Club Information

Next Meeting:
25 July 2019

Meeting Time:
18:45 for 19:00, every 2nd & 4th Thursday of the month

(Mingle time from 18:30 to 19:00!)

RSVP:
easy-Speak

Meeting Place:
Tennis Pavilion
Morningside Country Club
De La Ray Road
Rivonia

If you are coming from Sandton on Rivonia road, turn left after the Engen garage into 7th Avenue, then left again into De La Ray

District: 74
Division: H
Area: 4
Club Number: 8217
Charter Date: 6/1/1991

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I suffered a significant health crisis as a result of stress, which lasted approximately three years. It was caused by a number of factors but I believe the key reason was doing the wrong work for an extended period of time, in a stressful environment. It would make no sense to return to the work, nor the environment so, as I focussed on recovery, I also had to figure out a new career path.

I chose writing as the work I’d like to be doing and wrote a book called Avoiding Burnout about my experience. It’s tricky to make a living as a writer and a natural companion for writing is public speaking. A friend introduced me to a contact looking for a speaker for an event in August 2016. I gladly accepted the opportunity, and then began my search for help in building a new skill set.

I hired a speaking coach who recommended that I join a Toastmasters club in order to practice my speeches and to obtain formal feedback. I found a venue which hosted a few different clubs and was situated a few kilometres from home. I sampled a few different clubs on the various nights and I signed up. The one I chose, Morningside, was not the one containing people most like me. In fact, it contained people who were so different from me that I was fascinated by their views. The club consisted of a variety of ages and cultures and I knew that I would need to practice my speeches to a diverse audience to gain the most benefit.

I joined in June 2016, at a time when I didn’t have a lot of energy. Going out in the evening for a few hours was tough going as I was struggling with chronic fatigue. But I was motivated by the fact that I’d be speaking to a large audience in a few months and I wanted to grow my skills as a speaker as quickly as possible. I had written a rough first draft of my book when I delivered my first speech, my CC1. The speech was not a success and I realised that my speaking skills were mediocre, but my story had such a depressing tone. This insight slowly led me to realise that the first half of my book needed to be rewritten with the tone of appreciation, learning and grace. It was a surprise to find out that my speaking would feed my writing. An unexpected benefit.

I kept building on my skillset as I worked on each speech, bringing in structure, vocal variety and body language. My fellow club members were amazed at how fast I was progressing through the foundation speeches. I did five speeches in two and a half months. I had a pressing need to gain as much feedback and growth as possible before addressing my audience that August.

The day came for my big speech and I felt as ready as I was going to be. It was a great success and I enjoyed the day tremendously. The feedback was great and I was so happy to feel confident enough to address a large audience. I began looking for other speaking engagements and in parallel, continued my skills development.

Something significant happened next. I did the next speech and I received feedback that sounded very familiar – I had received the same comments a few times. I realised that I was so busy ticking boxes that I wasn’t incorporating the feedback into my speeches and I wasn’t growing to my satisfaction. Without the ability to pursue work or sports goals, I became a little overzealous with the speech progress. I put on the brakes and didn’t book a speech for a few weeks. I developed a checklist for myself of all the aspects that are required in a good speech plus the feedback areas I was working on. Each time I developed a speech, I ran it through my checklist to see if I had addressed my areas of weakness.

As part of my recovery from my illness, I read a lot of books. I didn’t have a lot of energy to work or pursue goals, so reading was an obvious pastime. I love to learn and I applied myself to learning in areas that would enrich my life. I read two books on deliberate practice, a field of study into people who are world-class in their domains with the aim of applying it into our own lives. I learnt that people who are at the top of their fields, continually work on the edge of their skillset, pushing themselves to master aspects of their craft. The checklist was my way of reminding myself to become strong in my weakest areas.

Once I felt more confident, I signed up for a few more speeches and by the time I completed my CC10 in April 2017, I felt that I was a competent speaker. Since I’m always aiming to improve, I signed up for the advanced series and I selected two areas that interested me. As a writer I am a natural story teller so I chose story telling speeches and the second area was professional speaking. I wanted to gain skills to the point where I felt legitimate in charging clients for my offering.

The story telling speeches were quite easy for me. I enjoyed them and I completed the speeches in a short period. The professional speaker series was a little more challenging. The speeches were much longer, and each project was quite an endeavour to prepare for. I was now expected to prepare speeches of twenty to forty minutes.

I included visual aids and put together presentations. I had to learn how to tweak these for maximum effect and to help me to remember longer speeches. The projects pushed me in ways that I was completely out of my comfort zone. At times I wondered if these efforts were still growing my skills or were they just taking up time. Looking back, I’m so pleased that I persevered through them as I gained from every project.

Doing an entertaining speech was quite hard for me. The pressure of being humorous is tough for someone who is quite serious. However, the evaluation showed me how much more the audience enjoys a speech when I’m having fun. The sales pitch was also a stretch since I’m not a natural sales person. It was clearly a success since I even made a few sales of my book that night after delivering the speech. The seminar was focused on teaching others the content I learnt about as part of my recovery. It was so well received that people were willing to sign up for my fictitious seminars afterwards!

I am one speech away from completing my ACB. I look back on this path of skills development and I marvel at how far I’ve come. I started with so little confidence and energy. The quality of my book was enhanced by my speaking journey. I gained so much insight into how my message is received and I was able to practice in a supportive environment at a time when I was struggling with so much in my life. I am so grateful to Toastmasters, my fellow club members and the wonderful evaluations that shaped my growth and developed my skills as a speaker. I have booked my final ACB speech for May 2018 and I’m so excited to achieve this milestone.

Kathy Mann is a wife and mother of two daughters, living in Johannesburg. She is an author and speaker, guiding others towards their best life possible. http://www.kathymann.co.za/

WhatsApp Image 2018-02-23 at 08.23.37

Morning fellow Toastmasaters and visitors! To promote and motivate the club contest of international speech and evaluation coming in March, our meeting tomorrow night at 7pm will be a special Evaluation Workshop hosted by Helen Greene, our senior member with fabulous charisma and abundant experience in speech evaluation.

All participants get to evaluate the speeches and learn immensely from the process, the speakers don’t only get feedback from one single evaluator, but multiple evaluators! Bring friends, colleagues and come join us, this is a meeting not to be missed!

HelenG01 HelenG02

Last year, I got an opportunity to speak at a women’s day event in August to 170 ladies. I was so nervous because I didn’t have a lot of speaking experience to large audiences. In my corporate past, I had done many presentations and I wasn’t a stranger to being in the limelight. But a 40-minute speech to an audience that size, was daunting.

The first thing I did was to find a speaking coach.  A friend recommended a coach that she met at a networking breakfast. I contacted him and set up an initial meeting to assess the fit between us. He provided me with a lot of tips on what makes a good speech and pitfalls to look out for. One of his first recommendations was to join Toastmasters so that I could practice my skills and grow as a speaker in a supportive environment.

I joined Toastmasters a year ago, with only three short months to cram in as much practice as possible before the big event. I visited a few clubs before I settled on Morningside, where I felt the membership base would provide me with a diverse audience in order to polish my message. I jumped into the speeches with gusto and I even visited other clubs to gain feedback on as many projects and aspects of speaking as possible.

My first speech was not great. I knew that I had to talk about my personal experience and I had to get comfortable with being vulnerable. I spoke about my experience of burnout and the impact it had on my life. It felt like a very heavy topic and that helped me to realise that part of my calling is to bring light to this serious issue. I was in the process of writing a book about burnout with guidelines on how not to get there. My aim is to help people to avoid the serious health issues I have encountered as a result of stress. I plan to steer people away from their lives falling apart and to show them how to avoid the suffering I have endured.

MatchesThe more I spoke, the more I learnt about how my message needs to change. Not only did the valuable feedback improve my speaking skills, but it helped me to improve the impact of my message. I took the learnings and incorporated them into my book. I rewrote half of it because of the insights I gained from my speeches and the evaluations at Toastmasters. This came as a complete surprise to me and I never imagined that the speaking would alter my book so much.

 

I met wonderful people who have fascinating experiences to share. I have been inspired, entertained and educated by the speeches I have heard at Morningside. I have had the opportunity to evaluate others, and this has enabled me to grow in further ways. I know that there are many aspects of my speaking that require more work. But looking back over the past year and the thirteen speeches I have done at Toastmasters, I’m so happy and privileged to have had this experience. I was able to try things that are well outside my comfort zone, such as a humorous speech contest. I experimented with topics that were in line with my profession and those that are outside it such as sports. I didn’t expect to grow quite as much as a person as I have done.

MicI did my speech in August last year and it was a resounding success. I felt nervous but I really enjoyed it. I spoke about my story of burnout and how I fixed my life. I connected with some amazing ladies and received wonderful feedback. It was a real push to perform the speech when I had not entirely recovered from my illness. But it was so rewarding and I would do it again.

I have now finished my book and it will be published in a few weeks. I am ready to spread my message and I continue on this path of learning and recovery. I joined at a time when I had been recovering at home for a long time. Toastmasters meetings were a way of venturing out into the world to test the extent of my recovery, and to engage with people again. I’m so grateful for the people I have met so far at Toastmasters and I look forward to all the inspiring and entertaining speeches to come, as well as the chance to grow further.

Kathy Mann, CC (www.facebook.com/kathymannwriter)

Toastmasters can help you grow

“If you’re not growing, you’re dying” – Tony Robbins

Whenever Goals are words without actionI tell people that I am part of Toastmasters, I get a myriad of reactions. Some people don’t know anything about it, so I get to explain the wonderful things that I have learnt at Toastmasters. Some people assume its all about getting over a fear of public speaking, and so I get to tell them about all of the other reasons why people join Toastmasters, and others are lapsed members who are reminded that they actually miss attending meetings, so I get them to revitalise their Toastmaster journey.

So, this always gets me thinking about my own journey. Some days I want to stop because of a myriad of reasons, from work to lifestyle to saving money. But I am always brought back to the benefits that I get for a mere $90 a year.

Four things that I enjoy about Toastmasters:

  • I get to practice speaking in front of a captive audience, boosting my confidence.
  • I get instant feedback, that motivates me to keep growing and learning.
  • I meet new people, expanding my network both professionally and personally.
  • As a committee member, I get on the job leadership experience, as well as learning new skills around public relations, from advertising online to web design skills (limited of course, haha) and I get more opportunities to write, something I used to love but have found “life” excuses to help me avoid it.

 

Toastmasters can help you achieve your goals

“A goal is a dream with a plan and a deadline” – Harvey Mackay

So, its 2017. A new year, new you right? Even if you aren’t into resolutions, I’m sure you have goals that you’d like to achieve this year. But having an idea / goal in mind, is one thing. Execution is everything, but without adequate preparation, focus and determination, it is nothing.

At Toastmasters, you can get an opportunity to practice these skills.Reaching your target

  1. Preparation:

If you are a member of Toastmasters, you are given projects that you need to complete in order to be deemed a competent or advanced or distinguished communicator. In order to complete these projects, you will need to prepare a speech, ensure it is within the allotted time and that it meets the project’s requirements. If it is another role, you will still need to prepare equipment such as the Timer stopwatch or read up on the project requirements for an evaluation or find a word of the day.

As a committee member, preparation is key in enabling your function to run smoothly.

2. Focus

When you come to meetings, you give undivided attention to the meeting, teaching you how to let of of distractions for 2-3 hours. Depending on the role you are playing, it helps you improve on your listening skills. And if you are delivering a prepared speech, you learn how to focus by drafting a speech with an introduction, body and conclusion, that all ties together and is within an allotted time.

As a committee member, your function requires you to focus on a specific area / skill, and whilst we do help one another out, it does help you to see the value in tackling one task at a time.

3. Determination

Getting up in front of people to speak about something intimate is never easy. Coming to meetings after a hard day at work or home, especially on cold winter evenings, is no walk in the park. Juggling work, home and Toastmasters can be tricky. However, these all help in creating a determined mindset, that helps to build a more resilient person who can get back up, despite what life throws them.

 

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So if you are wondering “how can I juggle Toastmasters amongst all the things that I am doing” or that “I already can speak in front of people, what benefits will I gain here?” Come and join us for a meeting one Thursday and see for yourself.

The year of 2016 is drawing to a close and as the MSTM team, we celebrated our year by having a thanksgiving themed dinner, last week Thursday.

It was a delicious 3 course meal, and we all took turns to reflect on the past year and what we had achieved. Its amazing how when you look at what you achieved or what you are grateful for, the bad things or your problems seem smaller or insignificant.

As we head into December, the last month of 2016 and either party or spend time with family, take this time to relax, tap yourself on your shoulder and keep moving forward.

Looking forward to see you all again in the new year at our next meeting on 12 January 2017. Seasons greetings!giphy-7

Have you ever been in a situation where you were saying one thing but were getting the complete opposite response? I know I have. It happens when I am pitching ideas at work or when I’m asking for clarity about a product in a store. Some days, I wonder if I am speaking English…

When I first joined toastmasters, I thought it was only for those who wanted to get over their fear of public speaking, which of course was my priority at the time. I soon realised that through Toastmasters, I was getting a whole lot more than that. I was learning how to communicate in a wide variety of ways. From giving feedback, to managing my time, and giving a short report or an impromptu speech. I was being taught how to communicate in a myriad of ways. Which I suppose makes sense, right. When we communicate, its not always a prepared speech – unless of course that is your job. It’s impromptu reports to colleagues or your boss, it’s feedback on a project or process that you’ve been involved in, it’s requesting information, it’s buying something and making sure you have the right thing.

This is further exasperated with the influx of information that we receive daily, from the listening to the radio to reading news on social media or watching your favourite series, we are constantly on. And to counter that, we are finding shortcuts to communicating abbreviating words or terms to a few letters such as brb (be right back) or lol (laugh out loud). And depending on your perspective, upbringing, or country, you could easily miss someone using such colloquial terms.

Human beings communicate verbally, non-verbally and through script. So, how can we ensure our message is being understood, given all the other distractions.

Well, one great way for honing all 3 modes of communication is through toastmasters, even script, after-all your evaluation is usually written down, isn’t it 😉

But of course, I am biased 🙂

Vice President Public Relations

Charlie Luzuka

Toastmasters

The roles during a toastmasters meeting