Club Meeting on 8-September-2020

Tonight was the 2nd time we met face to face again after the break, and we had a very unique structure for the night. The theme was ‘Back to Front’, which meant that we would also reverse the structure of the meeting, with evaluators preceding the speeches, leaving room for improvisation and flexibility to our speaking!

General Evaluator

The meeting kicked off with toastmaster Johnny giving an ‘evaluation’ to our Toastmasters of speeches and speech presenters. Johnny gave cues such as grand hand gestures, loud voices and even quirks such as standing on toes to challenge our speakers.

Word of the Night

Word of the night was presented by Chris, who gave us the word ‘integrate’. He used the word integrate in different contexts and challenged us to ‘integrate’ the word into our speeches for the night.

Prepared Speeches

In our unique meeting, the prepared speeches were to be presented first, by Johnny and Molly.

Johnny’s speech was titled “Contemplation is the way”. Johnny inspired us that in order to change our life, we need to change our thinking. He did this by asking a thought provoking question – “what do you think about most of the time?” And why is this important? Because “we become what we think about most of the time”. He explained the strategies we can use to create the reality we want – by using contemplation to change our thinking patterns… by surrounding ourselves with supportive conditions… and by using our imagination to move beyond the limitations of logic.

Molly’s speech was titled ‘The value of having a husband”, where she described the lessons her husband had given her throughout their time together. These lessons included forgiveness and thinking through situations logically.

New member induction

To add on to an exciting meeting, we had new member Leah join us! Leah had come aboard to the WPH club looking to improve her communication skills and she has been actively participating in our meetings so far.

Table Topics Master

As with the theme, members were given the topic of table topics, and were instructed to give a minute impromptu speech without knowing the question. This resulted in very creative ideas and speeches, and Table Topics Master Mark followed up by creating the questions based off the speeches presented.


Laughmaster was presented by Chris, who gave us his personal anecdotes surrounding the culture behind the tech industry. Chris gave us some very funny stories surrounding technical jargon that were misinterpreted by him as innuendos.


The toast was presented by Johnny, and Johnny spoke about the theme which was ‘doing things back to front.’


In conclusion, the night allowed all members to learn to be flexible to changes to structure. All members responded very well and demonstrated great ability to be adaptable. We are all looking forward to the next meeting!

Written and edited by Jonathan Lau

Club Meeting on 25-August-2020

Tonight was our much anticipated return to face to face meetings! Moving forward our meetings are now hybrid, so members can also join in via Zoom. The executive team had also taken the appropriate actions to make the meeting COVID safe, including checking each participant’s temperature upon arrival and having hand sanitiser available. We had a total of 8 members and 1 guest.


The toast tonight was given by Chris, with the theme ‘Together Again.” Chris addressed the value of community and resilience, and how poignant these ideas were during the time we are in.

Word of the Night

The word of the night was introduced by William, who gave us the word ‘positive.’ Keeping with the theme of the night, William reminded us the importance of staying positive, as it not only improves our own lives, but can inspire the people around us, such as our children and family.


Johnny, our resident comedian, gave us a joke about match-making and ringing door-bells. You had to be there to get it but it got everyone in a relaxed and jovial mood.

Table Topics

Table topics was prepared by Raj, who created an interesting structure for us to practice our impromptu speaking. Raj had 2 members come up to the front and each member was to ask each other an impromptu question and to give back an answer to said question. It was a very practical idea and allowed the members to simulate real-life situations where ice-breakers would be necessary.

Prepared Speeches

In the 2nd part of the night, we had prepared speeches from William and Clare, both high-level speakers.

William’s speech was about his experiences with curfew, and he compared his experience to the current situation we are all facing. William’s powerful voice and expression conveyed to us that a curfew can actually help us become more grateful and appreciative of the things we have.

Clare’s speech was about the significance of a good attitude, also in accordance with the current social climate we are in. Clare recounted a story called “Who Moved the Cheese,” and related this story to how perspective can significantly improve our relationship to our external stressors.


In this section of the night, Johnny gave us an educational on the different roles in Toastmasters. Very commonly, new Toastmasters are unaware how of the duties that each role has to complete, so the educational was helpful in teaching and refreshing everyone on the roles. For example, the Toastmaster in charge of the toast must call everyone up to stand and take their drink before toasting to the cause.


In conclusion, it was great to return back to a face to face format at this meeting. The dynamics of face to face speaking are so different to speaking via Zoom, and I believe every member found the night to be very fruitful and enjoyable.

Written and edited by Jonathan Lau

Club Meeting on 28-July-2020

Tonight we had our 10th virtual meeting via Zoom, with the theme of the night being ‘New Beginnings.’ We had an attendance of 9 people.


As our new president, Johnny gave a toast regarding the theme of new beginnings and explained what new beginnings meant to him. Johnny told us to fight fear and go for it, and that when it came to helping others, this act of kindness helped Johnny in return.

Word of the Night

Molly introduced the word of the night ‘hibernation’ , and explained the word in the context of animals and also as a descriptive word to illustrate what we as humans are doing in this crazy time of a pandemic.


Mel shared a humourous anecdote about the time her son and another boy from Turkey bonded over the shared experience of laughter. Mel explained to us all about the special quality of laughter and its ability to connect people of different cultures.

Table Topics

Table topics was prepared by William. William gave each member a word relating to the current social climate and members were challenged to perform a 1 minute speech using keywords such as ‘masks’ and ‘social distancing”

Prepared Speeches

In the 2nd part of the meeting, we had prepared speeches from Chris, Raj and Johnny.

Chris’s speech was about his communication style. Chris gave us some anecdotes regarding situations where his direct communication style came in handy, such as discussing how to optimise the use of his personal trainer during this pandemic period. By being logical and clear to his personal trainer, both parties were able to extract value and get what they wanted from each other.

Raj’s speech was about solar energy. Raj illustrated in detail the different forms of solar energy we use currently and gave the audience a big tip of investing in Lithium as the world heads towards renewable energy!

Johnny’s speech was about viewing past traumatic experiences as important pieces that shape who we are in the present. Johnny opened up and shared courageously about a difficult time in his life, and explained to the audience that he didn’t let this experience deter him. Johnny used the experience and decided to take a risk and go to Australia and we are all very grateful that he is here!


In short, it was a very enjoyable meeting with lots of new facts and knowledge to take in. We are looking forward to the next one!

Written and edited by Jonathan Lau

Club Meeting on 14th July 2020

On 14 July 2020, we met again for the ninth time over the Internet. At this meeting, our theme was Bastille Day, (French National Celebrations) day. It seemed like we were getting used to meeting in this way with fewer hiccups every time. However, it still was clear that we were missing each other’s company and person-to-person meetings in our Community Centre room in West Pennant Hills.


During the first part of the meeting the French national celebrations day had been mentioned few times by our Sergeant At Arms Raj, our chairman Chris Tso, and toast Mel Colgar.

Table Topics

Table topics was prepared by John Inglis. For John we had to describe an imaginary picture. It was fun and thought provoking.

Prepared Speeches

In the second part, we had the prepared speeches. Our speakers were Shirley, Jonathan, and Johnny.

Shirley spoke about her role as a protégé and finding her experienced and ideal mentor. She told us this experience as a journey that took her from a conflict to a success story and ending up having a good friendship with a colleague.

Jonathan talked about something rather scientific. He told us the difference between acute pain and chronic pain. He explained, how acute pain can be useful for us to protect us from further injuries. On the other hand, the chronic pain can be so harmful may represent a pathology that we may need to overcome just like a software problem on a computer program.

Johnny’s speech was rather emotional. He told us about importance of forgiving and loving. His speech was touchy and captured the audience attention from the beginning to the end. He told us how he came out from an ordeal/disappointment of one of his friendship by blocking the hateful feelings and replacing them with appreciation, forgiveness, and love.


In short, as always it was a wonderful, fruitful, entertaining, and always helpful meeting. It made us grow and contributed to each of us’ personal skills. It related to the date, which was a Bastille Day, and carried on with wondrous speeches and evaluation.

Written by Mel Colgar and edited by Shirley Childs

Club Meeting on 30-Jun-2020

Tonight we had our eighth virtual meeting via Zoom with the theme being “End of Financial Year” which is on 30th June. This is an important time for the economy especially for businesses that report their annual results.

We had all been affected (or know someone affected) by the covid-19 lockdowns, bushfires and the drought.

We had an attendance of 14 people including four visitors – Jeff Walsh, Shane Vaz, Ben Burt Smit and Lee Buckley.

Executive Changeover

Lee Buckly made a Toast to the thank the outgoing Executive Committee members and to welcome the incoming Executive Committee members.

This lead onto Shirley Childs who formally inducted the new executive by confirming the responsibilities of each executive officer:

  • President – Christoper Tso, (prev. Clare Fraga), 
  • Vice President of Education (VPE) – Johnny Manolelis, (prev. Vicky Mina),
  • Vice President of Membership (VPM) – Clare Fraga, (prev. Johnny Manolelis),
  • Vice President Public Relations (VPPR) – Jonathan Lau (prev. Chris Tso),
  • Secretary – Mark Paton, (prev. Christoper Tso),
  • Treasurer – Andre van Woerkom, (prev. Helena Zhang)
  • Sergeant at Arms – Raj Wadnere, (prev. Mark Paton)

Table Topics

Shirley Childs used her many hats and was also the Table Topics Master and asked various people questions about their leadership style. Here were the questions:

  • What do you understand by servant leadership?
  • What is the most opinion attribute of a leader?
  • How would you promote Toastmasters?
  • Which leader do you admire most and why?
  • Do you agree that leaders are born?
  • What is your style of leadership?
  • What did you learn as a leader in Toastmasters?

Prepared Speeches

In the second half of the meeting, we had three prepared speeches by Mark, Molly and William. 

Mark Paton’s “The Value of Mentoring” was an opportunity for him to share with us the tips that his mentor shared with him in a mentor-protege connection. As Mark’s animated speech went on, we are informed about the importance of :

  • relaxing, or taking a breath.
  • ensuring that pause breaks are similar in length.
  • staying still to maintain focus.
  • sing purposeful gestures.

William’s Leong’s “A song with sweet memories,” shares his favorite song – “Loch Lomond”, which reminds him of his father. William used to sing together with his father. We could all relate to how music can bring nostalgic feelings of someone we have missed.

Molly Yang talked about “A new understanding of discrimination”. She explained the concept of discrimination and why it occurs. Molly used personal examples and the 2008 debt crisis to support her conclusion – Discrimination occurs as part of a competitive free market where risks and rewards determine personal choices. We should deal with the root causes of inequality rather than simply replacing it with “anti-discrimination” policies that interfere with the free market economy.


This was a very informative meeting. We were reminded about the mutual benefits of mentoring for both the mentor and protege. We answered impromptu questions about leadership. We were reminded about the different responsibilities of a club executive officer. This meeting was another step towards becoming a better leader and communicator.

Co-authored by Christopher Tso

Club Meeting on 16-Jun-2020

Tonight we had our seventh virtual meeting via Zoom with the theme being “International Day of YogaJune 21. The word Yoga means to join or to unite in Sanskrit. This is a good way to spread awareness of how yoga and other exercises can improve our health, especially during COVID-19. We had an attendance of 12 people including two visitors – Rachael Jordan and Lee Buckley. 


Johnny made a thought-provoking toast to the notion of ‘forgiveness’. He enlightened us to forgive when someone close hurt us or things aren’t going well by sharing his own life experience.

Word of the night

Rachael picked the word “proficient” to reflect on her decision to join Toastmasters to become a proficient speaker. 


Johnny announced that he would reward anyone $1000 who can squeeze juice out of already squeezed lemon. He role played different people who tried unsucessfully to get any juice out. Then finally, someone was able to squeeze 6 drops. When Johnny asked what that person does for work, she answered “the tax office”. His expression made us laugh throughout his act, and the ending made us laugh even harder.

Evaluation workshop

The guest speaker, Lee Buckley, was the director in Division 70 and still members in several clubs. She gave a much-needed educational segment on ‘how to evaluate’, with online presentation advice. For example, gestures should fit in camera frame, and do not move too fast otherwise it becomes blurry.

Prepared Speeches

In the second half of the meeting, we had three speakers, Shirley, Mark and Jonathan. Their speeches are all related to communication.

Shirley’s “Smashed Avocado on Toast” reminded us that holding back one’s tongue can be more powerful than words. She introduced three different realities: the first one is the facts itself, the second is the perception on the same fact and the third is different expert views on reality. Understanding that your perception of reality is different from others will help to hold your tongue before making any judgement. 

Mark’s “The Secret Communication” covers advantages and disadvantages of two communication styles. The first is direct communicator style. The direct communicator style usually occurs in a deadline-driven work environment, but it can be demanding on others rather than supportive. The second is initiating style. The initiating style is relationship-based and more welcomed, but it can lack of analysis which can cause deadlines to be delayed. To achieve the most effective outcome, he enlightened us to listen more than talk. 

Jonathan talked about “My Communication Style” noting how his communication style has evolved over the years. Initially he was good at communicating with people like himself. Gradually he expanded to be able to speak to anyone. To achieve this, he said that we should view communication as connection with others with full of empathy and curiosity.  


Thank you to all evaluators who provided valuable constructive feedback and also Lee Buckley’s educational speech. Also, we have Chris who created an online timer for club meetings. To conclude, it was an enjoyable meeting with full of proficient tips to become a better communicator. 

Club Meeting on 2-Jun-2020

Tonight we had our sixth virtual meeting via Zoom with the theme being “The winter solstice” which celebrates the longest hours of darkness. Yes, this is winter! We had an attendance of 14  people including one external visitor – Dylan who was from the Western Lecturn Toastmasters club.


Vicky made a toast to getting back to normal during the colder months. She reminded us not to get too complacent too quickly.

Word of the night

André reflected on the word “time”, something we all want more and how 6,000 years ago the moon was used to reckon time. The Egyptians replaced this lunar calendar with the accurate solar calendar. Having precise time reminds us that “time waits for no one”.


Johnny made us all laugh about another time-related matter, comparing marriage to getting time in jail.

Table Topics

Johnny stepped in as the unplanned Table Topics master with questions around keeping track of time, such as:

  • Which activities make you lose track of time?
  • Which is worst, failing, or never trying?
  • What is the most defining moment of your life so far?
  • What would you do different if no one will judge you?

In response Shirley emphasised the importance of trying and placing lesser focus on failing. Clare’s defining moment was when born and taking the first steps with new projects. Chris shared his new starts, such as getting married and starting a business and career. Mel answered a similar question, and shared her new ways of doing things.

Prepared Speeches

In the second half of the meeting, we had three speakers, Mel, Aanchal and Mark. 

Mel’s “How to place an ad to get ready for City to Surf” was an actual example of an adertisement she would place in the local newspaper to get clients to consult with her physiotherapy clinic. The ad outlined the content such as a pre-assessment and a preparation program to set one up for a successful run/walk. Per Jonathan’s evaluation, Mel was well focussed, met speech purposes, had the right tone, good humour, and, engaged the audients. Areas of learning were eye contact, fewer filler words to replace with pausing.

Aanchal’s “Three changes to education” covered real-life experiences and the lack of essential life skills, much needed for the kids of the future. Per Chris’s evaluation, the speech was practical, well delivered, us to hearing every word, ending with a strong conclusion. Further improvements could be to place a greater emphasis on the key points, causing more outrage on the statements, repeating things, adding more humour and more questions.

Mark talked about “My Leadership Styles” noting the different styles depending on the team, projects involved. A great opening with Canadian philosopher Matshona’s quote: “The real power of a leader is in the number of minds he can reach, hearts he can touch, souls he can move, and lives he can change.” Mel’s evaluation noted the great start, having a right tone, good examples, and conclusion. Adding more fun to the speech was one of the recommendations.


Shirley’s summary complimented Vicky’s Timer’s Report which covered only the time exceptions and Clare’s excellent review following each speaker. Shirley flagged that it is best for evaluators to have a conclusion that summarises the key points, rather than to abruptly end on a specific point such as the speaker was looking away and reading notes. This is where one loses points in a contest.

Like speakers, evaluators were reminded to have an intro and a conclusion to round off evaluations.

Our visitor’s (Dylan) observation was re-affirming our club’s strong point – that everyone cares for each other.

Club Meeting on 19-May-2020

Tonight we had our fifth virtual meeting via Zoom. The chairman, Shirley, announced the theme as ‘Leadership’, which has a unique definition for every individual. We had an attendance of 15 people, and we are so grateful for the ongoing dedication and adaptable nature of our members!


Jonathan gave a heart-warming toast to the notion of ‘normality’, celebrating Australia’s steady improvement, in regard to the COVID-19 situation.

Word of the Night

William picked the simple word “wait”, enlightening us with the fact that sometimes, the meanings of the most commonly used words are often not considered.


Shirley led the election with flair and experience, allowing outgoing executive members to share the duties within their roles first. Congratulations to our incoming executive for 2020-21!

  • President – Christopher Tso
  • Vice President of Education – Johnny Manolelis
  • Vice President of Membership – Clare Fraga
  • Vice President of Public Relations – Jonathan Lau
  • Secretary – Mark Paton
  • Treasurer – Andre van Woerkom
  • Sergeant at Arms – Raj Wadnere

It was lovely to see members nominate each other, in the spirit of mutual growth and taking what opportunities come your way.


Clare made us all laugh, as we imagined Johnny having an awkward conversation at the Soccer World Cup!

Prepared Speeches

For the 2nd half of the night, we heard from 3 speakers – Jonathan, Johnny and Christopher.

Sleep Jonathan conducted research on this topic and confirmed that sleep is critical to optimal functioning and should be prioritised more. Sleep deprivation has poor impacts on our concentration and immune system and, even gives false blood test results! He advised to try writing a to do list for the next day to avoid overthinking in bed and avoid taking sleeping pills.

Icebreaker Johnny gave a heart-warming and inspirational speech, as he began his new ‘Visionary Leadership’ Course. He shared some key highlights from his childhood that led him to be the person he is today, and why Toastmasters makes him “the best man he can be”. We are privileged to be a part of your journey Johnny!

Dream Team” – Christopher graciously took us through his thought process when deciding which company to work for. His impressive excel spreadsheet included factors, such as mentoring, time management, mindset, job security, skills transferability and business impact.


Thank you to all our evaluators throughout the evening, as feedback is crucial to each of our journeys. To conclude – John reinforced the value of outgoing President’s wisdom during and after handover, while Raj warmly thanked members for a rewarding evening. Indeed, leadership is a multi-faceted and ever-growing concept that our members were thrilled to discuss – an inspiring evening!

Club Meeting on 5-May-2020

Tonight, we had the fourth virtual meeting via Zoom with the theme being “National Youth Week”. We had wonderful night on discussion on Youth Week, and many stories to share about between 11 of us. 


Jonathan opened the night with toast about Youth Week. He talked about the meaning of Youth Week, which is an opportunity for youths to share their ideas, passions, and concerns affecting their lives. Due to Covid 19, all the events had been modified. He also led us to think positive side is to be able to improve new skills and ideas.

Word of the night

Vicky taught us the word “culinary”, which uses in the good kitchen, also gave some examples of this word.


William shared a real story about his mum when she got lost in Auckland. Since she did not know the English language, she could only describe what she could see – the “super moon” – which only happened once over last 18 years. 

Table Topics

Clare was the Table Topics master of the night. All the questions put is into deep-thought and imagination, as we gave advice as if we were still young. The chosen members all did wonderful speeches within 1:30 minutes.

Questions like:

  • Why do you think it’s important for youth to speak up?
  • Do you think the youth of today have it easy?
  • If you could go back in time, what advice would you give your 16 year old self? 

Prepared Speeches

In the second half of the meeting, we had three speakers from various levels in Pathways. 

How I created a volunteer organization”. Johnny talked about his leadership experience by sharing his story on starting a volunteer organization. He also shared 6 aspects that he applied and become a great leader.

“Office work and Spinal Health”. Mel did a very interesting and knowledgeable speech about how we could injure ourselves by incorrect sitting posture and how to correct it. Mel played the role of health consultant, and Clare was the client.

Do you laugh?” William’s speech had a great sense of humor. He shared how he used positive thinking to resolve problems in his personal life. He reminded us to laugh whenever we face a hard time – “Laughter is medicine for our life. We should turn our problems into humour. Then our sadness to laughter. Then we will all live longer and happier.”


Everyone enjoyed tonight, and we are all getting used to the virtual meeting. Looking forward seeing each other again in two weeks’ time. 

Club Meeting on 21-Apr-2020

Tonight we had our third virtual meeting via Zoom, with the theme of the night being ‘World Earth Day.’ We had an attendance of 18 people, including our long-time member Shirley Childs and area director Ashwani Mangla.


Helena gave a toast regarding the theme of Earth day, and explained the importance of being mindful and cherishing our natural environment. It was an emotional and touching toast.

Word of the night

Raj introduced us to the word ‘macrocosm’, which was defined as the whole of a complex structure.


Aanchal shared a humourous anecdote about the times her name was mispronounced. She has been called an angel, an uncle and achee! (sorry I sneezed while typing this)

Table Topics

Jonathan was the table topics master for the night, and he centred his questions around the theme.

Some of his questions included:

  • What is something easy you could do tomorrow to start helping the environment?
  • Would you rather live without a car or without paper for the rest of your life?
  • Do you think it is your responsibility to care about the environment?

The members who were chosen answered these questions very creatively and it got everyone thinking about their role in helping save the earth!

Prepared Speeches

For the 2nd half of the night, there were 3 speakers for the prepared speeches portion.

My 3 tests during self isolation – Helena’s speech was a candid and humourous insight into the struggles a mother can experience during self isolation. Helena’s soft but expressive style of speaking kept us engaged and we all were able to identify with aspects of her tests.

Know yourself – Clare’s speech topic was about her explanation of enneagrams, and her objective was to be able to respond effectively to disruptive audience members during her speech.  There were several different distractions, including audience member’s interrupting and even a rogue screen-share, but nothing phased Clare and she completed her objective smoothly.

Habit change/life change – Alicia explained to us about the process of building habits and the impact’s it can have on one’s life. She spoke about her own personal weight-loss journey that ended up not only transforming her weight but also transforming into a 2nd career. Alicia then spoke about how the pandemic had improved her habits of cooking and childcare.


All in all, it was a very enjoyable meeting with great interjections from Shirley during the course of the night, advising us on Earth Day and reminding us to do our part for the environment!