The Laughing Toastmaster: Green Room Gossip

Green Room Gossip - Sonia Aste

As Toastmasters we visit a lot of Green Rooms doing public speaking. Personally, I’d prefer if they were white and padded (especially before an important gig), but at this point in my ‘thriving’ public speaking career, I’m just glad there’s a ROOM.

After being squeezed into corridors, cubbyholes, and janitor’s closets (it’s amazing how little space mops take), I can boast there’s a Green Room. And toilet paper in the Ladies’ Room! Success at last!

Now let’s not confuse ‘Green Room’ with the evergreen section in your local Garden Centre. A Green room is defined as: ‘A room in which speakers can relax before and after they perform on stage’. ‘Relax’ is not exactly the word I would use. More like, ‘She’s hyperventilating, looks like she’s going to pass out’!

I didn’t, but it was close. Where’s a brown paper bag when you need one? Plastic bags won’t do. You’ll not only hyperventilate but asphyxiate and die. Plenty of time to do that on stage.

I like Green Rooms. They remind me of my true love: chocolates. They come in all shapes and sizes and bigger is definitely better.

Take the last corporate event I did. The Green Room was a huge seminar suite filled with posters praising the benefits of hard work:

  • No Shortcuts: WORK FOR IT!

Very inspirational. I must remember to follow them one day.

For quirky Green Rooms, the winner has to be a B&B room in York, annexed to the conference room we were performing in. One speaker took a shower, the Keynoter took a nap, and I took all the biscuits. Hey they were free!

Close second is a Curry House in Birmingham, hired for an office party award ceremony. The Green Room was beside the kitchen. I wasn’t exactly on top of the stove but close enough to go on stage smelling like Chicken Dopiaza. Turned out the audience went ballistic and wanted more and more! Curry.

My personal favourite? A large brewery near Chicago. Was it the tank’s reflexion that made all the speakers shine? Or the fact the audience was doubly intoxicated due to what I call ‘alcohol osmosis’?

Green Rooms have rules too. As far as I know these remain unwritten, so for the benefit of all you rookies out there (in public speaking that means anyone with less than 101 years’ experience):

  1. Don’t be a jerk… but be prepared to meet a few.
  2. Avoid asking ‘Is this the Green Room?!’ With a smirk on your face. Go back to point 1.
  3. Don’t brownnose the event organizer … too much. A little ‘mocha’ nosing is expected, but most people will see through ‘You’re the best person in the world!!’ And those who don’t are best avoided.
  4. Fans and groupies are not allowed in the Green Room. My grandmother is in Spain so not a problem for me.
  5. Don’t be greedy. The organizer has kindly put out drinks and refreshments for ALL the speakers. Taking the Gin and Vodka bottles home is not cool. Plus, I have yet to be invited back to that specific event.
  6. Be nice to the host/MC. They have the power to introduce you as: ‘We believe in giving new public speakers a chance, I’ve never seen her before … so anything goes’…
  7. Don’t believe speakers that boast about how they have won all the speaking competitions in the world, especially if you’re performing in the cafeteria of an accounting firm in Sunderland. (See point 8).
  8. Do boast that YOU have won a Toastmasters’ speech competition as the name of our organization carries a lot of clout. Never mind it was third place at club level and there were only three speakers.
  9. Don’t say, ‘You really bombed!’ to the Key-Note Speaker (even if it’s true). Don’t be tempted to give them an evaluation (even if they really need it). Do say ‘Have you thought of joining Toastmasters’?

And finally,

  1. If you have an issue with any of these rules – ignore them like I do.

Sonia Aste is a Harvard MBA, Engineer, MEng, writer, public speaker, and comedian. She’s a Toastmaster at Riverside Communicators Club
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Last Updated on 9th October 2023 by

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