Club Meeting on 12 May 2019

Madness

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.

Laughmaster

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

Club Meeting on 23-Apr

Shirley Childs’ educational on speech evaluations

ANZAC Day

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”.

Table Topics

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.

Laughmaster

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

Benjamin Zhu’s speech “You are Hacked”

Co-authored by Matthew Anderson and Christopher Tso

Club Meeting on 26 Feb 2019

Inducting our new member – Benjamin

“Reach for the Stars” was the theme of the meeting, which prompted many interesting ideas from various speakers.

Toast

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.

Laughmaster

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

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.

The Icebreaker

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.

Area 2 International Speech and Evaluation Contest 2019

West Pennant Hills Toastmasters is hosted the Area 2 International Speech and Evaluation Contest on the 17th February 2019 at the Cherrybrook Community and Culture Centre – Redgum Hall.

Here are the contest winners:

International Speech Contest:
1st – Tom Ware
2nd – Johnny Manolelis
3rd – Leanne Varga

Evaluation Contest:
1st – Sakeena De Souza
2nd – Corinne Baird
3rd – Sophie Pang

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.