Dear Toasties

Thanks to everyone who came to our meeting this week,making it another wonderful evening. It’s so good to learn from you all.

Please find the summary & celebrations below:

1. Official cheer for Esmé who competed at District level in the Humorous Speech contest. Thank you for raising the bar for us all. Looking forward to learning more from you.

2. Winter Party – 9th December 
This is our members-only, slightly quirkier, even funner, final meeting of 2020. It is dress up time! Polished & glamorous or playful & ridiculous. PRIZE for best dressed. Yes there will be a poll on the matter. (You can of course choose to opt out, and we of course hope you choose to opt in. The most important part is that we turn up, enjoy, and feel at ease).

We’ll start with speeches, evaluations, have a mini chat so everyone gets to speak, and some table topics. 

The toastmaster smoothly leading our meeting this week was Esmé, who adeptly riffed off my intro with appreciating our own awesomeness becoming the theme of the day.

Helping making the meeting possible we had- Dena as our SAA
– Sin as our grammarian, who chose congregate as the very apt word of the day. Sin gave excellent feedback on our use of grammar, including using flowery and succinct language, and offered us an invitation to not fall back on our own filler words, e.g. ‘really’, ‘interesting’, ‘great’, so that we give ourselves permission to pause and find something more compelling, breaking ourselves out of old patterns. Lovely (ahem…). 
and- Kate as our timer, with an admirable disregard for colour coding conventions.

We had Anne as our first speaker, with her icebreaker – well done! – even getting in the word of the day and using humour to deal smoothly with tech issues. Aminawas our second speaker with very relevant considerations on authority and influence, autonomy and connection, and a key learning point that resonated with me: ‘rather than try to be right, how do I learn to get it right?’

Providing constructive feedback were Katie and Jo. Amongst many good thoughts, they drew our attention to the effective use of rhetorical questions, having a clear structure, providing the audience with definitions of key words, and how if we as speakers enjoy the interaction, the flow and tone of our speeches is likely to improve, making it easier for the audience to enjoy as well. (cf appreciating our own awesomeness…). Katie also won best evaluation of the evening – well done Katie. 

Helping us develop our spur of the moment speaking skills was Jenny who ran a cracking table topics session, prompted by pictures of *ridiculous* gifts we could get for people we know, which included

  • Vikki – talking about the utility of shoe umbrellas
  • Georgina – considering to whom she’d gift grasslined flip flops
  • Sam – justifying the reasons behind a motorised icecream cone
  • Armelle – getting creative with alternative uses for a goldfish walker
  • Liza arguing in favour of a chin rest for the subway, winning the best table topics of the evening as she did so. Excellent way to mark your first meeting as a member!

All participants were evaluated by Shruti who also persevered through technical issues. A key point she made that I want to elaborate on here is this – *make use of your time*. We’re pretty relaxed, and no one has to speak at all, or indeed any longer than they want to. And yet. See if you can stretch to fill the 2 mins time. It doesn’t have to be pretty (yet)! 

Determine for yourself beforehand that you will *crowbar* in a strategy that you want to practice. e.g. 
– Enthusiastically agree or disagree with the question or its premise, giving yourself an energy boost to propel you into an answer. 
– Once you’ve said one thing, disagree with it: On the one hand…. On the other…. So on balance… 
– Tell a story with a beginning, middle, and end. 
– Build suspense: It’s funny you should ask, and I’m not sure if I should tell you the answer, so before I do, I’m going to let you in on a secret…

None of it has to be true. It can be easier if it is based in truth so you’ve already got a coherent narrative in your mind. And then you can improvise off it. 

Have a super fortnight. Looking forward to seeing you in all your awesomeness on the 9th.

All the best


Eve Parmiter

President, City Women Speakers

Toastmasters International