Monday, January 28, 2019

The German Connection.

Some Speakeasy Toastmasters meetings take on a life of their own. Others seem to find a common theme - some by design, others by a quirk of coincidence. And last week's meeting had a predominantly German feel about it. All that was lacking wassomeone to quote President John F. Kennedy's " Ich bin ein Berliner".

We were privileged to welcome two German exchange students,Theo Mortsiefer and Mats Maas, who are presently studying in Nagle Rice College,Doneraile. Cologne native,Theo Mortsiefer entertained us with his views on "Planned Obsolescence". We are all weary from observing that "they don't make things like they used to".A simple question " Have you purchased a new washing machine in the past three years"? elicited a huge response. It seems we are living in a "throwaway society" when so called quality brands like Miele and Bosch are made to break. Theo reminded us of the exploitation of child labour involved in extracting precious metals from mines to feed this deplorable consumerism. Indeed, a recent report of a growing scarcity of a rare element " Indium" which is used in Smartphones.Theo exhorted his audience to demand a re-introduction of quality to conserve the Earth's resources.

Mats Maas spoke about an extremely popular German pursuit - "Slope style Mountain Biking". This is no ordinary mountain biking exercise but an extremely challenging pursuit. Small lightweight bikes are raced on dirt tracks with jumps built in. Various tricks like back flips are performed while in mid-air. A great sense of community prevails within biker groups who spend a lot of time repairing and building obstacles and jumps for their bike tracks.

Charles Hannon of West Limerick Toastmasters brought history to life with "Shop,Shop,Shop". He painted a picture of a widow, Anna Albrecht selling bread from a wooden barrow in the streets of Essen before she had enough savings to open her own bakery shop. Her two sons, Karl and Theo returned home from the Second World War to find the city of Essen levelled to the ground by the Allied Bombing Campaign. Amidst the ruins, their mother's shop remained standing. From this humble beginning, the two brothers built up a shopping empire. In 1954, they opened their first self-service store - Albrecht Discount. Eventually, this name was changed to a more eye catching title - Aldi. Ultimately, they built up an empire of three hundred stores in West Germany. However,the brothers disagreed over the selling of alcohol and decided to split their empire, each taking a different side of the River Rhine. In 1973, a rival store - Lidl - opened in Germany.And ever since then, both stores have behaved in a "Laurel and Hardy" fashion, one following the other in it's type of promotions and multi-national expansion. Ultimately, from the rubble of Essen, Aldi has grown in turnover to 20 Billion Euros Annually in 20 Countries.

Speakeasy Toastmasters welcomed back Kay Quirke of Glanworth who introduced us to "Goldie". In a humorous presentation, she introduced herself as a retriever/red setter cross. It seems that her parents weren't prejudiced. She recalled her previous owners who disagreed all the time about walking her before abandoning her at a bus stop. And there was lucky to meet Mary who had soft touch written on her forehead! And Mary treated her like a VID - very important dog! She enthused about her trips to Sharon's Shaggy Dog Saloon for nail manicures and hair perms which turned her into "a right poodle". She spoke of how a dog keeps one half of their owners fit and the other half sane.

Ann Nyhan presented a well researched presentation - "Are you taking care of your health - your entire health"? She spoke of the importance of treating your physical health like a car and have regular NCTs. It's not about diets. It's about moderation. She spoke of the advice of a doctor who told her - " if you want to reach old age, you have to walk there".In today's fast paced world, we face stressful challenges and an undermining by Social Media. Mental health is becoming more important. Slow down, relax, meditate and remember that a healthy body means a healthy mind
Kay Quirke, Charles Hannon, Theo Mortsiefer, Mats Maas & Ann Nyhan. 

As part of the Toastmasters programme, each speaker is assigned an evaluator. The role of the evaluator is to provide meaningful and helpful feedback to the speaker, pointing out the speakers strengths and highlighting areas where improvements can be made. In Speakeasy we have a motto that an evaluator should "commend, recommend and commend".Each of the speakers at last week's meeting was evaluated by the assigned evaluators, Rachel Liston, Vincent Harris, Michael Cronin, Marie Lynes and Pat Sexton. At the meeting's conclusion, General Evaluator, Noel O'Connor awarded the Best Speaker ribbon to Ann Nyhan and Best Evaluation to Pat Sexton.

In other news, Speakeasy Toastmasters members will participate in the opening of the 2019 Kanturk Arts Festival which takes place on the 6th February in Kanturk rugby Club at 8.00 PM. Admission is free and everyone is welcome.

The next meeting of Speakeasy Toastmasters Toastmasters Club takes place in the Hibernian Hotel Mallow on Thursday,7th February at 8.00PM. Unlike conventional adult education courses, anytime is a good time to commence in Toastmasters. If you wish to improve your communication skills or are curious about what happens at our meetings, why not pay us a visit. Guests are always welcome and are never coerced into speaking unless they wish to do so. We look forward to seeing you on the 7th February.
For more information please check out our website or on Facebook.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Who shot Bambi?

Bambi, food fads and gossip!

" I shot Bambi", was the startling revelation made by Gordon Sharp-Bolster during the Topics Session at last week's Speakeasy Toastmasters meeting. Thankfully, before the animal lovers in the audience could react in horror, he clarified his comment by revealing that he used a camera, not a rifle. Nevertheless, he argued that deer culling was required to control the population and to reduce the spread of Lyme's Disease. Other contributors begged to differ but one solution offered ( in a tongue-in-cheek fashion) was the building of a Mexican Wall around County Wicklow to stop roaming deer and, perhaps, Shane Ross.

Table Topics encourages members to think "on their feet" and remain composed when speaking without a script or prior knowledge of a topic. It can be a wonderful source of ideas, information, insights and some good old fashioned balderdash! All these qualities were very much in evidence in a session that was ably conducted by Gillian Harris. The thorny subject of taking down Christmas decorations elicited responses that ranged from the efficient to the slovenly. Don McSweeney admitted thatChristmas decorations on display in June in his college flat lost their allure. Ann Nyhan discovered organisation and efficiency after years of chaos. No one admitted to leaving the tree out for recycling with the decorations still in place, unlike a certain unnamed English footballer.

Juicers and blenders we're seen as reflective of the food fads of millennials as Brendan Foley tried to auction off his vast quantities of protein supplements and amino acids. In the spirit of New Year do-goodery, gossip was described as something that should not be passed on. That is one resolution that is likely to be broken! By contrast, a question on the marketing of Ireland through various regions of interest like the Wild Atlantic Way and the Ancient East provoked many responses on a laudable marketing strategy.

A question on the subject of funeral notices on local radio was met with the wittiest comment of the night - " is Facebook for the over forties!" That is the beauty of an impromptu session - members get the opportunity to sound off and be creative and entertaining.

At the meeting's conclusion, the Best Topic ribbon was awarded to Gordon Sharp-Bolster. Gordon is a new member who brings an interesting and unusual slant to his contributions. His is but one of the many diverse voices that flourish in Speakeasy.
Don McSweeney, Maria Connolly, Deirdre Linehan & Brendan Foley; Speech Evaluators. 

In other news, club members would like to wish Ray Ryan every success in his new appointment in the Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin.Ray has been a stalwart of the club since 2002, serving in many officer roles including President in 2008-2009. He also served as Area and Division Director. In recent years, he has curated our website and Facebook pages.Last year, he was the worthy recipient of The Jerry Mulcahy Award for his exceptional contribution to Speakeasy Toastmasters.

The next Speakeasy Toastmasters meeting takes place in the Hibernian Hotel Mallow on Thursday 24th January at 8.00PM. As always, guests are always welcome to come along and see for themselves what Toastmasters is about. Guests are never coercedinto speaking unless they wish to do so. For more information about our club, check out our or on Facebook. Alternatively, please contact Sean Corcoran, Club President at 086-6054784.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Feel the fear and do it anyway

Feel the fear and do it anyway!

There is something special about an "Ice Breaker" speech. It takes it's audience on a journey or an adventure. Therein lies the opportunity to "walk a mile in someone else's shoes". Susan Hegarty took her audience on a wonderfully entertaining journey at last week's Speakeasy Toastmasters meeting. "Feel the fear and do it anyway" was the title she borrowed from Susan Jeffers book. She showed no fear, we heard no butterflies fluttering.Instead, we received a fascinating slice of life. When you come from a family of thirteen, it can be difficult to get a word in edgeways. Not so with Susan.

Susan's speech was brimful of evocative images.We watched her dancing in the rain at an Aslam concert - a "Crazy World" indeed.Welaughed at a family game as members try to recite all their siblings names (all twelve of them)at speed! We found her chosen style of running - sunny day running- to be quite an attractive proposition. The Toastmaster of the Evening, Marie Lynes commented that there was an  enough material in Susan's speech for another eight speeches. We look forward to hearing them!

Claire O'Connell delivered a reflective speech on "The loser effect". Drawing on the game of Chess for her examples,she spoke of the Pawn as the loser that can become a Queen. Learning from mistakes was the core message of Claire's speech. The ultimate example of this can be seen in the Aviation industry where the information acquired from the "Black Box" is analysed in an effort to prevent future crashes and improve air safety.The result of such scrutiny is reflected in the safety record of Air Travel with one accident for every 2.4 million flights. On a personal level,  Claire spoke of how she took on board the lessons of a poor exam performance and turned a negative into a positive. Claire's speech brought to mind the words of Oscar Wilde - "Experience is simply the name we give to our mistakes".

Michael Buckley of the  Crusaders Club in Bishopstown posed a frightening question - "How are we going to feed them?" The numbers are stark : in 1800
the World's Population stood at 1 Billion, by 2050 it will exceed 10 Billion. With a cultivatable land area of less than 4 percent of the Earth's surface,can we sustain such a population? The answer, according to Michael is a "conditional yes". There is huge potential in Fish Farmin and Food Production increases. But, enormous changes in life style are required. Food waste is at unsustainable levels and the long-term
viability of meat production which  depends on large consumption of grain  is questionable. As Mahatma Ghandi warned - There is enough resources for man's need but not for man's greed"

Theresa O'Reilly presented a well researched and motivational talk called - "Dreamers".She spoke of the untapped potential we all pocess - sleep! She highlighted the enormous problems of sleep deprivation by posing a stark question - "Would you ask a surgeon, about to perform life saving surgery, about the number of hours he slept last night"? It is quite a staggering reality that drowsiness is the cause of more road traffic accidents than alcohol.

Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher were renowned for functioning on a few hours sleep during their time of leadership. Ironically, both succumbed to Alzheimer's Disease in later life. Modern research indicates a connection between lack of sleep and Alzheimer's.The production of Melatonin, essential for sleep is diminished by modern living. Smartphone screens emit "blue light" which tricks the brain to thinking it needs to stay awake. The result is people finding themselves drowning in a sea of insomnia.
Theresa O'Reilly, Susan Hegarty, Claire O'Connell & Michael Buckley

A highly productive programme of speeches was greeted by some comprehensive and constructive evaluations. Deirdre Linehan, Brendan Foley, Don McSweeney and Maria Connolly evaluated the speakers with detailed analysis and positive recommendations. The General Evaluator, Marie Fitzpatrick commended everyone who contributed to another outstanding meeting. Awards were presented to Susan Hegarty - Best Speaker and Deirdre Linehan - Best Evaluator.

The real beauty of Speakeasy meetings is that every meeting is different - different speakers, different evaluators, yet the same friendly, helpful atmosphere. If you are interested in witnessing for yourself what happens at our meetings, why not drop in and see.
The next Speakeasy Toastmasters meeting takes place in the Hibernian Hotel, Mallow on Thursday,24th January at 8.00 PM. Guests are always welcome and are never obliged to speak unless they wish to do so.
For more information about Speakeasy, please check out our or on Facebook.Alternatively, please contact Sean Corcoran - 086-6054784.

Friday, January 04, 2019

Operation Transformation in Speakeasy!

Do you need to say a few well chosen words on those special occasions?
Do you need to sharpen your communication skills for work presentations or interviews?
Do you wish to chair meetings effectively?
Do you wish to improve your creative writing skills?
Or are you simply looking for a good night's entertainment?

If the answer to any of the above questions is "Yes",then Speakeasy Toastmasters is for you. For many people,speaking before an audience is a daunting challenge.Invarious surveys,respondents listed speaking in public as their number one fear,outranking even the fear of death by a two to one margin.

Speakeasy Toastmasters is devoted to enabling it's members to express their thoughts,ideas and opinions in an enjoyable,yet professional training programme."Learning by doing" is the best way to learn any new skill and that is how Toastmasters works.You start speaking in a helpful,supportive and positive environment and in an "Operation Transformation " fashion you will grow in confidence and will get better and better.

We are very familiar with the term - "butterflies in your stomach". Toastmasters will help you to manage your butterflies or to help them "fly in formation". You will be introduced to various speaking techniques on how to organise your thoughts and speech structure.You will gain valuable experience on body gestures,on vocal variety and on the use of language to get your across.

To assist each member, speakers are assigned an "evaluator".The evaluator provides helpful,constructive feedback to the speakers which helps them pinpoint their strengths, identify areas for improvement and gives useful suggestions for future speeches.Other important facets of Toastmasters is the experience gained in chairing a meeting and participating in the impromptu part of the meeting, which is called the "Topics Session ". The Topics Session gives members the opportunity to let off steam and express their views on a broad range of issues,some of them serious, others humorous. And all of this takes place in a two hour meeting,held fortnightly .

As we face into a New Year,now is an appropriate time to take up new challenges or do the things you've often promised yourself you'd do. And what more rewarding opportunity can there be than honing your communication skills.Toastmasters is open to everyone from 18 to 81 years of age and beyond! Old dogs can learn new tricks and important life skills.

With this in mind,Speakeasy Toastmasters issues an invitation to the interested and the curious to our first meeting of 2019. It takes place on Thursday,10th January in the Hibernian Hotel,Mallow at 8.00pm.
Guests will not be obliged to speak unless they wish to do so. We look forward to seeing you on Thursday night.
For more information on Toasmasters,please check out our website or look us up on Facebook. Alternatively,contact Sean Corcoran -086-6054785.