Club Meeting on 23 Oct 2018

Halloween was our theme this week. Johnny proposed a Toast with a skull-imprinted cup which looked menacing. Christopher delivered a Word of the Night, “automatic”, which had everyone’s phone automatically ringing at the same time, with a voice on the other end asking them to use the word. It was a meeting with tricks, and we delivered.

Table Topics

Table Topics, hosted by Eran Halevi, continued on this theme. He asked us eight questions that drew from our personal memories and opinions of Halloween. Here were the top three:

  • Parents tell kids not to take candy from strangers. Why is this an exception in Halloween?
  • If Toastmasters had a Halloween party, what would you dress up as?
  • Halloween is American tradition. Why celebrate it in Australia?

Of Ships, and Shells, and Sparkling Sea

The 1st speaker, Rowlanda, talked about the importance of one’s imagination, believing in the power we all possess in accessing what creates our reality, and what created the Opera House. She tracked the key figures who shaped its creation, charting it all as a drama… an opera in itself. She got the audience to imagine Jorn Utzon working on his winning entry, in 1956, and closing by mentioning the use of a didgeridoo player on the sail of the Opera House, at the opening of the Invictus Games. All reminders of the wonderful creativity we all have.

Do Not Privatise the ABC

The 2nd speaker was Vicki, who spoke about a subject clearly a passion with her. It was on the independence of the ABC. She covered its excellence in so many areas, whether in sports, current affairs, childrens’ programmes, drama and entertainment. She pointed out how fortunate we are to have a national broadcaster that is focused on keeping independence, high standards, and remaining in public ownership…. unlike the United States’ commercially swamped public broadcast system which has lost its ability to remain the force it once was. She spoke with affection, appreciation and carefully researched material that struck a chord with everyone.

Authored by Rowlanda Orchiston. Edited by Chistopher Tso.

Club Meeting on 9 Oct 2018

This was a meeting with all the “heavy hitters”. We were not just heavy with engaging delivery, but also with thought-provoking content. There were plenty of music playing in people’s minds because of all the challenging ideas that were floating around. Every speech was a masterpiece.

We also formally inducted 2 new members – Eran and Matt (pictured).

The Warm Up

Music was the theme for the evening. To celebrate Universal Music Day, Ross gave a Toast on the value of music, because we sometimes travel to places where people don’t speak the same language. However, wherever we go, people play music. It’s a universal language that brings people together.

Rowlanda gave the Word of the Night – “Mnemonic”, because mnemonics help her remember the words of her speech. And she gave us a demonstration by singing us “The Owl and the Pussycat”.

Table Topics

Shirley hosted the Table Topics session, and got plenty of advice on how to get away with telling lies. Here’s a sample of her questions and a quoteworthy phrase from each speaker.

Is it OK to tell lies? Yes, especially when telling the whole truth will have disastrous consequences and cause significant damage. It’s sometimes necessary to bend the truth.

What is the biggest lie you’ve have ever told? This is like a Confession Box!

Would you ever tell a lie to make yourself look good? I’ve never told a lie. I don’t believe in lies. We just have different versions of the truth!

Practice Makes Bravery

Eran, our new member, introduced himself to the club by delivering his Icebreaker speech. It’s always good to hear new members reflect on “why we are here”, as that is what motivates us to keep overcoming challenges, regardless of how experienced we already are.

Eran shared two events that inspired him to join Toastmasters.

The first event in Eran’s story was going to stand up comedy. Here’s an excerpt of his speech:

It’s always been my goal to deliver presentations without having to read off my notes. But I’ve been too afraid to take the plunge.

Earlier this year, my friend (Matt) and I, feeling disillusioned with our workplace roles, decided to salvage what semblance of personalities we had left, and started enjoying going to amateur stand up comedy clubs at Fox Studios.

We began analysing theory and technique behind a good joke and the more stand-up routines we saw, the more we began to see a pattern emerging. It wasn’t so much the content of the joke itself, but rather the delivery of the speaker themselves was much more powerful.

Indeed, one of our close friends, performed a routine which on paper, would barely elicit a chuckle, but on stage the delivery was such that it got the crowd laughing. This was tangible evidence that delivery skills in a speech are in many ways, just as, if not more, important than the content. As communication theories suggest- its not what you say, but often, how you say it. After this experience, I knew there was something to this theory.

Matt persuaded me to put my name down to deliver a comedy routine of my own. But only a few days prior to my appearance, I pulled out. I felt like I had let myself down… and everyone else down. Having seen first hand how powerful a good delivery was, I was persuaded to improve my public speaking.

The second event, was discovering a great speaker called Jordan Peterson. The clinical psychologist explains that:

When you voluntarily confront your fears and weaknesses, you undergo a fundamental shift – from being a defensive prey victim being chased by your fears, to becoming the aggressor and voluntarily chasing your fears in a mode of challenge and reward… something that is associated with fulfilment and positive emotion. You still know the world is a place full of challenge and danger, but you accept it and become braver.

Exposing yourself to your fears and weaknesses provides immense meaning in your life. Too much order in your life, say, constantly being on holiday, and not enough chaos can at times be a danger. We need something substantial to contend with and therefore grow to be satisfied.

The two events convinced him in the importance of:

  1. Good delivery in communication, and
  2. Voluntarily exposing yourself to your weaknesses.

And that convinced him that Toastmasters was the place to be.

Eran left us with a quote from Jordan Peterson: “In life, you’re all in. No matter what you do – this is going to kill you, so you may as well play the most magnificent game you can… People find immense meaning in the responsibilities they adopt”.

Why We Need the Internet of Money

Christopher explained how the Internet is distributing power and control away from centralised authorities into the hands of the people. Authority is no longer the New York Times or whoever owns the printing press. What matters now is the message which resonates with people, and no one can stop it from becoming viral.

What the Internet did with media, it’s about to do with money. Chris believes there will be another social and political revolution within the next 20 years. However, powerful governments and institutions have witnessed how the “Internet of Media” took away a lot of their power already. And so, they will do everything they can in order prevent the next version of the Internet from happening, dubbed the “Internet of Money”.

Here are some notable excerpts of his speech:

It’s no coincidence that the first Bitcoin was created on 3rd January 2009, right after the Global Financial Crisis. We could no longer count on banks and governments to serve the people.

Bitcoin is a new form of money, except you can send bitcoin to any place in the world without a bank, and without government permission. It’s still very early stages, like the Internet was in the 1990’s.

One day, 10 year old kids will grow up in a world where they download an app and open a bitcoin account and be in control of money. There will be a huge generational divide. Kids won’t understand why banks need to exist. Parents don’t understand why bitcoin has value. Which side will you be on?

Are We App Mad?

Clare gave a humorous take on how apps are making their way into our personal lives. We learned how Clare has numerous apps on her iPhone – a calorie counter, pedometer, yoga app, fitbit, Headspace – all helping her to achieve her health and fitness goals – then she spends the next hour on Facebook, Whatsapp and YouTube. It’s a habit that many of us share.

In 2017, there were nearly 269 billion app downloads! When I first got my iPhone, probably 8 years back – I had about 10 apps. Today I have 180 apps!

The most expensive was the “I Am Rich” app which was priced at $999.99 and did nothing but display a shiny gem and a positive affirmation. This app was actually downloaded by eight people before being pulled from the store by Apple.

Do these apps add value to our lives and help achieve our goals faster, make us happier people or are they slowly establishing a habit of dependency and we are stopping to think for ourselves? And how much time is it taking out of our day?

In the recent IOS update on my iPhone, the latest app tells you how long you are on your iPhone. So why do we do it?

Our world is progressing exponentially with technology. With all new things, we need to adjust, understand the value it brings to our lives but more important of all, be self-aware, selfish with our time and take control.”

Rebuilding a Toastmasters club

Mark Paton gave an account on how he put in place a plan to rebuild a Toastmasters club in Killara. He explained the three phases that a club usually goes through.

Phase 1 – A new club is started and new members are excited about the opportunities.

Phase 2 – The club is thriving with members achieving their educational goals and becoming experienced.

Phase 3 – The club establishes routine and stability, but becomes resistant to change.

Mark observed that the club was in Phase 3, and worked out a short-term and long-term strategy to put the club back into good health.

Working from Home

Mark Jackson asked the audience, “do any of you work from home at all, or wants to work from home?” It was a resounding “yes” from the audience. It’s become quite common these days because of advancements in technology and perceived benefits.

But it’s not all beneficial. That’s why Mark gave a balanced view of the pros and cons of working from home. Here’s what stood out based on Mark’s own experiences:

Pros:

  • There’s no commute time.
  • No one to look over your shoulder (i.e. no micromanagement)
  • Help achieve a better work/life balance.

Cons:

  • Requires a lot of self-discipline. A lot of humans do not have this!
  • Can get alienated from office events and activities.
  • Chance of being overlooked for a promotion
  • Less opportunities to “learn by osmosis”. Your social skills can also deteriorate over time.

Mark’s advice – working from home should be done sparingly. But if you do prefer to work from home – it’s recommended to visit the office at least once per week.

Perhaps it’s also why many of us join Toastmasters. It helps us build and maintain our communication skills… especially in-between jobs, or when we need to work from home for a continuous basis, or when public speaking isn’t something we do very often in the workplace.