Can’t Get No Satisfaction

A giant mouth saying um, ah, so filler wordsThe General Evaluator recently remarked on my “uhms” and “ahs” and “sos.”

Damn. Me! A Morningstar for nine years. I should know better.

I thought I had un-uhm-ed myself. I thought I had licked those waffle words right out of my mouth. But bad habits have crept back into my speechcraft. Which reminds me what Toastmasters is all about—it’s a training.

Every Wednesday morning we show up in training mode. It’s built into the ethos of the program that we can always improve. We should never allow ourselves to think we’ve mastered the art of public speaking.

To quote Mick Jagger, “I can’t get no satisfaction,” and that’s okay, even if my speech evaluations are causing me my 19th Nervous Breakdown.

Speaking of the Rolling Stones, I joined Toastmasters in part because I aspired to strut the stage like Jagger. (I’m not kidding.) It was never going to happen, of course, but speaking on a stage seemed like a do-able option. I quickly forgot about rock stardom, because the speakers I heard blew me away.

One of the biggest challenges I discovered was weeding out those weed-words. The very ones that have crept back into my presentations. It makes me wonder if I’ve been coasting on my laurels (CC. CL, ACB. ALB). Am I guilty of treating Morningstars as a social club and not the training program it’s meant to be?

Have I forgotten that improvement is the name of the game?

Come to think of it—many rock stars could benefit from a visit to Morningstars.

Rock stars are always mumbling. For the longest time I thought the Beatles were singing: “I want to hold your ham.” And the Eurhymics were saying: “Sweet dreams are made of cheese.”

And for sure Dylan’s famous song went: “The ants are my friends, they’re blowing in the wind.” And what group was it who sang: “Hey, you, get off of my cow…”?

If you see a rock star before next Wednesday, invite them to our meeting.

In the meantime, I’ll be working on un-ah-ing myself.

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And Another 20 Years Begins

38 members and former members gathered early this morning to celebrate as Morningstars Toastmasters marked 20 years as a club.

With balloons overhead and agendas and name cards for all, we began our special meeting marking 20 years.

“Kind, confident, and caring” were just three words used by a former member who joined us for the occasion. The meeting was chaired with his usual poise by PJ Reece.

PJ in his role as chair of the meeting.

“Very inspiring, filled with kindness. Loved it.” Comment from a guest.

Our Sergeant at Arms Guy Foster arrived at 5:00 am to set up the room and make a welcoming space.

“I am happy to finally get myself out of the house early enough to get to a Morningstars meeting. I had a great time, the energy was very high. Everyone was welcoming. Thank you and congratulations for your 20 years. ” Comment from a guest.

The group gathering prior to the meeting.
What’s a special meeting at Morningstars without breakfast? Including Sandy’s famous cheese scones fresh out of the oven.

Everyone at the meeting received an agenda to follow along with the different roles.

Our agenda for the meeting, thanks to our chair who made enough copies for everyone!
Our Inspirator, Frank Coldicott, who as a long time Toastmaster, gave us the historical context for Toastmasters international.
Marc in the role of Grammarian for his first time since joining.
Patricia, Distinguished Toastmaster, giving her first speech in the new Pathways Program.
Michael, our Past President, in his role as Table Topics Master, had some great questions for our impromptu table topics speeches.
Greg answering the first table topics question.

One of the greetings from a former member who was not able to attend gave us all a glimpse into how much influence TM has in peoples’s lives. Tammie, a former member who has moved out of the community, reminded us of a table topics speech she gave on the textiles of Bali. Members still remember her vivid description, and she shared with us that she has now booked a trip to Bali.

We might need a bigger room for the next party!

A former member and part of the executive team of Morningstars sent the following message.

“Congratulations you bright MorningStar‘s on this 20th year anniversary!
I wish I could be there to celebrate with you and to share in the stories of transformed lives!
The foundational leadership base in the club is unmatched… I personally owe them a mountain of gratitude for their unwavering belief that I could become all that I was created to be.
Their fundamental belief that EVERYONE, with a healthy dose of affirmation mixed with hard work, can become a better communicator and in turn influence the world around them, has made the club a smashing success!
I give a hearty hip hip hooray to the Magnificent Morningstars of the Sunshine Coast on their 20th year anniversary!
Much love and appreciation for each of you,
Sharon”

Thank you to all members, former members, and guests who made this such an exciting event as we launch into our next 20 years. 

 

 

International Speech Contest

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Speech contests play an important role in the Toastmasters educational program. They provide an opportunity for Toastmasters to gain speaking experience, as well as an opportunity for other Toastmasters to learn by observing proficient speakers.

This year our talented speech contest participants were D’Arcy, Johanna, and Michael. Congratulations!

Special thanks to Greg for stepping up as contest chair and more thanks to all the helpers that made the contest possible. You know who you are!

It’s Breakfast with Morningstars

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We were a full house this morning, complete with five guests who risked certain death to check out what might cause otherwise normal people to assemble at Harmony Hall at the crack of dawn. The answer, of course is that Morningstars meet to confront their fear of death, otherwise known as public speaking. 

And have a helluva good time in a process that never seems to end.

Start your day right was the theme for our breakfast meeting, but it’s true every week on Wednesday mornings for members of Morningstars Toastmasters Club.

The GE Maintains the High Watch

As the General Evaluator of the meeting, I’m meant to keep my eyes and ears open in aid of presenting an end-of-meeting report. The G.E. is generally expected to evaluate those presenters who haven’t so far haven’t received feedback. But I prefer to comment on the big picture, to assess the success of the meeting as a whole. What are we doing right, and how can we pull up our socks?

I like this role because it obliges me to view the proceedings with a soft focus. Someday I might attend with eyes shut entirely. And why not? I know artists who insist they see better in the dark.

Here’s my impressionistic recall of this morning’s Open House Breakfast Meeting:

GUESTS! We love guests!

With guests in the room, presenters are mindful to explain their roles. Guests bring fresh energy. Members are on their best behaviour, making an extra effort to be at the top of their game. I suppose that watching the meeting through the eyes of our guests might make us extra conscious.

THE TOASTMASTER, Captain of the Ship

With a packed room, commanding everyone’s attention is a challenge, and I thought Sandy Wrightman did a masterful job. When someone entered after the meeting had begun, I watched Sandy successfully incorporate the hiccup into her banter, and I knew we were in good hands for the next hour and fifteen minutes.

SPEAKERS

It’s a joy to see how members have grown into confident speakers. And it doesn’t happen overnight or even a year. It takes years for the confidence to quietly build, as it has for Sheila Cameron who kicked off the meeting with her “Inspiration” for the theme, and her toast to Starting the Day Right With Self Care. Thank you, Sheila, you are an inspiration.

And thank you, Merrilee MacGregor, for a speech that taught us how to psych our way around/through/past the growing number of con artists in our midst. You’ve come a long way in a short time as a Morningstar.

And kudos to Michael Worsfold for a speech on mentorship. Personal stories never fail to make a memorable speech, and Mike showed us how with his memories of being mentored through his first few years in Toastmasters.

BEHAVING MINDFULLY

It’s a good feeling, hanging out in the presence of people who have the courage to confront their fears. Nowhere more obvious than during Table Topics. When I watch an impromptu speaker accept the challenge, it’s vicarious excitement for me, too. It proves beyond a doubt that the reason we show up every Wednesday morning is to grow.

MORNINGSTARS IS A TRAINING

This morning’s meeting, that’s what it felt like to me, like a training. With eyes half-closed, I could feel the sincerity of members showing up to continue the training. Many of us have been members for years, and we’re still learning.

SEE YOU NEXT WEEK!

The Extravaganza

Its amazing what you can achieve when you have a great Area Director and a great team.

The Area 73 Extravaganza went off without a hitch, thanks to the efforts of Area Director Debra Taylor and her team, Johanna Rzepa, Maureen Mcbeath, Kim Hart, William Baker. Special thanks to Christina Bacigalupo for providing the sound, and Weegee Sachtjen for art and promotion.

It was a spectacular day with views of the North Shore mountains and across Georgia Strait to the island from the steps of the venue, the Historic Heritage Playhouse.

Things got under way when our extravagantly dressed Master of Ceremonies the great William Baker introduced Debra who explained the theme “extravaganza, extravaganza”, “Its just fun to say”, but the planners were extravagant in many ways.

Not just humorous speech’s or tall tales, but both, not just one speech and an evaluation in our evaluation workshop but 2 speech’s and two evaluations done Pathways style. An amazing workshop was facilitated by Maureen McBeath.

Thoughtful, educational, supportive feedback was given by Dawn Miller evaluating Shawna van Poppelen with her hot topic speech that really spoke to anyone serious about the environment.

Next was an extravagant lunch with homemade goodies provided by Johanna, with a little time for networking.

Another extravagant idea was to offer as a prize 2 chances to speak on the big stage, table topics style to any guest whose name was drawn. Great fun. Both speakers received an expert evaluation by Sandy Wrightman.

Next we heard humorous speeches from Neil Booth and Charles Jeffrey in contest style, There was plenty of laughter, so they hit the mark on humour.

Again, extravagant but both speech’s received killer evaluations by Janice Parkinson and Girije Edwards respectively.

What came next was nothing short of amazing as our three Tall Tales speakers -Bill Endert, Krystin Clark, and Haida Bolton – absolutely crushed it. We will see more from them come contest season for sure.

The team mixed it up again with a round robin style evaluation followed up with written evaluations by three talented evaluators Michael Worsfold, Haida Bolton and Krystin Clark.

We were excited to have with us Area 73 Director Debra Taylor, Division H Director Charles Jeffrey, District Public Relations Manager Neil Booth and all the way for Vancouver our District Program Quality Director Louisa Davis who treated us to an icebreaker like speech that gave us an insight into who she is, as well a look at what Toastmasters can do for you. Yes she also updated us on all that’s going on in the District.

Timing for our event was expertly choreographed by Katherine who gave a report at the end. Ben Rusuisiak offered just the right balance of encouragement and points of improvement as the General Evaluator. William Baker had the last word noting that we finished spot on time.

It was a great time, and I think Debra is already planning the next one. Thanks Debra.

A Day to Remember

Neil Booth
5 October at 07:35
Wednesday Oct 3rd, A Day to Remember.
I am always amazed to see a meeting that I had no particular expectation for end up being one of the best meetings ever. Today was that type of meeting. I have seen this before where it takes a few meetings after summer for Morningstars to hit our stride, and we are there now. If you have been waiting to start attending meetings again or for the first time, don’t wait any longer. Hang onto your hats; it’s going to be a great ride!
I arrived to a well set up meeting room, greeted by John, our Sergeant at Arms who had arrived very early to have coffee on and the room warm when the rest of us arrived.
The meeting theme was “I Crack Me Up” and Johanna, the Toastmaster, made sure everyone was going to have fun with that. The meeting kicked off with an inspiration and toast by Guy on the value of creating and following through on a bucket list. Two amazing speeches were given by two of our more experienced Toastmasters who are leading the way in our new education program. One thing we learned is that, if it is expertly done you can show a group of people home videos of your grandchildren without boring them and get some great laughs (and sound would kick it up even further). Becky was the master of table topics, kept to the theme and schooled us on the many diverse ways in addition to “crack me up” that you can use the word “crack” in a phrase. We learned from PJ that the average person laughs 300 times per day. Some seemed skeptical, but after a laugh delivered by Jokemaster Greg, we were nearing our quota before 8:30 am. Marc our first-time Quizmaster challenged our listening skills and we brought it all in on time. Wow! I loved the thoughtful evaluation of the overall meeting given by Katherine.
What made this meeting more great than other meetings? It was all the things I mentioned, and it was also the infectious enthusiasm from the moment John started the meeting with a joke while introducing our Toastmaster with her high-energy introduction of the meeting right through to the banging of the gavel to close the meeting. And what really struck me was that in a club that claps a lot was the number of times I would describe the applause as thunderous—and that the biggest applause went to our first-time guest, Lana (who only arrived in Gibsons 3 days ago), for her impromptu speech on the reverse bucket list. And the best of all was a standing ovation for an achievement by our very own Sheila for both her contribution to the community as well as showing off the skills you learn as a Toastmaster during her role moderating a recent all candidates meeting for the upcoming municipal elections.
You don’t want to miss the next meeting! Wednesday October 10 at 7am. It’s a Thanksgiving themed open house with breakfast and tall tales, and you are all invited!IMG_4948IMG_4946

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!

The Power in a Handshake

Toastmasters Handshake Meeting Protocols

If you have attended a Toastmasters meeting, you have witnessed what appears to be a “secret handshake.”  If not, it goes a bit like this:

  1. Toastmaster Chair announces a speaker.
  2. The speaker approaches the Chair, shakes hands and takes center stage.
  3. At the end, the speaker turns to the Chair.
  4. The chair approaches the speaker. The two of them shake hands and then the speaker takes their seat.

 That’s it. But the simple procedure carries more than just common courtesy. 

Why We Shake Hands
Shaking hands is how Toastmasters transfer control of the speaking space. The chair says, “The floor is yours” with the contact. At the end of the speech, the speaker transfers it back with an unspoken, “Thank you. Back to you!”  

But wait, there is more!

The handshake is a brief connection between two people that helps ground the speaker while demonstrating professionalism. 

A good handshake (hands are aligned, equal grip pressure and steady eye contact) can be empowering and reassuring to a new speaker. 

It’s a simple ritual that often gets overlooked, often at the end of the speech or role. Our thoughts are focused on the speech we just delivered, gathering our props, and enjoying our moment of “I’m done.”

Next time you step up to take center stage, take a moment to remember the power of the handshake for it is so much more than just a courtesy.

Show Your Game Face

Show Us Your Game Face Meeting Jade G
Jade G. delivers her Icebreaker (10/26/2016)

Do you wear your heart on your sleeve? Or do you wear a poker face, keeping your hand close to your chest as to avoid revealing what it is you are going through?

This week’s theme, “Show Your Game Face.” forced members to contemplate how they interact with the world around them. The truth of it is, as Frank C. pointed out in his well-delivered inspiration, we do both depending on our situation — or comfort level.

Our default may be to show the game face to the world. The one that demonstrates our strength or that we have it all together.  A face we want strangers to see or the one we project in new or unknown situations.

We reign in our nervousness and put on our game face  to focus on a new role or perhaps an impromptu speech that promises to stretch outside of our comfort zone, such as the debate format of the Table Topics delivered by Weegee S.

However, I think Toastmasters is showing us the benefits of opening ourselves up to the group and encouraging us to wear our hearts on our sleeve. This was demonstrated in the meeting by one of our newest members Jade G., who stood up and delivered her Icebreaker at the meeting.

It shifts our game face from one of protection to openness.

Other highlights of the meeting:

The meeting itself was well crafted thanks to the man at the helm, Neil B. — who celebrated his 60th birthday with us at the lectern!

Patricia H. delivered a masterpiece speech evaluation for Jade that touched upon the heart of the speech — to be happy.

William B. demonstrated his quick impromptu speech skills with an extended evaluation of Table Topics — paying keen attention to detail and offering suggestions for all participants.

The role of Timer was handled by Judy L., who kept us on time but went with the flow as changes occurred throughout the meeting.

Our intrepid Quizmaster, Ben R. demonstrated his listening skills and even stumped the entire group once or twice!

Jokemaster was played by John G. and it was perfect for Halloween — involving the FBI and bodies in the backyard.

Sheila C. was the General Evaluator and she wrapped up the meeting with a nice bow!

Announcements:

Our VP of Education will start adding themes for the next year. If there is one you are particularly partial to or would like to see added, please contact Neil B.