27Jul/17

Giving Effective Evaluations

A key part of any Toastmaster meeting is the opportunity to evaluate speeches and roles. Evaluations allow you to give people constructive feedback. Frequent, quality feedback ensures improvement, which is what many come to Toastmasters to achieve.

Here is a summary of a recent webinar given by the Neuroleadership Institute on the science behind how the brain likes to receive feedback. It may help you make your evaluations even more effective, not just in meetings, but in other areas of your life too.

Why Give Effective Evaluations?

  • It is an essential leadership skill for you to develop.
  • People improve more and faster with regular feedback.
  • Greater improvement comes from frequent, targeted input from many sources.
  • If done incorrectly, it achieves nothing or makes matters worse.
  • Poor evaluation can be discounted and ignored by the receiver.

What is Feedback?

  • Conversations that provide insights and help people improve by facilitating positive change.
  • Feedback (positive or negative) is information about past behaviour and results, in order to raise awareness and create choices for development.
  • Feedback should be based on facts and backed up with evidence and examples.
  • Feedback is NOT criticism. Criticism, by its nature, causes a threat, which reduces the brain’s capacity to accept it.

Myths about Feedback

  • We think people hate getting feedback. Research shows people actually WANT feedback. What people don’t like is unsolicited feedback or criticism. At a Toastmaster meeting, members know they are going to be evaluated, so it is rarely unsolicited. If you feel you have to give unsolicited feedback, ask their permission first. This will help reduce the threat.
  • Feedback should focus on problems – what people are doing wrong. Yes it can outline errors, but we can over focus on this. People need to know what they are doing right too.
  • Experienced members know more and should be the ones to give feedback. Members come from all aspects of life and work. They can be experienced in what they want or don’t want to hear. Learning to evaluate is part of their development too.
  • We have to only GIVE feedback. No, why not start ASKING for feedback? Toastmaster meetings should be a culture where people feel empowered and confident to ask for it, even if it is something not ‘officially’ being evaluated.

How to Give Brain – Friendly Feedback

  • Focus on what they need to build on (strengths) and then what they need to refocus on (recommendations to improve). Think about the words you use. Compare ‘How I think your speech could be even better is …’ to ‘what you did wrong was..’.
  • Use mental contrasting. The brain loves this. Get them to see where they are now and where they can get to in the future.
  • Help activate visual networks and picture what you are saying.
  • Minimise the ‘noise’ in their brain by creating a safe environment and reducing any threat.
  • Simplify the information. Don’t focus on too many aspects at once.
  • Wrap your feedback in a SCARF.
    • Status – help the person feel valued and good about themselves. Focus on what they can build on.
    • Certainty – make it clear at the start what you will give feedback on; what the focus is.
    • Autonomy – Speak to them before the meeting and find out what they want feedback on. Get them to think about choices in how they can improve.
    • Relatedness – build rapport and trust with this person. Offer to mentor or support to help build a confident mindset.
    • Fairness – Be objective, fair and consistent in your approach. Keep it factual rather than personal.

How to Ask for Feedback

  • Create a culture which allows people to feel safe to ask for feedback.
  • Be explicit and specific. Be very clear exactly what you want feedback on. Compare ‘How was my presentation?’ to ‘Please give me some feedback on the structure of my speech – was there a clear start, middle and end for you?’
  • Ask broadly. Ask a variety of people who can give you different perspectives; not just your asigned evaluator. You can ask for a more in-depth evaluation than the meeting may allow.
  • Ask often so it becomes a habit. Timing the request close to when you ‘performed’ will give you a more accurate evaluation. Our memories fade and distort with time.
  • Negative or positive feedback is a gift. It offers an opportunity for you to improve. Either way, avoid discounting it. An example would be if someone praised your speech and your response is ‘Oh it wasn’t that good, I hardly did any preparation’.
  • Remember to thank the person for it. Accept feedback graciously with no repercussions.

Effective evaluations are an important part of Toastmaster meetings. They provide an opportunity to hone a key leadership skill of giving constructive feedback. Why not sign up now to be an evaluator at the next meeting?

24May/17

General Evaluator’s Report: May 17th, 2017

As General Evaluator, my role is to give feedback on the meeting as a whole, and to evaluate anything that would not otherwise be evaluated. As the written evaluation doesn't have the time constraints of the spoken one, I can give a fuller report here. I had six areas I picked out to look at.

The Evaluators

Rachel Knowles is the master of a structured evaluation. She stated at the beginning the three areas she planned to look at (in this case, Start, Story, and Summing Up – which, cleverly, was also the structure of her speech), making explicit use of the rule of three. (Three is a good number. It's just enough to establish a pattern, but not too much to remember.) However, she added to that by splitting each of her sections into three parts, generally a commendation, a recommendation and a further commendation. She finished positively with a call to action about how to make the speech even stronger. My suggestion for Rachel is to be more direct with her recommendations, and to avoid phrases such as "What I would recommend is, perhaps…". "I recommend" comes across as a much stronger statement.

Jennie Dalton's great strength as an evaluator is that she gives reasons for each of her recommendations. She linked her comments to the goals of the speaker's project. Her conclusion was a little lacklustre, ending with "So, congratulations" rather than an encouragement to improve further.

Chris Vowell structured his evaluation around the questions in the manual, which is an effective way of making sure one covers everything. However, the manual questions tend to skew to the positive, which can leave an evaluation short of recommendations – the only one I picked out was 'be more emotive'; while that's a great aspiration, I'd prefer to hear something directly actionable: 'be more emotive – for example, instead of [x], try [y]'. Chris makes a point of beginning his evaluations with formal and heartfelt salutations, where others often either forget or use them over-casually.

Steve Graham is a natural comedian, and began perfectly in the context of responding to being roasted, with a determined "Right." I especially liked that his recommendations were things anybody in the audience could pick up and use – for example, leaving a blank slide when you don't want your audience distracted from your words.

Caroline Brewer, like Rachel, used a solid structure as the foundation for her speech. She was positive and encouraging about the Table Topics Master, and gave several good recommendations. I particularly liked "The ending was a little bit [downward gesture] – it could have been a bit more [upward gesture]." My only recommendation is that the evaluator could have used more of the time available to her.

One final commendation: the standard of evaluation was extraordinarily high. All five evaluators made a point of talking to the audience rather than to the speaker, and offered well-structured analysis of the speech at hand while giving pointers useful to everyone in the room.

Our Guests

At Casterbridge, we pride ourselves on the welcome we give our guests. I was pleased to see Toastmaster Dave Smith greet Ese and Sophie warmly as they arrived, and that every time I looked over, someone was talking with them. The Sergeant at Arms, President and Toastmaster all made a point of welcoming them by name.

The Room

A few comments about the room:

  • The temperature was, by general consensus, a little warm; however, nobody mentioned this to the Sergeant at Arms. (I gather the hotel staff did attempt to adjust the air-con without success.)
  • The club banner is festooned rather haphazardly with ribbons. We have plenty to be proud of as a club, but the banner does not present a professional face. (I understand a solution to this is in hand.)
  • The clock was placed face down on the timekeeper's table, for want of a battery. That struck me as odd; if we're not using the clock, it can be put away.
  • A previous General Evaluator noted that open curtains caused a distraction for the audience; they were closed tonight. I'm glad that previous GE comments have been followed up on.

The Roles

Sergeant at Arms: Rosie Barfoot. Rosie welcomed us to the meeting with a warm smile and enthusiastic words. I'd like to see a more forceful use of the gavel and perhaps a little more volume.

Toastmaster/Warm-up: Dave Smith. Over the last year or so, Dave's confidence and competence have grown enormously. He gave a solid run-down of the Toastmasters etiquette and linked the speeches together with humour. I thought that using a choice of questions for the warm-up was an interesting twist.

Timekeeper: Annabel Wilson: This was Annabel's first time in the timekeeper's role, and she did an excellent job of keeping track of the speakers' times – I'm not sure I've ever seen a more organised timekeeper! Usually, when someone is doing this role for the first time, a more experienced member is informally assigned to shadow and offer advice, and I wonder if this should be made a more formal arrangement.

Topics master: Sophie Jones: It must be quite daunting going to another club to take a role – although Sophie let slip that she'd been test speaker at the Mayflower conference, so a dozen friendly Durnovarians would hardly constitute a challenge. She explained her role, and that of the table topics speakers, very clearly – even reminding us of the target times. I was a little surprised at the choice of speakers (I would have expected the Sergeant at Arms and Toastmaster to be picked ahead of General Evaluator and Topics Evaluator), but was glad of the chance to speak! Her choice of topics was nice and open-ended, and gave everyone a chance to say something. Her ending was very clear as well: "I now return control to the Toastmaster."

Grammarian

Owing to an unusually full speaking programme, we didn't have a Grammarian scheduled, for the first time in many months – which means it falls to me to pick out some phrases that caught my ear.

I enjoyed Christine's "dippy-dips", but puzzled over Laura's "a couple of drinks or two." Dave occasionally dredges up words like "copious", but occasionally resorts to a "very very very long time" – rather than the "aeons" he dropped in at another point. Jennie, at one point, realised she was facing the wrong way and referred to "talking through [her] back," a wonderful turn of phrase.

A couple of people made use of tailing off or pausing to avoid swearing: "You can't see a… thing" and "I knew he was going to talk a load of…".

Picking up errors

When speaking, when performing a role, when milling around and conversing, it's natural to make errors. Errors are not especially interesting. How errors are handled, on the other hand…

This meeting was notable in that I saw several people slip up and – almost before I could make a note of it – someone had stepped in to put it right. For example, the Sergeant at Arms neglected to mention the fire exits, and the President immediately pointed them out. The timekeeper was unaware of the "all three lights" protocol, and she was gently reminded of it. The Toastmaster mistook a guest's name and was corrected politely, with no offence taken on either side. An evaluator left his glasses at his seat, apologised, and asked someone to pass them to him; it was put right in an instant.

There's a danger in taking that too far, though. If someone is struggling with their words, it's rarely the correct thing to finish their sentence for them. It's occasionally correct to offer help, but we must allow people to make at least an attempt at fighting their own battles first.

We each have a responsibility to help others learn, but we also have a responsibility to do it and appropriately. On the flip side, we have a duty to improve ourselves, and also a duty to accept feedback gracefully and gratefully. I felt that, on the whole, we exemplified both sides of that.

Summary

In summary, we had four top-quality speeches on widely-varying subjects, all evaluated at a high standard. We had a Table Topics session full of well-judged questions and thought-out responses, and the whole thing was held together by a Toastmaster who's becoming more of a natural every time he performs the role. I look forward to the next meeting!

21Feb/17

General Evaluation of Meeting – 15th February 2017

Room set-up:  The venue was well set up with sufficient chairs and with tables set to each side.  (Comment: This is useful for those doing evaluations, etc. as they then have a writing surface to aid their preparation.)

Introductory presentations: Sgt. at Arms (Rachel Knowles) gave a comprehensive overview with extended  information as to how to find the female toilets!  President (Beverley Hepting) gave a warm, energetic introduction to the evening.  Timekeeper (David Smith)  gave a boisterous overview of his duties and demonstrated the lights but, because the lights are set behind the audience (and thus not easily visible to them), neglected to mention the colours as they were demonstrated.  Grammarian (Caroline Brewer) with her ‘word-of-the-day’ “Initiate”  gave an excellent overview of her duties and gave examples of variations to be used.  (Comments: Better to fix the ‘word-of-the-day’ script to the front edge of the lectern and the timekeeper’s table BEFORE the meeting and then fold the script back over the lectern. This speeds up the meeting and gives a speedy reveal when the word is presented.  Also, the Grammarian’s duties should also pick up “Ah-Words”: ‘err’, ‘um’, ‘so’, overuse of ‘and’, etc. (What I call ‘Vocal Dandruff’.) The word of the evening could well have been ‘and err’ by its frequency of usage!

Evaluations & Education:  1st Evaluator (Annabel) gave a very comprehensive evaluation of Ali’s ‘Icebreaker’ speech. Good that she picked up Ali’s use of ah-words although, regrettably, her evaluation was sprinkled with lots of them too!  Our 2nd Evaluator (Beverley) gave an incisive appraisal of Richard’s ‘Icebreaker’ with good nuggets to learn from – the usage of timing, stress, pauses and brevity. The Education Session (Colin Beveridge) covered the judging for a Speech Competition.  This was a good overview but a bit uninspiring in its delivery and could have used a flip chart to better demonstrate the marking procedures.  Our Table Topics Evaluator (Siobhan) gave a brief resume on those involved in considering “If Only,” (a great subject for T.T.’s from Rosie!) with some nice nuggets for the speakers.

General Comments:  In addition to “Ah Words” there were two other issues.   It’s important when speaking to gauge the volume required for the room – some were a bit quiet and difficult to hear. Above all, always place the lectern in the middle!  Placing it to one side means that a speaker will naturally speak to that side with eye contact and body language focused there as well. The lectern is not needed for Table Topics and should be placed against the side wall.  Overall though, a very good meeting!

11Feb/17

Area Director’s Report 1st February 2017

If you know anything about our meetings at Casterbridge Speakers, the Dorchester based Toastmasters International Club, it will be that everything in the meeting is evaluated, but you may not know that the club itself is evaluated twice a year by an Area Director.

Toastmasters uses its “Moments of Truth” statements as criteria for measuring the quality and effectiveness of clubs. The most recent club meeting, on the 1st February 2017, was one such occasion and therefore this blog post is a summary of the feedback given.

The main purpose of the club is to encourage our members to practice and develop their public speaking and leadership skills. Given the majority of guests are visiting us because they have some anxieties around public speaking and are looking to build up their confidence and their skills, a warm and friendly welcome is particularly crucial. The current evidence suggests that we usually get this right, with five new members joining in the last 6 months, but some recent feedback highlighted the importance of an ongoing focus on creating a positive guest experience and we must avoid complacency in this area. New members are the life blood of the club.

Making the transition from new member to confident contributor, where you are speaking regularly and taking on meeting roles, may to many seem like a daunting step. The club has an on-line induction programme, which is there to help, and with the additional support of an induction buddy, everyone is encouraged to develop at a speed which suits their own needs. Indeed, the amount of resources that are available both locally and via the TI website are incredible; anything you could possibly want to know about public speaking and leadership is readily (and usually freely) available to you. The club has access to excellent training materials which are great for educational slots in meetings, and it could make more use of these, particularly at the moment with so many new members.
The club relies on everyone taking on the various leadership roles, not only in the meetings but on the leadership committee. Leadership roles can appear daunting at first glance but it’s a lot about team work, sharing responsibilities, and keeping in touch to support what’s going on; nobody is left to ‘sink or swim’ in Toastmasters. The first step is connecting as team.

Good preparation will always be at the heart of a well run club and a well run meeting. Andrew Knowles was the Toastmaster at the most recent meeting, and ably demonstrated the value of good preparation. He set a theme for the evening and seamlessly navigated us through the agenda, returning to the theme for each of the links – it was inspirational. Each of the evaluations was both well structured and well delivered; with Beverley Hepting setting the standards and the other evaluators looking to reach the ‘bar’; Ron gave his first evaluation and walked away with the award for best evaluator.

Casterbridge Speakers is a great club, there is no doubt about it. And we need to focus on the following points:-
• Always be aware of the needs of guests and new members
• Use the resources that are available to us
• Team work – ‘many hands make light work’
• Preparation is at the heart of a good club and a good meeting

29Jan/17

General Evaluator’s Report 18th January 2017

The meeting began with the very sad announcement by President Bev Hepting that Dryden Pennington passed away on Tuesday 17th Jan. We all agreed with her proposal that we made the meeting an exceptional one as a celebration of his friendship and support of the club as a founder member. He will be sadly missed. We then welcomed two guests.

The meeting then moved on with David Smith lifting our spirits in his usual and inimitable manner, with a meeting theme of ‘Winter Warmers’ the warm up for which elicited some interesting responses.

Timekeeper Colin Beveridge then explained his role, assisted by new member Ali Dolphin. Grammarian Andrew Knowles gave us the challenge of the word ‘infer’ to use, but with the added mystery of offering no definition for the word or its usage.

Our first speaker was Rachel Knowles, with a speech entitled ‘Betsy’s Story’ set to be an inspirational presentation for a women’s group. She certainly inspired us with her story of the life of Elizabeth Fry and what she overcame to become an icon of progressive womanhood, and an example to everyone of whatever gender, that persistence and courage will achieve whatever you set out to do.

Our second speaker was Luke McLachlan, with a speech entitled ‘uko freshi’, in which he told the moving story of a little boy he sponsored in Kenya, and how he had visited the Gideon Orphanage where he lived. The speech was full of humour and a very touching pathos, and fully achieved the purpose for which it was given, ‘how to say it’. I believe everyone in the audience was impressed with what he had to tell us.

The evaluator for Rachel’s speech was Steve Graham, who, as an experienced speaker himself, was able to offer a good mix of encouragement and advice to her. He pointed out that the speech would be suitable for delivery to an audience of any gender, and commended her for using a script to ensure accuracy when using a quotation.

The evaluator for our second speaker, Luke, was Richard Howes, who gave us a very structured and powerful evaluation, commending Luke for the simplicity of his language, and the power of his message. This presentation was exception as it was Richard’s first evaluation, and he delivered it excellently. Well done Richard!

After the break we moved on to the Table Topics, which was presented by Alex Picot.
Based on the events unfolding in America this week, he loosely based his topics on inauguration and subjects surrounding it.

The first speech was by Bev Hepting with the brief of what would be her mandate for the next four years if she was to become President of America. In one sentence, her solution to all ills was to bring colour into the lives of everyone.

The second to stand was Ron Kirby, asked to specify his suggestions for the celebration of his inauguration, which he concluded would be best observed with a Guinness drinking competition.

Third was David Smith with the challenge of music for his event, to which he responded that her would have invited Status Quo, but as they were unavailable, he would be happy with a good brass band.

Fourth came our new member Ali Dolphin, with an excellent and healthy menu for the occasion.

Next at fifth, came Chris Vowell, who had to specify who he would invite as guests.

Colin Beveridge was sixth and would protest against the Trump regime with the group ‘Mathmaticians against Trump’.

Lastly, guest, Annabel Wilson, would pardon the inmates of Guantanamo Bay Gaol, and a selected number from death row.

This concluded the Table Topics which were then ably reviewed by Rosie Barfoot, who based her evaluation on three points, confidence, content and conclusion, with strong recommendations to all participants. Her advice was that following selection of the participant for the table topics, the question they have to address should be repeated.

Our grammarian’s report followed, with Andrew providing the definition of his selected word for the evening, followed by an explanation of the difference between the work ‘infer’ and the word that is frequently confused with it ‘imply’. He suggested that maybe language is evolving and that is why the words appear to be becoming interchangeable.

With the timekeepers report, the meeting having to a great degree run to schedule, and the review by the General Evaluator, Christine Wallach, in which she suggested that the Table Topic questions should not be so difficult as to deter new members and guests from participating, and a call to action to make sure that our speeches are audible and our diction clear, the meeting was closed by Bev Hepting.

Congratulations go to:

Richard Howes – Best Evaluator
Bev Hepting – Best Table Topic speaker.

23Jan/17

Giving Feedback That Works

Giving feedback is a critical skill for all Toastmasters. Leaders and managers in the workplace can use it to develop and motivate their people. It is key to improving performance. The latest neuroscience research shows how we can have greater impact and give more effective feedback. The Neuroleadership Institute runs an annual summit to look at how this research can be utilised in the workplace. You can access some live sessions on line. Here is a précis of my insights from the session I watched in 2016 on giving feedback by Dr Robert Kegan, Harvard.

Giving Feedback that Works

The human brain predominantly works on visual messages. For feedback to work, we need to ‘paint a picture’. People have to ‘see’ what they are doing. This creates insight. You need to enable the receiver to visualise the future, compare with past behaviour and make their choice about action. It is important to minimise the threat response. I believe using David Rock’s S.C.A.R.F. model can help influence uptake of your message.

Status – help people save face, don’t belittle or patronise. Give praise wherever possible. Show you believe in them.

Certainty – be clear and specific about what is expected.

Autonomy – allow the receiver of feedback choice in how to improve.

Relatedness – build a trusting relationship where people are open and honest. Be supportive.

Fairness – make sure your feedback is fair and objective.

10 Steps for Building a Culture of Feedback.

  1. The key is to get a much greater contribution from your people  –

BETTER ME + BETTER YOU = BETTER US

2. Remember the person is not expected to be perfect, but they are good and can get better.

3. Quit your second job, which is to protect your ego, look good and cover up weaknesses. When you let go of your ego, you can help others more. The person giving feedback should be as vulnerable as the person receiving it. Share your lived experiences.

4. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes. Fail frequently, fast and forward. Mistakes are a learning opportunity. This applies to the evaluator and the speaker.

      PAIN + REFLECTION = PROGRESS

5. At Toastmasters, we have a culture of continuous feedback which is challenging and supportive. Feedback is one way ‘to turn the big ship around’. If you think of a massive ship, it only needs to make small changes early enough to change its course significantly. Don’t wait until you hit the rocks to make those changes.

6. Rank doesn’t have its usual privileges. Accept feedback from all quarters. Take the ego out. The revolution of feedback is about moving from giving to asking for feedback.

7. Don’t run around on your backhand! If you focus just on your strengths and avoid areas for improvement, you are unlikely to grow and get better.

“The better you get at hiding your weaknesses, the harder it will be to grow or for the organisation to grow”

Dr Robert Kegan

Don’t hold them back.

8. If evaluating a leadership role, use the job role as a tow-rope to stretch people, not bind them. They may have a different way of doing it.  If you keep on doing the same thing you’ve always done in the same way, there is no room for challenge or growth, which can be de-motivating.

9. See it as PRACTISING to get better; not as performance. A meeting is a place to get better. Work on yourself too. It is about respecting each other and being open and honest.

10. Rethink if what we are doing is fit for the 21st century. We look back at slavery as a terrible thing. Those at the time felt it was right. How will people look back at our era in 50 years time? How will they view our practices? What do you want them to be saying?

“What gets measured gets done. What gets measured and fed back, gets done well. What gets rewarded gets repeated” John E Jones

Conclusion:

In summary the key points are:

  • Start with yourself – challenge yourself to evaluate.
  • Foster a growth mind-set.
  • Emphasise what top performers do.
  • Show people what this looks like.
  • Build this into your evaluations.

Giving feedback is a vital skill and people require training in how to do this effectively. One of the best places to experience a culture of evaluative feedback and to hone your skills is at a Toastmaster International meeting.

10Jan/17

Committee Meeting January 2017

Another productive Committee Meeting was held last night with Colin Beveridge, Douglas Pigg, Luke McLachlan, Beverley Hepting and Christine Wallach in attendance. Douglas kicked things off, as Treasurer, with an update regarding our finances and he was happy to inform us that we have more than enough money in the bank to cover our costs, thanks in part to cost cutting measures put in place a few months back, plus a wave of new and very welcome members into Casterbridge Speakers; we’ve recently had Ali, Jon, Richard and Ron join us.

It was then up to me, as the PR guy, to give an update regarding our marketing initiatives. We recently partnered with the Princes Trust, in Dorchester, to coach students in the art of public speaking and presenting. Thanks to Bev Hepting, Rosie Barfoot and Christine Wallach for their support. We’ve also started a new initiative, motivated by Laura McHarrie, to advertise our meetings on Meetup.com. The Meetup page can be found at www.meetup.com/Dorset-Salisbury-Speakers. It was also suggested that we try to video our meetings and update our very inactive Youtube channel.

We also discussed dates for our International Speech Contest and it was agreed that this be held on the 15th February. The winner will advance to the area, division and then district levels, and then on to the semifinal and ultimately, hopefully, the World Championship of Public Speaking.

A reminder to all members who haven’t updated their standing orders/direct debits that our monthly fees have gone up from £10 to £12. We can in fact blame this partly on Brexit due to the depreciation in £-Sterling increasing our Toastmaster fees, and let’s hope that its value doesn’t deteriorate further!

See you at our next Casterbridge Speakers meeting on the 18th January! If you want to be a more confident and effective communicator, I recommend that you attend!

24Dec/16

2016’s Final Meeting

Casterbridge Speakers had its final meeting for 2016 when we met on Wednesday the 21st December, and what a Merry meeting it was!

We were joined by three guests; Paul, Ali and Chris and in typical Casterbridge fashion we threw them in at the deep end by inviting each of them up to try a Table Topic. Table Topics was particularly tough this week, with each speaker having to pull an object out of a bag and relate it to Christmas. Paul pulled out a present and his effort earnt him the Grammarian’s praise for the word “merriment”. Ali pulled out a stapler and her effort won her the award for Best Table Topics. Chris pulled out a rabbit and after some thought came out with a wonderful rhetorical line which made us all laugh, “well that’s what we do here at Toastmasters, rabbit, isn’t it!”

During the break we enjoyed home made cookies & mince pies (Christine Wallach made the cookies but who made the mince pie?). I must admit that before the meeting I rushed in to Morrisons to buy a few packages of Mr.Kipling deep filled mince pies, together with some Shloer, and I wasn’t surprised to find that the mince pies were untouched…you simply can’t beat home made!

Our three speakers for the evening were Christine Wallach, Rachel Knowles and Steve Graham. A special shout out to Rachel who kept us engaged for a entire 15 minutes (Speciality Speeches #4 – Read Out Loud), and Steve for achieving his Advanced Communicator Silver award! Rachel won the Best Speaker Award.

Our next meeting is on Wednesday the 4th January 2017. If you’re not a member and you want to be a better public speaker, or you may be anxious about speaking in front of a group of people, we can help you achieve your goals. In fact, why not make it a New Year’s resolution to come and visit us!

16Dec/16

Toastmaster Meeting 7th December

Word of the day – ADVENT

We had a lively evening at Casterbridge Toastmasters on 7th December, with two guests who were made very welcome. It was my first opportunity to serve as Toastmaster, and a challenge I enjoyed.

Six down-Six to go
The first speaker, Laura McHarry, gave us a fine and motivating speech relating to the future of the club, the goals we have set ourselves and what we need to do to achieve President’s Distinguished Club status for the current club year. The speech was from the ACS – Speeches by Management, No.2. Appraise with Praise

A Letter from Cold Harbour
Our second speaker, Rosie Barfoot, took us on a journey back through history to the American Civil War, with a letter from a serving soldier in the Union forces, writing a graphic letter home to his mother, and her reactions to her son’s sentiments as to slavery. Well read, and dramatically enacted. The speech was from ACS – Storytelling. No.5. Bringing History to Life.

Get Knotted
Steve Graham, as our third speaker spoke about the different types of knots, and proceeded to demonstrate a knot that is widely used in Mongolia for securing animals, the simply execution of which can be carried out with gloves on. It was, for those who were inexperienced in the art of knotting, not as easy as Steve made it look. The speech was from ADC – Speaking to Inform. No.3. The Demonstration Talk

Evaluators were Douglas Pigg, Andrew Knowles and David Smith, who all gave a fair critique of the speeches.

Table Topics was lead by Jenny Dalton, with a variety of topics surrounding Christmas, the enjoyment or otherwise of the festival. Both Guests participated very enthusiastically.

Colin Beveridge gave a good account as evaluator for table topics, and Rachel Knowles ably delivered the role of Grammarian.

Bev Hepting delivered the General Evaluation and as President, closed the meeting with a brief reminder that fees were to go up in January to £12p.c.m.

Best Speaker Award – Rosie Barfoot
Best Table Topic Award – Colin Beveridge
Best Evaluator – Andrew Knowles