Meetings Poll

Please take a moment to look at a change which is being considered for the club and anonymously vote and give us your feedback. A case for and against is stated below if that helps. Please reply by 18.00 on Monday 13 June so that we can get an idea of what everyone thinks on the issue before the Tuesday meeting. Thank you!

Image of two debaters with opposite viewpoints

What should we do?

Issue to decide:

It is being considered that we can get larger numbers of members further in Pathways if we change the meeting format, for six months only, to the following:

1. We will only include the role of Grammarian and Ah Counter every third meeting.
2. For the other two meetings we will have meetings that concentrate on Pathways speeches in the first half and Table Topics in the second.
3. We will encourage people within a Level (Level 1, 2 etc) to have evenings in which we get between 4-5 members to give speeches. Sometimes we will have mixed Level meetings.
4. This will mean more Evaluators, improving listening and feedback skills; also, other audience members will be invited to familiarise themselves with some competition roles like Judge.

The aim is to get as many members as we can as far forward in Pathways in a short time. We have a lot of fairly new members and this will let them build skills in that time raising the club to a higher level

Thoughts are mixed and the cases, For and Against, are set out below. You may wish to review them before submitting your anonymous vote.

Case for the change

  1. Who wants to stand still – or even slide backwards? But that is the danger here. Not changing will hold most members back. But how come?
  2. Presently, if we work on the basis of 20 members each doing their 15 Pathways’ projects we would need 300 speaking slots (20 x 15 projects.)
    • Yet each meeting has two speech slots. That means a maximum of 24 slots per year (12 months x2 slots). You could have three speeches per meeting but this would still be just 36 speaking slots. Even with 3 slots it would take a member 8.5 years to complete their Pathways (300/36)
  3. There has to be something better than this – and there is! An alternative would be to try, for six months, what some other clubs have done; moving members through a number of Levels with 4-5 slots per meeting and creating time to do this by suspending, for two in three meetings, the role of Grammarian and Ah Counter. This is only possible if we create time and hence the reason for the proposed change. The advantages are significant.
    • Initially we would group people by Pathway Level with the aim of moving members up a Level or so quite quickly. We can also have mixed Level evenings showing the range of speaking levels the club has reached.
    • It will allow us to develop other useful skills, The audience, for example, can become more fully involved doing Judge roles used in competitions. We have neglected these and competitions recently – the discipline of a Competition Judge’s role really strengthens evaluation skills.
    • Indeed, the change creates more opportunities for Evaluators, reinforcing the important listening and feedback skills vital to modern day life.
    • The Club meetings will be more dynamic
    • Presently, the members who are ‘quick to the draw’ book the slots in advance whilst others cannot get slots when they need them. Some members have kindly surrendered a speaking slot for others. But they should not need to! The change means every member will be able to get speaking slots and will know well in advance when they are speaking. Meetings will become true public speaking events.
    • As members progress through the Levels they will be more motivated as they can see the end in sight.
  4. It is conceded that this means that the Ah Counter and Grammarian will only appear at every third meeting. But this is a necessary trade off. Besides, these important functions will be addressed by the speech evaluators. Also, it does not mean all members will complete Pathways – but it takes them far closer to this point than the present arrangement.
  5. Some other clubs are also recognising the importance of making progress in Pathways. After all, do you want to find that three years from joining you have only given two speeches? This approach gives us what we joined Toastmasters for – it’s good for the club too!

We joined Toastmasters to develop our formal and informal public speaking skills. Our present system is holding some members back. Let’s put it right to-day. Support this necessary change!

Case to remain with the status quo and no change

There are already adequate speaking opportunities for members. Toastmasters is far more than Pathways; it offers a wide range and variety of speech types and situations. We should not diminish this – which is what and the proposal would do.

There are actually 11 possible speaking opportunities at each meeting, that is if you count all the roles, a meeting evaluator, 2 speeches and 2 evaluators. 

All members should see the roles as distinct speaking opportunities developing other skills beyond formal speeches; thinking in real time and giving feedback, for example. There is no need to restrict speeches to just prepared speech delivery – which is really what the change is about.  

We would lose the growth and development that the current meeting structure provides.  

It is true that the change would increase formal speech progress. But we can keep the best of both if we do three speeches and explore other options: For instance, we could:

  • Limit the number of Table Topics speakers by prioritising guests and members who are not speaking.  
  • Remove or reduce the frequency of the Education slot  to 1 per month, in its place we can have 3 speakers (that will increase the speaking opportunities to 13 per meeting ie 26 per month)
  • Better manage the break to a 5 – 10mins comfort break.  Sometimes we are out for 15-20mins. 
  • We can have backup roles for each meeting. That way when someone is  not able to attend at short notice, new members can get the opportunity to shine.  Currently  more experienced members always fill in but we should be suggesting new members to fill in too, to develop them.

Granted, the proposal will move members faster through Pathways. Public speaking is much more than formal speeches. With 11 to 13 speaking opportunities and an average 17 attendees at each meeting, most people should have a speaking part once or twice per month whilst retaining the important role of Grammarian and Ah Counter. What is more, it rejecting the proposal will preserve the widest number of speaking situations and skills. Let’s not lose them. Reject the change!

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