Dear Toasties and very welcome guests,
Lovely to see you yesterday. Thank you for making it such an enjoyable evening.
Actions & Opportunities
1. We’ve got our joint club meeting coming up on 17th March, with an English speaking club in Zurich. This is an opportunity to practice our skills under different conditions: new audience, different format, and obviously a chance to learn [ahem/steal/ahem] other people’s good ideas for your speeches and approach to roles. NB meeting opens at 5:45, and the start time is 6pm – 15 minutes earlier than our usual schedule. More info and meeting link to follow.
2. New committee! It may seem early but now is the time to nominate yourself (or someone else!) for a role on the committee. All roles are open – and if there is more than one person interested in a role then we’ll invite a 2 min mini speech from each person about why they’d like it and then we’ll vote as a club. Full details were sent via WhatsApp. If you’d like me to send them to you by email, just let me know.
3. Renewals – Thank you to those who have renewed and confirmed – that’s the majority of us (we’re on the ball here!). If you’ve yet to renew and would like to, please see Rowena’s email with all the details. Any questions, let me know.
Summary & Learnings
The toastmaster deftly leading our meeting was Kate, and she had helping making the meeting possible we had- Liza as our timer, who upped her books-as-time-cards game even higher. ‘Watchman remains on the tick tock’ is quite something…!
– Amina as our grammarian, who chose tenacious as the word of the day, inviting us to listen, remember, and adapt in the moment. In her report she also praised the use of evocative language, raised the issue of repeated filler words, and pointed to where stories were aided by analogies.
We had Laura and Armelle as our speakers, sharing with us why we should learn how to code (including to keep up with the 5 year olds (aww/argh!)) and how to embrace the opportunities of unexpected mentorship.
Providing them with constructive feedback were Shruti and Ailsa, (both getting in the word of the day!) so we could all consider their insights, including1. using language that your audience can connect with (not too technical for non-subject matter experts)
2. giving each point time to sink in
3. the challenges with eye contact when speaking online versus in person, reciting a script versus thinking in real time.
Helping us develop out off the cuff speaking skills was Jenny who called on us to make A or B choices (adding to the approx 35,000 conscious choices we already make each day), which includedCarrie talking about the benefits of live theatre over cinema, and co-winning the contest – congratulations!
Zara discussing whether or not to live with a neat freak – well done on your first table topics, Zara!
Sam leveraging her professional skillset to analyse her risk appetite for financial gambles
andShruti considering kindle versus paperback, co-winning the contest as she did so – not just for table topics but also for best evaluator. Congratulations!
All participants were evaluated by Sadiqa who, taking the role for the first time (well done!),1. praised the table topics master for their selection2. noted the bravery of everyone who volunteered3. reminded us how engaging it is to hear someone share their thought process as they speak out loud
My opening thoughts: Trust and Failure
We have all already done one of the hardest things: and that’s turn up. They say 80% of success is turning up, and look at us, here we are, winning already.
And now we’re here, what now? Because there’s still that other 20% and there’s still some fear, right?
You probably already know that our nervous systems experience nervousness and excitement in pretty much the same way. We get the same kind of activation when we’re driving and skid on black ice as we do when on a roller coaster. We experience them differently because we give those sensations of activation different meanings.
That attribution of meaning is influenced in part by our sense of choice, control, and trust.
It is our choice to be here tonight, just like it’s our choice to get on that roller coaster. Now that we’re here, we’re in control of whether we join in or not.
That leaves trust. Do we trust other people? And do we trust ourselves?
If other people had always responded to our presence and expression perfectly, lovingly and enthusiastically, we probably wouldn’t have some of the fears we do.
If our nervous systems had always responded perfectly, calmly, evenly, and not frozen, gone blank, red, or sweaty, then we’d probably have more trust in ourselves.
Fortunately, there is another kind of trust available to us. And that is trust in the process that leads to the outcome we’re aiming for.
Firstly, there’s the trust that we can survive when things feel difficult, go wrong, or indeed go right – because gosh now we’ve got something to live up to and that in itself can feel a bit overwhelming. (Yes, trust in survival is a baseline trust but go with me…)
Secondly, there’s the trust that we learn through grit, through experiment, through (heavy inverted commas) failure. We *know* there’s no success without experimentation, no experimentation without risk, and no risk without failure. Not theoretical failure, not a willingness to fail perhaps sometime in the future. No. Actual flat on your face failure now, here, today. AND it’s all just data. We don’t need to judge it. It’s the meaning we make of the data – fear or excitement – failure or progress – that makes the difference.
So tonight the invitation, as ever, is to *fail lavishly* – and when you see someone step up, *cheer loudly*. Giving each other that kind of presence is a *gift*.
In this club we’re each other’s crash mats for soft landing, and each other’s cheer leaders for the celebrating. We’re in good company here. Thank you for making this club what it is.
Have a super fortnight.
President, City Women Speakers