On 14th October I paid a visit to Maidenhead Speakers Club, and what a night! Packed seats, packed agenda and packed with lots of learning.
The meeting was opened with a warm and friendly greeting from the Sergeant at Arms, Doreen, she then handed over to club president Jacquie, who was very excited to welcome two new members to MSC. I really like the way the club gets badges made up for their members and makes a little ceremony of handing them to new members, it’s a lovely way to welcome them to the toastmasters family.
Gerard was Toastmaster of the Evening and told us the very useful piece of information that at MSC beer was called Jasmine tea. Sadly I forgot to make use of this, clearly I will have to make a return visit… Gerard welcomed all the speakers with great enthusiasm and created a welcoming and fun atmosphere, as any good host does.
We had four speeches as well as an advanced presentation (see, I told you the agenda was packed!). We were exhorted to live life as if you would die tomorrow, we learned how to get the best out of an introvert if we work with one, and how to give your best if you happen to be one, we learned about how and why our brains form habits, which explains why it’s so hard to break them, and we were reminded to appreciate the beauty that is all around us in this lovely country. The advanced presentation was about helpful tips for cold calling, and although I don’t feel I could ever pick up the phone and cold call someone, I think the speaker did an amazing job of showing us how the principle applies in her field of journalism.
Our table topics session was led by Sandra, on the theme of autumn. She gave us a good introduction to table topics, explaining that we are often called to speak with little or no preparation in our work environments and table topics gives us the opportuity to practice and develop this important skill. The topics ranged from how to keep warm at night, where we learned the manliness inherent in learning how to bleed a radiator, to the best fireworks display, a favourite dance, being an owl or a lark (I’m an owl, definitely) and what would you do if you found £50 on the ground.
The evaluations were very good, with helpful and specific recommendations and genuine and encouraging commendations given. I did find most evaluators addressed the speaker rather than the whole audience. I know people have different opinions on this, but I really feel evaluations should be addressed to the whole audience. The evaluator has a speaking role, therefore she should be speaking to everyone, not just one person. Evaluations directed at the speaker exclude the audience and can make the speaker feel under a spotlight.
We had a lovely break and I suggested that the role of breakmaster be created, to take some of the pressure off the Sergeant at Arms, who serves the tea and biscuits and clears up afterwards. If you have a break master role, you share the load. Also, a videographer is a good role to have, as it saves the speaker having to think about setting the video up before they start to speak. It’s always a good idea to have your speeches recorded as it allows you to evaluate your own performance.
I had a wonderful time at Maidenhead Speakers Club. They are the largest club in the division, with around 60 members, and the meeting was certainly a busy one! Thanks so much for having me, MSC, it was great fun. I’m just sorry I forgot to take some photos, clearly I will just have to visit again 🙂