What does a policeman, a Mayor and a Hospital Manager have in common? The answer is that all three joined 23 others for an innovative Comedy and Table Topics workshop on 26th July 2015.
It was a drizzly, grey morning, but the weather did not dampen the enthusiasm of the 26 eager participants from eight Southern Toastmaster Clubs as they flowed into Badger’s Farm Community Centre, Winchester to learn the invaluable skills of impromptu and humorous speaking.
Gavin Meikle, public speaking coach, Toastmaster and published author gave an inspiring start to the day with a whistle-stop tour of “Table Topics”. Table Topics is a core part of Toastmasters’ meetings, which involves five or six individual members responding to unfamiliar questions with 2 minute unprepared speeches. This teaches Toastmasters to ‘think on their feet’ and develops skills for managing impromptu speech situations at work, study or in any environment.
Gavin’s warm, relaxed style quickly engaged participants who learned how to develop a suitably positive mind set and use various techniques to structure quick-witted responses.
“I think the tools we have learned today will be very useful for all sorts of situations”, noted Dean Chamberlain, Immediate Past President of Hamwic Speakers. “For example, bridging” from a topic to something more familiar, ‘chunking’ links to similar but different topics and ‘reframing’ to manage obscure or ambiguous questions are all ways of tailoring any impromptu question to a more familiar story as long as you remember to link back to the original question in your closing sentence”.
After a tasty lunch, Jill Edwards, UK’s Leading Comedy Coach taught attendees some of the practical methods that top stand-up comedians such as Sean Walsh and Shappi Khorsandi use to make people laugh. David Collins, NHS Manager and Hamwic Speakers’ Treasurer said, “My favourite learning was how to set up a punchline using the ‘compare and contrast’ framework and then drawing from the cartoon world of comedy to exaggerate the situation before dropping the punchline. It’s very powerful stuff.”
By the end of the afternoon, faces shone with delight and the room buzzed with energy. “I have so enjoyed the fun we’ve had today,” said Melanie de Jong, Mayor of Earley. Sharon Moore, Hospital Manager, added “This has been really useful learning to Improve my speeches and table topics,” but the final words came from Hamwic Speakers’ member, Patrick Holdaway, our local bobby, who concluded, “This was an excellent day”!