The Gift You Bring to Toastmasters Meetings

The Gift of You

“Each of us showed up with our biggest gift and gave it to everyone.”

It was an astute observation that summed up the overall feeling of Wednesday’s Morningstars Toastmasters meeting. A casual statement that spoke about our individual strengths and how they combine to create a “glowing,” energetic meeting. But it was also a reminder of the powerful contributions everyone of us makes weekly.

Sure, we sign up for roles. We craft speeches. We focus on what it is we need to do to help the meeting run smoothly. We give attention to our words, our delivery and the finer points of what is needed to fulfill our roles. But that is such a small part of the bigger picture.

It’s easy to miss the importance that YOU bring to the meeting. Each one of us has a unique trait, quality that is a gift we bring and offer to all those in the room. For some it is their sense of humour. For others, it is their energetic spirit. Perhaps you have a commanding voice. Or an insightful perspective. Each unique trait in us adds a different splash of colour that only enhances the ambiance of Harmony Hall. The more often you share your “gift,” the brighter the picture becomes.

In short, you help to make the meetings. You help to infuse it with a special energy that carries us through for the next six days. You pump up the room. You make us smile. Make us think. Make us want to be a better speaker (or leader!). You.

The positive energy and gifted room wasn’t the only high points of this morning. Here are a few other items of note:

1) Sheila C. inducted THREE new members this morning. Welcome to Neil, Maria and Bertha! Although it was technically their “first” meeting, Bertha filled her first role as Grammarian. Neil and Maria demonstrated their impromptu speaking talents by answering Table Topics questions. Way to go, guys!

2) Katherine S. completed the last project in her Advance Communications Manual. The project, “Communicating With Video,” was a web training program and promotion for her upcoming Creativity Cafe. A home run for her . . . and for our Tech Assist (Liam B.). That’s one manual done!

3) Sheila C. took us to new heights with an entertaining tale about Larry Walker. It was “uplifting” and took the energy to “soaring heights.”

4) William B. gave mad props and highlighted one of our Toastmasters who recently took center stage at the Town of Gibsons City Council meeting: Johanna R. Johanna gave a two minute speech on our organization in conjunction with February 2016 being Toastmasters International Month! (Pssst: More to come on this soon!)

Just a reminder, please sign up for roles for next week’s meeting on Feb. 10. The theme is “Love is . . . “

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Toastmasters: More Than Just Speeches

A guest at this week’s Toastmasters shared a revelation that coincided with this week’s theme of “Contrary to Popular Beliefs.” He admitted that he thought joining Toastmasters was going to be about him. About him making speeches. About him learning how to be a better communicator.

What he didn’t know was that Toastmasters is really about hearing other people’s stories. Connecting with others. It’s about . . . others.

When I used to dragon boat, there were three stages of paddler awareness. The first stage was beginner. This is the awkward stage where you are focused on what you are doing and whether you are doing it right. Your awareness was only for the bench you were on.

DragonBoats.JPGThe second stage of awareness developed over time. Eventually, the paddler realized that if they moved in sync with the bench in front of them and behind them, the paddles didn’t bang together as much. The awareness circle widens just a bit to the benches around them.

The third stage was when the paddler realized that their bench, their pod was part of the entire effort. All ten benches working together is what gives the boat lift and glides it through the water.

When we join Toastmasters, it is easy to see what it is we want to do. What we need help doing. Our focus is on our personal challenges or limits.

It’s only after a few meetings and a few experiences in the meeting roles that we start to realize how our presence helps to “lift” the meetings and “guide” others. It’s more than just our speeches — it’s listening, supporting and assisting others.

When we bring others into the mix, we care about the larger community. The boat. The club.

It is through the speeches, or stories we tell, that we are able to engage with the “boat.” People start to see the true person standing at the lectern. They see beyond our perceived short comings to the powerful person in each of us. Our teammate.

Contrary to popular belief, Toastmasters isn’t just about speeches. It’s about teamwork. It’s about others.

A few other highlights from this week’s meeting:

  • Sandy W. delivered a persuasive speech on the Power of Punishment and how poverty of spirit, hope and finances has impacted our prison system.
  • Michael W. shared his personal story of grief from the death of his dog with a beautiful poem. His realization that we never know what may happen was expressed in a self-composed song that he performed for us.
  • Ria Q. took center stage for her first role as Toastmaster. Hats off to a job well done.
  • Sheila C. offered us a laugh break with a joke she got from her children. It was her first time as Jokemaster and she knocked it out of the park like DiMaggio.

Note: Please sign up for roles for next week’s meeting. The theme is Say It With a Song!

Clearing the Clutter for Completing CC & CLs

“Goals. There’s no telling what you can do when you get inspired by them.There’s no telling what you can do when you believe in them. There’s no telling what will happen to you when you act upon them.” — Jim Rohn, personal development & business philosopher

In his inspiration speech at the first Morningstars Toastmasters of 2016, Frank C. revealed his love for making lists. He jots down his to-dos, to-fixes and to-buys on a white piece of paper that he calls “my whiteberry.”

According to Jack Canfield (Chicken Soup for the . . .” creator and inspirational speaker) in his book, The Success Principles, “failing to complete robs you of valuable attention units.” We can only pay attention to so many things at one time, and each to-do, to-fix or to-complete on your mental lists leaves fewer attention units to dedicate to present tasks.

It’s easy to see the clutter in our closets, in the corners of the living room or scattered across our home office. But there are times that the clutter is in our minds. The mental record that repeats all the things we “should do” or “need to do.” Instead of using valuable “attention units” rehashing what it is you should do, make a list and focus on the steps you can take to complete the task.

Frank’s speech was a good reminder for us to take stock of what we would like to accomplish this year, personally and as a Toastmaster. We are officially half way through the season. Where are you on your CC or CL completion goals? What do you need to scratch an item off your list and bring you one step closer to finishing?

Riding on that theme, Sheila C. offered a refresher on the various roles and responsibilities that depends upon YOU as a member. In Toastmasters, you learn by participating. There are many roles to fill and all meeting participants play an important part in making the club experience educational and enjoyable.

Sheila outlined the roles which are highlighted in the Competent Leadership (CL) manual. As an extension to her speech, the roles have been added to the club’s website under resources at http://morningstarstoastmasters.com/meeting-roles/

However, many of us have CC goals that we are looking to complete. Johanna R. encouraged us to tap into our storytelling side by entering the Festival of the Performing Arts’ “Speech and Dramatic Arts” category. The festival is from April 11 – May 1, 2016 with the mentioned category on April 20th starting at 9am.  The deadline for entry is February 7th.  For more information, visit www.coastfestival.com/syllabus/

_________________. The deadline is January 30, 2016.

Welcome back!

PS – Don’t forget to sign up for roles for next week’s meeting. The theme is “Contrary to Popular Belief.”

Food, Folks & Festive Fun: The Last Meeting of 2015

“In the air, there is a feeling of Christmas.”

The above lyric is from the holiday tune “Silver Bells,” a song that highlights joy, cheer and dazzle that creates the magic of the season. However, it perfectly describes the feeling woven into this week’s Morningstars Toastmasters meeting, “Light of the World.” Continue reading “Food, Folks & Festive Fun: The Last Meeting of 2015”

Interweaving the Invisible Thread Between Us

Contributed by Johanna R.

The meeting theme today: “The invisible thread that connects us” interwove (word of the day) a magical tapestry of many thoughtfully planned and spontaneously delivered presentations. It was as though an invisible thread was among us during the meeting, too: pulling us in as listeners, capturing our attention with visual phrases, and applying creative tension in feedback analysis.

We were leaning into both the speaker’s stories about family members’ critical health situations, one recent and the other about ten years ago. The presentations were heartfelt on the one hand, and well structured on the other. Speaking from your heart, speaking from you mind, just as this year’s motto states. How wonderful to hear such eloquence and clarity.

A sick child is devastating to parents. Sheila conveyed this in her “dramatic speech” from the advanced Communication Manual. She crafted how she felt as she entered her daughter’s room and what she saw with the moon shining into the window spotlighting the bedroom scene before her. Sheila’s voice, although quiet, filled the TM meeting room where we sat enthralled.

Patricia stepped up to the lectern to fill in for an absent member to provide evaluation for Jolanda’s speech. She provided us a framework about how Jolanda began her speech in the hospital setting, focused on the healing prayers and well wishes of others in the community, and then expanded the experience to sending prayers to others struggling for their lives. A possible conclusion was recommended based on this appraisal.

Kate, who was the Table Topics Evaluator, also referred to two out of the four speakers needing a more defined summary or conclusion to their impromptu speeches. It has been noted before that the conclusion is like a tie from the end to the beginning of the speech, which acts like a bow to wrap the presentation up neatly and beautifully. An “invisible thread” potentially?

In conclusion, it appears that the meeting’s theme, and word of the day, were very powerful images to evoke engaging speeches and evaluations today. The ideas and passion that we share in our stories, with each other in our club, and to the world at large. does bring to light and interweave such invisible threads. Let’s continue to cultivate and captivate the magic of creative connections.

NOTE: Next week’s meeting is the last one of the season! On Dec. 16th, our meeting will be a festive one.  The theme is “Rise up! Rise up!” and it is chaired by our lovely Sharon L. Pull on your festive Christmas sweater, bring a dish to share and get into the spirit of the season.

Where Ski Hills & Dreams Collide

Contributed by Judy L.

Well it was a dreamy (albeit very chiDreamyMorninglly) morning. As luck and technology finally came together, we were able to experience Ben’s much awaited presentation. What a performance! We could feel the wind and the snow blowing in our faces as Ben soared down hills and jumped over moguls. We learned about all the best little known ski hills in BC with great pictures and maps displayed along with the show. Who knew Ben was a pro ski guide?What other secrets are yet to be uncovered by Morning Stars?

Unfortunately Kate didn’t make it this week for her presentation so we still have that to look forward to.

And that left us lots of time Table Topics – 5 presenters in all, and every one of them a vastly different take on dreaming. We wish William a speedy runway recovery or extension. There are years of travelogue adventures in that boy.

We look forward to our guest Leonie C. returning in the near future. 

Remembrance Day: We Remember

Remembrance Day Gibsons BCSacrifice.
Soldiers.
Tribute.
Remembrance.
Poppy.
Veterans.
Bravery.
Heroes.
Respect.

As Toastmasters, each of us understands the power of words. Words teach, lift and empower those around us.With one word, we invoke powerful images of heartache, loss, courage, endurance and valor.

Remembrance.

This week, our meeting day fell on Remembrance Day, a a memorial day to remember the members of the armed forces who have died in the line of duty. It is a day to honor their courage and their sacrifice.

The interesting point about our meeting was that it gave us, fellow Toastmasters, a way to remember those who served in our own way. From Michael W.’s meeting introduction to Liam B.’s introspection questions during the Table Topics session to the heartfelt inspiration speech delivered by Frank C., the meeting conveyed the somberness of the day while offering us a way to further our Remembrance Day activities through powerfully spoken words. It was a meeting that held reminders of what war can do, abroad and here at home, and how emotions can lead to devastating consequences.

It was a meeting of heart, remembrance and honour for those who served.

We remember.

Just Follow Harmony Lane

Dorothy: How do I start for the Emerald City?
Glinda: It’s always best to start at the beginning. And all you do is follow the Yellow Brick Road.
Dorothy: But what happens if I–
Glinda: Just follow the Yellow Brick Road.

Thus starts the journey of friendship and self-discovery for little Dorothy and her dog Toto as they head to the Emerald City to in ‘The Wizard of Oz.”

Just follow the Yellow Brick Road.

harmonyhallOr should we say Harmony Lane?

I like to think of the Morningstars Toastmasters Club’s Open House events as being the Glinda for guests. The events shine a light on the various paths one can take to enhance their career or personal communication skills. Following a standard agenda, guests get an idea of what EVERY meeting is like, a sneak peek at what they can expect. It’s open, friendly and seems so easy.

The Fall 2015 Open House was a fantastic, lively event. Members went all out creating lovely dishes to be shared, with the organizing help of Xinyu. Our meeting was nicely conducted by first time Toastmaster Michael W., who did an excellent job keeping us on time and on agenda. Margot’s dose of “happiness” inspiration warmed our hearts and made us smile.

Our newest member, Steve C. gave a humourous and touching Father of the Bride in anticipation of the big event this weekend (Congrats!). Weegee S. celebrated her six month anniversary with Toastmasters with a speech highlighting the benefits of the club.

Halloween_Morningstars2Did I mention that most of us were in costume? From the lively masks of the Grammarian (Judy L.) and our Table Topics Master (Sharon L.) to the pirate who told the meeting joke, it was a festive crowd.

Mostly, I think it showed the warmth, the heart and the energy that Toastmasters fosters as a club. It gave a great starting point for Dorothy . . . I mean our guests!

Thank you for a fantastic meeting!


NOTES FOR NOV. 4 MEETING:
The theme is “That Was Unexpected.” Roles are still available via Turbobase. Also, we will be holding a “Super Nova” extended meeting after the main meeting for members to gain extra practice for upcoming speeches and contests. If you are able to stay an extra half hour to help out with evaluations, timing, etc — love to have you!

Table Topics: A Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

ComfortZoneBeing called upon for a table topics speech continues to daunt me, despite having delivered a few and even winning an area contest a few years ago. Training myself to accept that it is just “excitement” rather than “fear” is my intellectual goal. My emotional reservations try to convince me that perhaps this particular speaking skill isn’t really necessary for my wellbeing.

Speaking with mind and heart is important for us all, though. Table topics provides the opportunity to voice a brief synopsis related to the given topic. We have a way to organize our speech and a supportive audience. How fortunate! The skill development is useful at work and at the family dinner table. Owning the two minutes and ensuring our talk is interesting builds our confidence, too.

The theme of today was: “What a difference a day makes”. I wasn’t chosen for table topics today as I had anticipated, because I had forgotten that several weeks ago I had signed up for the Jokemaster role. The joke was on me! Having thought that I could likely be a table topics speaker, I had missed fulfilling the role I really do enjoy. Looking for a relevant joke to match the day’s theme has become quite research-intensive for me when occasions demand it. It is opening up new possibilities for me, too. Lately, I have been preparing for the Tall Tale competition….a challenge to think outside the box.

I was late for the meeting this morning, but so glad that I went. It definitely made a difference to my day, recognizing that being prepared for a speech or a joke is not that different from being prepared to be on time and ready for anything, such as, an unknown table topic. The table topics today included asking about strangers that made an impact and life changing circumstances encountered in our lives.

Table topic questions push us out of our comfort zone and do make us think on our feet. Greeting our fellow members gives us time to relax and decide upon a theme to expound on. The speech doesn’t have to be based on reality; the organization of the speech is the important skill being developed. Bravo to everyone who delivered their table topics speech this morning. It was a good meeting for all!

 

<em>Contributed by Johanna</em>

Table Topics: A Chance to Step Out of Comfort Zone

Table Topics Out of Comfort ZoneContributed by Johanna

Being called upon for a table topics speech continues to daunt me, despite having delivered a few and even winning an area contest a few years ago. Training myself to accept that it is just “excitement” rather than “fear” is my intellectual goal. My emotional reservations try to convince me that perhaps this particular speaking skill isn’t really necessary for my wellbeing.

Speaking with mind and heart is important for us all, though. Table topics provides the opportunity to voice a brief synopsis related to the given topic. We have a way to organize our speech and a supportive audience. How fortunate! The skill development is useful at work and at the family dinner table. Owning the two minutes and ensuring our talk is interesting builds our confidence, too.

The theme of today was: “What a difference a day makes”. I wasn’t chosen for table topics today as I had anticipated, because I had forgotten that several weeks ago I had signed up for the Jokemaster role. The joke was on me! Having thought that I could likely be a table topics speaker, I had missed fulfilling the role I really do enjoy. Looking for a relevant joke to match the day’s theme has become quite research-intensive for me when occasions demand it. It is opening up new possibilities for me, too. Lately, I have been preparing for the Tall Tale competition….a challenge to think outside the box.

I was late for the meeting this morning, but so glad that I went. It definitely made a difference to my day, recognizing that being prepared for a speech or a joke is not that different from being prepared to be on time and ready for anything, such as, an unknown table topic. The table topics today included asking about strangers that made an impact and life changing circumstances encountered in our lives.

Table topic questions push us out of our comfort zone and do make us think on our feet. Greeting our fellow members gives us time to relax and decide upon a theme to expound on. The speech doesn’t have to be based on reality; the organization of the speech is the important skill being developed. Bravo to everyone who delivered their table topics speech this morning. It was a good meeting for all!

 

Contributed by Johanna