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Bribie Toastmasters - Fostering leadership and communication skills 


By Alistair Gray 

 




 

Left to right. Chris Ramos, the Pines Toastmasters Club, Ken Wales, Amanda Morgan, Joannes Evers, Rosine Evans, Robert Bimrose, Jock Elliott, Lynne De-Roule, Mike Wilkinson, Noela Gray, Anne Millen and Anne Iverson - all members of the Bribie Toastmasters Club. 

Wow! What a fun evening. Secretly, I had always been interested in Toastmasters, but there was never time to attend a meeting. When local author Anne Millen twisted my arm to come along and do a story about Bribie Toastmasters, I couldn't resist the temptation. I found a small, vibrant, welcoming group that wanted to have fun while improving their communication and public speaking skills. It was a fabulous evening with a St Patrick's Day theme, with the tables set up in a horseshoe and decorated in green to set the scene.  

 

The Toastmaster for the night was Anne Millen who, like an orchestra conductor, kept everyone to a strict timetable, ensuring the meeting flowed without missing a beat. The Toastmaster changes at each meeting to ensure everyone builds their skills in running a meeting – after all, Toastmasters is about growing skills and personal development.  

 

President Noela Gray welcomed everyone and the timekeeper was introduced.  Timekeeping is critical in Toastmasters, with a green, amber and red traffic light system to warn speakers about their time. The meeting begins with a warmup exercise where everyone, including visitors, are asked to stand and speak for 30 seconds on an impromptu subject, ours being St Patrick's Day. I was expecting a heap of Irish jokes to suddenly surface, though several laughs were heard as the wide variety of stories were told.  

 

One of the highlights of the evening was the delivery of two competition-level, seven-minute speeches presented by Chris Ramos, a visitor from the Pines Toastmasters Club who was preparing for the Toastmasters Moreton Division speech competition. His first speech, his entry in the International Speech Category, for which he placed second, was about the ‘Power of One’ and how a 50 dollar note given to him when living in the Philippines had helped pull him and his family out of poverty. Chris delivered a compelling, emotive and inspiring speech. It was so powerful that I felt my hand moving to my pocket wanting to donate.  

 

Then Jock Elliott, the 2011 Toastmasters World Champion of Public Speaking, invited everyone around the room to evaluate Chris's talk. The group provided some interesting observations, with the final comments and suggestions made by Jock. The advice given was golden. Jock is a long-standing member of the Bribie Toastmasters Club with a wealth of experience and is an asset to the club.   

 

Later in the meeting Chris gave another speech, ‘Love is not enough’, his entry for the Humorous Speech category of the competition, with feedback also provided. I found out that Chris won the Humorous Speech category and will go on to represent the Moreton Division at the Toastmasters District 69 Conference. Congratulations Chris Ramos. 

 

Next, it is impromptu speaking with Table Topics. Six members are each asked by the retiring Toastmaster Ken Wales to talk for two minutes on a specific topic related to the St. Patrick's Day theme. The speakers' ingenuity, skill and humour created many laughs and was fun to watch, with feedback provided at the end of each session. It was noticeable how caring and supportive the environment was as the speakers worked on developing their skills. 

 

In this story, I have given you a little taste of what happens in a Toastmasters meeting to whet your appetite without much detail. Toastmasters is a fabulous personal development organisation that can help you learn how to conduct meetings, give impromptu speeches, present prepared speeches, provide constructive evaluations and follow various learning paths. Above all, the one skill I believe Toastmasters gives you is the confidence to stand up and present your ideas to your boss, an organisation or the world. With educated confidence, you are unstoppable. 

 

The club has 20 active members and in June will celebrate its 30th birthday, which is a fantastic achievement. You too can tap into the benefits of Toastmasters.  They meet fortnightly on a Tuesday at 7pm at the Bribie RSL, ANZAC Room. 

 

For more information, please contact Joannes Evers 0450 473 822 or joannesevers@gmail.com

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