Sunday, October 28, 2012

Feedback is a gift

“Feedback should always be accepted for what it is – a gift. Too often; though, it’s deployed as a weapon. Deliver it with care, accept it with appreciation. Anne Buckley, a long term member of Speakeasy Toastmasters, describes the value of positive feedback as part of the toastmasters meeting. Effective constructive feedback is critical to most areas of our lives, but is particularly critical to the lifeblood of Toastmaster meetings. Feedback or evaluation as it is called is what keeps members coming back to meetings and prevents the onset of mental rust and complacency. It is equally important for new members as they depend on evaluations for information, help and development. The process of evaluation separates Toastmasters International from other organisations offering public speaking or speech coaching. Criticism is easy; we hear it all the time, in every walk of life. Criticism is negative. Being critical almost sounds like a put down. Evaluation on the other hand considers the value and adds positivity as well as offering helpful solutions for improvement. As speakers we all need helpful and appropriate suggestions. Clearly evaluators; the people giving feedback play a vital role in Toastmasters. The evaluator needs to find words of praise for the good elements of the speech and offer words of help and encouragement in identifying areas for improvement. To give the best review you can, it is important to consider the speakers goals as well as the official evaluation guide. It is important to praise the aspects of the speech that were particularly good and explain why as well as to offer your suggestions and provide examples as to how these changes could be made. Evaluators must always remember that these suggestions are their own personal opinion and others may not necessarily agree with them. Some people are hesitant to give feedback particularly if they feel the speaker has more experience then they themselves do but remember that this is your own opinion and too many members discount the value of their own ideas. As we get used to listening to speeches we develop critical thinking skills and we hear at a much deeper level hence it is easier to analyse a particular presentation or assignment. I certainly remember my first evaluation and the constructive feedback I received in those early days helped me remedy my many nervous reactions. Our Toastmasters Mallow branch has a warm, friendly atmosphere and our members have found that they overcame nerves, gained tremendous confidence and assertiveness and were able to motivate their fellow workers. We all live in a very hectic busy world. Between family, work and social commitments, it is easy to get exhausted and believe professional development, communication skills and gaining confidence is a mammoth task. This is not the case. Why not come along to a Toastmaster meeting and see if it is for you? If you are looking to improve your speaking and leadership skills, meet new people or just come for a new experience, you’ve come to the right place! For those of you who may still be slightly hesitant about paying us a visit, I will leave you with a short poem; Come To The Edge.....Come to the edge ......Life said.....We might fall ............they said, Come to the edge ......Life said..... It’s too high COME TO THE EDGE And they came, And Life pushed them, And they flew. A version; original by Christopher Logue. Speakeasy toastmasters next meets at 8pm Hibernian Mallow every other Thursday, next meeting is on Nov 15th. Guests are most welcome and are never asked to speak. Contact Jerry 0863752895,or Noel 0872427485. "Follow us on Facebook "Speak Easy Toastmasters", on Twitter "@speakeasytm" and on our blog "http://speakeasytm.blogspot.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Everyday Heroes

Positivity abounded at this weeks Speakeasy Toastmaster meeting, chaired by Pat Connolly as Toastmaster who joined President Jerry Mulcahy and Topicsmaster Rhona Coughlan at the top table. Ronan Condon, in a speech entitled ‘ Everyday Heroes and Heroines’ encouraged us not to be engulfed by all the negativity around us but to focus on the positive aspects of human nature. He described the wonderful achievements of some everyday heroes who were honoured recently in the People of the Year Awards. He reminded us that we still live in amazing world. His speech was truly inspirational. His speech was evaluated by Mary Moynihan Marie Fitzpatrick described the origin and development of Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann. We learnt of the growth of the attraction of Fleadh Ceoils since the first small gathering in Mullingar in 1951. She described how many local Comhaltas branches, throughout the country, encourage groups of young people to play Irish traditional music and so have kept it alive. Her interesting speech was accompanied by visual slides and a little music. Marie’s speech was evaluated by Liam Flynn In the opening of his speech, Pat Sexton citing the lyrics of Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen suggested that occasionally song lyrics can be regarded as poetry. He chose, however, the work of the Canadian, Joni Mitchell to demonstrate his point. In her powerful poem on Ethiopia she uses the word’ Ethiopia’ almost like a mantra. He also read her very insightful poem ‘The Magdalene Laundries’ written in 1995. He certainly convinced his audience that these lyrics were worthy of the title poetry.Pat’s speech was evaluated by Margaret O’Regan. Brian O’Farrell was a very welcome guest from the Fermoy club. He gave an extremely humorous speech on the subject of Internet security. He described a world full of ridiculous passwords. He contrasted the legacy he would leave to be researched, full of tweets, texts and Internet files to that of his great- grandfather whose signature appears on the 1901 Census. We have been warned! Michael Cronin evaluated. Rhona Coughlan as Topicsmaster for the evening introduced a very large range of entertaining topics which ranged from morning grouches and Superhero outfits, to the more serious question of an armed police force. The essential evaluation part of the meeting was chaired by Tony O'Regan. Anne Buckley kept an eye on the standard of English in use, in her role as Ah Counter. All contributions were timed, by Ray Ryan as timekeeper. All were warmly welcomed to the meeting by guest greeters Speakeasy toastmasters next meets at 8pm Hibernian Mallow every other Thursday, next meeting is on Nov 1st. Guests are most welcome and are never asked to speak. Contact Jerry 0863752895,or Noel 0872427485. "Follow us on Facebook "Speak Easy Toastmasters", on Twitter "@speakeasytm" and on our blog "http://speakeasytm.blogspot.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Why am I in Toastmasters? by Noel O'Connor

Noel O’Connor has been in Speakeasy Toastmasters from the start and is still enjoying it. Why am I in Toastmasters? I joined Speakeasy Toastmasters when it started in Mallow 20 years ago. The time has really flown but as the saying goes time flies when you are enjoying yourself and that is true in Toastmasters. Toastmasters is really a fantastic social outlet. There are members from all walks of life from farmers, students, and retired people to every role that you could think of. We have members from Castletownroche through Mallow back as far as Boherbue and Millstreet and as far south as Blarney. Not forgetting the natives of the Kingdom of Kerry who are very valued members. The meetings last for two hours starting at 8pm and finishing at 10pm which is suitable for people who have to get in baby sitters as they know it will be over at 10pm every night. At every meeting you have a different Toastmaster and topics master and four or five different speakers. This gives great variety to the meetings as the speeches can be about any thing from the humorous to the educational to story telling. In the second half of the meeting topics are given out by the topics master and members try to talk on the subject for two minutes with no preparation, during this a lot of banter goes on adding to the enjoyment. When a person joins toastmasters their first speech is normally about themselves after this they can pick any topic but try to carry out some criteria like hand gestures or persuade people to do something. People can come as guests and enjoy the meetings without becoming members. If you join toastmasters it will give you more confidence to speak even though it may be nerve wrecking at the time. Afterwards there is a great sense of achievement.. After a person gives a speech another member evaluates them and gives them ideas on how they might be able to improve. It is this method of helping each other that makes toastmasters so great. So if you get a chance come and see what happens at Toastmasters and enjoy a good night out. Speakeasy toastmasters next meets at 8pm Hibernian Mallow every other Thursday, next meeting is on Nov 1st. Guests are most welcome and are never asked to speak. Contact Jerry 0863752895,or Noel 0872427485. "Follow us on Facebook "Speak Easy Toastmasters", on Twitter "@speakeasytm" and on our blog "http://speakeasytm.blogspot.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

"Deadly Funny" Speak Easy's Humorous Speakers

It was indeed deadly funny, and this week with his account of the preparations for a wake in bygone days, Liam Flynn won the honour of representing Speakeasy Toastmasters at the Area final in the Firgrove Hotel, Mitchelstown on Tuesday 16th October 8pm. Claire O Connell gave a witty original account of what is currently regarded as “fabulous,“ not forgetting the pre-fab and wanna be fab! There were many wry smiles at Mary Moynihans’ clever depiction of the “driving test blues.” Kindness itself at the end, the examiner asked the applicant if they needed a drive home… Pat Connolly regaled us with a lovely tale of how the high jinks of youth can put us on the road of personal discovery. No audience member will ever look at flag day collecting in quite the same way after Michael Cronins hilarious and unique take on that experience and the well acknowledged bounty of the Irish people. There was plenty of wit also in the topics contest, the topic being, -”what aspect of your personality do you value most?”. Pat Sexton, Sean Corcoran, Pat Duggan and Liam Flynn, bravely held forth on their virtues and Pat Sexton will represent Speakeasy at the Area Final. The winners of the Area Final then go on to the Division A Final in the Oriel Hotel Ballincollig on October 21st. Speakeasy was honoured by the visit of the Area Governor, Michael Sheehan, who was warmly welcomed by our President Jerry Mulcahy. Bridie O Connell was a very relaxed topics master for the evening. Jerry O’Callaghan performed the important timekeeper duties. Proceedings as a whole were ably chaired by Division Governor Ray Ryan as Contest Chair. Anne Buckley supervised the judging, with Rona Coghlan and Ronan Condon counting votes. As usual all were warmly welcomed to the meeting by Marie Lyons, Ronan Condon and Mary Moynihan, our sergeant at arms, or guest greeters. Speakeasy toastmasters meets at 8pm,Hibernian Hotel Mallow on every second Thursday night, next meeting is on October 18th. Guests are most welcome and are never asked to speak. Contact Jerry 0863752895,or Noel 0872427485. "Follow us on Facebook "Speak Easy Toastmasters", on Twitter "@speakeasytm" and on our blog "http://speakeasytm.blogspot.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Kieran's Story

Kieran Butler joined Speakeasy Toastmasters after participating in the annual schools contest. As he explains,-it was a good idea. Imagine you are standing at a podium in front of a large audience. You are nervous, so nervous that you forget what you are going to say, you stand there motionless, the awkward silence deafening. Sounds nightmarish doesn’t it? So many of us view the thought of speaking in front of a crowd as a task to be shied away from, avoided. We feel that if we speak in public we will make a mistake, embarrass ourselves. These fears are normal. But isn’t it a pity when we have something to say but can’t because we are too nervous, isn’t it disempowering? Speaking in front of an audience and feeling anxious is normal, and guess what some of the greatest public speakers in history, were incredibly nervous before they went on stage to give a speech Some years ago I came across a book by Dale Carnegie, How to Develop Self Confidence and Influence People by Public Speaking, London, 1990. On reading this I learned that some of the most famous orators in history, Lloyd George, Abraham Lincoln, Charles Stewart Parnell, all were very nervous before addressing an audience. Parnell in particular used to suffer from such intense anxiety prior to a speech, that he clenched his fists so hard that it would cause his fingernails to sink into his palms until his palms bled. Now I know that is an exceptional case, the point is that regardless of who we are all of us feel anxious and a bit self-conscious before giving a speech especially if we haven’t given one before. Toastmasters is the place to go if you want to overcome your fears about public speaking and learn how to feel calm and confident in front of a crowd whether it be at conference, a party a wedding. Speakeasy Toastmasters is a warm and welcoming club. I felt that warmth the first time I attended a meeting. The Club is ready to extend a very warm welcome to guests and always ready to offer encouragement and support to those who want to improve their public speaking abilities. A Speakeasy Toastmasters meeting is an enriching environment where you can broaden your horizons and augment your skills. It’s a place where you can enjoy yourself, have a chat around a cup of tea/coffee and make great friends. Speakeasy toastmasters meets at 8pm Hibernian Mallow on every second Thursday night, next meeting is on October 18th. Guests are most welcome and are never asked to speak. Contact Jerry 0863752895,or Noel 0872427485. "Follow us on Facebook "Speak Easy Toastmasters", on Twitter "@speakeasytm" and on our blog "http://speakeasytm.blogspot.

A Chip Eating Cow without Papers

Next Thursday, October 4th, Speakeasy Toastmasters will host the Humorous Speech and Table Topics Contest, with a bumper line up.Eight contestants in the Speech contest, and five in that challenging Topics Contest. However this week there was already plenty of humour in evidence at our club meeting. Marie Fitzpatrick as Toastmaster chaired the meeting with warmth and wit, putting all at ease.She joined our President Jerry Mulcahy at the top table and Pat Sexton who was the Topicsmaster for the night. Rona Coghlan gave a charming, funny speech on what happens when that idyllic fantasy of growing ones own veg meets with reality. Jerry O'Callaghan had the audience in the palm of his hand as they followed his "after dinner speech" celebrating Speakeasy's 20th anniversary that somehow or other brought him back to his childhood and winning that mystery prize at the carnival, a chip eating cow without papers ,who chased the guard and taught the townie a lesson on the right and wrong way to pull a cow.! Marie Lynes gave a beautiful, moving speech reflecting on the experience of the Irish diaspora. Considering the "Gathering" to be held in 2013, in honour of the diaspora, she called on us all to "put ourselves in their shoes". Anne Buckley's speech was a tribute to Dr Edward Jenner, who discovered the smallpox vaccine, and Anne gave us a very interesting account of subsequent vaccines developed. Ray Ryan gave a very informative speech on using the Linked in website to advertise ones cv and ones professional image. After the break for refreshments, Pat Sexton gave out an innovative selection of topics based on song lyrics. Pat Connolly ably took over the evaluation part of the meeting where the speeches are evaluated and the meeting as a whole is assessed. Mary Buckley as grammarian commented on the standard of English usage and praised our efforts. All were warmly welcomed to the meeting tonight by our guest greeters or Sergeant at Arms,- Mary Moynihan, Marie Lynes and Ronan Condon. Do join us at our Humourous Speaking Contest on next Thurs 4th October at 8pm Hibernian Hotel, Mallow Guests are most welcome and will not be asked to speak. Website: or contact Jerry on 08673752895 or Noel on 0872427485. Follow us on Facebook "Speak Easy Toastmasters", on Twitter "@speakeasytm" and on our blog ""