Dear Toasties and very welcome guests,

Lovely to see you yesterday at our first meeting of the year. Thank you for making it such a good start.

Actions & Opportunities
1. We’ve got our club competition coming up on 17th February. This is for Evaluations and for Speeches. So if you’d like to join in and make use of the opportunity to practice your skills under different conditions then now’s a good time to start that first draft. Let us know by email or WhatsApp if you’ve got any questions and we’ll be happy to help.

2. Given that it is competition season across many clubs, we have many opportunities to get involved as judges, counters, audience members at other clubs’ competitions. It’s interesting what we can learn from getting involved and hearing other speakers. Again, let us know if you’re interested and we’ll make it happen.

3. Make this year count, make the progress you want, and make sure you sign up for meetings, roles, and speeches on easySPEAK.

Learning Points, Celebrations, & Summary
The toastmaster deftly leading our meeting was Katie, and helping making the meeting possible we had- Rachel as our timer, who peppered our screens with her colour coding
– Liza as our grammarian, who aptly chose assiduous as the word of the day. Moreover it was her first time in the role – well done Liza!
and- Dena as our SAA, wrangling the first tech issues of the year into compliance. We are grateful as ever to you!

We had Sadiqa as our speaker, sharing her icebreaker – well done! – and her insights into how to manage our mindset during difficult times. She even managed to include the word of the day.

Providing her with constructive feedback was Armelle, who carefully drew our attention to the quality of Sadiqa’s presence – calm, focused, clear – which made it easy for us to listen to the content of her speech. A learning point noted by Armelle was the placement of the camera so that when we’re speaking we aren’t positioned as if we’re looking down on the audience.

Helping us develop our impromptu speaking skills was Laura, who ran a joyous table topics session based on My Favourite Things from the Sound of Music.
Sam talked herself into having a favourite dessert. Talking ourselves into something, like showing our workings, is a useful technique for table topics.
Robina relished the Christmas season and reveled in three types of cake. She found a way to take the question she was asked and maneuver it to give the answer she wanted to give – another excellent strategy.
Carrie considering the favourite gifts she was given this Christmas, injected humour and wry smiles into her answer to entertain us, and used the props she had to hand to illustrate her points
Georgina, who won the contest, talked about her favourite holiday and boldly combined all the previous questions into her answer. She used humour, appealed to our senses, and spoke with conviction about the rightness and wrongness of ingredients, raisin’ some interesting questions along the way… (sorry). Congratulations Georgina!
special congratulations go to our guest Eva who volunteered for table topics for the very first time and did an excellent job of storytelling her answer to the question, including appealing to our senses, talking about sounds and colours. Engaging an audience through sensory details is an excellent way to keep us enraptured.

All participants were evaluated by Lynn whose guidance included the benefits of
– storytelling with rich details about environments and relationships
– being energised when answeringand
– practicing pausing instead of umm-ing

My opening thought for the day was about the power of self signaling.

A concept you’re probably well aware of, self signalling is telling yourself about yourself.

It contributes to answering the philosophical question: how do I know who I am?
Now, you may think you don’t ask yourself that question – however – every time you make an ‘I am’ statement, you are.

You may say:

“I am the kind of person who gets nervous when speaking”
“I am the kind of person who feels awkward on camera”

to which, if I may, I suggest you add:
and here I am doing it anyway

Why? Because one of the ways we know who we are is by what we do. This is self signaling. And we tend to live up to who we think we are. So, when you do turn up, here, to the club, given all the exacerbating conditions and all the valid reasons why not to, you are giving yourself strong and useful evidence about who you are and what you can do.

Being able to say, I am the kind of person who turns up, who has a go, who gets better on purpose, is a really powerful way to begin the year. That energy – that is what this club, and Toastmasters as a whole, is here for. So thank you for bringing your energy here to our club. It makes all the difference.

Looking forward to seeing you next time.

Best wishes