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.


First Time: Evaluation

evaluation 01_Evaluations_LR

Guest post written by Alex Nuth, Member Waverley Communicators

First Evaluation

After being a member of Waverley Communicators for over a year, I have given my first speech evaluation.

I probably waited much longer than many members, but the more speeches I gave at the club, the more I appreciated the value of the evaluation and feedback that I received.

In the last few months I was pleased to realise that many of the points I was writing on my evaluation slips for other members’ speeches, were also mentioned in verbal evaluations by more experienced club members. That gave me the confidence to do my first evaluation.

My first evaluation on 23rd January was for Gopal Lama who was delivering speech 3 from the Competent Communicator (CC) manual. His speech was called Volunteering in Nepal.


I re-read the speech project in the manual to make sure I knew the objectives and I read the Toastmasters Effective Evaluations booklet .

I also thought about Gopal’s previous speeches, and what I had enjoyed about them and previously recommended.  I emailed him to ask if he had anything he would especially like me to concentrate on, and I made contact with my mentor to run some thoughts past her.

I felt quite confident and prepared when I arrived at 6.45pm. I divided my sheet of paper into two columns, one for commendations and one for recommendations and sat back to enjoy the  meeting.


Then, when Gopal began his speech I realised how hard it is to look, listen and write all at the same time!


The time seemed to pass in a flash and  it was time for me to take to the floor; give a 3 minute mini-speech without rehearsal; and remember the Toastmasters ‘sandwich’ of commend, recommend and commend at the same time trying to read my own handwritten notes.


I hope I did OK in conveying my personal opinions on how Gopal’s speech met the objectives.

I hope the audience followed my thinking and that I didn’t speak down into my notes too much.

But most importantly, I hope that Gopal took something positive from my evaluation to carry forward to his next speech.

My Toastmaster Journey: Ritchie Brown

Hi fellow members of Waverley Communicators.

It gives me great pleasure in accepting this invitation from the club’s Vice President of Public Relations (VPPR) to write about my experiences as a Toastmaster throughout the last two years.

As many of you know, I recently completed my Competent Communication Manual (CC) to become a “Competent Communicator”.

However, if you had told me after my ice-breaker  that I would achieve my CC within two years, I would have thought you were being either rather silly or extremely polite.

But this is the Toastmaster way.

Ever since the first day in which an acquaintance of mine persuaded me (and metaphorically dragged me) to attend a Toastmaster meeting as a guest, everyone has been impeccably friendly and hospitable while exuding empathy, patience and motivation.

But to be honest, I might have joined earlier than I did.

‘Why the procrastination?’ you might ask.

Well, Stephen Dix (I’m sure he doesn’t mind me mentioning his name) had been trying to persuade me to join the club for about a year before I finally conjured up the courage to attend.

My fear of public speaking is due to a verbal stammer, and part of the speaking course  Stephen and I had previously attended, advocated confronting your fears face-on.

So I did that and I finally became a paying member of Waverley Communicators in January 2012, and tentatively began my Toastmaster journey.

The club’s mentoring programme has been invaluable and provided me with Stephen as my kind and reliable personal mentor.

He gave me constructive feedback to improve my speeches. And as he delivered it punctually and accurately, it enabled me to stick to my personalised timetable. Therefore, I extend a warm thanks to Stephen for his kind remarks and suggestions.

In hindsight, my initial speeches went reasonably to plan.

The ice-breaker was an extremely effective and relevant way to introduce myself to the club and fellow members; in my CC2 speech I also managed to stick to the structure.

However, it became more challenging later on in the CC when I was obliged to hurl myself out of pre-determined comfort-zones.

For example, body movement and vocal variety were (and still are) very difficult for me, and because of that, I found it more challenging to speak persuasively.

Significantly, I have always relied on facts and figures to present my case. Now I understand the perspective that emotion and persuasion also win support.

But my journey isn’t finished!

This is because Toastmasters runs advanced manuals and with them I intend to enhance my areas-of-improvement to become more confident in front of an audience.

One of these areas is using my prepared script. I need to become more flexible with what I say in response to the audience.

Although I have had to accept, over the last two years, that there is no cure for a stammer, I feel the Toastmasters experience has remarkably increased my confidence at public speaking.

I would advise the Toastmasters programme to anyone!

It has given me direction in life while equipping me with skills which are valued by employers.

May I take this opportunity to thank all members for a great Toastmaster experience thus far.

Good luck to everyone in their Toastmaster Journey!

Post written by Ritchie Brown CC

Member of Waverley Communicators

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