Keeping Pace with the Times

Written by
Michael Worsfold, VP Education,
MorningStars Toastmasters, Gibsons, B.C.

Keeping Pace with the Times - ToastmastersToastmasters is an old and respected global brand with a new promise to help you shine and to realize your dreams as a communicator.

You might think: “Who gives toasts these days?”

A friend mine recently got the call unexpectedly. He had no time to think. It was a retirement dinner and the man who was supposed to do the job, was sick so the boss asked my friend if he would say a few words and toast the woman who was retiring.

“No” was not an option. He got through it okay, but a bit of practice beforehand would have been good.

As Warren Buffet famously said, “Your speaking ability is either an asset or a liability… that lasts a lifetime.” How many opportunities are you missing because you are avoiding speaking in public, or not doing your best when you do get the opportunity?

The basics are still very much in demand. There are many occasions where adults are asked to say a few words. Do you hide, or can you stand up and impress?

Change is the biggest factor that shapes our lives. We all have to deal with it no matter what our stage of life. Most importantly, we all need to be able to tell our story. That means we all need to constantly update our story as our lives progress. So if someone says “ Tell us about yourself”, you shine with a compelling story, instead of stumbling through a dry laundry list of what you do.

Pathways projects are designed to align with your highest communication challenges.
They can help you to clarify who you are, shape your story, design your website offer, add a
short video of you telling your story, create a blog, or start a vlog. Doing any of these things alone without training is difficult. With support, you can be there quickly and easily. You’ll wonder why it took so long.

Keeping Pace with the Times - Bragging About Granddaughter
Maybe you just want to brag about your new granddaughter!

By the way, in case you are wondering, all of this applies if you are retired. You are creating a new purpose to be useful and make a difference. Toastmasters will keep you growing and keep you young!

Toastmasters has never been more relevant, or more able to help you reach your goals.  Be our guest any Wednesday at 7 am. Find out what you’re missing.

You’ll have fun. That’s a promise!

MorningStars meets every Wednesday at Harmony Hall, Harmony Lane, Gibsons. CLICK HERE for map and details.

24 Students to Participate in Youth Leadership Program

24 students from grades 10-12 will be taking part in the 8- week Toastmasters Youth Leadership program at Elphinstone beginning January 28th this year.

Toastmasters Youth Leadership Program
Teacher Ms. Sarah Mani preps student as chair

Public speaking was introduced to the Elphi Youth Leadership Program by teacher Ms. Sarah Mani in collaboration with Morningstars Toastmaster Kay Wotton in 2012. The program has evolved over the years to allow students to polish their speaking and listening skills. Meeting weekly over eight weeks, students present two prepared speeches as well as undertaking various meeting roles including the chair, general evaluator, word master, and table topics.

Telling Your Story
Telling Your Story

A key to the success of the program lies in many students taking part during all three years they are at Elphinstone. The older students jump right into making speeches and role models for younger students allowing for seamless, interactive learning.

By noticing strengths in each other’s speeches and suggesting areas for improvement, students soon develop skills in providing positive feedback while learning how to ensure a message comes across more effectively. The Table Topics exercise during each meeting creates an opportunity for students to pull together on-the-spot responses to a current topic, thus preparing them for job interviews, impromptu meetings, and conversations.

Convincing Others
Convincing Others

Graduates of the program say it has provided them with confidence as well as effective tools in public speaking. This year, Jessica Carroll was appointed as student trustee on the SD 46 School Board while Gravity Guignard was selected as a Youth Councilor of the Town of Gibsons.

This year Toastmasters Sandy Wrightman, Darcy Davis-Case, and Kay Wotton will be assisting with the program.

2017 Tall Tales & Table Topics Contest Results!

IMG_20170920_074014532On Wednesday, Sept. 20, Morningstars held their Table Topics and Tall Tales contest at Harmony Hall in Gibsons, BC.

The contest was chaired by the charming Katherine Scott, who kept the early morning competition lively and full of energy.

Our own PJ Reece and Greg Lewis were the contenders in BOTH contests. PJ swept gold and came in first in the Table Topics AND Tall Tales, with Greg a close second in each.

IMG_20170920_081736366As with every contest, there is always a long list of people who made it happen. A special thank you to the chair, chief judge (Johanna Rzepa), the judges, timers and ballot counters.

Both PJ and Greg will advance to the Area contest on Sept. 30 at Davis Bay Hall at 6pm. Come cheer on our Morningstar superstars and meet members from other Sunshine Coast clubs!

Once again, congratulations to the contestants!

Elevate Your Evaluations

Elevate Your Toastmasters EvalutationsEvaluations. They are the strongest resource in the Toastmasters program . . . and the scariest.

Many people dread having to stand up and give an evaluation for one of their Toastmaster peers. Can you relate? They worry about “pointing out what is wrong” or being critical of a speaker in development.

Others feel like they lack the speaking experience to offer helpful, encouraging or supportive in evaluations.

I understand both the fear of being critical and second guessing your speaking experience — for I have been there. But I want to offer you a different perspective.  Let’s start with . . . .

Why We Evaluate
The purpose of evaluations is to help fellow members become better speakers and leaders. Everyone has different reasons for wanting to enhance their public speaking skills. Perhaps you are shy and want to connect one-on-one with members of the community. Perhaps you are looking to take your new product or idea to a wider audience. Whatever the reasons, member want two things:

1) To improve their speaking skills
2) To know how to improve

Cue evaluations.

Evaluations help to highlight the speaker’s strengths and areas where they could expand, grow or develop. Evaluations are a source of information that the speaker processes and uses to build their next speech. It is how we improve. It is not “being critical” but looking for the one tip, gem, that will help their next speech.

Evaluations are helpful, supportive and encouraging. They are the evaluators opinion — which means everyone can offer their perspective regarding of their Toastmasters experience.

With the club Evaluations Contest coming up on March 29, here are a few tips from the Successful Communication Series Workbook to elevate your next speech evaluation:

1) Show you care: let the speaker know your opinions are coming from a positive place meant to lift them up and encourage them.

2) Match your evaluation to the speaker: Where is the speaker in the Toastmasters program? How is their confidence? Insecurity? Offer up a suggestion that fits their level without being a jump out of their comfort zone.

3) Be specific and use examples: Praise and suggestions are more meaningful when given specific information and examples. This helps the speaker to connect your evaluation content to the content of their speech.

4) Be authentic in your comments and feedback. Honesty helps to promote self-esteem and help the speaker learn. Honesty is the most valuable element you can insert into your evaluation.

The best evaluations come from your unique perspective. They offer honest feedback (positive and suggestions).

Happy evaluating!

International Speech and Evaluation Contest (Club Level)

Speech contests are a Toastmasters tradition. Each year thousands of Toastmasters around the world compete in two annual competitions.

On March 29, Morningstars Toastmasters will hold their club level competition for International Speech and Evaluation Contest. This special event will be held during our regular meeting time (7am – 8:30am) at Harmony Hall and chaired by our VP of Membership, Michael Worsfold.

Winners from the club contests will continue to compete through the area, division and district levels. The International competition has two additional levels — semifinal and the World Championship of Public Speaking.

Evaluation Contest
Contestants observe a five-to seven-minute test speech and then present a two-to three-minute evaluation of the test speech. Any member in good standing (membership paid up) is eligible. Please refer to the 2016-2017 Contest Rule Book for complete details.

International Speech Contest
Contestants present a five- to seven- minute speech on any subject they choose. All districts must conduct this contest. The contest is open to members in good standing who have completed at least 6 speeches from the Competent Communicator manual. Please refer to the 2016-2017 Contest Rule Book for complete details.

Interested in participating?  Sign up as a Speaker or an evaluator in Turbobase to compete. It’s that simple! If you are interested in helping as a judge, timer or ballot counter — please contact Michael Worsfold.

We need your help to make this event a success!

 

Writing the First Page of 2017

“The last page of the leather-bound volume marked 2016 has been written, and placed upon the shelf of years-past. Now we bring down the fresh book and get our magic quills ready to start Page 1 of the next volume!”

The above quote was the last notation made by a friend of mine as 2015 rolled over into 2016.

A year later, I can’t help but recall his statement as I ponder what 2017 will hold for me.

You are the writer of your own year. You have started a new book and each day offers you a chance to further your story . . . and your personal development.

Perhaps you are like me and are looking at a blank page. Suffering from writer’s block as you try to work out the plot line for your next 365 days. Or you may have it outline, charted and ready to go long before the ball dropped this past weekend.

Either way, there is a year of discovery, characters, twists and dialogue ahead for you. A year in which you have the power to chart your own path through unknown territory, encounter new friends and develop your skills for your life long journey.

Your book starts now. I wish you the best in your upcoming story.

With that, I would also like to take a moment to remind you that Morningstars Toastmasters weekly 7am Wednesday morning meetings at Harmony Hall in Lower Gibsons resume on January 4th. See you there!

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year Toastmasters Morningstars Gibsons BC

Is There Something We Can Help You With?

Contributed by Katherine S. 

Power of Morningstars Toastmasters

This morning our Chair, Sheila Cameron, came to me and asked if there was anything she could help me with as General Evaluator, particularly in connecting with the Speech Evaluators. 

Hmmmmm, it hadn’t occurred to me to speak to them even though the General Evaluator evaluates speech evaluators. 

I promptly got to my feet and went to both speech evaluators. I asked in turn if there was anything I could do to help them in their role or anything I could watch for. 

Johanna asked me to watch for how she listened and gave positive feedback. Patricia asked me to watch to see if her evaluation was balanced between positive observation and constructive feedback. 

With both Johanna and Patricia, it was clear they’d asked the speaker they were evaluating if there was anything in particular they wanted feedback on. 

Now let’s see, the conversation went from Sheila to me to Johanna and Patricia and finally to Jade and Haida, our two speakers. Six people were involved in the chain of communication. 

As I write this, I see even more clearly than I did this morning the power of saying, “Is there something I can help you with?”

Right now mainstream media, alternative media, and social media are a-buzz with conflict. My side and your side. My skin colour and your skin colour. My gender identity and your gender identity. My opinion (I’m right!) and your opinion (you’re wrong and why can’t you see that!).

It seems to me that Toastmasters celebrates individual achievement and, at the same time, embodies the concept that we’re all in this together. I might not agree with your idea, but that doesn’t mean I can’t be friends with you. It doesn’t mean that if I oppose what you say my only response is anger.

What happened in our meeting this morning was not an event that was uncharacteristic for Morningstars. Rather, it’s the ongoing tone of our club and we are blessed that it is so.

This simple question is a model that could transform all world systems.

“Is there something I can help you with?” 

Gold Star Moment: Center Stage with 'Higher Ground'

Michael Worsfold Sings Higher GroundOur very own Michael Worsfold took center stage at his nieces wedding earlier this month to perform his song “Higher Ground” for over 100 people. In the bride’s words, he “nailed it.”

Michael said he received lots of good feedback from wedding guests, young and old. He also was able to surprise a few of his friends and family with his musical talent.

He credits his songwritng coach Lowry Olafson and his Morningstar friends for helping him to prepare to take his passion center stage.

Congratulations, Michael!

 

Ask a Morningstar: Going Off Notes?

“Do you rehearse?”
“How do you memorize your speech?”

I have had a few conversations (and overheard a few others) lately regarding the process in which one stops using notes while delivery their speeches.

In this edition of “Ask a Toastmaster,” I posed the question to the Morningstars Toastmaster to learn their secret awesome sauce for executing a 5 – 7 minute speech without notes!

Here are their responses:


An Unrehearsed Speech is More of a Road Map
It’s said that the best speech is the unrehearsed, the one where we are not confined to memorizing word for word. When you memorize you are a slave to a script. When you have a unrehearsed speech, you have a road map, of points that you want to make. And if something happens on the day, you can come of the road map and speak to it. If the audience needs a lift – you can come of the road map. It doesn’t matter if you forget something.

I have been a stickler for learning speeches word for word, and one of the things I want to get from Toastmasters is doing the unrehearsed speech. I did my first ever unrehearsed speech with my ice breaker. The gain was – that I felt so much more relaxed, and I didn’t have a stressful week leading up to it. The loss was that I didn’t mention everything I wanted to mention. But so what!
Doing an unrehearsed speech means we must know our stuff, we must know the topic inside out, otherwise we will be stumbling in the dark. So an ice breaker is a great one to begin with. Because we know our life story inside out, upside down and around the merry go round. — Vimalasara M.

Memorization is Key for Writer
I am a writer, and I am aspiring to be able to speak about my writing. So I write first. I write the whole thing. I read it aloud and change it several times. And when I think it is ready, then I start memorizing it. Pretty much word-for-word. When I practise it in a speech format, I find that there are words that need some tweaking, so I re-memorize it.

At first I thought that memorizing would be impossible. But I was inspired by watching three women over several months as they were rehearsing for their leading parts in a stage play. I realized that if they could memorize someone else’s writing word-for-word, then I could probably learn to memorize my own writing. When I asked a fellow Toastmaster how it was that he looked so natural when speaking, he suggested that I try telling a story. We know our stories and, therefore, we don’t really need to rely on writing them down first. So for my next speech, I told a story. Of course, I already had the story written so I worked on memorizing it. It was a breakthrough speech for me.

I need a lot of time to memorize a speech. A full week is good. Due to a lack of time, I challenged myself to go off-script for parts of a few recent speeches. I found myself running back to my notes (written speech) to get back on track rather than winging it. It will take a while before I can deliver an un-memorized speech with ease, but I see it as the next stage in my development as a speaker. — Sheila C.


I’ve Used Little Notes Forever
I’m one of those who have used notes forever – sometimes a detailed script; sometimes only a few words on a small slip. When I use the former it invariably becomes a bit stilted. With a few or no notes, I do find myself in the risk of forgetting something but like an extended Table Topics, there is more of ‘me’ in the speech.

I never have been able to memorize so I do rely on my method subject to my shortcomings. I think it’s a matter of listening to examples for what you can adopt but finally finding what works for you until it’s time to try something new and change. That’s when you wade into the alligators and take another risk.

On the day, I do a little zen like relaxation breathing just before being called and then. …. I stole this. …… I “reach around and flick the switch on my back to ON”. — Frank C.


Practice Rehearsal and Imaging
Excellent question. I always write the speech out in full and initially try to memorize it word for word but then crystallize it into bullet notes which I then use to refresh my memory. Certain words or phrases are vital to remembering the next section of a speech. I’ve found that if I don’t have a good grasp of the flow of the speech and have an image in my mind of where the key phrases are, I can’t give the speech naturally and become nervous and therefore uncomfortable. The audience can sense this. Practice, rehearsal and imaging are what I rely on. — William B.


Crafting a Speech
When crafting a speech, the first thing I do is give it to an audience of one (my cat). This is unwritten, unrehearsed. It’s just me walking around the room, saying what comes to mind. I give myself time to rephrase things, back track and try again. If something was good, I make a mental note to put that in the “keep it” file.

When I have the general gist or the logical flow of my speech, I write it down. It also helps with timing. For my 5-7 minute speeches, I keep the word count around 800. If it is a speech with high emotional content or visual aids, I aim for 550 words.

I then print out the speech. I read through it a couple of times, fold the paper in half and put it in my Toastmaster manual. I don’t look at it again. I go back to my audience of one (that darn cat!) and practice my thoughts this time with a timer, trying to get them narrowed down to the 5 to 7 minute range.

Every time I practice the speech, it changes a bit. I’m okay with that. It’s not perfect. I’m okay with that. It’s Weegee. And I’m okay with that. — Weegee S.

Toastmaster Tips: Replacing the "Um" & "Like" in Speeches

“She was like . . . And I was like . . . But we were all . . . Um . . . ” These were the highlights of an overhead conversation between two twenty-somethings on a bus. By the time we reached their stop, the amount of “ums” and “likes” each had uttered was staggering . . . triple digits.

Filler words. They are something I wouldn’t have noticed in other people’s speech prior to Toastmasters. The reason? I am a closet filler user.  Typically, it only comes out when I visit my mom and sister, but every once in a while my dependency on the useless words creep into my speeches.

Why Do We Use Fillers?
Steven D. Cohen, an award-winning speaker who leads career and academic workshops on public speaking at Harvard Extension School, believes we have been conditioned to answer questions immediately from an early age. We feel the urge to speak when spoken to.

Filler words are commonly used when we begin talking and as a transition between ideas. According to Seth Godin, it’s our way to “keep making sounds in order to keep your turn as the speaker.” Or so that the other person won’t jump in the moment you pause. It’s a way of keeping the floor.

At least it explains why I use it comes out with gusto around my talkative family members.

How Do We Replace the “Um” and “Like”?
1) Remind yourself that the person you are talking to (or the audience) isn’t waiting to steal the microphone from you. You have the floor.
2) When practicing your speech, talk as slowly as you need to. When transitioning ideas or verbally considering your next word — PAUSE. THINK. PROCEED.
3) Eventually, your speech will get faster . . . minus the ums.

Note that we aren’t “replacing” the fillers with alternate words but adding silence to your dialogue or speech. Oddly the way to move your speech forward is by not saying a word.

Resources: