Good fun night at the North Bucks Speakers for their international speech and evaluations. Well done winning speakers Delphine, Maggie, and Jennifer. Well done winning evaluators Louise and Gareth. Great standards from a vibrant busy club.
This was my second ever adventure out into the wider world of Toastmasters. I went to observe their competition to gain insight into chairing the International Speech and Evaluation Contest at Cranfield Speakers on the 26th of March.
The Well at Willen is a Christian Community centre on the shore of Willen lake with accessible parking and well equiped set of meeting rooms.
There were five contestants for the Speech Contest chaired by Steve.
- Maggie kicked off with a Freudian speech on the tension between our inner voices of the Id and the Super Ego or the inner gremlin and the inner angel. Maggie finished with the Chinese proverb.
- Femi gave a really interesting and well researched talk on the evidence for older being wise. Yes we approach cognitive decline with age and yes we lose the ability to learn fluidly and are forced to rely on crystallised experience. There is no reason to think age predicts wisdom, but the old appreciate the value of wasted or well used time more.
- Jennifer gave her personal epiphany of meeting Margaret Thatcher (Mrs T) in life at a networking meeting in the houses of Parliament. Mrs T is the only female British Prime-minister and people either loved her or hated her, even after Death. Maggie was a fierce critic, but was utterly disarmed when she found in Mrs T a frail elderly immaculately turned out lady who in conversation notices the most feminine and exquisite details of Jennifer’s attire the scarf and on leaving personally took time to talk to and thank all the waiters and waitresses. People want to feel appreciated and Mrs T was infallible in that then.
- Delphine is tormented by annoying little bad habits and no comes bigger than her procrastination. A three week deadline can evaporate in a series of vital distractions and favours for others until the the night before THEN rather than postpone it, it is time for battle stations. kids to bed early… caffeine and adrenalin on maximum straight through the night with the bare minimum of fuss and zero elaborative details into a slick somewhat hyper tense presentation She can explain every detail of her work as if it was fresh in her mind from the day before, which is exactly what it is. Pity those colleague who did their work early and are struggling to remember why they did what Ha! Days of Foetal recovery position Post Traumatic Procrastination Syndrome follow!. Never again! Self help books are bought…small differences are for a short time…so now its is a healthier grasp of giving up the highs of procrastination…and until further notice she is going to fake it until she makes it as a steady consistent worker.
- Louise gave us a dramatic narrative of her school days. Living in fear of the headmistress, her teacher and her teacher’s pet a blond ‘perfect’ girl called Kate. One day the classroom was discordant and eventually Louise twigged that the ancient Mahogany clock had stopped. Louis’s grandfather had taught her the secret to old stopped clocks is sometime they need a little tap on the hands to ease them on their way. In line with the school motto to help, and to the alarm of her friends, Louse got a chair and ascended to the clock to give it a tap. In a moment where time stood still that clock fell and exploded on the floor. Off went Kate to tell teacher to tell the headmistress. Louise was eventually summoned to account for herself and her friend insisted she join as a witness. The puce (was it anger or too much sherry?) headmistress in her smokey office, dragging on her cigarette barked at Louise to explain herself and headed the friend off from saying anything. On find it was due Louise’s botched attempt to help she weighed judgement whilst dragging at that cigarette and ordered it never to happen again. Life went back to normal and the moral of the story is only help when you know what you are doing.
Mike took us out of the network break as he chaired the Evaluation Contest with three contestants.
Constance provided the Evaluation Speech entitled “let’s celebrate the difference” She described the dichotomies of character traits (confident or shy and feminine or masculine, etc) we all have whilst pelting the audience with scrunched up pages of her notes. You had to stay alert for self preservation! She had us all smile and shake hands to prove how unique and different we all are and how robots should never any day soon be able to pass of as a human. Constance explained how the person we are is very much the product of situation and age. How we are in a crematorium is different from how we are in a pub. How we empathised with the family of murdered Soldier Lee Rigby was very different from how we empathised the body language of Torvil and Dean as they skated Bolero to take the Sarajevo Olympics in 1984. We have traces of telepathy you know! It is in us all to be naughty. or nice. or to be an impulsive brave curious child. or a disciplined focused adult, etc. Most of us need to find that inner child again.
Pointers for the Contest at Cranfield Speakers
- Ensure ample supplies for the network break
- Provide gifts of wine, chocolates for all the visiting toastmasters that take an official role.
- Ensure that the audio visual equipment is set and primed to run and people know how to use it.
- Get my suit out and ready to wear again. Sorry moths!
- Consider camera, photographer and set piece photo opportunities for the contestants and prize winners.
- Provide everyone one with a role specification and personal agenda so that the chair is not distracted by silly questions