Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Visiting a Toastmasters Club

As I mentioned in a recent An Unwanted Journey blog entry, Toastmasters is an excellent organization with a superb track record for enabling individuals to become better public speakers and leaders. As with any organizations, there are aspects that one might wish to change, but overall my estimation of the structure and value of Toastmasters International is unabated.

This morning, I had the pleasure of being a guest at the Black Walnut Toastmasters club which meets in the Sun Life/Clarica building in Kitchener-Waterloo. This club meets on Wednesday mornings from 7:30 am until 8:50 am. Because Wednesday is my day off work and because the meeting is first thing in the morning, there are few reasons not to seriously consider involvement. I still have to be aware that I am in recovery, but if my energy allows, it seems like a good idea.

This particular club is extremely well organized. Each meeting has a theme and each person participating in the meeting is invited prior to the meeting to provide the chair with some thoughts on the theme. Then, when the chair introduces the participant, he/she uses those previously provided comments to make the introduction. In addition, there was a folder provided for each guest with membership information, typical meeting formats, evaluation forms, tent cards for names, and sample Toastmasters magazines. At the front of the meeting room a white board was prepared with the names of guest, the theme for the meeting, and announcements.

Table topics, in which each person not delivering a speech or evaluation is given an opportunity to address a theme extemporaneously, was a fun way to begin. That was followed by a grammarian delivering the word of the day and challenging speakers to use the word appropriately throughout the course of the meeting. There were three speeches given by members to complete objectives in various training manuals prepared by Toastmasters International, such as speeches to inform, to roast a friend, and to provide technical information. Each speech was then evaluated, as was the participation of everyone in the meeting by a general evaluator. Guests were invited to comment on the meeting and then we were dismissed exactly on time.

Another well run Toastmasters meeting. Joining this group may be something that I do in the new year.

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