to compete in the Evaluation contest. Not even 24 hours on the register and he’s already pushing to seek out new experiences. Excellent effort.
This means that the next meeting of the usual format will be on 26th March, but anyone wanting to visit and watch a competition in action is more than welcome to do so.
In conclusion, it was great to see so many people taking steps to learn and develop by pushing themselves into new places. At the same time, everyone can choose the pace that suits them, so those steps can be tiny little ones.
As a wise man once said, “It’s not the pace at which we move forwards that matters, but that we move.”
I look forward to seeing you all at either the competition on the 12th March or our next regular meeting on 26th March.
The award winners were:
- Best Speaker – Lianna Cairns
- Best Table Topics speaker – Becky Pennington
- Best Evaluator – Jean Stewart
Report by Andrew Miller, General Evaluator
Our next meeting is Monday 12th March 2018 which is a club competition