Club Meeting on 30-Jun-2020

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

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

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

Executive Changeover

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

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

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

Table Topics

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

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

Prepared Speeches

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

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

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

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

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


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

Co-authored by Christopher Tso

Club Meeting on 16-Jun-2020

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


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

Word of the night

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


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

Evaluation workshop

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

Prepared Speeches

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

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

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

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


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

Club Meeting on 2-Jun-2020

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


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

Word of the night

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


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

Table Topics

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

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

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

Prepared Speeches

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Club Meeting on 19-May-2020

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


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

Word of the Night

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


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

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

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


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

Prepared Speeches

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

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

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

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


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

Club Meeting on 5-May-2020

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


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

Word of the night

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


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

Table Topics

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

Questions like:

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

Prepared Speeches

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

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

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

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


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

Club Meeting on 21-Apr-2020

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


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

Word of the night

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


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

Table Topics

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

Some of his questions included:

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

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

Prepared Speeches

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

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

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

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


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

Club Meeting on 7-Apr-2020

Tonight, we had the second virtual meeting via Zoom with a contemporary theme – World Health Day. We had an amazing attendance of 17 people, including one visitor brought by our new member, Jonathan.


At the beginning of the meeting, Molly made a very touching and uplifting toast to health. During this incredibly difficult time, everyone seems to realise and cherish many things that we take as granted before the pandemic, for instance, health. We paid our respect to our frontline health professionals who are selflessly committed to confront the pandemic, fight the virus and save lives.

Table Topics

At the table topic section, Helena asked members to use their imagination and picture their normal but wonderful life post-Covid-19.

Questions like:

  • what holiday destination would you go after the lockdown,
  • what career choice you would like to make after the lockdown,
  • who would be your first guest to have dinner with after the lockdown.

It’s interesting but not surprising that a common element was brought among answers from various members – outdoors. Let’s embrace nature and meet our loved ones as soon as the whole virus thing is over!

Prepared Speeches

In the second half of the meeting, we enjoyed three great speeches: two icebreakers and one level 1 speech.

Our first speaker, Aanchal made her first speech “twenty-four years in six minutes” in which she talked about her childhood, her high school years, her college life and finally, her passion on public speaking.

Our second icebreaker was presented by Jonathan with the title “to what degree should a government be able to improve its will upon its citizen?!” A very controversial and deep question to ask during this pandemic era. In his speech, Jonathan discussed the differences between authoritarian vs libertarian governments. He inspired the audience to discuss which one might be a better system for pandemic control.

Andre was our last speaker of the night. In his speech, he showed everyone some beautiful photos and shared four tips on photography, namely: tools, light, direction and pose or not pose.

Happy Easter!

The night ended with warm greeting among members to each other – stay well, Happy Easter & we will “meet” in two weeks time!

Club Meeting on 10-Mar-2020

“Awesome” was the theme of tonight’s meeting. Indeed we had an awesome gathering with four visitors and our regular members.

Alicia, who was just inducted as a member, delivered her first Toast about “awesome”.

Ross taught us a very special Word of the Night “wabi sabi”, which means imperfection in Japanese.

Table Topics

During the Table Topics session, every participant was given a statement, and asked talk about why they agree with the statement in the first half of their statement, and why they disagree in the second half of their speech. Our six speakers all did interesting and inspiring short speeches within 1:30 minutes. Here were some of the questions:

  • Happiness comes from within
  • It’s better to be born as a man
  • You can achieve anything you want if you put your mind to it

Prepared Speeches

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

“Don’t talk. Just do it”. William, the speaker, represented the club in the area contest and won the first place of humorous speech few weeks ago. He practised his speech in the meeting and gathered valuable feedback from his peers and visitors which hopefully would help him make further improvement in the next round of the contest.

“Risk, Reward and Regret”. Chris, the speaker, did a spontaneous speech, but full of wisdom and humour. At the end of the speech, we all self-tested our maths levels and learnt valuable lessons on stock investment.

“Covid-19”. Mark talked about a contemporary issue, and once again, he did a wonderful job in researching, preparing and delivering his speech. We all learnt the virus “inside out” after his speech.

At the end of the meeting, our four guests made valuable comments and we sincerely hope they will come back and visit us again!

Club Meeting on 11-Feb-2020

We all gathered with anticipation for our 7:15pm start. The meeting theme was “Don’t cry over split milk”. There were many stories told on the night where people were able to look at the light side of some challenging situations.

Cherylin conducted the Table Topics Master role. Her questions focused on what you would do to deal with an unfortunate event.

Prepared Speeches

We had 2 great speeches from Chris and William.

William practiced his speech for the upcoming Area 2 International Speech Contest “How much time would you need to live peacefully. He gave an inspirational speech where the character Joyce found out from the doctor her family member had been diagnosed with cancer. William received a round robin evaluation which was facilitated by the Toastmaster Johnny. We wish William all the best in the Contest on Sunday 23rd Feb 2019 at Dundas.

Chris treated us with an ice breaker for the second prepared speech of the evening. He talked about what has happened in his life during the last 2 years since he did his last ice breaker. It’s been an eventful time for Chris getting married, changing careers and really developing as a person.

John Inglis did an education on how mind mapping can help generate ideas and structure for your speeches. We all choose a topic and wrote down the top 3 things we would discuss for the body. John then randomly picked up one out of the pile and did a 2 minute table topic on it. It was a brilliant idea and a nice change to the normal meeting agenda.


We continued our strong start to the year and another fun meeting. Looking forward to seeing everyone at the next meeting on Tues 25th Feb.

Christmas Party on 17th December 2019

We finished the year with a Christmas party. We inducted two new members, Andre and Molly. The third new member was Manisha who will be inducted next year. And a fourth member, Alicia, will be joining us next year. It’s inspiring to see people joining Toastmasters and we will be looking forward to seeing their personal transformation in the new year!

Secret Santa

During Table Topics, Ross lived up to his legend as Santa Clause. He also kept retrieving the gift from the bag that was donated by the Table Topics speaker… lucky Ross! Of course, the speaker would ask Ross to choose another gift that’s not their own.

John Inglis, Cherylin Liu and a couple of other members had full Christmas attire.


The Christmas dinner was all-you-can-eat salad, pasta, dumplings, biscuits and other savoury and meaty dishes.

Prepared Speeches

Molly delivered her Icebreaker speech. She told us her story about her life in China, how she came to Sydney, and how she met her husband through Toastmasters.

Andre delivered his Icebreaker speech as well. He talked about his family, career and hobbies, and how they’ve shaped his perspective on life.

Juergen, a verteren Toastmasters member, talked about an event last week that nearly changed his life. Fortunately, his daughter survived the incident with the fallen tree and is expected to fully recover. This was a very touching story and we were reminded how all the little choices we make can have a big impact on our lives.