"Suggestions for Improvement" Potpourri

By Craig Wood, CTM

Our club is widely known for its enthusiasm and friendly, well-run meetings. But, even the best of clubs can improve. Watching our meetings over the last few months, I've come up with the following suggestions, and I hope you find them useful, helpful, and easy to implement:

Flag Salute

When beginning, say, "Please say with me," not "Please repeat after me." Then, slowly and deliberately launch into the pledge with a loud, clear voice.

Joke Master

  • · Keep it SHORT.
  • · Keep it CLEAN (free of sexual innuendo, ethnic or religious prejudice, etc.).
  • · Make it a habit to collect jokes appropriate for a mixed, general audience. Funny jokes that are short and clean are relatively rare.

Toastmaster of the Evening

Your role during the meeting:
  • Keep in mind: It isn't about you!
  • Provide smooth segues to otherwise disparate parts of the meeting (hint: Pay attention to everything anyone says or does when they speak - it will provide you with invaluable material to construct spontaneous and interesting comments).
  • Gently remind audience members of the myriad ways they can participate more effectively (e.g., use the Word of the Evening, vote for Most Improved, clap enthusiastically, write comments to speakers, etc.).
  • Introduce speakers warmly and enthusiastically so that the speaker feels welcome and audience anticipation is heightened.
  • Doggedly keep to a timed schedule (this is a major responsibility of any MC or meeting host in "real world" meetings outside of TM!)
  • Don't vote, but break any ties for Best Speaker, Best Evaluator, and Best Table Topics without acknowledging in any way that a tie occurred.

Table Topics Master

  • Tell the Club why we devote such a large part of the meeting to TT (hint: Practice for life outside the meeting!).
  • Choose as your first speaker someone who is naturally a gifted, enthusiastic speaker (e.g., Bob Hudack, or Steve Mayer).

Secret Greeter

  • Tell the audience the reason we have a SG (hint: It motivates us in a fun way to overcome our natural shyness and hesitancy in approaching and greeting other people as practice for life outside the meeting).

General Suggestions for Improvement

  • Never publicly apologize for your feelings of inadequacy, lapses of memory, getting things out of order, nervousness, lack of preparation, etc. It calls unnecessary attention to errors and lapses that probably no one has noticed in the first place, and further detracts from your performance at a time when you wish you were doing better.
  • First, learn and master the tried-and-true Club ways of doing things. There are solid reasons why we have the rituals and procedures we do. Then, branch out and develop your own style and unique way of self-expression.
  • Go out of your way to interact with guests.
  • Clap your heart out for everyone walking (or running, in Mr. Hudack's case) to and from the lectern for the entire duration of their journey.
  • (You've heard this before) It's a lectern, not a podium.
  • Shake hands with the person at the lectern when you approach, and with the person approaching the lectern when you leave.
  • Bug your fellow Club officers for improvements to the Club (like a stronger Mentor Program).

The foregoing list is not exhaustive. You've probably noticed other ways in which we can improve. And, because of the ebb and flow of club membership, the ways in which we excel or might improve change over time. Please keep your eyes and ears open, and share your thoughts on the many ways we can improve our club and our public speaking. Equally important, compliment others whenever you see a job well done!

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