Tag Archives: leadership

Speak With Confidence

Despite the Real Madrid match, a multitude of members including a decent amount of guest came out to witness Ola, Jack and Juliet deliver their icebreaker and 7th speeches respectively.

The Toastmaster of the evening, Luciana, along with the time keeper Villy and grammarian Rose ensured that the meeting run smoothly.

IMG_2738First to the stage was Ola who dazzled the audience with her flawless movements and expressive hand gestures as she spoke about her life. For her first ever speech, she did well taking control of the stage. Her fairy tale style speech, focused on abandoning her native land Poland at the age of  23 years,  to begin a new life in sunny Spain. As an introvert, she declared that the move had made her more lively and open. Although it was her Icebreaker speech, Ola exhibited vital public speaking skills such as maintaining eye contact with audience, and she was even able to use humour in her speech.

It was no fairy tale speech with Jack. He was very expressive about the things he likes, thanks to the Beatles vinyl, Atletico de Madrid jersey and a family portrait he had brought along to back up his case.

Any toastmaster member would attest that delivering your Icebreaker speech can be nerve-wracking but not Jack, he kept his cool, was calm and collected and owned the stage. His speech had a clear structure and  a good conclusion.

IMG_2737Juliet started her speech with a question which immediately captured the audience’s attention. Her chosen subject about beauty touched the audience heart. Thanks to her personal anecdotes, Juliet made her speech a personal one. Also the use of visual aids helped to follow and understand her speech. Juliet appeared natural on stage and spoke with a clear loud voice backed with superb movements.

After the prepared speeches, it was time for the impromptu speeches which was well thought and wonderfully executed by the Table Topic Master Masha.

Lewis, Jesus, Nacho, and Jim were the fortunate ones to participate in the Table Topics, they were to guess the person behind a secret and also elaborate more on that secret.

All in all it was a it a great meeting, and most importantly we learned some dark secrets about some members.

Written by Christian

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

Snowflakes keep falling on my head…

Manolo, standing in for Jesús, opened the meeting and introduced our Toastmaster of the Day, Masha.
The meeting had a wintery feel as the room had been decorated with paper snowflakes and Masha explained that where she comes from, winter starts on the 1st of December. The room was packed as we had plenty of members and 12 guests.
Alex A. acted as Grammarian and introduced the very fitting word of the day “pollution”. Luis acted as Timer.
Ivan was our first speaker. The title of his speech was “Are you happy?” and he took us through the theoretical side of being happy, explaining spikes of happiness as opposed to long term happiness, and the differences between physiological and self-actualization happiness. He added a personal touch about how much he had learnt from his granny.
On a parallel note, our next speaker also on Project 2 talked about goals and “It’s never too late”. He gave us tips on achieving goals using the “smart technique”. He talked on the importance of persistence, and he gave us real life examples using Thomas Edison and JK Rowling.
20151202_210741_resizedThe meeting then took quite a turn as our next speaker Teresa, doing an advanced manual on poetry reading, took us north to a fishing village by the hand of Pulitzer prize winner, Elizabeth Bishop. We were indeed impressed by “At the fishhouses” with a myriad of rich adjectives and metaphors that brought these cold waters alive.
Next we had three evaluations on the three speeches. Mabel was pushed to find recommendations for Ivan except for using more pauses to reinforce the conclusion. In her opinion there were a couple too many anecdotes and ideas that “polluted” the message and made it a bit less clear.
Christian was applauded for not using any notes and for the clear outline of his speech, but Raquel advised him to give personal examples of what he was “preaching” which would draw him closer to the audience.
Nacho, evaluating Teresa, pointed out how well she had done on such a difficult project. She was advised to read sentences as a whole and to make sure the pauses went in the right places.
We were all ears for Table Topics performed by Javier A. He said he wanted us to pretend to be ministers and to come out with our election promises. The lucky few to be chosen were Villy on Transport (having just arrived in Madrid she was a bit flummoxed with this one). Luis G. on Education told us after his Finnish experience he would put just ten kids in a classroom and he would put a stop to dubbing movies. Rosa on Taxes said she would tax people according to their savings, the more you saved the less tax you would pay, and the less trash you chucked out the less tax also. Alex H. on the Environment explained how he would confiscate 25% of the profit of any company polluting Madrid. Ola on Employment just managed to keep going for one minute and she promised that under her anyone wanting to work would be able to work.
Jim evaluating Table Topics praised Javier on the subject matter and for reminding people they did not actually have to be smart in their answers. Villy got into trouble for not answering the question, Luis got praise for being a quick thinker but he was told the phrase “education in Spain sucks” was a little strong. Rosa was advised not to say “thank you” at the end of an intervention, and Alex H. was also commended for being a quick thinker.
The Timer and Grammarian gave their reports and Carlos H. wrapped up the meeting as General Evaluator. He pointed out that several people had to watch their enunciation and he disagreed with Ivan’s evaluator regarding too much info in Ivan’s speech detracting from the message.
Nacho proudly introduced three people who have been recognized lately: Raquel as an Outstanding Member by the Division, Masha for having done wonderfully well at the District Conference and Alex, the newest Distinguished Toastmaster in Madrid. Raquel announced the Christmas Party on Friday 18th December at Alta Burguesía, cost 20 euros pp.
Masha closed the meeting at 22:15 reminding us to do small things with our loved ones this winter, like making snowflakes.

Writeen by Jane.

Strip Away Your Fears

The first meeting of October was ‘cool’ just like the time of season itself. Before Maria and Jesus would come up to explain their respectful roles as grammarian and time keeper, Eric the Toastmaster of the day, did something a little bit different in how guests are welcomed. Instead of the conventional “Hello and where are you from” form of introduction, he instructed guests to just say their names. Later at the end of the program, he gave the guests a chance to speak again by providing feedback on the evenings meeting.

In the main part of the nights program, Ivan lead the way with his Icebreaker in which he stripped off of his shirt to reveal his cyclist jersey. This was of course part of his plan to illustrate his passion for cycling as he delivered his autobiography speech. He talked about his brief childhood in Colombia, moving to the States and subsequently to Madrid. Marina who was evaluating him praised him for not using any notes.


Mabel on her third speech, delivered an educational speech on Visual, Audio, and Kinaesthetic (VAK) learning styles. She practiced what she preached as she used visual aids to capture audience attention. And also pitched her voice clear and loud enough to be heard from afar. Maintaining eye contact also added a personal touch with the audience.

Juliet’s fourth speech in her fourth month as a member was entitled “The Power Of Many”. One take home lesson from her speech was her advice on coming out more when faced with tougher situation in order to receive help. Jane was her evaluator and applauded her use of anecdotes to add flavour to the speech. To keep the momentum going, Eric commented on Juliet delivering her fifth speech next month to make it five speeches in five months.

The table topics was conducted by Ana. To help her carry it out were, Lewis, Javier, Villy, Raquel and Christian who delivered impromptu speeches about their various job roles such as a hotel bed warmer, and a life guard at a nude beach. The quick thinking and improvisation skills of the participants made it an eventful session.

Written by Christian.