by Janet Alkema
Dr Norman Bird is the third longest serving Toastmaster in Division A having joined Hong Kong Achievers Toastmasters club in 1996 and Newbury Speakers in 2015. Norman has spent the last 70 years studying foreign languages and teaching English all over the world so, as a professional linguist, it was perhaps not surprising that Norman should seek a language and learning related occupation in his retirement. Norman was attracted to join Toastmasters because he was drawn to the companionship of like-minded people with a desire to learn and associate with everyone irrespective of sex, ethnic group or nationality. When Norman started at Hong Kong Achievers club it was his intention to experience the whole course from Icebreakers to DTM and, he claims, had he been younger, he would have continued beyond! One of Norman’s special memories is of returning to visit his Hong Kong Club last year and of the special dinner they had organised to celebrate his return visit to the club. Norman’s long and fulfilling Toastmasters journey just shows what a wonderful organisation it is, how much it has to offer those who commit to the programme and take full advantage of the opportunities. Based on his experiences, Norman has these three tips to offer new Toastmaster members:
- As a professional linguist, I would emphasise one members the importance of “semiotics” (the scientific study of the “sign” in communication) and realise that only about 20% is linguistic and 10% is tone of voice; the rest is what is commonly known as body-language.
- The smile – hence empathy. Everyone is unique and that is what makes each one of us “special”; that could well be the basis of many of your TM speeches.
- Avoid the three things that I hate in life: arrogance, ignorance and indolence.