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”

Area 45 Director Visits Coastal Clubs

Contributed by Area 73 Director, Sheila Cameron

Toastmasters clubs on the Sunshine Coast had a real treat this week when Area 45 Director, Michael Gurney, made appearances at all four of our clubs! Michael currently lives in Prince Rupert. He was here visiting family and told us he has been coming to the Sunshine Coast for years, having grown up in nearby Burnaby.

At Sunshine club in Sechelt, our theme was Spring Into Action. Michael willingly volunteered to do the role of Table Topics Evaluator. He had some colourful speeches to evaluate, and he immediately demonstrated how to do so with skill and professionalism. His guest comments at the end of the evening offered an excellent suggestion for improvement in our printed agenda.

I was happy to see Michael first thing the next day at MorningSTARS. We had a full house and a packed agenda for the theme of Guilty Pleasures. Michael was able to relax, observe, and enjoy the meeting. On the way out the door he was all smiles. “Did you enjoy the meeting?” I asked. “Oh, yes,” he replied. “I feel like I found my people. Morning people!”

I invited Michael to two more meetings and sent him directions. We were in for a real surprise when he arrived at our new club, Coastmasters, and was prepared to deliver a speech! His speech was funny, heartfelt, delivered a message, included the word of the day, used natural gestures and body movement, and was an all-around great story. The evening’s theme was New Beginnings, and it was wonderful to have Michael share in the fun energy that this new club is bringing to the coast. During guest comments, Michael was asked to share about his home club’s agenda and protocols. He offered insights into how each club is unique. Our new club gained a few ideas, and Michael will tell his home club the benefits of a JokeMaster role.

Beach2To round out the week, Michael attended our Beachcombers Advanced club dinner meeting. With many empty roles on the agenda and a theme of Stepping Up, members showed their advanced skills by bravely accepting every challenge and carrying out the roles as if they had been preparing all week. As Michael’s last club visit this week, it seemed the perfect opportunity to invite him to be our General Evaluator. He obliged, and he offered us a good look at what our club does well and gave us a suggestion for improvement.

It has been an absolute delight hosting Michael on the Sunshine Coast this week. He even brought his mother along to a non-Toastmasters event, where I was able to complement him on his fine speaking skills. Michael’s mother can feel proud — Michael is both a gentleman and a gem. Thank you for your visit, Michael. We hope you will visit us again next year!

Importance of the Icebreaker

Toastmasters Storytelling“I can talk for hours about my job or when conducting a presentation at work, but I can’t hold a personal one-on-one conversation for two minutes.”

Do you or have you felt that way? Many of us are great communicators when we are not part of the speech, presentation or story. However, your personal stories may be the best connection to your audience.

Stories constitute the single most powerful weapon in a leader’s arsenal.
– Dr. Howard Gardner, Harvard University

Talking about latest products, awards, achievements and advancements are impressive, but often they are cold hard facts. To connect with an audience, there needs to be a warm, soft story that talks to the heart of the audience.

According to an online article (, “When you tell a story during your presentation, you can potentially activate up to seven areas of your audience members’ brains, as compared to the two areas of the brain that you can awaken if you tell only facts and stats during your presentation.

The best stories to share are the personal ones. The ones based upon failures, fears, successes, learning lessons and struggles. Think makeover or transformation.

Icebreaker is a term which describes an activity that reduces tension and anxiety in a group while forging new bonds.

In Toastmasters, the Icebreaker is often seen as a way for new members to introduce themselves to the club. They are encouraged to talk about their life, job, hobbies, interests or how they found themselves at Toastmasters. It is presented to the new member as an “easy topic” for you are talking about something you know — yourself.

I, however, think the importance of the Icebreaker is more than an introduction to the club. It is an introduction on HOW to insert YOU into speeches. This is the most important baseline for all speeches, over hand gestures and vocal variety.

If you can get up there and speak from the heart, you win the hearts of your audience. Even if it is a business meeting on financial asset management.

What’s your thoughts on storytelling? How do you incorporate it into your speeches?

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