Relaxing into the Sergent at Arms role

The new Toastmasters year has started so it’s out with the old club committee and in with the new. Now I am officially my club’s Sergent at Arms (S@A) giving me several responsibilities at every meeting. I set up the room with the lectern, club banner and time keeping equipment. I greet the members as they arrive and hand out their name badges. I greet the guests as they arrive, collect their names and let them know what to expect during the meeting. In the middle of every meeting I introduce the guests to the rest of the club. I do this by asking each guest to stand up and tell everyone their name and why they decided to come to Toastmasters. This is my favorite responsibility as I get five minutes of stage time every meeting.

I first started thinking about becoming S@A after I brainstormed some ideas with my mentor for relaxing on stage. The S@A role was suggested as a way of getting “massive exposure” or a large amount of stage time. The S@A’s responsibilities mean I have to turn up to every meeting and the guest introductions mean I have a guaranteed speaking slot. Being on stage for five minutes every meeting is helping me become at ease in front of an audience.

Introducing the guests is anĀ emcee type role. You are required to introduce speakers and transition between them. I’m learning useful methods to keep everything running smoothly, like leading the audience in applause and subtly glancing at your notes when other people are speaking. The skills I’m learning here will be useful for similar roles like Table-topics master and Toastmaster.

I’ve been S@A in four meetings so far. The main, recurring, piece of feedback I get is that I don’t “do enough” during the guest introductions i.e. I should embrace my five minutes as an opportunity to do something interesting. This is easier said than done as we get lots of guests, and more guest introductions means less time for me to experiment. But I am very keen to start saying something different each meeting, especially as the S@A is often bumped from the table topics list when there are too many people.

Last week I experimented by beginning with a short anecdote:

When I was six my mum told me not to talk to strangers. So when I fell over and hurt my knee I was too scared to go and see the school nurse as she was a strange lady I’d never seen before. But now I’m older, and have got over my fear of meeting new people, and I’ve met four interesting guests this evening who I will introduce you to now…

Cheesy and made up, but it seemed to go down quite well. Now I’m on the look out for similar vignettes.

I’m really enjoying the S@A role so far, and am looking forward to experimenting with the role in future meetings.

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