Lessons Learned as a Speech-a-Thon Chair

Article by Chi Njoku, CL

Lessons Learned as a Speech-a-Thon Chair

When I decided to organize the first Speech-a-Thon at Best of Dallas Toastmasters, I did not know much about Speech-a-Thons. My motivation was that it was another opportunity for many Best of Dallas Toastmasters members to gain more speaking time, as well as more leadership learning time. I did not realize that it involved a lot of work, mainly during the planning phase.

I was excited, because to me it was an opportunity to learn another way to hold a Toastmasters meeting. I was excited about learn more leadership skills in terms of planning, making mistakes, fixing mistakes, and learning from the mistakes. It was an opportunity for me to do what I say no matter how challenging the work involved may be.

Organizing this Speech-a-Thon event started with the planning phase, which was mainly research to define Speech-a-Thon. This involved 3 stages:

  1. Finding the definition and understanding of a Speech-a-Thon.
  2. Identifying how to hold a Speech-a-Thon, and how other Toastmasters clubs had done it.
  3. Documenting the action plans and ideas for the Speech-a-Thon.

The research took me about two days. After this, it was time to create the meeting agenda based on the prior phase, but first I had to request and receive all the names of the Speech-a-Thon participants. This was easy, thanks to those who quickly volunteered to participate.

Once I had the names, it was time to plan the meeting and make the agenda. This part took me five days. I had to plot the meeting considering the timing constraints. We have two hours per meeting every Tuesday. I used the maximum timing for each speech to determine the timing track. This phase took longer because I made sure to get a second opinion. I sent it to our Immediate Past President Danni Babik, who was always ready to give me quick feedback.

The last phase of this Speech-a-Thon was the execution phase. As nervous as I was taking on a new challenge that I had never tried before, I was excited. I always feel that Best of Dallas just needs to try something once, and before you know it, it becomes a tradition. I was happy to be the first to start this forthcoming tradition. The execution phase was on the day of the meeting when all the planning and documenting was tested and received.

In conclusion, when taking on a new or old project, it is always good to do your research. You can do your research in so many ways. You can ask direct questions of those you believe have the answers. You can go to Toastmasters International website. Or you can just type it into Google! Write down the questions you have first before beginning your research. Review and use examples of what has already been done before. Always get a second opinion on the final product. Lastly, review, revise and practice the final production.

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Chi provides feedback during the evaluation portion of the meeting.

The author of this article, Chi Njoku, hosted the first ever Best of Dallas Toastmasters Speech-a-Thon in November 2015. A month later she went on to chair a membership-building contest, completing her leadership manual and earning the title of Competent Leader.