Last night at First Oakville Toastmasters we had to mention to two guests and one new member that our club members don’t use their cell phones during the meeting itself or even during the break.
The Toastmaster program is first an educational program. We come to listen to and support those members who are brave enough to speak at our meetings.
What these new speakers don’t need to be doing is completing with a cell phone, even a cell phone that’s just sitting out on the table. The cell phone isn’t a member. It has no standing or place at our meetings.
I know for a fact that I’ve used my cell phone during other meetings because I was bored and needed a distraction. I’ve used it to avoid speaking to other people and making new friends (this happens a lot at Toastmaster meetings). It was a status symbol for me at one time but not anymore.
On meeting nights my cell phone stays home.
Of course we get ever excuse under the sun when we talk to offenders. From “I am expecting an important call”… from my doctor/boss/wife/children/mother-in-law…(then stay home that night) to my friends/relatives need to reach me at all times (then maybe Toastmasters isn’t for you) or “I’ll just dash outside and take this call or make this text on the break”. (Then you miss on the important social skills surrounding meeting and talking to your fellow club members.)
And still existing members, who should know better, have their cell phones out on the table during our meetings on a regular basis. Newcomers can’t know that you’re using your cell phone as a timer (please if time is that important use a stopwatch and not your cell phone) and they see a cell phone out on the table and think it’s okay. It isn’t!
We are losing the ability to listen to each other intently and intimately on a one-on-one basis. Yes cell phones have their place and may well go down as one of the greatest communication tools of all time but their time and place isn’t at a Toastmaster meeting.
I have no hesitation in asking people to put their cell phones away and if our club loses a guest or member over it then we have provided a service to the other 40 members who came to work on their personal communication skills.
Please leave your cell phone at home or in your car. The world can wait two hours for you to finish your Toastmaster meeting.