Boaters Toastmasters

Toastmaster club. District 72, New Zealand. Rakaia Building, Ara Institute of Canterbury, Madras Street, Chch.

Go on, back yourself!

Lecture theatre image taken from the side of the stage showing the audience, all eyes on the speaker who is not in the shot


Whāia e koe te iti kahurangi ki te tūohu koe, me he maunga teitei

Pursue excellence – should you stumble, let it be to a lofty mountain

This week’s blog is a reflection on our Open Day meeting, or – because in reality every meeting is open to anyone who’s curious to see what Toastmasters is about –  what I prefer to call a Demo meeting.

It’s a blog of two halves. Or one quarter and three quarters to be a bit more precise. The first quarter is for those of you who prefer a quick skim read,

The final three quarters is more of a deep dive into the anatomy and benefits of getting up out of bed bright and early to attend a Boaters Toastmasters meeting.

Prepare to be inspired!

Why Toastmasters International?

We all come to TM from different backgrounds, for different reasons, and with different viewpoints, but we all come with a shared end goal – to improve our speaking and presentation skills.

If you were at today’s meeting, here’s a snapshot of what you would have gained:

  • Lots of practical speaking tips and welcome reminders
  • Plenty of inspiration and encouragement
  • A fair few laughs
  • A real energy boost
  • Plenty of food for thought
  • Insight into why people come to Toastmasters

Validation that it’s worth getting up and out the door early on a Friday morning to come to Boaters Toastmasters!

And to get a glimpse of why I think it’s worth it, here’s a broader look at the bigger picture.

Practical tips, recommendations, and reminders

From our Toastmaster Stephen, a poignant and inspiring reminder that when using te reo Māori it can be a handy engagement tool/helpful to give an English example too. In this case after sharing the whakataukī at the start, he followed up with a “Shoot for the stars”, ie. Aim high inspirational quote.

  • A couple of tips from our current VP Ed, Sabine;
  1. When facilitating a Q&A session, rather than standing in front of your audience, propping yourself on a high stool can create more of a sense of intimacy/connection.
  2. Planting pre-prepared questions with a few audience members when running an ‘ask me anything’ session helps avoid an awkward silence if no-one asks you anything.
  • Stu, one of our newer members highlighted how checking a member’s LinkedIn profile can be a useful source of background info when drafting a speaker’s introduction.Man in a blue top making clear eye contact with the audience while delivering a presentation
  • Malvin, another of our newer members who was making his first introduction, a reminder that a well-crafted intro includes background on the speaker and touches on their speech objectives (which gives the audience

Woman in pink tights and a denim dress addressing the audience in a lecture theatre. Taken from the side of the stage, it also shows two men behind the tech desk focused on the controls

  • Answering the question “If you were to write a book about procrastination, what would the chapters be?” right off the bat, long time Toastmaster and our Table Topics Queen, Alana, reminded us why she wears the crown. Outlining her chapters “Cleaning, Cooking and Calling the Great Aunt” she gave us an exemplary impromptu speaking demo using humour, alliteration, and the power of three! Good luck in the District contest in May Alana. If you deliver like that on the day, you’ll take out the prize!!
  • From Helen, a reminder that there’s more to giving a speech evaluation than the 2-3 minute presentations shared in the meetings…There’s a valuable written component to be completed and passed on to the speaker post-meeting too.
  • And for our Table Topics speakers and guests, Shaun gave an encouraging evaluation to everyone who spoke, managing to find worthy recommendations and most importantly at a Demo Meeting, inviting guests to come back and have another go!

Memorable moments & random tidbits

  • Lecture theatre a dozen people in twos and threes chatting with each other informally. Also a woman interacting with a guest Zooming in onlineMaria our Sgt at Arms, grabbing our attention with music and getting us bopping along to La Bamba as an energiser at the start of the meeting.
  • Timer Jorge, opening with a classic line” I’m the most ignored person in the room!”
  • Hearing that following a request from our venue hosts at ARA, Dan and Rich will be repping the club and taking up the challenge to MC at the Relay for Life

Insights from our guests

Every meeting is an open meeting, but a couple of times a year, clubs worldwide make an extra special effort to invite people along. Never entirely sure whether we’ll attract any visitors, we everyone, just in case we attract a curious person or two. And this time, it was a pleasure to welcome Kirsty, Marco, Hannah and Marie, and to hear what brought them through the door.

  • Marco from Chile came along because he is keen to improve his English. He has been learning te reo Māori and introduced himself with his mihi.
  • Kirsty, an accountant who’s recently taken on a senior leadership role came because she’s finishing an MBA and one of her final courses requires that she tackle a stretch goal.
  • Hannah, a student, came along to see what Toastmasters is all about
  • Maria came along because she speaks a lot in her job and wants to continue to refine her skills

Yet more inspiration and encouragement

All from Stephen our TM for the day:

“Self confidence is a learnable skill.”

“I have as much right to change the world as anyone else.”

And closing with a strong call to action

“How will you feel when you are backing yourself up on stage speaking? Talk to Jacqui (our VP Membership, and see you next Friday!”