Time is Precious…

Maidenhead Speakers Club – Monday 9 Feb 2015


There was a sense of purposefulness at MSC on Monday evening, since the meeting was all about TIMING. After a humorous welcome by the Sgt@Arms Paul (who gave plenty of advance notice to other members that in a few months club roles, including his, would be up for grabs), Club President Julie warmly welcomed members and tonight’s three welcome guests. Then, it was onto the main business of the night, expertly chaired by Toastmaster of the Evening Matthew. His theme was ‘time’, and he cleverly wove speakers birth months into his theme throughout the evening. Turning the usual agenda sequence on its head, he started also with prepared speeches. While some members are not fans of leaving Table Topics till the end, this allows the TME to have very good control over time and allow more topics speakers to participate if the rest of the meeting has not overrun.

Two fascinating and unusual Ice Breakers by Amira, who took us to the sands of Agadir, in Morocco, and Michel, who took us to Paris, hunting rodents, were followed by an advanced speech by Chris. He had the room in stitches with his particular take on Groundhog Day. After the short break, we were treated to another advanced speech by Steve, who spoke on ‘Creating the Best Club climate’, which highlighted the TMs Promise and reminded us again about the importance of Club Roles, and how we all contribute to our club.

For a second consecutive meeting, the Best Speaker Ribbon went to an Ice Breaker – well done Amira.

Ian took to the floor next to show us how a Table Topics Session should be conducted. Sitting near the stage so he did not waste time walking to and from his seat, he quickly introduced the session and invited six members to speak on various topics around the Time theme of the evening.

Yohan won the Best Table Topics Speaker Ribbon.

Next, General Elevator Gerard introduced the evaluation team and the prepared speeches were evaluated, with the usual high standard MSC has come to expect. There was the luxury of a Topics Evaluator as well, so all speakers had some feedback from Lorraine, who performed this role that we were able to accommodate into tonight’s schedule.

Mary walked away with the Best Evaluator Ribbon for her insightful evaluation of Michel‘s Ice Breaker.

Gerard provided the evaluators with feedback on their evaluations and then, rather than focus on meeting specifics, reviewed three general items. The first was the TME role. This being quite a demanding (and often stressful) role, since over 15 ‘players’ were involved, Gerard stressed how much it is vital that the rest of us support the TME. He spoke of the importance of responding promptly to emails/voicemails from the TME during the lead-up to every meeting, and finding a replacement well in time if you can’t  fulfill a role (unless of course, it is a last minute emergency).

Gerard also spoke of the importance of preparing your speech in advance, to ensure the TME’s job is made a lot easier. Next he mentioned Timing – with only 120 minutes of usable time in a meeting (and over 50 MSC current members), it is the responsibility of all those who have a role not to monopolize the stage, as stage-time is precious. Tonight’s TME Matt had allocated times for everyone (including Sgt@Arms and President) and this is an  excellent practise that needs to be continued.

Gerard also mentioned Topics, and the importance of a Topics Master choosing subjects that did not require lengthy explanations. Considering a Topics Speaker has only 2 minutes to complete their speech, a TTM spending more than 30 seconds describing a topic can be rather excessive, since it means fewer members get an opportunity to do an actual Table Topic on the night. Wise words indeed!

Brigitta, the Grammarian for the evening, focused on fillers and crutch words – this feedback definitely being more useful than feedback about good language and big words.

The GE concluded by commending Matt on a ‘benchmark’ evening, especially when this was his debut. By rigidly controlling time, he hosted a meeting that had 4 speeches including a 12 minute Advanced Speech, 6 Topics, a Topics Evaluator and a longer Grammarian slot, and ensured the meeting only overran by 3 minutes. Great job Matt!

Our next club night at MSC will be at 7:30 on Monday 23 February – which will of course be our long-awaited Club International Speech & Evaluation Contest. Make sure you don’t miss this biggest event in our club calendar, and get involved in any way you can. See you all there for what promises to be another excellent Contest!


Published by Steve Cann

I love music! I've also recorded & performed my own songs (& once played in a band) & sometimes attend open mic nights. I enjoy comedy club nights & rock gigs, & countryside walks/country pubs... & life's simple pleasures, such as relaxing with a great book. I love exploring London, & particularly pub walks - there's so many wonderful pubs in the metropolis that I didn't know existed before I started doing these... I never get tired of London. I enjoy meditation, keeping fit, yoga & staying in good shape - healthy body, healthy mind & all that. I'm always open to new experiences, & strive to live life mindfully - enjoying the present moment. I've more recently got into public speaking, becoming a Toastmaster - it's great fun, & an invaluable way of learning new skills & extra confidence.

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