We held a Backwards Meeting. Yes, a meeting that started at the end and ended with the beginning.

How was our Backwards meeting pulled off? How can an evaluation be done before the speech?
A magician never tells his tricks!  You can watch the meeting in all it’s glory here (Youtube)

An attempt on a write up of a very funny upside down meeting:

President Paul closed the meeting by revealing the awards and telling us about upcoming events.
The winners are
1) Best Smile  – Andy Cowan
2) Best Background –  Kevin Baggs
3) Best Jazz Hands – Mark Richardson


He also gave the guests a chance to talk, Mikki, Mandy and Cynthia expressed what a great evening it was!

Rebecca, the club’s Vice President of Education asked for volunteers for roles & speeches and reminded of our club contest on the 16th of March.

An exciting meeting draws nearer to the end, time for the general evaluator  Noipmac Nevest.  It was one of our guests who looked so much like Steven Campion we just let him get on with it. The general evaluator of this meeting evaluates everyone who has not been evaluated previously  He clearly observed all the unusual things that happened during the meeting, starting with NinaP not finding her joke, Paul running out of the room during the tabe topics evaluation, Nicky the grammarian counting limescale more often than the word of the day. He also advised Kevin not to recommend on the speakers clothing and commended Peter on the use of props. Excellent observations!

Liz’s  as ah-erm counter reported how the club excelled in not using  filler words, but was astonished how often ‘soo’ was used. She marvelled about the excessive use of the word Boulderdash which she suspects was a swear word replacement.

Nicky’s grammarian report picked up on how often the word of the day assiduous was said. She mentioned some beautiful use of English language such as life, liberty, pursuit of happiness (John), the metaphors used by the table table topics speakers, life is like a box of chocolate (Kevin).

Paul the table topics evaluator  picked up everything and especially all the delay tactics in the beginning of the impromptu speeches! Amazing job! The chanting, the pink elephants, the falling spiders, the filing cabinet, the singing, the laughing about ones’s own jokes, the dog sounds, he missed absolutely nothing!

Topic 6: Do you agree that a dog is a man’s best friend?
Andy: Is a dog a man’s best friend? Dramatic pause. He has no kettle at his house, just a distiller because of all the limescale. Sainsbury’s is 1 jog away, he slipped in dog’s Boulderdash, but it rained, the dog whines (w’ll demonstrated) and is happy. He agrees that a dog is a man’s best friend but no, too much Boulderdash.

Topic 5: Musicals, the land of Oz and the yellow cake road.
Cynthia: What can she say about Valentines Day? *Singing about rainbows, medicine that goes down and a spoonful of chocolate.

Topic 4: The rule of tree
Emma: *Takes a while finding tree names in her filing cabinet. *Finds a few at the end: Chestnut, maples, acorns, big and small trees. Rule of tree. *talking very fast

Topic 3: How to ignore arachnid interruptions by thinking fast and slow.
Kartik: *Fights off all the dropping spiders that fell out of the limescale. He then tied the topic skillfully to the book ‘Thinking fast and thinking slow’. Don’t kill spiders, they are useful. Relax and think slowly, isn’t this funny?  *laughs about his own joke.

Topic 2:  How do you pay for the internet?
Margaryta: Hello, hello? I can’t hear you! Boulderdash! I forgot to pay for the internet.

Topic 1: Please tell us about the world of turnips and pink elephants
Mandy:  *Chanting. Turnips grow in the land where the pink elephants live, which you can only reach by the tiny door at the bottom of your road.

Mark the table topics master hosted a magnificent table topics session straight out the Land of Oz (or was the Wonderland)?

Peter (29, takes advice) evaluated Anna and as expected he picked up how extensive she talked about her breakfast. He did not listen closely however and missed the fact that she does not like Marmite. He did advise to find a better knock knock joke. He commended on how great Anna explained the difference between being coached and mentored and how she came to  her epiphany. He also noticed her skillful use of vocal variety. He finished his evaluation with musing about what a great speaker Anna is, she took the gloves off. Brilliantly underpinned by props!

Nina M evaluated Rebecca’s speech skilfully. Se picked up on Rebeccas excellent speech writing skills, her use of slides and personal experiences and sharing of personal wisdom such as “If it seems easy you are doing it wrong.” She had a few recommends though. She noticed Rebecca’s poor posture leaning her head on her hands and sliding out of the frame. Se also noticed the repeated use of ‘Am I right.?’ Brilliant observations, there was a great deal to be learned here!

Kevin evaluated John’s speech. He started off unusual with a recommend on John’s clothing.  (Toastmasters doesn’t recommend that.)  He then commended John’s powerful phrase life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. He picked up on the miscarried audience interaction with Paul, but also on John’s powerful appeal at the end of the speech. As it turns out, the rule of 3 wasn’t quite executed right, thankfully he pointed this out to the audience.

Anna started her speech ‘Everyone needs a mentor‘ surprisingly personal by sharing how she enjoys her breakfast since working from home. She then did a little stretching exercise with the audience. She used this exercise to demonstrate the difference between coaching and mentoring, terms that often get confused. Coaching is focused on short term goals, the coach is responsible for the protege to reach the goals and the coach gives specific instructions on what to do. Mentoring  on the other hand focuses on long term goals, shares life experiences that then inspires the mentee to find their personal actions to meet their goal. Thirdly, the mentor is a regular cheerleader to the protege. Lastly she shared her experience with her Toastmasters mentor Nina M, how she helped her grow. She concludes her speech with the epiphany that Everybody needs a mentor. The very end was a dodgy knock knock joke, another interesting speech technique.

Rebecca’s speech ‘A Corker of a Club Contest’  explained how to best prepare for club contests, but the method can easily be adopted for other situations in life.
She used slides which helped to navigate through the speech. There are 3 key elements to a good preparation:
1) Start early 2) Identify resources and people to accomplish your goals  3)  Manage your risks. Have a backup plan and have volunteers to stand by.
She regularly (15 times or so) involved the audience by asking “Am I right?”, a very interesting speech technique. Rebecca’s public speaking is excellent, she seems not nervous anymore at all. In fact, she rather seemed bored, resting her head on her hands and  sliding sideways out of the frame.
But this all did not distract from her excellent speech and most importantly to a corker of a speech ending using the Macarena dance to share her wisdom “ If it’s easy you are doing it wrong”. Amazing twist!

In his speech  ‘Skiing with cricket bats’ John looked back at the start of his Toastmasters time 6 years ago, as nervous as if he were skiing with cricket bats. He then did something we don’t often see: He involved the audience asking Paul for his experience at the start, just to cut him off 5 seconds into his reply! The club became an outlet for John (being away from home for work), and over time he  got to know members better. He used the adapted rule of 3 in 3 to explain that  the club brought him life (learning, fun,membership), liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Very clever. He finished with an emotional appeal to always think about how you affect others, whether you are skiing or playing cricket.

Nina P was jokemaster of the meeting, if only she could find her joke!

Derek led us through the night, eloquent as usual, introducing all speakers ad roles exquisitely, sadly he had difficulties pronouncing all the names correctly.

Club president Paul opened the meeting  welcoming our many  guests (Elizabeth, Eric, Emma, Cynthia, Alexander, Menan, Tetiana, Mandy, Kate, Diane, Noipmac) and setting the tone.  He did not drone on and kicked the meeting off swiftly.