Can’t Get No Satisfaction

A giant mouth saying um, ah, so filler wordsThe General Evaluator recently remarked on my “uhms” and “ahs” and “sos.”

Damn. Me! A Morningstar for nine years. I should know better.

I thought I had un-uhm-ed myself. I thought I had licked those waffle words right out of my mouth. But bad habits have crept back into my speechcraft. Which reminds me what Toastmasters is all about—it’s a training.

Every Wednesday morning we show up in training mode. It’s built into the ethos of the program that we can always improve. We should never allow ourselves to think we’ve mastered the art of public speaking.

To quote Mick Jagger, “I can’t get no satisfaction,” and that’s okay, even if my speech evaluations are causing me my 19th Nervous Breakdown.

Speaking of the Rolling Stones, I joined Toastmasters in part because I aspired to strut the stage like Jagger. (I’m not kidding.) It was never going to happen, of course, but speaking on a stage seemed like a do-able option. I quickly forgot about rock stardom, because the speakers I heard blew me away.

One of the biggest challenges I discovered was weeding out those weed-words. The very ones that have crept back into my presentations. It makes me wonder if I’ve been coasting on my laurels (CC. CL, ACB. ALB). Am I guilty of treating Morningstars as a social club and not the training program it’s meant to be?

Have I forgotten that improvement is the name of the game?

Come to think of it—many rock stars could benefit from a visit to Morningstars.

Rock stars are always mumbling. For the longest time I thought the Beatles were singing: “I want to hold your ham.” And the Eurhymics were saying: “Sweet dreams are made of cheese.”

And for sure Dylan’s famous song went: “The ants are my friends, they’re blowing in the wind.” And what group was it who sang: “Hey, you, get off of my cow…”?

If you see a rock star before next Wednesday, invite them to our meeting.

In the meantime, I’ll be working on un-ah-ing myself.

Taking On the Role of Timer

Role of Timer - ToastmastersA hallmark of effective speakers is the ability to express themselves within a specific amount of time. Members rely on the timer to pace speeches and practice adhering to a time frame. The timer is also responsible for tracking every part of the meeting agenda.

The timer’s role is fundamental to the success of every meeting. However, keeping a meeting on time is a shared responsibility between all members of the club. The timer is merely the reference point for the person speaking to know how long they have been talking.

Below are a few tips for the next time you take on the role of timer:

Before The Meeting

  • Confirm the time allotted to each prepared speech with all speakers.
  • Ask speakers for any unique timing cues (especially speeches from advanced manuals that may have multiple parts)
  • Write your explanation of timing in the clearest possible language and rehearse it. For the benefit of guests and new members, be sure to emphasize timing rules and how timing signals are given

Upon Arrival at the Meeting

  • Check that the timing equipment is working properly and that you are comfortable with its use
  • Double check timing on the agenda, in case there were changes for time

During the Meeting

  • When introduced, explain the timing rules and demonstrate the signal device.
  • Signal speakers as to the timing of their speeches and roles
  • Record each members time they used to complete their speeches and roles
  • Give times at the end of the meeting

After the Meeting

  • Return the timing equipment to the sergeant at arms.

The importance of reporting the time aloud to everyone, especially to the speakers, is to allow the Toastmasters a chance to realize how much time they actually spent on the stage – which can be either longer or, shorter than what they expected when preparing/rehearsing their speeches.

Ready to take on timer? Sign up today!

 

The Gift You Bring to Toastmasters Meetings

The Gift of You

“Each of us showed up with our biggest gift and gave it to everyone.”

It was an astute observation that summed up the overall feeling of Wednesday’s Morningstars Toastmasters meeting. A casual statement that spoke about our individual strengths and how they combine to create a “glowing,” energetic meeting. But it was also a reminder of the powerful contributions everyone of us makes weekly.

Sure, we sign up for roles. We craft speeches. We focus on what it is we need to do to help the meeting run smoothly. We give attention to our words, our delivery and the finer points of what is needed to fulfill our roles. But that is such a small part of the bigger picture.

It’s easy to miss the importance that YOU bring to the meeting. Each one of us has a unique trait, quality that is a gift we bring and offer to all those in the room. For some it is their sense of humour. For others, it is their energetic spirit. Perhaps you have a commanding voice. Or an insightful perspective. Each unique trait in us adds a different splash of colour that only enhances the ambiance of Harmony Hall. The more often you share your “gift,” the brighter the picture becomes.

In short, you help to make the meetings. You help to infuse it with a special energy that carries us through for the next six days. You pump up the room. You make us smile. Make us think. Make us want to be a better speaker (or leader!). You.

The positive energy and gifted room wasn’t the only high points of this morning. Here are a few other items of note:

1) Sheila C. inducted THREE new members this morning. Welcome to Neil, Maria and Bertha! Although it was technically their “first” meeting, Bertha filled her first role as Grammarian. Neil and Maria demonstrated their impromptu speaking talents by answering Table Topics questions. Way to go, guys!

2) Katherine S. completed the last project in her Advance Communications Manual. The project, “Communicating With Video,” was a web training program and promotion for her upcoming Creativity Cafe. A home run for her . . . and for our Tech Assist (Liam B.). That’s one manual done!

3) Sheila C. took us to new heights with an entertaining tale about Larry Walker. It was “uplifting” and took the energy to “soaring heights.”

4) William B. gave mad props and highlighted one of our Toastmasters who recently took center stage at the Town of Gibsons City Council meeting: Johanna R. Johanna gave a two minute speech on our organization in conjunction with February 2016 being Toastmasters International Month! (Pssst: More to come on this soon!)

Just a reminder, please sign up for roles for next week’s meeting on Feb. 10. The theme is “Love is . . . “