Monday, October 28, 2019

Words of encouragement and inspiration

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.Evaluation is the road map that helps every Club member on their journey to become competent and confident communicators. 

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. Evaluation is not based on pointing out flaws in a speakers performance or speech. There is no red biro used to circle the bits that are deemed incorrect. The approach is much more holistic and positive. 

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. By applying a few simple suggestions that an evaluator provides, a speaker can make steady improvements. The motto of evaluations is "Commend, Recommend, Commend". The emphasis is always on helping the speaker to grow in confidence and competence.

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, 31st October in the Hibernian Hotel, Mallow at 8.00PM. If you are weary of the Halloween fireworks and want to "treat" yourself to a non-scary night out, then pay us a visit. Meetings are always educational, energising 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.

Though based in Mallow, Speakeasy Toastmasters serves the entire North Cork Area. We draw our members from places as diverse as Banteer, Bweeng, Kanturk, Kildorrery, Rathpeacon and Rockchapel. 
For more information about our Club please check out our website or on Facebook.

Volunteer Award for Past President

Cork Volunteer Awards

Speakeasy Toastmasters joins the applause for Kieran Buckley on receiving an award at the inaugural Cork Volunteer Awards night, which took place last week in The Kingsley Hotel, Cork. 

This event acknowledges the important work of the Voluntary Sector in Cork and the huge role it plays in enhancing the quality of life in our community. 

Kieran received The Board Member Award for his unstinting commitment as Chairman of the Mallow Day Care Centre. Established in 2001, Mallow Day Centre provides a wonderful community based service for elderly care in the North Cork region.

Kieran is a former member of the Speakeasy Club and has served in a number of roles on the Club Committee, including President in 1999 - 2000.A hugely popular and enthusiastic Club member, Kieran brings the same high quality leadership to every organisation that he displayed in Toastmasters.

We congratulate Kieran on his wonderful achievement. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Laughter is the Best Medicine!

For anyone in need of a lift or even some therapy, last week's Speakeasy Toastmasters Humorous Speech Night was a welcome dose of laughter. There were belly laughs, guffaws and applause as five Contestants clashed verbal swords to win the adjudicators' votes. There were tales of embarrassment, love and jealousy with a portion of criminology and a large helping of codology mixed in!

"Three Likely Tales - an alter boy, a mother and The Canon" was the curious tale of the irritable and pompous Canon who was partial to his "night cap" of milk laced with whiskey, the no nonsense mother and the humiliated alter boy who learned to his satisfaction that "revenge is best served cold!" Delivered with aplomb by Bobby Buckley, he suggested that any reference to characters, living or dead, was purely coincidental. 

Theresa O'Reilly pointed the finger at parents and grand - parents who devoted their affections, almost exclusively, on only sons. "The One and Only" was about the golden boy who can do no wrong and can wind their grannies around their little finger. Spoken from the exasperated sister's perspective, it showed how sisters become invisible as parents lavish all their praise and zero admonishment to their spoiled "only boy". 
Theresa O'Reilly, Michael Cronin, Clare O'Connell, Bobby Buckley & Pat Sexton. 

Some people marry for love or to avoid loneliness. Others marry for money. But, for Claire O'Connell, it is all about "location, location, location". For Claire, the key question is "Do You Like the Douglas Area?" It has everything she needs in facilities and convenience - just roll out of bed and, minutes later, she finds herself in work. So smitten by the suburban location, her main criteria for a man is a liking for Douglas and a willingness to make a down payment for a house there! But, alas, such men are so hard to find. 

Michael Cronin can't say no! This willingness to put himself forward has led to a successful career in Toastmasters. He learned to feel the fear and do it anyway ". However, he is always tasked with the duty of collecting for Charity at Flag days.His speech - "Why Me?"highlighted the many hair - raising and embarrassing situations that no God fearing Catholic should endure. It seems that those who "the Gods wish to punish, they first embarrass". 

The final speech of the night was "As Good as Goldilocks". Pat Sexton made the case that society's ills are due to the malign influence of that notorious girl and her criminal behaviour. In truth, Goldilocks wasn't good at all! 

In the second competition of the night, four members did battle in The Table Topics Contest. Claire O'Connell, Pat Sexton, Bobby Buckley and Michael Cronin were given the challenge of addressing the question - "What was the best piece of advice you ever received?" In this Contest, competitors leave the room and receive the question when it is their turn to speak. Reference was made to the wisdom of Shakespeare, Oscar Wilde and Albert Einstein as contestants spoke about their most useful pieces of advice. 

At the Meeting's conclusion, the winners were announced. In the Table Topics Contest, the Winner was Pat Sexton. In runner-up place was Michael Cronin. In the Humorous Speech Contest, the positions were reversed with Michael Cronin emerging victorious and Pat Sexton in Second Place. These contestants will now go forward to represent Speakeasy in the North Cork Area Finals in Fermoy on Tuesday, 12th November.
Michael Cronin, Theresa O'Reilly & Pat Sexton. 

In the meantime, Speakeasy Toastmasters will hold their next Meeting in The Hibernian Hotel Mallow on Thursday, 31st October at 8.00PM. Despite the date of Meeting, there is no reason to be afraid.A warm welcome will be extended to members and guests alike. There will be no tricks but plenty of treats in store. We look forward to seeing you there on Halloween Night. 
For more information on this club, please check out our website or Facebook. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

A night of humour beckons!

Speakeasy Toastmasters Club is hosting it's annual Humorous Speech Contest on Thursday,17th 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 with a clear theme that is humorous in nature.

Over the years, many Speakeasy members have excelled in Humorous Contest at several levels, winning different stages of the event in Ireland and Britain. Last year, Kieran Butler finished in Third Place in The Division B Final. Other members have reached the pinnacle of success in this competition. 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 his touching 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. Over the years, Speakeasy has been represented on twelve occasions at the District Final, with the ultimate prize coming back to Mallow on three occasions. Both the winners and runners up in each contest will go forward to represent Speakeasy in the North Cork Area Final which takesplace in Fermoy in mid November. 

At last week's reschedueled meeting, members were treated to an entertaining array of speeches and topics, overflowing with humour.Susan Hegarty regaled us with "Old Drama". Using the example of "Tracy" inthe TV drama "Emmerdale Farm" spoke about the appeal of television "Soaps". Beginning as afternoon drama in America, soaps evolved as it's target audience - housewives - joined the workforce. As a teenager, the ultimate sanction was a blanket ban on Home and Away, leading to desperate visitations to neighbouring houses to feed their nightly addiction. Various soaps inspired recitations of the Rosary as a shocked mother tried to cleanse her family who had viewed Miley in Glenroe kissing someone he shouldn't!  
Margaret O'Keeffe showed in "Twix and Caramel" that families can grow and progress in a structured fashion that is far removed from the sagas and tribulations of Soap characters, proving that all drama requires some form of conflict. 
Rachel Liston delivered a speech on her own personal journey in Toastmasters. "Carpet Squares" took it's title from a woman in Limerick who looked out at her large garden that needed to be dug up. Getting a leftover piece of carpet, she proceeded on a daily basis to dig up a square equal to size of the carpet until the entire garden was dug. From a reticent beginning, Rachel took the huge leap of faith to join Thomond Toastmasters in Limerick and, square by square, made little but significant improvements as a communicator. Rachel displayed in a straight forward manner how to become a confident communicator - just take the first step and then keep taking the next step. Toastmasters provides the space for everyone who needs to acquire or develop the confidence to speak up or speak out. 
Michael Cronin, Susan Hegarty, Rachel Liston, Bridie O'Connell & Pat Sexton. 

The impromptu section of the meeting, the Table Topics Session was conducted by Ann Nyhan. Topics ranged from the weather as our main topic of conversation to the obnoxious plague of fly tipping and littering. Addictions featured prominently as habits as diverse as vaping and obsession with social media were discussed. Gerry O'Callaghan painted a wonderful picture of coming out of the Cinemas in Mallow and fully smoked up from passively smoking the fog of cigarette smoke that enveloped the theatre. Speakers spoke of the hell of quitting smoking and how the craving never disappears completely. The subject of Noisy Neighbours led to various confessions of youthful exuberance. To great mirth, Don McSweeney recalled his student days in a house in Shandon Street, Cork and how a housemate wrote a letter to the Rector of Shandon Church requesting him to quell the ringing of the Shandon Bells as it interfered with his morning sleep! So far, his simple request hasn't been granted. 

Ann Nyhan, Theresa O'Reilly & Don McSweeney 

Each speech was comprehensively 
evaluated by Bridie O'Connell, Michael Cronin,and Pat Sexton 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 Topic; Rachel Liston - 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 17th 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

Tuesday, October 08, 2019

Meeting Rescheduled!

"I hear hurricanes a blowing,
I know the end is coming soon,
I see rivers overflowing."

The words of Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Bad Moon Rising" aptly describe last week's dominant news story - Hurricane Lorenzo. And in Cork, the question behind asked is - are weather warnings more disruptive than the weather?

Acting on the Orange Weather Warning, Speakeasy Toastmasters took the responsible decision to postpone last week's Meeting. It was a more a case of "Meeting delayed not Meeting denied" as we host a rescheduled Meeting in the Hibernian Hotel Mallow on Thursday, 10th October at 8.00PM.

Speakeasy Toastmasters is all about our Meetings. Everything that the Club stands for is exemplified by the Club Meeting. Members are given the opportunity to participate in various roles - each one being equally significant. Members can present prepared speeches which are assigned an evaluator who provides the Speaker with appropriate feedback. Other roles include The Toastmaster of the Evening who acts as Chairperson and introduces each speaker. Moreover, the Topics Session is conducted by the Topicsmaster who is the discussion leader. Each Meeting has a Time-Keeper who ensures that speakers cannot ramble on for too long! And, for those members who haven't an assigned role, they can participate in the Topics Session which is the impromptu part of the Meeting. 

Toastmasters works on the principle that we "learn by doing". Nobody ever learns to swim by walking around the swimming pool. At some stage, they need to get into the water. In Toastmasters, members are encouraged to "dip their feet into the water". And communication is a "learned skill" - the more you do it, the better you become and confidence grows. 
Toastmasters' involvement assists members in several areas of communication and leadership. Our members bring the skills that they learn in Toastmasters into the workplace and into various voluntary organisations.
Anne O'Donovan & Liam Flynn

Speakeasy Toastmasters has a very busy schedule over the coming weeks. It begins with Thursday night's Meeting and continues with the Annual Humorous Speech and Table Topics Contests. These will take place at the Club Meeting on Thursday, 17th October in The Hibernian Hotel Mallow at 8.00PM. Down the years, these Contests have provided great entertainment for members and guests alike.

Guests are always welcome to attend our meetings. If you curious about Speakeasy or if you wish to take up a beneficial new hobby. If you feel that acquiring good communication skills can help you at work or in those "Special Occasions", why not pay us a visit? Guests are never obliged to speak unless they wish to do so.
To recap - Speakeasy Humorous Speech and Table Topics Contests take place on Thursday, 17th October and our Rescheduled Meeting is on the Thursday, 10th October in The Hibernian Hotel Mallow at 8.00PM.
For more information,please check out our website or on Facebook. 

Tuesday, October 01, 2019

A Treasure Chest of Memories

"Memories, oh so beautiful and yet,
What's too painful to remember,
We simply choose to forget.
Barbara Streisand.

A treasure chest of cherished memories was burst open during the Topics Session at the last Speakeasy Toastmasters meeting. A simple question from the Topicsmaster, Verna Byrne on childhood memories of Summers long past prompted several recollections of a time when the Summers were always long and warm, children were easily pleased and Telephones hung on walls and weren't considered smart.

Liam Flynn waxed lyrical on Summer days in Wexford with descriptions of Hook Head lighthouse and eating crab meat, which, unlike nowadays, was not considered a valued food. Bobby Buckley recalled a recent stopover in Tipperary and how memories of looking forward to holidays in Thurles and the whole Summer spread out before him. Michael Cronin remembered whiling away the time with "racing twigs down a river", obviously an early prototype of the Duck Race. Far more exciting were the recollections of Gerry O'Callaghan - day trips to Youghal beach and packed lunches where the the word "sandwich" took on an entirely literal meaning and where one child would inevitably go missing.

Childhood ambitions were addressed in the topic - " when I grow up I wish to be". Inspired by the Moon Landings, Don McSweeney dreamed of being an astronaut, which was quite a tall order for someone who disliked cramped and confined spaces! And, for good measure, he wanted to be a cross channel swimmer, which would require the essential first step of learning to swim! Shane O'Donnell wanted to be a man in uniform! Toy soldiers sparked an ambition in Shane to be a soldier, an ambition that receded in teenage years.

"How life would be different when and if we achieved gender equality" elicited a huge response on women and their competency.The example of Joanne Cantwell stepping into a predominantly male preserve like "The Sunday Game" and bringing a skill set that was previously lacking was cited as proof that women can hold their own in all aspect of life.

Topic Sessions enable members to hone their skills of "thinking on their feet" in all sorts of social situations, be it in job interviews, work meetings or in inter-personal communications. Over time, members gain the confidence and the composure to respond to most off the cuff situations and to speak with clarity and coherence on a range of subjects. And, it be good fun, echoing the Toastmasters motto - "We learn most in moments of enjoyment".

To sample the delights of a Topics Session and all other aspects of a Speakeasy meeting, why not pay us a visit at our next meeting on Thursday, 3rd October in The Hibernian Hotel, Mallow at 8.00PM. Guests are always welcome and are never obliged to speak unless they wish to do so.
For more information, please check out our website, or on Facebook. Alternatively, please contact Club President, Theresa O'Reilly - 087-6699156.