The floor is yours!

One of the things that literally terrifies many people is being asked to make some impromptu remarks.

There is a saying – “ Failure to plan is planning to fail.”

So for many people being asked to speak having made no preparation is a disaster waiting to happen.

That’s why at Toastmasters International clubs we spend part of our meetings working on impromptu speaking.

We call it Table Topics. Someone has the job of selecting the subjects to speak on and then members are selected at random and asked to speak on them for up to two minutes.

At our last Voice of Wales meeting David Sands had the job of selecting the subjects.

He chose a selection of events in and around Wales – some of which had already taken place and some of which were still to come.

Examples included a classical music concert and astronomy weekend; a seaside seafood festival; a stone skimming championship and the world bog snorkling championships.

Speakers had to describe what they enjoyed or what they were looking forward to.

There are tips and tricks that help speakers deal with such unexpected and testing subjects and it is always a fun part of the meeting undertaken in an environment that is friendly and supportive.

Marcus Grodentz did one of the evening’s prepared speeches on the topic of self-limiting beliefs. He is undertaking a course entitled “Presentation Mastery” and this talk had to demonstrate appropriate and effective use of body language  – given that a substantial part of our communication is non-verbal.

The final speech of the evening came from Rick Cooper, one of the club’s most senior members.

Toastmasters International provides a guided learning programme to help people refine and develop their speaking and leadership skills.

The on-line course is called Pathways and members can choose from one of a number of options that will help them tailor their speaking skills to achieve personal outcomes.

Rick gave an educational presentation to update members on how to obtain the best use of the online programme and finished off with an enthusiastic question and answer session.

Members never know what to expect at a club meeting – but they know it will be fun, interesting and varied.

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Why?

Ask why instead of what – that was the advice from Ian Edwards one of the speakers at our last club meeting when he gave a talk about networking for entrepreneurs.

So many people, he said, when they get into conversations at networking meetings ask “What do you do?”

The result is that people tell you – at great length. They list everything!

But there is a different conversation to be had if you change the question and ask – why do you do what you do?

Listen carefully to the replies to this question because the chances are that people will still tell you what they do.

And if people can’t pinpoint exactly why they do what they do – then there is another question to be asked. That is, why do they do it?

It all comes down to WHY?

The trials and tribulations of being a manager and leading multiple teams led to an examination of the differing leadership styles in the next set speech by Alistair Driscoll.

Understanding group dynamics and adjusting your leadership style accordingly is a key skill for a manager who has diverse teams.

This was a fascinating insight into being a leader and what it takes to drive and motivate diverse groups to achieve key outcomes.

From ignorance to competence was the journey we were taken on by Rick Cooper who, as our third speaker, explained how to coach a new member in the complexities of one of the important club roles.

Enthusiasm alone is not enough. He explained the learning curve that we all have to go through as we take on the challenge of learning new roles and skills.

He also explained that it had to be a two way process with the coach getting as much fulfilment and enjoyment from the process and the person being taught.

The fascinating thing about club nights is not only are we learning the art of public speaking.

We do it in a fun and friendly environment – and we get to hear a wide range of talks on subjects that are as fascinating as they are diverse in nature.