written by aseem kapoor
Club President Croydon Communicators
Our meeting starts at 7pm, but often a lot of work goes on behind the scenes unnoticed, that allows us to all to continue enjoying Toastmasters online.
So let's rewind a couple of hours to earlier in the day so I can share an example of the effort our members put in to prepare for their roles.
Following in Florence's footsteps last meeting, it was Sandra's turn to have her first go at being Zoom Master.
Like Florence, Sandra also booked some time with our VP Education Aminat, to get some hands on training using Zoom functionality (I decided to drop in on their session).
Despite Sandra's insistence that this technology was beyond her capabilities, and fearing that she would make mistakes, she still chose to step out of her comfort zone and do a role she had been dreading.
Under Aminat's patient guidance Sandra was soon familiarising herself with Zoom, and getting a little more comfortable (if not yet confident) about any tasks that she would need to perform.
Our meeting room was opened well in advance of our start time by Sandra, who diligently performed the Zoom Master duties: admitting and renaming attendees, keeping a finger ready on the mute button, creating and running polls, opening the meeting as the SAA, and generally ensuring the meeting ran smoothly.
Aminat was our Toastmaster for the evening and had set a theme of Dragons' Den.
Sandra was certainly the first of the evening to slay her Dragon. A job well done as Zoom Master, and she can now list online meeting management among all the other skills developed at Toastmasters!
At Toastmasters we learn by doing, whether it is a speaking, leadership, or in Sandra's case a technical skill ... "this is the way!" (to coin a phrase from Star Wars The Mandalorian).
Back to the meeting, and after I used the President's address to talk about the club experience, Aminat led us through the agenda, introducing our role players by revealing their Dragons' Den pitches:
Time for the prepared speeches, first up was our VP Membership Norma with a wonderfully chatty account of her mentoring relationships with 'Dave' and various podcasters! Packed with insights and warm delivery I think Norma herself would make a great podcaster.
Our second speaker was the ebullient Pearl from Liberty Speakers who shared the planning of hers and husband Carol's special six year anniversary, truly a celebration to remember, beamed over Zoom and attended by half of the world, or was that three-quarters!
Always a pleasure to have our friends from Liberty Speakers join us for meetings, Pearl proving again just how rich our Area is with speaking talent.
Our third and final speaker on the agenda was Pamela, delivering her 'icebreaker'. She credited and thanked both Norma (her sister aka our VP Membership) and Gina her inspirational mentor (aka one of our Past Presidents).
However it was Pamela alone that took to the stage and slayed another Dragon commonly seen at Toastmasters i.e. giving that very first speech in front of the club!
Congratulations to Pamela on taking the first step towards her goal of becoming a motivational and inspirational speaker.
Feedback on the speeches was provided by Matt, Gina and Luqman. All strong evaluators, and I expect them all to be competing in our upcoming Club Contest.
Speaking of evaluations, look out for details of two evaluation workshops being run over the next few weeks.
The first is at Purley Speakers on Wednesday 10th February with former District Champion Tazud Miah. Register here:
The second workshop being organised by Aminat right here at Croydon Communicators will be run by another former District Champion Lynne Cantor, at a special extra meeting on Wednesday 17th February. Details on the WhatsApp group.
I have attended these workshops in the past and they are invaluable for learning techniques that will help take your evaluating to another level!
We were also joined by a number of guests, certainly at the very start of the meeting. I suspect a few succumbed to a dragon early on in the evening, as only three were with us for the second half, but all took part in table topics:
Karen Malcolm, a visiting Toastmaster and member of two clubs in Pendleton, Oregon USA: Cay-Uma-Wa and Pendleton 154 who was encouraged to come after Florence left such a great impression.
Manju who I also bumped into at one of my other clubs (Purley Speakers) yesterday.
Lesley who is looking for self-improvement opportunities so certainly in the right place.
The topics session was run by Collins who had a selection of thoughtful and probing questions that elicited interesting responses from the speakers.
Another great evening spent at Croydon Communicators enjoying wonderful speeches and evaluations from our members, and always made that extra special when a member is giving their first speech!
Congratulations to the recipients of our meeting awards: Pamela, Pearl, Matt, Karen and Sandra!
written by aseem kapoor
Club President Croydon Communicators
Our first meeting of 2021, happy new year to all!
Now the formalities are out of the way, in terms of the Toastmasters calendar we find we are already half way through the year, so let's focus on achieving those educational goals we set ourselves in July, or better yet adding even more!
It's been five weeks since Croydon Communicators last met, back in early December, but our members have returned looking rested, reinvigorated, and raring to go.
Florence led the way by taking on Zoom Master responsibilities for the first time (and doing a great job!), as well as opening the meeting in her role as Sergeant at Arms.
While we are still meeting on Zoom, I encourage every single member to take the opportunity of enhancing their digital skills, and add the experience of managing (at least) one of our online meetings.
Those of us that have been doing the role will be happy to show you the ropes!
Our Toastmaster for the first meeting of 2021 was the ever genial Norma who explained her theme of 'Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda' and introduced each role player.
Pamela, taking on the Timekeeper role for the first time, in fact her very first role at the club, did a brilliant job, skillfully managing her virtual backgrounds to signal our speakers.
During the post meeting chat, Pamela even checked if she should submit her timer's report - now there is an idea, should we keep an official record of which members overrun the most often!
Luqman was Grammarian, introducing us to the word-of-the-day 'Copacetic', so commonly heard across the pond in the USA, but not so much here in the UK, so a great choice to expand our vocabulary.
Following his memorable 'guess the lie' exercise in the last meeting, Stephen once again took on the warm-up role and got us thinking about our goals for the year.
Our first speaker Matt shared his fascinating concept of working in teams that have cognitive diversity (and its benefits), with his speech titled "Harnessing diverse thinking".
Our next speaker Aminat beginning a second educational path (Strategic Relationships) gave us a sequel to her icebreaker with a speech titled "The Malachite part II" ... will there be a part three ... if there is I think Aminat will have to get us all to practise saying the word 'malachite'!
Our third speaker was Gina, who like Aminat was beginning yet another educational path (Presentation Mastery) which meant another ice breaker speech, and we found out how Gina first discovered Toastmasters in her speech titled "It is not the mountains we conquer but ourselves"!
All three speeches are well worth watching back - look out for a link to the recording on our WhatsApp group.
Roz, Loreen and Kamontip showed they had been paying close attention as they stepped up to provide their thoughts on each speaker they had been assigned to evaluate.
Following a short comfort break, Florence reconvened the meeting and handed over to our Table Topics Master Dan.
Drawing on Norma's theme for inspiration, Dan pulled out a list of pop songs that had reached number one in the charts in 2002, asking us to use them as titles for topics speeches to be developed around.
Not the best year for pop music based on Dan's sample, but that didn't affect our table topics speakers!
Pamela once again took the stage to confirm timings of the table topics, and Luqman followed confirming the meeting had been 'copacetic' and delivering a detailed Grammarian's report on the language used this evening.
Matthew Robertson VPE at Bloomsbury Speakers was our General Evaluator, and proceeded to give his thoughts on the meeting providing feedback to everyone that had not been evaluated.
Thanks to visiting Toastmasters Roz (who needs no introduction at our club) and Mon (Riverside Communicators) who both helped us fill the agenda as speech evaluators.
It was also wonderful to welcome guests Celia, Rupa, Arif, and Edith.
Club officer training run by the Area is on Monday 25th January and open to all members, details to follow.
A great meeting to kick off 2021 thanks to all who attended - our next one is on 28th January.