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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