A GOA press release reported that there will be an international TOASTMASTER conference in Aruba, in the foreseeable future, but my recent visit to the ‘First Things First’ TOASTMASTERS Meeting was unrelated.
One of my friends invited, and I went. It was a good experience and to think that a grass-root organization exists for the sole purpose of helping its members practice public speaking, improving their communication and building leadership skills, is astounding.
The meeting of ORUA TOASTMASTERS Club took place at the campus of EPI in Oranjestad.
First thought: It is heart-warming to see how many young adults studiously attend classes in the evening hours.
Second thought: It is quite shocking to see that with all that muscle-power attending school during the day and evening hours, none is used to pull the weeds that are threatening to swallow the complex. Why can’t some students volunteer, or get paid, to simply maintain this place. What are we teaching the kids, if weeding in NOT on the curriculum? Whose job it is to pull them?
As is, the campus looks unloved.
I digressed. Back to TOASTMASTERS.
The meeting’s impeccable agenda listed ‘First Things First’ as the theme, and lined up 6 speakers. The two first ones, perhaps more senior in TOASTMASTERS proficiency, dealt with interesting topics: Dynamic Leadership and Motivational Strategies. Those were structured to last 5 to 7 minutes.
The other 4 speeches were ‘ice breakers,’ 4 to 6-minutes of more personal accounts, introductions of sort. Then the 6 speeches were critiqued by fellow TOASTMASTER Evaluators, and the Evaluators in turn, were also critiqued by the general membership.
What a system.
Our first speaker talked about aviation, and the four forces of flight, thrust, drag, gravity and lift but he was really talking about the Forces of Life, delivering a compact, friendly, concise and understandable mini lecture. Wow. Impressive. I later found out he was among more senior members. No wonder. He must have had plenty of practice.
He certainly displayed form AND substance.
The speeches that followed were personal and some touching, some high on form, low on substance; some high on substance low on form.
But you could palpably sense progress in members.
Those who have been around for a while were polished, charismatic speakers. And those at the beginning of their journey spoke from the heart, determined to also master the cadence, the body language, the intellectual depth, the use of space and eye contact that great public-speakers master.
The group meets every 1st and 3rd Thursday of the month from 7:30, to 9:30, and guests can attend by invitation only.
Michele Brooks served as General Evaluator, lending the meeting its gravitas, its high seriousness and formality, hand shake before and after.
I can see why any young professional should join, this incubator hones great skills, no school can develop.