Humorous Toastmasters Club Officer Training?

Toastmasters LogoIt sounds like a contradiction in terms, doesn’t it?  After all, you probably wouldn’t connect humour with Toastmasters Club Officer Training, or any other kind of official ‘Officer Type’ training, come to that.  But that’s exactly what we got at the Club Officer Training in Ferndown on Saturday.

Obviously, with a new Toastmasters year and some new Club Officers, it’s sensible for us to do the Toastmasters Club Officer Training.  It’s a good refresher for experienced Officers and ensures that new Officers, like myself, get familiar with exactly what’s required of us.

Not to mention the fact that we get ‘Brownie Points’ for Wessex Speakers if 4 Club Officers attend.  And we did manage to ‘tick that box’ as Eric Skates, Andy Brine, Ravi Bhatta and me all went along to represent Wessex Speakers.

Janet Malphus and Elizabeth Hendry - Area Governors

Janet Malphus and Elizabeth Hendry

The Toastmasters Club Officer Training format has been changed for this year.  Our new Area Governor, Elizabeth Hendry, and her opposite number in Area 42, Janet Malphus, thought that it would be a good idea to work together on this and train Club Officers from each Toastmasters Club in the two areas at the same event.

The downside of this was having to travel a little further than usual and having the training take place on a Saturday.  On the positive side, Elizabeth and Janet came up with the idea of adding a useful Workshop into the proceedings.

And that’s where the humour part came in.

Gayna Cooper was at the Toastmasters Club Officer Training in Ferndown

The experienced and accomplished Gayna Cooper

Gayna Cooper, a very experienced and accomplished fellow Toastmaster, and a member of the Bedford Speakers Toastmasters Club, delivered an excellent Workshop entitled, “How to Write a Humorous Speech”.  This 2 hour workshop was, for me, the highlight of the day, in terms of content.

As well as looking at presentation skills, speech structure, the things we worry about when writing speeches, the use of body language, engaging the audience, taking into consideration what the judges are looking for and lots of advice on how to deal with all of these things, Gayna also delighted her audience with 3 terrific speeches.

Gayna, as well as being a humorous speaker, is an inspirational speaker.  She speaks from the heart, she speaks with passion and her words carry with them a very powerful message.   Her work is funny, thought provoking and moving – all at the same time.

I’m not going to attempt to convey what she communicated in her speeches but I will give you a quick overview just to give you a flavour.

Her first speech was called “Marrowbone” and I’ll never forget the simple meal of ‘black peas and coweels’ (cow heels!!) that she enjoyed as a child from the north.  She used that simple meal and the act of literally, sucking the marrow from the bone, as a beautiful metaphor for sucking the juice out of life.

Heads or Tails - a speech by Gayna CooperHer last speech was entitled “Heads or Tails”.  Here, Gayna used another powerful metaphor.  This time it was the flip of a coin, something that we’re all familiar with, as the metaphor through which she conveyed her powerful message.

Instead of thinking in terms of ‘Heads you win, Tails you lose’ why not spin it around and allow yourself to think in terms of ‘Heads you win, Tails you win’.  Isn’t that a shift?  And what do you think would happen in your life if you allowed yourself to think in that way?  Again, very inspiring stuff.

I’ve left what I think was Gayna’s best speech until last.  Simply called “Handbags” it was, funny insightful, thought provoking and inspiring.  Much like the others, only this one resonated a little more with me.

Now, you’re not thinking that this is because I’m a closet handbag man ……. Are you?

Handbags - a speech by Gayna CooperGayna, clearly, appreciates the power of metaphor – she used it very effectively in all three of her speeches.  In this speech she equated the way that ladies change their handbags as they go through their lives with how their lives change.  She also used a really good analogy to make sure that she engaged the men in the audience.  She compared the way ladies change their handbags through their lives with the way men change their cars.  It worked very well.

Having said that, the part that really resonated with me was when the ladies handbag was, essentially, a babies changing bag, as well.  I can still remember the time when my children were young and I would ask my wife whether she happened to have, what could be, the most obscure of objects.

I can’t remember Linda her ever saying no!

It didn’t matter what I asked for, it always used to magically appear from somewhere in the deep, dark depths of her ‘Handbag’.  And that was why it resonated so much.

Gayna, if you’re reading this, thank, from the bottom of my heart.  I had great fun listening to you and I learnt a lot.  What’s more, I’m sure that I wasn’t alone.

Facebook - Twitter - LinkedInI must confess that the Toastmasters Club Officer Training didn’t have, quite, the same level of impact on me, but it was really good to gain the depth of understanding of my role in our club and I’ll endeavour to fulfil my responsibilities to the best of my ability.

As with all of these kinds of events – and as a professional networker, myself – the best part of the day is the people you meet on these occasions and the connections that result.

As VP Public Relations I’ve taken on the responsibility for the website, Facebook page, Twitter and all other form of PR, all with a view to attracting more guests to our meetings.  Meeting with others that share that same responsibility in their own Toastmasters Club was great.

One of the things that we plan to do, as a result, is to coordinate our respective efforts.  We’ll link to one another’s websites, follow each other on Twitter, Like one another’s Facebook pages and posts and share everything we can with our own social networks.

After all, we’re all looking to grow our membership, we’re all looking to help people develop their communication skills and we’re all looking for visitors to come to our clubs.  We’re also all in different catchment areas, so, coordinating our efforts will have a very positive effect for every club, and everyone, involved.

Google LogoGoogle loves to see this kind of ‘chatter’ and ‘sharing’ going on.  It shows that people are finding what they’re looking for and sharing it, talking about it and coming back for more.

Google’s in the business of giving people what they want and when they see that happening, everyone involved moves up the ranks and everyone will get more visitors to their websites, more visitors to their meetings and more members in their clubs.


Thanks to Elizabeth and Janet for their efforts in putting on this Toastmasters Club Officer Training Day.  I think it went down very well and will look forward to the next one in 2013.

Have a great one!

Steve Bimpson

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