Greetings Happy People,
It was a Wednesday evening in February when I walked into the meeting room at Gordon Biersch. As I was preparing for the General Evaluator role at that night’s B&B Toastmasters meeting, the club President walked up to me with an interesting look on his face.
“Jesse,” he said, “The Toastmaster for tonight’s meeting has not arrived. I was wondering if you would like to step in as tonight’s Toastmaster.”
Knowing we have a few minutes left before the meeting started, I told him “Yes.”
The Toastmaster is a very important role in any meeting because they are responsible for running the overall meeting. Having a meeting without one is like having a body without a head. It involves preparation, organization, and a tremendous ability to keep the meeting going. It is similar to hosting a variety show.
As the time drew closer to the start of the meeting, I had to do some quick thinking. First and foremost, I needed a schedule for that night’s meeting. Luckily, the club’s VP of Education had a sheet I can use as a reference point. Next, I needed to make sure that all the vacancies for the meeting roles were filled. Luckily, they were. The only thing that was missing was a theme for that meeting. What the heck could I talk about?
Suddenly, the Sergeant at Arms pounded the gavel for tonight’s meeting; the President gave his customary limerick; and all the people were introducing themselves. During the introductions, I had to make a choice on what the theme should be. Knowing that it was getting closer to two different holidays, I quickly chose the theme that was quite “Presidential.” When I made the decision to talk about Presidents, I wrote an outline on what to say at different points of the meeting. When the President called me up to the lectern, I was ready…..for the first part of the meeting!!
As I stood in front of the audience, I welcomed everybody and went into the theme entitled “Presidents.” I explained to the people why I chose this theme and the importance of being a President of the United States. Then, I introduced my helpers: the Grammarian, the Ah Counter, the Timer, and the Vote Counter. As the helpers were talking about their roles, I quickly wrote the next part of the game plan. When it was my time to come up to the front of the room, I recited the first 10 Presidents of the United States. In addition, I gave brief descriptions about these gentlemen.
When it was time to introduce the Impromptu portion of tonight’s meeting. I felt very comfortable in my role. Throughout the rest of the meeting, I continued to draw the game plan when I was not in front of the room and recited more Presidents when I stood in front. By the time the meeting ended, people were amazed on how I was not only able to step in on short notice but also know information on Presidents from Washington to Obama.
To this day, I have people asking me what was my secret. I recommend that they play chess on a timer. What I experienced that night was similar to playing chess.
How so? Like the chess pieces on a board, I had my resources. That night, I had the schedule and the people filling in the roles. Like the game of chess, I had to make quick thinking moves and strategize a game plan. That night, I made a quick decision to choose the President’s theme for tonight’s meeting and drew out an outline. And like any good chess player, the more you play…the better you become. This was not my first time stepping into the Toastmaster role like this. I have done this several times. The more times I do this, the better I am on how to deal with it.
The story I gave you was an example on how a situation can be handled to one’s advantage. Most people would let fear overtake them and lose control in this moment. However, it does not have to be that way. Instead, take the time out to look at where you are, see what references you have at your ready, and draw out a game plan. You would be surprised about the outcome you can make for yourself. Once you are able to master this way of thinking, you too can become a Commander in Chief!!
That is all I have for now. Take care and thank you for your time and attention!!