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


“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.


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).


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 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.


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

Life Changes

A Life of Independence

“Independence” was the theme of our club meeting on 3rd July. We celebrate national independence. But what about individual independence? As individuals, are you truly independent? Do you have the freedom to pursue a life on your own terms? Are you free to do what matters to you the most? Or are your actions being dictated by some external pressure? The pressure of appearing successful. The pressure of money. The pressure of keeping the status quo.

Life’s Analogy

Jason Xu shared his story about his life, and how its evolved over the years. What’s a good analogy of your life? The cup is your life, or your time. Inside the cup, there are things that fill up your life. The disc is yourself. The balls are your family and friends. The stones, which are small but many, are your jobs. This is a good analogy, because if you’ve used up all your space for your jobs, you won’t have space for family and friends, or even yourself. You will always have space for a job, and jobs are easily replaced. It’s difficult to replace yourself and those you love.

The Catalyst for Change

It was 3 years ago, in Beijing, when Jason realised that he needed to change his life.

“I was not happy with my life. I was fully occupied with my work, which left no space or time for my family.”

“In the past 30 years, China’s economy grew so quickly that everyone, including me, worked hard to chase success. I was a senior leader in a hi-tech company, with a work schedule that went 9am to 9pm, 6 days per week.”

“Every evening, when I returned home, I was so tired… I couldn’t even speak one word with my wife… and my kids were already asleep.”

“Sunday was the only day I was with my family. But even though physically I was with my family, mentally I was absorbed with my work and couldn’t enjoy family time. I just kept working. I was not happy with my life. I didn’t know why, or what I really wanted.”

“Finally, on a Sunday morning in July 2015, I had enough. We had to change. We made one of the biggest decisions in our life. My wife, my children and I flew from Beijing to Melbourne and started our new life.”

Starting a New Life

The new environment wasn’t without challenges.

“As a result of our decision, I lost my job. It was the first time we were without income. We met crisis in our marriage as well. I remember sending out my resumes without a single response. I remember walking back and forth between ALDI and Coles just so we could buy cheaper items. I still remember those sleepness nights, when we kept arguing whether it was the right decision to give up everything and start from scratch again.”

If you remember the anology in the beginning, when one door closes, another opens. That is exactly the time to change yourself.

“I began to take a rest and seek the answer. I kept knocking on doors, and eventually the right door opened. I got a new job, and became busier with my work. But this time, I was happy. I understood that the most important thing in life was the people around me.”

Sharing our Life Journey

Jason’s life journey resembles the journey that we all experience. There are many things that you can do with your life. And we realise that we can’t do everything we want. We’ve all had to make difficult decisions and big sacrifices.

One day we’re happy, and the next day we wake up, depressed, thinking, “The future isn’t as bright as it used to be. What should I be doing with my life that will make me happy?” Then when we make a big decision that changes our life, we question whether we made the right decision.

Life is complex, and no one except you can tell you what you should do with your life.

Jason had an inspiring story and a well-crafted presentation that capitivated the audience. If you’d like more life-changing stories, or want to share your own story with a live audience and change your own life, you’re welcome to attend our Toastmasters meetings as a visitor.

p.s. here’s a photo of Jason demonstrating the analogy with his cup and container of stones and balls. You can also see how we’ve set up the stage at Beecroft Uniting Church, which was a special venue we hired for two meetings.

President’s Distinguished – 10/10 Goals

WPH Toastmasters once again achieved the highest recognition for success. We achieved 10 of 10 DCP goals, earning us President’s Distinguished status.

We thank the current executive for making 2017/18 year a success.

President – Mark Paton
VP of Education – Christopher Tso
VP of Membership & VP of Public Relations – Mel Colgar
Secretary – Jussine Tan
Treasurer – Hannah Le
Sergeant at Arms – Rowlanda Orchiston
Immediate Past President – Rowan Kunz
Club Mentor – Shirley Childs

Also, we thank all our members for creating such an enjoyable learning environment, and inspiring others with their rapid personal growth during the year.

We’re positive that the new executive will build on this year’s foundation and 2018/19 will be a truly transformational year for our club.

How to Deliver Effective Speech Evaluations in 3 Minutes

Why do you need to learn to evaluate a speech presentation? As leaders, we often need to provide honest feedback to others so that they can improve. Evaluating others helps us develop analytical skills, empathy and self-awareness. It also helps us, as the evaluator, become better public speakers as well, because we become more aware of our own strengths and shortcomings.

On 19th June, Shirley Childs delivered a valuable workshop on how to effectively evaluate a presentation. We could see people writing notes as she had plenty of good tips.

An easy-to-remember acronym to ensure we evaluate all techniques used in a presentation is G-L-O-V-E-S.

G – Gestures

  • Were the speaker’s body movements and facial expressions appropriate?
  • Did the speaker make eye contact with the audience?
  • How well did the speaker make use of the floor space (stagecraft)?

L – Language

  • Was the language appropriate, vivid, clear and eloquent?
  • Were the words and pauses used effectively?

O – Organisation

  • Were the transitions between introduction, body and conclusion clear and
  • Was the purpose of the speech clear? Was the structure clear and easy to follow?

V – Voice

  • Could everyone in the audience hear the speaker?
  • Was there vocal variety? Change in rate, volume and pitch?

E – Enthusiasm / Emotion / Energy

  • Did the speaker show enthusiasm for the topic?
  • Did the speaker harness any nervous energy?
  • Did the speaker project or evoke appropriate emotion? How?

S – Special

  • Was there an X factor or a WOW factor to blow you off. Leave this till last as it will uplift the audience in a huge way and put everyone in a positve mood.

Shirley has kindly shared her framework which she and many experienced evaluators and public speakers use. You can download the accompanying notes for her workshop,

Club Meeting on 8th May 2018 – Elections

The theme for tonight’s meeting was “Elections”, because we were holding an election of the new club executive for 2018/19. The election was a success, and the new executive below will takeover from 1st July 2018.

President – Christopher Tso
VP of Education – Hannah Le
VP of Membership – Johnny Manolelis
VP of Public Relations – Rowlanda Orchiston
Secretary – Mark Paton
Treasurer – Jason Xu
Sergeant at Arms – Vicky Mina
Immediate Past President – Mark Paton

We had 5 visitors, 2 from Parramatta Toastmasters who helped us run the elections, and the other 3 were potential members.

Hannah put us on the spot with Table Topics, with each speaker trying to explain themselves out of a political scandal.

For the speeches, we had Mark facilitating a debate on the topic “when should children move out”, Johnny teaching us 6 principles on how to sell, and Jason revealing an often neglected truth about Australia’s history.

For the Word of the Night, Chris chose the word “Discord”. As well as the dictionary definitions, a Google search reveals it’s also a social networking and chat platform.

Thanks everyone for keeping the club so positive and enriching. We’re looking forward to an even better year in 2018/19.