By Karen Bailey, President and Elaine Watt, VPPR, Worcester Speakers
Our meetings at Worcester Speakers are on the first and third Mondays of the month, but every couple of months we end up with a fifth Monday in the month, which we call our “Bonus” Mondays. Sometimes we add an extra ‘event’ on those Bonus Mondays, which we tend to make into one of the ‘non-standard’ meeting, like Open Houses, Bring-a-Friend events, or Speechathons.
Goals for our Speechathon
For this meeting, we decided on a Speechathon, as it allowed us to hit several goals at once. All our meetings are hybrid, meaning we have both in-person and online attendees, allowing us to have participants from all over the world join our meetings. For a flavour of the event check out the video below:
Our three key goals for our Speechathon were:
1. Celebration of our 100th meeting
In December last year, our Sergeant-at-Arms, Ben, spotted that the numbering of our meetings meant that we were coming up to our 100th meeting. With a little maths, we worked out that it would coincide with the Bonus Monday that the end of January 2023, so we targeted that date. As it was a celebration, we threw a proper party, with cake and balloons!
2. Moving people through their Paths
The second goal for the Speechathon was to help Members move through their Paths. We had 8 speeches presented on the evening, with a real mix of levels and Paths covered. There were two Icebreaker speeches, three other Level 1s, two Level 2s and a Level 3.
With so many speeches to squeeze in, it presented us with two challenges: A. How do we keep the unplanned part of the evening to get everyone who wasn’t speaking up to the front (or spotlighted online) to push people out of their comfort zones without Table Topics? And, B. How do we make sure everyone gets their vital evaluations so they are able to improve and learn without making the evening run on until midnight?
We resolved these for the evening, with both solutions working really well! To add back in the spontaneous, unplanned aspect, we introduced a new role which we called Impromptu Introducers. The aim of these was to have someone from the audience get up and do the introduction for the next speaker; they would have no advance notice of it so there was the same feeling that people get from Table Topics, and it was great experience for people to practice introducing speakers and making sure they included all the vital components (name, speech title, timings for the Timekeeper, the Path and speech level, and general objectives for the speech).
To solve the issue of the missing feedback, we assigned Members in the room to give ‘silent’ evaluations by printing the relevant Toastmasters Evaluation Form for the speeches, and asking them to complete them and hand them to the Speakers (or scan/take photos and send to online Speakers). This way the Speakers still get their crucial feedback without extending the length of the evening, and all of the Speakers appreciated this.
3. Hitting our DCP goals
With so many speeches happening at a range of levels, the Speechathon also helped us push towards our DCP goals. Two of the speeches were level completions, which achieved the first of the Level 1 Educational points available, and the rest all helped put us one step closer to gaining those all important points.
Our 100th Meeting Speechathon was well attended both in terms of Speakers and attendees, and the fun party atmosphere helped to make it a really memorable evening for everyone involved. We’d highly recommend a Speechathon to any club thinking about it as they are a great way to help both our Members and the club hit our goals!
We were interviewed by District 91 PR Manager about the experience of running this Speechathon where we reminisced about the event, what was most memorable and we even shared a ‘muted’ moment!
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