Theme – Success at Work
As always, there was a friendly chatter and hum as we gathered ready for meeting number 913, but with a gentle “Welcome, welcome, welcome” our Sgt at Arms Sandra Chatterton managed to catch our attention and the room quickly became quiet.
After welcoming our guest April, Sandra introduced and handed proceedings over to the meeting’s Toastmaster, Roydon Gibbs. As a workplace trainer and facilitator, Roydon is obsessed with the topic of work. He has worked with, and heard the stories of, thousands of people in hundreds of organisations and appreciates that work not always the best experience for some. He also believes it need not be that way and hopes that we all can get some satisfaction and enjoyment from what we do. With that in mind, he announced the meeting’s theme as ‘Success at Work’ and said he’d be sharing a few snippets from a colleague’s book throughout the meeting to get us thinking.
The first of these snippets was a challenge, stating that we “need to choose to be unembarrassable”, and then imagine what we would do with our life if this was the case; quite a big question for so early in the morning, but fun to contemplate.
Grammarian Terrelle Hegarty gave us our next challenge, which was to try and incorporate the word ‘alacrity’ into our dialogue when speaking during the meeting. Apparently popular in the 1800’s, alacrity means brisk and cheerful readiness and it was with this, that Denise Ford got up and introduced “one of our bright young Boaters, Courtney Tibbotts”.
Courtney shared some fond memories from her time spent in Dunedin at Otago University in her speech, Pride of the South. Inspired by her folks asking her what they could do during three days in Dunedin (they were travelling down for the Ed Sheeran concert) Courtney got to thinking about her time there, the student culture that she came to know and love, and the great memories and life lessons that she took away with her, including the promise to herself of going to somewhere with more than one ply toilet paper!
Anton McMulkin then came up to introduce Alannah Vickery, gave us some background on her Demonstration Talk, ‘A Path Less Travelled’ and told us that her objective was to get us to use our imagination, using her body language, rather than a PowerPoint presentation, to get us thinking.
Popping on a backpack as she took to the floor, Alannah read a Robert Frost poem to set the scene. She then took us on an adventure of her own, encouraging us to take the path less travelled. Based on her experiences of a tramp she did in preparation for a marathon, Alannah described in vivid detail how she felt when she took a wrong turn in the middle of the bush. Rather than panic, she savoured the moment, emptied her mind of all her fears, wiggled her bare feet into the ground and tuned into the earth. Aware of the light, texture and peace in the bush, she imagined the roots underground and felt the energy of the bush humming. She then brought us back to reality, reminding us to always take our compass when setting out on a tramping adventure.
Next John MacVicar introduced Louise Green who was tackling Project 10 in the Competent Communicator’s manual, ‘Inspire your Audience’. The speech’s manual objective was obvious from the title, so John also shared Louise’s personal objectives of sharing useful information with us and using the stage more during her speech, “How to be happy”.
Louise talked about how elusive happiness can be, and how she’s not fond of Pollyannas, the irritatingly cheerful, people who hug, or for whom the sun shines brightly She has however done a thought provoking happiness course as part of her MBA studies and discovered that the pursuit of happiness is not all pop psychology there are plenty of studies and science about the topic and that it is indeed a skill we can learn.
Then, with that jolly snippet of info on board, it was time for a cuppa.
After the break before giving us his theme, “Would you rather and why?”, Table Topics Master, Brad Lake reminded us that the point of Table Topics is to give us an opportunity to practice speaking off the cuff.
Challenging Jenne Robb to tell us if she’d like to live 500 years in the future or 500 years in the past, and why, Jenny confidently picked the past. Acknowledging that computing is not her favourite thing, she sees a lot of tech in the future and would rather be where there’s no computer or cellphone, preferring to use strings and cans to communicate, pick berries and avoid traffic.
Our guest April bravely got up next to tackle the question, “Would you rather have hands that kept growing or feet that kept growing, and why?”
Stating that she’s not very good at making decisions, April opted for bigger hands as bigger feet would cause problems when trying to walk. She used great gestures to demonstrate her point. Great effort April and well done for getting up the front on your first visit!
Claire Ruru then came up to ponder whether she’d rather be fluent in all languages or be able to speak to all animals. Almost immediately Claire chose languages. She likes to travel, enjoys having foreign visitors and knows that lots of foreigners move here, so would like to be able to easily communicate with them and learn about their culture.
The final Table Topics participant was Natalie Perzylo who had to decide whether she would “rather go back to age 5 and know everything you know now, or know everything now that your future self will learn, and why?”
Natalie thought that knowing the future would be awesome because she could help others. She would help people plan for what’s about to happen in 50 years, but without telling them that she knew what was going to happen. She definitely thinks that the future is where it’s at.
After Table Topics, it was time for the speech evaluations, and the evaluator of our first speech ‘Pride of the South’ from Courtney, was Alan Calder. Before getting into his evaluation, Alan explained the evaluator’s role for the benefit of our guest, which is to evaluate the style of the speaker using seven pre-defined points as a guideline.
Starting out with a reference to brisk cheeriness in terms of Courtney’s delivery, Alan delivered a supportive evaluation with helpful recommendations.
Deb McAlpine then had the responsibility of evaluating Alannah’s speech. Reminding us of the purpose of the Demonstration talk, Deb also gave helpful recommendations. While commending the use of the backpack as a prop, she suggested that to avoid competing with the noise of the prop, Alannah could speak first and then ‘rummage in the bag’ and then speak again, and that would have lifted things a notch. But overall, she found inspiring gems in the speech.
Evaluating Louise Green’s ‘speech to inspire’ was Mark Glanville. Commenting on how evaluation makes you concentrate, Mark had some fun with the word of the day before drawing us back to the speech purpose and Louise’s goals. Commending the fact that Louise left us with a strong message and a handout as a takeaway, he mentioned that he would have liked to have seen a bit more focus on the handout, but was looking forward to reading it after the meeting. He also demonstrated how she could have used the stage more expansively and introduced more vocal variety, but overall commended Louise on her positive speech.
Sabine Parry gave us a succinct Table Topics evaluation, pretty much giving us a master class in how to do it. She stuck to the CRC format – commend, recommend, commend – and had commendations for everyone. This is tricky to do in a short space of time, so well done Sabine.
Grouping the roles together, our Timekeeper for the day Grant Beattie ran through the list of introducers, speakers, evaluators and so forth.
Steve Kennelly then came up to give his general evaluation of the meeting. Commending all the competent enthusiastic speakers, he had lots of commendations, but found it hard to give any recommendations. He commended all three introducers for being well prepared, well paced and covering all they needed to do.
He did however have a recommendation for Brad, our Table Topics Master, reminding him to reminded Brad to lead the applause and provide the time limit before getting into the topics themselves.
He praised the evaluators for following the CRC format and for giving the speakers positive recommendations on things that they can do to improve next time. Commending Alan on explaining the purpose of the role, he did recommend shortening the evaluation, suggesting that when there’s plenty of feedback to give, it might be better to talk to the speaker afterwards.
Commending Roydon for setting the vibe of the meeting really well, Steve commented that he thought it was well organised, interesting and well structured. He enjoyed the theme and appreciated that this did not dominate the meeting, but that Roydon simply included two or three little relevant pieces of info throughout.
Our President (and Sgt at Arms) Sandra Chatterton then gave the Division G contest details as part of Boaters Bulletin, reminding us that David Clarkson would be representing our area in the evaluation contest. She also reminded us that if we’re the upcoming week’s Sgt at Arms, to take the gear bag home at the end of the meeting prior, or be prepared to have someone else do that on your behalf.
And before we all went our separate ways, Louise Landess (me) gave the Toastie Award to Alannah for her descriptive speech about taking the Path Less Travelled.
Well done all for a fun and thought-provoking meeting.