Category Archives: Educational Session

Working Behind The Scenes

An effective mentor is essential for a new member when taking his or her first steps at Toastmasters. It makes them feel more secure and that, as a club, we are interested in them. Given that we meet just twice a month and we are all “so pleased to see each other” we can look like a clique and a difficult group to break into.

A good mentor will give – in addition to guidance with the first four speeches – feedback on smaller roles taken, like Timer, Grammarian and Thought of the Day. They will introduce the mentee to other members and chase them up if they miss two meetings for example. A good mentor will also encourage the new member to set goals, a speech perhaps once every two months. While some mentees/mentors meet for a coffee to discuss speech ideas, I find it just as efficient using email. It is nice if this system is explained to our guests as it is reassuring, and it might even sway the balance in favor of joining Toastmasters.

VP of Mentorship is, in fact, a new committee position that we started in Madrid Toastmasters a few years ago in order to take some pressure off the VP of Membership. It has proved very successful and our sister club, Excelencia Toastmasters has also introduced the role. The VP of Mentorship can, for example, speak to new members before and after the meeting, while the VP of Membership can look after guests. It is helpful if the Sergeant at Arms, or Toastmaster of the Day, can be reminded to introduce these new members at the start of the meeting as they can easily be confused with visitors.

When looking for a mentor for someone I encourage the new member to come along to the main bar after the meeting where our free tapas await us. I introduce them to several members and observe what experienced member they chat to the longest, and the following day I suggest by email that they pair up! Another question to be kept in mind is that some of our members also join to improve their English, so it is quite useful to pair up a native with a non-native speaker.

Speech ContestThe VP of Mentorship should also leave some time to follow-up the introduction. Is the mentor actually being proactive? Are they still attending meetings? Some mentors may forget who they have been assigned (if they are mentoring several people) and a mentee may be waiting in the sidelines for the other person to take the initiative.

It is always a thrill when a member makes a tenth speech and becomes a Competent Communicator, but we should always remember that behind every successful speaker there stands a mentor!

Written by Jane Kinnear, CC, CL

August in Madrid

After two outdoors meetings in Retiro Park, we came back to our usual venue: Anthony’s Place.

Our new Sergeant at Arms, Jesus, who opened our first meeting in August, had imagined a poor attendance, but we had plenty of guests, and many of them were “Toastmasters”. Because some members of other Toastmasters clubs in Madrid (Excelencia, Standing Ovation…), who missed the Toastmasters environment during their clubs’ “summer breaks”, attended and took part in the meeting. And Allan visited Toastmasters Madrid too!! Allan is a member of two Toastmasters clubs in London, who was spending his vacation in Madrid.

Masha, the Toastmaster of the Day, had thoroughly prepared her role. She had written all the participants in advance, asking for their favourite quotation. Thanks to herm we learnt useful thoughts about success, mistakes… while we knew better our fellow Toastmasters.

Before starting with the prepared speeches, we attended an introduction of our supporting roles: Grammarian and Timekeeper.

Juliette, the Grammarian, chose PRACTICABLE, as the word of the day. It turned to be a great success, due to the amount of speakers who used it during our meeting.

FullSizeRenderWe are happy when a new member steps up as Victor did. He is the newest member of our club and volunteered to be Timekeeper.

But if, somebody talked about time, it was Mabel. From the very beginning of her second speech, she made us notice how we experiment the pass of time, and how talk about time: “we find, waste, spend… time”.  Mabel´s evaluator, Alex, realized that time existed for him too, when Victor, the timekeeper, showed the red card, and was about to interrupt his evaluation.

The second speech of the evening was a “Demonstration speech”, from an Advanced Manual, that Eric delivered successfully. He pointed out that while dancing “every move you make, means a lot, every step has a meaning, and remember, somebody can be watching”. Raúl Martín was watching him, with attention. During his evaluation, Raúl congratulated Eric for his magnificent body language, and how successfully “he did the most difficult thing on stage”: keeping the audience attention.

Instead of a third speech, we had an Educational Session led by Luci. In her path to become Advance Leader, she taught us that “goal setting” is in human nature, we all make new year´s resolutions…but how do we go from goal to reality? We heard some ideas and proposals. Luci suggested that we can use the tools we already have: Easy-speak allows us to make our communication and leadership goals available.

20150805_212514 Julian @ TTAfter the speeches, Ana Virtudes, led an original Table Topics session: The four victims created a story that began with our rock star, Julian. After him, Javier, tried to sell a ticket for a concert, but Nacho preferred to stay at home with his Dalmatian print blanket. The story ended when Allan invited all of us to attend a fancy dress party!!! Hard job for Alisha, the Table Topics Evaluator, to find room for improvement, but she did! And for all the participants.

Our General evaluator was Jim, who evaluated the whole meeting, and those participants who hadn’t been evaluated so far. He specially praised Alisha’s effort: “Excellent, from Excelencia”.

The meeting ended with Masha requesting members to upload a picture of each one to Easy-Speak (the tool we use to plan meetings and club events). We all concur, as our final quotation, that “Easy-speak is more important than LinkedIn, Twitter or even Facebook”.

Written by Raquel