Early & Awesome | Friday 7 a.m. | Coral Springs, FL
Author: David F. Carr
I am a writer, editor, and web consultant who lives in Coral Springs. I covered IT issues for healthcare, government, and education as an editor at InformationWeek, but my my major focus was on social business and new workplace technologies. I am the author of Social Collaboration for Dummies and blog on digital business issues for Forbes. Toastmasters has helped me learn to communicate from behind a lectern rather than behind a keyboard, which became an important skill when I was on my book tour. I am a Past President of Club Awesome and have served as an Area Director and District Social Media Chair for District 47 (South Florida and the Bahamas). I also started the WordPress for Toastmasters project, adapting software originally developed for this club to be used to help other Toastmasters clubs promote and organize themselves.
In 2017, I became the founding President of Online Presenters Toastmasters, a club that meets online and focuses on the skills you need to run a webinar or present in an online meeting.
Marilyn Brown placed 3rd in the District 47 Toastmasters humorous speech contest, November 2017, where she competed as one of seven top speakers from South Florida and The Bahamas. She had previously won at the club, area, and division levels.
After missing just two meetings as Hurricane Irma passed, Club Awesome Toastmasters will be back in action Friday morning. If you’ve been suffering without air conditioning, you’ll be happy to learn this is the coolest Toastmasters club in town because we meet at the Panthers Ice Den, just off Sample Road in the Coral Springs Sportsplex (directions).
No, we don’t actually meet on the ice, but the conference room upstairs is a very cool place to meet for public speaking practice and professional development. Join us Friday from 7 to 8:30 am.
Evaluations are at the heart of the Toastmasters experience, giving members immediate feedback on what they have done well and where they can improve.
Randy Ostreich’s speech, “International Travel, Carry-On Style,” was project #7 in the Competent Communication manual, Research your Topic. This video an example of a Toastmaster who is gaining experience, but still developing skills, getting an evaluation from a very experienced Toastmasters, Lois Margolin, DTM.
Most of the time, we use video in the club as a teaching tool, sharing it privately so members can see their performances after the meeting. At our February 3 meeting, all three featured speeches were so strong we asked permission to make them public.
These videos are not technically perfect, but I hope the essence of the speeches shines through.
One of the most valuable skills you can learn in Toastmasters is how to think on your feet — come up with an intelligent and maybe even entertaining response to a surprise question. That’s good practice for the unexpected in life and business.
The Table Topics impromptu speaking exercise that is a feature of most Toastmasters meetings is so important we hold an annual contest for the best impromptu speech at our club, with the winner going on to compete at higher levels — area, division and district (South Florida and The Bahamas).
The speakers whose videos are included below were the top 3 in our club’s recent contest.
The prompt they all responded to was: “I found a box in the attic …”
Here’s an idea for giving Facebook friends a peek at how Toastmasters works in your club. This morning, we shared the Table Topics portion of our meeting (done roughly contest style in prep for contest season) on Facebook Live. Participants were told they could opt out of the video broadcast but none did. We posted the replay with a link back to our club website, hoping that someone who sees this will come visit and join.
Some details on how this was done:
The easiest way of doing a Facebook Live broadcast that I know of is using the app on your phone. It also seems to work best with the phone held vertically rather than horizontally, which is why the video is oriented the way it is. I bought a tripod attachment that clamps onto a smart phone so I could produce a steadier video than if it was done handheld.
In the replay, you can hear a see and hear a bit of fussing over getting the tripod positioned properly and a bit of interplay between Topics Master Marilyn Kiernan Brown and club President Lorraine Campbell over how the contest should be run. But keep in mind not everyone who watches live would tune in the moment the broadcast starts — it takes a few moments for people to see the notification and decide to watch, even assuming they are online at that moment. So I figured it’s better to start a few minutes early, rather than waiting for the speakers to be introduced.
This was shot on a Samsung Galaxy 7 Edge phone, which did a surprisingly good job of picking up the speaker’s voices, even from the other side of the room.
P.S. It took a little poking around to find out where to download one of these replay videos, but here is where you find that link. I figured I might do a little editing for a cleaner version that doesn’t have me futzing with the tripod as a distraction.
As a WordPress enthusiast, I also have to put in a quick plug for how easy it is to embed Facebook video in a web page or blog post. Click on the date associated with the video post to find the permalink (the permanent link for that resource). Copy and paste that link into the body of your content, and WordPress automatically adds the video embed code when the content is viewed on the public site.
A large part of the value of Toastmasters comes from getting immediate feedback on your speeches and presentations. This is a peer-to-peer model for education and self improvement, where members work hard at learning how to teach what they have learned in the program.
Giving good evaluations is an art of its own, and Club Awesome is lucky to have as one of its members Dorrette Keen. Just this past weekend, Dorrette won an evaluations contest at an area event where our members were competing against representatives of four other clubs.
To give a great evaluation, you first need a speech to evaluate. Jay Jawitz came to the contest not as a competitor but to give the “test speech” for the evaluators to evaluate. As a benefit of playing this role, he got to hear a variety of perspectives on a single speech. “I got a lot out of my evaluations,” he says. “I learned that I could have strengthened my beginning and conclusion. I realize that I could prepare my speeches in the future a lot better.” By reviewing the video, he also got a chance to evaluate himself, finding more things he wanted to improve.
Dorrette and Jay both gave permission to share the video of their performances, so you can understand the kind of feedback you can expect in Toastmasters. The ideal is to give just the right mix of positive feedback and suggestions for improvement.
Jay’s speech was about learning to let go of the unnecessary “drama” in life.
Here is Dorrette’s evaluation.
Dorrette will be going on to the next level of competition, and if she wins again will represent our club at the level of the district (South Florida and The Bahamas). Most importantly, she gives quality evaluations on a weekly basis to new members and experienced ones at Club Awesome. We’re all better for it.
We did this as an experiment, broadcasting the segment using Facebook Live Video (meaning that some people tuned in while our meeting was under way). I thought might capture the attention of some of the morning people out there who would be looking for something interesting during our meeting time — and therefore might be more likely to stop by one of our meetings.
The Facebook Live Video service is built into the Facebook mobile app. If you tap the status icon, you will see “Go Live” as one of the alternatives to typing a message.
The app uses your smartphone camera. I toggled it from the default selfie view to use the back-facing camera and secured the phone to a tripod using a cheap clamp I bought a couple of months ago (see below).
One thing I have found a little tricky is that with my Android phone the video only works properly if I position the phone vertically, whereas my instinct is to turn it horizontally (for a widescreen more TV-like video). However, Facebook actually squares off the picture, so you don’t get that vertical video effect that always looks funny to me.
Club Awesome uses a WordPress-powered website that makes it easy to add video (see my WordPress for Toastmasters site). To embed the video into this post, I just pasted in the link for the video into the WordPress editor, and WordPress automatically embedded the video player (similar to the way it works with YouTube video). The easiest way to find the link for the video is to click on the timestamp of the associated post.
Our club officers are talking about doing this more often with the speeches of the more confident members. Meanwhile, we will continue with our practice of routinely recording video of member speeches. The difference is those are shared privately for educational purposes, albeit with the possibility of publicizing some of the best, with the member’s permission. When you do Facebook Live Video, you’re committed! There is no opportunity to review the video before it is broadcast, and Facebook provides few editing controls.
If you are really unhappy with how the video came out, you could always delete it so it won’t continue to be available for replay. But Toastmasters are supposed to be brave! Live a little and Go Live with Facebook.
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