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We Learn Confidence We Don’t Teach Tricks

Years ago when I told my teacher in high school that standing in front of a group of people to give a speech made me nervous, I remember him telling me, “Just pick a point on the wall at the back of the room and look at that. It will make it less intimidating.”  Another helpfully said, “Imagine all the people in the audience are naked.”

That last helpful piece of advice did more to frighten me than anything.  One of those people in the audience was a very stern looking 60 year-old lady who already scared the daylights out of me.  Imagining her naked body would have sent me into convulsions.

The way to deal with those nerves became clear a few years later when I encountered the Toastmasters Program. I found out that the solution to nervousness is to get the butterflies in your stomach to fly in formation.  What I mean by that is the butterflies will never go away completely but as you become more and more familiar with the stage, the nervousness will tend to become more of an asset: a nervous energy.  That is just one of the lessons I have learned in Toastmasters: that experience; the experience of getting up in front of an audience on repeat

ed occasions is the best solution to nervousness.

Eleanor Rosevelt said, “Do the thing that you fear and the death of fear is certain.” She was so right.

In the Toastmasters program you find yourself gradually eased into standing up in front of a group to present.  At first it is little things like presenting a word of the day or reporting on how long the prepared speech that someone else gave was. As you gain confidence you find yourself giving brief 1-minute impromptu speeches.  Throughout the whole process, you receive positive feedback and encouraging suggestions of how to improve what you are doing.  You give an “Icebreaker speech” which has no other objective than to simply gather up your courage to stand up in front of your club to speak.  When you sit down after doing that speech, it will be to a round of applause. In Toastmasters everything you do is greeted with a round of applause.  After a month or two of this you will notice that standing up to speak is not nearly so intimidating.  This has become a group of people you know well enough to feel comfortable speaking to.

You may have heard, “Practice makes perfect” but I don’t agree. Practice just makes permanent.  But experience with constructive feedback makes for improved performance is the best advice I can give.

In a Toastmasters meeting, you will have the opportunity to speak and to learn leadership skills by doing and getting positive constructive feedback on what you do.  You will gain confidence and that, my friend is the way to get past nervousness from speaking to a group of people.

Don’t Beware the Ides of March!

Perhaps Julius Ceasar should have listened to that prophecy but CHEERS Toastmasters had no reason to fear. While the number of members attending our meeting was decimated by illness and business demands, the people who did show up came to speak.  Cliff Graham gave us a great preview of the revised educational program from Toastmasters International called Pathways.  He did this to carry out his project #4 of the Speeches By Management manual.  Taylor Surman presented project #2 from Speaking to Inform: Resources to Inform on the topic of Myths about public housing. Taylor shared a great pictorial representation of success stories from the public housing experience.

Because we started the meeting late and both of our speeches ran over 14 minutes and because everyone in the meeting had a substantial speaking role, we did not invest any time in Table Topics today.

Taylor won the Best Speaker Award and Andrew Skelton won the Best Evaluator.

Its Christmas!

On December 21st at our regular meeting time, CHEERS Toastmasters will have our annual Christmas meeting.  Join us for some Christmas Spirit (not spirits we all have to go back to work or at least drive after the meeting) and to get the CHEERS Toastmaster experience.

There will be Sandwiches etc plus Table Topics.  Bring a wrapped gift (either a “re-gift” or value < $10) and join in Table Topics.

We Hope to see you there!

Lunch and Learn

On Friday December 9, 2016, CHEERS Toastmasters will team up with Kitchener Waterloo (KW) Toastmasters and University of Waterloo (U of W) Toastmasters to provide a Lunch and Learn event for the people in the area of the David Johnston Research and Technology Park in Waterloo.

The Lunch and Learn will include two Speaking and Leadership skills workshops, an impromptu speaking opportunity as well as a presentation on how the Toastmasters Program works to dramatically improve your professional skills.

Register to attend today.  seating is limited

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Cheers To Us March 30, 2016

April Fools

April Fools day offers a huge temptation as a theme for any meeting taking place in that time period.  Our March 30 meeting was no exception and that is the them that we set for our Toastmasters meeting today.

Toastmaster Bill gave many examples of tomfoolery that have taken place at work and in the home as an introduction, after which one of our guests, Area 62 Director Doris, who was serving as Grammarian/Ah Counter provided us with the word of the day: Mischief.

Bill then introduced our Educational speaker for the day Bud who spoke about how a club can become a Distinguished club and specifically how Agfa Cheers can do this in this year and again next year.  In the process, members and guests learned about the structure of the Toastmasters personal development program.

Bud’s Evaluator, Area 61 Director Tony pointed out how Bud had taken the material provided by Toastmasters International for this presentation and added his knowledge of the Agfa Cheers club to personalize the material.  Tony pointed out that Bud had overcome the technical problems which prevented use of the Powerpoint presentation that Toastmasters had provided by using a whiteboard and copies of the Competent Communicator and Competent Leader manuals.  What Tony graciously did not say was that it was Tony who subtly slid the manuals  to Bud to use for illustration;  truly a team effort!

After this Bill introduced Andrew who led Table Topics by providing 9 different April Fools pranks and having us choose them at random so we could present them as if they had happened to us or been perpetrated by us.

Then Doris stepped up as Table Topics Evaluator and gave each of us insights as to what we had done well and tips on how we could improve. Since Doris was also our Grammarian, she proceeded right on to that report.  Evidently, we were a mischievous lot, using mischief at frequent intervals.  The prize for most uses was equally awarded to Andrew and Bill.

Our timer Tong Qu reported on the various times for almost every aspect of the meeting which is impressive because the form for tracking the times of meetings was notably missing and this was Tong Qu’s first time being the time keeper

After announcements which included promotion of this Friday’s Division W Contests in Fergus and a description of the upcoming District Conference on April 22-24th, we asked for comments from our two guests Marc and Peter and then wrapped up the meeting.

Watch for announcements of the upcoming Speechcraft that we will be running at Agfa  starting May 3, 2016

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Cheers to Us March 23, 2016

Spring

Toastmaster John chose spring as the theme for this week’s meeting but he warned us not to expect too much of the season yet since snow is in the weather forecast.

John then introduced our guests, Marc, Robert, Peter and a returning guest George each of whom gave a brief comment on what had brought them to our meeting.

He then introduced our Grammarian, Tong who gave in her first time at the role, the word render and provided three definitions to give us more opportunities to use it.

John introduced our speaker for today Mohammad who presented his speech “Should You Do It Yourself?”.  Mohammad was working on Project 3 in the Competent Communicator manual with which we all begin. Project 3 is Get to The Point and it teaches us to organize our speech toward specific and general purposes with a good opening, body and conclusion.

After Mohammad had finished his speech, his speech evaluator Tony gave him feedback on his presentation, praising his fantastic use of examples for the various points he made regarding our “Do It Yourself” efforts and suggested that he could have closed more effectively by referring back to his points.

We then moved on to Bill’s Table Topics part of the meeting. Our Topics Master Bill, had written various foods from around the world on pieces of paper and asked each of us to try to persuade the group that ours was the best food to have.   Tony guessed at the pronunciation of his food and what it was then spoke so confidently that he got the votes to be considered Best Table Topics.

After that we had a part of the meeting we haven’t been in the habit of doing.  Bud provided an evaluation of the Table Topics giving each person who participated (and almost everyone participated) feedback on their style and content and suggestions on how to improve.

Following that we heard from our Grammarian that the word of the day had been used several times including by one of our guests.  Our timer Bud had a struggle letting people know where they were in timing because the green, amber and red cards that we use to signal times were in the room being used by another group so he was waving around pieces of paper with the words green, amber and red written on them.

All four of our guests seemed to enjoy the meeting and expected to return.

Cheers to Us – March 16, 2016

Phoenixphoenix

On this penultimate to St Patrick’s Day we had a theme of “Phoenix” : The Greek Mythical creature which lives for 100 years and then dies in a burst of flames only to rise to new life from it’s own ashes.  Our Toastmaster for today, Hamid pointed out that such a creature is common in many cultures and gave as an example the Persian story of The Simurgh.

Part of the reason for the choice of the Phoenix as the theme for today’s meeting was that the Agfa Cheers club seems to be going down in flames with several members declining to renew and many of our executive concluding that they have given all they have to give in the way of commitment to the cause of reviving the club.  It is with that situation in mind that Bud, our club Coach is spearheading a speechcraft sponsored by Agfa Cheers to run in the David Johnston Research and Technology park and drawing on the people working in that area for fresh energy to cause Agfa Cheers to “rise from the ashes” of it’s current down cycle.  Bud paraphrases the Samuel Clemons quote, ‘Rumours of our death are greatly exaggerated’.  More on this upcoming speechcraft in future blogs.

Since one of our speakers had to bow out to take care of her spouse and the other had an insurmountable migrane, Bud stepped in as a speaker and delivered a Tall Tale speech for his Competent Communicator # 4 speech.  The Hike, had us hearing about Bud’s friend who was turned into a person-sicle while trying to skinny-dip in a pool of a mountain stream.  Bill evaluated Bud’s speech pointing out the rhetorical devices Bud used such as similes, metaphors and hyperbole.  He also shared that Bud could have used body language to more effectively portray the scene (but since “Your Body Speaks” is the #5 project, perhaps that can wait.)  Bill liked Bud’s introduction of the idea of Super-cooled water as a device to explain how someone could live through being made into a human popsicle.

Next Bud led the Table Topics by asking members to try to persuade us that genetic manipulation to achieve the form of some (currently) mythical creatures would be a great idea.  The group felt that Andrew did the best job, selling us on the benefits of having the legs of a goat on a man in order to be able to climb mountains more effectively and we awarded the Best Table Topic ribbon to him.

Our guests, George, (who served very well as our timer) and our Area Director Doris,  reflected on their experience for the meeting and we concluded the meeting in good time.