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!

 

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10 Behaviours of an Effective Evaluator

Earlier this month, Morningstars Toastmasters were gifted a special workshop that focused on the art of evaluation. As we approach the International Speech and Evaluation Contest (March 23), I wanted to share some of the highlights from the workshop with you:

Why Do We Evaluate?
The purpose of evaluation is to help another person become a better speaker and leader.  Everyone has different reasons for wanting to learn to speak and lead more effectively. Perhaps you are shy. Maybe you are looking to further your personal interactions. Or it could be your dream to have that corner office one day. Whatever the reasons are, you want two things:

  1. You want to improve your speaking skills
  2. You want to know how to improve.

Cue evaluations.

Evaluations help to highlight the what we are doing right and areas where we can grow to take our speech to new heights. Evaluations are a source of information. The information gets processed by the speaker and we test our strengths again in the next speech. It is how we improve.

10 Behaviours of an Effective Evaluator (taken from the Success Communication Series Workbook):
1) Show that you care. Let the speaker know that your opinions are coming from a positive place meant to lift them.

2) Suit your evaluation to the speaker. Where in the Toastmasters program are they? How is their confidence level?Toastmasters Tips for Evaluation

3) Learn the speaker’s objectives. What is it they are working on? Working towards? Focus on their needs for growth and not just your preferences.

4) Listen actively. Nod. Smile. Make eye contact. This is hard for many of us are trying to scribble down notes, ideas and key take aways. It’s hard to capture all you want and hear the speech at the same time. However, the speaker needs to engage with us. Give them that opportunity.

5) Personalize your language.  Use their name and specifics from their speech. Don’t just give a report, flush it out with details from their speech.

6) Give positive reinforcement. What did they do right? What are their strengths? What “wowed” you?

7) Help the speaker become motivated. The easiest way to motivate is to fuel the speaker’s desire for improvement.

8) Evaluate the speech, not the speaker. Focus on how they delivered their speech and not what they were wearing or their political beliefs.

9) Nourish self-esteem. It’s how we feel about ourselves and it is vital to personal growth. Recognize their strengths in an authentic way. Give them opportunities to learn by explaining why each and every positive (and negative) point matters. This helps them learn. Learning helps us to understand.

10) Show the speaker how to improve. Go deep and wide. Think outside the box. To do this, you must get into the speaker’s head and task and out of your momentarily. We all notice the “uhs, ahhs and ums” but dig deeper to get to the true nuggets. It isn’t a matter of looking for what the speaker did wrong, but rather what they can do to take it up a notch. How they can make it more engaging.

Remember The Order: (i) Focus on WATCHING and LISTENING actively as the speech is being delivered, (ii) focus on THINKING when you are preparing your evaluation, (iii) focus on SPEAKING after you have processed your thoughts and come up with the top points you will cover in your evaluation.

Happy Evaluating!

 

Table Topics: A Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

ComfortZoneBeing called upon for a table topics speech continues to daunt me, despite having delivered a few and even winning an area contest a few years ago. Training myself to accept that it is just “excitement” rather than “fear” is my intellectual goal. My emotional reservations try to convince me that perhaps this particular speaking skill isn’t really necessary for my wellbeing.

Speaking with mind and heart is important for us all, though. Table topics provides the opportunity to voice a brief synopsis related to the given topic. We have a way to organize our speech and a supportive audience. How fortunate! The skill development is useful at work and at the family dinner table. Owning the two minutes and ensuring our talk is interesting builds our confidence, too.

The theme of today was: “What a difference a day makes”. I wasn’t chosen for table topics today as I had anticipated, because I had forgotten that several weeks ago I had signed up for the Jokemaster role. The joke was on me! Having thought that I could likely be a table topics speaker, I had missed fulfilling the role I really do enjoy. Looking for a relevant joke to match the day’s theme has become quite research-intensive for me when occasions demand it. It is opening up new possibilities for me, too. Lately, I have been preparing for the Tall Tale competition….a challenge to think outside the box.

I was late for the meeting this morning, but so glad that I went. It definitely made a difference to my day, recognizing that being prepared for a speech or a joke is not that different from being prepared to be on time and ready for anything, such as, an unknown table topic. The table topics today included asking about strangers that made an impact and life changing circumstances encountered in our lives.

Table topic questions push us out of our comfort zone and do make us think on our feet. Greeting our fellow members gives us time to relax and decide upon a theme to expound on. The speech doesn’t have to be based on reality; the organization of the speech is the important skill being developed. Bravo to everyone who delivered their table topics speech this morning. It was a good meeting for all!

 

<em>Contributed by Johanna</em>