On Friday 13th February the session started at 16:30 without delay. The opening of the session was held by Claudia, the Malaga Toastmasters Club President. A few minutes after, Marta, the Toastmaster of the Day, presented the meeting’s topic, “The Importance of Listening” and proceeded to introduce all the people who had roles that, as usual, take part in Toastmasters meetings.
This month’s session was attended by Claudia who assumed the role of the Grammarian (the person who corrects everybody’s knowledge and use of the English language), Miguel Ángel assumed the role of presenting the Word of the day (he suggested ‘Rush’ and some possible uses of it so that all the participants could use it during their interventions), Daniel who assumed the role of detecting the Ums and Ahas (he would be counting all those filler words that participants use when they hesitate or don’t know what to say), Carlos who assumed the role of timing all those who participated throughout the session, Gloria who assumed the role of evaluating the body language of the participants and last but not least important, MF who evaluated the whole session.
Before moving on to the meeting’s activities Marta gave a brief overview on the importance of having good listening skills and the effects of having poor ones. To prove several points she conducted a short exercise and had us get into teams of three. The person in the middle had to count to 10 before speaking while the other two were having a conversation. At the end of this thought-provoking exercise, it revealed that indeed the people in the middle felt left out of the conversation and to some extent lonely. Why? Because no one cared to listen to the person in the middle as this person was quiet and hadn’t been speaking. The person in the middle felt it hard to interrupt the conversation that was already taking place. The others just went on about their business ignoring the fact that the person in the middle had something to say; they took that person for granted. Having good listening skills makes others want to engage in conversation and having poor ones shut people out.
Shortly after, Marta presented Antonio, Alberto, Mónica y Miguel, fifth –year students who had thought of those convenient Table Topics for the session so that all the participants would put into practise their ideal speech for a maximum of two minutes. Each of them introduced their topic brilliantly and chose someone from the audience to delivery a short speech. For instance, Alberto chose a school mate to deal with the first topic of conversation considering what this person would do if he won a Nescafé prize worth €1,000 each month. The rest of them did the same with remarkable success.
After the Table Topics, Prepared Speeches were delivered by Jette and John. Jette was the first to start with ‘I am OK, you are OK’. The length of the speech was estimated to last between five and seven minutes. She spoke on her topic with the help of a Power Point Presentation that kept the participants’ attention the entire time. Once she finished, all the participants filled the speech evaluation forms and handed them to her. Next, John continued with his speech that was delivered masterly within the time requested. Once again, all the participants filled the speech evaluation forms that John received willingly.
We then moved on to the Oral Speech Evaluations held by Soledad and Claudia. Firstly, Soledad highlighted the magnificent speech delivered by Jette and consequently the attitude to have in life emphasizing the good use of self-esteem. Secondly, Claudia praised John’s speech as his was brilliantly given.
The next part of the session was provided by all the people mentioned above who occupied supervisory roles and reported all those constructive comments that each participant was waiting for.
On time and very close to the end of the session, Marta, the Toastmaster of the Day, stood to conclude with the closing remarks of the session and offered a short summary of the topic “The Importance of listening”, reminding everyone to actively listen more carefully. She also stressed not to end peoples conversations as poor listeners and especially those who lack patience often do. Keeping calm and listening to what others have to say is more beneficial and will alleviate miscommunication.
Finally, Claudia, the Malaga Toastmaster President ended the session thanking everybody for their participation and mentioned the next session would be postponed until April. She also wished very good luck to John, the President of the Marbella Achievers Toastmaster Club, on his participation in the International Speech Contest.
Angela Morales Jáimez (EFL Teacher at the EOI Fuengirola)