Word Power and Pushing the Boundaries with Humour – Seeing the Old TMI Year Out In Style!
Last Wednesday, 23rd June, was the very last Brighton and Hove Speakers Club meeting of the Toastmasters year. The current Committee officially bows out on 30th June and the new one takes office on 1st July. It was a beautiful evening and England had just beaten Slovenia in the World Cup so spirits were high. The meeting was surprisingly well attended considering what great weather it would have been for paddling on the beach or sitting outside a seafront hostelry with a pint. What a tribute to the club it is that people would still rather come and enjoy a great evening of public speaking. A shame we couldn’t have held it on the beach, something I believe the new Committee may actually be considering. What do you think?
Our meeting began with a very confident call to order by first-time Sergeant at Arms, Dawn Matthews, making good use of the ceremonial gavel presented to us by Dave Sutcliffe. The gavel has now actually been engraved “Sutty’s Gavel”, so his name is commemorated in perpetuity as our benefactor – unless someone loses it.
Our very capable Toastmaster for the evening was Alex Marshall, making a welcome return to the lectern after some time away from us. We were well warmed up by Nicola Kietz, another first-timer, asking us to consider what we felt our individual achievements had been during the outgoing Toastmasters year.
Charlotte Blant’s CC2 speech revealed a great deal about her wardrobe habits as she confessed to resorting to the final indulgence of letting Debenhams’ Personal Shopper dress her. Paul Matthews, also on his CC2, focussed on the power of words and then Peter Cornwell, by way of his ACB3 project from the “The Entertaining Speaker” Manual, did exactly what it said on the tin. We were certainly entertained and more than a little amused by a string of shaggy dog stories of doubtful veracity which purported to be from Peter’s past life! Their speeches were evaluated, respectively, by Brendan Hayden, Bhanu Rao, and Mike Flannery.
Our Table Topics item was run by Eric Haworth, who asked each of his volunteers to inhabit the role of the team coach for a high-flying Tiddly Winks team taking part in a vital championship match and give us all a an inspiring pep talk. Although I’ve never taken part in such a tournament in my life even I felt like tiddling the nearest wink, such was the enthusiasm they all inspired.
Vinu Mohan was a very efficient Timekeeper, delivering a thorough and detailed report at the end of the evening. Dave Sutcliffe was also very observant as our Grammarian and his word for the evening, “victory” (in honour of the England Team’s win that day) was quite frequently used. Mary Thomas gave us a thorough General Evaluation after all the speaking was done.
At the end of the evening the “Sutty Gavel” was ceremoniously passed to the President Elect, Mike Flannery, who will be taking office officially on 1st July.
This will be the last meeting report that you will get from me as I relinquish the joint roles of President and Vice President Education at the end of this month to hand both jobs over to Mike Flannery and Charlotte Blant respectively. I know that you will give both of them, together with the rest of the incoming Committee, your utmost support. I can’t stress how much your Officers really rely on the support and feedback of members. Without such a good membership as we have now we would not now be looking forward to an exciting 20010/11 Toastmasters year with a full and enthusiastic Committee. Although it’s been challenging at times I have very much enjoyed this year and I think I can speak for the rest of the Committee when I say that serving on a Toastmasters Club Committee is one of the greatest learning opportunities anyone can have. If you are serious about building your leadership skills as well as your communication skills I strongly recommend taking the opportunity the next time it arises – this time next year.
In order to help your new Committee keep things running smoothly there are a few things I would ask members to note:
Please let Charlotte know, as soon as possible, what the title of the speech is to be. The agenda looks so much more interesting when we have a speech title to whet our appetites for the speech. It’s a great way of getting your audience interested even before they arrive at the meeting. Seeing an intriguing title on the agenda might even just be the thing that persuades someone whether to attend or not.
Please also supply the time allowance for the speech. Although most of the CC speeches are 5-7 minutes, the final one is longer and the Advanced Communicator manuals have speeches of many different lengths. It can completely throw out the timing of an agenda if the correct timing has not been advised.
Please always bring your speech manual with you and ensure that the relevant page has been filled in by your evaluator. Write the title of your speech, the evaluator’s name and, most importantly, the date of your speech at the top of the evaluation page. This information is important as it is required when your award is registered after completion of the manual. Don’t rely on your evaluator to complete that information. It is your responsibility!
Try to make contact with your Evaluator before the meeting in order to advise any particular points to which you wish him/her to pay attention.
Finally, please remember that there is currently great pressure on speaking slots so think ahead and book your next one as soon as possible. Even if it seems as if you have a long wait for your speech, GET IT PREPARED EARLY. Sometimes someone has to pull out at the last minute and a slot becomes immediately available. If you already have a speech prepared you can slot into the gap, which helps you to get started and prevents there being an awkward empty slot on the agenda.
First of all, if you are a new member, do try to get yourself on the agenda as soon as possible to do one of the less demanding roles like Sergeant At Arms, Timekeeper, Warm Up. You can do any of these in the run-up to the meeting at which you are scheduled to do your icebreaker. You can also take the opportunity to participate in Table Topics whenever it presents itself.
Please remember to always bring your Competent Leader Manual and get someone to complete the short evaluation section for the role you have undertaken. Roles that count towards your Competent leader award are always marked with (CL) on the agenda.
When taking part in any meeting, if you are going to speak from the front please don’t forget to shake the hand of the Toastmaster or whoever is handing over to you. This signifies that the floor is now yours for the duration of your item. Of course you then need to remember to shake the hand of the Toastmaster or to the next participant in order to hand the floor over to them.
Don’t forget to use the salutation – “Mr/Madam Toastmaster, fellow Toastmasters and welcome guests” for the main items, particularly speeches and topics. This makes your contribution inclusive and signifies that you are speaking to everybody.
Just before I sign off I’d like to take the opportunity of congratulating Peter Cornwell and Meg Heyworth and the Worthing Speakers Club, now officially registered with Toastmasters International as a “pre-charter” club. This means they will soon receive their charter and become an official Toastmasters Club. I know it’s taken a lot of hard work and determination to get there so well done them!
Finally, thank you all for your help and support during my presidential year and particularly those members who took the trouble to personally express their appreciation to me after the meeting. It’s always nice to be appreciated! Thanks too to the other Committee stalwarts for the past year, David Robertson, Eric Haworth and Paul Rawlings.
I look forward to meeting with you all as the Immediate Past President on 14th July.