Archive for January 2007

There’s Something about England

January 30, 2007


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Last night, I was asked to step in as an evaluator at the last minute for Noni’s Icebreaker.

I remember how very nervous I was on my own Icebreaker speech, not so very long ago. And I was impressed by how very calm Noni appeared to be, at the start of the night.

I tried to remember all the wonderful things Geoff had said to me before my icebreaker. Right there, I could only remember a very few of them. I found it hard to find much of value I could tell this apparently calm person.

Her speech was great, of course, which made it even more difficult for me to find something to help her with in my evaluation. There were moments where she had hurried a little bit, so I pointed that out. But then, she’d also made such great use of ‘the pause’ – so I was sure to mention that too. It was an interesting speech about her coming from Cyprus across to England – twice! It carried all of us, with its light, humorous look at bad weather and British pub life.

For myself, I enjoyed getting the chance to give this evaluation and hope I did a good job for Noni. One thing I need to work on is my close – I never seem to know what to say at the end of an evaluation.

Last night was no exception – I mumbled about how well I thought she’d done and then said something like “and that’s all I can think of to say”. Hmm. That’s something I’ll be working on.

On another note, Keith gave a funny table topics speech on blogs – and how he’d never read one. He compared blogs in general with those letters people send you at Christmas – you know, the long, photo-copied, impersonal ones. He said, whenever he’d tried to write such a letter himself, he’d found it hard not to come over supercilious. And he imagined a blog must be a similar thing. After all, he told us, what makes blog-writers think anyone wants to read their regular outpouring of views?


Table Topics Master

January 10, 2007


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This week, I was acting as Table Topics Master for the first time.

It didn’t go too well…

In fact, I started off badly and continued in the same vein.

As Table Topics Master, it was my job to choose the topics (short, impromptu speeches) and then pick the club members they should be assigned to.

Beforehand, I had picked 6 topics based on the theme of “New Year’s Resolutions”, and printed these out on little bits of paper so that each speaker could choose.

The first mistake I made was in not identifying my targets well beforehand. At Toastmasters, there’s a rule that you should not pick someone who is
 performing another role that evening. The first person I picked was Muryel – who was already evaluating for someone else. I was in such a panic, choosing people at the last minute, that I missed this completely.

She correctly pointed this out right away – and I’m afraid this made me somewhat nervous for the rest of it.

Somehow, I fumbled through till, at the end of the session (all speakers having been called), I completely messed up the summary. I should have announced that now was the time to vote for best Table Topics Speaker, and summarised what each had said. Unfortunately, I had completely forgotten who had spoken on which topic!

What could I say?

It was only good fortune which saved me – Norman had written this down, and called out the details for me.

In summing up my performance at the end of the night, Club President Mireia gave me a few useful pointers. Apparently, I’d apologised for my performance throughout (I was nervous!) – and this wasn’t necessary. I’d also apologised for picking on certain of the club members when I really ought to have congratulated them. We don’t want to give the guests and new members the impression this is some dreadful punishment!

But I’ve learnt my lesson. The next time I am called to perform this particular duty I will prepare 2 lists:

  1. A list of all the club members, so I can identify the ones I cannot choose (i.e. those performing roles) at the start, by scoring them out.
  2. A list of all the topics I have prepared – so I can write the name of the speaker against each one.

That should make it easier to choose appropriate candidates – and easier for me to provide a clear summary at the end.

If I do this in future, it will certainly be less nerve-racking!