Young Masters Gavel Club is a public speaking after-school activity that I have been engaging with since 2015. It is my second year in this club, and now hold the “Sergeant of Arms” executive position. For my CAS project,students present prepared and improvised speeches, as well as acquire feedback for improvement, ultimately with the goal of improving the public speaking skills of our students. Not only this, but my fellow executive members and I wish to achieve another goal of collaboration with our school’s GIN clubs in order to advocate the issues our school addresses.
For the first goal, our club needed to develop a system that helps engage our club members in public speaking. To do that, we looked into the Toastmasters activities, as they are a well established public speaking organisation. Based on their activities, we had created a meeting plan consisting of 4 main parts to fill our 1 hour long meetings. First, are the prepared speeches where our club members prepare a speech before hand, and present them during the first 20 minutes of our club. The next section is a tradition that has been in Toastmasters and our Young Masters Gavel Club for many years, which is the tea break section. Here our members are able to discuss what they please over some food or drinks. Third, we have our improvised speeches called “table topics”. Table topics involves our students presenting a 2-3 minute speech on a randomly given topic individually, to strengthen their individual abilities. Lastly, is likely the most important part of our meeting, which is the facilitator’s reports. With a 1 hour session, it is difficult to have all of our members engage in a speech, however that does not mean that they are not developing their skills outside of speeches. We have facilitator roles that our members can sign up for each week, such as: The “Ah” Counter (ums, long pauses, general time fillers” where the facilitator tally how many time fillers each speaker has, allowing them to learn where people are typically using fillers. Another role is the language master, where they listen to speeches with the intention of identifying grammatical or general English language errors, and inform the speaker, allowing them to work on their general English skills. On top of these facilitators, are the speech evaluators, where they identify the pros and cons of a speech, giving feedback, allowing themselves to see examples of good and poorer speeches, as well as continuously reflecting on how to make speeches better.
Generally, this plan was very well done, and was very effective when using it, however upon putting it into action, a suggestion had been made where another method of table topics is introduced. This method is where all members sit around a large desk, and we present collaboratively, building on each others’ speeches to train our members’ ability to build off ideas. Since the recommendation, it has now been employed in a week-on week-off method, where the first type of table topics is employed the first week, and the second type is employed the second week, cycling every session to work on different aspects of public speaking.
On top of that, we sometimes add new activities to change up the activities and work on different things, such as doing short debates, focusing on using a “word of the day”, or speaking games. This links to the second goal, as one of the methods that my fellow executive members and I have come up with to engage with GIN clubs was to do a collaborative speech competition, where our members paired up with GIN club ambassadors, to write a speech about what the GIN club does, and how people could help, where the winner of the competition would gain $1,000 to support the club/organisation that they represented. In the future, we aim to have more competitions like this.
Overall, I think that the plan that we have created and our action to engage with our school’s GIN clubs was quite effective. Looking back, the executive team and I aimed to create new activities that we could incorporate into our meetings to work on new skills, and to add some variety. Another goal we have for the future would be to not only hold more speech competitions, but also to spread more word about our competition, as the whole purpose of the competition was to spread awareness of the issues our school is trying to address, however during the competition, many more people could have appeared, so awareness of the competition could be worked on.
At the end of each year, we celebrate the achievements of our students through an end of the year party, where we reflect on the greatness of our progress!