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.

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.

The Winning Formula for Success

Matt Anderson

As evolution in nature tells us, variation and feedback is the winning formula for success. We’ve created another unique, memorable and productive Toastmasters night. I love how every meeting is different… pushing us slightly outside our comfort zone… and giving us immediate feedback… so we’re able to evolve into a better version of ourselves.

If this is something you want to experience, let us know and we’ll invite you to an upcoming meeting.

INVITE ME

Breaking Boundaries

As Johnny Manolelis said, real leaders don’t need to use force. They lead with their powerful presence, which pulls you in, instead of pushing you. They break and change the rules of the game.

But leadership starts with yourself. We are the CEO of our own lives. We have habits… which are part of the “primitive mind” as Mel Colgar calls it. When the habits no longer serve us, we need to change our habits, which in turn, change who we are… or do we need to change who we are, to change our habits? Who is controlling you… your primitive mind, or your executive mind?

When we join Toastmasters, it’s usually because we want to break the habits and rules that we’ve placed on ourselves. And that’s what three people recently did. They broke their own rules and decided to join our Toastmasters club.

Please welcome our newest members, Eran Halevi, Jenny Li and Matt Anderson! We’re glad to have you as part of our family, and we look forward to working with you on your journey of personal and professional growth.

The Icebreaker

The Icebreaker is the first speech you deliver as a new member of Toastmasters. I loved Matt Anderson’s Icebreaker, titled “Being Prepared”. Very humorous and plenty of golden advice.

Here’s a shorterned version of his speech:

I live, breathe and studied motor sport (car racing). A fundamental principle that is vital to motor sport is preparation, often referred to as the 5 P’s: Prior Preparation Prevents Poor Performance. The sport is very competitive, and small differences often decides who is the winner. Not only that, you’re putting the driver’s safety on the line, and small differences can also lead to catastrophic events.

When it comes to public speaking, we’ve all had our share of “I wish I could have done different…” moments.

I was invited to give a best man speech to at least a hundred people. I was honored, but also experienced lots of pressure and anxiety on the special day. It was all I could think about on the day.

The Father of the Groom delivered an absolute cracker of a speech. Then my turn… I had one shot… one opportunity.

My predicament is best paraphrased by 90’s Philosopher, Eminem… “He’s nervous, but on the surface he look’s calm and ready… His palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy.”

My speech went “okay”. But I knew that I definitely needed to improve.

Fast-forward to today, I’m about to get married to my fiancé. That’s great… because now I have to deliver a speech at the wedding!

And here’s why Toastmasters is key. It helps me develop skills for the big day; reduce my anxiety when I’m about to deliver a speech; and gives me the opportunity to practice, so it becomes automatic, and allows me to enjoy my day.

I also enjoy the journey of preparation. That’s what life is about… enjoying the moment.

While I’m focused on one major event, it’s also developing skills which are useful in many other areas of life.

For example, during the weekend, I had a mic unexpectedly shoved under my nose. I was being interviewed for my views on a sporting event. Thankfully, I had just joined Toastmasters and I recalled my experience with Table Topics where I was given plenty of feedback on how to improve. It was what got me through the interview.

It’s like athletes (like Usain Bolt) always say… “The race is won before you step on the track”. When you step onto the track, you’re just claiming the prize. Whoever did the most preparation and training wins.

The Speakers

Aside from the Icebreaker, we had four other speeches. Mel talked about dieting and how it’s harder than it seems. Clare talked about the good old days which is actually now. Johnny and Jagath gave two very different angles on leadership.

“What Type of Leader Are You?”. That was the question that Johnny wanted us to contemplate. “Do you lead with power, or do you lead with force?” Johnny saw two types of leaders. He used to be in the army, where the leader was in reality a follower of rules,  and they would raise their voice to ensure everyone followed those rules as well.

Johnny concluded his speech asking the audience to do one thing. Think of that little rule… and try to break that rule.

Johnny Manolelis

Christopher Tso delivered an educational workshop on Pathways, which is an education program designed to help you build the competencies you need to communicate and lead.

Every speaker was evaluated, and received plenty of useful tips on how to make their speech more effective. And every evaluator was evaluated by a general evaluator. As one visitor commented in awe, “it’s like the hunter being hunted”.

Mark Paton

Want to know how you can be part of this amazing experience? Visit us at an upcoming meeting or contact us for more information.

CONTACT US

Table Topics Contest on 11th September

“If you could go back in time and change one thing, what would that be?” This was the question asked to each of our 7 contestants. Each contestant was escorted onto the stage, without knowing what question they would be asked. And they had to give a 1-2 minute speech about it. That’s exactly what Table Topics trains us to do. To handle unexpected situations. To be ready to speak about anything without warning.

All the contestants gave unique and well-constructed speeches. They were scored by six judges. And based on set criteria, the winners of the Table Topics Contest were announced:

1st place: Christopher Tso
2nd place: Rowlanda Orchiston
3rd place: Vicky Mina

After the contest section, we were back to our usual club meeting format.

The 1st speaker, Rowlanda impressed us again practicing her humorous speech “Got a Match?”. We gave her a “round-robin” evaluation where the audience gave plenty of valuable feedback for Rowlanda to enhance her speech. The feedback given sometimes conflicted with the feedback from another audience member, and it could have easily spiralled into a debate. That’s how passionate and engaged everyone was with Rowlanda’s second delivery of her winning speech.

The 2nd speaker, Hannah Le inspired us with her 10th and final speech in the Competent Communicator manual. It touched on an important issue in our society, where women’s voices are often marginalised in the workplace. She offered suggestions on what to do about it, and shared her own experiences on how she turned the odds into her favour. Ross Richard evaluated her speech, and he shared his observations on how Hannah has grown remarkably since she joined Toastmasters in late 2016. She’s a very different person now… much more confident and outgoing. A complete transformation also shared by other members of WPH Toastmasters.


Photo: Hannah on stage


Photo: View from the stage

Humorous Speech Contest on 28th September

speech-contestants

“There was movement at the station, word had got around”…to enjoy ourselves, laugh, and spill laughter everywhere. It worked. Everything seemed funny, even though it was a freezing night.

Vicky’s speech about “Three Things You Didn’t Know About Me” were delivered with bounce, and we discovered Vicky to be a hidden artist. Her best punchline came naturally after it was all over, and the Presenter was “interviewing” her: “I once designed t-shirts, and several people at the school fete asked me for plain ones”!!!

Hannah amused us with tales about her four year old and toilet antics. Dad was the preferred assistant in the business of toileting, and Mum had to beat a retreat! Some might have been wondering how a bright little girl would handle Toastmasters, were she invited. She would deliver a smart broadside, and level us all out! Mmmm! We all know children have it all over us for honest uncontrived humour.

Christopher spoke knowledgeably about computer science, how so many are beating a path to a career in that field, and that not all is glossy and wonderful. Being an engineer and starting a billion $ tech company may seem hot stuff, but you need to have much much more than just programming skills. Sacrifices are the nuts and bolts, AND hiring good people. He amused us with his poker-faced delivery, on a subject he knows, inside out, delivering the punchline that: “programming is addictive; the best programmers have mental disorders, and you probably won’t become a billionaire.” A salutary warning that needs to be aired, to all those wanabe IT-hungry-for-career young people out there. One had the feeling he was saying: “get out and smell the roses – breathe!”

Rowlanda’s winning speech was entitled: “Got a Match?” which involved switching characters and personalities. From a young hip JB Hi-Fi Executive to Russian cigar-smoking Matchmaker, we were amused to see clothing thrown off, as “Yentl” walked in. She issued forth all her skills as a matchmaker to the room in heavy Russian accent, while puffing on cigar during pauses in her narrative. The message: try something different, as a way of finding your mate, and ditch on-line dating! Yentl’s way is better…come and see me for an interview!

And the winners are…
1st place: Rowlanda Orchiston
2nd place: Christopher Tso

Club Meeting on August 14th

It is always a bright moment when the room fills up, camaraderie begins, and something new is in the air. As the theme was “Charlie Chaplin”, (very old) and someone was dressed as the much loved comic, it became the question: will his famous antics permeate the meeting in 2018?

Table Topics

And so, in the one minute impromptu section, the Table Topics Master stood up with her cane, bowler and in white face, to introduce the questions. All were centred around inventions being used at the time of Charlie’s booming film career. Some were obscure, never heard of, and strangely phrased! But at least it got people into the mindset of the 1920’s. A black and white photo of Charlie in repose presided over the meeting, his sleeping form surrounded by a bevy of beautiful girls, decked out in evening flapper dress.

Speeches

Then the Toastmaster of Speeches, Hannah Le, introduced the speakers.

First up to speak was Faye Tang. She always manages to keep peoples’ attention because of her stance, words and message. Her subject was education, and how fortunate she feels to have come to Australia where the whole thrust in instruction is for children to enjoy learning, rather than the pressure-cooker methods used back where she grew up, in China. Deep was her feeling for this topic, and this came across strongly.


Photo during Faye Tang’s speeech

The second speaker was Mel Colgar, who had everyone straightening up in their seats as she spoke about posture. Being a passionate physiotherapist, this message is a pressing one, as we sit for much longer than our parents and grandparents did, with resulting bad posture, lots of backaches, and risks to our health. Being well reminded, we became pinned to an imaginary board strapped to our backs (a visual image of a room full of Toastmasters in strait-jackets is a comic one, ha ha!).

Christopher Tso addressed us, with his customary dry wit, on the subject of running a business, and the pitfalls that crop up in communication. As always there was plenty of content that was interesting, even for people not in the business world, and it set the scene for how commerce is conducted in a hi-tec world.

Then Johnny Manolelis spoke, on a subject he too was passionate about. He startled us with a surprise “hook” to get our attention, a feigned negative, then switched it to talk about the need for kindness in the world. The mantra: “change the way you look at things and the things you look at change” was what we went away with, and this is an arresting message, to keep ringing in one’s head. Best to write it on the ‘fridge’ where it can be seen when taking out the milk (of human kindness, if you’ll forgive the pun).

Closing

One of the attentive visitors that night joined the others in agreeing it was an enjoyable and very educational night. And this person with the “pen” would rather be learning at Toastmasters than sitting in front of the “box” on a Tuesday night!

Discord – Online Group Chat for Toastmasters

 

WPH Toastmasters has a private Facebook Group where members, ex-members and visitors can share ideas, guidance, tips and strategies, ask for help, and keep updated on events available to Toastmasters members. However, we soon came across on limitations with the Facebook group. While it served us well for announcements and one-off discussions, it was not effective for collaborative and ongoing discussions.

We’ve reviewed a number of apps, such as WhatsApp and Slack, and eventually decided that Discord was the best platform to use for facilitating discussions outside of club meetings. Discord was originally designed for the gaming community, but it has rapidly become popular with other communities as well.

It’s very easy to get started on Discord. It’s only a 3-step process.

You simply click on the invite link (emailed to you separately). If you’re on Android, you’ll see the Google Play Store. If you’re on iOS, Web or Desktop, the steps should be similar.

Click on “Install”.

After the install, you should see a “Welcome to Discord” screen.

Enter your username, email address and password that you want to use, then click Register.

Congratulations for making this far! You should now have access to the WPHTM Discord Chat Server. The rooms you have access to depends on whether you’re a visitor, a member or an executive. If you’re an executive, you will have access to all rooms.

So please, jump right into the conversation. This group will only be as great as our members, ex-members and future members make it.

A Toastmaster’s Experience – 31 July 2018

The Toastmasters experience could be likened to a big smorgasbord, with many different
tastes to sample and savour.  The Big Fulfilling dinner, the one that deeply satisfies, and
raises levels of awareness and self esteem, is available to everyone, no exceptions!

In a talk given by Mark Paton, he looked back at himself – April 2014 – when signing up
as a brand-new member, and marvels at the changes in himself.  He had a less than wonderful workplace experience when giving a presentation, one day, and came away from it desperate to improve himself.

Fast forward to 2018, and a different Mark.  He delivers speeches with confidence and
professionalism these days, as well as leadership roles, in a manner that others would
admire and wish to emulate.  This is a “before and after” transformation that reminds
us we can all walk those steps of the thousand mile journey, as taught so long ago by the
Chinese philosopher, Lao Tzu.  One step at a time, mindfully, with intention.

Mark challenged us all to act NOW, and not sit back, wishing and wondering the HOW?
This is sound advice.  Don’t let fear steal your personal power.  The second of his three
points for success is: choosing friends wisely will determine what you become.  Be careful
who you let into your close circle.

And thirdly, “the art of communication is the language of leadership”; this tool opens many,
many doors, beyond your wildest imaginings (unquote).  To paraphrase Mark: “put in the
effort, learn from others (people, after all, are like books) while changing yourself from
within.  Our human potential, simply put, is deep like a bottomless lake!

World Emoji Day on 17 July 2018

What a sizzling emoji meeting! We set the highest level of camaraderie, good content, harmony, and just unequalled quality of everything going on the programme. This is the kind of meeting to dream up and create.

We all went home on Cloud Effervescence. I had never experienced anything like it, and couldn’t get to sleep.

Humour levels went through the mercury; the walls shook with booming male laughter, while the ladies raised the roof with their own reaction to the hilarity. Our Word of the Night was “interesting”, and so it was.

Our visitors were many; eight as I recall, and for those who had never been to a Toastmasters’ meeting they were wooed to think about joining, on the first night. Everyone contributed; no-one sat as a wallflower. The upbeat nature of the pace and programme just swept everyone into an “all -in- common” basket of riotous colour.

The Toast for World Emoji Day

Christopher Tso delivered a Toast for World Emoji Day.

Remember when the Internet was invented? We used to have a dialup modem. A modem speaks data over a channel that’s designed to carry the human voice. The whistling sound you hear in the modem is actually the modem asking the modem on the side, “can you hear me?” And the other replies, “I heard you.” Back and forth until they’ve found a frequency range that is able to transmit data. It wasn’t surprising that the Internet was slow. It was the early days of the Internet.

In fact, phone companies in those days would attempt to ban the use of modems on their network. They said, “why do you need to transmit voice using a modem? We already have a voice network.” And later, “why do you need to transmit video? We already have TV.”

Bill Gates, who was an early proponent for the Internet, was once ridiculed on an TV interview for believing that the Internet would change the world.

And yet, here we are today, in a very different world, because of the Internet. A world that no one expected would change so fast and become so different.

The Internet is still evolving. We now have Bitcoin and other crypto assets which are changing the world. We don’t see it yet, because we already have electronic banking, full-time corporate jobs, access to credit and other benefits in a developed society.

We don’t see why it could be any better, until it becomes better and we’re forced to adapt or fall behind the curve.

What does this have anything to do with World Emoji Day? The world doesn’t change when new technology is invented. The world changes when people use their creativity and make the technology do things that not even the inventors anticipated.

We invented emojis as a way to express our emotions over text communication. It serves as a reminder that innovation requires people to use the technology in creative ways. Without the users, there’s no value in the technology.

Table Topics

Vicky Mina hosted Table Topics, which covered everything from puppies to cats, to the role of CEO of Telstra, defending their recent embroilment in the papers, and a brand-new member spoke as Head of Optus, handling it with aplomb.

We were thrown, like a rollercoaster, onto the fast track of speaking on our feet, and being tossed the curly one. How does one handle that question! Everyone carried their role in style. One of the guests even used his ripped shoe to illustrate his dread of dogs! All good theatre.

Here’s three of the questions. Try answering them on the spot!

“You are a Telstra representative, explaining to the public about why Internet connection speeds are slow. You’re instructed not to blame the gamers as they comprise a large percentage of Telstra’s customers.”

“You are a representative for an energy company that’s under scrutiny for charging high prices to increase its profit margins. You need to justify the actions of your company to the public.”

“You’re a teacher. One of your students think they did very well in their exam, but actually didn’t. How would you explain to the student?”

Johnny Manolelis answered the last question. He came up with very humorous responses off the cuff. I wonder why he’s not a highly paid comedian (or maybe he is, but he doesn’t want us to know). Here’s two excepts of his answer that were memorable:

“I’ve sent letters to your mum and dad, and not getting responses. Do they even read English?”

“I’m going to be very kind to you. I am going to give you a mark of one for attendance.”

The Break and Into The Masterful Speeches

At the break, after some of our guests dipped into a wildly decorated cake that dazzled, with its chocolate “statement”, they began to get the feel of what makes the members of this fun-filled club tick.

Then, it was time to experience the second half. Each speech serendipitously harmonised with each other. Serious topics were handled with sensitivity and depth. The audience was touched and impressed by what each person had to say, from their deepest convictions, journeys and unique perspectives. You could hear a pin drop in that room, that night.

The One Thing

Ben-Burt Smit explained the one thing that changes everything. It can destroy governments and relationships. It can create prosperity in many dimensions. What is it?

Trust.

Trust us the foundation of leadership. Trust is like a currency. You make good decisions, you get currency. You make bad decision, you lose some currency.

He continued to explain how we can build trust.

We Are Equals

We invited Kageni Njeru to speak at our club, and Charlie Starrett to do an evaluation.

Kageni’s speech inspired us with a powerful message. Be proud of who we are, and to treat each other as equals. If you believe someone is treating you as inferior, then don’t. It’s only when you allow yourself be treated inferior that you become inferior.

Her message was delivered through a very personal story, where she experienced multiple forms of discrimination. Although she delivered in a calm manner, it got people in the audience very emotional, with some even wanting to cry.

Reflections

It is now Thursday, and I have not been able to stop thinking about that night, how it made me feel, and what magic dust must have been sprinkled on the shoulders of everyone in the room.

Can we recreate it again? Recapture the essence that was there? Yes, by jingo, we can!

Co-authored by Rowlanda Orchiston and Christopher Tso