Our Sergeant at Arms for the evening, Elizabeth Mead, started the meeting promptly at 7 o’clock, and handed over to our Toastmaster for the evening, Andy Howell, who explained the unusual format the evening would take to launch the new Toastmasters educational programme, Pathways. Instead of the usual 2 to 3 speeches and an educational session, the first half of the meeting consisted of six speakers all completing the same task: delivering an icebreaker speech to introduce themselves to the club.
All six speeches were fluent and interesting, with approaches ranging from straightforward biography, to life lessons learned, and even an innovative use of props in Jon Carvell’s speech, entitled ‘Labels’. Just to prove that it’s possible to deliver an award-winning speech at any stage of your Toastmasters career, the Best Speaker award was a tie between Zoe Robinson – the newest speaker taking part – and Andy Howell – the most experienced.
In the second half of the evening, an evaluation was delivered for each of the speeches. All the evaluations provided helpful feedback – both positives and points for improvement – for the speakers. Best Evaluator award went to Stephanie Bisby for her evaluation of Jon’s speech. Lianna Cairns then ran an entertaining Table Topic session following the meeting theme of ‘Memories’. The questions resulted in some excellent impromptu speeches, with the Best Table Topic award going to new member Janet Goodband on only her second occasion of taking part.
Maria Orlovic presented the awards and the evening finished with questions for the Toastmaster and a comment from our guest. All in all, the meeting was both fun and inspiring. Thanks are due to everyone who kept the session running smoothly, especially Jon Carvell and Steven Bisby for stepping in to the roles of Grammarian and Timekeeper at short notice.
The award winners for best in category were:
- Zoe Robinson and Andy Howell for Best Speaker.
- Janey Goodband for Best TableTopics.
- Stephanie Bisby for Best Evaluator.
Report by Stephanie Bisby (in lieu of a General Evaluator)
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
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
Oh what a night, with 3 new people, one returning potential member and some impressive first talks. It upholds the Doncaster Toastmasters tradition of having marvellous, memorable meetings.
As ever, the meeting prep started before the meeting, with the Sargent of Arms (SAA) getting the room ready and guests being greeted and assigned to sit next to an existing member.
The meeting started on time and Maria Orlovic the SAA informed us that she had the power to evict anyone who misbehaved. Now I should point out that we never misbehave, well apart from Jean and we allow that, as she is even funnier when she misbehaves a little bit.
Next up steps our President and Toastmaster for the evening Shane Lukas. Now Shane has done this before and the first time he did it, he was good, this time he was even better. In control, funny and it was a comfortable relaxed meeting, knowing that we had him to lead us through it. Shane explained things in a bit more detail than normal, recognising the fact that we had potential members attending and he even opened the floor to comment on what people thought to Toastmasters.
Steven Bisby the timekeeper came up and in his normal precise and yet funny way, told us about this role. He even kept to time himself. Throughout the night Steven was very solid, keeping precise time and waving the cards about (a bit like a mad man, but with a good purpose) to make sure the speakers, especially the first timers, could see timing transitions.
Stefan Glova was next as AH Counter, which was his first role since joining us. He is there to count all of the um’s , ah’s , er’s, etc. that we use as filler words. He did very well, presenting his opening without any notes and findings in a friendly and enthusiastic way. He had a tough job as there was only one speech and therefore less for him to find, but I think that this bodes very well for his Toast Master future.
Next up was our Grammarian for the evening. Now Shelagh Jones is very experienced and is well known for choosing a word of the day that is challenging and sometimes, in my humble opinion, very hard to pronounce. That said, it is always interesting and educational when Shelagh takes on this role.
However, this time she went above and beyond the call of duty, giving us the word Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia which means a fear of long words. To her credit, she did actually say the word out loud. Shelagh looked around the room at some pretty nervous faces knowing what we were all thinking – how the dickens were we to get that word into our talks? It took a few seconds before her smile appeared and she then told us the real word of the day (a much easier word) was Transient. There was an audible sigh of relief followed by some laughter. She tracked the use of the word-of-the-day and gave us some good examples of good grammar in the talks that help us all to think more about the words which we use.
Next we moved on to the speeches. Tonight we only had the one speaker, but Lianna Cairns filled the role of sole speaker very well. She told us about an accident when she was younger, complete with acting, bandages, dramatic falling to the ground (that looked like it hurt!) and a few wise words for all of us. Jean Stewart her evaluator commended the speech and gave a few bits of advice, which is the norm. An excellent and entertaining speech, as we have come to expect from Lianna.
To round off the first half, Pauline Westrop presented a very well thought out education slot on Competent Leader (CL) awards. This was a brilliant idea as I (Andy Howell) will be presenting a “how-to guide” on CL at the next meeting. Therefore, Pauline saw the opportunity to give the background, interesting facts and motivation for members to go for CL. The session flew by and she even made time for a few questions.
After the break, we had a reminder of the word-of-the-day from the Grammarian and we then went into the Table Topics (impromptu speaking) part of the evening.
Arthur Fenn was the Table Topics Master, and gave us a very personal theme that centred around his need for builders, tree surgeons etc. It was a very consistent theme that all of the topics sprung from and I have never seen a more interactive TT session. He also managed to get the new people speaking which is always a good thing. The talks were impressive from both new and experienced people alike and the winner was actually a first timer Jon Carvell. Jon took to the stage with a confidence, humour and eloquence that we are more used to seeing from veteran Toastmaster speakers.
Derek Lucian was the Table Topics Evaluator, and he sacrificed his chance at being voted Best Evaluator by going over the allocated time, to make sure that every TT speaker got a good evaluation on their speech. Derek is very experienced and that was obvious from the quality of the feedback and by the way that he pitched each evaluation at the level and experience of the person speaking.
As an added bonus, Jon Carvell wrote a poem during the break on the word of the day which was so good, that he was press-ganged (with no real reluctance on his part) to come up and read the poem.
All in all, a brilliant, fun and energetic night that will be remembered.
The award winners were:
- Best Speaker – Lianna Cairns
- Best Table Topics – Jon Carvell
- Best Evaluator – Shared : Jean Stewart and Shelagh Jones
Jean Stewart will be Toastmaster at the next meeting on 23rd October.
Report by Andy Howell, General Evaluator
Our next meeting is Monday 23rd October, 2017