Cold Hands – Warm Hearts

It may have been the coldest night of the year so far, but the Rose Room was full of warmth, hospitality and excitement.

The meeting opened when our President, Dave decided to lead by example and take the role of Sargent At Arms to open the meeting. If you have a fear of public speaking then opening the meeting every fortnight is the most effective way to kill that demon. As a past Sargent at Arms, I do recommend it.

The room already decked out with the assistance of a number of members bringing in the boxes and handing up our banners. During the colder months, we are mostly situated in the Rose Room which has the advantage of being on the inside of the building without any outside wall or windows. it is always a cosy place.

David then passed onto himself as President to welcome members and our guests for the evening. He reminded us of the size of Toastmasters and the many other meetings happening that evening. He introduced Charlie as the Toastmaster for the evening.

Charlie opened and echoed the fact of thousands of Toastmasters meeting in clubs like ours at the same time. He set out the agenda for us and introduced some of the people who would be supporting him during the evening.

Matt f explained his role as timekeeper and the importance of being on time. Norman explained how as a videographer, all the speeches and evaluations would be recorded and uploaded for those speakers to watch their contributions again. It is a challenge to explain something that is repeated every meeting and yet keep it fresh, but both put their own spin on the roles.

Charlie then handed over to the warm-up. This was given by Debra and was her first warm-up. She chose an interesting topic – what is your superpower. This gave lots of scope for information and entertainment in the 20 seconds we all had to deliver our responses. It also lifted the mood further and gave us all a chance to stretch be more settled in our seats.

Charlie then took back the stage and explained the next section of the evening, the

We started with Dave, and as Charlie explained, we usually start with the newest members and work towards the most experienced member giving their speech at the end, but due to the requirement for an overhead projector and slides, Dave came first. his speech was interesting and talked about the Labour Parties suggestion that they would give broadband to every household. He looked at the challenges, the risks and the impact on current broadband suppliers. The speech has lots of facts and information but left it for the listener to make their own conclusion. The main objective of the speech was to use the presentation software in an engaging and supportive way. Death by powerpoint was avoided.

Fatai was next and gave a very informative speech on Public housing and comparing social versus affordable. The speech was full of great explanations and facts. The comparison between the two types of housing was well explained and for the second time, I was learning lots of interesting facts. It was also great to see the improvement in this speech from Fatia. He is growing in confidence and skill as a public speaker.

The next speaker was Kim, who gave an interesting overview of the Hong Kong protests. She explained the history of the Island, the ‘one country two systems’ and then delivered a timeline on how the protests grew up over time. There was lots of interesting content with the views of the protestors and the Hong Kong government both being given. It always surprises me the breadth of subjects we have at Toastmasters when we are all following the same basic structure of speeches.

The last speaker was myself, the author of this review, John Drinkwater and my speech was to explain the challenges of marketing the club as the VP PR. After our treasurer confirmed there was no marketing budget, I then talked about how the members could not only help the club grow but to also further their own careers if they also helped with sharing and promoting the club over social media.

All the speeches were prepared for 5-7 minutes, and as two members went over time, even after the promoting of the light system, there was no vote for the best speaker. Therefore Charie led us on to the next part fo the night which is the evaluations.

The quality of Toastmasters is that of the evaluations. This is our chance to learn and become better speakers.

Amanda came to the stage in order to evaluate Dave. She spent most of her time explaining how he used the presentation software, which was the objective of Dave’s speech. She demonstrated what he did well and made recommendations on what he could do to improve.

Matthijs then evaluated Fatai with some great observations about the content and the delivery. His evaluation has also to be mini-speech with a beginning, middle and end and was delivered in a supportive and encouraging way.

Gillian was then introduced to the stage by Charlie and gave her evaluation of Kim. Gillian highlighted the good use of structure and things that Gillian really liked about the speech. There were some recommendations to improve but the evaluation was finished with more supportive comments.

Mark was the last speech evaluator to review the speech by John. He talked about the way the speech was delivered and compared it to previous speeches and highlighted the progress that has been made. It explained the structure and how John twisted it with a fake walk off to capture the interest. He pulled examples of how the speech was delivered and then gave some recommendations on how the structure could be improved and again ended with a supportive summary.

The last item before the coffee break is for the guests to be able to stand up and introduce themselves and tell us why they came to Toastmasters, this also gives members a good idea of what sorts of conversations they can have with the guest at the break.

Keeping well to time, even with 4 speakers, Charlie gave us our break and asked us to return for 9 pm.

For the second half, the stage was passed over to Norman to deliver as Topics Master. He used the theme of Mastermind and each person was given a subject area and then had to speak about a person who fitted that category.

Julia, standing in at the last moment, took on the role of Topics evaluator. She has 4 to 5 minutes in order to evaluate all the topics speakers giving them all observations about their delivery and one recommendation for each to look for improvement. Personally I think this is the hardest role on the night. However, Julia calmly went through all the speakers with some great observations and recommendations for all.

The final evaluation of the night was given by Patrick Ebbs. His speech is to evaluate every role that was not been evaluated and he did that by reviewing back through the whole meeting. We all have our own views and observations of how to perform all the roles correctly, but we never meet our own expectations in every way. Patrick did his whirlwind review of the night and highlighted some great points of technique and content which we can all learn from. He also had some recommendations for people to look at and improve.

That left it for our President Dave to close the meeting, after some presentations. There was a ribbon for the Amanda being voted the best evaluator, ribbons for our first-time speakers and the winner of table topics, James. We were all thanked for coming, invited to the next meeting and reminded that other local Toastmaster Clubs would be happy to see us in the meantime. Those that wanted to were also invited for a quick drink afterwards.