What an Empowering evening we had!
Our public speaking club meeting had our usual mix of activities. People practicing speeches that they had carefully prepared, helpful feedback and a fun opportunity for impromptu speaking. What was unusual was our venue. We were still at The Winchmore, but not in our regular function room. This meant that things were a little more cosy than usual and we had a little background noise, but that all added to the atmosphere. I do wonder what people in the bar thought about all the clapping, cheering and laughter that was emanating from our corner of the pub.
Graeme was our Toastmaster of the evening and expertly guided us through our purpose: to help people develop their confidence, communication and leadership skills through public speaking. Graeme also introduced Barbara as our grammarian, providing insight into our use of language. Lee was the Timekeeper for the evening. We also welcomed Arlene as our newest member of the club. Arlene kindly volunteered to provide us all with feedback on our use of “filler-words”, such as ah, erm and … well, and…
Then we got started with our prepared speeches. This is where the speaker has used the Toastmasters International Education Programme to help them craft their speech.
Dorothea leaped to her feet and entertained us all with her speech entitled “Take a step”. This was Dorothea’s first speech at the club, and she certainly impressed us. So much so that we awarded her Best Speaker for the evening. She spoke about how a visit to “Go Ape” with her husband had inspired her. We learned the importance of overcoming fears and experiencing something new. It was a topic to which everyone in our Toastmasters speaking club can relate. I was privileged to provide an evaluation of Dorothea’s speech. I particularly liked her evocative language and alliterative phrase of being bold, brave and brazen.
Next up was Sinita, who encouraged us all to use our imagination. She vividly described an experience from her past. Her use of language and encouragement for us to “imagine” meant that we could share the experience with her. Sinita shared with us how taking “two deep breaths” is something that can help us all to feel calm and more focused. It provides an opportunity to live in the moment, rather than thinking about the many things in our lives. Graeme praised Sinita’s speech. He commented on how Sinita’s calm and measured delivery had enhanced the overall impact.
Wendy then treated us to a thought-provoking speech about our attitudes to time. She crafted a great metaphor – comparing Newton’s theories of time with those of Einstein. She encouraged us to think of time being relative, where our attitude affects how quickly time passes. Wendy even shared with us a quote, attributed to Einstein:
“When you sit with a nice girl for two hours you think it’s only a minute, but when you sit on a hot stove for a minute you think it’s two hours. That’s relativity.”
Salem provided feedback to Wendy, in his usual constructive and witty style. He commended her on the structure of her speech and made some suggestions about how her speech could be made even better. The quality of Salem’s feedback meant that we voted him as the best evaluator for the evening.
Impromptu public speaking
We had our usual networking break, with an opportunity to catch up with old friends and make some new ones. Then we had Table Topics. This is our chance for impromptu or off-the-cuff public speaking. In life, we’re often asked to speak briefly on a topic. Whether that’s providing an update at work or speaking to a teacher at school, this is an important skill. At our club, we make the development of this skill as fun as possible.
Wendy led use through this part of the meeting, with some good questions that could really get us talking. Some were very philosophical and prompted reflection, such as how you would live your life differently. Some provided an opportunity to share passions, such as what we would say if we could get a message across to a large group of people. One person was simply asked, “what makes you smile?” We certainly had fun. When Salem was asked about “existing vs living”, his answer was so good that we awarded him the Best Table Topics award. Kavita then took the stage to provide each of our impromptu public speakers with encouragement and advice for the future.
It was certainly a fun evening of learning and empowerment. I use the word “empowerment” advisedly, as Barbara had challenged us all to use that word during the evening. I always value my visits to Winchmore Hill Speakers as it’s great to see how everyone supports each other. At the end of the evening, Rosy, our club president summarised what we had achieved. She also encouraged all of us to invite our friends, families and colleagues to come and join in the fun. Come along to our next meeting on June 19th!