by Nithya Venugopal, CC, ALB
August 1, 2018 was a day filled with mixed emotions. The day marked 3 years of being a Toastmaster, but I was faced with the prospect of leaving my home club to pursue my Masters at the University of Surrey, as I received my admit on the same day. I never ever imagined a day will come when I will have to leave and the decision was more emotional and difficult than I thought it will be.
I joined TCS Maitree Champions TM Club, Chennai (Division D, District 82) in 2015. District 82 comprises of Tamil Nadu (India) and Sri Lanka and is a vibrant district, crowned number 1 district in the recently concluded Toastmasters International convention in Chicago. Champions is a semi-annual corporate club and is one among the top 5 clubs in D82. In terms of DCP, Champions achieve Presidents Distinguished status every year and also all the District awards for Club Quality and Club Engagement. The membership is on an average around 40 members, out of which majority are active members. Weekly meetings of 1 hour are held every Thursday, with innovative themes thought out by TMODs weekly. The agenda is very crisp is comparison to Guildford Speakers Club, but due to work constraints 1 hour is an ideal time for a meeting at Champions. For contests, however, special themed meetings and milestone meetings are held where the agenda is a bit more relaxed in terms of time. There are a lot of differences in the practices adopted for the meetings between the 2 the clubs, but if I start I can write on for long about those 🙂 But there are definitely a few practices followed by Guildford that I feel can be implemented back home and I will be passing along the message soon.
by David Creek
My Toastmaster journey is not typical. From the age of seven I developed a severe stammer, or stutter. When middle-aged I attended a series of intensive speech therapy classes covering a wide range of treatments, which were interesting at the time but unfortunately have had no lasting benefit. Two of my teachers, both American, recommended Toastmasters as being helpful so I joined Newbury Speakers Club. We are all aware that public speaking can be very stressful for some, giving rise to considerable anxiety. I eventually worked out that this was my main problem except that I would express it in stronger language. My stammer, according to me, is caused by the fear of saying certain words in certain situations. Having worked out the theory of what to do quite quickly, it has taken me a considerable time to put it into practice. Three years ago, I stopped attending Toastmasters thinking that now, being classed as elderly, I had probably reached my peak of fluency. No so, my speech continued to improve. In most everyday situations I now consider myself to be fluent, without stammering, if I take sufficient care. It is only public speaking that still causes me problems. I re-joined Newbury Speakers and have now given my third Icebreaker, this time on the Pathways track.
It is interesting to reflect on the changing composition of Newbury Speakers. When I first joined, the club was small in number and mainly made up of older members who enjoyed speaking as a hobby. Now the age span is younger and more career-oriented.
Yes, I’ve done it all, been on the committee, been President, spoken at contests, but now I favour the quiet life with just a bit more fluency and ease when speaking in front of people.
David is the longest serving member of Division A, having been a member of Newbury Speakers for 24 years
By Janet Alkema
Woking Speakers in Area 14 is a vibrant, busy and active club. With a regular membership in the 30s, Woking is constantly attracting new members. I was recently invited to share in their 12 and a half year anniversary celebrations – which, to be honest, I did think a little strange. At the same time, though, Woking was celebrating getting their ribbons back as they had disappeared with a previous committee member. I realised then that, for Woking, any opportunity for a celebration is one worth taking – and this I believe has led to the strength and vibrancy of their club. Every year, Woking finds reasons for celebrations to add variety to their meetings from piping in the Haggis on Burns Night to regular summer BBQs. Also, in the spirit of encouraging Pathways sign up and involvement, Woking President, Tugce Yilmaz told me that they celebrated the first three people who registered with Pathways, inviting them on stage to receive their Pathways Pins and copy of the Navigator. Tugce explains that Woking is a club where members are strongly connected, often meeting outside the club and she believes this is one of the main reasons for the club’s growth and success!
By Bob Nisbet
Toastmaster member since November 1998 and President of Camberley Speakers, member of Guildford and Woking Speakers and District Logistics Manager since 2014, Bob is the most important person to invite to any contest, conference, workshop or training – with apologies to the Trio who thought they were 🙂 With Bob at the controls desk you can feel secure that the electronics will work – somehow – even though plans may need to be changed at the last minute! Bob has also featured in the Toastmasters magazine with a picture of him on holiday in Laos – and of course all Toastmasters have copies of the magazine wherever they are in the world!! This is what Bob has to say:
I am in my fourth year as Logistics Manager for District 91. This essentially means that I have space in the garage to store the District flag and banner plus a few other bits and pieces, like the big set of timing lights used at District contests.
The most obvious sight of me at Conference has been behind the sound desk. Over the years I have acquired a fair range of kit and I can cope with most things that events throw at me. But not always.
At the 2017 Gatwick Conference everything appeared fine until Aletta Rochat, the keynote speaker, took the stage. Every time she stood centre stage, her wireless microphone went dead! Somehow she got through her speech and as soon as she finished, Taz Miah and I started shifting the receiver to get a better signal. Nothing worked, and the speech contest was approaching. Plans to use wireless microphones for the contestants were abandoned and wired microphones rapidly set up in front of the stage. Luckily the cables were long enough and it all worked.
At the end of the Conference I mentioned what had happened to the crew who were de-rigging the stage. “It’s the wi-fi” came the reply. “It blots everything out.” Now I ask where the wi-fi hides, just in case!
By David Henderson
Speaking at contests is much the same as delivering talks on board ships on which I work as a guest speaker; one is really being judged one way or the other.
Passengers on cruise ships are, generally speaking, mightily discerning and demanding audiences – a bit like our contest judges.
Nothing could be truer than the old adage “You can please some of the people some of the time…..”
I have never actually ‘died’ on stage, but some audiences are hard to please and I have been, unfairly, accused of sexism, ageism and misogyny.
But if I have 498 satisfied customers and just two complaints at the end of each talk, I do tend to regard that as a reasonable result. I certainly never receive the benefit of written feedback as we get in Toastmasters. But if they buy me a gin and tonic, that’s a good substitute.