Do you know anyone who has been put on the spot and was asked to deliver a presentation out of the blue?
Can you remember the last time you drew a blank whilst you spoke to a group of people, forgetting your own name or the remainder of your talk?
Toastmasters International is an organisation that has been around since the 1920s. It was built to help develop communication and leadership skills is a structured training program with peer review.
Across the globe nearly half million people are currently Toastmaster members, this isn’t just pinging your glass at a wedding (although the skills you pick up at Toastmasters would certainly help you with any ceremonial speech), it’s more about presenting yourself to the world.
Many people that own businesses, or work for others are required to deliver a presentation to groups of people. Occasionally they may be presenting material that is not their own, but hopefully it is content that they have created themselves and wish to impart to the audience.
Ludlow Speakers club was started three years ago to help local businesses, individuals and storytellers to improve their communication skills. A happy side effect of this is that they also gain gravitas and authority by undertaking roles and taking up leadership opportunities.
There is a real sense of community in Ludlow Speakers, you can feel it when you come through the door and are warmly welcomed by our members. Last night was no exception. The warmth in the room flowed and we all enjoyed a packed agenda of four speeches and five table topics (impromptu speaking).
In true Toastmasters style we kicked off with some explanation of the roles in our meeting, as this helps the meeting run smoothly and to time. Then we enjoyed four very different speeches from four of our members, which included a first timer, Dan, sharing his personal development goals; always the most nerve-wracking speech to give. Our other speeches included tips on handling road rage from Helen, using the 5S program to sort your wardrobe out from Denise, and an in-depth deep discussion on happiness as an abstract concept, by Clara.
We all enjoyed some interesting table topics delivered by our member, Helen, on the theme of quotes from movies. All of the participants delivered very different responses to their individual quote.
Toastmasters prides itself on its evaluations, it’s the most important part of the programme to feedback what went well and what can be improved on. The five evaluators this evening did our club proud and pointed out all of the aspects of physicality, vocal variety and content that worked really well in each of speeches. It also a requirement of the evaluator to report on whether the objectives of the speech has been met or exceeded, and deliver a nugget for improvement to try next time.
The Toastmasters Pathways program is the learning tool that we use; it provides us with a paced learning curriculum, all available online to download, on video, and face-to-face activity.
Our other roles last night included the Toastmaster chair, Hilary who stepped in at the last minute to hold the fort. Then there was our Grammarian and Um counter, Denise who adeptly plucked our juicy wordplay, phrases and grammatical devices out of the evening and replayed them to us. She also deftly told us all about our filler words and what we might do to overcome those verbal crutches. The word of the day was “elucidate” and a few of us managed to try it on for size. Clara was our Timer, getting used to our new timing device. Lindy was our General Evaluator who wrapped up the meeting with lots of great feedback and observations.
Denise was the winner of the Best Speaker award, Lindy won Best Table Topics speaker and it was a three way tie for best Evaluator, the award went to Hilary, Jenny and Sam.
What a splendid evening it was.
With our Division J contest coming up on the 28th of October in Didcot we talked about the logistics of getting there so the members can enjoy a quality high-level humorous speech and table topics contest.
Our next meeting is on Monday 22nd of October at the Ludlow Mascall Centre starting at 7:15 PM till 9:30 PM – all guests come for free as many times as they like before they choose to join. We also have tea and coffee and biscuits provided. Hope to see you there.