Monday, September 24, 2018

Night of humour beckons

A night of humour beckons
Speakeasy  toastmasters Club is hosting it's annual Humorous Speech Contest on Thursday,4th October at 8.00PM. Since the Club's inception, the Humorous Contest has occupied a special place in the Club's calendar, providing members with the opportunity to regale their audience and make them laugh. The contest is not a stand - up comedy routine with a bunch of one-liners strung together.The aim is to present a speech that is humorous in nature.

Over the years, many members have excelled in Humorous Contest at several levels, winning different stages of the event in Ireland and Britain. Matt Lawlee participated in the District 71 ( British and Irish) Final on two occasions, winning in 1995 with his hilarious speech on the fear of flying entitled "The First and Last". This feat was emulated by four time finalist Michael Cronin with his humorous tale about his laptop - "Feel the fear and blow it up anyway" winning top prize in 2008. Other notable successes include Gerry O'Callaghan who competed in the 2003 District Final in Glasgow with the eulogy to his pet rat - "Toby".

In conjunction with the Humorous Contest,the Club will also stage the Table Topics Contest. Here, the contestants are challenged to give an impromptu response to a topic with points awarded for content,logic, relevance to the topic and delivery.Both the winners and runners up in each contest will go forward to participate in the North Cork Area Final which take place in late October.

At last week's meeting, members were treated to a wonderful array of speeches, overflowing with challenging ideas, fascinating detail and humour. Ray Ryan presented "A re-introduction". Like many members of the Club, Ray is participating in the new Toastmasters Programme - "Pathways" and presenting an Ice-breaker speech again.With a dollop of understated humour,he spoke of his "dancing achievements" and his role as a magician's assistant. He described his fascination with astronomy and "the beauty of the stars shining against the blackness of the night sky".Ray spoke too about his various employments and what the future may hold. If, as seems likely, Ray moves on to pastures new, his contributions to Speakeasy has been immense.

John Sherlock of Fermoy Toastmasters presented a stark potrait on the constant erosion of our privacy with his speech - "The numbers are in - 1984 is here!" He cited the many everyday examples of how we leave an indelible mark of our activities - from Credit Cards, Barcodes to mobile tracking devices that are our Smartphones. It poses the question - is exchanging our personal privacy for the benefits of modern technology a price too high to pay?

The price we pay was also the theme of Don McSweeney's speech - "Biodiversity".Who would have thought that the Spider Monkey in the jungle in Borneo plays a huge role in the Earth's continued existence? Don provided fascinating examples of the interaction between the earth's species and the corrosive impact of human intervention .It is estimated that about half of the species alive in 1970 exist today as mankind continues to kill, chop and eat it's way through the Earth's resources. Is the survival of the Planet at risk because of human behavior?

By way of light relief, Kieran Butler spoke about "Addiction".He confessed in moving, graphic and hilarious detail of " Breaking Bad" with his addiction to self-development.
Be it courses,classes,online tutorials and under graduate degrees, Kieran is hooked. Initially,he dabbled but now has become a hard core self-improvement junkie.He has gone cold turkey but alas, despite watching "Love Island"found himself succumbing once again to his cravings! Another class beckons and like Oscar Wilde he finds out that the best way to resist temptation is to yield to it.
Don McSweeney, John Sherlock, Anne O'Donovan, Ray Ryan & Kieran Butler.

Each speech was comprehensively evaluated by Marie Fitzpatrick, Michael Cronin,Marie Lynes and Bobby Buckley who provided incisive feedback to the speakers, offering commendation and recommendations where appropriate. The art of evaluation is another skill that members develop in Toastmasters, a skill so valuable in our daily interactions at work and in the community.Better speaking, better listening and better thinking are the three vital skills we learn in Toastmasters.At the meeting's conclusion,awards were presented to Don McSweeney - Best Speaker and Michael Cronin - Best Evaluator.

And so ended another highly satisfactory and entertaining Speakeasy meeting.More fun will follow at our Humorous Speech night.If you haven't been to Toastmasters or if you would like a good night's entertainment, why not drop along to The Hibernian Hotel, Mallow on Thursday, October 4th at 8.00PM? Indeed, bring a friend and double the fun. Guests are never obliged to speak, unless they wish to do so.Looking forward to seeing you.

For more information about Toastmasters, please check out our website or on Facebook.l

Monday, September 17, 2018

Week 2

Don’t get trapped in a routine. The secret of success is to practice what you are not good at. Get uncomfortable. A sport’s man, when asked to identify the secret of his success, replied ’I practiced what I was not good at’ All successful people both in and out of Toastmasters have had to overcome obstacles in life. What determines their ability to transcend those obstacles and fears is a great willingness to stretch their comfort zones. In a Toastmaster’s Club your comfort zone is measured by the speeches you give and the assignments you take on. Successful Toastmasters have one thing in common – they form the habit of THOROUGH PREPARATION and ACTIVE LISTENING. Those who clock watch and day dream do not get far.

Your habits reflect your personality. They influence how you dress; walk; sit; smile and laugh. As part of your internal makeup most habits are formed early in life. By adulthood those habits are much easier to follow than change. If you want to be more successful both in and out of Toastmasters, you must make an effort to reject stagnation, and form habits of self improvement. To evaluate your personal habits – ask yourself
  • Do successful happy people seem to enjoy my company.
  • Do others seek my advice
  • Do I continue to grow through careful reading and exposure to stimulating ideas.
  • Do I surround myself with positive uplifting influences.
  • Do I usually feel good about myself
  • Do I look for new ways to improve my speaking, writing, and listening skills
Remember a lack of time is almost always a lack of organization and management. The ability to invest time wisely is a habit acquired through deliberate choice. Success requires passion and is governed by the laws of habit. To develop habits, one must have an objective. It is never the strength of a goal that will make you do anything in life. It is the strength of the purpose behind it. If your goal in life is to make money to put bread on the table, then that is all you will do. This standard requires you to cross the finish line only because it exists. In order to achieve a far greater level of success, you must have passion to go the distance. So finally “Never be content with what you are, if you want to be what you are not”
After that PARTY POLITICAL BROADCAST - the party being Speakeasy Toastmasters – let me turn to the immediate. Speakeasy Toastmasters will hold their next meeting at the Hibernian Hotel, next Thursday Sept. 20th and on  alternate Thursdays, at 7.50 for and 8.00 pm start. Do call in to see what is going on. You will be most welcome. We have a full and varied programme, and the usual delicious ‘cuppa’ at the interval.
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Tuesday, September 11, 2018

It all began here

Last Thursday night's meeting of Speakeasy Toastmasters Club was a night of beginnings - the beginning of a new season of meetings,a beginner speech in the new educational programme "Pathways", and a reminder of where it all begins.

Addressing the large turnout, Deirdre Linehan, District 71 Speech Contestant , spoke about her incredible journey to the World Championships Public Speaking Semi-Final in Chicago. Though qualification for the World Final proved elusive, Deirdre spoke of her satisfaction at her performance of her speech, "Dob's Army".

"It all began in here", stressed Deirdre, referring to Speakeasy Club meetings where Deirdre became accustomed to the challenges of speaking in front of an audience. Whether it is at a big speech contest or speaking before a small group at work, the training received at Toastmasters enables the speaker to perform with confidence.Deirdre thanked the members of both the Speakeasy and Failte Toastmasters Clubs for their support and Speakeasy member Tony O'Regan for his coaching.Deirdre pointed out that the top three placings in The World Final went to women, a unique first.
Deirdre Linehan (2nd from left) at the International Speech semi-final, held in Chicago

Club President, Sean Corcoran lauded Deirdre's spectacular performances and commented on how she did District 71 proud in Chicago.And, then it was business as usual as Speakeasy members delivered another top notch meeting.

Marie Lynes gave an entertaining and fascinating account on "The Pirish". This was the phrase she coined to describe the small but growing Polish- Irish community. Inspired by the arrival of baby William to her extended family, Marie decided to research facts and traditions of the Polish nation.She was advised not to learn the Polish language - " even the Poles don't know the Polish language. And, as for grammar, well  life is too short". Historically, Poland and Ireland have much in common.Both have endured invasion.But Poland has the oldest Constitution in Europe - established in 1791 and celebrated annually on Constitution Day - the 3rd May. Their funerals may be dour affairs but their weddings are sumptuous occasions with seven courses, punctuated with dancing.Their celebration of Christmas is equally elaborate with a twelve course dinner and an empty space to symbolise a welcome for strangers. With over a Hundred Thousand Poles now resident in this country, Marie concluded that the two cultures have more that unites that divides them.

With a speech entitled - "That's why I'm here", Pat Sexton went back to the start with an Ice - Breaker speech.In beginning once again, Pat asserted that the reasons were the same - to improve his communication skills.Speaking before an audience is an acquired skill.The more frequently you do it, the more proficient you get.Moreover, you grow I'm confidence and feel more comfortable about speaking in public.

Liam Flynn delivered a fascinating talk on " The Man who saved the world".Liam painted a chilling picture of the world teetering on the edge of extinction during the Cuban Missile Crisis in October,1962. With the island of Cuba, surrounded by American warships and Russian submarines circling the warships, it seemed that " Mutually Assured Destruction' was inevitable.American and Russian diplomats tried to talk their way back from the brink as the whole world held it's breath. Meanwhile, a Russian submarine,B59, and armed with a Nuclear warhead was circling underwater, outside of radio contact.Falsely believing that war had broken out, it fell on the shoulders of one man -Vasili Arkhipov - to exercise his power to veto the Commander's order to fire their lethal weapon . Instead, he insisted that the submarine should rise to the surface and check out the situation.In the brief time it took the vessel to surface, Russia agreed to withdraw their missiles. And so, world destruction was averted by seconds and the bravery of one man -Vasili Arkhipov.

Less pressing matters were discussed by Claire O'Connell in "Killarney Blues". Humour has been described as moments of chaos recalled in tranquility. Claire detailed the friends and events of her time spent in Killarney working as a waitress.Some friendships last for life, others are temporary while some can be rather strange indeed.

A unique feature of all Toastmasters meetings is the 'Topics Session". Ably led by Theresa O'Reilly, members were given the opportunity to speak 'off the cuff" on a broad range of subjects.The claims to the status of genius to be conferred to David Bowie and Bruce Springsteen was discussed. Bobby Buckley was challenged to speak spontaneously on anything at all . Valerie Murphy spoke of her ambition to trek around the African Continent.Brendan Foley lauded the books of Steven King while Noel O'Connor spoke about the role of the Irish Presidency. Bridie O'Connell remarked on how a device like the Smartphone contains so many positive and negative qualities.

At the meeting's conclusion, Ray Ryan assumed the role of General Evaluator, offering feedback on the meeting. He awarded Best Speaker to Marie Lynes, Best Evaluator to Helsa Giles and Best Topic to Brendan Foley.He contended that all participants were winners for the efforts made.

Speakeasy's meeting season continues on Thursday,20th September in The Hibernian Hotel, Mallow at 8.00PM. Guests and prospective members are welcome to attend and will not be coerced to speak unless they wish to do so. For more information about Speakeasy, please check out our Club website, or Facebook.Alternatively, contact Club President, Sean Corcoran -086-6054784.

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

New Season Begins!

Speakeasy Toastmasters begins it's new season of meetings in The Hibernian Hotel, Mallow on Thursday,6th September at 8.00PM.

At a time when many organisations fade away after a 10 year existence, Speakeasy is now in it's 26th year, continuing to achieve it's aims of enabling and empowering our members to communicate with confidence.

In an era when digital media is omnipotent,the need for oral communication skills has never been greater.The value of one on one communication, strong presentation skills and " good old fashioned" public speaking ability are at a premium - at work,at home and in the community.

Speakeasy Toastmasters, through it's communication and leadership programme enables it's members to master all of the necessary skills. January is usually the time for resolutions to change or "improve". September may well be a more appropriate time.You get a three months headstart and you overcome the post Christmas slump.

Many people cite fear when challenged with speaking in public.In Toastmasters we learn by doing, with the assistance and encouragement of fellow club members.We embody the words of the American philosopher,Ralph Waldo Emerson- "Once you do the thing you fear, the death of fear is certain".

We meet on a fortnightly basis,from September to June.Guests are always welcome at our meetings and are never coerced to speak, unless they wish to do so. If you wish to learn a valuable life-skill , perhaps curious about our meetings or even looking for a good night's entertainment, why not pay us a visit?

In other news, Past President,Helsa Giles has been appointed Area 17 Director for 2018-2019.
Helsa Giles, Area 17 Director with her immediate predecessor, Liam Flynn.
A resident of Castletownroche,Helsa has been a member of Speakeasy since 2013."I have really enjoyed the experience of being in Toastmasters.Every meeting is entertaining and the atmosphere is so friendly",comments Helsa on her time in Toastmasters.Her role is to oversee and co-ordinate the activities of the Failte,Fermoy and Speakeasy Club's.We wish her every success in her new role.

In the meantime, the room is ready,the speeches are prepared as we wait for the starter's pistol for our first meeting of the Season on Thursday,6th September. Come along and witness the entertainment.

For more information about our Club, please check out our website on Facebook.Alternatively, contact President, Sean Corcoran - 086-6054784.