Room set-up: The venue was well set up with sufficient chairs and with tables set to each side. (Comment: This is useful for those doing evaluations, etc. as they then have a writing surface to aid their preparation.)
Introductory presentations: Sgt. at Arms (Rachel Knowles) gave a comprehensive overview with extended information as to how to find the female toilets! President (Beverley Hepting) gave a warm, energetic introduction to the evening. Timekeeper (David Smith) gave a boisterous overview of his duties and demonstrated the lights but, because the lights are set behind the audience (and thus not easily visible to them), neglected to mention the colours as they were demonstrated. Grammarian (Caroline Brewer) with her ‘word-of-the-day’ “Initiate” gave an excellent overview of her duties and gave examples of variations to be used. (Comments: Better to fix the ‘word-of-the-day’ script to the front edge of the lectern and the timekeeper’s table BEFORE the meeting and then fold the script back over the lectern. This speeds up the meeting and gives a speedy reveal when the word is presented. Also, the Grammarian’s duties should also pick up “Ah-Words”: ‘err’, ‘um’, ‘so’, overuse of ‘and’, etc. (What I call ‘Vocal Dandruff’.) The word of the evening could well have been ‘and err’ by its frequency of usage!
Evaluations & Education: 1st Evaluator (Annabel) gave a very comprehensive evaluation of Ali’s ‘Icebreaker’ speech. Good that she picked up Ali’s use of ah-words although, regrettably, her evaluation was sprinkled with lots of them too! Our 2nd Evaluator (Beverley) gave an incisive appraisal of Richard’s ‘Icebreaker’ with good nuggets to learn from – the usage of timing, stress, pauses and brevity. The Education Session (Colin Beveridge) covered the judging for a Speech Competition. This was a good overview but a bit uninspiring in its delivery and could have used a flip chart to better demonstrate the marking procedures. Our Table Topics Evaluator (Siobhan) gave a brief resume on those involved in considering “If Only,” (a great subject for T.T.’s from Rosie!) with some nice nuggets for the speakers.
General Comments: In addition to “Ah Words” there were two other issues. It’s important when speaking to gauge the volume required for the room – some were a bit quiet and difficult to hear. Above all, always place the lectern in the middle! Placing it to one side means that a speaker will naturally speak to that side with eye contact and body language focused there as well. The lectern is not needed for Table Topics and should be placed against the side wall. Overall though, a very good meeting!