It was a day! To remember…that it is always a team effort, and that’s what Toastmasters is all about. We’re there for each other.
The energy in the room, which by the way was expertly prepared the day before in the Visitation room, was filled with anticipation. Our club is searching the yard for potential new members. Our goal is to go up from 18 to 25.
The guests from the yard came early and watched us as we set out our materials and equipment. Our greeter, VP Membership, made sure everyone felt welcomed. We had name tags for them prepared ahead of time. Before they were dismissed to go back to the dorms for their lunch, Mr. Delaney offered our Toastmaster’s promo material with an application—if he felt that they were serious about becoming a member. Mr. Delaney is a natural born leader. He is a quick decision maker and revered among the inmates as a man of integrity. We’re very blessed to have him as an officer.
Even though our District Director, Lee Holliday, couldn’t appear in person, he provided a WELCOME video as well as a STAY CONNECTED CLOSING video. I could tell our members were impressed and enjoyed the feeling of being connected to a great group of like-minded people.
Our special guest, Presidential candidate Senator Tim Scott’s representative, Mr. Al Jenkins, sat with our other invited guests, one of whom is a Marine veteran who is looking to join a Toastmaster club in her area. Unfortunately, Ridgeland Toastmasters, a prison club, is her only choice.
Fortunately, for all the veterans in the room, Mr. Jenkins isn’t about politics. His job is to make sure veterans in the Lowcountry are well taken care of and that they get all their benefits. In addition, when he spoke to the men in the room, he asked if anyone had plans or interest in starting a business upon their release from prison. Nearly all the hands in the room went up. This is when he encouraged them to keep on with Toastmasters. He could see that the skills they’re learning at Ridgeland Toastmasters will no doubt come into play someday at a job interview. We were honored to have him there.
New Members Orientation
The program started with a NEW MEMBERS Orientation PowerPoint presented by our VP of Education, Mr. Hagins. We employed a resource from Toastmasters International called Alphabet Recall. The audience was instructed to listen to words that pertained to our content that started with each letter of the alphabet. The table with the most words won a prize; however, everyone got a prize—a candy bar from Mrs. Randisi.
Next, we had a target speaker from our club give a 5-7 min speech. Three evaluators were assigned, two were members of our club, one of which was instructed to give a terrible evaluation, one with obvious flaws that we could discuss later. His best line, “Well, if I were to be honest, I could have done better.” HILARIOUS! He was a good actor. The last evaluator was Jane Jude, a former Fasttrackers Toastmaster who is a speaking coach for TEDx speakers. She, of course, nailed it. Her method for evaluations involves creating 4-quadrants on a sheet of paper. It was eye-opening for our members. I’ve dissuaded them from giving speakers numbers (1-5) on the various categories on the evaluation form. Boring. She divides her note paper into 4 quadrants, one side for content, the other for delivery. The remaining side is LIKED BEST and NEXT TIME. I’m looking forward to our next meeting’s evaluations.
Spigner/Brice video from District 58 PDTA
I included the Spigner/Brice video from our recent District 58 PDTA event, but at the wrong time according to the agenda. My timer in the front row held up a note to remind me that I forgot. Teamwork! It was well-received as both Mr. Jenkins and Associate Warden Bailey reiterated that those two guys, former Ridgeland Toastmasters, “could be any of you here today.”
We had time left over (I know, very unusual at a Toastmasters event) so we asked guests from the yard to answer a Table Topics question. This gave two of them the opportunity to think on their feet, experience the bell for “ums” and “ahs”, and to know what it feels like to speak for a full minute.
The meal was spread out on a table to the side of the room and smelled delicious, which ended up being an incentive to join us ASAP. I had to intervene and tell them that this spread was for this special occasion, not the usual.
The afternoon was more casual as it was just us, the mighty Ridgeland Toastmasters. We planned it so a majority of our members would play a part, no matter how small. Mr. Montgomery, a new member, gave it a short presentation about KEEPING AN OPEN MIND, again, another resource available from the TM website. I tweaked the PowerPoint to make it more interesting, but I missed the opportunity to communicate the instructions accurately. They looked at confusing images where one person might see a duck, and another might see a rabbit. Well, I forgot to say. “Write down what you see FIRST,” so a lot of them saw both things, and that messed up our count, though it didn’t matter. The point was we have to keep an open mind when people have different perceptions than our own. Great for what’s going on in the world today.
We ended the day with the Marshmallow Challenge. I had prepared five bags with the ingredients to build a tower with the marshmallow on top. The tallest tower wins. Our club members gravitate to four of the tables, so the two Chapel workers, who are the sound engineers for our events, took first place after participating at the one remaining table. They created a 12-inch tower where everyone else failed to even create a standing tower. We ended with the TED video that revealed thought processes, techniques, and results when done with various groups of people. Spoiler alert…Who would have guessed that kindergarteners would outperform business school graduates?
The event ended and our guys cleaned up the room, showing themselves to be responsible Toastmasters. I’m very proud and honored to even be a part of this amazing group. I only wish I could record their speeches. You would be blown away. I know I am every Wednesday.
— Jodie Randisi, proud member, Ridgeland Toastmasters
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