Early Bird Challenge

Early Bird Challenge

Each week, we see our meeting functionaries take to the stage to take on our various meeting roles. Each role represents an opportunity to practice our speaking … yet, sometimes we just get comfortable, we form habits and perhaps lose sight of the idea that Toastmasters is one great big laboratory to try things out and we stick with what we know works. Sometimes we don’t even realise that we have these traits, let alone realise how we can curb them.

But, our fellow Toastmasters established and new do see these things. They see that uneasy shifting weight on your hips, or the voice that is always low and slow, that powerful gesture that you always use that works well but is stopping you finding something even better. We still enjoy seeing each other on stage and know we’re steadily improving but there’s a wealth of knowledge and ideas at the meetings of the habits you can break and things you can try to move out of your comfort zone!

So, why not set an Early Bird Challenge?

How it works

As part of the Roles E-mails each week, The VPE will pair you, as a meeting functionary, up with one of the other functionaries (Guest Host might be paired up with the Table Topics Master for example). You’ll be asked to take a couple of minutes to think up a small challenge for that person.

• What could they do differently this week?
• What could they try that could help make them a better speaker?
• Is there a technique/gesture that they rely on too much that’s stopping them find something better?

When you’ve thought of something, send your fellow functionary an encouraging, charming e-mail to set your challenge. If you’re struggling for ideas, remember, you can check out their last speeches and roles, right here on Early Bird TV! A few minutes thought could make a huge difference to someone’s speaking!

Some examples of challenges you might set. “I challenge you to …

• “ … deliver your role from a seated position to practice speaking under restrictive circumstances.”
• “… make physical contact with [x] members of the audience.”
• “… wear a suit. See how it changes your performance”
• “… deliver your role/evaluation without using the word ___________” – For a speaker who overuses a particular word and would benefit from broadening their vocabulary
• “… deliver your role/evaluation without using [describe gesture]” – For a speaker who overuses a particular gesture and could broaden their physical vocabulary
• “… do your evaluation with your notes in your pocket. Try not to take them out.”
• You might suggest a breathing exercise that the speaker might try before the meeting or in the moments that they are called to stage.

[Remember, that neither of you are obliged to take on the challenge that’s set. It might be that you or they want to focus on another goal that week, or that don’t feel that the challenge will push in the direction they wish to go. Don’t feel disheartened if this is the case]

In turn, you’ll receive a challenge back from your fellow functionary to work into your role.
Have some fun with it, try something different and take a step forward in your public speaking!

“The Singing Evaluator”

At one meeting, George sent Ian the challenge of delivering his evaluation … in song!

How did you feel when you first read George’s challenge?
“Terror! No, more a sort of ‘making it rhyme and be a proper evaluation is going to be tricky…’ I didn’t plan anything out, but jotted down a couple of rhymes for points I wanted to make while Roger was speaking, then trusted my luck.”

Do you think you gained anything from your challenge?
“Always good to go beyond your comfort zone, and I didn’t fall flat on my face so that’s something. Also, music has a rhythm and a pace and the spaces are as important as the melody – so that’s something to think of when speaking. It’s an ambition to say more with fewer words, and this has been an interesting experiment.”

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