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!

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Don’t Wait

Written by PJ, Morningstars Past President

From where I stood at the lectern, Wednesday’s gathering of Morningstars looked like another megawatt meeting.

Standing room only, it’s the new normal at Harmony Hall with so many energetic new members changing the face of Club 1248.

And five more guests!

And a guest speaker.

Reg Boaler from Richmond dropped in on his way to Las Vegas where he’ll represent District 96 in the International Speech Championships. He needs the practice, he says, although you could have fooled me. He blew us away with a speech titled, “Don’t Wait.”

As in, don’t wait to tell the people you love that you love them.

When Reg handed the lectern back to me (as Chairperson) I was so choked up I couldn’t thank him properly.

It’s a gift to be exposed to this calibre of speech craft, and I was especially glad to see so many new members experience first-hand how it’s done.

There’s a critical time in the orientation of a new member when they’ll either be positively infected with the club culture, or they will decide Toastmasters is not for them. I wish I knew why we fail some members. I’m going to address this mystery in a couple of weeks with an educational presentation about the dynamics of a member’s first few meetings.

Our newest Morningstars, like Shannon and Sarah and Margot and Mike and Sharon and Andrea and Weegee got to experience the changing of guard on Wednesday morning—a new executive elected for the term starting July 1.

Here’s the committee, starting with our brand new President:

  • President — Sharon L
  • VP-Education — Katherine S
  • VP-Public Relations — Johanna R
  • Secretary — Ben R
  • Treasurer — Larry B
  • Sergeant at Arms — Liam B

We’re still looking for a VP-Membership. If you see her, tell her she can run but she can’t hide. And why would you? In the words of Reg Boaler: “Don’t wait.”

While Toastmasters has always presented speaking opportunities, our new mission is to help members apply their communication skills to becoming leaders. The executive committee, which meets roughly once every two months, is a no-stress opportunity to practice leadership.

I mean, how hard can it be to run a megawatt club with standing room only?

And finally, “Don’t Wait” to log on to TurboBase and sign up for a role in next week’s meeting.

See you there.

Don't Wait

Written by PJ, Morningstars Past President

From where I stood at the lectern, Wednesday’s gathering of Morningstars looked like another megawatt meeting.

Standing room only, it’s the new normal at Harmony Hall with so many energetic new members changing the face of Club 1248.

And five more guests!

And a guest speaker.

Reg Boaler from Richmond dropped in on his way to Las Vegas where he’ll represent District 96 in the International Speech Championships. He needs the practice, he says, although you could have fooled me. He blew us away with a speech titled, “Don’t Wait.”

As in, don’t wait to tell the people you love that you love them.

When Reg handed the lectern back to me (as Chairperson) I was so choked up I couldn’t thank him properly.

It’s a gift to be exposed to this calibre of speech craft, and I was especially glad to see so many new members experience first-hand how it’s done.

There’s a critical time in the orientation of a new member when they’ll either be positively infected with the club culture, or they will decide Toastmasters is not for them. I wish I knew why we fail some members. I’m going to address this mystery in a couple of weeks with an educational presentation about the dynamics of a member’s first few meetings.

Our newest Morningstars, like Shannon and Sarah and Margot and Mike and Sharon and Andrea and Weegee got to experience the changing of guard on Wednesday morning—a new executive elected for the term starting July 1.

Here’s the committee, starting with our brand new President:

  • President — Sharon L
  • VP-Education — Katherine S
  • VP-Public Relations — Johanna R
  • Secretary — Ben R
  • Treasurer — Larry B
  • Sergeant at Arms — Liam B

We’re still looking for a VP-Membership. If you see her, tell her she can run but she can’t hide. And why would you? In the words of Reg Boaler: “Don’t wait.”

While Toastmasters has always presented speaking opportunities, our new mission is to help members apply their communication skills to becoming leaders. The executive committee, which meets roughly once every two months, is a no-stress opportunity to practice leadership.

I mean, how hard can it be to run a megawatt club with standing room only?

And finally, “Don’t Wait” to log on to TurboBase and sign up for a role in next week’s meeting.

See you there.

Rough Around the Edges

Written by PJ, Morningstar’s Past President

The Toastmaster role is so challenging that it’s rare to see someone take it to a new level, as Sheila did this morning. Sheila decided to reinvent the Chair’s opening gambit.

Walking to the lectern, she launched into a story without so much as a Hello, without a single word of fanfare. The story was so witty and sexy and honest that I momentarily forgot where I was and what we were supposed to be doing there at Harmony Hall.

Turns out the story was an excerpt from Sheila’s personal memoir. (I’ll buy a dozen!) She depicted a younger version of herself, a person with a self-image that was “rough around the edges.” Which—Ta-da!—was the meeting’s theme.

If Sheila’s smooth experiment was an antidote to the “rough” theme, she succeeded tremendously. And what better place to deploy Speechcraft expertise than at the start? Beginnings are potent. We remember them. They set the pace.

I should know a bit about beginnings, since my most recent speech concerns “getting to the point.” Having rewritten the talk for four different occasions, I’ve discovered that getting to the point is a many-faceted thing.

“The point” is not only the core message of a presentation, but it should give the audience a damn good reason to invest valuable time in listening further. A classy start such as Sheila’s was this morning gave us the feeling that we were in the hands of a pro. Which encourages us all to relax. Which helps us all perform our own roles at our smoothest best. (Grammar police!)

And talk about smooth!

William ever so smoothly interpreted another author’s formula for success in life.

Katherine’s smooth report of her High Performance Leadership project (an executive manual) belied a lot of rough, tough work over the past nine months. Thanks, Kat!

And I give Kay special recognition for saying in her “Inspiration” that the iceberg that sunk the Titanic was obviously “rough around the edges.”

Okay, I need one more bit of clever word-play to close this piece—here goes:

Reflecting on Sheila as Chair this morning, I see a relatively new Morningstar who has come a long way in a short time. A little rough around the edges only a few months ago, Sheila has polished her skills to a degree that astonishes all of us. Of Sheila we can say without a doubt that here is one Toastmaster who is no longer a diamond in the rough.

Phew!

See you next week.

 

Full House, No Fooling

Written by Johanna, VP of PR

Full house today, no fooling!

Two guests as well, through word of mouth. Morningstars are so enthused about our club that we can’t help but talk about our experience to friends, colleagues, and family. Opportunities to promote our club can be spontaneous in addition to our well planned, advertised efforts. They all require a willingness to speak­ up and take the time to “walk the talk”.

A New Perspective

Our meeting on April Fool’s Day emphasized “evaluation skills”, with ideas naturally evolving from unique individual perspectives. For example, Grammarian Jolanda, shared how well she was able to understand each speaker’s message that morning from her “English as a second language” point of view. It was a great reminder for us to reduce our use of jargon and run on sentences.

Presentation and Leadership

What a difference learning presentation and leadership skills can make to all aspects of our lives. Encouraging others’ self­-expression, role-­modelling the confidence to take a clear stand on an issue, or over­coming our own fears of rejection when giving and receiving constructive feedback are natural outcomes of being a Toastmasters Club member.

Morningstars in the Community

image of castLast month Sandy and I participated as “fashion announcers” in a local event, the Driftwood Players Downton Abbey production.  What fun it was, with a number of Morningstars coming to add to the audience.

On Mar 18th, our club was also been invited by the Chamber of Commerce to present three workshops in an evening session.

In an event at the end of May, Katherine will encourage community members to develop their voices and their stories at the Gibsons Library, a workshop sponsored by a local women’s health network.

Accepting invitations to speak outside of the clubs meetings is a good challenge for us, and a way we can contribute to our community.

Whenever we have the opportunity to share the Toastmaster’s journey with others, realize that our learning from being part of the program will be apparent to the listeners. It may engage their interest to join our club. As VP of Public Relations this past year, I believe Toastmasters International contributes to enhancing communication, sharing leadership knowledge, and making the world a better place for all.

Mountains to Climb

mar18

Picture this.

The alarm goes at 5:30 am. John hits the alarm button and rolls out of bed. He has to get to Harmony Hall and have the coffee on, and the room set up. Today is the club level speech contest for the International Speech and Evaluation Contests.

alarm clock6 am arrives. Across town, the speech contestants are also rolling out of bed. Do they have time to practise their speeches for the contest one more time? Did they have any questions pop into their heads, such as, “What was I thinking?” If they did, we’ll never know. Come contest time, they were THERE.

In other parts of the community, people were getting up ready to be judges, timers, counters, and evaluation contestants. Sharon, our Chair for the contest, was preparing for the first of two challenges for the day. (More later on her second challenge.)

Having converged on Harmony Hall by 7 am, everyone prepared for their particular role in the contest.

Themes emerged in the speeches such as:

  1. If we want people to listen to us we have to get to the point.
  2. Listening is showing others we appreciate them.
  3. If something goes wrong in life, dealing with it now is better than a kick in the pants later.

Wow, what meaningful and diverse topics. Cue applause.

After the speech portion of the contest, Ben delivered his test speech, intriguing everyone with his question, “If someone told you they saw a bear riding a bicycle in Gibsons, would you believe them?”

Our evaluation contest participants, all wide awake by now, delivered their evaluations of Ben’s speech.

Sharon announced the winners of the two contests. Prizes were awarded, and the meeting came to an end.

Oh  wait, I forgot to mention the winners.

Congratulations to PJ and Cathie for the speech contest, and Sandy and Alicia for the evaluation contest. They will have the opportunity to do it all again in the Area Contest on April 4th, 2 pm at Harmony Hall.

Morningstars disperse to their various locations. But they will be reconvening later. We’re not done yet.

It’s now 4:30 in our red letter day.

Several members of Morningstars arrive at the Gibson’s Library to facilitate a Presentations Skills Workshop for the Chamber of Commerce.

The Morningstars team, with careful planning by able team leader Sheila, is ready. The room fills, the buzz quiets, and the workshop begins.

There are three parts to the presentation.

  1. Getting to the point, a revised version of PJ’s winning speech from the morning
  2. How to speak with presence so your audience will engage with your message, by Katherine.
  3. How to use effective visuals, by William.

Sharon stepped up to her second challenge of the day and chaired the event with her usual poise.

Kudos to Donna from the Chamber for making the whole thing happen, and to Larry, Loretta, Judy Lynne, and Ben for their assistance.

Questions are asked. Workshop ends. Crowd chats. Room slowly clears. Chairs restored to order.

Red letter day over. Is there another red letter day in Morningstars future?

Time will tell.

Cue final credits.

Capture the Wind

Written by William, member of Morningstars and current Area 73 Governor.

The theme for the day was “Capture the Wind” and the meeting was ably chaired by Cathie, our Toastmaster for the day.

Word of the Day: Evocative

I always feel welcome walking into the Toastmasters meeting as our Sgt. At Arms, John greets me, shaking my hand and smiling.

Our new member, Judy Lynn carried out the Timer role for first time and while she said she felt challenged, she did an excellent job for her first role, ably assisted by her mentor Sandy.

We had a guest, Bonnie, who was invited by Johanna.

The Inspiration was given by Sheila, who quoted Mark Twain “It takes me a about 3 weeks to prepare an impromptu speech”.   Also, “20 years from now you’ll be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than the things you did. Cast off the bowlines.” Sheila’s toast was “to our next 20 years”.

There were 3 speeches.

Johanna presented a speech from the Storytelling Advanced Manual and told a story about a trip she took to Murdochville, Quebec.  She demonstrated great facial expressions and vocal variety and inserted wonderful humour. She easily transported us into her story and put us in her pocket for the journey.

The 2nd speaker was Frank who spoke of our creative drives. It was his no. 2 speech in the Competent Communicator manual. Frank is colour blind and took up painting as a hobby, much inspired by an art teacher when he was young. He took us through the journey of his art education and what he terms “his scribbling”.

The 3rd Speaker was Sharon who presented a project from the Successful Club Series and provided insight into the DCP, the Distinguished Club Program. She explained the 10 areas of the program and presented it in a very expressive and enthusiastic style, finishing up with a challenge to the members “what part are YOU going to play in this program”? She emphasized that the program is very much a team effort that takes place each toastmaster year from July 1st to June 30th.

Excellent evaluations were given from Toastmasters Kate, Ben and William.

Kay provided the meeting with a joke that made the meeting erupt in laughter. She and Larry are vying for the title of “best joke teller” in the club.

Larry as General Evaluator provided feedback on the full meeting and provided his unique insights into the meeting and the roles with his usual good humour.

There was a lot of enthusiasm and “good cheer” in the meeting with a continuing sense of fun.   Another great Morningstars meeting.

What a great way to start the day.

Dec 10 we are having a special open house… with treats! All are welcome.

The Details of Life and District Conference Recap

Written by Sheila C

The Details of Life was the theme for today.

We had two fantastic speeches today. Patricia (who achieved DTM last year) gave us an experienced Icebreaker with an organized, entertaining speech that included visual aids. Sharon gave us a look at an important historical figure as she completed her 10th speech in her Competent Communicator manual. Way to go, Sharon!

Table Topics provided us a unique view into Cathie’s fridge, the sound surrounding Katherine, how Judy packs to ride the ferry, and the details that fill Loretta’s morning routine.

I found myself completely absorbed with the minutiae of the meeting in my role as General Evaluator. Time passed quickly and I was thrilled to check another box in my Competent Leadership manual.

Putting myself out there and trying (scary and layered as it may be) is making a difference. I encourage everyone to sign up for new roles. Some are easier than others and some are harder than they appear. I appreciate the balance of skills that Toastmasters offers us in our steps toward growth.

And now, here’s a re-cap of the recent District 96 Conference:

District 96 Fall/2014 Conference

I was fortunate to represent Morningstars at the District conference in Port Moody on October 24 and 25. This was the first ever conference for this brand new district, since all of British Columbia Toastmasters clubs (formerly District 21) have now been split into two districts (21 and 96).

I attended nearly all of the events–keynote speakers, educational sessions, business meeting, awards ceremony, contests, and meals. Here are some notes that might be beneficial to my fellow Toastmasters and anyone interested in Toastmasters.

Keynote from Angus Reid, Football Player

Have a dream, build your team, then make it happen. Sounds easy, right? What if you’re too short, don’t have the wingspan, and your health knocks you down? Have a dream (the dream is everything, and goals are not dreams), build your team (your support network, the people who know your dream and support it), and make it happen (find out what you need to do and do it, set goals and accomplish them).

From Ryan Avery, 2012 World Champion Public Speaker

Recommended reading: Speak Like Churchill, Stand Like Lincoln, by James Humes.

  1. Remove the words “just” and “only” from your speaking vocabulary.
  2. Enter with energy.
  3. Exit with energy, power, strength.
  4. You are judged by how you enter, and remembered for how you leave.
  5. Laughing builds likability.
  6. Sharing your failures builds relate-ability.
  7. Acronym for a good speech. S.M.I.L.E. Simple story, Mistake made, Imitate, Laugh, Energy
  8. Stop multi-tasking. Focus.
  9. Pick the “right” team, don’t just fill the position. (I might never forget the funny story that went with this. You can ask me about it in person.)
  10. The only competition is yourself. Now raise your right hand as high as you can in the air. Ok? Now raise it two more inches. Everyone’s potential is enormous. Are you reaching yours?

From Marti MacEwan: The Stage Fright Cure and the Rapid Relief Process

www.stagefright.com, marti@stagefright.com

Stagefright is a perceived threat.

1. Get objective. Tune in. Observe self and situations (present and past/childhood).

2. Create safety. Practise, practise, practise. Wear comfortable clothing. Try out the stage ahead of time. Breathe from diaphragm. Swing your arms around to bring blood back to extremities.

3. Use Rapid Relief Process (contact Marti for how to do that–she did give examples but too many to describe here) to clear the negativity that is creating the illusion of fear, and to charge up the positive emotions.

From Dai Manuel: Fitness Town

Dai is a healthy fit guy who was an obese child. He is now promoting healthy habits in the workplace and developing strategies for getting active. Informative and interesting.

Other News for District 96

The Yukon Territories will be joining District 96. There are two clubs in Whitehorse. It is being considered for them to join an “Area” in the city of Vancouver to make travel/flights more feasible.

The next District 96 conference is in early May, 2015 in Prince George, BC. Gene Vickers, District Governor, is arranging a Party Bus to get members to and from the event. The fall/2015 conference location will be voted on at the spring conference (Sunshine Coast, anyone?). The spring, 2016 conference will be in Burnaby, BC.

The Root of the Problem

Written by Johanna R, VP of PR

roots of a treeWith our theme being, “The Root of the Problem”, Chairperson Sandy Wrightman began the meeting holding a small wild leafy plant and lamenting the difficulty of getting to the root.

Just like our daily problems, we often just see the surface and not what is lying hidden below it.

Kate Wotton, as Inspirator, used the same plant metaphor. She
had applied it when teaching of health care workers in Africa about the need to look deeper at the structure and strength (of health) that roots give plants to produce prolific branches and leaves (wellness). Enchanting.

Just like the first speech from the Storytelling Manual delivered by Katherine Scott, told in story form, about the wind challenging the sun that the strength of  his gusty bravado would have the man below take off his cloak. It made the man cling to the cloak and bring it even closer to himself. When the sun shone brightly, on the other hand, the man removed his cloak.

Grammarian Kay Chapman, offered a good word for the day: penultimate…second to the last.

That was Johanna Rzepa’s introduction to her role of General Evaluator.

PJ was acknowledged for his reference to finding the root to generating new club members in his Table Topic questions.

Alicia in answering a Table Topics question, thought changing time perception in the community could help improve out membership numbers.

Sharon Langenberg, as second speaker, demonstrated the Competent Leader manual, and suggested that we could be strategic about the “leadership building” track as well as the “speaking confidence” aspect of Toastmasters.

Laughter, listening intently…a warm and earthy meeting all told.

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.