Saturday 25th of May was our first adventure into Hitchin Town Square. Our purpose was to let people in the local community know about our club and how it could help them to achieve their personal goals.
I have to say that it was a great success. The weather was great, the town was packed and we had a strong and committed group of Toastmasters who made the day. We even had a Toastmaster from Harrow and a Toastmaster from Stevenage Speakers club.
Before the event, we had very little in the way of publicity material. We didn’t have any flyers or a banner to put up on the gazebo. Our club worked together to get the copy and designs done for the flyers and the banner which we used along the back of the gazebo. There was some work to do and compromises to made to suit all the members of the committee but we got it all done in just under two weeks! A special thanks to Salman, Lynne, Andrea and John.
Of course there are some things that we would have done differently. If we were to do this again we would have started working on the publicity a lot earlier and we would have had separate meetings dedicated to the design of the publicity material. This would have been much easier but the reality is that we all have day jobs and family so finding the time can be tricky.
For myself, I would aim to be more positive. I was worried that we wouldn’t have flyers, that I would forget something or that I would be alone at the stall! My anxiety about the event going wrong was not motivating, yet our club rallied round the idea and it was a great day. I really enjoyed the enthusiasm of everyone and in reality there was only one small problem which was sorted out by 10am!
David even sang “O solo Mio!” which certainly stopped passers by in their tracks.
The microphone and PA made a big difference. So much more interesting than a table full of flyers. Of course you would expect a speakers club to do some Public Speaking wouldn’t you?
Funnily, we were all a bit reticent to use the mic at first!
We also managed to get members of the public to get up and speak which was great. Some people also asked us if we could help them to train students or to help out with providing some speakers.
This week’s meeting saw a flurry of educational awards so there were happy faces all round. You can see above a photo of John Kendall receiving two awards.
John attained his level 5 Pathways award in Dynamic leadership and his Pathways level 5 award for Presentation Mastery.
Rose Saliba completed her 10th Speech and received her Competent Communicator award.
We were again gifted with a number of visitors, three of which decided to join our club this week. In fact one of our visitors, Andy Scapelhorn, not only became our newest member but also won the Best Table Topics Speaker award this week!
On the 20th of March we had a great speech by Lynne Wilkins on Mentoring. So what is mentoring?
Informal and supportive relationship.
It’s a voluntary arrangement – one that’s not like being managed formally: but it is supportive.
Someone you can learn from whether it’s from what they do, specific skills coaching or someone with which to share your worries.
Someone to help you meet your goals.
There’s a lot to get used to when you first come to Toastmasters, it can be a bit baffling with the funny names, agendas and clapping. A mentor can ease you into this; sitting next to you at meetings and explaining things and helping with any questions about pathways. They can encourage you to build your skills and get involved with taking on meeting roles. They will help you to join in and get ready for that all important first speech.
Each mentoring relationship you have should have an end point. In the beginning you want to gain your wings and to get confident so you can get to a point where you are happy to fly on your own.
As we go along our toastmaster journey it’s important we keep growing. Sometimes we need a refresh, or a new destination. You can change mentors to get the help you need at the time in your journey when you need it.
This takes time and effort – so why would you bother? Well because as much as you pass onto your mentor, you’re going to be learning from the experience too, and your mentee will have suggestions too that could be useful for your learning experience. You’ll realise how much you do know and each bit of knowledge you pass on refreshes that and inspires you again. One of the best ways of learning is to teach.
This was a meeting with a wide range of topics as well as speakers. We had two speakers giving their Ice Breaker speech. One was an experienced speaker who wanted to take a step into the pathways experience (the Toastmasters new educational programme) and one speaker who was completely new to Toastmasters.
Wojciech, who has been a member of our club for 3 years now said of doing his icebreaker again:
“I have to say I much more enjoyed my second Icebreaker. And another challenge accepted with the Pathways educational programme. You cannot get bored with TI (sic – Toastmasters International).”
Wojciech also got the best evaluator award.
Less Bag and More Makeup
Sam gave her very first speech, her Icebreaker. I was intrigued by the title but by the end of the speech I was laughing at the images of her over preparing for a three day music festival with a large rucksack! She explained to us how taking so much care to prepare actually meant that she was less able to enjoy the event and how over time she learnt to relax and take things as they came.
Karl spoke to us about the Thrive programme and how it has transformed thousands of lives around the world. He explained the key psychological concepts and why it’s not therapy. It was an interesting speech and we hope to hear more about it over time.
Andrea’s speech was about making bucket lists – a list of what a person wishes to achieve or experience before they die. Examples were given from her own personal bucket list. She then questioned whether such a list was of limited value. Was it only useful for building memories to carry us through old age but lost when life ends. To illustrate this, she surprised us all when she opened and closed the door next to her, kicking the bucket containing items on her list, outside so that it disappeared from view. It was proposed that a second bucket list could also be written with goals designed to help others or impact the world positively. She filled a new bucket with goals designed to make the world a kinder place. Explaining research revealing that the process of physically writing a goal makes its realisation 42% more likely, she gave a handout, challenging us all to write a list of what we wanted to achieve for others.
Our last meeting was on January 19th and the content of the speeches was very varied. Something for everyone.
Almost controversially, we began with a speech about European Trade by Dorothy Molloy. I say controversially because at Toastmasters we avoid talking about Politics or religion. We don’t like to frighten the horses! However this speech was not about Brexit, although topical, it was just the facts about Europe and who trades with who and attempted to demystify some of the terms we hear nearly every day at the moment!
Free as a Bird
If you want to know about how aeroplanes work then why not listen to Eddie Asquith who was a commercial pilot for many years. Who would have thought that he could have us laughing so much whilst explaining how a plane stays in the air!
The Mystery of Marketing
Rose Saliba told us about her exasperation with all the forms of marketing that we are told we need to do these days. This was her 7th speech from the Competent Communicator manual. Not long until she has completed the whole level. Congratulations!
When Life gives you Limes
Bradley Peters really took the challenge of this project and ran with it. The challenge of speech number 8 is to get comfortable with Visual Aids and Bradley used both a projector and … limes, soda water, sugar and a cocktail mixer! He was very calm as he made use of all of these things to explain how to make a Mojito, the favourite drink of Ernest Hemingway which he drank often at one of his favourite bars, La Bodeguita del Medio, in Havana, Cuba.
Best Speaker: Eddie Asquith
Best Evaluator: Ben Osborne
Best Table Topics: Karen Harris
Wow! First time at Toastmasters and she has won the Table Topics! Great improptu speaking Karen!
As ever Christmas parties come early and the same goes for us at North Herts Speakers. Our party was on the 30th November this year.
With guest from East Herts, Luton, Eldergate, Stevenage and Cornerstones we had a chance to get to know other Toastmasters in our area as well as time to have a chat with members of our own club.
Steve Saunders was our Toastmaster for the evening and we had speeches by Eddie Asquith and Richard Foster Fletcher. Eddie talked about his experience of Toastmasters and how it has helped him to gain new skills and confidence.
Richard Foster-Fletcher gave us a humorous speech on what it is to be British including a tongue in cheek quiz where he asked us questions about our ridiculous need to be polite at all times, even when it is not appropriate!
Not forgetting the awards. We were able to present awards to our very new Toastmasters and experienced Toastmasters alike
Our last meeting on Wednesday 21st November was a great mixture.
We had a very new member, Godfried Debrah who completed his very first “Ice breaker” speech at Toastmasters and also a speech by a very experienced Toastmaster, John Kendall.
Godfried told us about his life growing up in Ghana, about how his father managed to persuade him to stop messing around at school and get down to studying. He had us all laughing at the thought of the young Godfried having to sit down and learn all for the sake of a bar of chocolate.
Rose Saliba’s speech was on Performance Poetry. She used this speech to complete project number 6 which requires you to expand and improve your vocal variety. It’s great to see our members progressing so quickly in their journey to become a competent communicator. Competent Communicator is a Toastmaster term for someone who has completed all 10 speeches in the original Toastmaster handbook but I think that it really does give you a picture of how a person’s skills have progressed.
John Kendall gave a speech entitled “Reflect on your path” which is a summary of his progress through the new “Pathways” Toastmaster courses. It was great to hear first hand how this course has had much to offer even a Distinguished Toastmaster.
Eddie Asquith won Best Evaluator and Lynne Wilkins won Best Table Topics (impromptu speaking).
The Humorous Speech and Table Topics (Impromptu speaking) area contests were at our club venue this year. It was great to welcome so many other toastmasters from the neighbouring clubs.
With every stage of contest the level of the competitors gets higher and so too does the enjoyment. Of course the Humorous contest is bound to get the audience chuckling but so does the table topics competition. Soon everyone was in very high spirits.
One of our own members: Dorothy Molloy won the Humorous Speech contest and went through to the division contest in Cranfield on November 3rd.