As part of his communications class in college, Eric Johnson was required to attend a Toastmasters meeting and report on his experience. About a month ago, Eric visited Socially Speaking Toastmasters in Brookfield and was kind enough to send us a copy of his comments (see below) and allow us to publish them here.
I attended the Wednesday, April 25th meeting of the Socially Speaking Toastmasters club in Brookfield, Connecticut. It was a normal meeting with a turnout of six regulars, myself, and another gentleman who was attending a Toastmasters meeting for the first time. The overall experience was very much like our regular Comm 105 classes, which I found surprising. For some reason I had the notion that our college class was substantially different from a formal club meeting. It was the same relaxing environment that our class provides, with a few changes more suited to the two hour time allotment.
I started out by arriving at 7:30 PM for an 8 PM meeting due to a misprint on one of the websites listing the meeting times. Talking with people as they arrived helped me define them in my brain as not strangers, which helped relieve my anxiety a little later during table topics. The meeting was more formally structured than our classes, with a printed timeline handed out to the attendees before starting. The meeting proceeded with each member introducing themselves.
Table topics were two minutes long and everybody was invited to participate, including guests. Instead of having one rather open-ended topic for everyone, an appointed member posed a table topic to each speaker individually. After that came the main speeches prepared by members for this particular meeting. I was particularly impressed by the speech given by a member who has Down Syndrome even though I had some difficulty understanding her.
Then came the evaluation portion of the evening. The official timer reported on the lengths of the table topics and main speeches. Most speeches were evaluated by a particular evaluator designated earlier. One was evaluated 'round robin' style, which was a new experience for me. Everybody evaluated the speech, and it was interesting to hear the diverse opinions of the group. I was not expecting there to be such a wide variety of opinions on just two minutes of speaking.
In the end, the guests were invited to return to future meetings and/or join the club. I believe the other gentleman who was a guest will continue to attend. As for myself, I am not so sure, but it was definitely an experience everyone should have at least once.