After weeks of preparation and training, Montserrat’s first Toastmasters Club, MNI Speakers, convened the first of its schedule of regular meetings on Wednesday, 5th August 2020. The Toastmaster of the evening and President, Daphne Furlonge was ably assisted by the Timekeeper, Vanesta Allen-Pallidore; Grammarian, K Vanessa White; Table Topics Master, Lyandra Hobson and Sergeant-at-Arms Carmen Ruiz-Allen.
The meeting was divided into two sections: impromptu speeches and prepared speeches. Lyandra Hobson, the Table Topics Master, led the first section in which she randomly identified five attendees and requested that they give short impromptu speeches lasting up to two minutes. These impromptu speeches were then evaluated by Toastmaster, Angernel Aaron Henry from Antigua Toastmasters Club. She conveyed her sentiments that everyone delivered fairly well, considering that it was the Club’s very first official meeting. Several recommendations for improvement in
delivery were highlighted: speakers should make and maintain eye contact with the audience, and in the virtual setting, this can be achieved by looking directly into the camera. In the virtual environment, speakers should ensure that the head, shoulders and hands are visible so that appropriate body language could be used and viewed.
In the second part of the meeting, Romilly Murrain and Carmen Ruiz-Farrell gave their first prepared speech – the ice breaker – from the Presentation Mastery Pathway. Romilly, in what turned out to be a five-minute impromptu speech, told of her love for her job, books and her family.
She displayed some of the skills promoted by Toastmasters, when she adapted to an unexpected situation and presented, regardless of challenges.
Carmen with a speech aptly entitled “Smile”, kept us smiling throughout. She spoke of her initial challenges as a non-English speaker and how smiling got her through some tough situations. She pointed out, however, that a smile was insufficient to get by and spoke of how important it had been for her to learn to speak English and to do so fluently. Toastmasters, she felt, would help her to be a better and more fluent speaker of English, as a second language.
Experienced Toastmasters, Serena Persaud and Angernel Aaron Henry from Antigua Toastmasters Club were in attendance to offer their support. They, along with Denise Silcott, took on the role of evaluators and offered feedback to those individuals taking on the challenge of delivering either an impromptu speech or a prepared speech. Each speaker was told what they had done well and given suggestions and tips for improvement, with the aim of improvements in subsequent speeches. The Grammarian, K Vanessa White, who had challenged all speakers to
use the word of the day, “Ebullient”, then gave feedback. She noted that the word was correctly used by several presenters. The highest praise went to a visitor who managed to use the word of the day when introducing herself. For improvement she urged speakers to be aware of both verb and noun agreement and of word pronunciation.
At the end, attendees were encouraged to give some feedback on the meeting. The guests from the Antigua Toastmasters Club congratulated Montserrat on having started a Club and spoke of how beneficial it had been for them in getting over shyness and the boost in confidence it afforded. Other attendees felt that Toastmasters would help them to speak more confidently in public as well as build their overall self-confidence.
The next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday 19th August, in keeping with the Club’s agreed meeting schedule of every 1st and 3rd Wednesday of each month. Anyone who has an interest in attending future meetings is asked to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com to be included in the club’s mailing list.
Club President and Toastmaster of seven and a half years, Daphne Furlonge, highlighted that the objective of the Club is to help its members to speak with Confidence, Passion and Respect so as to inspire and motivate the people around them and those whom they lead.