Word Weavers held our first “Grab Bag Meeting” last night and it was a success. The idea behind the “Grab Bag Meeting” is that the meeting is totally impromptu as all the roles (including speakers) are drawn at the meeting, so nobody knows what they’ll be doing until the meeting.
The names of all the members present were put on sheets of paper, folded up, and put into a shoebox. Bernadette, a first-time visitor to our club, drew the names out of the box. Martin and Bryan were selected to give speeches. Andrea and I were selected to be evaluators. I was also selected as the Toastmaster of the Evening. Ingo gave the joke of the evening, Norbert was our Table Topics Master, Christa was our timer, and Bernadette was our Ah Counter.
Martin did project# 2 from the Basic Manual, a speech called “Coffee and Tea”. He told us how coffee is sexier than tea, because we have coffee shops everywhere and all those fancy expensive coffee machines. But because he comes from North Germany, where they drink a lot of tea, he can appreciate the history and traditions of tea. He told us about some of these including how the cream in the tea tastes totally different if it is put in the mug first or last. Being the Mathematician he is, Martin talked the statistical significance of “the old tea drinking lady”. Bryan did project#1 from the Basic manual, a speech called “Ladies And Gentlemen”. Project# 1 in the Basic manual is, of course, the “Ice Breaker” and Bryan started by shouting out “Ladies And Gentlemen”, telling us how the circus uses this to introduce their show and it gets people excited, they have an idea of what to expect when they hear this, but it really isn’t a good introduction for a speaker and a speech. He took the opportunity to tell us all about the importance of having a good introduction and we learned more about Bryan in the process.
Norbert carried the impromptu theme further by asking us questions on this theme, such as when had Table Topics helped you in your real life. He also asked a reverse question to Bryan, asking him what the club could do to discourage members from attending and to not attract visitors and new members, which of course got Bryan to come up with some things and now we know if we do the opposite of those things that it will help the club.
We had a very fun evening with a lot of improvised things. Our traffic light was not at the meeting due to illness of a member, so Christa improvised as the Timer, and this added nicely to the overall improvised evening. Martin and Bryan are both experienced Toastmasters, so it isn’t surprising that they were able to do good impromptu speeches but I think that many other people in the club would have done well, even newer members that might have questioned if they could really do it. We’re shown meeting after meeting that people can give great Table Topic answers. I believe that everyone present had a lot of fun and I think that we could do something like this again. I’m glad that we tried it and I would encourage other clubs to give it a try.