Dear Toasties and Lovely Guests,
Super to see you all at our meeting on Wednesday.
Actions & Opportunities
1. The mentoring programme is underway with our first pairings working together. If you’re interested in getting involved now or perhaps in the New Year (I know, that’s come along quickly, hasn’t it?), then just let Carrie or anyone on the committee know.
2. Our winter party for members is going to be on December 9th. We’re going to be having a speech or two, and some *experimental table topics*. The invitation is to dress up – ridiculous or glamorous – whatever you’d like. If you’ve got ideas for TT games you’d like us to do then let us know!
3. We’ve got Esmé competing in the Division Contest on Saturday 21st November. Here’re the details if you’d like to watch, learn, and cheer on: Division L Table Topics and Humorous Speech Contest on Saturday the 21st Nov @ 9:30am via Zoom – https://zoom.us/j/97627091216
Setting the tone: *How interesting!*
In our previous meeting we recognised many of us had been in a rush and were still caught up in the day. So we took a moment to breathe, and arrive, and just be, here, now.
In prior meetings we’d spoken about taking a risk and seeing what happens, knowing we are each others crash mats for soft landings.
Yet it occurs to me there’s one thing that might not be so soft. And that might be the other voice that’s speaking as you speak. The one that says… “Hmm, you did it better when you were practicing… So many people do this better than you, I’m not even sure why you’re speaking… That tricky sentence is coming up, you stumbled over it last time, didn’t you… oh, here it comes – ooh, you fell flat on your face – they all saw you do that, you know…” and on and on and…. It.Is.So.Boring.
Now, maybe you don’t hear it as a voice. Maybe you feel it as a feeling: in sweaty palms, dry mouth, sinking tummy.
Or maybe you see it as an image of impending doom unfolding.
You may have tried reasoning with the voice, numbing the feeling, blanking the image. And if you’ve got responses that work for you, wonderful. Keep going. And if you haven’t, or if you’d like to try adding another option, try this –
– and you can give yourself an opportunity at each meeting to try it out – you can take a risk: whether that’s trying to crowbar in the grammarian’s word of the day into some unsuitable sentence, or attempting to follow through an untenable line of reasoning in table topics, or maybe you’re lucky enough to stumble over a word –
and when you do, say – perhaps just in your head, perhaps outloud, or afterwards when you’re reflecting on your performance – say:
Flail your arms. Gesticulate. Like a mad scientist or an inspired artist or a kid in wonder who has never seen a mistake before:
“Oooh a mistake! How interesting!” With glee. (It’s nearly panto season so embrace the ridiculousness & go for it.)
Why? Because this is a lovely interruption of that critical voice. That voice is all about shame and guilt and blame, it’s so dull … The gleeful mad scientist, inspired artist, kid in wonder, is an antidote. And it stops us taking that voice quite so seriously.
If we say **Interesting!** – even if you don’t quite believe it yet – we get to look for the gold dust in the moment, the thing we wouldn’t have gotten otherwise, the richness in a serendipitous insight, the difference that might make the difference to how we speak with each other, that we wouldn’t have gotten if we hadn’t made this apparent ‘mistake’.
So, the invitation is for gleeful ridiculousness and to enjoy our mistakes.
The people who made things possible:
The toastmaster deftly leading our meeting was Aga, and helping to make the meeting possible we had- MC as our timer, who did a cracking job, even though it was her first time in the role, and she was gracious enough to let me overrule a cut off time for a speaker – thank you MC.
– Amina as our grammarian, who chose the forte as the word of the day, which many of us succeeding in using, and providing us with her thoughts and insights into word choice, filler words, and impactful imagery- Laura for looking after our guests- Katie for organising the agenda
– Georgina as our tech-whisperer
We had Armelle and Kiran as our speakers, sharing their insights about privacy in the workplace, and what to do if you don’t have Yoda (or indeed anyone else) as your formal mentor.
Tech glitches meant that we didn’t get to hear all of Armelle’s speech and Esmé didn’t get to provide the evaluation as planned. Kate provided feedback on Kiran’s speech, and drew our attention to
– the effectiveness of having a relaxed conversational approach, making it easy for the audience to listen as we are ‘speaking with’ not ‘talking at’
– paying attention to pacing throughout, including enjoying the pauses we can put inand
– the utility of a clear structure (good ol’ rule of 3) along with supporting hand gestures placed clearly centre screen.
Helping us develop our off the cuff speaking skills was Shruti who ran an engaging table topics session, getting us to talk about our emotions and what they make possible for us. This was a potent section, which includedRobina talking about power coming from practices of gratitude
Tammy discussing fear and loss
Lily considering one of her favourite words – hopefulCarrie exploring curiosity
andSusie sharing why joy is vital
Hats off to everyone for speaking so thoughtfully. It really was wonderful to listen to you.
Shruti’s session offers excellent prompts for us as speakers and writers too – to tap into the real humanness of our shared experiences. It’s powerful: it can enhance engagement in the moment, make the call to action more compelling, and can divide an audience – which isn’t necessarily something to avoid, but something to be done with skill and consideration.
All participants were evaluated by Anne who was taking on the role of the TT evaluator for the first time – well done Anne.
Thanks again to everyone who joined in, gave a speech, offered an evaluation, took a role, cheered each other on – and if you couldn’t make it this time, I hope you’ll be able to join us at one of our last two meetings of 2020(!)
Have a super fortnight.
President, City Women Speakers