Time for something sweet
The main purpose of Toastmasters is to get you out of your comfort zone, try something new without worrying about the outcome and discovering latent skills. This philosophy gets applied in a number different areas, not just standing up at the front and doing a prepared speech.
Tonight one of our newer members, Susie, did just that by taking on the role of Toastmaster, the person who organises and runs the whole meeting, and what a fantastic job she did too.
There’s no doubting that it is a big role, however, it is often made out to be a lot more scary than it actually is. The secret to being a good Toastmaster, as in all things, is about being prepared and Susie had done just that, meaning that her performance on the night was effortless and a pleasure.
There were a few challenges, mainly due to it being the build up to Easter and we were slightly depleted in our normally swollen numbers, which meant a lot of juggling and a few people stepping in at the last minute, but that’s all part of the fun.
The theme for the evening was Spring Forwards, Fall Back, which led to a history lesson of Daylight Savings Time which Susie blended in beautifully with the history of Toastmasters itself.
The Grammarian, Andrew, picked up on the American nature of the phrase but then shifted expectations by revealing that this, along with many other so-called American words or phrases, are actually English by origin. Consequently, the word of the day was one just such word “Candy”, a simple word but not one frequently used in this country so a different sort of challenge for the members.
A major thank you to Val, our Ah Counter of the evening. This was only her second meeting and she’s not even a member yet, but she volunteered to take on the role nevertheless, which takes a lot of guts and you can consider my hat to be well and truly doffed in her direction. And she did herself proud.
We had three great speakers this evening, Sandie demonstrating her ability to take on feedback by repeating and improving upon her speech from last time. Elizabeth demonstrated her team building and project planning skills by reporting back on Operation Christmas dinner that her local church put on last year, complete with mouth watering slides and a detailed project planning pack. Finally, Maria warned us all about the dangers of being sedentary and urged us to increase our levels of movement.
Elizabeth and Maria are more seasoned Toastmasters and yet it was they who ran over time. Tut tut. Which meant that Sandie picked up a well deserved Best Speaker ribbon.
In the second half, once the speech evaluations were complete, carried out respectively and admirably by Arthur, Lianna and Elizabeth in her second role of the evening, we moved onto Table Topics.
Club President, Andy, dug out a concept that he’d used before. We are all passengers on an airship which is about to crash. There are only two parachutes. One for the captain (Andy) and one for another person. All volunteers were given a character on the ship (owner, engineer, stowaway, barman etc) and each person had to plead their case as to why they should get the parachute.
Really impressed that we had three First Timers come up and take part in the fun: Fey, Glen and Sundip all came up and braved the stage and did really well. Once again it was demonstrated that the only barrier to moving forward is by not trying in the first place.
The Best Table Topic award went to Andrew, who basically let everyone else fight it out whilst he snuck out the door with the parachute. He also picked up Best Evaluator in his role as Grammarian, aided dramatically by quite a few people being excluded from the vote by going over time.
Our visitor, Glen, surprised us all – including himself – by coming to the front and telling a personal tale which supported the message that Maria had put forward about paying close attention to your health. As someone who had stated h
e was petrified to speak in front of others, Glen defied all expectations and came across natural and calm, so well done to you sir.
Andy brought the meeting home with the awards for the night as well as a report on all the accolades and awards that the club had been presented with at the Division Contest at the weekend, with huge amounts of credit going to Lianna, Deborah and Andrew for the welcoming video on the website, getting onto BBC Radio Sheffield to talk about Public Speaking and a noble 2nd in the said contest.
The award winners for best in category were:
Sandie for Best Speaker.
Andrew for Best TableTopics.
Andrew for Best Evaluator.
Report by Andrew (General Evaluator)
Our next meeting is Monday 29th April 2019 at 7pm start at the Regent Hotel and, as always, guests are welcome.
One of the biggest thrills I get in Toastmasters is hearing Icebreakers speeches, someone’s first go at a prepared speech is the most important one they do. Simply put, it can be seen as their initiation into Toastmasters and this meeting we had 2. On top of that, it was brilliant to see so many newer members taking on roles for the first time.
Mwada took on the role of Sergeant at Arms (SAA) and did a good job opening the meeting on time and doing the standard notifications. I think it is easy to underestimate the SAA role, it is an important one to keep the meeting flowing and to keep us on time.
Arthur took on Toastmaster and you know you are in safe and experienced hands with him. Arthur brings an informal vibe to the role that is infectious and lets you have fun while also knowing that we are in safe hands. His theme for the night was “Change can be good” which formed a solid base for the meeting and was also used as the center for the Table Topics Master. Arthur as always runs a good meeting, handling it well and taking the inevitable last minute changes or problems in his stride.
One of the highlights for me was the timekeeper role which was shared between Sarah and Evan. Evan has not done the role before but I can honestly say that the two worked together so well that I could not find anyway to improve their performance. Evan with his exuberant style, made us all laugh when calling time, yes it was just one word “Time” but somehow he made us laugh with that. Sarah did an excellent job of sharing how to do the job, a real pleasure to witness.
Laura took on the AH counter for the first time. She said that she was nervous but her natural style and confident ownership of the stage did not show this. She gave us feedback which means that she did listen for our “Ah’s, erm’s, so” etc, a surprisingly difficult thing to do for first timers or experienced. So another well done.
The grammarian has a similar job to the Ah counter, to listen and observe our language and feedback. Bridget is one of our most experienced members and it showed, with a positive and energetic feedback session that gave us a lot to think about. Her word of the day Refresh, was well used and an easy one to get into your talk.
Janet took on the Table Topics Master role for the first time, and gave us very well balanced questions. What’s more impressive is that she did them all around change, the theme for the meeting. There is no way a visitor to the club could know that this was her first time in the role. Funny, organised, balanced questions and to time, a very good first go at this job.
Talking about first timers even more, Susie took on possibly the hardest evaluation job due to preparation time, the TT Evaluator. I know I have said this before, but like Janet, you could not tell this was her first time. She gave us good feedback and I look forward to seeing her do more roles.
The 3 speeches were special.
Jonathan did his first speech on Pathways, the Icebreaker. It was funny in some ways that he said how nervous he was but apart from that, if you were really looking, the first few seconds, the speech flowed nicely on what I think were deep and personal topics. Especially to be commended was his use of notes, or in his case lack of notes. A first time speaker who does not use notes (ok he had one small post it note with headings on, but I did not see him refer to it is commendable. I really am looking forward to his second speech.
Sandie was up next with her Icebreaker speech. As with Jonathan’s, it was a confident delivery and showed us some of her sense of humour. Again, if she was nervous it was not obvious and I really enjoyed it. Another second speech I am looking forward to.
Last but not least was Jon, he delivered a speech about a SHED. I won’t go into that too much apart from it was funny, very funny while still having a heart to it. I really think that he could use this speech to enter this year’s humorous speech contest. It was nice to see Jon do a prepared speech, we know how good he is at Impromptu speaking and we have seen him do a funny prepared speech before, but somehow he keeps on getting better.
The 3 speech evaluators, Andrew, Steven and Maria all did good jobs and Andrew and Steven in particular did well in evaluating and supporting the two Ice Breakers. Maria had a tough job, she had to find some recommends for Jon speech!
At the end of the evening, our President fed back the results of the annual club visit from our Area Director. There were a few minor improvement suggestions which the committee are looking at now, but in general, she praised the spirit, fun, innovation and our presence in the area. A very good report that is no surprise but always nice to hear.
The award winners for best in category were:
Jon for Best Speaker.
Deborah for Best TableTopics.
Andrew for Best Evaluator.
Report by Andy (General Evaluator)
Our next meeting is Monday 11th February 2018 at 7pm start at the Regent Hotel and, as always, guests are welcome.
A new team but an experienced Toastmaster equals a good combination for our second meeting of the new Toastmaster year. I was looking forward to the night, we had 3 speakers, a first timer on the table topics and every indication was that it was going to another brilliant night. I was not mistaken!
As ever the night starts off with the Sergeant at Arms (SAA), or does it? I think that people sometimes do not realise how much work goes into setting the night up with our VP Education (Maria) and our Toastmaster working with people to arrange roles. They help set up the basics so that we can enjoy the night.
But back to the start, Mwada took on the role of SAA and opened the meeting on time, giving us the basics and her own story which is a strength of hers. This was the first time that she had done the role and she did well.
Then we had Lianna step up and take on the Toastmaster (TM) role which is the person running the night. Lianna always brings a energy and smile to any role she does. It was obvious from the start that she had everything under control and she handled the inevitable last minute changes or issues with a deft and assured hand.
Lianna’s theme for the evening was New Beginnings which was apt and deliberate as at the start of the TM year we see a lot of changes and challenges to people taking on new roles.
We had Deborah explain the important of Timekeeping and although she proclaimed at the start that she was not that prepared (proving this by not taking her glasses up to the front) there was no way you could tell. She told us a brilliant story on timekeeping and yet again we were all in capable hands.
Pauline took on the Ah counter role, looking out for all of those little words we use like Ah, Um, Erm and as you would expect she simultaneous (and I still not sure how she did it) put us at ease and yet watched us like a hawk.
Maria was the grammarian and her role is to look for good and bad use of words plus give us the word of the day. Inspired by her own day, she bought the word of the day – Pandemonium to life with a great story and examples of it’s use.
We had a full house of 3 speeches planned, as ever they go with the least experienced speaker going first:
First up was Laura, who did her Pathways Ice Breaker, evaluated by Maria. Her speech “Who am I” was a good way for us to get to know Laura and see how she handles talking in public so that we can help her with feedback. It is hard to believe that this was a first speech as she used no notes and she confidently stood away from the lectern. Looking forward to her next speech.
Next up was Elizabeth, evaluated by Stephanie. Elizabeth, doing her 2nd Pathways speech “What’s in the box?”. She took us to a dark place where she bravely told us, and even used props, to demonstrate her fear/phobia of buttons. To expand on her journey she gave us other examples of fears and overall did a very good and heartfelt speech.
Lastly was Steven, evaluated by Arthur who was giving his speech 9 from the Competent Communicator manual called “Everyone Needs A VA” in which he should Persuade with Power. Steven is an experienced speaker and you can tell from the way he set out the speech and aided it with props. Steven is no stranger to humour and he used it well to make his point. In the end, he persuaded me that I need a VA (Virtual Assistant) to help me with the things I am too lazy, inexperienced, unorganised or just hate doing (In my mind tax returns falls under all of those).
One thing I like about Elizabeth and Steven’s speech titles was that you could not guess the speech content from the title. I think that this can be a good way to peak people’s interest and therefore make them more interested in what is being said.
Just before the end of the first half, in response to some feedback we have had from newer members, Andrew presented a education session on club roles. It was an inspirational session, that I think will encourage new members to try roles and existing members (like me) to try that role again that isn’t their favourite. Andrew got over to all of us, that roles are there as a development opportunity and that anyone can do any role. This includes evaluation roles that can appear to be only for the experienced but in reality anyone in the club can evaluate anyone, it’s all down to your opinion in the end of the day.
After the break and a quick reminder of the word of the day we had the speech evaluation.
The Speech Evaluators all gave great feedback that I am sure the speakers will benefit from. Evaluation itself is a skill that has to be honed and it was good to see that each of the evaluators have grown in confidence. One special mention, as I was a bit jealous of her bravery, was Stephanie evaluation with no notes. This made for a powerful evaluation that was not interrupted by note reading.
Next was the Table Topics (TT), run for the first time by Jon. Now Jon is getting a well deserved reputation for being very at home doing a TT, but we were all interested to see how he was at running them. I am glad to say that his first TT was a roaring success full of humour and with topics that were challenging but easy to grasp hold off. A very impressive first time.
Bridget was up next to evaluate the TT. Bridget brings an energy to any presentation that she does but has recently, through experience, been even better at feeding back giving useful, detailed comments with examples of how she thinks they can improve..
The less said about the General Evaluator (i.e. me) going overtime on my evaluation the better. But what is a man supposed to do when there was so much good stuff in one meeting!
Yet another meeting filled with laughter from a great club and great members.
The award winners for best in category were:
Steven Bisby for Best Speaker.
Pauline Westrop for Best TableTopics.
Stephanie Bisby for Best Evaluator.
Report by Andy Howell (General Evaluator)
Our next meeting is Monday 13th August 2018 at 7pm start at the Regent Hotel and,
as always, guests are welcome.
Our Sergeant at Arms for the evening, Evan Williams, started the meeting aplomb for the first time in this role at 7 o’clock, and handed over to our Toastmaster for the evening, Lianna Cairns, who ran the meeting with both fun and efficiency throughout; it was also Lianna;s first time as Toastmaster for the evening and her chosen theme of ‘Learning and Exploration’ matched well with the evening over all, as Evan and Lianna were not the only firsts of the night.
After helpful introductions to the roles of Timekeeper, Ah counter and Grammarian from Mwada Lawan, Steven Bisby and Deborah Kershaw respectively, the main part of the evening began with three prepared speeches. Mwada and Deborah were also undertaking their roles for the first time.
Our Grammarian set our word for the evening as incredulous and I was filled with incredulity myself to see 3 such well prepared speeches, all at different levels from Pathways, Competant Communicator and Advanced Manuals – and all with different objectives and styles.
Sarah Saxelby gave us a humourous morality tale regarding her “pink dress” and her efforts to fit in it for a friends wedding, Maria Orlovic taught us that we are all onions with her rousing statement of “I am an onion” and magicked comparisons between the humble vegetable and ourselves, but the best speaker of the evening award went to Jean Stewart with “the total package” a sales speech about her own bespoke travel company which Jean mastered with her usual panache and flair. Elizabeth Mead closed the first half of the meeting with an informative educational presentation sharing her own experiences of Pathways now she has completed her first Icebreaker speech. All agreed that this was brave to share and Elizabeth even followed on with an impromptu Q&A.
After the break, Derek Lucian gave us a selection of Table Topics (impromptu speaking) prompts – all linked to the theme of the evening, asking speakers to share such as “the most difficult thing you have ever learned” “the thing you have learned today” and “when does a little knowledge become dangerous. The Best Table Topic award went to Deborah who recounted how that day she had been learning to ski and had us all laughing along with her adventure. Andrew won the Best Evaluator award for his insightful evaluation of Jeans sales speech, which included both commendations and helpful recommendations for Jean, no easy task for such a wonderful and seasoned speaker as Jean.
All in all, the meeting was the holy trinity of support, fun and education which keeps me attending every meeting possible.
The award winners for best in category were:
- Jean Stewart for Best Speaker.
- Deborah Kershaw for Best TableTopics.
- Andrew Hodge for Best Evaluator.
and Janet Goodband received her ;First Timer’ award for first time speaking in front of the group with a delightful table topic about the importance of repetition in learning– congratulations!
Report by Jon Carvell, General Evaluator (1st time)
Our next meeting is Monday 21st May 2018 (in lieu of the Bank Holiday) at 6.45pm for 7pm at the Regent Hotel and as always, guests are welcome. This will be a special Pathways ‘official launch’ speeches showcase!
What a great night once again. The theme chosen by our ToastMaster for the evening Bridget Pearson was: Embrace the change
Onboarding our new members
Just prior to this meeting the Doncaster Speakers Committee had met and had agreed on testing out an idea to help new members ‘ease’ in to the club and get a good understanding of some of the roles by asking them to shadow the Time Keeper, Ah! Counter and Grammarian.
Just before the meeting began we asked our newest attendees, Christina Narz, Diran Gill and Mwada Lawan to shadow those roles.
We had a guest, Evan, who has attended a previous session on guest evening and was eager to experience another session.
The evening was opened by our Sergeant At Arms – Arthur Fenn who then introduced our Toastmaster for the evening Bridget Pearson.
Bridget shared with the room a brief history and understanding of Toastmasters, she shared why she’s part of the club and the progress she’s made. It’s great to hear why other’s have joined and the impact their progress is having on them. Bridget filled the role of Toastmaster with confidence and humility, she was a great host of the evening and kept everything running smoothly.
Steven Bisby introduced the Time Keeper role and as we always enjoy and have come to expect, he began his explanation of the role with a humorous and related story about the British Summer Time change, that all of his clocks had automatically changed time except for his alarm clock making him late. He explained the importance of good time keeping in speeches and explained the purpose of his colour coded reminder boards.
Bridget then invited Jane Franckeiss to give the audience an understanding of the Grammarian role. Jane highlighted the fact that this was a challenge for her at the best of times and of course, this is why we take on these roles because it helps us develop those skills from a listening and observational point of view. Jane chose her word of the day as Rotund which effectively means round/spherical and can relate to a person being of that shape or it can mean a full bodied understanding of something too.
Deborah Kershaw then gave us an overview of the Ah! Counter role and like Jane, Deborah pointed out that she has the record for the most ah’s although I expect this is more her feeling than fact, we’re all guilty of um’ing and ah’ing from time to time and the benefit of this role is it makes us much more attuned to it which then helps us prevent using the word ourselves.
Owing to a last minute unfortunate cancellation of another speaker we only had the one prepared speech but what an amazing speech it was. Introduced and evaluated by Ben Clottey, Derek Lucian delivered an exceptional speech from the Advanced Communication Manual – Interpretive Reading, the 3rd project The Melodrama.
Derek’s speech was entitled ‘The Prisoner of Second Avenue’
The objectives of his speech were:
– To understand the concept and nature of the monodrama
– To assume the identity of a character and to portray the physical and emotional aspects of this character to an audience.
The story Derek portrayed revolved around the escalating problems of a middle-aged couple living on Second Avenue on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, New York City. Mel Edison, the main character, has just lost his job after many years and now has to cope with being unemployed at middle age, during an economic downturn.
It was as though we were at the lyceum in Sheffield watching professional actors, Derek’s performance was 2nd to none, it was incredibly moving, well paced and packed with emotion.
Prepared Speech Evaluation
After the break we heard a wonderful evaluation on Derek’s speech from Ben. What was particularly great for me when I listened to Ben’s feedback was that he didn’t simply tell Derek how well he’d done, he mirrored some of the tonality, body language and emotion as he explained why they were great.
Impromptu Speeches – TableTopics
TableTopics was great fun and as we had more time available, we were able to have much more of the audience participate.
Stephanie Bisby was our TableTopics Master. Stephanie explained the process, the times and purpose of the impromptu speaking to the audience and then presented her topics in a different way than the usual. The audience members who had ‘volunteered’ to participate were invited 1 by 1 by Stephanie and asked to pick a folded piece of paper at random which had their respective question/scenario. All of the questions were nicely tied to the theme of the evening and in terms of the speeches given by the toastmasters, they ranged from very humorous through to serious and educational.
Maria Orlovic was the TableTopics evaluator, and gave a really great evaluation to the room, she began with some general observations that everyone could relate to and then gave individual pointers per person. Maria was very animated, very thorough and gave a remarkable evaluation with great recommendations.
After Deborah and Jane gave their respective reports on the Ah’s!, use of language and the use of the word of the day – which was used much more extensively in the first half of the evening than the latter, Steven announced the time keeping and who therefore was in the running for best in category.
Just prior to the awards Maria gave a fantastic summary of the previous day’s competition, sharing her experience of the day and how proud and pleased she was at how well Doncaster had done and also inspired our members to put themselves forward for future competitions sharing her feelings that the quality of speeches she’s witnessed at Doncaster Speakers is definitely competition standard.
The award winners for best in category were:
- Derek Lucian for Best Speaker.
- Andy Howell for Best TableTopics.
- Maria Orlovic for Best Evaluator.
In addition, for getting up and participating in TableTopics as a first time speech, Christina, one of our newest members received the award for First Timer.
And very well deserved awards they were too.
Feedback from our newest members in the room who had been shadowing the TimeKeeper, Grammarian and Ah! Counter said that they really valued the experience.
All in all, a fantastic and enjoyable evening.
Report by Shane Lukas, General Evaluator
Our next meeting is Monday 23rd April 2018
Upon entering the room, I was greeted by the hustle and bustle of excited Toastmasters and several guests.
Debra Kershaw – the club’s VP Membership, Maria Orlovic and Andrew Miller were hard at work to ensure that guests had signed the guest book and all had seats. By 7pm when the meeting started, there was standing room only!
The night was comprised of three speeches from the Traditional Toastmasters program, and one educational session led by Accredited Speaker and Pathways Guide, Clare Crowther.
Lianna Cairns’ speech “Discovering New Zealand” drew cheers from the audience when she pointed out that it was a Yorkshire man who eventually gained the indigenous Polynesians’ trust. Arthur Fenn praised Lianna’s word choice, use of the floor and pacing, recommending that she vary her hand gestures to avoid clasping her hands.
Steve Bisby earned the award of Best Speaker for his speech “The Steve Slam,” which entertained the audience with several wardrobe changes along with a vivid and humorous slide show. Sarah Saxelby earned Best Evaluator for her evaluation, which was entertaining in its own right. She praised Steve’s physicality during the speech but added a note of caution not to turn his back on the audience when referencing the slides.
Andy Howell demonstrated advanced skills in his speech “A Trip Down Memory Lane,” Bridgett Pearson praised how he combined body language, gestures and vivid imagery in his storytelling to connect with the audience. Her recommendations included referencing the title within the speech itself.
Clare Crowther and Tina Norbury offered more insight into the what, when and how of the new educational system, Pathways. Members and guests alike were interested to hear what Pathways has in store, and how this would change the educational experience.
As Toastmaster for the evening, Shane Lukas led us through the meeting expertly. His introductions and transitions were welcoming and seemed effortless. He demonstrated how a Toastmaster can lead with a calm and confident presence.
Stefan Glova made his debut as Table Topics Master. His welcoming and cheerful smile made speakers feel at ease, as they answered deceptively simple but challenging questions about a variety of service experiences. Stephanie Bisby evaluated the 8 table topics participants expertly.
Jean Stewart kept us laughing in her dual roles as Timekeeper and Grammarian, while still explaining the roles simply for the benefit of guests.
In the role of Ah-Counter, Jon Carvell kept the humour coming with artful use of pauses and repetition.
The meeting closed with a Thank You from Angela Scott, Division E Director, and acknowledgement of all that Doncasters Speakers have achieved so far this year to build a vibrant club. President Shane Lukas accepted the ribbons the club had earned for the Dues Renewal contest in September on behalf of the committee, and then announced that meeting’s winners were:
- Best Speaker: Steve Bisby
- Best Evaluator: Sarah Saxelby
- Best Table Topics: John Carvell
Report by Angela Scott, General Evaluator
Our next meeting is Monday 26th February 2018