Achieve your most audacious goals
Rat a tat tat went the gavel, the room drew quiet as Jean in the role of Sergeant At Arms got the meeting underway right on time. With housekeeping instructions, clear and understood including “not to jump on the bus home” (in the case of a fire alarm), the lectern was passed over to the Toastmaster for the evening Bal.
Bal welcomed everyone to the meeting and gave us a brief introduction to herself and how much being part of the club had already made a difference to her personally. This was a perfect segue to the introduction of the theme for the meeting that was ‘Achieve your most audacious goals’.
Arthur was the Timekeeper for the evening and reminded us all of the allocated timings for speeches and where we could find them on the agenda. In his authentic style he finished off his segment with a fun fact that was ‘Time passes faster in your face than it does at your feet’.
Andrew was the grammarian and demonstrated the breadth and depth of his knowledge and experience by not only clearly explaining the role of the grammarian but also the choice of his words to describe what he would be looking out for including, richness, culture and embellish. A true feast for those of us that have a passion for words. Andrew skillfully connected his choice of the word of the day ‘Extraordinary’ to the overall meeting theme.
Elizabeth in the true spirit of Doncaster Speakers carried out two roles in one meeting, the first as Ah Counter in which she had clearly prepared for evidenced by the production of chart to capture any of the typical filler words. Pauses were recommended to speakers to try and avoid getting added to the chart.
There were two prepared speeches for the meeting, the first from Maria entitled, To Be or Not To Be. Maria gave us an overview of not only the difference between management and leadership but went on to explain her own personal style, complete with print outs that she skillfully attached to the lectern for us all to see. The speech was delivered with energy and enthusiasm and although it did run over time it was both informative and entertaining.
Lianna, was the second speaker with her speech entitled, Have You Ever, she immediately grabbed everyone’s attention with her opening line, asking if they had every had a near death experience. What followed was a wonderful story with a happy ending and many key messages and actions that we could all apply in our own lives.
Speech evaluations were carried out by Jean and Bridget. Jean offered Maria suggestions as to how she could condense a detailed speech topic to ensure it fitted a time slot, feedback that we could all take on board
Bridget gave Lianna an excellent evaluation, reviewing the objectives of the speech clearly and contrasting previous feedback that Lianna had been given with her own feedback. Quite a complex task delivered in true Bridget very easy style, clearly demonstrating that her priority was that Lianna received lots of commends and recommends supported by examples as to how she could apply the recommends.
The second role Elizabeth carried out was Table Topics Master, with her persuasive charm Elizabeth managed to encourage the majority of us to take to the floor with quite a challenging quest of first imagining ourselves as a famous actor and then what career we would have had if we had chosen something different. The alternative careers ranged from fire eaters to sausages (yes sausages, anything goes and the more creative the better) and in-between we had a show jumper, complete with actual jumping after a quick trot and unsuspecting guest Ian laying down to act as the fence to give us the full effect.
Andy took on the role of Table Topics Evaluator and managed to give each person a clear commend and recommend demonstrating his abilities on how to evaluate the differing styles of speakers. His quality of feedback was consistent to all speakers which takes exceptional listening, planning and time management skills, a job very well done.
Having all recovered from the joviality, the meeting moved on to the awards. As his time as President comes towards the end of the term Andy once again presented the awards for the evening. Jean was presented with a certificate for Select Distinguished Area, thus acknowledging goal attainment and dedication to the mission of the district.
The award winners were
Lianna for Best Speaker
Deborah (With help from Ian) for Best Table Topics
Sarah for Best Evaluator
Report by Sarah
Report from Toastmaster Meeting 25th January by Michael J Clarke
The meeting on 25th January 2016 was rather unusual for a couple of reasons. Firstly, the hotel seems to have misplaced our box and banner (unless someone lets us know they have it) and secondly there were almost as many visitors as members at the meeting.
It was great to meet seven visitors and some taking part in the Table Topics challenge. They all said they enjoyed the evening and would be returning to another meeting.
Jean Stewart, our President, was Toastmaster for the evening and introduced what Toastmasters was all about in her own inimitable style with lots of humour and welcomes. Her theme for the evening was ‘Enhancement’ and how Toastmasters can help everyone do that in their lives.
Because we didn’t have the box this caused a couple of challenges, particularly for the Timekeeper. Richard Bluck took the role and with not having the three coloured cards he had to improvise. Instead of the green card he presented a green pen. For the yellow card he presented an orange! And for the red card he presented a nice looking red handbag!!
Sean Gordon took the role of Grammarian and explained how he would be looking for good vocabulary and also gave us the Word of the Day – Enrichment.
We had one speaker, Stephanie Bisby, who was introduced by her evaluator Bridget Pearson. Bridget did a fine job introducing Stephanie’s speech entitled “How (not) to write a bestseller”. It was a speech with humour and some practical tips and was engrossing.
Following Stephanie’s speech there was a break, which provided an opportunity for members to get to know the visitors and answer any questions they may have had.
The second half started with the Grammarian reminding us of the Word of the Day, followed by the General Evaluator, me, then totally abusing the Word of the Day by getting it in every sentence of the introduction to his role. I explained the ‘power’ of evaluations and explained how the role had two parts.
The first was to introduce the speech evaluator, Bridget Pearson, who did an excellent evaluation of Stephanie’s speech. I did suggest trying future evaluations in the third person as the points are of value to everyone at the meeting.
The meeting then moved to the third core part – Table Topics. Our Table Topics Master was Julie Gordon. Julie had a number of topics all within the theme of Enhancement. We were all challenged to speak about how we would enhance all sorts of things. Many of the speakers were able to speak for over two minutes which showed these were great topics to work with – well done Julie. A couple of the visitors got involved and one, Ben, clearly won the Best Table Topics Speaker vote.
Shelagh Jones gave a detailed evaluation of the Table Topics Master and the speakers. In fact that detailed she went somewhat over time – an unfortunate theme of the evening. Sean Gordon gave feedback as Grammarian and along with our speech evaluator went over time. In other words everyone was disqualified from the Best Evaluator vote.
My evaluation of the meeting went over as well but I claim mitigating circumstances – I always speak to the cards and the timekeeper didn’t time me so I just went on and on and on until I felt I was well past my time and asked. Ooops.
My main point is that members should be proud of their club and proud of what they contribute, and this was reflected in the number of visitors – most of whom attended following a recommendation from someone they knew.
Thoroughly enjoyed the meeting – so much signed up to be Toastmaster next time. Hope that doesn’t put off those who weren’t there last night from returning at the next meeting. Hope to see you all there.
The next meeting is on Monday 8th February and you can find the dates of all our future meetings at https://doncasterspeakers.org.uk/our-meetings/.
General Evaluator’s Report | 23rd June 2014 | By Alison Kitchman
General Evaluator’s Report | 9th June 2014 | By Lisa Johnson
Change is Good!
This was a meeting brimming with possibility and it did not disappoint! Andrew Miller led the proceedings masterfully as Toastmaster of the Evening and introduced the guests followed by his theme; “Change is Good.” He kicked off with a slightly tongue in cheek analogy to evolution reminding us all that we’d still be slithering around on the ground on our bellies were it not for change (or was that afterwards in the bar?!)
The “main course” of any Toastmasters meeting is the prepared speeches and tonight we were graced with the gourmet feast of not one, but two, speech 10 contestants! Every member of Toastmasters is encouraged to work through the Competent Communicators manual and this involves completing ten types of speeches. Speech 10 is the culmination of many hours of practice over many months / years and whilst it’s theme is “To Inspire” it is a showcase of skills learnt in the previous 9 speeches, so body language, vocal variety, structure, stagecraft etc are all important in this speech whilst delivering a powerful, inspiring message.
Mark Powell’s speech entitled “The Letter” told the tale of 2 incidents that occurred in his role as a police officer and was a reminder to us that reward and praise often does not come to us from the sources we expect (i.e. from his bosses when he pulled out all the stops to solve an “unsolveable” hit and run case (the only clue from a 10 year old witness being that it was “a bald man in blue or black car”) and that actually inspiration came from a handwritten letter from the little girl who had been knocked down thanking him for catching the man that hurt her. There were a few misty eyes in the house when the tatty letter was produced – a simple but highly effective visual aid as Shelagh Jones pointed out in her evaluation of the speech.
Jamie Godfrey’s speech “Take a Walk on the Child Side” invited us to revisit some of our childhood pleasures. His touching tale of his twin son and daughter being delighted anew every morning by “THE BIRDIES!!” in the garden, together with a pivotal movie moment from The Lego Movie “EVERYTHING IS AWESOME” had inspired him to think about reintroducing some of the things that he had enjoyed as a child, just for fun! As we approach middle age life can become about work, paying the mortgage, juggling appointments… so why not do something that used to make you happy, be it trampolining, pogo-sticking or just collecting Panini stickers JUST FOR FUN! Richard Bluck evaluated Jamie’s speech and gave some useful feedback on volume (i.e. Jamie doesn’t really DO quiet!”). Nevertheless Jamie narrowly pipped Mark to the post in swiping the award for Best Speaker.
We had a short Education slot from our President, Gail Powell where she announced the nominations for next year’s committee and shared the sad news that this meeting would be her last as President as she cannot attend the next meeting and the new committee takes over in July.
After the break our Sergeant-At-Arms, Jean Stewart masterfully banged her gavel to reconvene and our Timekeeper, Bridget Pearson (taking on her first role having only joined as a member that week!) kept us on track for the impromptu part of the evening; Table Topics, flashing her green, yellow and red cards for the 1-2 minute speeches. Mark Powell as Table Topics Master gave us a series of “well known phrases” and asked us to fabricate a story about how the terms came about. All I can say is that he is a brave man asking Jean Stewart to explain the origins of “a cock and bull story!” and as for Richard Bluck’s “blowing hot and cold”..he had us in stitches with his impressions of a glass blower (it could have been a lot worse methinks!). The Table Topics were evaluated by Jean Stewart whose observation skills have come on in leaps and bounds and the award for best Table Topic was shared by Gail Powell and Alison Kitchman.
Throughout the evening our Grammarian Alison Kitchman challenged us to use the “Word of the Day”..except tonight to keep us on our toes it was two words of the day. Two words that sound similar but have different meanings are apparently known as an hominism; the two words chosen were “Affect” and “Effect” and they were mainly used correctly! Our Ah-Counter Michel Ediele performed the role brilliantly for the first time, congratulating Gail on “keeping him busy” with her Ah’s and Um’s! The Best Evaluator award was deservedly won by Shelagh Jones.
After Lisa Johnson had evaluated “everything and everyone that had not yet been evaluated” it fell to Gail Powell to present the awards , invite us to a Club BBQ on 24th August and remind us to “save the date” and bring along even more guests for the next meeting on Monday 23rd June!
General Evaluator’s Report | 19th May 2014
“Lessons Learnt the Hard Way”
So. What did Monday night bring us this time by way of Toastmastery delights?
Hot on the heels of the previous meeting due to the Bank Holidays in May, it was great to see so many people there, as well as a returning visitor giving us a second go.
Sean Ryan was in charge this time, taking on the Toastmaster role with his usual levels of energy and delight, clearly and precisely taking us through what Toastmasters is about and the size of the organisation.
His theme of the day was “Lessons Learnt the Hard Way”. Based on his personal reflections on the progress he’d made over time and that problems he’d faced were really just things to learn from. That things don’t happen straight away, but you need to keep pushing to see the benefits. He even brought in a fantastic quote from Beckett:
“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter.
Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”
This inspired Jean Stewart, as grammarian, to provide us with “Persevere”as the word of the day. Along with the promise of a chocolate bar if anyone managed to use it 10 times in the evening. Now there’s a glass and a half of challenge.
There were two planned speeches this evening. Richard Bluck was delivering Speech 6 from the Competent Communications Manual and was titled “Stuck at Work”. The focus of Speech 6 was to bring in vocal variety into the delivery. His story of how he got stuck in America when the Icelandic Ash Cloud went up. Richard has a very calm and measured style of delivery and was concerned that he comes across as monotone. But, whilst the variation may not be as extreme as some others, the subtlety of his intonation and variation, possibly has more impact. A very funny and engaging tale told in a very entertaining way.
The second speaker was Gail Powell and this was Speech number 10 !! This means that Gail has completed all the speeches in the first speech manual and is now able to move onto the more advanced projects. This final speech pulls together all of the lessons learnt from before and requires the speaker to inspire the audience with their message. As it is such a special speech, more time is allowed in which to get the point across, being 10 minutes maximum, instead of the usual 7.
Gail’s speech was titled “Living a Conscious Life”and launched off with another quote, this time from “The Matrix”to set up the theme of looking at things in a different way, especially if you know they aren’t agreeing with you. The specific context was to explain why she had recently turned virtually vegetarian following a number of experiences, including working with a vegan and nearly choking to death on a piece of beef. But Gail didn’t go down the ‘cute animals’route, but the impact that intense animal farming is having on the world. She illustrated the different elements of the carbon footprint created by animal flood production by using giant colour coded paper chains. The most astounding fact of the night was that lamb shipped in from New Zealand has a smaller footprint than home grown lamb, purely down to the type of feed used.
Food for thought and no mistake (or pun intended).
Following the speeches, Shelagh Jones delivered an excellent education session on what is required in the different roles of the Committee members. A useful topic as the new Committee will be voted in very soon.
Moving into the second half, the General Evaluator introduced Jean and Shelagh again who had been evaluating Richard and Gail’s speeches respectively. Andrew gave a great explanation around the importance of evaluation, as well as a comparison between Toastmasters and a Jimi Hendrix guitar solo. It’s nothing without the feedback !! Which successfully produced the biggest groan of the evening from the audience.
Following the very eloquent and well-structured speech evaluations, we moved on the fantastic improvisation round, Table Topics.
Sean Gordon had his first taste of being in charge of this section and, working with the overall theme, pulled together a series of questions around learning, failing and regrets.
Despite some pretty tough questions, everyone pulled out some cracking Table Topics.
Special highlights include a sterling performance from Bridget, our visitor of the evening, who was happy to volunteer. Despite only being her second visit, she delivered her topic like a pro, bringing in structure, fluidity and humour.
Then there was Andrew Miller (again) who, when asked to come up with something he’d regretted not asking, realised that he hadn’t taken the opportunity during the break to ask Jean if the promise of chocolate bar was true. Just in case, he shamelessly (but humorously) crowbarred in enough usages of “Persevere”to qualify for any prize, should it exist.
Moving towards wrap up, Andrew Miller, as General Evaluator, gave the overall picture and then it came to presentation time for the awards.
The award for Best Speech went to Gail Powell whilst Lisa Johnson grabbed the pennant for Best Evaluator. And, in the absence of the promised chocolate bar, Andrew was compensated by getting the award for Best Table Topic.
A really good night and looking forward to the next one on the 9th of June where we will enjoy not one, but TWO speech 10’s plus a speech from one of the advanced manuals. So really high quality to look forward to there.
In addition, we will be voting for the new Committee. So, if you didn’t make it this time – Fail Better – and get along on the 9th.
General Evaluator’s Report | 12th May 2014
“Energy and Performance”
Report by Shelagh Jones
President Gail Powell was Toastmaster for the meeting and she set the tone for the evening with the powerful theme “Energy and Performance”
From the moment she introduced the theme the room was abuzz with energy and stayed there right throughout this dynamic meeting.
The Toastmaster journey starts with 10 speeches, each one designed to teach one aspect of delivering a speech, and culminates with the final objective of inspiring your audience.
Club VP of PR Jean Stewart took on that challenge this evening and inspired us to take a fresh look at the behaviour of our young people, and the part we as adults play in that behaviour, with her speech entitled “Are teenagers out of control?”
Successfully completing that speech gives Jean the title of Competent Communicator (CC) and allows her to proceed along the Communicator path using the Advanced Speech manuals.
Following on from this provocative speech, Gail Powell partnered with Club Social Media officer Fred Roberts in an interactive Education session called “Elevate Your Speech to the Next Level” which they accompanied with a very useful hand-out packed full of tips. The whole audience contributed to a lively and valuable discussion, and many lessons were learnt eg the vital importance of preparation and practice, and the ways different people get that practice.
After the break Derek Badger used the metaphor of a Black Forest Gateau to shape his evaluation of Jean’s speech, which, unusually, was the sole prepared speech of the evening.
Club Treasurer Andrew Miller took up Gail’s theme with a round of impromptu Table Topics dealing with different types of energy eg Solar energy. As always we all took part with gusto (I am not quite sure how I ended up demonstrating ballet steps but it was something to do with kinetic energy….! ) but I particularly liked the part in Andrew’s introduction when he said that, in mastering these impromptu speeches, we are in fact mastering public speaking, as all speeches are just a series of short impromptu speeches.
What sets Toastmasters apart (and above!) many speaking clubs is the focus on Evaluation, where helpful feedback is given in a supportive and non-judgemental environment.
Fred Roberts evaluated all the Table Topics speeches; Jean Stewart was Aah counter and Sean Gordon as Grammarian gave us the word Virtuous to incorporate as often as possible during the meeting, and also pointed out the best uses of grammar and vocabulary.
After my final Evaluation of the whole meeting, Gail recognised Jean Stewart as Best Speaker, Fred Roberts as Best Evaluator, and me, Sean Gordon and Derek Lucian for Best Table Topics speeches – the second three-way draw in as many meetings!