Monday, October 29, 2018

Words of encouragement

Words of encouragement.

A frequently asked question by readers of this column is " What is evaluation all about?" In our everyday lives, we are constantly evaluating. In other words, we assess or analyse what we see and hear.We make judgements on issues that we experience. In Toastmasters, we evaluate with a very specific purpose - to encourage and motivate the speaker to improve.

Every time a member presents a speech at a Toastmasters meeting, an evaluator is assigned help the speaker.The evaluator discusses the objectives that the speaker is working towards and is conscious of the speakers level of competence and experience.A good evaluation enables the speaker to develop their communication skills with confidence.

At a Toastmasters meeting, the evaluator will present an oral presentation of how the speaker has performed. The strenghts of the speaker will be highlighted by the evaluator. Moreover,  a few areas where the speaker can improve will be prescribed. The motto of evaluations is "Commend, Recommend, Commend". The emphasis is always on helping the speaker to grow in confidence and competence.
Evaluators at our last meeting, Noel O'Connor, Helsa Giles,Ray Ryan, Bridie O'Connell & Don McSweeney.

Since it's inception, Speakeasy Toastmasters has been rigorous in upholding a high standard of evaluations, conducted in a positive manner and conducive to assisting Club members. Confidence is key to good communication and positive, helpful evaluations helps a speaker to grow in confidence and blossom as a communicator.

If you wish to witness first hand the relationship between speakers and evaluators, why not pay us a visit at our forthnighy meetings. The next meeting takes place on Thursday, 1st November in the Hibernian Hotel, Mallow at 8.pmMeetings are always both educational and entertaining. Our Club slogan is - " We learn most in moments of enjoyment". Guests are welcome and are never obliged to speak unless they wish to do so.

For more information about our Club please check out our website or on Facebook.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Decluttering your life.

"In the event of a fire, what precious items would you salvage from your house before you escape?"This was the challenging question posed by Marie Fitzpatrick in her wonderful presentation at last week's Speakeasy Toastmasters meeting. Entitled "Minimalism", Marie encouraged her audience to stock take the items that surround them to ascertain what is useful and what is clutter.Do you have a jar of biros that don't write? Or meat knives that won't cut butter? Or wardrobes of clothes that are never worn? If so, it is time to clear your house and create much needed head -space.

Advice was in plentiful supply too in Kevin O'Neill's speech - "The perfect interview". Imagining his audience as a group of College students, Kevin asserted the importance of first impressions - " you never get a second chance to make a first impression".He stressed the necessity to " be the best version of yourself"and how it is essential to show knowledge and interest in the company.Ultimately, a positive approach is the best way of making a good impression.

John Brennan gave a fascinating talk on Daylight Saving Time. "Turn back time" dealt extensively with the history and the rationale behind the twice yearly changing of the clock. Initially championed by the English builder, William Willett, who argued that the efficiencies were worthwhile, wartime Germany was the first Country to introduce"daylight savings"as a means to improve production in munitions factory and to reduce coal consumption. Recently, the European Union has conducted a review of this topic and have suggested discontinuing the practice. With the advent of Brexit, it could mean two different time zones on the island of Ireland!

Speakeasy was privileged to have two Ice-breaker speeches at our meeting.Presenting her first speech in the Club, Margaret O'Keeffe, spoke about "My life to this day", outlining her path through school and college.She spoke about her interest in Science and nature and her fondness for holidays in Ireland.

Gordon Sharp-Bolster spoke about "American Passport".He led his audience on a journey from New England to New York to the State of Virginia in the"antebellum South".He worked in Citibank and Time Warner before moving to Castlemaginer outside the town of Kanturk. He spoke humorously about his exploits as a saxophone player and his love of sailing on OPBs - other people's boats! With a rich and varied back story, it seems that Gordon only broke the tip of the iceberg!
Kevin O' Neill, Margaret O' Keeffe, John Brennan, Marie Fitzpatrick & Gordon Sharp-Bolster

All the speeches were subsequently evaluated in a comprehensive and sensitive fashion by the assigned evaluators - Ray Ryan, Noel O'Connor, Bridie O'Connell, Helsa Giles and Don McSweeney.

Claire O'Connell assumed the of Topics Master for the evening. Her topics ranged from the fluffy and light hearted to darker themes.The issues of artificial sweeteners, beards, conversations with pets rubbed shoulders with questions on consent, homelessness and car parking. A topic that received several nods of approval was -  to what Charity would you donate all your lottery winnings?
At the meeting's conclusion, awards were presented to the Best Speaker - John Brennan; Best Evaluator - Bridie O'Connell and Best Topic - Pat Sexton.

With the imminent changing of the clock, we will have a longer evening which means there is more time for Toastmasters! And as the dust settles on Halloween, the next meeting of Speakeasy Toastmasters takes place on Thursday,1st November in the Hibernian Hotel, Mallow at 8.00PM. As always, guests are welcome to attend any of our meetings and are never coerced into speaking unless they wish to do so.Looking forward to seeing you. For more information about Toastmasters, please check out our website or on Facebook.

Monday, October 15, 2018

No longer invisible

"No longer invisible'.

This is the testimony of a Toastmasters member.

"All my life it seemed that I was invisible.In school,in the dressing room at a match and at work. It wasn't because I didn't have anything to say. Quite the opposite,in fact. I was tongue-tied. Often I would discreetly make suggestions that were taken on board and proved to be effective in the workplace. When I gained a significant promotion, it was put to me that public presentations would be part of my brief and that I needed to step forward.

I considered a Public Speaking Course but then I became aware of a Toastmasters Club in my locality and resolved to attend a meeting. At the door, I was warmly welcomed and reassured that I wouldn't have to speak. I found the standard of the speeches extremely high and the part of the meeting devoted to "the Topics Session" to be both fascinating and daunting. The President of the Club, who spoke  to me during  the tea break, advised me to attend a few meetings and "get a feel" for the Club. At the next meeting, I witnessed an "Ice-breaker" speech.It was a pretty straightforward speech and it showed me that delivering such a speech was achievable. I resolved to "give it a shot".

I was very impressed by the "evaluation" of my speech.The evaluator acted as a mentor, proving to be both motivational and supportive as I prepared for my Ice-breaker. I delivered that vital speech and lived to tell the tale! Over the next three years, I have given another 10 speeches, becoming a "Competent Communicator". Much to my surprise I began to enjoy the Topics Session and became adept at speaking around a subject. Some people might call that "bluffing".My confidence grew to such an extent that I competed in a Speech Contest last year.My work presentations are no longer an ordeal to be endured by both audience and speaker. In fact,I now enjoy them. I firmly believe that the Toastmasters approach can help anyone who wishes to overcome their anxiety about speaking up.Because I made that vital first step and attended a Toastmasters meeting, I believe I am no longer invisible".

If you wish to see what happens at a meeting, why not come along to our next Speakeasy Toastmasters meeting which takes place in the Hibernian Hotel, Mallow at 8.00 PM. Guests are always welcome and are never cajoled into speaking unless they wish to do so.
For more information about our Club, please check out our website or on Facebook. Alternatively, you can contact President, Sean Corcoran -086-6054784.

Monday, October 08, 2018

A night of laughter!

If laughter is the best medicine,then a lot of people were cured at last week's Humorous Speech and Table Topics Contests at Speakeasy Toastmasters. In front of a full house, 7 Contestants crossed verbal swords to the sound of laughter and loudguffaws.

Claire O'Connell commenced proceedings with a hilarious account of her "somewhat unusual" relationship with her pocket calculator! Entitled " Cal Sharp", Claire regaled us with tales of her obsession with that little electronic device and her ability to "turn him on" by pushing the right buttons, her nights of fun getting the accounts to "add up". To "sum it all up", Claire proved that accountants have a healthy sense of humour.

Sean Corcoran entertained us with his clever offering called "The Spit". Coming from an unremarkable family that had no relatives who fought in the G.P.O.or the World Wars or even emigrated to America, all was quiet in the Corcoran family until they decided to investigate the 1901 Cenus which unearthed a few cousins very close to home! And then, they decided to provide a DNA sample to trace down any celebrity cousins that might exist. And here is the rub - that very same saliva sample opens up a Pandora's Box of privacy issues.Big Brother has it covered!

Waiting patiently in a queue was the theme of Michael Cronin's speech -"The Long Wait". Michael detailed the agony of being a blood donor at Mallow Racecourse - watching yourself grow old while answering questions about "having contact with a baboon in South West Africa". Indeed,if the answer is affirmative to any of the last questions on the questionnaire, it means that you have lived a "full life". But, it's all worth it for Michael as he is rewarded with a packet of crisps!

"Development" was the theme of Kieran Butler's presentation.To much amusement,he confessed his dangerous addiction to self-development courses. Be it online language tutorials or under graduate courses, Kieran cannot resist getting "a hit". His attempts at cold turkey have proved futile as he broke down while binge watching Love Island, Big Brother and Gogglebox! Can he resist further temptation?

In the Table Topics Contest, Brendan Foley, Michael Cronin,Pat Sexton, Ray Ryan and Claire O'Connell confronted the topical question - "Is the role of the President of Ireland still relevant"? The various contributions on the topic wouldn't provide much consolation to the contenders in the race for the Aras.

While the judges' ballots we're being counted, Topicsmaster Anne Buckley led a highly entertaining Topics Session on the theme of laughter and the Irish sense of humour.
Marie Fitzpatrick & Anne Buckley
When White Smoke was eventually seen, Kieran Butler was declared the winner of the Humorous Speech Contest with the runner-up spot going to Michael Cronin.In the Table Topics Contest, Ray Ryan was the winner, with Pat Sexton in second place.These four contestants will go forward to represent Speakeasy at the North Cork Area Final in Fermoy on Tuesday,6th November.
Kieran Butler, Michael Cronin, Marie Fitzpatrick Ray Ryan & Pat Sexton. 

Meanwhile,the Speakeasy Meeting Season continues unabated. It is never too late to take the vital first step and come along to our meetings.Overcome your shyness, become an accomplished communicator and grow in confidence - all these and morecan be achieved in Toastmasters.We look forward to seeing you on Thursday,18th October in the Hibernian Hotel, Mallow at 8.00PM.As always, guests are welcome and are never coerced into speaking unless they wish to do so.

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

Tuesday, October 02, 2018

Fragrant memories of Mallow!

At last week's Speakeasy Toastmasters meeting, Gerry O'Callaghan was asked about what smell reminded him of his childhood. With a glint of mischief in his eyes, he spoke about his daily stroll around Mallow and stopping outside a well knowncoffee shop in Market Square where he took in the beautiful aroma - not of coffee but of memories of the piggery that his family had in that area when he was a child! All these years later,Gerry still recalls an unmistakable and unforgettable fragrance.

This is just an example of the magic that can happen during a Topics Session at a Speakeasy meeting. The notion of speaking "off the cuff" is one that many readers and Toastmasters members find daunting. Yet, we do it all the time in our daily lives and finding ourselves,after a conversation has concluded, wishing "I had said that when I had the chance".Table Topics gives members the opportunity to enhance their impromptu speaking skills.Like all aspects of Toastmasters, we learn by doing.And, the more frequently we do it, the more accomplished we become. The Topics Session helps us to speak more confidently in social situations, in work presentations and at interviews.

Ably conducted by Noel O'Connor, last week's Topics Session encompassed a broad discussion on several issues. The subject of children being assigned household chores, elicited strong responses about "helicopter parents" whose good intentions deny their children the chance to learn self-reliance and resilience. Drowning in a sea of plastic provoked multiple responses on the importance of recycling and on questionable practices by retailers.Is it really necessary to sell fruit and vegetables in plastic packaging? Self-development featured prominently with topics on time management and night classes. Indeed,it was mentioned that the most rewarding night class to partake in is a Toastmasters Club - life long learning at it's best.Outdoor pursuits in the fine weather like mushroom foraging were name checked and the thorny subject of Greenways and private property rights resulted in another meaningful discussion. Such was the level of involvement in the Topics Session, guests became involved, enhancing the evening with their contributions. At the meeting's conclusion,the award for Best Topic went to the aforementioned Gerry O'Callaghan.

Table Topics will take centre stage at our next meeting.In conjunction with the Annual Humorous Speech Contest, the Table Topics Contest will take place. Here, the challenge for participants is to walk into the room and respond to the chosenTopic and display the skills of an impromptu speaker - composure, confidence and coherency. Contest night's are always a great night to visit our Club.You will be guaranteed entertainment and refreshments and a few good laughs.

Guests are always made feel welcome at our meetings and are never obliged to speak unless they wish to do so. We look forward to seeing you at the Hibernian Hotel, Mallow on Thursday,4th October at 8.00PM.