Club Meeting on 9 Apr 2019

The theme of the meeting was “Mind, Body and Spirit” since World Health Day was just a few days earlier.

Toast

Toastmasters are familiar with needing to deliver an impromptu speech without little warning. Benjamin Zhu stepped up to the challenge to fill a vacancy and managed to start the meeting off strong with his thoughts on mind, body and spirit.

Word of the Night

Christopher Tso introduced the concept of ‘ecstasis’, where consciousness reaches another plane and creativity flows unimpeded. Athletes, artists and hopeful Toastmasters sometimes refer to this state as the ‘zone’ or ‘flow’. Christopher managed to slip in a few examples in a humorous manner and wished for others to experience the state.

Laughmaster

Johnny Manolelis always delivers the goods when required to make a room laugh. However, this time, he managed to keep the room in suspense as he told a story where a man stopped to help a poor person. But as the charitable man handed over his money, he stopped and questioned how another man could become so unfortunate. How can a man who doesn’t smoke, drink, sleep around or gamble end up in a gutter, without money or decency? Perhaps there lies the reason?

Table Topics

Clare Fraga offered some topical questions for the room to ponder in regard to their mind, spirit and body.

  • Is laughter really the best medicine?
  • Are you what you eat?
  • Does Nike’s slogan “What you do is up to you. Just do it.” inspire you?
  • Do you think fast food is on the way out?
  • “Silence isn’t empty, it’s full of answers”. What does this mean?

Prepared Speeches

Trophy Kids

Matt Anderson asked us “what sport you would like your kids to play”? Matt explored what is involved in aiming for professional sports and why Ultimate can be a great sport for personal development. This speech was part of the Toastmasters Pathways to demonstrate that feedback can be implemented by the speaker.

Listening Filter

Shirley Childs presented a workshop on retention through listening. It is estimated that listeners only retain approximately 25% of information. We explored some of the factors that affect our ability to listen. Shirley presented this in an engaging manner as an example on how to assist your audience to retain more information.

Planning My Big Event

Johnny Manolelis demonstrated how inspiring people was his dream. Now he is making that dream a reality. Johnny set a challenging target of hosting a large public speaking event and is now on the cusp of achieving his target. In a clever business pitch, he managed convince the room to follow his dynamic leadership. Did I mention that he has even been inspired enough to publish a book?!

Club Meeting on 26 Mar 2019

“The Great Debate” was the theme of the night. Johnny gave a Toast to “Debate”, because that is how everyone discusses what they want, and no one is absolutely right or wrong. Without discussion, the world would not be the same.

Word of the Night

“Deliberation” was the word that Clare wanted us to use during the meeting. She gave plenty of examples, such as “the jury returned verdict after four hours of deliberation”.

Laughmaster

Matt Anderson delivered a humorous story based on his work in motorsports. A business supplier of his discovered hundreds of dead crows on the race track. The cause of death appeared to be due to vehicle impacts. There was growing environmental concern about the race track, and so Matt did an investigation. Eventually, Matt spoke to a scientifically-minded colleague who explained to him the exact cause of death.

Table Topics – The Great Debate

“The cost of detergent is increasing. Romans used urine to clean clothes. Should budget-minded Australians do the same?”. This was the topic that we were asked to debate. Johnny randomly selected three speakers on each side to either speak affirmative or against the proposal.

The affirmative side won by a narrow margin, based on the chairman’s scoring on content and delivery. The performance was so good, that hopefully no one took it seriously and decided to wear clothes that smell of urine!

Prepared Speeches

Are we controlled by our microwaves?, by Benjamin Zhu

Ben posted an important question: “Are we outsourcing too much parenting to the Internet?” As most people now rely on their smartphone and other smart devices to tell them what to do, we’ve lost some level of control. And sometimes, losing control can even cost lives, as in the case of the Boeing 737 crash which was caused by a software malfunction.

He also talked about smart home appliances, such as Google Home and Amazon’s Smart Microwave knowing more about our lives than we do, and controlling more of our lives. A smart microwave can collect data for health insurance companies because it knows your eating and living habits.

The Life Choices We Make, by Mel Colgar

Mel explained how vision of the future affects the choices we make everyday. All the small actions we take is going to support our vision, whether you know it or not. Your vision of what life will be in 5-10 years will have sights and sounds, such as the bustling noise of the city, or the tranquility of living in the countryside. A good exercise to prove how powerful your vision is to rewind back 5-10 years, and recall the vision that you had about your life today. Very likely, you’re now living your vision and the past version of you would be happy with where you are now.

Being Ordinary is a Blessing, by Helena Zhang

Helena delivered her first speech at Toastmasters. She shared a couple of stories that touched her personally… a girl who was once beautiful and today looks much older than her age, and gets scolded by her husband in public… and a friend who had a very successful career in accounting and suddenly forced into early retirement because of health problems. Those stories made her appreciate her life more, even though she has an ordinary life and an ordinary husband.


Club Meeting on 12 Mar 2019

The meeting theme was “Autumn”, since it was the first meeting in Autumn 2019. Christopher Tso was the chairman and he explained how Autumn can be seen as some as the “unhealthy season” where we begin to stay more indoors, or be seen more positively as the “introspective season” where we give more time for ourselves and relax more.

Table Topics

Vicky Mina hosted the Table Topics session where she asked individual audiences to deliver a 1 minute impromptu speech in response to a question.

Here’s a sample of her questions:

  • Your neighbour blows leaves into your front yard. What would you say to your neigbour?
  • The weather has changed from hot to cold and now you’re feeling sick, but your sickness is not contagious. Your friend has invited you out and promised it’s going to be an interesting day. What would you say to your friend?
  • What does it mean to change your mind like the weather?
  • Summer is over. What do you look forward to in Winter/
  • Would you choose to go to a beautiful beach or a mountain?

Speeches

Don’t Believe in Handsome Blondes, by Clare Fraga

Clare captivated us with her past adventure into the Alps where she learned skiing for the first time in her life. This was a speech that required Clare to focus on using her body language. And she did that extraordinary well, showing us the “duck position” and the swurves and jumps she had to endure in the snow.

We shared her fun and excitement… and also embarrasment. The ski instructor was a handsome blonde who reassured Clare the she was ready for the big slope.

The moral of her story – some things in life need a bit more practice before you do it in the real world, regardless of the comforting words from a handsome blonde.

Education for Girls in the Third World, by Rowlanda Orchiston

Rowlanda delivered a persuasive speech that made us appreciate the benefits of living in a developed country versus third world countries especially in regions where the Taliban is powerful.

One such benefit we often take for granted is education. And education is difficult to access when you’re a girl living in a region with Taliban presence, constantly witnessing murders, harassment, bombings and brainwashing.

The danger is brought to life, when we heard the words spoken by a Taliban, “you should not go to school”, heard about schools being bombed, and a girl named Malala Yousafzai who supported female education was shot by the Tabliban.

Rowlanda announced that this was her last speech before leaving the club to pursue her next adventure in life – to help bring education to girls in third world countries.

What’s Important in Negotiation, by Jagath Peiris

Jagath explained the different types of outcome that arise from negotiations – Win Win, Win Lose, Comprise (i.e. Lose Lose), Walk Away.

He used a personal example to explain how sometimes, maintaining a good relationship is more important than achieving a good negotiation outcome for yourself. In many work situations, people get rewarded for winning and they forget about the relationships. And companies only realise this mistake when they lose market share.

Jagath gave us some important advice – research the people you’re dealing with, where they are coming from and be aware of the tactics they may use to influence the outcome.

Yannis the Greek Immigrant, Johnny Manolelis

Johnny delivered his humorous speech which made everyone in the room laugh non-stop. His story was full of humorous encounters since he came to Australia in 1990. He detailed his difficulties in dealing with cultural differences.

For example, his encounter with a female hotel staff, where she would end the sentence with “darling” or “love”… but in Greek culture those words meant you were on a date.

His other encounters include watching cricket and going to a friend’s BYO barbeque. If that wasn’t enough, Johnny maintained a Greek accent throughout which added to the quirky humour.

New Member Induction

We inducted our newest member, Helena Zhang. She gave us the Word of the Night, “Vibe” at the start of the meeting, which set the positive vibes for the rest of the night. We’re very happy to welcome Helena and the energy she brings to our club.

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Club Meeting on 26 Feb 2019

Inducting our new member – Benjamin

“Reach for the Stars” was the theme of the meeting, which prompted many interesting ideas from various speakers.

Toast

Our meeting commenced with a thought-provoking Toast by Chris Tso, on the subject of why success in one’s life should not just include material success, but also spiritual success. He pointed out that by knowing how we relate to our world, and others, more resources and opportunities become available to us. And we become better able to fulfil a greater purpose.

Word of the Night

The Word of the Night, offered by Clare Fraga, visually impacted with an illustration of the word CELESTIAL. We were invited to use it in our talks and in Table Topics. This word has an inspiring connection to heavenly bodies, which was briefly discussed after her presentation.

Laughmaster

Following on, we were given a short “drama” by Rowlanda, the evening’s LAUGHMASTER, on why modern packaging “sucks”! You often can’t open the thing you have brought home. This was illustrated by a fierce piece of plastic containment of an Oral B electric toothbrush. She demonstrated how even cutting through the plastic was a challenge, and ended by stamping on it!

Table Topics

TABLE TOPICS is always a good way to hatch ideas on your feet, and is a great way to deliver a short impromptu talk, with opening, body and conclusion, spontaneously. Matt Anderson presented us with some complex scenarios, for instance, travelling to the moon, selling the travel package to a would-be buyer, addressing a graduation class, and choices to be made once fame in show biz has found YOU!

Meeting Roles and Responsibilities

After the break, of lollies and drinks, we were given an overview of “Meeting Roles and Responsibilities”, presented by Johnny Manolelis. He reminded us of some of the things we forget to do, such as handing the gavel back to the Chairman, which helps the meeting’s flow and order. There was encouragement as the various roles were explained, and the different slants some clubs place on some roles. As we had many visitors, some returning for a second visit, they would have seen for themselves just how many opportunities there are to experience Toastmasters from inside out, trying out the various roles, and growing as a result. Saying “yes” is how growth occurs. Don’t be afraid to try things, he urged. Toastmasters teaches so many skills, and as we embrace them, our confidence metre soars.

The Icebreaker

Benjamin Zhu, our newest member, and inducted the same night, gave a deep and tender talk about a dear friend, suffering from cancer, and how the impact of that has affected him. He opened with an explanation about what Chinese New Year means to Chinese people the world over, and how they go out of their way to contact family and friends at this time. A couple of quotes stood out: “Life is 10% what happens to us, and 90% how we react to it”. Positive thinking, he said, can turn things around, lifting our spirits, helping us to cope better with great difficulties. He closed with a quote by Norman Vincent Peale: “change your thoughts, change your world”.

Food Product Development

Vicki Mina followed with her talk about FOOD PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT, outlining how the consumer drives the demand, wanting healthy options, alternatives to be offered for dietary and religious observances, how products are changing (not always in a good way) and how the profit motive is driving the corporations to ever new heights of imitation of standard products – (Coca Cola, for instance), coffee machines for the home, and the clever little pods – a long way from heaping spoonfuls of ground coffee beans into a percolator.

Area 2 International Speech and Evaluation Contest 2019

West Pennant Hills Toastmasters is hosted the Area 2 International Speech and Evaluation Contest on the 17th February 2019 at the Cherrybrook Community and Culture Centre – Redgum Hall.

Here are the contest winners:

International Speech Contest:
1st – Tom Ware
2nd – Johnny Manolelis
3rd – Leanne Varga

Evaluation Contest:
1st – Sakeena De Souza
2nd – Corinne Baird
3rd – Sophie Pang

Club Meeting on 12 Feb 2019

The meeting opened with Shirley Childs as Chairman. We welcomed eight guests who arrived. After an action packed meeting, we inducted our newest member, John Inglis (pictured).

Toast

TO TOAST EMERGENCY SERVICES WHOSE WORK IS OFTEN UNSEEN AND TAKEN FOR GRANTED – front line brave people – Hills has highest number of volunteers from one area in Australia – in time of emergency – fire, flood, high winds, they are there.

Word of the Night

The word of Salubrious, used by many speakers afterwards.

Table Topics

Vicky Mina hosted the Table Topics session, explaining to visitors how making short speeches to answer an impromptu question is a great preparation for the real thing – thinking on your feet, while having a structure with a beginning, middle and end.

Some of her questions related to Valentines Day. Other questions were general. Visitors who participated spoke confidently.

Speeches

“Getting over the Hump”, Mel Colgar – speaking about public speaking as a constant labour of love – practise practise practise, speaking to oneself, the chair, the whoever will listen, even if they run away… keep practising. It improves your confidence, which imparts confidence to the audience. She used personal stories and humour.

“You’re So South African”, Clare Fraga – What is this, why does her boss keep saying this? Clare developed talk around speaking styles, and talked about the style of Donald Trump versus Barak Obama. What are the four styles: analytical, direct, etc. South Africans, like Australians, tend to be very direct, conversational style, structured, engaging hand gestures that kept us following intently.

“Going Forward”, Johnny Manolelis – He talked about mentoring, and the importance of asking for someone’s opinion. In the beginning, he would adopt a similar style to Julius Caesar, who was quoted as saying, “I came, I saw, I conquered”. He thought he knew how to give talks, until he learned wisdom and realised how little he knew!

“Sweet and Sour”, Rowlanda Orchiston – She shared a surprising true story about an expensive grand piano ending up in a rubbish dump (the sour) that ended up repaired and restored to the Cable Beach Resort.

Club Meeting on 29 Jan 2019

The meeting was well attended for the theme night: “Australia Day”, and there were eight visitors. It was an enthusiastic gathering, with all guests expressing their interest in how Toastmasters works as an organisation. They noted both the formality, in the way of the running of the agenda, yet also the freedom of expression, humour and friendliness of the members.

Assignments

Our Toast carried the theme of how we need to change ourselves within, rather than change the date, as has been reflected in the media of late. In a country of the future, where there is more acceptance and humanity, we would be forever changed. Our society would progress and reclaim its energy (paraphrasing the words of the father of Australian music, the late Peter Sculthorpe.

The Word of the Night was a super duper: SUPERCALIFRAGILISTICEXPIALIDOCIOUS… Try saying that quickly! Our new member, Rachael Lin, who was inducted last night, produced this excellent word, and explained its meaning and character, as a song in the original “Mary Poppins” musical. It was used, with delight, by several speakers who followed her.

Prepared Speeches

Our four speakers had prepared their speeches with great attention to content and delivery.

First up was Vicky Mina, who spoke about New Year’s Resolutions, and the technique used to ensure there is only one goal at a time, in focus, which makes achieving it far more reachable.

Second was Jagath Peiris, whose content covered the importance of the mentor in the life and progress of a public speaker. He gave personal examples, and spoke about a friend who had made a big difference in his quest to improve his delivery.

Shirley Childs, whose experience over many years, of mentoring others effectively, through giving a vast number of speeches herself, gave us a word, not as long as the above SUPER PLUS, but a soft Latin derivation, ‘spirare’, which means “to breathe”. This topic was well researched, informing us that our ability to mindfully breathe in and out, choosing to put attention on the breath of life as a means to bring peace and calm to our speaking delivery, but also to our everyday life.

Finally, Johnny Manolelis chose his arresting moment, using a hand of bananas to illustrate an important point. The bananas were there to describe a lightbulb moment he had had while observing quick witted chimpanzees in Taronga Zoo, who used a different way of peeling their fruit. He realised this moment was telling him we can change the way we think, and inject positivity and better outcomes into our lives. “Inspired to Change By a Chimpanzee” brought home to us the message that was also a theme given throughout the evening by several speakers.

Conclusion

With so many new visitors and members, the meeting set a good and optimistic tone for the beginning of 2019.

International Speech Contest on 15th January

This meeting was our International Speech Contest, where each contestant delivered a prepared speech that was 5-7 minutes on a topic of their choosing and was inspirational.

Johnny came 1st place and will be representing our club in the Area 2 contest held on February 17th.

1st place: Johnny Manolelis – “Inspired by a Banana”

“If you change the way you look at things, then the things you look at change”. Johnny brilliantly demonstrated his message by peeling a banana, not the clumsy way that most people do, but the easy way that monkeys do.

He recounted the journey of his life, the struggles he encountered, and how he used his imagination to attract an abundance of good luck into his life and make his dreams come true. To quote Albert Einstein, “Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere”.

2nd place: Mel Colgar – “Communicate Different”

Mel reflected on her childhood. She vividly described the thoughts in her mind when she was a little girl. School became her favourite thing. But the world was still a terrifying place for her. She realised that she needed to work on her weaknesses to overcome her fears. Her message to us was: “challenge your own weaknesses”.

3rd place: Christopher Tso – “The Third Law”

Christopher explained how we can use Newton’s Third Law, ” For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction”, so that instead of us chasing after success, we create an environment where success easily comes to us. Willpower is not enough. We need to be adaptable. And sometimes when we stop looking and do something different, we find what we were looking for.

contest-chairman-winners-area-director
The contest chairman, 3 contestants, and Area Director.

Table Topics

We had less contestants than expected, so Johnny used the spare time to host the Table Topics session. Johnny wrote a word on a piece of paper that no one else could see. The word is an object that the audience must guess correctly, so that they win a prize. Each audience member needed to speak about the object for 1 minute. Johnny started it off by explaining how he would carry the object into his room, change the settings and how he loved his lamb.

We had members guessing the object was pandora’s box, a box to keep food inside, an oven, a microwave… but no one guessed it was a Toaster until the very end!

Christmas Party and Final Meeting for 2018

In a different setting our club organised an end-of-year celebration of a year of notable growth, welcomed visitors and enjoyed each other’s company, surrounded by decorations and balloons, to brighten up the large space. There was good camaraderie during the evening, and our visitors relaxed, along with members, as the evening unfolded. Johnny Manolelis took the role of Chairman, conveying a chirpy mood, as we admired the Christmas tree and listened to a soundtrack prelude of “Beatles Baroque”.

The Prepared Speeches

First up were the two speakers, who were well prepared.

Our first speaker, Rachael Lin, amazed us with a poignant Icebreaker speech about her experiences living in Australia, having left China twenty years previously. She described her 2018 year as being a watershed in her life, and one fraught with drama and problems. She shared it openly and with candour, the enormous challenges of starting a business selling pianos in Parramatta, after abandoning a concert pianist path, coupled with personal issues taking up a great deal of her time.

The second speaker, Michael Fong, gave us a bird’s eye view of early married life and the amusing events that shaped the first year, following the wedding. He took us on a romp through the disasters that happened, as events and disguises obscured communication between his wife and himself.

The two speeches were a good scene-setter for kicking off the second half.

The Potluck Dinner

We ate a Christmas feast, welcomed friends who’d shown up to celebrate, and shared some of our favourite dishes.

Santa’s Table Topics

The mood was upbeat as we gathered around Santa (Ross Richards in daggy Santa Aussie clothing – thongs, shorts and tinsel – just what makes Ross comfortable!) to share in Table Topics. As the gifts were given out to each of us, we unwrapped the package, and were asked to speak about the gift and what we would do with it. Although this did not prompt a great flow of words, as a present-receiving exercise, we enjoyed it and the comedy of “what should I do with it?” Maybe next year we will have to report back on what we ate, (chocolates), played with, used, maybe hid in a cupboard, or jigsawed!!

Club Meeting on 4 Dec 2018

Human was the theme for our meeting. And it was the most human meeting we’ve had. We laughed. Made mistakes. And surprised ourselves with our spontaneous creativity.

We had Table Topics in the first half of the meeting. This was where Johnny Manolelis gave each speaker an opinion, and the speaker had to speak in favour of the opinion for 30 seconds, and against the opinion for the remaining 30 seconds. And Johnny would clap at the 30 second mark to make this clear. For example, questions asked were “It’s very important to be right”, “Men are more important than women”, and “You are the wisest person on the planet”. We had surprising well thought out responses, considering it can be challenging to deliver an impromptu speech and completely change your mind midway.

Then we had three prepared speakers in the second half of the meeting.

Your Communication Style

The first speaker, Jagath Peiris personalised his talk in an open and revealing way. And his self honesty and analysis of how he gives direction and support to his work team was disarming and engaging.

He covered the points for successful communication, speaking about being direct, goal oriented and inclusive in the way he approaches his relationships. Being decisive, and yet not overly pushy, has enabled him to build excellent bonds with colleagues, family and friends. He spoke about how he has learned to empower others, building trust and respect. He acknowledged the changes that have come to him through his personal development in Toastmasters.

Your Leadership Style

The second speaker, Mel Colgar, delivered a creative and fluidly paced presentation, posing such questions as: “can I lead teams that are different, and think differently from the way I do?”, asking herself what is her style, and acknowledging the need to adapt to the team that you are leading, instead of being dictatorial and having impossible expectations. She suggested changing one’s style from day to day, if necessary, for harmony and personal growth.

Making a Difference

Our third speaker was Clare Fraga, who shared her passionate research on CLIMATE CHANGE. She opened with some hard-hitting facts, such as the heating of the planet to alarming levels over the last 35 years, the greenhouse gases from industry, extreme weather conditions, and melting ice caps.

All facts we have heard before, but because it was delivered in an uncompromising style, well-researched and balanced, we “caught” the message, receiving the call to make our voices heard and draw attention to the greatest crisis facing mankind. She concluded with the thought that we can make a difference, as long as we believe it is possible. Certainly, being mindful of our footprint, particularly in Australia, which is fourth on the list of the world’s biggest polluters.