Club Meeting on 20 Nov 2018 – Evaluation Contest

This was our evaluation contest, held yearly at club level, and enables Toastmasters members to refine their skills as evaluators. A good evaluator gives feedback that helps others grow, and this requires good listening skills, analytical thinking, and empathy. It’s an important skill in leadership and all aspects of life.

The Test Speaker

The evening began with the test speaker, Allan Lawson, who is a member from another club, and was not known ahead of time. He came well prepared, with props that promised to make the sounds of clashing wire, suggestive of his intriguing topic: “The Conspiracy Theory”.

He led us to think his message might be about the Moon Landing Conspiracy Theory, for instance, but took a completely different, and humorous turn. He introduced his idea: that wire coathangers are taking over in the market place over the known, loved and more clothes-friendly wooden coathangers.

We were treated to his amusing slant on why wire coathangers are so loathesome; they are assembling en masse in our wardrobes, and are taking over! He could have been talking about an army of wire aliens, and we were intrigued by this novel and creative way of presenting such an idea. The authentic bandage on his forehead made it appear as though they had leapt out and attacked him.

The Evaluators

The competitors were: Clare Fraga, Johnny Manolelis, Mel Colgar, Ross Richard, and Jagath Peris.

Here are the results. Congratulations to our winners. The 1st place winner will represent our club at Area level in February 2019.
1st place: Clare Fraga
2nd place: Jagath Peiris
3rd place: Mel Colgar

Prepared Speeches

In the second half of the evening, Jenny Li lead off with her Icebreaker speech. Her title, “Misfortune generates happiness and happiness breeds misfortune” immediately intrigued us, as conundrums always do. Especially when it’s an ancient saying. Jenny covered this idea by sharing a number of anecodotes and glimpses of her personal life. Take for example, very fortunate lottery winners who, unfortunately often go broke not long after. The lesson was clear. “Happiness does not depend on what happens outside of you but on what happens inside of you”.

The second prepared speech was Rowlanda’s topic: “Keep it Simple, Sweetie”. This was a very prop-oriented and visual talk, explaining that her Parisian handbag, although beautiful on the outside, with its iconic design, posed a problem for locating items, as the lining is black, causing everything to sink to the bottom and hide! Two-sided caricatures were used, and these enabled the audience to connect the message with the imagery.

Club Meeting on 6 Nov 2018 – The Speakathon

We had a Speakathon night, where eight speakers gave high quality talks on diverse topics. This was also a great opportunity to practice evaluations and apply the GLOVE method as taught recently by Shirley Childs. This way of doing evaluations involves observing gestures, language, organisation, voice quality, enthusiasm/energy/emotion, and finally, listening for the special “wow” factor.

Finding My Group

The first speaker was Demi McDonald, who gave her Icebreaker speech which was received with interest. She spoke about her upbringing in the USA, in a city with the highest crime rate and gang activity. This strongly shaped her life, bringing her to the point of deciding to leave the city and get an education. Eventually, a university degree and thinking big meant she was able to get a top job, come to Australia and find a group of people to share her passion and values.

Marketing Your Business

Mel Colgar engaged us all about her research on how to market her business as a physiotherapist. She entertained us with the hypothetical question: “what if you need a walking stick?”. Then, in an entertaining way, asked a few members of the audience to imagine themselves with walking issues, and whether they “need” a walking stick. This demonstrated one of the marketing principles “know your potential customers”.

Are You Your Best Mentor?

Chris Tso spoke about the importance of mentoring, reflecting back on the beginning of his time in Toastmasters when he thought he could “go it alone”. He subsequently learned that he was floundering, without an experienced member to guide him. This meant he was giving talks that were less than positive. The mentor held up a “mirror” to him, of how much better his presentation could be, if he made some changes. He spoke about the raft of changes that came, as a result of working constructively in building better talks. The results speak for themselves.

Trophy Kids

Matthew Anderson posed the question: “What sport would you choose for your kids?” He explored this topic in depth, showing the contrast between glamour sports, which involve fame and money and, often, burnout, in contrast to the sport of cooperation: Ultimate Frisbee. This particular sport requires teams to seek the spirit of the game, showing respect for each other, and fostering a culture of positive personal development. Responsibility is learned early, and this means awareness of each other, rather than the cult of personality and self-absorption, often seen in many other popular sports.

Conflict is Part of Life

Mark Paton posed the thought-provoking question: Conflict is Part of Life. He spoke about the good outcomes that can come when conflict is addressed, leading to a better culture in an organisation, and better decisions being made. When conflict is not addressed it can tear a team apart and affect morale. He spoke with conviction about how using collaboration works to revitalise an organisation, rather than ignoring, smoothing over, using force or compromise.

Defending the Unpopular

Eran Halevi gave a well-researched speech about how we can provide job opportunities and increased living standards for everyone, so that no one needs to live in poverty and everyone has a fair opportunity to become wealthy. He used humour to ask us whether we need a minimum wage, and presented statistical arguments about why having a minimum wage might actually be doing more harm than good. He encouraged us to celebrate diversity, instead of demonising income-inequality… and to embrace an environment that encourages the rich and entrepreneurial to invest more in the economy. His humour and thought-provoking questions created interest in a subject that is not always grasped easily.

I Am Side-Taking

Hannah Lee gave an Icebreaker speech entitled “I am Side-Taking”. Her off-the-cuff approach gave us insights into her as a person that took us right back to her arrival as a baby, describing herself, back then, as a fighter. She went on to speak about taking a stand, and not being afraid to fight for what you believe in. After getting into scrapes at school it was a teacher who spoke with impact to her about the need to make only two choices: am I a winner, or a loser? She made a ninety degree turn that day, as a young person, understanding herd mentality, and choosing to back away from the hidden snare that leads people to make wrong choices. Her message throughout was, “If you don’t choose, someone else will choose for you and you’ll probably lose. So… don’t be a fence-sitter. Take a side and be a winner”.

There is Magic in the Air

Finally, the eighth speaker, Johnny Manolelis, announced his intriguing topic, which had us all waiting for what would prove to be Magic in the Air! He became the magician, introducing the talk with an energetic rendition of an Olivia Newton-John song from Xanadu. We were reminded what real magic is: the driving force that leads us to create amazing almost-miraculous events in our lives. It is the power to believe that WE CAN DO IT. We create our own reality by how we think. As Henry Ford once said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right”. There was even a well polished magic trick at the end, using two plates on a table cloth, covering little pieces of bread. Some disappeared with the quick sleight of the hand… of the magician!

A fine way to end an evening, being reminded of our potential, and our powerful inner voice.

Induction of New Members

Just when we thought the meeting was about to end, we had another surprise. We inducted two new members: Jenny Li and Deme McDonald. It’s great to see two very enthuastic people become part of our close-knit and yet diverse family at West Pennant Hills.