Monthly Archives: November 2012

What You Missed Last Night

If you missed last night’s meeting of First Oakville Toastmasters you were one of the very few.

The room was filled to capacity plus we were pleased to welcome five guests.

The atmosphere from the drop of the gavel was electric as seasoned Toastmaster Sharon Jenkins chaired what was to be declared a rare A+ rated meeting by John Smissen the general evaluator.

One of the reasons for such a successful night was the attendance by all of the officers of the evening who had been listed on the agenda and who carried out their various functions with professionalism and great energy.

The club actually passed a motion last night!

We moved, debated and passed a motion to rescind a previous motion that “compelled” members to wear costumes to the Hallowe’en party. While normally such a motion would be ruled out of order as the Hallowe’en party had already taken place, the issue with the original motion was not the timing but the word “compelled”. As a Toastmaster club we operator under the rules and regulations of Toastmasters International and as a club we have very limited powers which for the most part are prescribed by wording of the Toastmasters’s Promise as spoken in the new members’ induction ceremony. Based on this it became clear to the members that we did not indeed have the power to compel a member to do or not do anything but adhere to their promise*.

A second motion was made to create a new club officer function (I’m paraphrasing here.) to evaluate the Table Topics part of the evening.

Toastmaster Loreen Paterick, who spoke against the motion, explained that some clubs only meet for one hour, not two like First Oakville, and members participate only in speeches and table topics. At First Oakville the general evaluator is charged with making this evaluation.

A motion to move the issue to the executive committee was defeated again after Toastmaster Paterick reminded members that we were the deciding body and should not shirk our responsibility to express our will in this matter. The motion to move to committee was defeated and orders of the day were called.

During the business session chair Toastmaster Jenkins made special effort to specifically ask individual members to rise and offer their comments. Overall, it was one of the best business sessions in a long long time.

During the speaking portion of the night we heard three excellent speeches but one, in my opinion, stood out and in fact was awarded best speech. Toastmaster Andy MacPherson, who has competed in the club’s International Speech contest, gave IMHO the best speech of his speaking career and one of the best speeches I’ve ever heard in 17 years of attending Toastmaster meetings. Andy spoke on the issue of prostrate exams for men and wowed the crowd.

Despite the large number of people present which challenged the chair and others to maintain order, there was no inappropriate shouting out which can sound like heckling or speaking before being recognized by the official in the chair which can take the focus off the chairperson and wrongly direct it to the person creating the disruption. Now I’ve been accused of this odious behaviour myself at our meetings and in one situation the guidance offered by to me by senior club members prompted me to rise on point of personal privilege and offer an apology for my actions at a subsequent meeting. It seems I don’t do this enough in my life 🙂

Finally a word about cell phones.

We’ve had this discussion and recently chairs and Toastmasters are reminding members to turn off their cell phones. I’d propose we go farther. We should ban cell phones use. That is not to say you can’t carry your cell phone on your person but if it vibrates or the member feels some compelling need to look at their device then they should leave the room.

Last night during the break I saw several guests and more than a handful of members take their cell phones out of the pockets and check the devices.

This behaviour gets mimicked my other guests and newer members and should be stopped.T M XMAS-3-L

When we have our heads down over our cell phones it is more difficult for other Toastmasters and guests to approach us and engage us in a personal one-on-one conversation. I don’t think you need to be Dr. Phil to realize that many of us came to Toastmasters because we were shy and found casual conversation in social settings difficult. We hide our awkwardness and our own feelings of discomfort by taking out the cell phone. Let’s get back to actually talking to each other during the break at our meetings.

Overall a fabulous night of Toastmasters and very rich in content, learning and good fellowship.

Remember the First Oakville Christmas Party takes place next week.

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* A TOASTMASTERS PROMISE

As a member of Toastmasters International and my club, I promise…

  • To attend club meetings regularly
  • To prepare all of my speech and leadership projects to the best of my ability, basing them on projects in the Competent Communication (Item 225), Advanced Communication (Item 226Z) or Competent Leadership (Item 265) manuals
  • To prepare for and fulfill meeting assignments
  • To provide fellow members with helpful, constructive evaluations
  • To help the club maintain the positive, friendly environment necessary for all members to learn and grow
  • To serve my club as an officer when called upon to do so
  • To treat my fellow club members and our guests with respectand courtesy
  • To bring guests to club meetings so they can see the benefits Toastmasters membership offers
  • To adhere to the guidelines and rules for all Toastmasters educational and recognition programs
  • To maintain honest and highly ethical standards during the conduct of all Toastmasters activities
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How to be a success in Toastmasters …even life

Mark Carney, head of the Bank of Canada, is the new head of the Bank of England following an announcement by Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Carney, who many accredit with saving the Canadian financial system from collapse during the recent economic downturns, may have won the prestigious new position (the first for Britain which has never looked outside of the United Kingdom for a new head of their national bank) much for his people and media speaking skills as for his banking knowledge.

On the other hand we have the soon-to-be ex-mayor Rob Ford who, regardless of your political leanings, most would agree presented himself like a bull in a china shop during his time at Toronto’s city hall. His disregard for the rule of law has landed him in a heap of personal and professional pain which is not soon to go away.

So what has all this to do with Toastmasters….even life.

Do you think Mark Carney would have got the call if he’d just decided one day to skip an important meeting? What do you think would be the impact if Carney didn’t show one day and just popped back in the next? I doubt people would take him at his word ever again.

Carney would create the impression that he couldn’t be trust in the small things so why would anyone trust him to do the bigger jobs?

Same thing for Rob Ford. A man who’d disregard a basic tenet of sound business practice in the smallest thing might find people questioning about whether he can be trusted in the bigger things.

So in Toastmasters the way to be successful is to learn how to play with others in the Toastmaster sandbox.

It’s no coincidence that the most accomplished Toastmasters tend to be the ones who you see at just about every meeting regardless of whether they have an official job that night. The long-time Toastmasters know that even when they are not on the schedule, they still have an important role to play. That role is active audience member.

The active audience member provides the background for the newer speakers to succeed. The active audience provides immediate feedback by smiling and nodding and clapping during the speech. The active audience participates in the business session and table topics and gives written feedback to the speakers.

When they are on the schedule they show up or find a replacement. And if they do screw up (and we all do from time too time) they often make amends and make it right. They apologize and work even harder to win back any lost trust.

A member recently did exactly that when they missed fulfilling their role and I stepped in. The next morning I got an email apologizing for not showing up and offering to step in for me if I needed a replacement for a future meeting. Can’t tell you how impressed I was with this member’s thoughtfulness.

What we don’t do in Toastmasters (or life) is complain or blame others for our missteps. These are lessons Toronto’s soon-to-be former mayor has yet to learn. It’s a tough lesson to have to learn but this is how we learn to play nice with others in the club.

Toastmasters is about so much more than just public speaking.

Some of our best public speakers have figured out that there are lessons here to be found in leadership and how to be a supportive follower. Toastmasters International has long promoted the organization’s goals as speaking as well as listening and to be able to listen effectively you have to be at the meeting.

Sometimes the club in the form of individual members or executive members speaks to us offering lessons we need very strongly to hear.  This can be a painful learning moment.

I know this for a fact. Years ago I concluded my 10th speech to thunderous applause and a standing ovation. I was so thrilled and I was ready to accept the accolades associated with achieving the designation of Competent Toastmaster.

However, my evaluator, who was a very senior and accomplished Toastmaster, started his evaluation by saying my 10th speech was one of the best speeches he’d ever heard in Toastmasters but, unfortunately, it met none of the objectives as outlined in the Basic Manual.

I was shocked…hurt…embarrassed…and chastised. I don’t remember much more of the night and the next few meetings were a blur but the end result was I became a much much better speaker and indeed I became a much stronger and fearless evaluator. But best of all, in my opinion, I became a much better Toastmaster and in the long run a much better person as well.

These are just some of the things that offered to us in our Toastmaster club.

What Happened?

At last night’s business meeting chaired by a first-time chair we had a complicated session.

IMHO Heather Cunningham did an amazing job of chairing. She used her parliamentarian and secretary to great advantage and managed to bring the session to a conclusion.

However, there were some challenges and it might be helpful to revisit the new business session.

But remember this is just my opinion and may even be incorrect. Where we go for accuracy is the big book of Robert’s Rules of Order.

So here’s how I see it. (And if you see it differently you can comment below or send me your post and I’ll publish it.)

In an October meeting, a member moved that (and I’m paraphrasing here) that all members be compelled to wear a costume at our Hallowe’en party meeting.

The motion was seconded, discussed and passed.

However, after some deliberation, another member later noticed the wording which compelled members to do something.

The club has no constitutional right to compel any member to do anything and none of us can force another member to do anything.

Even if a member was being disruptive and the sergeant-at-arms was directed to remove the member by the chair, the disruptive member can refuse to leave and it would be unwise, if not illegal, for the sergeant-at-arms to physically eject the member. What should happen if the member declines to leave is the police should be called as they are empowered to act.

I know that sounds farfetched but it serves to throw some light on the issue. We can’t compel any member to do anything.

In this case we need to fix the unconstitutionality nature of the motion even though Hallowe’en has passed and normally any attempt to modify the motion would be declared out of order. Here we’re not fixing the motion, we’re correcting the unconstitutionality of our previous actions. The motion was just the end result. It’s our actions that were offensive.

So a new motion was put forward at a recent meeting. An objection to consideration wasn’t voted upon as orders as the day were called.

Last night our new chair dealt with the objection and the vote supported the objection so the motion to correct the October motion was lost.

But the October motion remains clearly out of order as it is unconstitutional and therefore should be rescinded or amended and this action be reflected in our minutes.

To rescind means to strike out the entire motion while to amend means to change a word or two while leaving the intent of the motion intact.

Either rescinding or amending would apply here and the mover can get up and explain why they are making this motion and we can discuss and vote on what to do.

So a new motion should read: “I move to rescind the motion of (date) which states (have secretary read the October motion).

Or I move to amend the motion of (date) which states (have secretary read the October motion) to read …and here substitute a phrase like “we suggest all members wear a costume…”

If it were up to me, I’d rescind and be done with it.