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.

 

 

 

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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 (ethos3.com), “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?

Additional Resources:

 

 

 

Choices, Chances & Changes: The Morning Tide of Toastmasters

Three Cs of Life: Choices Chances and Change

This week’s Toastmasters Summer morning series had the perfect backdrop for the theme — speeches from the CC manuals.  One could hear the gentle lap of waves as three people took center stage in Sharon’s backyard to deliver their speech. The ocean waters repetitive, hypnotic beat was the perfect complimentary background noise to our speeches of choices, chances and changes.

“In the end, we only regret the chances we didn’t take.”

I (Weegee S.) gave my second speech (but the third in the CC manual) about how CHANCE played a role in my life. After a series of misfortunes, I was given the chance to learn to call for a dragonboat. While I was filling in for a short time, the promotion taught me a valuable lesson in how to handle CHANGE and using my voice effectively to communicate with my support group.

“Destiny is all about the choices we make and the chances we take.”

Sharon K. eloquently delivered her Ice Breaker speech where she talked about the three CHOICES that brought her back to Gibsons, BC time and again. Her tale, told from her own backyard, was about the houses and the property we were sitting in with a filter that gave us a view into how it looked to her as a child. We saw how it changed since then and how it has changed her. She said she initially agreed with her parent’s choice to purchase the waterfront property because it had a tree swing, something that made her happy. It was that feeling that led her to make the two other choices to return to Gibsons — to stay.

“You will never change your life until you change something you do daily.” — John C. Maxwell, public speaker and leadership expert

One of the things each of us does daily without putting much thought into it is communicate with others. Conversation is a fine art that many of us overlook, neglect or have let our skills fall to the wayside. However, it is a necessary skill to take a chance encounter and change it into a lifelong friendship. Sheila C., in a speech from the Advanced Interpersonal Communications manual, showed identified techniques to use when conversing with strangers and the different levels of conversation (small talk, fact disclosure, viewpoints and opinions and personal feelings). She offered us a way to CHANGE how we interact with fellow Toastmasters, the grocery store clerk and even people in our lives who could use a promotion in how we classify them.

The morning meeting was topped off by a round of Table Topics, random questions picked out of an envelope for those willing to be put on the spot. It is no wonder that each participate picked the one question best suited for them. Lucky choice? By chance?

The overall theme here is that each of us have signed up for change. Change in how we communicate. Change in our confidence. Change in how we present ourselves professionally and in small talk scenarios.  Each of us have made a choice and taken a chance on each other in Toastmasters to make that change. A process that is one step closer with every speech, evaluation or Table Topic discussion.

We are changing. And it only gets better from here!

Contributed by Weegee S.

NOTE: Special thank you to Sharon K. for hosting the morning meeting and offering a fantastic location for our speeches.

Next meeting will be on August 26th, hosted by Katherine. Check TurboBase and your emails for details!

Fear – the Real Monster

Written by Weegee S.

Love is what we were born with. Fear is what we learn here.
Marianne Williamson

Hollywood movies play with our emotions, making us laugh, cry and shudder. They make us jump by dressing up an actor with fangs, applying scary makeup and adding a dash of ghoulish noises at just the right moment. In the end, the people and heroes rise up and take back the world from the monsters.

For many of us, fear is the real monster and this week’s toast from Xinyu, our Inspirator, set the tone for the day as she raised her glass to “a world without monsters.”

I’m a new member to the Morningstars Toastmasters Club but already I have had my battles with the Fear Monster. This invisible beast sinks its claws into me each week moments before I stand up from my chair to participate in the meeting. My stomach knots, my hands shake and I sweat uncontrollably.

While there was once a time when I would view such experiences with trepidation (word of the day thanks to Katherine, our Grammarian,) and raise the white flag to surrender to the monster — that is no longer the case. Each Wednesday, I rise early and get dressed with the mental image that I’m suiting up for battle. I tell myself, fear is not going to win this one.

I have a feeling I am not alone.

Our own Larry answered the call to take the helm as Chair of our band of warriors this morning. Thank you!

Sarah took center stage with her Icebreaker, breaking down the walls that surround her and opening herself to the group.

As a special treat, Johanna tapped into her love of Broadway to encourage SIX of us to stand up and confront our fear of Table Topics.

I think Frank, today’s General Evaluator, explained it best when he said the fear doesn’t ever really go away. It’s a matter of using that nervous energy to fuel our speeches. It’s like starting in a scary place and tapping into the excitement that propels us through the speech, table topic or position as chair.

Who’s with me for next week?

Scared Stiff

Written by Ria Q, another new Morningstar

It is a terrific west coast morning, sunny and warm – much warmer than I would expect on a spring day. The anticipation in the hall is palpable as we settle in for a busy morning of 2 Icebreaker speeches and an interpretive reading from an Advanced Manual.

John starts us off in his usual friendly style by encouraging us to gather our thoughts, coffee and water as we all sit just as the gavel bangs down.

William as Chair calls the meeting to order. Our theme of the day is Scared Stiff.

Cathie presents the word of the day, an adjective – ‘terrific’. Interesting that the word, as Cathie points out, can have both a positive and negative meaning.

of great size, amount or intensity
informal: extremely good, excellent
archaic: causing terror, from the latin terrere ‘frighten’

Larry leads us in an inspirational toast to the sick children around the world wishing them a return to health and wellness. His inspiration comes from a documentary he saw on TV about Sick Children’s Hospital. He found it interesting, and I do too, that most of the children ‘live in the moment’. They don’t seem to realize the gravity of their situation and carry on as if this is life as it’s supposed to be – a fine reminder that every moment in this life is precious.

Xinyu as Timer, regales us with a short story about the pitfalls of time management Spanish-style and how a cultural difference lead her to miss first a bus, then two planes on her way out of Spain.

Margot, past Toastmaster and journalist, returns to present another Icebreaker in an easy, fluent style. Her self-deprecating views are funny and endearing. I look forward to hearing more from Margot in the coming months.

Sharon’s interpretative reading of fellow Toastmaster PJ’s story “The Best Way to Meet Angels” is engaging and provokes terror on a “rough-and-tumble highway in south-central Africa known as the Hell Run”. I get the feeling that a young PJ is scared stiff as he makes his way across the “1500-mile lifeline that serves the heart of a continent”. Sharon does a terrific job of re-enacting PJ’s journey.

I, Ria, present my Icebreaker titled “The Summer of My Life” in an unexpected fashion – filled with emotion and fueled by adrenaline. Although I’m scared stiff, I carry on and pull through with encouragement in the eyes of my fellow Toastmasters. It’s done! And, onto the next…

Shannon’s joke is a woe-is-me tale of her friend being locked in a college bathroom over the weekend only to realize that she is trying to escape her terrific predicament by exiting through the locked broom closet!

Katherine almost stumps us as Quizmaster when she asks the question “Where is the chicken not allowed to cross the road?” Honestly, I’m stumped!

At the end of it all, Cathie finds not many ums and ahs and informs us we used the word of the day, terrific, nine times.

I’m off to work as the day shines clear and bright and my adrenaline fades, leaving me eager to come back next week and do it all again.

Spare Bits and Parts

What?

“What do you mean spare bits and parts?” you ask.

Is it a car repair seminar? Is it a game show? Is it the use of those spare ‘killer filler’ words um and uh and so?

No. Believe it or not, it’s the Toastmasters meeting theme for Wed April 8th.

Here are some highlights:

  • Judy looked like a pro for her second time in the role of chair.
  • Sharon said YAY! when called upon for table topics. What??!! Not kidding.
  • Everyone groaned at the punchline of Larry’s joke. However, we never take Larry’s abilities as a joke teller for granite. Nope, not a spelling error. You had to be there.
  • Loretta did her Icebreaker speech and capped it off with a song she wrote. It was not rock and roll but it was about a different kind of rock. She’s made it her mission to preserve Gospel Rock. Always a pleasure to hear someone’s first speech and get to know something new about them.
  • Did Sandy’s feet leave the ground for a second or two during her speech Your Body Speaks? She looked like she was flying, the way she embodied what she was talking about.
  • We might want to keep our eyes on Sheila. She organized the Chamber workshop a couple of weeks ago. She organized and chaired the Area Speech Contest last Saturday. She did a superb job of General Evaluator today. Is there anything to the rumour floating around that she may be planning a coup?
  • Finally, is Morningstars soon to be SRO? With two more people joining, maybe we’ll need a mosh pit!

We’re back again next week for Rough Around the Edges. Can’t wait.

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.

Piercing the Darkness

Written by Johanna R, VP of PR

beam of lightMorningstars Toastmaster’s Club ”elucidates” (word of the day) two ideals of Toastmasters – mentorship and learning together.

This week we heard speeches from our youngest member, and our oldest member, an illustration that learning never ends.

Liam, a recent new member, gave his Icebreaker speech with eloquence and engaged with his audience…us. He reminded us that activities are aplenty on the Coast, and that people’s participation gives us our sense of community.

Larry gave his advanced promotional speech to us informing us about the Gibson’s Legion and its outreach into the community. Larry’s speech called us to action so we’re going to meet up at the Gibsons Legion Friday Mar. 6th for a Club dinner. An evening meeting of minds for food and fun.

Well…hmmmm….so..uh..and so forth! We all still need to work on removing these filler words that we all use to fill the silence while we’re thinking. According to Frank, our Grammarian, it’s apparently better if all your sentences start with one of them rather than having them sneak up mid thought. Many thanks to Frank for pointing this out today. However, we all strive to remove them completely.

Evaluation is a form of mentorship, and is one of the backbones of Toastmasters. You will never find people who are kinder in their evaluations of each other; kind and constructive. What do we look for?

  • We look for speeches to have a point.
  • We look for supportive, descriptive, colourful language to make our point clear.
  • We look for a clear beginning and an effective ending.
  • We look for something memorable.

A tall order? Yes! Preparation becomes imperative as we craft and practise our ideas. We “pierce the darkness” and bring the light of insight, as our theme and Toastmaster Chair, Sandy, reinforced.

Even when telling a joke or responding to a table topic subject, the structure and word choices used are important to us. Greg delivered a fabulous joke playing with the word, “commontater” It was about a conversation among potatoes.

In Table Topics, Kay told a story about getting lost in Hawaii. Alicia about relating her experience to a historical event. Jolanda shed light (elucidated) on how what we focus on becomes what we perceive as important in the moment.

Noteworthy:

Morningstars Toastmasters has been asked to do a presentation skills workshop for the Gibsons Chamber of Commerce. Find out more here.

In addition, several members of Morningstars will be taking turns writing a monthly column on Communication for The Local Weekly. The first article appeared in the Feb 26th, 2015 issue. Watch for more articles in future issues.

The Love of My Life

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Written by Johanna, VP of PR

A wonderful toast to the Love Of Life! 

What a great way to lead off our breakfast open house event. The meeting was graced with 5 guests, all of whom experienced the well prepared agenda created by our meeting chair, Sharon.

Xinyu delivered her Icebreaker speech and we better understood her engaging speech title: “The Banana Chronicles”.

Frank told us about  his 48 years experience of being a Toastmaster, asking the questions, “Why do I still come?, and “What do I see in myself and others?.

There were many similar questions throughout the meeting; perhaps questioning the theme of the day provoked the inquiries.

I believe “getting to the heart of the questions” reflected well the reason many of us enjoy being a member of the Morningstars Toastmaster’s Club. Preparing an Icebreaker speech focuses our attention on what we wish to share about our lives that truly expresses our desires, and what has fulfilled us over the years.

Listening to how others choose these elements and the structure a personal delivery is touching and engaging at the same time. It is a heartfelt gift to ourselves and others. We leave the meeting inspired and feeling supported in a mutual learning environment.

Guests, family members and friends, were eloquent in their understanding of our club culture this morning. It was an especially good theme for a guest event, along with the food and good cheer.

New Beginnings

Our first meeting for the New Year was chaired by Sheila  and the word of the day given by Grammarian, William, was “commence”. For a few of us, holiday disorientation and/or fatigue were a reality, but for others there were jump start moments.

For example, our two speakers were in terrific form after obvious energetic and enthusiastic preparation. Sheila also made gracious transition statements throughout the meeting.

Speaker #1, Ann, was our guest from the local Sunshine Toastmasters Club. She presented her High Performance Leadership project with clarity and ease, focusing on its vision and current outcomes. There now exists a weekly Story-telling Circle at the Shorncliffe residential facility in Sechelt that has over a dozen volunteers. More volunteers are welcome, and the experience is satisfying for all involved.

Speaker #2, Evi, gave her Icebreaker speech with a passionate focus on her travel insights over the years. Beginning with a reflective question about why she would she be so drawn to foreign lands and people, she concluded that traveling brings her a sense of harmony, equilibrium, and peace. Her descriptive language had us all engaged such that not only did we learn about Evi, we also learned about other parts of the world.

We had good Table Topic speeches from: John, “New Year’s Resolutions are made to be broken…”, Greg, “A car door opened and let me out on a Montana Road…, and Ben, “Yes, perception can change outcomes”.

Cathie, General Evaluator, acknowledged Speech Evaluators Frank and Kay for their splendid feedback which we all agreed were star standard.

The meeting ended right on time, and Judy, our Timer, Sandy, our Quizmaster, and Larry, our Jokemaster, had an especially good commencing time.