As the chilly fingers of Winter clawed at us, what better place to take yourself than a desert island with a dozen robust and creative Toastmasters. Desert Island Discs was the theme of last night’s meeting and was well played throughout. Our special guest was the ever inspirational Richard Mack, who managed to win best Table Topic Speaker with his coconuts!

There were three key aspects I wanted to focus on as General Evaluator, which were Timing, Communication and Leadership.

Timing :  Everyone was extremely good at sticking to time, although we still managed to run a little over, but I think this is due to not allowing for change overs on the Agenda. In the warm up, it is important to emphasise that it is only 15 seconds, which is not long.

When doing roles for the first time, it can be very nerve racking and requires courage. For the Sergeant at Arms, getting people from the bar does require being assertive and making sure everyone is in their seats a minute beforehand with the door shut.

Jason Routley, Table Topics Master, wisely checked with the excellent Timekeeper, Dave Smith, if he had enough time for one more speaker. Courtesy is a great skill.

Communication: As always with Casterbridge Speakers, there were superb examples of effective communication with a wide range of techniques. Laura McHarrie, doing her tenth speech ‘ The Big Issue’ demonstrated that the best speeches only come with hard preparation and practice. Her journey has been over three years to achieve Competent Communicator, but the wait has been very worthwhile. Anna Shapter took a very different approach in her light hearted look at ‘Promises and Profiteroles’.

There was clarity, conciseness, and comprehensive explanations or examples given. In some cases, a bit more emphasis or emotion would have enhanced the communication to give it greater body and depth.

Giving evaluations is never easy as there is little time to prepare, especially for Dawn Wilson, who took on two evaluation roles due to some people not turning up. Despite the pressure, Dawn went on to win Best Evaulator providing us with a role model for how it should be done. Caroline Brewer and Richard White also gave exemplary feedback, providing positive examples of good aspects; as well as where the speaker could improve. It should not be necessary to apologise for giving a negative opinion.

Leadership: Any role during the meeting can provide an opportunity to show leadership qualities, even as a role model of how the task can be done. Preparation and pride in your role can be demonstrated in giving an inspirational and rallying delivery.

This Club is amazing in demonstrating ‘acting as a resource’, as people always help out or fill in for missing members. Well done to everyone for this. There is a culture of fun, friendliness and teamwork.

President and Toastmaster are two vital leadership roles and the introductions can set the tone for the evening. Making it inspiring, encouraging, motivational, respectful and well prepared allows those following to step up to the stage with renewed confidence and courage.

Finally, let’s use the incredible mentor system to help each other to become the speakers and leaders we want to be.

 

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