Communication and Leadership Skills

Composing Music for Film, Life Lessons and “Would you Rather?”

Toastmasters St Kieran’s had another fun Zoom meeting on Wednesday, 13 May, 2020. This was our third meeting on Zoom, since the social distancing started due to COVID-19.

Meeting on Zoom has seen our members developing new skills and facing new challenges. For example, one of our members mentioned how much more confident he felt in Zoom meetings at work, thanks to the practice and feedback he has had at Toastmasters. Some of our members though have moved to “Umsville” – that crazy town where people say “Um” as a filler word a lot!

Tonight’s meeting was chaired by Filipe, who did a great job keeping the meeting moving and providing leadership and relevant commentary.

There were 13 regular members and we welcomed two guests – Ilona and Harriet. 

We opened with a warm-up talking for 45 seconds each about what Mother’s Day means to us. One of the things I love about Toastmasters is that it is fascinating how different everyone’s perspectives are and the different angles they choose to talk about with the same topic. Some people had very positive feelings about Mother’s Day. Others did not. And members and guests felt comfortable sharing their perspective and their stories.

Toastmasters is so unique because it’s the one club where people from all ages and walks of life come together to learn, share and support each other. You have masters who have been there for 10+  years and newbies who are uncertain but keen. We have so much fun and we certainly laugh a lot!

I’ll write a separate post about our St Kieran’s peeps but in short, they are amazing – ranging from a 19 year-old student to an  octogenarian with a killer wit.

Jeff explained the role of the Timer and Bacchus explained the role of the Grammarian. He chose the word “mysterious” as the word of the night and it was every member’s challenge to use that word if they could. (See the background to his photo – top row, third from the left). 

Kieron gave the toast and we toasted “Technology!” which is giving us the ability to stay connected in a COVID-19 world. This toast was somewhat ironic since Kieron is still learning how to use Zoom (which button is for video and which one for mute)? The cool thing is, if it weren’t for the current environment, Kieron might not have learned Zoom as well as he has.

We had two prepared speeches tonight and they were doozies!

Mark delivered an Icebreaker speech on “Composing Music for Screen – a Gut Feeling”.  A fascinating topic because Mark recently finished his Masters in composing for film.

In fact, the film Mark composed music for has just been picked up by ABC iView. It’s called Gut Feeling. Click here to watch it. 

Mark has a history of delivering interesting, thought-provoking speeches. Tonight, he revealed that there are three types of music written for film:

  • Theme – a theme song written for a film intro/outro or character. He shared that a theme song is written first and then the visuals are edited to match the music
  • Score – the background music if you will. The score is written to complement the film.
  • Source – the music that the characters hear. It might be the music the band is playing when the characters walk into a bar. Or the song on the juke box. Or a song the character sings. One of the most famous of all… Tom Cruise singing, “You’ve Lost that Loving Feeling”  in Top Gun.  That’s source music! (See Mark, I was listening) :-D.

Scott did an Icebreaker as well called “Things You Don’t Know about Me”, where he shared stories that taught him life lessons along the way. Now, Toastmasters is a safe space, so I can’t share what those stories were, but I can say they were touching, funny and made Scott (our President by the way) the man he is today.

And one of the things we learned about Scott is that for years, he was incredibly shy. You would never know that now, but he attributed Toastmasters to part of his personal growth in this area.

Once the speeches were delivered, fellow members provide evaluations – giving positive critiques and suggested areas of improvement for all aspects of the speech – from content structure, to delivery, to eye contact and gestures, etc.

Gary (a Toastmasters mentor and sage) evaluated Mark and Eva evaluated Scott.  Evaluations are one of the unique parts of Toastmasters, because they are an opportunity for everyone to learn in a non-critical way.

My favourite part of Toastmasters (an originally the area that intimidated me the most) was Table Topics. Table Topics is a session when a Table Topics Master provides a topic and then randomly calls on a member to talk for 1-2 minutes about that topic.  Table Topics is a great opportunity to practice thinking on your feet. And because Toastmasters is such a safe space, it’s a great opportunity to develop this skill.

I, for example, need a lot of practice in this space. Whilst I enjoy giving prepared speeches (like Marks’ and Scott’s), I am not confident with impromptu speaking. I tend to start talking and rabbit on until I’m finished. So, I’ve learned a lot about how to approach an impromptu topic including bringing in a personal story, challenging the topic, pausing to think or stopping to breathe.

Filimon was our Table Topics Master and he presented a series of “Would you Rather?” questions. I was an evaluator so I didn’t participate tonight. But some of my favourite “Would you Rathers?” included:

  • Would you rather be able to detect any lie or get away with any lie?
  • Would you rather be the richest person in the world or the smartest?
  • Would you rather be technical or creative?

Angela provided the general evaluation and the meeting closed.

If you’d like to be a guest at St Kieran’s Manly Vale, you are welcome at any time as a guest (there is no charge). 

We meet on the 2nd and 4th Wednesdays of the month at 7:00 pm. We usually meet at St Kieran’s church, Manly Vale.  But are currently meeting on Zoom.  

Simply email our VP Membership at Please click here to send an email 



Karen Robertson. Toastmasters St Kieran’s Manly Vale VP PR.