Dear Toasties,

Lovely to see you all at our meeting yesterday.

Actions & Opportunities
1. CompetitionCarrie is kindly putting together a blog series about what you can get out of being involved in the comps – as a contestant, a judge or other functionary, and as an audience member. They’re being posted here on LinkedIn. NB. Our competition is 30th September for humorous speeches and table topics.

2. Katie will be sending a link for the mobile version of the agenda, which should make it easier to sign up for roles and confirm attendance. Thanks for making our lives easier, Katie!

3. We’ve got speaking slots and roles available from now until the end of the year so feel free to sign up on easySPEAK and if you’ve got any questions about Pathways et al then Katie and Aga are here to help.

The toastmaster leading our meeting this evening was Katie, who chose the topic of the day to be stories, and asked us to consider what makes a compelling story for us?

We had a variety of responses to that including- an intriguing first sentence from Aga
– mystery from Vikki
and- a good plot twist from Kiran (who proceeded to add her own in the TTs… we’re never going to lunch with you, soz…)

So when we’re composing your speeches, we can see if we can add these elements as a way to engage our listeners.

Helping making the meeting possible we had- Amina as our timer, who drew our attention to the connection between time & the pacing of a speech
– Vikki as our first-time grammarian, who chose auspicious as the word of the day, which many of us succeeding in using… and that is a promising display of skills…and
– Georgina as our SAA making Zoom play nicely behind the scenes.

We had Jenny as our speaker sharing her icebreaker on the benefits of postponing what we ‘should’ do in order to give yourself time and space to celebrate, appreciate, and grow what you love to do and to own the impact you have, be it on the world at large or in your little slice of life – both meaningful, both valid. Congratulations on your first speech!

Providing constructive feedback, Kiran helped us think particularly about the need for a clear, powerful opening that establishes the purpose of sharing what we’re sharing. This makes it easier for the audience to frame and follow what we’re saying. And, of course, enables a more powerful plot twist when we get to positively break from expectations later on.

Helping us develop our off the cuff speaking skills was Laura who built on the theme of stories by running a storytelling table topics session, where each speaker builds on what the previous speaker delivered, which included

  • Rachel talking about the setting of the story
  • Carrie describing the characters
  • Georgina structuring a conflict
  • Kiran leading us to a resolution, winning the vote for best TT speaker in the process. Congratulations Kiran!

A key element that made this building-on-what-the-last-person-said storytelling session effective was setting up the next speaker to win by giving them a clear & easy to follow launching point.

This is also true with evaluations. The feedback from our members survey showed that our evaluations are not as effective as they could be. I made the point in the opening that it is generous to punch people in the face – you needed to be there for context, or to check out our LinkedIn page where the mini write up will soon be.

TL;DR We are here to practice. We need each other to tell us if something isn’t working for them. Then we get to decide what we want to do with that info.

If we do not tell each other that something isn’t working then we are knowingly sending each other into an interview, presentation, or pitch underprepared and more likely to fail. Because in an attempt to be kind, we withheld our generosity of honesty, and we are all diminished for it.

It is not our job as the evaluator to solve the problem we see. It is our job to share our experience with the speaker, bringing it to their attention, so they get to have their own insights about their own solutions, asking for ideas along the way should they wish to.

Leading our impromptu evaluation session was Aga, and included Ailsa, Katie, Lynn, and Vikki, who reminded us to:
look into the camera to create connectionuse details to spike our imaginationsuse vocal and physical gestures to bring yourself as well as your stories to lifeandif you happen to make up a word on the spot, own it and run with it [hat-tip to Rachel‘s lovely ‘Toastmasties’]

That set up was an experiment for us using two new structures at once – the building of a story across speakers, and the impromptu mini evaluations – and perhaps a stretch too far to do both at once!

And yet, remember, there is no adventure without venture – so have a go, break a rule, see what opportunities you can make out of the chaos. And if you can add your generosity – of time and energy,  of attention and honesty, of your willingness to be uncomfortable in order to help others grow – then the adventure will be all the better. This is the power of a team: We rise together.

Have a super fortnight.

Eve Parmiter


City Women Speakers

Toastmasters International