Monday, January 13, 2014

VPPR on a Road Trip 4 - Scottsdale, Arizona

As you may know, your intrepid VPPR (that's me - Hollie Rose, CC) is on a Road Trip. I have determined to make Toastmasters a part of this adventure. I'm blogging about other clubs I visit.

The last Club I visited was in Memphis on December 17th. After that most clubs I found weren't meeting,or had changed their schedule because of the holiday, so I sort of gave up looking for a while. So there's no visits in Arkansas, Texas, or New Mexico.
The first week of the new year I spent mostly at a friend's house in Scottsdale, Arizona.
As I was getting ready to leave, it occurred to me to look for a TM meeting and I found one to visit just as I headed out of town.

Toastmasters club #8576
Chats Toastmasters
Scottsdale, Arizona
Jan. 6, 2014 Noon
Location: The Raintree Corporate Center    15333 N. Pima Rd Suite 270

I walked into the room a few minutes early. It was a large room bustling with activity and people. A greeter introduced herself to me and took my name and information.
The tables were set up in a basic U shape, with a couple layers in some areas. Speakers had their own table, as did the functionaries. The group is a large one that meets every Monday. I believe they have nearly 50 active members. Today there were 23 members present and three visitors - myself, a prospective member named Candice and a Toastmaster visiting from Denmark. I sat next to her. Her name was Joy and she also visits clubs wherever she goes. She advised me on which ones might be worth visiting in some of the places I'm headed in the next few weeks. She has just relocated to Scottsdale and I believe she is trying to decide which club to join.

Trish Ferree the Sergeant at Arms opened the meeting and gave an invocation. She quoted Zig Ziglar (RIP) saying "You don't have to be great to start, but you do have to start."

The Toastmaster of the day, Jenny Locklin, started their first meeting of the year speaking about the concept of keeping a jar, throughout the year, and putting in it, notes about the joys and glories of a year. Then, at the end of the year, or the start of the next year, when everyone is saying how glad they are to see the old year go, you can pull out the notes in the jar and reflect on just what a good year it was. 
"If Chats had such a jar, some of our notes might read like this..."
So and so overcame breast cancer, So and so celebrated his 50th anniversary with his wife, So and so went on her 3000th date and she's still single, So and so adopted a rescue dog, a group of our male members had a man's day skiing at the lake, So and so started a new business...
It was a very nice start to any year and had everyone cheering and laughing and shouting out comments about the different happenings.

The word of the day was EXTOL - to praise highly
The Ah counter explained his duties while holding up a piggy bank, explaining that infractions cost 10 cents each and at the end of the meeting, after the report, the pig would be passed around and you should pay up on the honor system.

The GE explained he job as that of evaluating the evaluators. (This was nice to hear as it's been something we've been pushing for in our club! Let's make it an official art of the role description!)

Table Topics was Fortune Cookies. And while everyone exclaims what a brilliant and original idea it is, in my Toastmaster travels, it seems to be the Table Topics tactic I see most.
People lined up at the side of the room. I was unsure how the participants were decided on. I quietly asked the TT Master if one just gets up in line. He said no, people get picked. I watched him, hoping to get picked but it was not him doing the picking. That was the role of another member, who did eventually ask me if I'd like to get in line. In this way they were able to get about 10 or 11 Table Topics in a very short period of time.

Speech # 1 - Humorous Manual, project # ?
Title: Proposed Laws For Language Criminals; Are You and Offender? by Sheila Whittington.
Sheila used slides to consider three of the worst offenses, as well as considering appropriate penalties for each.

Speech # 2 - Facilitating Discussions Manual, project 1, Panel Moderator.
Title: Global Warming; Fact or Fiction? by Brent McDonald.
Brent said he was a seeker, and unsure of his positions on the matter. He introduced 2 experts (club members Kevin Maxwell and Avery Goodman, playing experts, with scripts) with opposing viewpoints. Most of the speech stage time was taken by the two experts telling their perspectives on the matter, with some light prodding by Brent.

Speech # 3 - First speech - impromptu speech, hasn't even done Icebreaker yet, but stepped up today when a slot opened.
Title: How to Make Your Dreams a Reality by Jeff Geiser.
You know I loved this one! Jeff spoke about jumping into your resolutions. He told of a friend who gave him the book "Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway." Said he didn't even need to read the book. He gets it. The title told it all! He also said he'd written a book "Awakening Oneself."He closed by talking about the power of Purpose in every single thing we do each day.

Evaluations were good. I liked how Brent's evaluator (Stephanie) pointed out that in a really good panel discussion, the moderator has an opinion and an awareness of both sides of the argument and uses his knowledge to guide the discussion, as opposed to the way he opened, saying he didn't have an opinion.
Stephanie actually had a really good overall approach and a theme to her evaluation. "Well, that's Awkward."
Everything she said was couched in the view of what was awkward.

Towards the end of the meeting votes were tallied and prizes given to the winers of Best Table Topics, Best Speech, Most Improved Speaker, and Best Evaluator. Today's prizes, in reference to the opening talk about a jar for notes on the year, was a small mason jar. I sure hope it included a note inside that said "I won Best ____ at the year's first Toastmaster meeting."

This club has a man who functions at Club Mentor. His name is Joel Weldon and he's a professional speaker and friend of many well known professional speakers whom he has convinced to interact with the club in the past. The last segment of the meeting was a talk by Joel Weldon about the importance of accepting and dealing with controversy in a club like Toastmasters. Especially a club this large.
He also gave a short evaluation of everyone and everything that happened in today's meeting. His thoughts on it all were truly top notch. This Club Mentor concept is a good one and methinks this club benefits greatly from having Joel's insight

The meeting closed and members were reminded to sign up for roles for the next meeting by putting their name tags of a large bulletin board that was off to the side of the room.

After each meeting Joel Weldon adjourns to a smaller room for what is known as The Mentor's Minute. Any member is invited to stay after for deeper discussion of the day's events as well as important things to consider for the club's future plans. I joined this week's Mentor's Minute. I was surprised only four member and myself joined Joel in the luxurious room with a gorgeous table and comfortable executive chairs. It was a bit of a round table discussion with all of us adding thoughts and ideas and experiences to the conversation.
He discussed in more depth the reality of controversy in a group setting and how to be free to express your opinion and yet, do it without offending others. Often merely acknowledging the other side of an issue is enough to mollify those who don't agree with you. "I know not everyone here will agree with me, but this is what I think." as opposed to "This is the way it is."
He likened the Toastmaster's approach as best seen like they view their experience on the lake when he has a summer home; Don't harm anyone. Don't inhibit anyone. Don't harm the lake. Or. Don't harm anyone. Don't inhibit anyone. Don't harm anyone else's experience of Toastmasters.

He closed by reminding folks of Chats Toastmasters Motto - "Get Them On Your Bus."
And to do that you always have to be respectful.
Hollie Rose and Joel Weldon January 6th, 2014

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