Tonight was “Hat” night. It meant that all meeting roles were randomly drawn out of a hat, with the exception of prepared speeches. We didn’t know who was chairman, or who was the toastmaster hosting the speeches, or who were the evaluators. Some of the new members were thrust into a role they never did before, and it was a good way to try something new without the pressure of being perfect.
We gave a Toast to “Just Do It”. That was just what we needed to hear from Ross Richard.
The Word of the Night was “Bravo”, presented by Johnny Manolelis. The word has origins in the Greek vocabulary as well, and it means “well done”. He encouraged all the members to use the word during the meeting.
The Laughmaster by Ross Richard included an “Irish Lobsters” joke. When Ross gave us the punch line with the constable delivering the great news about the missing wife, we were laughing intensely.
The Table Topics session challenged us with thought-provoking questions about life.
When was the last time you tried something new?
What do you love and what are you doing about it?
What life lesson did you learn the hard way?
Which is worse, failing or never trying?
What gets you most excited about life?
“Collecting Brilliant Ideas” was a facilitated discussion based on research done by Cherilyn Liu for her university.
“A Toastmaster’s Experience” by Johnny Manolelis was another facilitated discussion about how Toastmasters can help you achieve your goals in life.
Tonight, we celebrated the current year and inducted the new executive for 2019-20.
Shirley Childs conducted the induction of the new executive, and asked each club officer to commit to fulfilling their responsibilities to the best of their ability.
2018-19 Year in Review
Christopher Tso was the outgoing President and delivered a speech to review the 2018-19 year. He thanked all the members for creating such a friendly, fun and engaging environment that has continually attracted visitors to come back for more. He also thanked the outgoing executive for their hard work and members who stepped up into the new executive for 2019-20.
2019-20 Club Plan
Clare Fraga was the incoming President and delivered her 2019-20 club plan. It was an uplifting and comprehensive plan. She detailed why we come to Toastmasters – because it’s a place where we can find our voice and grow as a leader and as a person, and also a place where we have fun and make friends. She plans to build on the great work of the existing leadership and maintain our status as a Distinguished Toastmasters Club where members reach their goals and enjoy the supportive and fun culture of the club.
It was not all about business though. We had three speeches delivered by experienced members.
“Prepare for a Job Interview” – Christopher Tso performed a role play where he was a candidate being interviewed by an employer. The exact questions were not known in advance, but the interviewer had a list of questions to choose from to and come up with her own. Christopher answered all the questions without hesitation.
“Wedding Speech” – William Leong also did a role play with the audience where he delivered a speech at his sister-in-law’s wedding. He shared his childhood memories of her sister, and used lots of humour especially on how the husband of his sister-in-law can deal with her loving personality.
“How to become a Distinguished Club” – Johnny Manololis delivered a presentation to educate the members on what is a Distinguished Club and how to become one. It was very timely especially with the new executive now planning for another successful year for our club.
Hello Winter was the meeting theme, as we recently experienced the transition into cold, rainy and windy weather. The Word of the Night was “Reliable”. Perhaps people are less reliable during Winter, just like the weather.
Table Topics provided an opportunity to delve into some insights and attitudes relating to winter:
What could we learn from hibernating bears?
Why is a cold shower the best routine to start a winter morning?
What it’s like to experiencing a real Russian winter?
How do you to tell your romantic interest that you don’t know how to ski?
… and how great are flannelette sheets?!
Race of the Machines, Matt Anderson
Matt provided an insight into a new initiative, in which computer software replaces racing car drivers. However, why should the world care about robots racing each other? Motor sport has been a proving ground for road-car technology and it’s only a matter of time that autonomous vehicles are integrated into our society.
How Far Is It, Ross Richard
Ross explained with visuals about how distance is all relative. He used plenty of examples to illustrate this concept. Travelling to Broken Hill from his home was 208 hours of walking versus 11.5 hours of driving at 100 km/hr. Travelling to the moon by foot would take longer than your lifetime, but driving there would take half a year. The size of the Earth would be smaller than a pea if the Sun was reduced to palm size.
Networking for Better Customer Service, Jagath
Jagath shared his experience of attending a professional networking event. The event was well organised, as attendees with similar interests and industry expertise were grouped into the same table, and each table was asked to speak about a subject. Jagath made good use of the event by introducing himself to others, explaining why he came to the event and what he was looking to get out of the event. This allowed him to build valuable connections.
You Don’t Know Squat, Christopher Tso
Christopher spoke about his journey into improving his physical fitness, and what he learned along the way. Previously his main exercise was running, and last year decided to do strength training instead, which involved whole body exercises with weights, and controlling his diet. He also taught his parents how to squat, starting with using a chair, then adding weights, and eventually removing the chair. The squat is usually a good exercise to start with even for beginners.
New Member Induction
Johnny inducted two new members to a club. Simon West is a new member, and Veronica Bowden is a returning member. Both members are looking to understand why public speaking can be considered an irrational fear and look forward to learning new skills.
Shirley Childs gave a toast to the club officers stepping down and the future club officers for 2019-2020. We were reminded that serving as a club officer was a voluntary unpaid activity, which is why it’s important to recognise and support our club officers.
“Zeal” was the Word of the Night, presented by Clare Fraga.
Johnny Manolelis forced us to think not only on our feet, but to think big, with his impromptu questions.
Tell your secret. How do you get your hands on 3 billion dollars net worth?
You are the CEO of Coca Cola. Explain how you will increase your turnover by 100 percent in the next 2 years?
You own 48 million dollars in new lottery created. You need to spend it in one week. What’s your action plan?
Hospital Waiting Rooms, Vicky Mina
Vicky recounted an amusing story about getting blu-tack stuck in one of her ears, which totally blocked her hearing in that ear. She went to the hospital, believing that it would be a quick fix. T incident went much longer than expected, but it was fixed in the end and Vicky learnt to be more careful with using blu-tack as her ear plugs.
What I learned about my son’s violin, Helena Zhang
Helena explained the benefits of learning a musical instrument, such as improving your concentration and math skills, and reducing anxiety and stress. She used her son’s violin lessons as an example. Initially, her son was interested with violin, but later wanted to give up because of the steep learning curve. But once the initial learning curve is overcome, Helena believes that her son will appreciate the beauty of the musical instrument.
Interview practice run, Jagath Peiris
Jagath delivered an job interview role play, where he was a job candidate and an audience member was the interviewer. The interview questions included “how your experience relates to this position”, “what are your strengths”, and “tell me a difficult situation in your career and how you managed it”.
Will You Marry Me? Christopher Tso
Christopher presented a marriage proposal to his girlfriend. This was also a role play with an audience member, who volunteered to be the girlfriend listening to his proposal. Christopher reminisced how he met Molly, and the conflicts they had to deal with early in the relationship. The conflicts actually made the bond much stronger between them. And they were now at a stage where they both trust, understand and appreciate each other so much that it feels like they’re married already, even though it’s not on paper yet.
Helena Zhang provided our Toast by referring to peace. She was inspired by a recent trip to Japan where she got in touch with some of her family history. Reflecting on what war has cost Japan and the rest of the world, perhaps war is the greatest madness?
The word of the night was presented by Mark Paton – “Indispensable”. He took a humorous approach to referring to certain club members as indispensable.
Clare Fraga introduced us to a naughty pet parrot. The owner of the parrot soon grew tired of the parrot’s behaviour and eventually reached a point of frustration, by throwing the parrot in the freezer! Surprisingly, the parrot was extremely apologetic, promising never to act out of line again. Just to not end up like the frozen chicken.
The Value of Building High Esteem – Johnny Manolelis
“How many of you believe in yourself?” Johnny hypothesised that low self-esteem could be the root to many problems. Using the example of the Golden Buddha which emerged from clay, he provided an informative summary of self esteem. With practical tips, Johhny challenged the room to make improvements to their own self-esteem.
Don’t talk, Just do it! – William Leong
Whilst never knowing how to play music, William has always appreciated. When the opportunity arose, he requested his children to learn instruments. William demonstrated he was a fierce, yet passionate father in his request. But he soon learned that his kids could teach him to follow his own advice as they coerced him into learning the saxophone himself. No excuses allowed.
Social Anxiety – Mel Colgar
Mel reflected an anxiety that many of us have experience before, i.e. navigating the awkward world of professional networking events. For something that can generate so many benefits in our social and professional lives, why do we avoid it? She provided some useful tactics to assist with the challenge, including; having a target, taking the leap, valuing the other person’s insights, and how to contact them later. Mel hopes to provide an update on how she progresses in achieving her professional goals.
Club Executive Elections
We elected the new club executive for 2019/20. The election was a success, and the new executive below will takeover from 1st July 2019.
President – Clare Fraga VP of Education – Vicky Mina VP of Membership – Johnny Manolelis VP of Public Relations – Matthew Anderson Secretary – Christopher Tso Treasurer – Helena Zhang Sergeant at Arms – Mark Paton Immediate Past President – Christopher Tso
Johnny welcomed the Toastmasters and guests to the meeting. He continued with a sincere toast, focussed on Gallipoli, given the upcoming occasion to commemorate the ANZACs. When you imagine what the soldiers experienced, it was clear that there is respect for someone who fights for their country.
Clare provided the Word of the Night as “Commemorate”.
Benjamin challenged the room to consider, “why should we still commemorate ANZAC day, given the significant loss experienced by our Nation?”
Some great points were offered including;
So many people went to war and they fought for our freedoms that we have today.
We should learn from the lessons of the past
The fighting was one of the early challenges faced within our history and thus Australians forged an identity amongst other nations.
It serves as a tribute for those that serve including latter conflicts and common wars.
In one instance the date was unintentionally one member’s wedding anniversary which results in their mixed feelings about the date.
Vicky provided light relief to the meeting, in which she recounted a trip to the hospital over the busy Easter period. When a small particle was trapped in her ear, she was advised to endure time spent in the waiting room. Vicky managed to see the light-side of her embarrassment when she realised the low-severity of issue compared to her fellow patients.
Evaluation Educational Workshop
Shirley provided her expertise on how to deliver a highly effective evaluation of fellow toastmasters. Vital to toastmaster meetings, evaluations help both the speaker and audience to improve their skills.
A few points to consider include;
Organise the evaluation to include a introduction, body and conclusion
Focus on what technique the speaker used, why it was used and how it affects the speech
Categorise observed techniques into the positive or negative effects on the speech.
The last point should highlight the most effective technique that the speaker used to finish on a ‘wow factor’.
A handle acronym to remember techniques is ‘GLOVES’ which stands for; Gesture, Language, Organisation, Vocal variety, Energy and Special.
Don’t Give Up On Your Dreams
Mark Paton gave an inspirational speech about determination in achieving your dreams. He told us a story about two people, John and Scott, who had a very different attitude towards life. The story proved how life is 10 percent of what happens to you, and 90 percent is how you react to it. They both had to deal with a challenge, and ended up with very different results.
John was a victim of a car accident and had to go at least six months of rehabilitation. The doctor said he could no longer continue to work as an electrician and enjoy rugby. John had to pay for his living expenses and so he took on administration work which he hated, but he continued to do. Despite all his challenges, his determination lead him to a full recovery and he returned to his passion as an electrician and rugby player.
Scott was a high achiever at school and university. He was known to be so smart that he hardly studied and was able to achieve high grades. Then midway through his 2nd year, he failed an exam, and decided to quit the university. Instead of dealing with the challenge of increasing his grades, he gave up.
You are Hacked
Benjamin Zhu explained how supercomputers are being used to influence our decisions without our knowledge. He told us about what computers can do right now. A smart microwave knows what time you have your meal, what emotions you’re having while you’re having a meal, and who is having a meal with you. YouTube was able to get his son hooked for 2 hours by recommending one video after another based the algorithms understanding of his son’s viewing behaviour. We now computers connected to special cameras that can measure your stress levels by looking at your eyes.
With all the personal information we give out over time and in real time, supercomputers will know us better than ourselves. If not already, supercomputers will be used to gain the upper-hand in political negotiations and to influence public opinion.
Ben suggested ways that we can protect our brains from being “hacked” by the computer, such as better education.
The Greatest Good
Clare Fraga gave a speech about her time as a protege, and how her mentor helped her through turbulent times.
“What is a mentor? How does it differ from a coach?” A mentor is someone who is someone you trust, is experienced, usually in life, etc. A coach is someone who helps you developing yourself when building a skill, such as a soccer coach, etc. A mentor is a trusted counsellor. The relationship is built on trust.
Clare met her mentor, Anton, when she was moved into a new role in another company as a result of a corporate restructure. Clare had doubts about her ability to perform her new role and preferred her previous role, but her mentor changed her perspective. Anton helped her see opportunities that aligned with her long term goals, and challenged her insecurities by having faith in her potential. She was also touched by Anton’s personal struggles before he had reached his level of success, and they remained friends for many years.
“The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches but to reveal to him his own.” – Benjamin Disraeli
Co-authored by Matthew Anderson and Christopher Tso
The theme of the meeting was “Mind, Body and Spirit” since World Health Day was just a few days earlier.
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.
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?
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?
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.
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?!
“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”.
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!
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.
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.
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?
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.
“Reach for the Stars” was the theme of the meeting, which prompted many interesting ideas from various speakers.
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.
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 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.
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.
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