Valley Toastmasters

Valley Toastmasters is one of the 200+ clubs in Phoenix, AZ affiliated to Toastmasters International. I’m a proud member of this club. The members of the club meet every Thursday at 6:15 am at the Church of Beatitudes, Glendale for 90 minutes to discuss the agenda. The idea is to provide every member a role in the agenda.Every role gets to speak in front of an audience.

Today’s theme was “March Madness”. Susan, one our most respected and longest serving members played the role of Toastmaster.Every week, members can sign up for one of the following roles.

  • Speaker 1, 2,3 – Presents a prepared Speech from the competent communicator manual.
  • Evaluator – 1,2,3 – Evaluates the speaker and suggests areas of improvement.
  • Toastmaster – Emcee of the meeting
  • Greeter – Meets and greets the members as they arrive
  • Grammarian – Looks for effective use of the English usage and areas of improvement
  • “Ah” counter – Counts the pauses, “ah”s,”um”s and other fillers words that distract the audience from the presentation
  • Vote Counter – Collects the votes cast by the members for the various awards of day
  • Timer – Keeps an eye on the clock and times the speeches. Three lights – Green, Orange and Red are used to indicate first milestone, second milestone and stop respectively.
  • Joke master – Provides a lighthearted joke to help relax the audience
  • Pledge master – Invites everyone to join in the pledge of allegiance to the flag of United States and provides a inspirational thought

The agendas are available online and members can sing up for roles up-to four weeks in advance. Sometimes,the roles are taken well in advance and some other times, like this week, the Toastmaster has to remind the members to sign up.

I joined Valley Toastmasters in Dec 2012. It is a tremendous experience to deliver prepared speeches to an alert and experienced group of Toastmasters. In the past 4 months, I have had my fair share of “ouch” and “aha” moments.To help the speaker improve and receive audio visual feedback, each prepared speech is recorded and the video is given to the speaker.

Although Toastmasters are a bunch of motivated enthusiasts who wish to improve their communication and leadership skills, there are other incentives too.Every week, based on an audience poll, the following ribbons awarded

  • Best speaker – To Speaker number 1 or 2 or 3
  • Most Inspiring speaker – as above
  • Best table topics speaker – To the best table topics (impromptu) speaker
  • Best Evaluator – To Evaluator number 1 or 2 or 3
  • Most improved Toastmaster – Chosen by the general evaluator.

So far, I have received the Best Speaker (4 times), Most Inspiring (5 times), Most improved (1 time) and Best Evaluator (1 time).

My English teacher will be proud to hear my speeches. It is humbling to receive compliments from people who speak English as their native language.But to me, the most inspiring part of public speaking is that point in the speech where I overcome my nervousness and start getting comfortable. It is a wonderful feeling. From that point on, I’m in the zone. No longer troubled by external energies.

Next week, I will be presenting my 5th Speech from the Competent Communicator manual. The framework for the speech is “Your Body Speaks”. In this speech I will need to demonstrate effective use of body language as a tool for non verbal communication.

Wish me luck.

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