Post written by Jane Cameron DTM, President Thistle Speakers, Member of Southside Speakers, Glasgow

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One of the many reasons that I enjoy Toastmasters and have remained a member for so long is the fantastic range and variety of speaking opportunities which are available…like Thistle Speakers for example!

Thistle Speakers is not a club but a series of meetings which are held at different Toastmaster clubs and it offers advanced Toastmasters an opportunity to deliver speeches and receive evaluations within the context of an advanced meeting.

I find that it is useful to speaking in a slightly different environment and receive more in-depth evaluations while still among friendly and supportive Toastmasters.

Advanced Toastmasters are those who have achieved their Competent Communication (CC) award by delivering their first ten speeches in the Toastmaster programme and are now working through the advanced programme.

This programme offers 15 different speech manuals to work from, each focussing on a distinct theme or style of speaking. My favourite advanced manuals are Storytelling, Persuasive Speaking, The Entertaining Speaker and Speaking to Inform.

Thistle meetings are open to ALL Toastmasters and guests but only the advanced members may deliver a speech and provide evaluations.

At Thistle meetings everyone who delivers an advanced speech receives the usual 3 min verbal speech evaluation and then there is a 10 minute “open- floor” evaluation session to provide extra feedback. Also, the General Evaluator focuses their feedback on the speech evaluations to ensure these are as specific and constructive as possible.

The main aims of Thistle meetings are to offer members the following:

• more flexible programme to cater for longer speech projects
• deeper evaluations to drive better progress
• open evaluations to capture wider audience feedback
• practise speaking at different venues to different audiences
• networking opportunities with experienced club members
• exploration of the benefits of the Advanced Communication and Leadership programmes

I believe advanced members deserve occasional meetings which are focussed on their development, while we still enjoy helping at club meetings, assisting new clubs and supporting special events like competitions.

The speeches which are delivered at Thistle meetings are credited to the speaker’s home club so these still count towards the success of each club.

The next Thistle meeting, hosted by Capital Communicators, is on Wednesday 29th October 2014 in Edinburgh.

All advanced members should be on the mailing list to receive news on Thistle meetings but if you want more information please contact your club president; alternatively you can look on-line at www.toastmasterclub.org for the next Thistle meeting.

It’s a while since I delivered an advanced speech but I am planning to deliver one at an upcoming Thistle meeting – and I’m looking forward to that. Maybe see you there?