I was supposed to deliver a speech at the last Toastmasters meeting, but due to the flu and house move of both the Toastmaster and President, as VPE I had to go into emergency mode and make the agenda work out. Part of that process included me stepping in as Toastmaster.
However, I am pleased to say, everything went great as far as what I thought of my performance was concerned, especially in contrast to all efforts to date.
It was my fifth time performing the role and the first time since the first time I performed the role of Toastmaster, that I finished performing my duties feeling a great sense of achievement. I did it to a very high standard – which was verified by the general evaluator for the evening and member feedback!
Now that was a great example of what good public speaking is all about. I had fun and unleashed a can of “see how easy this is” whoop ass! Not that being Toastmaster is easy – until you’ve done it enough times to know what you’re doing and to cope with the unexpected.
One of the preliminary things I did to set myself up for success is I paid attention to what happened last time and the feedback I received.
Another was I got all outstanding roles filled before the meeting and followed up with confirming attendance of people booked into roles as much as I could on the day. After the experience last time with several no-shows and people running late, I wanted to minimise any chance of surprise this time, even if people did confirm that they were coming online.
There was a slight problem over filling in the speaking slot I had vacated, as a member that hadn’t visited the club for a while hadn’t understood that his having booked in as reserve speaker meant he was good to go if a scheduled speaker dropped out, or was a no-show.
This almost threw a spanner in the works, and lead to a loss of speech (and subsequent evaluation) or the need for someone else to go in and give an impromptu speech to make up for the gap.
There were only two real problems at the event itself. Fortunately they were corrected before becoming a significant problem. The problems were our Acting President (who is supposed to open and close the meeting) arrived late AND he was carrying with him the copies of the meeting program that all members and guests should have before the meeting starts to be able to follow the meeting’s events.
Fortunately, I had a few copies myself, so at least the timekeeper and myself could function properly. Also fortunately, as I was about to start the meeting on time without him he arrived – with a pint of beer served fresh from the bar in hand! Can you believe it?
I quickly got the agendas from him and got them distributed. However, while this happened and the Acting President sorted himself out, the meeting ended up starting 8 minutes late.
That time unfortunately wasn’t to be recovered, but this was mainly down to people running over their allotted time in the second half of the meeting.
I did my best to quicken the pace in the first half of the meeting and we ended up running 4 minutes late. We were only running 2 minutes late at the start of the second half of the meeting, as I clawed back a further 2 minutes by shortening the break.
At the end of the meeting, we were over by about 15 minutes (I’d stopped timing once I realised we’d missed the finish time). Anyway, none of that was down to me and I did my best to stay on top of it.
And what of my performance? Well I took notice of all the main recommendations I’d received before, as well as few I’d made in my own mind and I was determined to give this a good shot and that I was going to cover everything I should in my role. And I did just that.
I will let the commendations received speak for my performance:
- took control of the meeting
- introduced everyone well
- let everyone know what was happening throughout the evening
- lively transitions
- very pleasant stage presence
- good eye contact
- great explanation of what my role was about and what I was going to do
- good use of humour
- engaged the audience
- good use of vocal variety
- to the point
- managed time well
- getting pretty slick at the job
And the recommendations:
- don’t sit at the back of the room as some of the lesser experienced members didn’t know how to pass back control of the speaking area very well, which made the process seem a bit awkward at times.
- more vocal variety needed (I just love it when two people say the same thing from opposite sides of the coin)
In the case of the former recommendation I had actually explained the process of transition between speakers, but obviously I hadn’t emphasised it strongly enough and/or needed to mention it again later in the meeting. I intend to try out different seating locations in future and regeardless of wherever I’m sitting, I will use stronger emphasis on the process of transition between speakers next time.
I’m very pleased with the feedback received; voluminous commendations and two minor recommendations!
Something I felt I could have done better was to relax more when not on stage. I found myself trying to make sure I knew who I was introducing next and how I was going to introduce them, to the extent I wasn’t properly listening to everything that was going on at times.
So relaxing, paying attention and trusting I will get everything right is the mission for next time. And I’ll take some concealed notes with me just in case I do forget and need them.
Right now, I’m extremely pleased that I achieved in one more attempt something that I thought would take about three more attempts.
I conquered the role of Toastmaster and showed everyone how much fun you can have with public speaking!