Club Meeting on 12 Feb 2019

The meeting opened with Shirley Childs as Chairman. We welcomed eight guests who arrived. After an action packed meeting, we inducted our newest member, John Inglis (pictured).

Toast

TO TOAST EMERGENCY SERVICES WHOSE WORK IS OFTEN UNSEEN AND TAKEN FOR GRANTED – front line brave people – Hills has highest number of volunteers from one area in Australia – in time of emergency – fire, flood, high winds, they are there.

Word of the Night

The word of Salubrious, used by many speakers afterwards.

Table Topics

Vicky Mina hosted the Table Topics session, explaining to visitors how making short speeches to answer an impromptu question is a great preparation for the real thing – thinking on your feet, while having a structure with a beginning, middle and end.

Some of her questions related to Valentines Day. Other questions were general. Visitors who participated spoke confidently.

Speeches

“Getting over the Hump”, Mel Colgar – speaking about public speaking as a constant labour of love – practise practise practise, speaking to oneself, the chair, the whoever will listen, even if they run away… keep practising. It improves your confidence, which imparts confidence to the audience. She used personal stories and humour.

“You’re So South African”, Clare Fraga – What is this, why does her boss keep saying this? Clare developed talk around speaking styles, and talked about the style of Donald Trump versus Barak Obama. What are the four styles: analytical, direct, etc. South Africans, like Australians, tend to be very direct, conversational style, structured, engaging hand gestures that kept us following intently.

“Going Forward”, Johnny Manolelis – He talked about mentoring, and the importance of asking for someone’s opinion. In the beginning, he would adopt a similar style to Julius Caesar, who was quoted as saying, “I came, I saw, I conquered”. He thought he knew how to give talks, until he learned wisdom and realised how little he knew!

“Sweet and Sour”, Rowlanda Orchiston – She shared a surprising true story about an expensive grand piano ending up in a rubbish dump (the sour) that ended up repaired and restored to the Cable Beach Resort.

Club Meeting on 29 Jan 2019

The meeting was well attended for the theme night: “Australia Day”, and there were eight visitors. It was an enthusiastic gathering, with all guests expressing their interest in how Toastmasters works as an organisation. They noted both the formality, in the way of the running of the agenda, yet also the freedom of expression, humour and friendliness of the members.

Assignments

Our Toast carried the theme of how we need to change ourselves within, rather than change the date, as has been reflected in the media of late. In a country of the future, where there is more acceptance and humanity, we would be forever changed. Our society would progress and reclaim its energy (paraphrasing the words of the father of Australian music, the late Peter Sculthorpe.

The Word of the Night was a super duper: SUPERCALIFRAGILISTICEXPIALIDOCIOUS… Try saying that quickly! Our new member, Rachael Lin, who was inducted last night, produced this excellent word, and explained its meaning and character, as a song in the original “Mary Poppins” musical. It was used, with delight, by several speakers who followed her.

Prepared Speeches

Our four speakers had prepared their speeches with great attention to content and delivery.

First up was Vicky Mina, who spoke about New Year’s Resolutions, and the technique used to ensure there is only one goal at a time, in focus, which makes achieving it far more reachable.

Second was Jagath Peiris, whose content covered the importance of the mentor in the life and progress of a public speaker. He gave personal examples, and spoke about a friend who had made a big difference in his quest to improve his delivery.

Shirley Childs, whose experience over many years, of mentoring others effectively, through giving a vast number of speeches herself, gave us a word, not as long as the above SUPER PLUS, but a soft Latin derivation, ‘spirare’, which means “to breathe”. This topic was well researched, informing us that our ability to mindfully breathe in and out, choosing to put attention on the breath of life as a means to bring peace and calm to our speaking delivery, but also to our everyday life.

Finally, Johnny Manolelis chose his arresting moment, using a hand of bananas to illustrate an important point. The bananas were there to describe a lightbulb moment he had had while observing quick witted chimpanzees in Taronga Zoo, who used a different way of peeling their fruit. He realised this moment was telling him we can change the way we think, and inject positivity and better outcomes into our lives. “Inspired to Change By a Chimpanzee” brought home to us the message that was also a theme given throughout the evening by several speakers.

Conclusion

With so many new visitors and members, the meeting set a good and optimistic tone for the beginning of 2019.

International Speech Contest on 15th January

This meeting was our International Speech Contest, where each contestant delivered a prepared speech that was 5-7 minutes on a topic of their choosing and was inspirational.

Johnny came 1st place and will be representing our club in the Area 2 contest held on February 17th.

1st place: Johnny Manolelis – “Inspired by a Banana”

“If you change the way you look at things, then the things you look at change”. Johnny brilliantly demonstrated his message by peeling a banana, not the clumsy way that most people do, but the easy way that monkeys do.

He recounted the journey of his life, the struggles he encountered, and how he used his imagination to attract an abundance of good luck into his life and make his dreams come true. To quote Albert Einstein, “Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere”.

2nd place: Mel Colgar – “Communicate Different”

Mel reflected on her childhood. She vividly described the thoughts in her mind when she was a little girl. School became her favourite thing. But the world was still a terrifying place for her. She realised that she needed to work on her weaknesses to overcome her fears. Her message to us was: “challenge your own weaknesses”.

3rd place: Christopher Tso – “The Third Law”

Christopher explained how we can use Newton’s Third Law, ” For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction”, so that instead of us chasing after success, we create an environment where success easily comes to us. Willpower is not enough. We need to be adaptable. And sometimes when we stop looking and do something different, we find what we were looking for.

contest-chairman-winners-area-director
The contest chairman, 3 contestants, and Area Director.

Table Topics

We had less contestants than expected, so Johnny used the spare time to host the Table Topics session. Johnny wrote a word on a piece of paper that no one else could see. The word is an object that the audience must guess correctly, so that they win a prize. Each audience member needed to speak about the object for 1 minute. Johnny started it off by explaining how he would carry the object into his room, change the settings and how he loved his lamb.

We had members guessing the object was pandora’s box, a box to keep food inside, an oven, a microwave… but no one guessed it was a Toaster until the very end!

Christmas Party and Final Meeting for 2018

In a different setting our club organised an end-of-year celebration of a year of notable growth, welcomed visitors and enjoyed each other’s company, surrounded by decorations and balloons, to brighten up the large space. There was good camaraderie during the evening, and our visitors relaxed, along with members, as the evening unfolded. Johnny Manolelis took the role of Chairman, conveying a chirpy mood, as we admired the Christmas tree and listened to a soundtrack prelude of “Beatles Baroque”.

The Prepared Speeches

First up were the two speakers, who were well prepared.

Our first speaker, Rachael Lin, amazed us with a poignant Icebreaker speech about her experiences living in Australia, having left China twenty years previously. She described her 2018 year as being a watershed in her life, and one fraught with drama and problems. She shared it openly and with candour, the enormous challenges of starting a business selling pianos in Parramatta, after abandoning a concert pianist path, coupled with personal issues taking up a great deal of her time.

The second speaker, Michael Fong, gave us a bird’s eye view of early married life and the amusing events that shaped the first year, following the wedding. He took us on a romp through the disasters that happened, as events and disguises obscured communication between his wife and himself.

The two speeches were a good scene-setter for kicking off the second half.

The Potluck Dinner

We ate a Christmas feast, welcomed friends who’d shown up to celebrate, and shared some of our favourite dishes.

Santa’s Table Topics

The mood was upbeat as we gathered around Santa (Ross Richards in daggy Santa Aussie clothing – thongs, shorts and tinsel – just what makes Ross comfortable!) to share in Table Topics. As the gifts were given out to each of us, we unwrapped the package, and were asked to speak about the gift and what we would do with it. Although this did not prompt a great flow of words, as a present-receiving exercise, we enjoyed it and the comedy of “what should I do with it?” Maybe next year we will have to report back on what we ate, (chocolates), played with, used, maybe hid in a cupboard, or jigsawed!!

Club Meeting on 4 Dec 2018

Human was the theme for our meeting. And it was the most human meeting we’ve had. We laughed. Made mistakes. And surprised ourselves with our spontaneous creativity.

We had Table Topics in the first half of the meeting. This was where Johnny Manolelis gave each speaker an opinion, and the speaker had to speak in favour of the opinion for 30 seconds, and against the opinion for the remaining 30 seconds. And Johnny would clap at the 30 second mark to make this clear. For example, questions asked were “It’s very important to be right”, “Men are more important than women”, and “You are the wisest person on the planet”. We had surprising well thought out responses, considering it can be challenging to deliver an impromptu speech and completely change your mind midway.

Then we had three prepared speakers in the second half of the meeting.

Your Communication Style

The first speaker, Jagath Peiris personalised his talk in an open and revealing way. And his self honesty and analysis of how he gives direction and support to his work team was disarming and engaging.

He covered the points for successful communication, speaking about being direct, goal oriented and inclusive in the way he approaches his relationships. Being decisive, and yet not overly pushy, has enabled him to build excellent bonds with colleagues, family and friends. He spoke about how he has learned to empower others, building trust and respect. He acknowledged the changes that have come to him through his personal development in Toastmasters.

Your Leadership Style

The second speaker, Mel Colgar, delivered a creative and fluidly paced presentation, posing such questions as: “can I lead teams that are different, and think differently from the way I do?”, asking herself what is her style, and acknowledging the need to adapt to the team that you are leading, instead of being dictatorial and having impossible expectations. She suggested changing one’s style from day to day, if necessary, for harmony and personal growth.

Making a Difference

Our third speaker was Clare Fraga, who shared her passionate research on CLIMATE CHANGE. She opened with some hard-hitting facts, such as the heating of the planet to alarming levels over the last 35 years, the greenhouse gases from industry, extreme weather conditions, and melting ice caps.

All facts we have heard before, but because it was delivered in an uncompromising style, well-researched and balanced, we “caught” the message, receiving the call to make our voices heard and draw attention to the greatest crisis facing mankind. She concluded with the thought that we can make a difference, as long as we believe it is possible. Certainly, being mindful of our footprint, particularly in Australia, which is fourth on the list of the world’s biggest polluters.

Club Meeting on 20 Nov 2018 – Evaluation Contest

This was our evaluation contest, held yearly at club level, and enables Toastmasters members to refine their skills as evaluators. A good evaluator gives feedback that helps others grow, and this requires good listening skills, analytical thinking, and empathy. It’s an important skill in leadership and all aspects of life.

The Test Speaker

The evening began with the test speaker, Allan Lawson, who is a member from another club, and was not known ahead of time. He came well prepared, with props that promised to make the sounds of clashing wire, suggestive of his intriguing topic: “The Conspiracy Theory”.

He led us to think his message might be about the Moon Landing Conspiracy Theory, for instance, but took a completely different, and humorous turn. He introduced his idea: that wire coathangers are taking over in the market place over the known, loved and more clothes-friendly wooden coathangers.

We were treated to his amusing slant on why wire coathangers are so loathesome; they are assembling en masse in our wardrobes, and are taking over! He could have been talking about an army of wire aliens, and we were intrigued by this novel and creative way of presenting such an idea. The authentic bandage on his forehead made it appear as though they had leapt out and attacked him.

The Evaluators

The competitors were: Clare Fraga, Johnny Manolelis, Mel Colgar, Ross Richard, and Jagath Peris.

Here are the results. Congratulations to our winners. The 1st place winner will represent our club at Area level in February 2019.
1st place: Clare Fraga
2nd place: Jagath Peiris
3rd place: Mel Colgar

Prepared Speeches

In the second half of the evening, Jenny Li lead off with her Icebreaker speech. Her title, “Misfortune generates happiness and happiness breeds misfortune” immediately intrigued us, as conundrums always do. Especially when it’s an ancient saying. Jenny covered this idea by sharing a number of anecodotes and glimpses of her personal life. Take for example, very fortunate lottery winners who, unfortunately often go broke not long after. The lesson was clear. “Happiness does not depend on what happens outside of you but on what happens inside of you”.

The second prepared speech was Rowlanda’s topic: “Keep it Simple, Sweetie”. This was a very prop-oriented and visual talk, explaining that her Parisian handbag, although beautiful on the outside, with its iconic design, posed a problem for locating items, as the lining is black, causing everything to sink to the bottom and hide! Two-sided caricatures were used, and these enabled the audience to connect the message with the imagery.

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.

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