Energetic, electric and educational Speaking & Evaluating – February 20th

What a packed and exciting meeting we had on Monday. Not only did we have to get more chairs, we had a full agenda with an Educational slot and three speeches, including an Advanced Speech with a Q&A session. Amanda Zwartz, Toastmaster for the evening, expertly and efficiently manoeuvred the proceedings, keeping us all to time.

Amanda has just moved house a few days before the meeting and, unable to locate her laptop amongst the pile of unpacked boxes, she had asked Lloyd to help produce and print off the agenda. Lloyd’s innovative approach to most things in life meant that he used the opportunity to trial a new format, giving our Club a fresher, cleaner, more professional looking Agenda. Well done Lloyd; we are adopting this new format for future meetings. See link.

I had the pleasure of delivering a 10 minute Educational on “How to Evaluate Effectively” – see link for notes. We also trialled a new format for the Feedback and Ballot form, encouraging everyone in the audience to write a commendation (i.e. what did the speaker do particularly well) and a recommendation (i.e. what could the speaker do differently to improve and be even better) for each Speaker and Speech Evaluator. See link for Feedback and Ballots form.

Sheena and Justin delivered their C4 and C3 speeches respectively, and as our General Evaluator Sonia noted, it was great to see how much both had improved. Double congratulations to Costa who, with his Advanced Speech entitled “Inconvenient Truths” about why Trump won and Clinton lost the US elections, won him the Best Speaker vote and marked completion to gain the Advanced Communicators Silver (ACS) award. That means Costa has delivered 30 speeches from Toastmaster manuals. Only 10 more speeches to go, Costa, to get your Advanced Communicator Gold award!

Our three Speech Evaluators, Adam, Peter and Patrick, delivered well-balanced and motivating evaluations, with Best Evaluator going to Patrick.

Undertaking the Topics Master role for the first time was Kevin Perkins who obviously had great fun devising a series of strange scenarios on the theme of authenticity. Kevin’s dramatic delivery got everyone laughing, including his seven victims, I mean, volunteer Topics speakers. They rose to the challenge, including our newest member, Sumbul Tsang. Congratulations to guest Phil Nash, who won Best Topics Speaker with an engaging tale of his tortured days working in an awful job. We look forward to welcoming Phil as a member next time…

Dave Goodman’s evaluation of the Topics’ session highlighted several commendations and recommendations, reminding the Topics Master to outline the timings involved for the benefit of new members and guests who may be less aware of how long to speak for. It’s also useful for the audience if the Topics Master recaps who spoke on what topic at the end of the session, before voting.

It was Sonia’s first time as General Evaluator, and she demonstrated just how well she had listened and observed the whole evening. She had conscientiously taken notes throughout, and her feedback was selective, specific and comprehensive – a great example of how to evaluate effectively. Well done, Sonia – we all learnt from your observations and recommendations.

Our next meeting on Monday 6 March is our International Speech and Evaluation Contest, with Lloyd as organiser. He will be in contact with you to fill roles. See you all then.

ESC President

A Virtuous Fun-Filled Cycle – February 6th

It’s February already, and less than five months remaining in this Toastmaster’s year. How are you getting on with your goals? Like all Toastmaster clubs around the world, our meetings are designed to get you speaking, learning and developing communication and leadership skills by “doing it”, getting and giving feedback – a virtuous cycle, with plenty of fun along the way.

Our newest “dad”, Stephen Taylor, led the evening as TM. Obviously not (yet) sleep deprived, and inspired by President Trump’s first three weeks’ in office, he sprinkled several “alternative facts” throughout the evening, keeping us entertained and inquisitive as to the truth… and apparently, every one of his “alternative facts” was, in fact, true. Even the one about the dead man winning the horse race.

Justin Pybus asked “What’s your earliest childhood memory?” in his Warm Up session. Amazing what you can learn about your fellow members in just 15 seconds, and just how mischievous and down-right naughty many are!

We enjoyed three very entertaining, and persuasive, speeches: Kevin Perkins’ C3 “The Boy in the Parade, Bohwon’s C9 “3 Things I Will Teach My Future Kids” and Dave Villa-Clarke’s C8: “Making a Real Difference”.  Dave won the “Best Speaker” ribbon with his speech about Project Volunteer, the charity he started 10 years ago to help orphaned children whose parents had died from Aids in Botswana.

I took up Dave’s “call to action”, and googled “Project-Volunteer.com” to learn more. We all know that Dave has a big stage presence, but actually, he’s quite reserved, especially when it comes to acknowledging his successes. My google search revealed that Dave had been awarded the BEM (British Empire Medal) in the New Years’ Honours’ list, for not only his charity work, but also for his mentoring of businesses and schools, football coaching and other “little bits” he does – like mentoring ESC members. Many congratulations, Mr David Villa-Clarke, BEM – the “people’s medal” for meritorious civil service.

Our three Evaluators were Paul Dowdeswell (well done Paul, this was his first time as Speech Evaluator), Gillian and Ian. Ian won the Best Evaluator vote, with a “masterclass” performance, explaining not just what he liked about Bohwon’s speech but also why he liked it. And in his recommendations, he highlighted what Bohwon could do differently (use more vocal variety and pace), why this would improve her delivery, and how to do so by demonstrating his recommendations.

Costa led a fun-filled Table Topic’s session on the theme of the meaning of proverbs. With 9 speakers, my sympathy was with Amanda, who had to figure out the meaning behind “The dogs bark but the caravan goes on”. Being a polished impromptu speaker, Amanda weaved a very plausible response, alluding to the possibility that Costa had somehow misinterpreted the translation of this proverb. Amanda was marginally beaten by Peter Parker who won the Best Topics’ vote with his well-structured and enlightening 2.10 minute speech about “why you won’t get to the top by sitting on your bottom”.

Our Sergeant-at-Arms, Lloyd, obviously doesn’t have enough to do with greeting guests, setting up the room, organising the projector, setting up the refreshments, filling the biscuit tin, designing surveys, calling the meeting to order, repairing broken bits of equipment… so he counted the number of “ah’s and um’s” of each and every member who dared to utter a word.

The evening was wrapped up with well-observed and constructive feedback from Patrick’s Topics’ Evaluation and Adam’s General Evaluation of all the bits of the meeting that hadn’t yet been evaluated – only to be expected from two very experienced and polished Toastmasters.

Our next meeting is on Monday 20th February, with Amanda as TM. Until then, keep practising and honing your skills.

ESC President