Happy New Year – July 2015

Open armsYes you have read it right  the new Toastmaster year started at the beginning of July so – Happy New Year.

At Shropshire speakers the ‘old’ committee stood down and the new committee stepped into the vacated shoes while they were still warm (well maybe not quite),  but we were ready to take up the positions and enthusiastically get going  in the various committee roles required to support, run and lead the club for the next 12 months.

Committee involvement is another side of Toastmasters, as well as speaking, that members are  encouraged to get involved in if they want to  as part of the leadership programme. I have taken the role of PR – something I’m not really experienced in but willing to give it a go so here I am blogging.

Our first meeting on a warm  July evening  was off to a good start with 5 guests joining us  hopefully this augers well for future weeks.

The evening started with introductions and a warm welcome from our new president Matt Hegarty.   We  heard  from the different roles for  the evening some people more than once as they stepped in for people who were absent.  The main roles for an evening at  Speakers are Meet and Greet, Sergeant at Arms , Toastmaster, Warm up, timekeeper and Grammarian.  I had the role of Grammarian and ah counter which is the person that  keeps  a tally of crutch words and ‘ah’s’  ‘and’s’ and  ‘ums’ some of which were so subtly added to the ends of words if you blinked you would miss them and also point out  good use of English and interesting phrases (in my opinion).

We listened to two speeches the first by John R, this was his second speech from the competent communication Manual which he entitled “Focus your ostrichattention”.  John gave an informative speech explaining that  if we focus our attention on one thing at a time we will do it to a much higher standard and multi tasking is maybe not a ‘skill’ you should boast about.

Hazel M  evaluated Johns speech on achieving the aims of the speech  and  giving him constructive  feedback and areas to improve.

Sam Warner was our second speaker giving a good will speech.  This speech is part of advanced speaking and was  a  Public relation focused speech.  As evaluator I had to prime the audience that we were listening with our CEO hats on.

Sam spoke about  the benefits of Toastmasters for the employees  of  ‘our companies’ but without doing a hard sell, using her speaking skills and emphasising the benefits and links to business.  This was delivered comfortably and confidently by Sam.

I evaluated Sam’s speech in the allotted 2-3 minutes  formulating  useful  feedback for Sam the particular bits that stood out and areas for improvement.  Inevitably you always think of something you could have said after you’ve sat down but that’s why we are here to practice and improve.

After our break we went on to table topics Hazel M stood in at short notice as Table Topics mistress and used her Instagram diary as a theme.  One of the other aspects I personally enjoy about Toastmasters is the ideas you pick up from people.  Hazel takes 3 pictures every day on Instagram and puts them in a diary so she has a visual diary of the year.  Hazel invited us to choose a picture from a page she chose and talk about it for 1-2 minutes.

It was great that everyone had a go including all the new guests well done.  Table topics is an opportunity to practice impromptu speaking which you may be called upon to do in certain work or other social situations.  It was quite amazing to hear what experiences  people could talk about from just a picture.

The meeting came to an end on time and one of our new guests won the raffle of a mini bottle of champagne provided by Sam as she is now Area Governor.  Jill Ming eloquently gave her evaluation as General evaluator which mops up evaluation of roles not already evaluated and also how the whole evening went.  I reported back on the um and ah count and use of my word of the day which was ‘Augur’  which wasn’t used a lot in fact one person managed to get it in while talking.

Always a night of learning and enlightenment, encouragement and support with a smattering of laughter too.




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