Tag Archives: evaluation

What is an IceBreaker speech?

Katia’s Ice Breaker… from when I was 3 years old!

Happy Birthday to you …

Good evening Dears, the first birthday that I remember, when I was 3 years old: the 20th of February 1984. An extraordinary day because I remember me on a table with a big cake in front of ME and other delicious food such as pizza and chips. I was in my living room with many of my family: my mum Maria, my dad Giancarlo, my uncle Tony my sisters Elena and Mary and others. There was a little mountain of presents for me but in particular all the attention was ON me. SO PERFECT, because I love parties and delicious food, I love presents, honestly, I like receiving but also giving presents, I love especially being AT the centre OF ATTENTION.

BEING AT THE CENTER OF ATTENTION is key in my MOST VIVID memories full of emotion and I’ll tell you two or three on them: Firstly, my skating PERFORMANCE. I trained in skating, my passion, for 8 years and every Contest was a great event for me because I was alone in the rink to dance. I had chosen my “body” I mean the costume, the song, and the elements of my exercise for months. All my family was there for me and at the end, I was so happy to receive my trophy – I was the centre of attention.
The second event was The day of my GRADUATION, I felt SO GOOD. I HAD studied a lot and I HAD created a method to evaluate THE industrial district, and I had shown it to the world, my family and others. Again, I was the centre of attention. I graduated in Management at Polytechnic of Turin, now I’m working as Project Manager in Purchasing sector and I like my job.
Finally, I HAVE TO TALK about MY Toastmasters experience, where I can BE on the stage UNINTERRUPTED, talking about myself, my passion and my project. There are many events that I remember VIVIDLY: my tenth speech, my workshop in Turin,.. my speech in Great Falls Club Montana USA. It was during my birthday with my Toastmasters International Family. I could plan speech about my speech why not? EACH TIME, I WAS AT THE CENTER OF ATTENTION
Probably I’m missing something…. Dear friend I was missing the most important thing: the WISH. When I blew OUT the candle I askED for A FAMILY with two children. And here I am with a beautiful husband Marco and two daughters Chiara and Giorgia. They now are all my life, this is another story WHERE I’M NOT THE ONE IN CENTER, for me the most beautiful story, THAT I’ll tell you in ANOTHER speech.

Asking members (1): “What do you think of Toastmasters?”

I.
What do I think? The truth? I’m still exploring it, so I can’t answer this question yet. But since I know our VPM would appreciate —rightly— a discussion amongst members to have a feed-back, I’ll try to say what my thoughts are. About a different matter. I can say something about us as a group. In particular as a group of “evaluators”. Maybe is still a first impression opinion, so it might to be taken with certain reservations.
I love this group but as a group of individuals who have also the task of making evaluations — with all the pros and cons of this operation— I think we could improve. And the direction I’d like to see blossoming is the one towards a more supportive attitude in all of us (some members are very supportive and I’ve found careful attention and precious advices when I asked for help).
But all of us have to learn not only to comunicate better, but also being more attentive to other people needs, that can be very different. To be good evaluators we have first of all to strive to really listen, not half-listen (thousands of time we have heard this phrase, still this remains the most difficult task). And if possible, listen with benevolence. Our focus must be encouraging and let  blooming,  not drying out (so sometimes  we have to be very tacful and consider other people sensitiveness). Our opinion, also if is always personal, it’s never neutral, and we should be aware of that.Beginners make a lot of mistakes, in many points, we know that, but is there use in stressing them all? Couldn’t that be a bit confusive?  My personal opinion is that is better trying to enhance the better part of an individual than trigger an inner war against  “flows”. It’s more important to know where our strenght is, than focusing on our shortcomings and struggling against them. The most of us has limits which are difficult to overcome, but many of us, in particular if young, don’t know where their strenght is. We can help each other. We all need time to improve and we really cannot work on all our weak points at once. So priority first and one step at a time.The kind of evaluation I liked most in Toastmasters, till now, was the one we used to have during the speechcraft: oral opinions shared in a group. Having also the possibility to replay and explain, where appropriate. So a dynamic situation.

My hope: I’d like to see this group to meet the most difficult, but at the same time most intriguing challange, the one of inspiring others to find their voices. Finding our “own voice” is more important and valuable than avoiding hesitations when speaking. Our voice means authenticity not perfection. Connection and consistency between what we say, why we say it and how we say it. To me, be yourself, flaws included, it’s better than aping some unattainable ideal. But its also important to find the best part of who we are, which is difficult to find alone. That’s also why a group is important.

Maybe my speech sounds a bit provocative (and maybe it is) but I do believe we have to think about the aim and the intention which lies behind our evaluations, not doing them as a cold task, without consequences and side effects. When the words forget to be supportive and are just judgmental, can be very biting.

I do think  being collaborative is much more important than being competitive, and at the end make us stronger not just as a group —which is very important— but also as  single individuals.

Love to all,

Alessandra

P.s.: any kind comments on the subject will be welcome of course

II.

I would like to give a fast and warm answer. Knowing that the “fast and warm” is the worst mind mood to answer and to avoid misunderstanding. Just two perspectives. The first is that probably we could devote 5 or 10 minutes at every meeting to share these kind of opinions in a sort of brainstorming; my personal experience is that emails could drive more misunderstandings than a face to face debate, discussion. Writing, a lot things are taken away as last great Stefano 5th speech taught us: stance, movements, gestures, facial expression, emotions, empathy. The second one is that even the evaluation role is something that, above all for the beginner fellows as me, needs to be learnt. The immediate consequence is that the same correct indulgence and sensitivity that should be applied on evaluating the speakers should be also applied on the evaluation of the evaluators. Personally, I have received for my few speeches some strong remarks among others very encouraging (from same or other people). I didn’t up set, I appreciate at first the attempt and sincerity of it. About me, as I wronged many things in my first speeches, for sure I wronged also a lot of things in my evaluations, obviously without awareness of this. In case I apologize, but at the same time I am happy of this: I believe we are here to make mistakes through which we can learn more things.

The ‘ideas’ of Alessandra drive my mind to a recent post of mine on our club whatsup group in which I asked if it was possible to organize some educational on the evaluator role and on the evaluation process. Speaking with some of our more expert members I understood that there is nothing exhaustive and ready from the central organization of Toastmaster. Despite this, I think that the knowledge sharing between more and less experienced members could be a great opportunity to let the evaluation process be a fruitful and serene experience for everybody. If I correctly remember I received an answer just from two members. I would appreciate a lot if we could discuss a bit about this proposal. I agree with Alessandra that evaluation is at the same time a very important need and a very delicate process and probably should be tailored on every person character and need.

Enjoy.

Federico.