What Happens When I Don’t Show Up?

February 24, 2017

This post has also been published at the blogsite for First Oakville Toastmasters.

It’s that season again when meeting chairs find they are scrambling to put on meetings where members either haven’t shown up or failed to find a replacement by leaving the search to the last minute.

We go through this problem every spring (Is it the nice weather?) and every year we come up with the same solution. (Call on the mentors to get involved with their delinquent mentees.)

For the most part the problem of no-shows is confined to new members (Sorry if this offends any newcomers but it is what it is.) who don’t appreciate the magnitude of the problems they create when they don’t show up or wait until the last second to find a replacement.

It means the chair can’t print their agendas until the last second. It can also mean that the chair, the Toastmaster, the GE, the VP of Ed., your mentor and maybe even our club president get dragged into finding a replacement because you didn’t fulfill your obligation of finding a replacement. (These are busy people in their own lives and they’re not your parents.)

This showing up piece is part of the educational and leadership learning that takes place at First Oakville Toastmasters. There are lots of other clubs that aren’t so fussy and maybe that would be a better fit if you are a habitual offender.

But before you go, consider what letting down your fellow club members says about you? Not a pretty picture is it? (And, one truism I’ve learned is how we are in one thing, we are in all things. So if you’re a no-show at Toastmasters, you’re likely a no-show in other areas of your life.) At Toastmasters you get a real opportunity to change yourself and change your world. This is a gift of immense value.

When you consider the people you’ve let down at the meeting are potential new employers for you or new associates who might have written a letter of recommendation for you in your personal job search it becomes pretty obvious that these are not people you want to disappoint.

So how do you make certain this never happens to you again?

First call (or get) your mentor for help with your upcoming assignments. Read your speech if you have to but show up when you’re scheduled and do your best. Your fellow members will see that you’re struggling and they will help you. (If you don’t show up nobody knows if you need or even want some help.)

Don’t blow off what may seem like minor roles like greeting. Our greeters are our first-line offense when it comes to attracting new members. (We need to find at least 10 new members annually to qualify for the Distinguished Club Program.)

Every role in Toastmasters is important regardless of whether you are listed on the agenda or not. But if you are listed on the agenda and you don’t show up everybody knows. There’s no place to hide at Toastmasters and sooner or later the VP of Education will remove your name from the upcoming schedules.

And if you do show up and do the work, what does that say about you?

It says you are a person whose word can be trusted. You do what you say you’re going to do. You’re excellent executive material. You will make a fine mentor for newcomers. Maybe one day you’ll accept the role of president or area or divisional director.

But most of all, you’ll know yourself as someone who can count on themselves to show up and get the job done.


How To Beat Roger Caesar

November 21, 2016

Roger Caesar spoke at First Oakville Toastmasters a few weeks ago as our featured speaker during our open house meeting. He blew away the crowd.

Roger has been a Toastmaster for a few years now and as emerged as a real contender to win the World Championship of Public Speaking. He’s competed twice now at the World Championship semi-finals and I believe he’s going to go all the way very soon.

So am I blowing smoke when I say you can beat Roger?openhouse2first-oakville

As the only competitor to beat Roger in the last four years I think I’m eminently qualified to offer some suggestions. Okay so it was in the provincial finals of Table Topics when I beat him and not the International but give me a break here.

(In photo: First Oakville Toastmasters VP of PR Zulma Garcia who helped organize the club’s Open House night and Roger Caesar our guest featured speaker.)

And before anyone gets politically upset that I’m suggesting we figure out ways to beat Roger I can assure you that Roger and I are on  the same page here. We want to see speakers and especially new speakers enter the International Speech Contest in their own clubs and we want them to be so successful that they too can see the possibility of winning the world title.

So what makes Roger so good and such a great competitor? What’s his secret?

The club-level International Speech Contest is normally held in January and I bet the speech we heard from Roger in November was an early draft of one of the three speeches he’s going to write and deliver in his quest for world domination.

The point here is Roger is already out practicing his International Speech and I bet you haven’t even written yours yet!

Roger dresses for success. Now I don’t care whether you think dressing appropriately is important or not. Your opinion and mine is irrelevant. It’s the judges who care and most care to see a speaker dressing in such a way as to honour his or her audience and add to the impact to their speech. If you’re wearing jeans then your speech better be about riding horses! Just saying.

At our open house Roger was introduced but didn’t start his speech for a good 10 seconds allowing the the Toastmaster to sit down and the audience to settle. This dramatic pause helped Roger to separate himself and his speech from everything that had come before him on the agenda. It was a smart thing to do.

Roger’s first words were “I believe…”

He then went on to immediately tell his audience what he was going to say in his speech and why it should be of interest, even importance, to his audience. Why this speech and why this audience is the one question you should answer early in your speech if you want your audience to stay with you for five to seven minutes. That’s what Roger did so well.

Roger uses vocal volume and variety to great advantage and his gestures are measured and practiced and add to the impact of his speech. His ability to look into the eyes of his audience members is second to none.

So is there no hope of ever beating Roger Caesar?

The good news is Roger has good days and bad days just like the rest of us. He’s not always at the height of his game in top form. You might get a day when the stars align for you and not for Roger.

But waiting for fate isn’t a plan.

So what can you do to beat Roger?

My first suggestion is don’t try to be another Roger Caesar. One is enough LOL! Be yourself. Tell your own story. Tell it from your heart. Practice, practice, practice until you can deliver your speech in your sleep.

Once upon a time I had a mentee who had delivered six speeches and I insisted that she speak at our club level International Speech Contest. She was reluctant because she’d be going up against the best speakers in our club and some of our best speakers are pretty close to as good as you get in Toastmasters.

But I insisted and persisted. I told my mentee that I didn’t expect her to win. I didn’t even expect her to place. I just wanted her to have the experience of speaking before a large audience during a formal occasion. I wanted her to be nervous and afraid because I wanted her to be less nervous and less afraid the next time she competed.

Of course, you can guess what happened.

My mentee spoke from her heart about a personal situation to which all in the audience could related. And while she may not have done it perfectly, she did it perfectly enough to win our club level International Speech Contest that year.

That’s how you beat Roger Caesar.

First you show up. Second you practice, practice, practice and compete to win. Third you keep coming back until you do win.

It’s that simple and that hard. Good luck.

 


How To Win The International

November 13, 2016

Club mentors should be talking to their mentees right now about whether or not they are eligible and willing to try their hand at competing in the club-level International Speech Contest.

First you need to have completed six speeches from the Competent Communications manual. If you will have completed six speeches prior to our club contest night then you should sign up to give your International speech.12416996753_23d56ab174_z

You should give your International speech with the objective not to win (although newcomers have won in the past) but to learn how to compete. You need the experience of speaking before your fellow club members and hopeful at the club’s amazing Charter Party in February to make yourself a better overall speaker.

Second you need to write a five to seven minute International speech.

An International speech needs to have an amazing beginning, strong middle and rememberable end and should contain a motivational message that has a call to action. Almost immediately the speaker should answer the question “why this speech and why this audience”.

You can’t use notes and expect to place. Having said that you can use props to help you get your message across.

Read and understand the judging criteria.

Write a speech which is simple, direct and theatrical enough to capture the audience’s attention. If your speech comes from the heart make sure you can speak through your emotions. Practice it daily before a mirror and incorporate appropriate gestures. Speak louder than you think you should and make your gestures bigger and bigger.

Above all, watch your time. Don’t run your speech into the red light. On contest night you’ll likely speak slower than at home and the time will fly by. If you do look up and see the red light, end immediately anyway you can. You aren’t eligible if you go over time even by a second.

If you get lost in your speech just stand and make eye contact with selected members of the audience. Take your time. Everyone will think you’re about to make a dramatic point. The silence will have your audience leaning in to hear what wisdom will follow. As you regain your speech begin speaking again and few, if any, will know you were actually at a lost for words.

If you can deliver your speech before other clubs. Get feedback. Make changes. Practice more and then put your name forward to be a competitor in our International Speech contest.

BTW I have started writing a first draft of my International speech 🙂


The Leadership Challenge

October 18, 2016

So many of us come to Toastmasters to learn how to speak in public. After a year or so of weekly meetings (We do take the summer months off at most clubs.) our speaking skills are noticeably improved. After a couple of years, most of us are way better than when we started.

But a funny thing happens over those many meetings. Not only do we improve as speakers, we end up becoming much better listeners. (That’s one of the reasons we ask members to either turn off cellphones or leave them at home on meeting nights.)

Sooner or later new members become seasoned members and those seasoned members often get asked to run for election to the club executive. Many of us do and after another year or so of working on behalf of our fellow members we end up learning some pretty good leadership skills.160302005451-trump-and-hillary-exlarge-169

Leadership skills are much in demand in the world. Just look at the two candidates in the U.S. Presidential race. Both come with a lot of baggage and challenges when it comes to real leadership skills. Makes me wonder if this is the best the USA can do when it comes to picking candidates.

Even visionary leaders sometimes fail.guy-laurence

Case in point is Guy Laurence, who as of this morning is the former CEO of Rogers here in Canada.

In an excellent article in today’s Globe and Mail by Derek DeCloet which, unfortunately the G&M has behind a pay wall (Dumb move IMHO) the failures of leadership at Rogers are laid out for all to see.

DeCloet writes that Laurence made two fundamental mistakes. First he crossed too often with the Rogers family (which still holds controlling interests in this public company) and he didn’t deliver sufficient results.

DeCloet, who worked for Rogers when Laurence was in charge, said Laurence was an excellent speaker even charismatic but he failed to cultivate allies and alienated Rogers family members in the process of trying to turn the organization around.

Now being on a Toastmaster executive isn’t even close to the same scale but the importance of learning to work with all sorts of people (even people you don’t like) and to implement creative vision is essential.

Our chair’s theme for last week’s meeting was “inclusion”. In her opening address our chair made these points very clear. At Toastmasters we learn to work together and to celebrate our diversity.

It’s one of the reasons Toastmaster clubs like First Oakville are so successful. We grow leaders as well as helping our members improve their speaking and listening skills.datarfcsdfnz0lfprhsm0ublxdzhdrdfhtmhhn1u-gm3gq5dg3jch4rtqj_qmovzgyselotbfhajqagmsb86obzqnmnbsyysoiaqgcuqjlt_2lbrdntg6i2vy3kvdcqcbkf6hhivt4mphtlstup5lxeb6l_qugi-xviacdbfo2osqq8nkcb6akj4qmm

On Thursday, Nov. 3 our club is holding an open house and you’re invited. We meet at the Knights of Columbus hall on Wallace Road in Oakville. Arrive around 7:15 pm and we’ll introduce you to a whole new way of learning.

 


36 Points For New Chairs

September 23, 2016

A new chair recently asked for my help to chair their first meeting. I sent them a couple of draft agendas and the following 36 point how-to. This might be helpful if you’re chairing your first meeting at your Toastmaster club.

Here’s your email re chairing next week.

So your main duties in order are as follows:
  1. Contact your officers of the evening….which we did last night……. Zulma and Sameet (?) will contact you with their replacements
  2. Await hearing from the Toastmaster for the lineup (in order) of speakers and evaluators …you should get this info confirmed no later than Wed. and it wouldn’t hurt to check with him on Tuesday
  3. Once you’ve got all your officers, speakers and evaluators confirmed produce a draft agenda ….I’ve attached in two different formats a draft agenda. You’ll have to replace names and fix other issues to make it look like last night’s agenda. Especially note you’ll have to change the names of the executive on the left column and add the following week’s meeting schedule as posted by Rhiannon (don’t worry about changes and replacements)
  4. In your agenda you’ll need to pick a theme and let your officers of the evening know what it is so they can prepare their offerings using your theme…maybe a confirming email on Monday to your team telling them of the theme
  5. Complete your final agenda on Wed. or Thursday and print off 30 copies to bring to the meeting…black and while copies are ok
  6. Arrive early to the meeting and distribute your agendas
  7. Get your introducer to make a two minute warning announcement and then introduce you at 7:30 pm sharp…do not wait for anyone or anything to start the meeting on time
  8. Introduce your theme briefly
  9. Introduce your officers of the evening asking people to hold their applause until all are introduced
  10. Ask members to introduce any guests if guests are present
  11. Move to your agenda and ask for grammarian, toast to a famous Canadian and jest to fulfil  their roles
  12. Invite Table Topics Master to the lectern to conduct Table Topics….now sit down 🙂
  13. After Table Topics band the gavel and declare the business session of First Oakville Toastmasters Club 2245 in session
  14. Ask the secretary to read the minutes
  15. Ask for any errors or omissions
  16. If there are corrections accept the minutes as corrected or if not accept them as read
  17. Ask for executive reports and any special committee reports …it’s nice touch if you know ahead of time who is giving a report without having to ask from the lectern
  18. If there is business arising from the minutes conduct that business…if you’re not sure what to do ask for your parliamentarian’s help at anytime during the proceedings…I’ll help too if necessary
  19. The parliamentarian will give you an opinion and you then take the appropriate action …I’ll help you here if things get confusing. The following isn’t likely to happen but here’s how a business session goes….
  20. If there is no business arising from the minutes and you still have some time on your agenda ask the timekeeper for a specific number on minutes and then ask if there is any new business
  21. If anyone puts up their hand recognize them by name. If no one puts up their hand ask again and if again no hands go up bang the gavel and declare the business session ended and ask for your Parliamentarian’s report
  22. If a hand goes up and you recognize them then they will make a motion and you will ask if there is a seconder…almost always there will be a seconder…if no seconder then the motion fails and you move on
  23. If there is a motion ask the secretary to read the motion and then ask the mover to speak to their motion
  24. Then ask if there is anyone else who wishes to speak for or against the motion
  25. After everyone who wishes to has had an opportunity to speak once you ask if everyone is ready to vote
  26. Not waiting for an answer you ask all in favour to raise their hand. Then all against to raise their hands. Then all abstaining. There is no need to count the vote unless someone so desires indicated by them yelling “Division”
  27. If Division is called ask the Sgt.-At-Arms to count the hands as you ask again for all in favour and all against and all abstaining
  28. At the time indicated on your agenda someone will yell out orders of the day and you bang the gavel declaring the business session closes and ask for your Parliamentarian’s report
  29. After the Parliamentarian’s report ask for questions of the Parliamentarian 
  30. Keep on time and end as fast as the members will allow you to stay on your agenda and then call for a 10 minute break
  31. At the end of 10 minutes introduce the Toastmaster and ask them to the lectern and sit down
  32. After the Toastmaster hands out the awards they will return the lectern to you
  33. Ask for speaking out
  34. Ask for guest’s comments
  35. Ask for 50/50 draw (remain at the lectern)
  36. And at 9:30 hopefully adjourn the meeting and wish everyone a safe drive home.
In general avoid telling the club if you’re nervous or confused. Don’t tell them this is your first time as chair. Try to be as cool and calm and conduct the meeting as a service to the club. The members will know you’re new at this and will be very supportive and understanding. 
After you’ve been chair a few times you’ll wonder why it seemed so daunting and you’ll look forward to opportunities where you can help your club have a great evening.

Why We’re Strict About Cell Phones

April 29, 2016

Last night at First Oakville Toastmasters we had to mention to two guests and one new member that our club members don’t use their cell phones during the meeting itself or even during the break.

Here’s why:

The Toastmaster program is first an educational program. We come to listen to and support those members who are brave enough to speak at our meetings.

What these new speakers don’t need to be doing is completing with a cell phone, even a cell phone that’s just sitting out on the table. The cell phone isn’t a member. It has no standing or place at our meetings.no-cell-phone-clipart-nTBGkMGgc.jpeg

I know for a fact that I’ve used my cell phone during other meetings because I was bored and needed a distraction. I’ve used it to avoid speaking to other people and making new friends (this happens a lot at Toastmaster meetings). It was a status symbol for me at one time but not anymore.

On meeting nights my cell phone stays home.

Of course we get ever excuse under the sun when we talk to offenders. From “I am expecting an important call”…  from my doctor/boss/wife/children/mother-in-law…(then stay home that night) to my friends/relatives need to reach me at all times (then maybe Toastmasters isn’t for you) or “I’ll just dash outside and take this call or make this text on the break”. (Then you miss on the important social skills surrounding meeting and talking to your fellow club members.)

And still existing members, who should know better, have their cell phones out on the table during our meetings on a regular basis. Newcomers can’t know that you’re using your cell phone as a timer (please if time is that important use a stopwatch and not your cell phone) and they see a cell phone out on the table and think it’s okay. It isn’t!

We are losing the ability to listen to each other intently and intimately on a one-on-one basis. Yes cell phones have their place and may well go down as one of the greatest communication tools of all time but their time and place isn’t at a Toastmaster meeting.

I have no hesitation in asking people to put their cell phones away and if our club loses a guest or member over it then we have provided a service to the other 40 members who came to work on their personal communication skills.

Please leave your cell phone at home or in your car. The world can wait two hours for you to finish your Toastmaster meeting.


When You’re Going Through Hell…

April 20, 2016

This post was originally posted on my personal blog site Your Mileage May Vary. I am reposting it here for my Toastmaster readers as I’d like to share the similar message I got from the Oakville Cycling Club as I hope we give newcomers to First Oakville Toastmasters.

And what is that message?

Well there are several messages but last night was one of the hardest nights of my life. Riding with experts (including one in his 80s) was both humbling and daunting. I finished last in the recreational ride group. I was too sore and tired to be humiliated 🙂

And I think sometimes in Toastmasters newcomers have the same experience. They walk into a meeting not knowing what to expect and are blown away by what they see and experience.

It was the same for me last night. I had no idea that somewhere over 120 other riders of various ages, genders, sizes and abilities were all way better than I was. But the biggest message of the night was offered by the two ladies who rode with me and that message was simply just keep coming back.

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So here’s the blog from Your Mileage May Vary:

FINISHED DEAD F****** LAST

Yes that’s where I ended up last night on my first ride with the Oakville Cycling Club. The good news is I finished (thanks to the efforts of two OCC members) and aside from being really really sore last night and this morning (thanks medical science I have it under control) the night was a success.1a3aa03a76afa9d2b2e8d717494d3fbf

We went 23.82 kms in one hour and 20 minutes starting from the public parking lot on Appleby Line. Going downhill we went so fast that my bike computer read 127 kph which I don’t think I hit (more like 40 kph) and uphill I never needed to unclip (which was a good thing as I doubt I could have unclipped going so slow. Falling over is very embarrassing.)

On the Oakville Cycling Club there’s a slogan “A Group For Every Skill Level” which presupposes you’ve got some skill level. Apparently I don’t 🙂

Last night I’d guess around 120 riders left the parking lot in six groups ranging from Recreational (which due to numbers was split into two groups) and five levels of more experienced and aggressive riders.

I was in the first Recreational group but I soon found myself riding alone until the second Recreational group caught up to me and I was now in the second group. After a few more kms and a few stop signs I looked back to discover I was now a third group of my own with two OCC members keeping me company.

Bless these two ladies for their encouragement and suggestions. I can’t say enough about how well I was looked after even though I was trailing.

Thanks to years of yoga I had almost instant recovery whenever we slowed or stopped but pulling myself up steep hills was torturous and I was never in the right gear on the flats. Seems I was overly spinning and should have unshifted to my largest chainwheel.

For the most part I kept the main group in sight. By the time we arrived back in the parking lot I was pretty done. Even had to ask a really pretty girl to help me snap my bike into my carrier…  🙂 And last night I was very sore and had some problems sleeping but I learned something really important.

This morning when I recorded in my riding journal my stats from last night I discovered my numbers for kms ridden, time taken, average and maximum speeds were virtually identical to my regular ride numbers.

So what does this mean?

Here’s what I think: I must have been riding much faster than normal on the flats and downhills to compensate for the many very slow uphill grinds I went through last night.

It also means that I need to improve technique (spinning in the right gear) and endurance (especially aerobic ability and leg muscles).

There’s Strava stats on all the weekly rides by OCC members on the club site and I need some time to go through the database but it appears that the super riders are averaging 30+ kph and the average riders are averaging 25+ kph and most are riding 40 to 50 km weekly.

I’m nowhere near those average speed numbers…yet but I am over the average weekly as I get out every sunny day I can.

I must take a day or so to recover (yoga tonight!) and then I must go out again to ride the course and see if I can’t improve the average speed number.

The war is not won in one single battle. It is not how many times the warrior falls down but how many times he gets up. When you’re going through hell – keep going.

And finally “finished dead f****** last” is not the same as “did not finish” or much worse “did not show up.”

He who conquers himself is the mightiest warrior.     — Confucius


The 360 Evaluation

February 28, 2016

There’s a great article in today’s Sunday New York Times that talks about the dangers of the business-mandated 360 degree reviews.

At Toastmasters we pride ourselves on the useful and supportive evaluations that every speaker gets from an assigned evaluator and from the comments offered by all the members at a meeting on small slips of paper.

We teach our members that a good evaluation should follow a structure (heard, saw, felt or content, language and delivery) and encourage the speaker to want to do more. We do that by starting with a positive comment, adding a personal observation (It would work better for me if you’d…) and then ending with a positive comment.feedback-sandwich

Surprisingly our speakers find these sort of evaluations exceptionally helpful.

In the New York Times’s article, the writer talked about how the anonymity of many participants in the 360 degree reviews forced upon employees can be not only unhelpful but demotivating even cruel in their commentary especially when the comments can be made anonymously. And, according to the newspaper article, the comments get harsher and more critical the higher up the participants.

Of course that’s not what business leaders want but it’s what they get way too often. In my opinion, the 360 method is a way for management to avoid actually having to take the responsibility to directly engage their employees.

At Toastmasters we tend to praise in public and criticize, when necessary, in private and when we offer evaluations we do so in public in a positive way that promotes real change.

 


What Was TI Thinking?

February 23, 2016

Have you seen the new Toastmaster International mobile app?

I have to ask: What was TI thinking?mobile-app-player

Here’s my problem with introducing a cell phone app to our meetings:

Ontario has banned driving and texting claiming it’s so distracting that texting drivers are many, many more times likely to be involved in a traffic accident than none distracted drivers

It’s the same at Toastmaster meetings where speaking is only half of our educational program. The other half is active listening – not texting – not entering in data but listening.

At our meetings we often ask members to turn their cell phones off (not to vibrate) and to remove them from the table. We do this so that the cell phone doesn’t have a place our meeting and newcomers get the message that cell phone use isn’t okay.

We believe listening is that important and that respectful to the speaker and that important to the member’s educational program.

Having said all that, at a recent meeting, I turned to see a member checking his email during a speech by another member and yes I did speak to him after the meeting.

Despite our best efforts we still get cell phones going off during meetings and during speeches.

Maybe the next step is to pass around a basket and have everyone put their cellphone in it for the two hours we hold our meeting.

This mobile app idea is going to be a disaster at club meetings around the world.


10 Minutes

February 4, 2016

That’s the amount of time I have tonight (Feb. 4) to do a half-day workshop on parliamentary procedure at First Oakville Toastmasters.

Of course, that isn’t going to happen but I think I can offer the members an introduction into the the arcane and frightening world of Robert’s Rules of Order.Roberts_Rules_of_Order

To do this I’m going to reference a really good slide deck from the Florida Atlantic University student government judicial branch which I found online.

This is an excellent plain-language explanation of why and how we use these formal procedures to get things done.

At Toastmasters we often get new members questioning why we would use Robert’s Rules of Order (RR) to run our weekly business meetings. We often get asked why we would bother to even have business sessions.

Business sessions allow the will of the majority of members to be implemented while respecting the right of the minority to be heard. RR make it easy for groups of individuals to efficiently make group decisions. It prevents the use of illegal actions to sway the group and helps prevent aggressive individuals from taking over the decision-making process.090514t_parliament

It’s used by governments, school boards, corporate boards, homeowners’ associations and various professional associations and clubs like our own.

RR aren’t all that difficult to understand and any member who does understand the basic principles will find it easy and even fun to be an active participant in their club or association.Row_1

RR spell out how members are to act at meetings (being recognized by the chair before speaking – there are exceptions; stand when speaking; address others by their title and avoid using first names – to help keep comments from being personal…and there’s more but that’s a start).

RR set out when and where meetings take place and who can participate (paid-up members). Members discuss issues by first moving a motion (which is seconded to insure that at least one other person wants to discuss this issue) and then is debated by the assembly.

Moving a motion before talking saves time and provides a necessary focus for group decision-making.

A main motion can be amended only twice and the amendments must modify the main motion in a manner to only change it slightly and not change the main thrust of the motion.

Amendments are seconded and debated in order of second amendment, then first and then, main motion (which by now may or may not be amended depending on the voting done separately for each amendment).debating_659657534

Voting is handled by the chair and most votes (but not all) pass with a simple majority voting in favour.

Voting can be done by a simple direction from the chair for all in favour to say “aye” and all against to say “nah” and a recording of the number, if any, of abstainers.

If a member wants a recorded vote done by counting hands they may so make their request by merely calling for “Division”.

Division comes from an ancient process where the parliamentary members would be physically divided with those in favour on one side of the room and those opposed on the other and then a formal vote would be recorded.

There are other types of motions (subsidiary that changes how the main motion is handled; privileged that concerns matters of great importance – like the room is on fire – and which are unrelated to the pending business and incidental that provides a means of questioning procedure concerning other motions and must be considered before the other motion for example questions of order – in other words are we doing the right thing right now).

Now all of this may seem complicated but it’s not and any member can use RR to participate in business sessions and the more you do it the better you become.hal

At Toastmasters we encourage participation and any member, can at any time, rise to a point of parliamentary inquiry which is a question directed to the chair about parliamentary law or other rules that govern the club meeting.

A point of information is a request directed to the chair for information relevant to the business at hand.

At Toastmasters, no member should be in a position where they aren’t sure of what is happening and this is especially true at Toastmaster business meetings.

By the way when the chair asks the parliamentarian for a comment, the parliamentarian only offers an opinion and it’s up to the chair to make a decision which can (and often is) challenged by the members of the assembly if they don’t like what’s happening.

Learning parliamentary procedures and Robert’s Rules of Order helps us to conduct club business in a friendly (usually) and efficient manner. It keeps us from running afoul of our club charter and makes certain we treat everyone equally and fairly.

This is key: Our executive members do not govern but serve the needs of the members.

It’s up to the members to participate and not leave the decision-making process to a few executives or loud mouths and know-it-alls of which I include myself 🙂 as a charter member in all three categories.