With the holidays over, Rodney Ford our first Toastmaster for 2018 was feeling philosophical. Given the time of year, as a way to help us stop worrying about the past, or what might be in the future, he gave us ‘Be Present’ as the meeting’s theme.
Helen McLeod, Sgt at Arms calmly and effectively called us to order just as the post-holiday chatter was beginning to build, and gave a special welcome to Matt, our first guest of the year. She then asked us all to close our eyes and practice mindfulness for a nano-second, setting the ‘Be Present’ scene before inviting Rodney up to formally get the meeting underway.
In keeping with his theme, Rodney had selected a few quotes from a favourite book, Don’t Forget to Sing in the Lifeboats, and he peppered these throughout the meeting. After sharing how he uses this book to cheer up his daughter, and how he’d spent the Christmas holidays teaching his grandchildren how to lose, Rodney invited Grant Beattie up to introduce the first speaker, Mark Glanville.
Grant painted such a vivid picture of Mark riding around on his new lawnmower that I got distracted and neglected to note which Manual speech he was covering, but Mark chose an appropriate topic to kick off the New Year, reminding us how precious time is, and urging us not to waste it. Using a 4-quadrant time management matrix model, he demonstrated how easy it can be to plan out our priorities and decide what’s important. He also kindly provided us each with our own matrix, so that we could take advantage of his suggestion.
John MacVicar then introduced Louise Green who was tackling the Persuade with Power speech from the Competent Communicator manual. John had managed to ascertain that Louise is up for a busy 2018. She is actively involved in getting the new central library up and running, has six papers to study towards her Masters degree and will also complete a field trip to Vietnam this year. Even with all that on, she still managed to put together a powerful speech, ‘The Only Card You’ll Ever Need’ about why we should all use a library She gave us many memorable lines throughout, including “You don’t even have to put your clothes on to use the library”, and “The mark of a good library is that there is enough variety to offend everyone”, but the overall message that stuck with me is that libraries play an important part in ensuring that we have a vibrant democracy and safeguard our freedom of information.
“Google can bring you back 100,000 answers. A librarian can bring you the right one.” – Neil Gaiman.
Our third speaker, Sandra Chatterton was introduced by Vijay Vellaisamy. Giving us a little personal background including that Sandra’s a marriage celebrant, Vijay told us that she was jumping into the Pathways programme and that her speech “When your time is not up”, would be her Icebreaker. Sandra shared a true story of a time when she had a close call with disaster while travelling with friends to Russell from Paihia to have lunch at the Duke of Marlborough. Despite a great big pine tree landing on top of the car she was in, thankfully it was a tale that ended well, with Sandra and her cohorts making it to the pub, and enjoying two bottles of bubbly before leaving their wrecked vehicle behind, and returning to Paihia on the ferry.
Thankfully, after all that high drama, it was time for a cup of tea.
Following a welcome cuppa, Table Topics master David Pottinger asked a few questions with a twisted nod to the topic of being present. The list of questions and answers went like this:
What’s the best present you’ve ever received and why?
Mo Yakubu – A Kindle from his wife. Mo was never into books growing up, and he’s now discovered that he likes reading fiction for pleasure, and finds it easy with a Kindle.
What’s the best presentation you’ve ever given and why?
Claire Ruru – A joint speech with her husband Brent about their trip across Canada. She was concerned how it might go as he’s a winger and she’s a preparer, but regardless, it turned out well.
What have you learnt about how to be present from today’s meeting?
Courtney Tibbotts – It’s something she’s been trying to do more of, so the meeting has given her something to think about in terms of giving greater consideration to the practice.
Was there a time when you were presented with a present, and it was present?
(Unsure if I got this question down correctly, because I was too busy thinking about what it meant)
Natalie Perzylo – Took us into the future and described her house being on fire so the present was that she no longer had to clean it, but I must admit, while this sounded like a super clever approach to a tricky question, it lost me somewhere along the way.
David then asked our visitor, Matt to tell us about the best present he’s ever given anyone. Despite being an unexpected opportunity, Matt was game enough to tackle the challenge and told us about a JB hi-fi voucher he gave to his daughter with the best intentions. Unfortunately it completely missed the ‘amazing’ mark as it was a JB Hi-fi NZ voucher and she lives in Australia!
After a bit of fun, it was back into the more serious side of things as Rodney called on the evaluators to give their take on the three speeches. David Clarkson evaluated Mark’s speech, commending him for choosing a timely, universal theme and recommending that he end with more enthusiasm to drive home the message and help the audience remember the key points.
Commending Louise for giving us powerful messages all the way through her speech, Terrelle Heggarty recommended that she makes more intentional eye contact when speaking, “hanging” a bit and – again along the lines of our theme – “Being with people in that moment”.
Denise Ford commended Sandra on captivating us with her engaging personal, true story. Encouraging her to stop clasping her hands and make sure she addresses both sides of the room, Denise congratulated Sandra on being the first Boaters speaker to complete a Pathways speech.
Brent Ruru put his hand up at short notice to evaluate the Table Topics and before getting into it, , explained the theory behind evaluations for the benefit of our guest. After that, in the interest of keeping things to time, he gave one evaluation – or one recommendation – relating to all the speakers, which was that everyone’s talk could have been improved with better voice projection.
Reports and other bits
Presenting the Timer’s report, Lloyd Manson noted that while some people had gone slightly over time, several of the table topics speakers went under, which, however unintentional, got us back on track.
Using humour to deliver a strong message, General Evaluator Vivien Cowey wondered if we were simply having a gentle start back after the holidays, and encouraged us to rev things up a bit to show more enthusiasm overall. She also reminded us that it’s a good idea to adjust the lectern so that if we’re using notes, we can read them easily.
Brent then came back up with his President’s hat on to point out that now Pathways has begun, even if choosing to stick with the manual format, we all still need to know our way around the new system for introductions and evaluations. All of the information is on the Toastmasters International website, so hop on and get familiar with it.
He also gave notice that the next competition is 14 March, before handing back to Rodney (so put it in your diary!)
Before closing the meeting Rodney selected Sandra as the Toastie award recipient, which he gave for bravely sharing her story and bravely plunging into Pathways; a good motivational step for us all, as individuals and as a club!