“The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.” Mark Twain
The Toastmaster journey starts with the Ice Breaker – the first speech you give to the club, intended to help you begin speaking before an audience, identify existing skills and those you should work on. The CC manual advises that you should begin with a familiar subject – yourself.
On Thursday evening Michael Devaney began his Toastmaster journey.
He used the chronological approach to the Ice Breaker, beginning with his birth in County Mayo and ending with his present life in Edinburgh. In the speech, he touched briefly on his schooldays in Ireland, life at university, working in Glasgow and then Inverness where he ‘blossomed’ in the ‘the achingly beautiful landscape’ , but then he could not get used to the ’12pm curfew’ imposed on pubs, so he left there and came to live in the capital where he hopes to remain for a few years then ‘meander home to Ireland’. Michael delivered his speech with sincerity, quiet humour and creative use of language. And, if you haven’t guessed it yet, Micjael is an English teacher.
The Wordmaster/Grammarian was Paul Bailey, another teacher. Paul’s word of the day was herculean and that’s a clue – Paul is a classics teacher (now retired). Paul listened to the evening’s events with a keen ear and although he reported one or two grammatical errors, he also praised some of the language as ‘evocative’ with ‘lots of good phrases’, as well as reporting 6 users of the word of the day.
Kevin Miller gave the second speech of the evening – number 3 in the CC manual. The objectives were to deliver a speech with a general purpose and a specific purpose, ensure the structure of the speech supports these, not use notes and control nervousness. Kevin achieved all this in just over 7 minutes with a speech that gave us one specific piece of advice for keeping our New Year resolutions. Using personal stories, examples , humour and a good analogy about Toastmasters, Kevin gave us a simple plan for sticking to our New Year’s resolution – ‘treat it like structured learning’, he said. Making New Year’s resolutions is like adopting a new habit, according to Kevin, who treats his New Year’s resolutions like ‘learning experiences’. He draws up a lesson plan, puts it on his wall and follows it. He is ‘both student and teacher’ and gives himself marks for achieving each step. You will be able to see Kevin’s speech on the club’s updated, private video site soon (details of how to access the site will be sent to members only, by email).
The evening was run, of course, by Duncan Thompson, Toastmaster of the Evening (TME). After welcoming the members, the 7 guests and the Area 30 Governor, Sheila Fraser, Duncan gave a brief overview of the importance of the Toastmasters experience. His 20 second question was, ‘How far is too far when prying into celebrities business’?, based on a recent item in the news about celebrities having their telephones tapped. The answers given by the 20 members and guests present ranged from who cares?, not interested in celebrities, it’s a bit sad to one person who bravely admitted to being interested and going as far as buying celebrity magazines to keep up with the gossip.
Club business began with Moira, the President, presenting Michael with his Ice Breaker ribbon – this is given to every new member in the club when they deliver their first speech – the ribbons also make good bookmarks; a brief report on the Burns Supper which was a huge success ,with 35 members and guests across both Edinburgh clubs; the date of the club’s International Speech Contest and Evaluation contest – 1oth March. To be eligible for the speech contest, members must have completed 6 manual speeches. The winner of the 2 contests will go on to compete against the winners of 4 other clubs at the Area contest on 27th March – Waverley Communicators is hosting it this year in Edinburgh, venue to be decided.
After a break for tea/ coffee biscuits and Duncan’s homemade sultana cake – thank you Duncan for bringing it in – it was delicious and was devoured by the end of the break , Mark Ferguson took the floor as Table Topics Master (TTM). Mark’s topic was ‘your ideal career’. From a bag, each speaker had to pick a piece of paper and then had to persuade the audience why the career on the paper was the best career in the world. The speakers’ powers of persuasion were put to the test as they tried to convince members of the audience to give up their jobs and retrain as rat catchers, traffic wardens, funeral directors, News of the World journalists or, worst of all, the Prime Minister. Mark began the session with a good explanation and example from daily life about the importance of practising impromptu speaking. The topics needed no preamble from the TTM and this freed up time for more speakers.
At the end of the evening, the role players reported that we had kept to time and had not used too many speech fillers. Thanks go to Louise Kirk who stepped in at the last minute, as Timer and to Duncan Thompson who evaluated the Table Topics, again at the last minute, as well as being the TME and the Greeter – who said men couldn’t multi task? The General Evaluator, Graeme Buck, gave his report on the whole evening – super.
To visit the club website, go to http://www.waverleycommunicators.org