Nicely Chilled – 19th June

Our final meeting for this TM year and it was the hottest day so far this year. So, it was wonderful to find ourselves nicely chilled, sitting in the well air-conditioned Azalea Room at Bourne Hall with experienced toastmaster Penny Williams at the helm as TM for the evening. Ian, as Club Secretary, took us through a quick EGM to elect Katy Minson onto next year’s Committee as Club Secretary. Then it was business as usual.

City worker Rowan breezed in just in time to do the Warm Up, with a very relevant question: “what does Summer mean to you?”  Mangoes, watermelons, sailing, surfing, biking, BBQs, cricket, fresh water swimming, cannabis…and more cannabis, apparently. Interesting what one learns about one’s fellow members…

Always great to have C1 speeches on the Agenda, and tonight we had two. Despite running over time, we learnt about the many entrepreneurial adventures and ventures of Timur Ganiev, originally from Uzbekistan and now a resident of Sutton, in his Icebreaker speech. Local Ewell resident Katy Minson wowed us with her story-telling skills, giving us a glimpse of her generous and focused nature and personality. Justin’s C4 speech with the title “Immigration Laws are there to protect us” was thought-provoking and controversial, leading us to his conclusion to take time to question statements so that “the truth will set you free”. Our fourth speaker was Peter Parker with an Advance Speech entitled “New Opportunities”. Winner of the Best Speaker vote went to Katy.

Paul van der Hagan joined Sonia, Ian and Charlie to deliver Evaluations. As a first time evaluator, Paul did a nice job highlighting Timur’s existing speaking strengths and what to work on. Congratulations to Ian who won Best Evaluator for his comprehensive feedback on Justin’s speech.

Gillian led the Topics session, with the theme on giving her advice on a range of topics from what to do about the dent in the car to what to do when you can’t get to sleep. Guest Emma won Best Topics with her insightful speech about what to do when you can’t stand your best friend’s new boyfriend.

Our very attentive Topics Evaluator, Aishi Lim, gave a commendation and recommendation to all 9 Topics speakers, while General Evaluator, Amanda Zwarts, effortlessly reviewed the evening’s proceedings before we adjourned to the warmth of the Wheatsheaf’s beer garden.

Many thanks to all my Committee members who’ve helped make my year as President especially fun and fill of learning. It’s with great pleasure that I hand over the President’s “gong” to Peter, who takes on this role from 1 July. Celebration time – see you at President’s dinner next Monday at Thames Sailing Club.

ESC President

Taking time and space – June 5th

It’s been a hell of a fortnight since our last meeting, with the terrorist attack in Manchester followed by the horror of the attack so much closer to home in London on Saturday. Justin Pybus, TM for the evening, led a fitting one minute silence to pay tribute to the victims killed and wounded. Taking time to stop, to pause, to breath, to reflect – a very welcome space for all.

“Where were you and what were you doing at 10.08pm last Saturday night?” was Elizabeth’s very pertinent Warm Up question. It connected us to those tragic events, and the responses gave illuminating insights into members’ lives. It was comforting to know that I wasn’t the only one tucked up in bed!

And thus began what was, as Stephen Taylor, General Evaluator, put it: “one of the most enjoyable evenings ever”. Justin had been working overtime before the meeting, liaising with the speakers and working out the Agenda and timings. He had the added challenge of fitting in 5 speeches – the most we’ve had in one meeting. As Stephen noted, Justin’s introductions and transitions between speakers showed how well he was listening to the speeches, as well as knowing each speaker’s objectives. Not bad Justin, for a first timer in the role of TM.

We had a wide variety of speeches – a C2 from Sumbal about building confidence, a C3 from Rohan on mindfulness, a C4 from Kevin Perkins about selflessness, a C10 from Bohwon and a very special non-Manual “Father of the Bride” speech from Paul Dowdeswell. Without exception, all speakers performed admirably, as noted by their respective Evaluators Gillian, Amanda, Ian, Costa and Adam, who “facilitated” Paul’s evaluation by crowd-sourcing feedback from the audience.

It was a pleasure and privilege to witness Paul’s speech. This was his dress rehearsal before the real deal which takes place on Saturday 17 June at his daughter Charlotte’s wedding, the main reason for Paul joining Toastmasters. It’s great that Paul’s not only staying on and continuing his Toastmaster journey after the nuptial event, he’s going to be our new Sergeant-At-Arms.

Taking the honours for Best Speaker was our elegant Dr. Bohwon Kim, with her C10 speech entitled “Unstoppable”. Professional, polished, poised, as well as humble, humorous and hilarious – Bohwon demonstrated so well the many lessons she’s gained on her Toastmaster journey through the CC manual. I particularly loved how she showed how much one is communicating BEFORE one even opens one’s mouth. Bohwon communicated with her eyes, her face, her body, her gestures, as well as her tone, pitch and pace. A whizz-kid with super Korean genes, Bohwon – who has a Ph.D. in Engineering (in French from Paris) – expressed her gratitude to ESC members for helping her build her confidence to speak in public, enabling her to secure her dream job at the top university in London – Imperial College. And her next goal? Ladies’ Captaincy at her golf club, just so that she can get that reserved car parking space! As Costa, who won Best Evaluator vote, noted: Bohwon is now a very “Competent” Communicator indeed.

Adam led a relevant and highly amusing Topics session. With the General Elections coming up on Thursday, the theme was “what would you say if you were canvassing to be the next Minister of….important stuff like….Public Good Manners, Fun and Laughter, French language for all UK citizens, or Standardised Haircuts (like in North Korea)?”.  Despite a tight timetable, six brave souls took to the podium and delivered some seemingly not dissimilar rhetoric aka politicians in real life. Congratulations to the Minister for Banning Domestic Pets, Katy Minson, for winning the Best Topics vote against some formidable candidates.

Dave Lane, acting SAA for the evening as well as Topics Evaluator, with his keen eyes and ears, was able to give commendations and recommendations to all our aspiring politicians.

Our final meeting for this Toastmaster year is on Monday 19 June, with Penny Williams as TM. See you all then,

ESC President

HOW TO! – Act as Grammarian

HOWTOWords are fascinating and we use them each and every day. The role of Grammarian is to listen to see how words and grammar are used in a speech, evaluation or topic and to pick out good use of phrasing, whether it brought pictures into the mind and also to comment on bad use of grammar.

The Grammarian should also listen for unusual words. We are advised to keep it simple and not complicate any speech with long words that may not be understood, but some unusual words may add to a speech.

The Grammarian really needs to listen well to enable them to report back to the members at the end of the meeting of how those performing provided interesting phrases and colourful words and where a presentation may have been improved by the use of different words or phrases.

Other items to watch out for are the continual use of ‘filler’ words, the dreaded ‘um’, ‘basically’, ‘actually’, ‘yknow’ etc. They can become very irritating and detract from the message the speaker is endeavouring to put across to the audience. Maybe some people do not notice these non essential words, however if you really listen they will become a blight to the message.

As Grammarian you can pick up on these aspects of speech and give feedback on how these have detracted from the speech and give examples of how not to use them, i.e. use the pause instead.

Your report should not be overlong, give examples of good and not so good grammar, words that you particularly liked and also how the use of unnecessary ‘filler’ words need to be curbed.

From Speakeasy 151 – September 2011

Hints and Tips – Ask Your Mentor

Don’t be afraid to ask your Mentor for assistance or for anything that will help you benefit from your membership of ESC. Remember, Mentoring is a two- way process where the Mentor provides guidance and help to a newer member and they also benefit from reviewing the Communications and Leadership Manuals.

From Speakeasy 27 – June 2001