Rica saw my picture on Facebook and asked, “Is that you with your Saturday night group? You seem to be doing a bunch of interesting stuff.”
I smiled and said, “Yes! That’s our Toastmasters Club!”
“Toastmasters. Really?” she seemed so surprised that I am a Toastmaster. “Isn’t that an elitist group?” she asked.
I answered, “Of course, not! It is for everyone who wants to become a better leader and speaker.”
“So isn’t that for eloquent speakers only?”
“Of course, not! People join Toastmasters not because they are already fantastic speakers but because they want to become one. And Toastmasters can serve as their partner to achieve such goal.”
“Sounds cool! Can I attend one of your meetings even if I am not yet a member?”
“Sure. You are most welcome to attend. It’s the best way to get to know about it – witness and be part of the real event. I’ll see you next Saturday then, 6PM!”
We bumped fists then we parted.
What happens in a Toastmasters meeting?
In meetings, we speak, listen, and laugh. And we enjoy!
“Is that it? What’s the magic?”
Well, that’s just it. I can’t give you a specific answer on that but I may describe our club meetings as:
With these are the three parts of a regular Toastmasters club meeting. They are the following:
– Table Topics
– Prepared Speeches
Table Topics. This is the impromptu speaking part where the Table Topics Masters gives a topic and everyone is encouraged to think on their feet and speak their thoughts out. Anyone can volunteer to respond using patterns like Point-Reason-Example-Point, Past-Present-Future, and Story-Message-Gain among others.
Topics may come from different areas of interest. They may be something related to the theme of the meeting, if any.
There was one time when I responded to a Table Topic not because I volunteered but because I was volunteered by someone else. Hesitantly, I stood up. I was trembling. With all the nerves in my brain, I seem to have forgotten the topic that was just read. I had to ask the Topic Master to read it again.
After 3 seconds, I started mumbling words. I didn’t even know if the audience understood any word.
When the red light was on, I said my closing sentence and then sat down.
When I returned to my seat, I didn’t have any idea if I made sense to them but one thing is for sure – my hands stopped shaking.
Whatever you’ll call it but I say, that was an emancipating experience!
Prepared Speeches. Once you become a member of Toastmasters, you will be provided with manuals that you can work on. There are projects with designated learning points and objectives, starting from the basics of public speaking up to the advanced skills. You are to deliver a speech based on the projects set.
In our club, we usually have three to four prepared speakers every meeting. But in our recent meeting, that number was more than doubled – we had 9 speakers!
Let me give you a quick report:
Dr. Hermie, who was once about-to-be-ordained-priest, related his life story with its twist as to what he called his special journey. He made use of his vocation and love story to nail down his point and convey his big message to the audience. A guest audience confessed, “I was so touched by your speech. It’s really from the heart.” All applause to Dr. Hermi’s Ice Breaker – the first prepared speech a Toastmaster delivers.
Espie, a young accountant and also one of the new members, spoke about her life and the subject of happiness in her Ice Breaker. One of the highlights of her story is when she graduated as Magna cum Laude amidst financial difficulties she had to tackle while studying. And on happiness, she quoted the wife of George Washington saying, “Happiness… depends upon our disposition, and not upon our circumstances.” In this first project, Espie demonstrated her good speech writing skills.
Belvin, also an accountant-auditor, talked about learning as an endless pursuit. He said that he loves learning. With his personal and professional endeavours, he shared three things where he gains more knowledge and skills: trainings, work exposures, and reading books. A round of applause to Belvin for sharing us wonderful life’s lessons and also for inviting his fellow auditors to experience the gift of Toastmasters.
An experienced professor, Dr. Aldwin, started off by saying – A man of integrity walks securely. – and recounted his personal story. Like Job, who he calls a Man of Steel, he did not fall into temptation when a troubling moment came. Dr. Edgar, with his credibility as a tax officer, declared his stand on the subject of tax delinquency. Meanwhile, Aris cautioned us to safeguard our personal information against impersonators while he made us chuckle with his slum book example. Ayl, on the other hand, mesmerized us with her story on the bewitching beauty of Vietnam. The portion kicked off with the speech of new club prexy Carla on meeting roles and responsibilities, and ended with a session with Learning Master Arthur.
Evaluation. This is the part when Table Topics and Prepared Speakers are given constructive feedback by their assigned evaluators. And mind you, every evaluator is also being evaluated in his/her stint in giving feedback to the speakers.
Do you remember one of my Table Topics stint as I told you above? During the evaluation portion, I was surprised when I was told that I was able to answer the question and got my point across. And she wasn’t sugarcoating. The evaluator specified the good skills that I was able to exemplify and she also gave me suggestions for improvement.
All the while, I thought I was a wreck in that impromptu speech. But when I heard the evaluation, I actually made it and even excited to respond to another Table Topic.
The things I wrote here are just small pieces of the bigger Toastmaster picture. Yes, you can call it a Triple Treat! At the moment, I just could not find the words to describe each part more comprehensively. All I can say is that every Toastmasters meeting is educational, entertaining, and emancipating – something that you shouldn’t be missing.
So why not try to check it out and see how Toastmasters can be of help to you?
Visit our club or any club near you.
Don’t miss this out.
Your stories are meant to be told and your voice is meant to be cultivated. Let it be heard.
Live your life, young mind!
PS: Our club, IAME & Associates Toastmasters Club meets every other Saturday, 6PM at IAME Bldg, Metropolitan Ave, Makati City (near Shopwise). Do join us!