Dear Toasties,
Lovely to see you yesterday – the energy was the sparkling – thanks for making it such an enjoyable evening.

Actions & Opportunities
1. We’ve got our area competition coming up on 3rd March. If you’d like to watch the competitors – and support Jo (good luck Jo!) – here’s the link (Yes, it’s the same time as our club meeting – both are excellence choices!).
6pm doors open, 6:30 contest starts
Meeting ID: 981 5058 4587Passcode: D91L56

2. It’s renewals season. You should have received an email from Rowena, our Treasurer, giving details about membership fees and how to complete the renewal. Let us know if you haven’t received the email or if you’ve got any questions. The excellent news is that because the club – *we* – have been doing so well, we’ve earned a small-but-welcome(!) financial reward which we’re using to keep membership fee down so it’s the same as last year’s.

The toastmaster leading our meeting was Katie. It was true leading-by-doing. What we could call obstacles & errors, in practice served as evidence of the increasing flexibility, competence, and steady-handedness that we develop by doing these roles. This is what we’re here for: recognise a skill we want – learn it – test it in increasingly challenging conditions – revel in our increased competence, ownership, and awesomeness.

Our opening round to ensure everyone gets to speak at least once, was a round of ‘adjective and noun’, this time for animals. Now, this may look like a simple, perhaps even too basic a game… yet listen to yourself read these:

  • intelligent elephant (Jo)
  • hyper puppy (Kate)

The complimentary sounds and the rhythm of the syllables make them memorable (and good tongue twisters as a vocal warm up if you say them faster and faster)

Helping make the meeting possible we had- Sam as our timer, who also smoothly navigated some changes, and did so with smiley-to-stern-faced timer signals.
– Aga as our grammarian, who chose propensity as the word of the day, which CarrieArmelle, and Sin, wove into their speaking.- Georgina as our ever-excellent SAA, providing the security and consistency of jokes required of a zoom master.

We had AminaJo and Carrie giving us a variety of speeches: informative, competition, and reflective.

Providing constructive feedback to Amina, Sin drew our attention to what we can begin to play with once we have a stable base for our delivery: can we toy with the pace, or use volume as another means of emphasis, for example? She also noted the spur to speed up when seeing the time signals. This can detract a little from the content, and thus something for us to be mindful of.

Helping us develop out off the cuff speaking skills was Armelle who ran a suitably tricky table topics session, which includedMC debating the dictum that one should spend more money on education than clothes
Kate sharing passive-aggressive partner-management strategies (and blaming the cat…)
Laura finding tactics to placate a new boss incorrectly accusing you of lateness
andShruti considering how to be a good house guest in Paris (…is that the polite way of phrasing this?!), winning the contest as she did so. Congrats Shruti!

Finally, my thought for the day, within which I hope you find something useful:

In our last meeting we spoke about the pause, and how it functions as a metaphor. Building on that, my thoughts for this meeting turn to presence: to just be, here, now, saying what we say, with each other.

Not trying to please, or perform, or perfect. Not caught up in regurgitating something from the past – which we can do if we’re trying to recite a pre-written script. And not caught up in the future – which we can be if we’re trying to manage the impact of our influence on our audience.

The latter is particularly possible if we’re doing our speeches with a mind to presentations we may give, interviews, networking, or being judged in competitions, where we have all the ‘shoulds’ and criteria for what we’re saying, how we’re saying it, and who we’re presenting ourselves as being as we do so.

In contrast, can you bring to mind a time when you were in the presence of a speaker who was just speaking what’s true for them right now? where they’re giving their audience the dignity of having their own independent responses, which the speaker isn’t trying to manage or manipulate for their own benefit? where the speaker is fully in their boundaries, allowing us to fully be in ours?

That’s a potent mode of being-with.

With that in mind, if you wanted to further develop that kind of quality of presence, here are 3 things to consider:

1. When you ask a question, ask. Leave space for an answer even if one isn’t expected. Find some curiosity in yourself as to what our answers might be, let *us* become curious ourselves, before you feed us something you’ve prepared.

2. Likewise, let’s mean our statements. If we mean Yes, let them say Yes. If we mean No, let them say No.

And 3. Let them land. It doesn’t have to be heavy like a thud. Something can land gently, gracefully, like a feather floating down to the surface of a still smooth lake. It lands nevertheless. Let the moment complete itself.
If you can do this, it can make you a more compelling speaker to whom we want offer our attention.

Looking forward to seeing you in a fortnight.
Best wishes


Eve Parmiter

President, City Women Speakers

Toastmasters International