This week we caught up with Castleknock Toastmasters, we chatted about what they do, how they handled moving their meets online, contests they’ve been involved in and what’s next for the group.
So, many people may be unaware, what is Castleknock Toastmasters and what does a typical meeting look like?
Toastmasters is an international organisation, with clubs in 145 countries worldwide. A typical meeting in all clubs including Castleknock Toastmasters includes a “topics” session, during which one member introduces a selection of different topics, on which members and guests are asked to speak, without preparation. There will also be around 3 prepared speeches, delivered by club members. Each speech has an objective, but the speaker chooses the topic then evaluations and feedback, by other members, on each of the speeches, and the running of the meeting. We also include poetry on our agenda.
Each element helps members practise speaking in public, controlling their nerves and delivery. Taking part in “topics” allow one to practise their impromptu speaking skills, and ability to think quickly. This is a key skill for most work environments and social situations. The formal speeches allow members to practice researching a topic, preparing a full speech, and presenting to a group. Evaluations help members to practice giving feedback, in addition, to encourage and provide recommendations to the speakers.
There are also many opportunities to practice leadership skills including, taking part in roles during the meetings and contests, being a member of the club committee, getting involved in Toastmasters organisation more widely by overseeing a number of clubs.
Of course, pre-Covid, you could be in a room with people for these meetings, how have things changed during the pandemic?
Yes, in “normal” times, Castleknock Toastmasters have been always held upstairs in Myos, Castleknock. Since the first lockdown, we, along with all other Toastmasters clubs, have moved online, hosting all our meetings via zoom. This has been very successful, but we do look forward to meeting again in person.
We’ve seen the group take part in a lot of contests on your social media, what is involved in these contests?
Contests are normally held 3 times a year. These include humorous speech contest. International speech contest (more serious); “Tall Tales” contest; Topics contest; Evaluation contest. The winners at club contests go forward to compete at more senior levels with winners from other clubs, right up to the international level. This gives member further impetus to improve their skills.
A lot of clubs have both lost and gained members during the lockdown, has this been the case for you?
Castleknock Toastmasters have been very fortunate, as we have gained quite a number of enthusiastic new members in the last year, all of whom have been participating actively in the club. A few of the existing members have chosen to step away until they return to in-person meetings – simply to avoid additional screen time. However, our meetings have continued to be vibrant, interactive, and fun!
What is next for the group as things start to open up?
The club usually breaks for summer in July and August. Hopefully, when we resume in September, we may be back to in-person meetings. The new club committee for 2021/2022 will work actively to keep the meetings interesting, help members to participate, improve and encourage new members.
For more information on the Castleknock Toastmasters, you can view their Facebook page HERE