Snowed in

I just got back from spending Christmas with the family in New York.  It turned into spending Christmas WEEK since both New York and Virginia Beach got hit with blizzards on Christmas Day.  My flight back on Sunday was canceled and I couldn’t get another one until today.

I got back safe and it wasn’t too big of an inconvenience.  Unfortunately, this meant I wasn’t able to make it back into town to present Moments of Truth and will have to reschedule.  I’m thinking of doing it in March when we have five Wednesdays again.

It’s a setback, but unavoidable and not too bad.  It hasn’t gotten me down; I’m still dithyrambic about Toastmasters and my educational path.

On a happier note, I got Original Table Topics for Christmas, which I plan to use in the club.

I’m also going to be participating in Post a Week 2011 to help keep my posting more frequent and regular.


CL Project 3: Giving Feedback

The third project in the Competent Leadership Manual is: Giving Feedback

The goal of this project is to learn and practice the skills involved in providing helpful feedback to club members.  Providing well-thought out feedback, both constructive and reinforcing, is a key skill to have as a leader, and particularly as a Toastmaster in that it is the primary way to foster skill development in others.

One thing I have noticed when I have interacted with other, more experienced, Toastmasters is that they are extremely free with their feedback and good advice.  At first, I found it a bit disconcerting because I was not used to receiving such honest feedback.  I suspect that my reacting was probably not all that uncommon as feedback that is not praise can easily be mistaken for criticism and be taken as a blow to the ego.

Since then, I have really learned the value of constructive feedback, to the point that I find it more useful that praise.

For this project, the requirement is to perform the following meeting roles at separate meetings: Speech Evaluator, Grammarian and General Evaluator.

In each of these roles, I attempted to give feedback that would be helpful in reinforcing the good qualities I was evaluating in the individual speaker, in the word usage of all speakers and in the club as a whole for the meeting I was General Evaluator for.  At the same time, I balanced the, well-deserved, praise with specific advice and insight into areas that could be made better.


CL Project 2: Critical Thinking

The second project in the Competent Leadership Manual is: Critical Thinking.

The goal of this project is to practice and develop the critical thinking skills required of a good leader by completing two out of the following three meeting roles at separate meetings: Speech Evaluator, Grammarian and General Evaluator.

For this project, I performed as Speech Evaluator and General Evaluator.

As Speech Evaluator, I gave an evaluation for one of our members’ second speech on the topic of telecommuting.  The project for the speech was to practice effective organization to enhance the speech’s message.  She explained the five required steps for being a productive telecommuter.

As General Evaluator, I analyzed the flow and process of the meeting as a whole and presented my feedback on what strengths were shown at the meeting and what areas our club needed to work on improving.

CL Project 1: Listening and Leadership

This will be my first post discussing my journey through the Competent Leadership Manual.

The Competent Leadership Manual contains a series of ten projects designed to help Toastmasters develop and practice different leadership skills.  Each of the earlier projects entails serving in a variety of meeting roles; the later ones include working on projects outside of the club meeting to develop more advanced skills.

The first project is: Listening and Leadership.  The goal is to develop essential listening skills.

The requirements of this project are to perform three out of four of the following meeting roles: Speech Evaluator, Table Topics Speaker, Grammarian and Ah Counter.  Good listening skills are essential for each of these roles.

Because our club combines the Grammarian and Ah Counter into one role, I actually ended up performing three out of three roles for this project.

I performed as Ah Counter/Grammarian in one of our club’s first meetings, two weeks after we chartered as a new club.

For the Speech Evaluator role, I evaluated one of our first Competent Communicator‘s earliest speeches.  Her speech was about using Skype to keep in touch with her family.

The topic when I did my Table Topics speech was: For a superhero chosen at random, explain how you would use that hero’s powers for evil.  I picked Batman.  I started the speech by clarifying that Batman doesn’t have powers, but that I would use Bruce Wayne‘s wealth and influence to buy up companies and fire all the employees and then use the skills and gadgets of Batman to go out at night and fight superheroes.

I had a lot of fun and it was a great start on my way to becoming a Competent Leader.

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