Determination, Commitment and Practice – 21st November

A (not so) subtle reminder to members we miss at meetings…

Being a Toastmaster member means more than simply making a commitment to your self-development. You’re also making a commitment to the Club and it’s members. We need you to attend meetings regularly and to fulfil meeting roles and assignments – two key points which form part of your “Toastmaster’s Promise” which you signed up to when you joined (remember the fine print?!).

So, please, please do try to make it to all meetings – and if you can’t, then please, please send your apologies to our Sergeant-at-Arms and/or the Toastmaster for the evening.

…and this is what you missed on Monday

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Yes, it was a dark, wet and cold evening on Monday, as predicted by our multi-talented Toastmaster for the evening, Bohwon Kim. And despite train cancellations and delays leaving her stranded in Wimbledon, Bohwon’s sheer determination and commitment resulted in her getting to Bourne Hall in time, thanks to a very speedy taxi and managing to dodge much of the traffic.

With the Rose Room decked out in crafts for sale for early Christmas shoppers, we were relegated to the wider Azalea Room for another engaging and educational evening. Ian warmed us up by asking us to make one prediction for “this time next year”. His own prediction was … Catherine pregnant with baby number 3!

Three well prepared and very informative speeches: Justin Pybus giving his C2 on his three steps to Self-Discipline; Tom Beattie’s C2 on how to get a good night’s sleep; and Professor Paul Dowdeswell’s (as Bohwon called him) C3 speech about the miracle of the Blue butterfly and biodiversity. Congratulations to Tom for winning Best Speaker – again, as he won it for his C1… although that was almost a year ago! Message not just for Tom, but for everyone – draft your next speech NOW!

Evaluators Peter, Aishi and Gillian gave insightful feedback, with Peter and Aishi voted joint Best Evaluators. Sonia led an intriguing Topics session with a bag of one pence coins – did you know they were introduced in the UK in 1971? The task for Topics speakers was to pick up a coin, look at the year it was minted, and then to speak about that year. We had 9 speakers, including all 7 guests, and to my pleasant surprise I got the Best Topics ribbon!

AND THEN… what a performance Mr Warshawski gave as Topics Evaluator. No notes, which is the norm for Charlie, he manages to thrill us all with perfect recall of every speakers’ name in the right order, give and demonstrate commendations and recommendations, and make it all look so easy. I asked Charlie how he does it and he tells me there’s no secret – just pay attention, listen well, and practice, practice, practice and keep on coming to meetings.

Patrick rounded up the evening with his honest General Evaluation, reminding me to remind all members of their Toastmaster’s Promise.

Our next meeting is Monday 5th December, with our VP Membership, Gillian Prior as TM for the evening.

Doris
ESC President

HOW TO! – Evaluate Like a Pro

HOWTOToastmasters are a courageous bunch. Not only do they come and give speeches in public – one of the well documented fears – but they are also prepared to receive open and public feedback in front of their peers. As evaluators, we owe it to them to do our very best. Evaluating a speech is the ultimate expression of mentoring for a public speaker. The evaluator is there to offer guidance, advice and encouragement, and their role is key to the speaker’s development. So, what are the skills that need to be developed?

Observation skills: a combination of careful listening, note taking and ignoring the inner voice which may distract us. By the time that the target speech has been delivered the evaluator needs to have noticed and recorded all the relevant points. Notice everything – major and minor points; strengths and areas for improvement. And focus your observations around the objectives for the speech.

Real time organisational skills: in most Toastmaster clubs we will have 15 minutes or so to write our evaluation before delivering it. This limited time requires the evaluator to think and plan quickly. It’s a good skill to develop, but it is challenging. Have a template or a proforma to use, and write up the notes into some order, rather than go to the lectern with all of the scribbles made when observing the speech.

Encouragement: the evaluation speech must be encouraging. Drawing out the positive aspects of the speech, noting how much progress the speaker has made, and painting a picture of where their speaking career is heading.

Challenge: the speaker will learn most from the recommendations made to them. These need to be relevant, meaningful and delivered sensitively. It is useful to have some phrases to introduce a recommendation, e.g. “my encouragement is to try xxx”; “perhaps xxx could be considered next time” “I was wondering whether xxx may work better”. Also, look for the less obvious points to note. Chances are that the speaker will be aware of their major errors, but may not know about the minor ones – nuances, often used “tell” words (you know, actually, now, so), and you will be providing a great service by pointing these out.

Managing our own anxiety: sometimes evaluators are reluctant to offer recommendations for fear of offending, or they make too many recommendations to demonstrate their own observational powers. What is important here is to overcome any reluctance to challenge a speaker – after all they have signed up to be assessed by an evaluator!

As well as evaluating single speeches, there is the opportunity to evaluate groups of speakers as the topics evaluator, and to evaluate the whole evening as general evaluator. All of the above skills apply in these roles, with some key additions. Structure is vital, as time is limited and the evaluator needs to be highly organised. Being comprehensive and ensuring that every speaker receives both praise and recommendations is also important. Finally, the best group evaluations will use different descriptors and adjectives for each speaker, and will give the audience a flavour of the collective activity as well as the individual speeches.

Use these skills to craft a well structured, helpful evaluation. Not only will you be providing an important service for the speaker, but you will be sharing learning with the audience. You will also develop your own skill which will help you become a better speaker. Good luck with it.

Charlie Warshawski – from Speakeasy 156 – February 2012

Educational, Entertaining and Inspiring – 7th November

What a night we had on Monday 7th November. The Rose Room was packed, with Charlie Warshawski delivering a masterclass in the role of Toastmaster for the evening. Guests and members alike learnt the purpose and process behind each part of the evening from Charlie’s clear and candid explanations. And imagine, what’s going on at ESC is also going on in over 15,000 other Toastmaster Clubs across 142 countries round the world.

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We had educational, entertaining and inspiring prepared speeches. We learnt about the appallingly high numbers of rescue dogs that are unclaimed and are put to sleep in Sheena’s C3; strategies for coping with face blindness (or prosopagnosia) from Sonia’s C3; unconscious defence mechanisms sabotaging our goals in James’ C6; and Patrick’s AS on how to use humour in true Irish style! Amanda show-cased how to run a Table Topics session, with her simple “one word” topics, producing 10 very varied impromptu speeches ranging from adventure and autumn to cooking and curry.

Club meetings are designed to give everyone a chance to practice speaking in public, also learning and developing our communication skills by giving and getting quality evaluations. The roles of Speech Evaluator, Topics Evaluator and General Evaluator requires a multitude of “in the moment” skills – listening, observing, analysing, critical thinking, impromptu speaking…. A truly sterling job was delivered by all the evening’s evaluators: Penny, Bohwon, Dave V-C, Stephen, plus Adam as Topics Evaluator and Ian as General Evaluator. With practice, you too can become as good as these experienced Toastmasters – keep on filling out those written feedback forms as a first step.

Congratulations to Sonia for Best Speaker, Stephen for Best Evalutor, and guest Paul for Best Table Topics.

See you all at our next meeting on Monday 21st Nov, with Bohwon Kim as Toastmaster.

Doris
ESC President

Verbal and Non Verbal Communication

What is it about a speech that catches the attention of an audience? There are two essentials in delivering a speech: VERBAL and NON VERBAL COMMUNICATION.

VERBAL COMMUNICATION

Voice modulation
Project your voice by modulating the volume and expressiveness as this helps reflect the mood and key moments of your speech and maintains interest in what you have to say, plus it draws attention to a key point

Pace of delivery
Avoid speaking too fast. It’s easy to let nerves take over and speak too fast; on the other hand, try not to speak too slowly, keep a natural pace.

Energy
Maintain your enthusiasm from start to finish, particularly towards the end of sentences when your voice may trail away.

NON VERBAL

Eyes
Keep in touch visually with your audience; all the effort you’ve put into projecting your voice to the audience will be lost if you fix your gaze in one place at the back of the room. Looking from left to right, right to left during your speech, occasionally focusing on one person will help draw in the audience.

Hands
These are lethal weapons! What to do with them? They appear to have a life of their own. They can ruin a speech or enhance it. Think about how you use them with good gestures to express your speech content.

Body language/Stage presence
A relaxed stance will project self-confidence. If you have a lectern, hands on either side is fine; if you’re stand-alone, a confident stance will suffice. Do not slouch!

In short, your verbal and non-verbal skills will:

  • enhance your speech
  • project your enthusiasm
  • engage your audience

Practising and Mastering verbal and non-verbal skills will bring your speech alive and will reduce your nerves.

Taken from Speakeasy 185 – August 2014