142 Countries – One Awesome Experience

Submitted by Neil B.

What’s so great about a convention?

I don’t know if there is one word, one thing or one event that made it “great” . . . it was the entire experience. One that will linger long after the final ferry took me home.

My six days in a row of Toastmasters started two days before the convention with a spectacular sunrise and a ride on the 6:20 ferry from the Sunshine Coast to Horseshoe Bay. What a beautiful part of the world we call home.

I was greeted on the steps of the convention center by a Helping Hands Volunteer and from that moment on I was welcomed “in the club”.

I was a Helping Hands Volunteer and by working early I had the whole convention off. Great right? Well I watched how much fun and comradery there was going on and kind of wished I had worked more during the events.

For most of the convention goers the First Timers Reception is where the real convention started. Don’t imagine mingling and hors d’oeuvres, think 800 people hosted by Toastmaster CEO, Danial Rex working the crowd, Table Topics style. It was a great way to break the ice and learn about fellow Toastmasters.

The opening ceremonies were, for me, one of the best parts. I was surprised at how the powerful Flag Ceremony. 142 Toastmaster flags were carried in by members, many in traditional dress. It felt like you were a part of something really good and big. Toastmasters was bigger than my little part of the world and I felt like I was part of a bigger community.

Throughout the week there were endless workshops, Keynotes, and contest speakers. There were more than 100 competitors, but because three contests ran simultaneously, you could only see about one third of them. I watched 31 speech’s in one day, all better than any I had heard before.

And then the Finals. Wow. You had to be there to feel the impact.

The week wrapped up with the Business Meeting, an interesting part of the process. And then the big party. The Presidents Inauguration Celebrations. I can’t say how that went, I was Toastmastered out. B.C. Ferries, take me home.

 

 

And the winner is . . . ME!

Toastmasters International Convention 2017 VancouverSubmitted by Sheila C.

I was so excited to learn that the 86th Annual Toastmasters International Convention would be in Vancouver, BC in 2017, and I looked forward to the event all year. By the time it actually rolled around, I admit I was feeling a little weary of Toastmasters. I’d had a big year already serving as Area Director, achieving President’s Distinguished Area, completing a High Performance Leadership Project that included co-sponsoring a new club, and completing the DTM award — all of which culminated at the end of June.

Continue reading “And the winner is . . . ME!”

Hidden Benefit of Club Mentoring

Become a Club Mentor in ToastmastersWhen I joined Toastmasters, I had a specific reason. I often felt like the little kid at the adult table. I felt awkward and out of place. I laughed at the wrong times. My contributions to the conversation was unrelated. I felt under education, out classed and . . . uncomfortable.

I joined Toastmasters to gain the confidence to not only sit at the adult table — but feel like I belonged there.

Continue reading “Hidden Benefit of Club Mentoring”

Morningstar Moments: Leveling Up Communication Skills in the Checkout Lane

Toastmasters Level Up Communication Skills Morningstars

For some, it is nailing the number 10 speech from the Competant Communicator. For others, it is taking the stage at the World Championship of Pubic Speaking. And many are just looking to further their day to day communication skills for workplace advancement.

When I first joined Morningstars Toastmasters, the VP of Membership asked me why I was joining. I didn’t have lofty aspirations. I didn’t see myself taking part in contests or holding workshops.

My goal or Toastmaster “why” was a simple one — connect with people.

Continue reading “Morningstar Moments: Leveling Up Communication Skills in the Checkout Lane”

The Tricks to Table Topics

Toastmasters Table Topics TricksTable Topics is a long-standing Toastmasters tradition intended to help members develop their ability to organize their thoughts quickly and respond to an impromptu question or topic.

On Sept. 20, Morningstars Toastmasters Club will put the impromptu speaking skills of its members to the test with the Table Topics contest. To help you take your next Table Topics speech to the next level, contest or not, here are a couple of tips!

1) Own the Question
Whether it is in competition or during your regularly scheduled meeting, focus not on your thoughts but the question. Think, believe, that this question is YOUR QUESTION. The one specifically meant for you. This focuses your thoughts on what the speaker is saying . . . and not the panic-filled thoughts going through your head.

2) Breathe
Doing something that your body does naturally gives you time to calm your nerves and think about what it is you want to say. Also, taking a moment to ground yourself helps to ease the tension in your body and mind.

3) Go With First Instinct
Often times, our minds sift through a stack of ideas, vetoing this one or that as not being the ideal one. Go with the gut. Take the first thing that pops into your mind and run with it. There was a reason it jumped up and said, “Pick me.”

4) Pick Your Premise
This is when you seize your idea and make your statement. Form your opinion and share it with others. “My favourite holiday is . . . ” This gives your mini speech the beginning foundation and something to build upon.

5) Add Structure
Insert a structure into your speech that will help bridge the gaps between thoughts. Whether it is pros vs cons or three main points, this will help to elaborate your premise.

My favorite is the “Six Honest Serving Men” from Kipling’s poem:

I keep six honest serving-men
(They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who.
I send them over land and sea,
I send them east and west;
But after they have worked for me,
I give them all a rest.

Answering the “What, Why, When, How, Where and Who” in my story help to trigger ideas of discussion that lead to a roughed out speech.

6) Share What You Know
Put a bit of you into each mini speech. Share your favourite quote, anecdote, view or experience. Pick something that helps to illustrate the topic and drive home your point.

7) Know When to Say When
Often times in Table Topics, we start off slow and then gather steam as our minds warm to the ideas running full speed through our heads. But knowing when to pull the brakes, summarize and take a seat helps to end your speech with punch.

Now is the time to put your Table Topics speaking to the test! Table Topics will beo ne of the fall contests held at Morningstars Toastmasters meeting on Wed., Sept.20 at 7am at Harmony Hall.

To sign-up to compete or to help with the contest, please contact our VP of Education, Neil Booth.

Grow Your Speaking Skills with Tall Tales Contest

Tall Tales Competition Morningstars September 20This Fall, Morningstars Toastmasters club will be holding a Tall Tall and Table Topics competition at Harmony Hall at 7 am on September 20, 2017, as part of the fall contests for Toastmasters.

Tall tales? What’s a tall tale contest? Why do we have them?

Glad you asked!

The Tall Tales contest was developed to help Toastmasters with one of the most important aspects of public speaking: storytelling.

Storytelling helps the speaker connect with the audience. By focusing on what makes a great story, how to enhance your story and ways to deliver a compelling story,  the contest helps competitors take their public speaking skills to a new level.

In short, the contest is a way for you to further presentation and speech development skills by creating a speech with exaggerated details.

While the story development is important, it is the delivery that makes up the majority of the judging points (55%). This includes vocal variety, body gestures, pausing and facial expressions.

A couple of rules and regulations you should know before entering the Tall Tales competition this fall:

  • 3 – 5 minutes in length (disqualification occurs at less than 2:30 or over 5:30)
  • Content is selected and written by the participant
  • Subject must contain exaggerated elements, hyperbole
  • Speech must have a theme or plot (no one liners or monologue)

For complete details on the contest, please consult the 2017 – 2018 Rulebook by clicking here. 

Interested in participating in the Tall Tale Contest on Sept. 20? Let our VP of Education (Neil B.) know. Want to chair the contest? Also, let Neil B. know about your interest!

Pump Up the Volume to Eliminate 'Ums & Ahs'

Speak Louder to Eliminate filler WordsAll public speakers struggle at one time or another with “fillers.” The “ums” and “ahs” pop up unexpectedly in our tales, stories, and demonstrations.

The most common advice speakers in training receive are to pause – let the words come to you mentally without reaching for fillers. But what if the cure was the opposite?

In “Do You Talk Funny?: 7 Comedy Habits to Become a Better (and Funnier) Public Speaker“, author David Nihill offers a suggestion for how to erase the “ah,” “eh,” and “buts” in your next speech. His suggestion: speak up.

“By speaking as little as 20 percent louder than normal, you will reduce the number of filler words you tend to use.” According to Nihill, it is harder to say the “ehs” and “ahs” at a pumped up volume.

While it may feel strange at first, but the higher-than-normal voice will seem normal to your audience. It may even enhance your audience’s ability to hear and understand you.

Next time you take center stage at work or in a Toastmaster’s meeting, pump up the volume and see how many filler words pop into your presentation.

Let us know if it works for you!

Happy speaking!

 

My Secret (Public) Speaking Sauce

Public Speaking Secret Sauce to Calming Nerves“What’s the best public speaking advice you have to offer?”

One of the District 96 Toastmasters I follow on Facebook posted the above question. I didn’t have to think long before the answer popped into my mind.

I’m going to share my secret public speaking sauce with you; the ritual that plays out in my mind before I take the stage to deliver a speech at our Toastmasters club. Ready for it?

I call my mother.

No, not really, but in my mind as part of a mental ritual to calm my nerves, focus my thoughts and connect with my awaiting audience.

Here’s the ritual in full:

1) When the chair calls upon the evaluator to share my speech objectives, I mentally envision myself dialing my mother’s cell phone digits.

2) The chair then reads my introduction, I imagine the phone ringing in my ear, waiting to connect me to my mother.

3) “Please welcome, Weegee Sachtjen.” As the chair calls my name and I walk on the stage, I can hear my mother’s voice, “Well, hello!” She has caller ID, and I can hear the surprise and excitement of the unexpected call from her eldest daughter in her voice.

4) During those few seconds that I take a deep breath and make my initial eye contact with the crowd, I can hear myself say, “Mom, so glad you answered, have I got a story for you!”

5) And I start my speech.

My husband inspired this simple ritual. He heard a practice version of a speech that I wasn’t “feeling.” The speech ticked off the “must haves,” such as gestures and vocal variety. However, it lacked my usual “rompish” touch.

“Tell it like you would tell your mom.”

The stories I tell my mom are nothing short of Tall Tales taken to the nth degree. My family has a flair for the dramatic and embellishments. However, it is also how I connect. It shows my vulnerable and authentic self.

In short, my mom hears all the tabloid stories of my life.

Why this is my best public speaking advice:

1) Speaking Rituals Help Calm Speaking Nerves
Creating a ritual can help ease you over the anxiety threshold that builds up as we prepare to take the stage. A ritual is the shortcut speakers use to fast track their ability to shift into speaker mode. It is a series of thoughts, motions and breathing techniques that help us transition into our speaker stance and confidence. Many speakers refer to “turning on” or “flipping a switch.”

2) A Room Full of Friends Beats A Room Full of Naked People
“Imagine the audience is naked.” Who wants to think of colleagues, coworkers, and clients naked? What if you felt like you were sharing a story, idea or thoughts with your mom, siblings, best friend or partner? It’s a bit more calming and a lot less awkward the next day.

3) We Are Most Vulnerable When We Feel Safe
We share our hearts, struggles, challenges, and triumphs with people who make us feel safe and connected. Imagining that you are talking to best friends or your mom allows your nerves to make the jump that the audience is safe and connected.

4) They Want to Hear Your Story and See You Succeed
Who are your cheerleaders? The ones who want to see you succeed? Who can you say anything too? Your audience. Your audience is on your side. Thinking of them as someone close to you reminds you of this important fact. Yes, it’s a fact.

Maybe calling your mom doesn’t work for you. Experiment with your speaking ritual. Find your own shortcut.

Now, if you will excuse me, I have a phone call to finish.

 

___________________________

Submitted by Weegee Sachtjen

 

 

 

 

It's Time to Celebrate!

The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.
— Oprah Winfrey

Celebrate_Small

It’s been a wonderful year of club growth and personal development. A year of stepping outside our comfort zones and stretching to meet new challenges.

And it is time we celebrated our efforts.

Weegee Sachtjen will chair the last meeting of the 2016-2017 season on June 28. At this brew ha-ha, we will celebrate our club, the members and our own personal achievements. Some highlights include a special awards presentation by Neil Booth and a look back over the year with Johanna Rzepa.

To prepare for the meeting, think about what it is you are most proud of this year. Perhaps it was a speech before the club or a challenge you met head on in your personal life. Be prepared to share your accomplishment in the meeting’s round robin Table Topics!

Stop worrying about the potholes in the road and celebrate the journey.
— Fitzhugh Mullan

Let’s celebrate!

Date: Wednesday, June 28
Time: 7am
Location: 686 Harmony Lane, Harmony Hall

Taking On the Role of Timer

Role of Timer - ToastmastersA hallmark of effective speakers is the ability to express themselves within a specific amount of time. Members rely on the timer to pace speeches and practice adhering to a time frame. The timer is also responsible for tracking every part of the meeting agenda.

The timer’s role is fundamental to the success of every meeting. However, keeping a meeting on time is a shared responsibility between all members of the club. The timer is merely the reference point for the person speaking to know how long they have been talking.

Below are a few tips for the next time you take on the role of timer:

Before The Meeting

  • Confirm the time allotted to each prepared speech with all speakers.
  • Ask speakers for any unique timing cues (especially speeches from advanced manuals that may have multiple parts)
  • Write your explanation of timing in the clearest possible language and rehearse it. For the benefit of guests and new members, be sure to emphasize timing rules and how timing signals are given

Upon Arrival at the Meeting

  • Check that the timing equipment is working properly and that you are comfortable with its use
  • Double check timing on the agenda, in case there were changes for time

During the Meeting

  • When introduced, explain the timing rules and demonstrate the signal device.
  • Signal speakers as to the timing of their speeches and roles
  • Record each members time they used to complete their speeches and roles
  • Give times at the end of the meeting

After the Meeting

  • Return the timing equipment to the sergeant at arms.

The importance of reporting the time aloud to everyone, especially to the speakers, is to allow the Toastmasters a chance to realize how much time they actually spent on the stage – which can be either longer or, shorter than what they expected when preparing/rehearsing their speeches.

Ready to take on timer? Sign up today!