Breaking The Ice – Michael McLernan


It was not like the Inquisition. You don’t expect the Inquisition!

I had scheduled my Ice Breaker speech for the 19th June, giving me plenty time to steam towards it like the Titanic, and hope to be more successful than she in actually breaking the ice that lay before me.  I should have known better than to make the comparison even mentally, for out of the blue one weekend came an opening for that very Thursday. Too late to turn. I had to take it head on.

Actually, doggerel aside (which I strongly advise you not to use in your speeches!) it was terrific! I had been going to the club, Waverley Communicators, since January, had been voted in in March, and you could not find a friendlier group of people anywhere, nor a mentor better than mine.

The Icebreaker speech is the first of the ten speeches in the ‘Competent Communicator’ manual of developing yourself as a public speaker. The purpose of the Icebreaker is to showcase, to yourself and to everyone else, your existing public speaking skills. Most of all, it’s to introduce yourself properly to your fellow Toastmasters.

But after you’ve been to the club for even a few sessions, there isn’t much ice left to be broken – it’s all been melted already by the sheer warmth of the atmosphere. (To say nothing of the room temperature, the radiators taking the name ‘Toastmasters’ a little too literally!).[That’s been fixed! The Ed.]

On the night, I went to the front of the room, clutching my notes like a comfort blanket, and was greeted with a warm handshake, a wink and a mouthed ‘Good luck’ from club stalwart Eileen Scott, and turned to face an array of smiling faces.
For the first speech, you are allotted four – six minutes. In twenty, as Philip Marlowe said, ‘you can sink a battleship, down three or four planes, hold a double execution. You can die, get married, get fired, and find a new job, have a tooth pulled, have your tonsils out.’ Approximately five minutes to say all you need to say should be a doddle. I took six and a half. What can I say – I find myself interesting subject! The challenge is to make your audience interested as well.

But the secret of the incredible success of Toastmasters in turning out confident and eloquent public speakers is not just the course itself, excellent as that is. It is the close knit community spirit, and the desire of everyone there to help improve everyone else. After each speech, your evaluator and your mentor give you both praise and advice, so you know what you’ve done well, and what you need to improve. You can relax among your fellow Toastmasters, and because of that the words flow, and the confidence builds.
After just four months there I have found myself at home as I have in few other places, and would eagerly recommend it to anyone.

Are you still here? What are you waiting for? Come down to 28 York Place on Thursday 1st May and see for yourself.

Post written by Michael McLernan

Member of Waverley Communicators


New Members Deliver Their IceBreakers

Edward Kutas receives his IceBreaker ribbon from Club President Kevin Miller

Edward Kutas receives his IceBreaker ribbon from Club President Kevin Miller


Michael McLernan receives his Icebreaker ribbon from Club President Kevin Miller

As Martin Luther King Jnr said:

‘You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.’

Edward Kutas and Michael McLernan took that first step on Thursday evening at the club meeting when they delivered their Icebreaker speeches.

Their next step on the staircase leading to the Competent Communicator (CC) award is CC2 which is one of the most important speeches in the CC manual.  Every speech you will ever give needs a structure, and in CC2 members learn how to organise their content and build their speech on a strong foundation.

See the post on Ted Corcoran’s workshop and the insights he shared with us.

Congratulations to Edward and Michael for taking the first step.

Post written by Moira Beaton DTM

Vice President Public Relations


Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.

Martin Luther King, Jr.


Ted’s Talk

Ted Corcoran DTM

Ted Corcoran DTM

Last Saturday, before the Division S International Speech and Evaluation contest, we were treated to a workshop on how to write a  speech in 10 minutes. Yes, really – 10 minutes. It was informative, interactive, inspiring and lots of fun.

The workshop presenter, Ted Corcoran DTM is a veteran of the Irish Toastmaster clubs, and a former International President – to put it in perspective, you can’t go any higher than that in Toastmasters!  He was warm, down-to-earth and funny, and by the end of the workshop everyone had relaxed – even the contestants – and in good spirits.

Ted started off by quoting Lance Miller, former World Champion of Public Speaking

It’s not what you say, it’s what [the audience] hears and understands.

Then he went on to deliver some good insights into speech-making in Toastmasters, invaluable for members, especially new members, to keep in mind when they deliver speeches.

For example:

If [members] haven’t mastered CC2 (organisation and structure) and CC3 (purpose of the speech), they have nothing, it’s just talk. Your audience may hear your words but they won’t understand.

Think simple. Many members delay speeches because they can’t think of ideas for speech topics. They think the subject has to be important. But it’s not the important subject that matters, it’s the process.

And the process is in the CC manual. For a simple, successful speech that your audience will not only hear but also understand, you need to have:


1.Open with something that gets the audience’s attention

2. Tell the audience what you’re going to tell them

3. Make 3 points to support your subject

4. Summarise by telling them what you have told them

5. Close by referring back to the opening.

This structure is simple and quick, especially handy for those times when you are asked to ‘say a few words’, fill in at a meeting for the speaker who didn’t turn up, or you’re unexpectedly asked to make a toast or present an award. If you have only 10 minutes to prepare, this simple technique may save you a lot of embarrassment and earn you respect as someone who can think on their feet.

Try it next time you’re put on the spot, see if it works for you.

Post written by Moira M Beaton DTM

Vice President Public Relations



Ritchie Brown: Competent Communicator

004Congratulations to our first Competent Communicator of 2014 – Ritchie Brown CC.

With a speech How To Be More Like The Germans Ritchie completed speech 10 in the CC manual to achieve his award.

Ritchie delivered his speech at the last meeting, in spite of being in a small, hot room (see the last post), with confidence. He was relaxed, smiling and, throughout, appeared to be enjoying himself.

His connection with the audience was apparent from the start and he used humour, steady eye contact and inclusive language to achieve this.

The CC10 speech is a landmark for members as, by the time they reach CC10, they are supposed to have learned the basic skills in the nine preceding projects.

Ritchie demonstrated that since he joined the club, he had been diligently building on the skills learned in each project until he was able to deliver a speech that showed all of them off to advantage.

Club President Kevin Miller congratulated Ritchie on his award, presented him with his CC certificate and invited him to a meeting of Scotland’s advanced speakers club – Thistle Speakers – which, as an advanced speaker, Ritchie is now eligible to join.

Also as an advanced speaker, Ritchie can deliver speeches from any of the fifteen advanced manuals and work towards Toastmasters International advanced awards – ACB (bronze), ACS (silver), ACG (gold). There’s no end to it!

Post written by Moira Beaton DTM

Vice President Public Relations

Club meeting 26th July 2012

Post written by Moira Beaton DTM, Vice President Public Relations

Waverley’s first Competent Communicator of the new year 

public speaking, speaking, speeches, training, Edinburgh, Toastmasters, Toastmasters International, Waverley Communicators, leadership, soft skills

Club President, Brian Duffy, presents member Stephen Dix with his Competent Communicator award

It’s always  a special moment in a Toastmasters club when a member delivers their 10th and last speech in the Competent Communicator Manual.

Some members, when they first join, can’t imagine being able to deliver one speech, or even just standing up to introduce themselves.  

The Toastmasters programme is based on going at your own pace, one step at a time, and building up your skills.

On Thursday, Stephen Dix delivered his 10th speech and became a Competent Communicator.  

Stephen joined the club in November 2009 because he wanted to overcome a speech impediment and also to become more assertive.

I have had a stammer for as long as can remember and I could never have imagined myself speaking to an audience before joining the Waverley club.

Since joining, Stephen has thrown himself  into the Toastmaster experience, visiting clubs all over the UK, sitting on our club committee for 3 consecutive  years, attending speech contests and sponsoring the newly formed Haymarket Toastmasters in Edinburgh.

It was through a chance meeting at a Toastmasters contest that Stephen first heard about the McGuire Programme for stammerers.  He credits this programme and the opportunity to regularly practise speaking at Toastmasters for transforming his voice over the past year.

I have become a much more confident speaker and now I can actually enjoy the experience of giving a presentation instead of being paralysed by the thought of addressing a room full of people.

When once he was too terrified to speak, now he can’t stop. No problem – there are 15 advanced manuals to keep him talking for a while.

Congratulations Stephen!

The Meeting

public speaking, speaking, speeches, training, Edinburgh, Toastmasters, Toastmasters International, Waverley Communicators, leadership, soft skillsJohanne Burns was the Toastmaster of the Evening, assisted by Claire Dipnarine as Ah Counter; Richard McMahon as Timer; Neil MacLure as wordmaster/grammarian; and Pauline Dix as General Evaluator. 

Neil’s word of the day was ‘dearth’ which means ‘lack of’.

There was no dearth of guests, members, humour, good speeches, hilarious table topics, skilful evaluations, lively chat during the break and of course, cookies and cake.   In other words, another successful meeting.