Communication and Leadership Skills

Nobody Asked Me, But…

We had a lively meeting on Wednesday, August 12, 2020 at St Kieran’s Manly Vale.  Everyone was excited to be able to meet in person again. We welcomed three guests on the night – Therese, Erika and Louise. I was especially excited to hear that Therese had learned about us from our banner that hangs on St Kieran’s fence! 

Warm up

We started the night with our 45-second warm-up where each member spoke about, “Nobody asked me, but…”, the them chosen by our Chair, Filimon. As always, we laughed a lot as members shared their point of view on working from home, memes, learning golf and the answer to the meaning of life.

Prepared speeches

We had two prepared speeches tonight from Ilona and Eva.  

Ilona’s speech on “friendly or hostile universe”

The title of Ilona’s speech was “The most important decision we make is whether we believe we live in a friendly or hostile universe.”  -a quote by Albert Einstein. 

This is a topic in Ilona’s wheelhouse as she often speaks about philosophical and personal development topics. (Ilona is a friendly universe kind of woman!). She gave an interesting speech and used stories and slides to share her ideas. My favourite line from her speech was, “Are we doomed to drown in a glass always half empty?”

I was the evaluator for Ilona’s speech and provided feedback and suggestions for Ilona to consider for future speeches.  

Eva’s speech on change 

Eva’s spoke about change and used her iPhone 11 as an example of adapting to change.  She spoke about some of the challenges she had with her old phone and the joys she’s found in her new one, even if there’s been a learning curve. She’s discovered the power of contactless payment, saying that now she can “ding, ding, ding” her way through her shopping! 

She shared the Bridges model for change, showing that at first, people are resistant and fearful. Then they become neutral and accepting before they are energised and excited.

Eva used a lot of lightness and energy in her speech and we could tell she was having a lot of fun delivering it. 

Kesh evaluated the speech and he is now keen to set up contactless payment himself. 

Impromptu shares about fears and change 

Our third prepared speech was cancelled due to illness, so we had some time to fill. Filimon and Paul had the idea to ask for volunteers to give short, impromptu speeches on times of fear or change. 

Filimon, Kieron and Scott R and took on the challenge.

  • Filimon our philosopher spoke about changing his perspective, thanks to a seagull (“A seagull does what a seagull does – but he, as a human, can change.”).
  • Kieron spoke about how one’s perspective and outlook change over time. 
  • Scott spoke about overcoming a childhood fear and what his biggest fear is now. 

Our Toastmasters club is a supportive and safe community for sharing ideas and perspectives, so this impromptu speaking session was special for everyone.   

Table Topics

Kieron was our Table Topics Master for the night. Table Topics is the segment of the meeting where the TT Master gives members a topic and the member speaks for 1-2 minutes on that topic.

Kieron took a different approach this time by revealing the topics in advance and then letting members choose which one they wanted to speak about.

He announced a list of “favourites” we could choose from, which included:

  • Favourite food – Our guest, who is originally from Peru talked about her favourite potato dish. She also informed us that there are 4,000 varieties of potatoes in Peru!
  • Favourite musician – Kesh spoke about his favourite musician, Dave Grohl, who is a singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who has evolved his career from drummer in Nirvana to founder of Foo Fighters
  • Favourite philosopher – Filimon spoke about a book called Sophie’s World, which takes the reader on an introductory tour of philosophers through history
  • Favourite book – Jeff talked about his favourite book, Crime and Punishment, and was so enthusiastic that I now have purchased it
  • Favourite scientist – Scott R talked about his favourite science communicator, Cliff Stoll, who explains scientific concepts on YouTube. 
  • Favourite Australian – Our guest, Louise, told a wonderful story about a 9-year-old  boy named Lennie Gwyther who rode a pony 1,000 kilometers to be at the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge
  • Favourite leader – Eva spoke about the leadership style of Jacinda Arden and how Arden’s style differs from the more traditional authoritarian leadership style of most countries’ leaders
  • Favourite actor – Another guest, Therese, talked about her favourite actor – Tom Hanks – and some of the movies she’s enjoyed him in

Kieron wrapped up Table Topics by observing how much fun people seemed to have with their topics and he suggests that when you choose your topic, you are more connected with it. 

Jeff gave a general evaluator report and my favourite moment of the night was when Jeff expressed his dismay that as an Irishman, he was unaware of how many potato varieties are in Ireland, but now must find out since Peru has 4,000. 

Best Table Topics went to Louise
Best Speech went to Eva
Overall contribution acknowledgement went to Scott R

You’re Invited!

I hope these meeting summaries give you a flavour of what our meetings and culture are like at St Kieran’s Manly Vale. We meet on the 2nd and 4th Wednesday of each month.  We’d love to have you as our guest. Simply email our VP Membership, Eva Meagher, for more details.  Link is on our home page or email toastmastersmanlyvale at outlook dot com

(Why do we write the email address that way? So that we can avoid phishing/spam bots!).


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