Racing Time… or Not!

Written by Johanna R, VP of PR

Good Evening Fellow Toastmasters and new participants! ( A change from our usual Good Morning Greeting!)

It’s the evening as I sit down to write my thoughts about this morning’s meeting. My day went by quickly with a few unexpected incidents. Luckily, I wasn’t in a hurry, contrary to our theme for today’s meeting, Racing Time.

I learned that lesson first thing at the meeting. As Chair, Katherine shared the idea of grounding ourselves with a deep breath whenever we feel we’re racing time. Remembering to take that moment before our presentations is an effective habit to cultivate.

PJ gave a clear and thought-provoking presentation on Mentoring and what the mentorship/mentee relationship is all about. The relationship helps both parties learn and develop individually, together, and with the Club.

A case in point, my mentee gave me feedback on my Table Topics evaluations while we were driving back to her place on the way to my work in Sechelt today. Her comment? Not perfect…but good recovery. I get that!

Evaluation delivered the Toastmaster‘s way promotes constructive and kind evolution. I am grateful for learning how to give and receive feedback, and communicate ideas with freedom and ease.

Xinju’s second speech from the Competent Communicator was well structured and engaging this morning. The possibility of some of us teaching in China was alive and well, especially as we can just call her for more practical information.

Our Morningstars TM Club is a respectful and entertaining mix of established and new members. The various roles that we sign up for each week do indeed develop our communication and leadership skills. And it’s all done in an atmosphere of energy and laughter – laughter that was very evident this morning when Andrea as Jokemaster smoothly delivered the punchline of her joke.

Congratulations to Sheila who received her Competent Communicator and Competent Leader pins this morning, and to Cathie, who is our incoming Area Director.

Next week’s theme is Fear, the Real Monster.

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Lessons from Nature

Written by Johanna, VP of PR

Today is the morning after the most recent Morningstars Toastmaster’s meeting.

Many thanks to Judy Lynne for chairing the meeting so early in her Toastmaster’s journey. She received her Icebreaker pin today, and is well on her way for her next speeches.

Her Icebreaker speech a few weeks ago continues to resonate for many of us in the club. Her message about encouraging local youth to participate in Outward Bound opportunities is a result of her sharing her life’s work with others after the death of her son. Judy Lynne personifies authenticity as she crafts her speeches for clarity and purpose.

PJ’s evaluation of my fourth project in the Advanced Storytelling manual was encouraging, especially because I experienced difficulty staying in the emotions of empathy and concern which I had planned and prepared to deliver as a key part of the project.

Reflecting on how this unfolded at the meeting, I learned that telling the story in the third person rather than first has the potential effect of losing touch with my own inner direction or grounding (as Katherine referred to in her speech that followed mine).

Katherine shared the highlights of the workshop that she will be c0-presenting at the Chamber of Commerce event next week. Using a visual display and body gestures effectively, she captured our interest in signing up for the workshop. Katherine’s Toastmaster’s knowledge and voice coaching background shone through her presentation to us, and was a model of  “practice what you teach”.

Both speeches from Advanced Manuals prove that as we follow the guidance from the speech manuals and apply it to real life situations, much personal development is achieved over time.

As I look forward to the rest of the week, and our International Speech Contest at our next meeting, I once again recognize how supportive our club is and how, with each project or role we take on at each meeting, we grow in our speaking confidence and our ability to understand each others’ progress.

As Loretta declared in her toast to nature (our theme for the day was “Lessons from Nature”), we are all connected and we each have unique messages to contribute to a thriving Coastal Morningstars Club.

We Remember

Written by Katherine, President of Morningstars

The theme, tone and feeling of the day was We Remember.

Larry, our Chair for the day, managed the meeting with grace and humour.

Pj is off for two months to Mexico, so lest he forget, we presented him with his pins for his Competent Leadership and Competent Communicator awards.

Frank as Inspirator gave a moving toast on gratitude to our veterans, and the remembrances celebrated all across the country yesterday for Nov 11.

Patricia, our Grammarian, to fit with our theme, chose reverence as the word of the day.

It was also a day for testing our abilities for impromptu speaking. Not knowing until the last minute which one of five different topics she would be speaking on was the challenge for Katherine. To speak off the cuff is an exercise in trust and staying present. And Jolanda, who is one of our newest members, in the spirit of jumping in gave her Icebreaker speech in place of a cancellation. Well done, Jolanda!

Cathie, our Timer, took some liberties with John McCrae’s poem, In Flanders Fields, to remind us that as Toastmasters we have to keep to the time allotted to us for each role or  speech. She does not hesitate to ring the bell, our signal to stop talking now!

Table Topics was ably done by David, although he didn’t fare quite so well with the Jokemaster role. He was assisted in delivering the punchline by Sharon, and received a huge round of applause and much laughter. Sometimes the unexpected is much funnier than what was intended.

Johanna, Kate, Greg,  PJ, and Ben assisted with the other roles to round out the meeting.

The theme for the next meeting is WHAT I CAN’T BELIEVE.

The Power of Letting Go

Darren LaCroix is a World Champion Toastmaster. In a recently article he describes what it takes to be a champ, and it might not be what you think. (Watch a clip from this years winner, Dananjaya Hettiarachchi)

Wisdom from the New Champ
By Darren LaCroix

This weekend, while playing disc golf with Steve Pavlina, author of Self Development for Smart People, we started talking about the longevity of our speaking careers. He said that when he started, he treated speaking as a presentation or a performance, which put up a wall between himself and the audience. He often felt that he had to impress them, to build rapport, and to win them over. At that time, Steve said, he focused on content and delivery, his primary tools for engaging with a room full of strangers. Great insight.

In contrast, Steve noted, “These days, I regard speaking as a conversation. Now my focus is on the audience. I treat them as my best friends, so there’s never any ice to break.”

Read more….

Chop Wood, Carry Water

Today’s Post Written by Frank Coldicott

Forty-seven years to earn a DTM (Distinguished Toastmaster)?

It was a proud moment to receive recognition yesterday morning for this rather noteworthy achievement, having first joined Toastmasters in Vernon, Club 1929 in September 1967. As I mentioned in my acceptance, I have seen many changes in these years. My first manual, called Basic Training, was similar to our Competent Communicator manual but focused on rather mechanical yet effective “how-to’s” of Public Speaking and Robert’s Rules of Order. Significant of the day was that Toastmasters was an all-men’s organization. The Advanced Manual was simply another 10 speeches.

Through the next 30 years, Toastmasters saw many changes: improved materials and designations were accompanied by opening the doors to women. The basic concept of Ralph Smedley has remained the same although the introduction of the leadership track and the “Better Listening et al” has given way to the focus on Becoming Leaders. This has enriched the program immeasurably.

The last 15 years of my Toastmasters experience have been the richest. Overlander Toastmasters Club in Kamloops, Advanced Speaker’s Klub in Vancouver and Morning Stars Club here in Gibsons have all enriched my life in ways beyond adequate description. With the encouragement of so many, it became clear that always ‘starting over’ with the latest materials was a valuable pursuit.

Today, I thank all Toastmasters who have kept that encouragement alive. I extend special thanks to Patricia who challenged me and provided a model of focus. She also yesterday nailed it when she described the awards as the ‘harvest’ for the period of sowing and tilling. Yet, like the Buddhist notion of achieving enlightenment which requires ‘chopping wood and hauling water’, it (like our achievement in Toastmasters) follows that when enlightened, one should ‘chop more wood and haul more water’.

Thank you Morning Stars….still chopping wood.

Area 73 Contest Review

Written by Ben R.

Last Saturday I was at the Area 73 Speech Contest.

This was the first contest where I stayed from the beginning to the end.  I stayed extra long after the meeting to eat a delicious Nanaimo bar and some other things.

It was good to see Judyth running the meeting. It was first time for me to see her interviewing people in a official capacity and I enjoyed seeing her in a new role.   Two of the four speeches were unfamiliar to me so I was particularly interested.   Bill added some new inspiration element in his speech and I liked it.  Bubbly Sharon talked about saving energy.  Two other speakers, Kate and Paula, came from other clubs on the coast.

Personally I wanted to hear some other great speakers that I recall from the past contests but I guess they played judge roles and I highly appreciate them for doing that.

Of course the main thing for me was doing the test speech. Four speakers spent 2-3 mins each giving me very valuable feedback.   This was helpful to understand what each evaluator was telling me.   One thing I remember well is what the Evaluation Contest winner Sandy said about “telling the listener what’s in it for them”. Other reviewers generally told me that my speech content is not easy to follow. They all gave me some practical suggestion to try to improve the clarity of my ideas. Thanks to this great feedback system I am extra excited to deliver new speeches!

It was exciting to deliver speeches to a new audience. With more practice, we might start feeling like speaking to a family member over a ho-hum dinner!

Overall it was great to have almost two meetings in a week to get twice as much out of the week in terms of public speaking.

Area 73 Contest Winners
strong>International Speech Competition
First Place Paula H
Second Place Sharon B

Evaluation Contest
First Place Sandy W
Second Place Cathie R

Congratulations to the winners who now move on to the Division Contest in Vancouver on Apr 19.

Newsworthy

A shout out to two members of Morningstars club for their articles published in the District 21 (all of BC) newsletter The Link.

First up is In Your Hands, Under Your Feet by Frank Caldicott. I was there the day he delivered this speech, and anyone would agree he is a speaker with a lot to say. His article reminds us of the power of being a Toastmaster and that we never know what effect the words we speak will have.

The second article was written by PJ Reece, president of Morningstars and soon-to-be editor of The Link. We had the pleasure of reading the article first right here on this blog. Coming Out of Hiding is definitely worth a second read.

And astute readers will note that personal power is a theme in both articles.

Congratulations to PJ and Frank.

Learning from the Experts

When we’re learning something new, it’s a good idea to turn to the experts, those who have gone before and set great examples of what we’re trying to learn. Watch this video from a winning humorous speech contest participant, and while you’re at it, find out a little more (tongue-in-cheek) information about one of our favourite things – Table Topics.

All A-Buzz

After all the excitement recently with the club and area contests, today’s meeting was back to the usual routine.

bricolageWell maybe not routine because….

Johanna, our Toastmaster, got the fun started with her high energy, jokes, and her spring colours.

Judyth and Doug were sworn in as new members. 

Judyth gave her Icebreaker speech, the first project in the Competent Communication manual. She painted beautiful pictures with her words and we could all see them! She also received a pin honouring the occasion.

And speaking of  pins, Katherine received two pins for completing her Competent Communication and Competent Leadership Manuals.

Erica had us laughing with her speech on Why the English Language is Inadequate. We learned about words like bricolage and schadenfreude. Entertaining and informative and she sure made a point. Hands up those who think Erica should enter the Humorous Speech Competition?

Morningstars now has a new state-of-the-art timing device which has been dubbed Ethel by Bill, our club pres. Welcome to Morningstars, Ethel!

Frank, our jokemaster, elevated the lowly pun to new heights with his routine about the Tesco horse meat story….
I’m so hungry I could eat a horse.
Anyone want a hamburger? Say yay or neigh.
I had some hamburger from Tesco and still have a bit in my mouth.
A woman was taking to the hospital after eating hamburger. Her condition is stable.

Alan inspired us to toast to the title of Robert Frost’s poem, The Road Not Taken. Which kind of reminds me of a Yogi Berra joke…when you come to a fork in the road, take it!

And Katherine, our grammarian of the day, explained her role with a poem:

I’m the grammarian, a sort of librarian. 
My job is to listen for language that glistens.
I’d like words that have power for the next hour.
I catalogue phrases, anything that amazes.
I choose a word of the day for people to say. 
Whenever they speak, the word I will seek.
The unusual alerts me, never disconcerts me.
And you’ll hear from me again, just before meeting’s end.

So yes, just another routine meeting at Morningstars Toastmasters Club!

One final note: several members of our club will be travelling to North Vancouver this Sat for the Division International Speech and Evaluation Competitions. Should be fun.