Beginnings, endings and, again, beginnings…

Last Thursday 7th June was an evening of beginnings, endings and new beginnings… from the “speeches” point of view!

Scott Kavanagh did an “icebreaker” from the Pathways series he’s just started (“Innovative Planning”). With the title “Worry” he talked about the fact he is a “natural born worrier” and about the elements which create worries in his life. He believes they have negative effects, but they can also have some positive ones.

He remembers an episode when he was learning to swim as a kid: they told him to go deeper, and he panicked because he didn’t understand the swimming pool was knee-deep.

Considering how he worries so much, he has been doing the “right” job for 10 years… that is the investor risk, which in short means “to worry on behalf of your client”.

Also, having a family with 3 kids means he will worry for his entire life.

To try to relax, he has recently started again an old hobby of his, that is painting miniatures; he is an avid reader, as well.

Public speaking is not easy, too, of course, but as he mentioned at the beginning, facing this will have a positive effect because he’ll help him to transform a worry into a strength.

Dan Haycraft, on the contrary, with “How you should do it” reached his tenth and final speech from the classic “Competent Communication” manual: he talked about how he was able to reach this result, that is finding, carefully choosing and matching the right heroes.

The first example he gives is “Chuck” Yeager, the pilot who beat for the first time the speed of sound. Everybody thought he wouldn’t have been able to make it, and two days before the event, he even broke two ribs. He didn’t reveal it to anyone, he was helped in closing the hatch of the plane, he was able to overcome any difficulties and break that record. After that moment, he could beat other records.

Like him, Dan took that attitude whenever he had to overcome some difficulties.

Another hero who inspired him was General Robert Lee. He was a soldier, and when the war broke, he had to face a hard choice: to stay faithful to the United States or to the state of Virginia? He chose Virginia. Then, he was defeated, he accepted it and after the war, he was very supportive to the reconciliation between North and South.

This attitude, too, helped him a lot, especially after the devastations caused by hurricane Katrina: he decided to be strong both physically and socially.

He states he didn’t prepare that speech to inspire anyone, but simply to suggest everybody should choose carefully their personal heroes. In doing so, they may lose in some situations, but in other situations they will certainly win more times than they think.

Finally, our most experienced John Wood introduced us with “It’s only Words” to the “Entertaining Speech”, from “The Entertaining Speaker” series of the Pathways program.

Telling a small, personal anecdote John starts to give examples of different types of “peculiar” words… words he noted in his “vocabulary notebook”, a habit he took when he was a boy train-spotter.

One of his current highlights is when the Oxford Dictionary lists the new neologisms, both the portmanteau words and the terms whose meanings have been “rebooted”. Even the “Washington Post” is taking some interest in this last aspect: in fact, they run an annual competition where the readers are asked to provide an alternative meaning to existing words.

Finally, a type of words which amuses him a lot are the definitions describing social groups, like the recent “gammon”, but what strikes him the most is realizing that the number of new neologisms appearing every year is almost as much the same amount of the vocabulary spoken by an average person.

In short, a great evening which makes us look forward to what we may be able to hear at our next meeting, on Thursday 21st June.


IceBreakers – Traditional and Pathways

At the 26th April meeting, we had two different types of “icebreaker” which helped us to get introduced to and know a little better two of our members.

First, Kevin Dickson, with his “Changes”, delivered his speech from the Competent Communication Manual, whose objectives are “Speak before an audience; use existing speaking skills; introduce oneself to fellow club members”.

His was a classic piece: Kevin started telling how he worked as a paperboy when he was 10 years old, and how that job in the UK was different compared to the idea we have when we see it in the US movies. Then, he described how he spent a lot of time outside with his friends. He grew up and continued to study; he went to Aberdeen for his Masters in Psychology; he did different types of jobs to support himself during that period; he moved back to Edinburgh where he started working for the NHS -a full life, where “change” was a constant element of it.

In the past he never had a chance to study or attend courses in public speaking and leadership, and now he wants to change that situation. That is why he chose to be here and take some risks learning new things, instead of staying safely at home.

The highly-experienced Moira Beaton, after the numerous speeches she has delivered, has started the new Pathways program, and she delivered her icebreaker speech, in the “Presentation Mastery” program, entitled “Risk!!”. In this case, the objectives are: “Deliver a speech on any topic as an introduction to the club using any style that appeals”.

She remembered how she delivered her first speech in 2004 only after 6 weeks she attended the club, and she was nervous because she didn’t know what they would think of her after hearing what she had to say. She looked back at her evaluation written in her original CC manual, and noticed she was described as a “risk-taker”.

Maybe it was because, when she was very young, she left for Syria travelling in a car with a husband, a dog and everything they had. It was the beginning of a very intense period: in October 1973 she didn’t leave Damascus when the Yom Kippur war broke out; in 1974 she went to the Saudi Arabian desert and was stung twice by scorpions, then she moved to Oman and moved again, to Cyprus with her husband and two children,2 years after the Cyprus invasion; there, she ran a hospital and a restaurant. Twenty-five years after she left Scotland, she returned to the UK, and she started to study again, this time law in Glasgow.

After that first speech in 2004, she did many other things and now she wonders where this new icebreaker will lead her – maybe to other 14 years of Toastmasters?

Post written by Omar Martini, Waverley Communicators

Club Humorous Speech and Table Topics Contest

Post written by Moira Beaton DTM, Vice President Public Relations

Humour is mankind’s greatest blessing (Mark Twain)

Thursday 6th September  – humour, fun and nail-biting suspense when the club holds its annual Humorous Speech Contest and Table Topics Contest. 

ALL members are eligible to compete.

Humorous Speech Contest: a 5-7 minute humorous speech with the usual opening, body, conclusion – not a standup routine.

Table Topics Contest: 1-2 minute speech – all contestants speak on the same topic.

We also need Judges,Timers, Ballot Counters and SAA’s and of course, an audience!

To get you in the mood, make yourself some tea or coffee, have a seat for 7 minutes and watch the District 71 Humourous Speech Champion 2008 – Michael Cronin from Speak Easy Toastmasters, Mallow, County Cork, deliver his hilarious winning speech Feel The Fear And Blow It Up Anyway.

Look out for most posts on humour and a video on an easy and foolproof way to construct and deliver Table Topics.

Club Officer Training 2012

Post written by Moira Beaton DTM, Vice President Public Relations

Five members of the club committee attended a 4 hour club officer training session in Glasgow yesterday. They were Brian Duffy, President; Stephen Dix VPE; Ritchie Brown VPM; David Dick Treasurer; and Moira Beaton VPPR.

Kevin Lee, Area 30 Governor and Waverley Communicators member produced a magnificent birthday cake during the break  for my birthday which was the day before. 

It was a feather-light sponge, layered with whipped cream and topped with kiwis, lychees, peaches and strawberries.  Thank you Kevin!

The training was organised by Southside Speakers in Glasgow and facilitated by Kevin as Area Governor.

All over the world, club officers meet twice yearly for training. 

It’s a good chance to also exchange ideas and information, catch up on Area and District news and meet fellow officers.

I had intended to take a group photograph of the Waverley Communicators team but in my excitement, I forgot.

So, here is a photograph of me cutting the cake with Area 30 club officers milling around in the background trying to pretend they are not really interested in the cake but after the break, there wasn’t a crumb left.

As I cut the cake and blew out the candles, everyone sang Happy Birthday.

This was recorded by Chris Copeland of Glasgow Toastmasters who has promised to send me the recording.  But, don’t worry, I won’t upload it in another blog post.

After the training, Brian kindly gave Ritchie, David and me a lift back to Edinburgh.

A torrential downpour met us on the M8 and lightning, crackling directly overhead, followed the car for several miles.

We were all very relived to reach Edinburgh where we were greeted by blue skies and sunshine.

Video – Moving And Speaking

Post written by Moira Beaton DTM, Vice President Public Relations

To Move or Not To Move, That Is The Question

Darren La Croix was the winner of the Toastmasters International Speech Contest in 2001.  I have listened to many of  his videos and also have some of  his material. 

He explains things in a clear, simple way and he’s funny.  He also makes his video tips short and succinct.

Here is one of Darren’s videos that dropped into my email Inbox a few days ago.

It’s one of the best explanations I have seen of when to move, how to move and how to elegantly  transition from one point to another. 

He also illustrates his points with clips from his winning speech – all this in 4 mins. 22 secs.

If you find this useful (or not), leave a comment.