This page has news about Toastmasters activities around New Zealand and the world.

Mark Maney keeps them laughing


Humorous Champion Mark Maney.

Mark Maney, Champion, in his own words...

I initially joined because of my friend Robert Wong, long-time toastmaster from Maungakiekie Toastmasters in Auckland. I competed in the humorous speech contest after I joined in 2014 as well as helped in a Speechcraft course offered by our club. I made it to the division level and ended up placing second that year. Maungakiekie was extremely helpful at that time. 

Unfortunately, changing circumstances caused me to quit Toastmasters after a very fruitful eight months. Fast-forward a year later, and I found myself in Tauranga with my supervisor suggesting I should try Toastmasters again. The club that worked best with my schedule was City Early Start. It was here that I once again tried my hand at the humorous speech contest. I credit the support and insights that I got from this club to be key in my success in this year's contest. 

Even though the pressure is crazy, I love competing. If you have ever seen Alien and the scene where the alien bursts out of the chest of one of the people, that's what my heart feels like! Your hands are shaking, your armpits are sweating, every nuclear-level type disaster that could happen is going through your head, and everyone is watching you. YOU. And they're judging you as well! It's intense. But it's the perfect time to give a speech. Because if you can give one in that context, you can give a speech anywhere.

At the District competition, it was 7am, it was the contest briefing, and I drew to go first. At that moment I thought, "Well, there goes my chances." It took quite a bit of wind out of my sails. I knew that going first was a tough spot to be in (it's one of the reasons we have a warmup speaker in contests of this nature!). But after about ten minutes of feeling downtrodden I decided it didn't matter. I was going to go out and give the best version of the speech I could. Speech order couldn't stop me from doing that!

Toastmasters has developed in me an appreciation for all the different topics and ideas that resonate with people. I have also eliminated many bad habits in speaking. Not only by being called out on them in evaluations and such, but by seeing things in speeches that I don't like. 

I'm currently training to become an ordained minister with the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand, but I'm originally from Canada, and used to be a trumpet player for the Loyal Edmonton Regiment Band. The Canadian government had plans to finish renovation of the Vimy Ridge monument in France for its 90th anniversary ceremony in 2007. Largely because of luck, I was chosen to be part of these ceremonies. It was during this experience I learned the content of my humorous speech. Every Canadian learns about the Battle of Vimy Ridge, but the content of my speech I learned in Vimy Ridge itself, from the Canadian military's unique innovations, to exploding sheep.

(Originally posted on Facebook)

Ninety three year old gains prestige Toastmaster award

Betty Meyers of the Capital Toastmasters club in Wellington New Zealand is  93 years old and has achieved the award of Advanced Communicator (Silver). 

Betty Meyers with her ACS Award.

Betty  has been a member of the Capital Toastmasters club for 10 years and has also earned her Competent Leader award.

She keeps members enthralled with her description of what life was like in Wellington in the 1930s and during World War 11 when she trained to be a nurse. 

Betty Meyers - nurse.

'We looked out at the harbour first thing in the morning, and it was full of warships. The US Marines had arrived'.

She remains silent on what, if any, relationships she had with the young handsome Marines who would have zeroed in to the Nurses Hostel like homing pigeons.

'Wouldn't you just like to know', she archly replied to an interjection during a Table Topics session. 'Anyway, the Matron kept us on a pretty tight reign so the Marines didn't get much joy out of us'.

Oddly enough Betty joined Toastmasters because of her interest in running Marathons. She has run 21 and in her last one she finished first in the 80s age group in the Honolulu Marathon. She took 14 hours to do it but despite having to have frequent rest stops in the enervating heat, she was the only one in her age group to finish. This actually made her a top international athlete. It is ironic to think that had she been in her 30s she would have been national headline news.

She was on the committee of the Wellington Marathon Clinic and after one meeting, Rob Julian the then President of Capital Toastmasters and President of the Marathon Clinic was giving her a lift home and told her that he had to get to a Capital Toastmasters meeting and Betty said she would like to come and see what it was all about.

Since then she has never looked back. 

'Toastmasters gave me a new lease of life', she said. 'The Capital Club members are wonderful people and they don't treat me like a silly little old lady. I have to meet the same objectives for each project as everyone else. Once I was told I had to repeat one of the Advanced Manual Speeches again. Which was fair enough'.

And as far as the members of Capital Toastmasters are concerned, Betty is a living treasure. 

The Toastmaster - July 2016

This month's edition of The Toastmaster magazine has an article about Dr Deborah Lambie, Miss University New Zealand 2014, Miss Supermodel New Zealand 2014, and Miss World New Zealand 2015.

In this article, which is part of a larger item about beauty pageant winners around the world thanking Toastmasters for their crowns, Deborah says, "Without Toastmasters, I don't know if I would have won the national competition."

She won the best speaker award at the 26th World Miss University pageant in South Korea in 2014 as well as several contests held by her home club, Turbine Talkers, in Wellington.

A copy of The Toastmaster magazine is in the letterbox of all New Zealand Toastmasters right now.

Deborah Lambie

Judging a Special Needs Contest

Darrell Phillips ACG.

An article by Darrell Phillips, ACG, Spinnaker Toastmasters Club

5 June 2016

Fellow Toastmasters,

If in 2017 a local Rotary club should approach your club to supply judges for a Special Needs Adults speech contest then throw both hands in the air shouting "I will, I will!".

On a recent Saturday morning I had what proved to be the privilege of helping to select three Wellington speakers to go forward to a national final being held that afternoon. The event I attended was masterfully organised by the Plimmerton Rotary of Porirua.

The speakers ranged in age from their late teens to some in their 30s each with their own difficulties to overcome.

That they were able to overcome those difficulties and bravely step up to a speaking platform to address strangers on "what I believe my future will be"  became for me the most emotional and difficult judging role I have ever undertaken. It was also to be the most humbling, heart warming and inspirational contest I have ever enjoyed!

I am not a person who shows great emotion in public, I was stoic at my parents' funerals, yet I teared-up regularly as I listened to the speeches of those special 12 speakers that morning.

Not that they teared-up because their speeches were full of pride (in their families, helpers, friends and achievements), hopes for their future (jobs prospects, travel, romance), humour (one young lady used binoculars to looked into her future, fancied Prince Harry as her boyfriend and Buckingham Palace as her 'des-res') and a total belief that for them anything was possible.

I say speeches but it was not speeches alone. Most of them also used Powerpoint presentations very professionally to support their words.  

They did not ignore their difficulties however, indeed almost all addressed their unique problem in their speeches. One young woman with the most excellent 'prime of Jean Brody' quality elocution casually mentioned "I've not had an easy life" an understatement from someone who was an orphan before she was 12 and had to deal her special problem as well!

Her speech was the first to reveal the heart-warming side of the day. At the loss of her parents she was   taken in by her uncle and aunty. What a huge step up to the plate by them! I wonder how many of  us would have done the same if required to? But her aunty and uncle weren't just the only ones. Every speaker had their support team. Parents, siblings, relatives and friends cheering them on and making it possible for them to be there. One speaker's carer had brought him by bus train and then bus, from Island Bay to Whitby, because her car had broken down and her only other transport option was "moving house that day". So she did all the bus-train-bus travel "because he deserved the chance". And did I mention it was raining cats and dogs that morning!

When all the media virtually feeds us is a steady diet of bad people doing bad things then being in a room full of good people doing good things sets the heart to cosy warm.

As a judge I was concerned I would be considered a villain by  end of the contest. Luckily for we judges that mantle fell to the poor timekeeper for the day. Unlike a formal Toastmaster contest, which uses lights to mark the key time points, this contest simply used a bell at 5 minutes.  Each time she rang the bell she suffered the glared dagger looks of a roomful of absorbed listeners, all unhappy at having the current interesting talk disrupted. I would not be at all surprised to hear that she later smashed that accursed bell.

While the bell ringer was glared at she still got off lightly. We the judges felt fully tested when it came time to decide who our winners would be. In our eyes each and every one of our speakers were winners just for having stood on the podium. They further didn't make our judging easy by being universally similar in quality of performance, a very good quality at that. In a conventional Toastmaster contest we often get 3-4 in the field who stand out enough for us to decide the final places. In this contest we virtually had an across-the-field blanket finish. Our job was made harder by not knowing the full impact of each speaker's special difficulty, and therefore how to factor it into their speech performance. Indeed we did not use the conventional Toastmaster points system but one devised by the senior judge from previous special contests. It was very much a system based on the heart and very appropriate.

Luckily we judges were beating with one heart as we found we were in accord on a number of noses just nudging the finishing tape, ahead of the fast finishing field, to allow us to present the prize panel with three names to go forward to the afternoons national contest.

Dreading the acrimony and disappointment that usually follows the announcement of contest winners our special people gave us one last inspirational surprise. Those that were not placed treated each place winners name with the sort of joy that you and I might show only if it were our own name that was being called out.   They however simply had no envy or malice, instead just a shared pleasure that three of their own were going forward to the next stage. This was a lesson the world at large would do well to learn.

So there you have it fellow Toastmasters a day of many emotions, challenges, and above all inspiration.

I salute Plimmerton Rotary, and Rotary NZ at large, for their efforts in organising a contest which I hope will continue to grow.

I salute the incredible carers, friends, and professionals, who give so much love and help to their special charges.

But above all I salute the VERY special 12 young people for their courage and performance in an area which many (many!) people fear – public speaking. I hope they are as proud of themselves as we think they should be. They are leaders in every sense of the word.

Toastmasters as I said at the beginning of this story- 

If in 2017 a local Rotary club should approach your club to supply judges for a Special Needs Adults speech contest then remember the lyrics of Beyonce's biggest hit song and "put your hands up!!"

Darrell Phillips ACG
Spinnaker Toastmasters  Club 7868/72

Uni speech success

Melanie Oliver.

Melanie Oliver (pictured above), a Toastmaster from Dunedin wrote to us recently to describe her experiences and how Toastmasters worked for her:

"Public speaking had always been a fear of mine. After starting at Otago University I knew I would be required to give some short group presentations. I also knew that in the third year of my Ecology Degree I would need to present research on my own from a Catlins field trip for 12 minutes.  So I could present with confidence and communicate my ideas purposefully, I joined the Dunedin Toastmasters Club for students, Scarfies Speechcraft in April 2015.  As I worked through the Competent Communication manual projects, little by little my confidence grew and my delivery improved with the feedback gained. Last year I was awarded the Most Improved Speaker for the club and just recently I gave that presentation from the Catlins field trip and came top of my class of forty students!  Thank you Toastmasters. "

Conquer the world, one room at a time

Ayla Goddard.

Author: Ayla Goddard (pictured above)

This article first appeared in Fairfax community papers as a Backyard Banter column.

Ten years ago if you had told me I'd enjoy Public Speaking and use this skill to improve my career, I would have laughed at you.  I was fresh out of high school and ready to take on the World. But taking on a room full of strangers? Forget it.

We've all been there. Palms sweaty. Heart racing. Stomach doing somersaults. Sometimes dread so severe that you completely freeze, your mouth dries up or you start shaking. Sound familiar?  You, like 75% of the population, have probably experienced some level of Glossophobia. For some, the fear of public speaking is worse than the fear of death.

The reality is, you will probably have to present something at some point in your life and will need to be able to communicate your ideas to a group of people effectively. When I started out in retail I had an opportunity to share what I knew about wine in the form of educational tastings. I had knowledge, ambition and passion behind my material, but delivering to a group of ten strangers was a daunting prospect.

I realized I would benefit from being able to conduct presentations with poise, confidence and conviction. I finally decided to join a Toastmasters Club. This has given me a platform to practice with familiar faces, in a supportive environment that provides feedback and encourages self-improvement. Fast-forward two years. I'm an Account Manager for a Wine Distributor. Talking to a room full of strangers? Not only is it enjoyable, there is not the slightest hint of dread.

Learning to walk the walk and talk the talk can help each and every one of us in our daily lives.  Whether presenting to colleagues, networking, negotiating, teaching others, or presenting a speech at a best friend's wedding, speaking effectively is an invaluable tool whatever field you specialise in . 

Five Tips to Being a Successful Public Speaker

1. Know your content: You can set yourself up just by knowing your subject well and revising the important parts of your speech. The less you use notes, the more easily you will be able to talk with authority on the topic.  

2. Eye Contact: Just as looking directly at a customer makes you appear more genuine and trustworthy, using eye contact with your audience has the same effect by engaging them with your message.

3. Slow Down: On stage nerves can make you talk much faster than you realise. Enunciate your words clearly and use pauses to think about your next point. This also gives your audience time to digest what you have said and adds impact in your delivery.

4. Voice Variation: This applies to the rate, tone and volume. Once you master the art of your voice to convey your meaning; using hand gestures and eye contact become a natural integration.

5. Thrive off the Energy: When the nerves come, use this energy for an animated expression, voice and big gestures. These are all powerful tools to stimulate your audience, hold their attention and drive home your message. 

Have Fun: Now that you have the basics covered, relax and enjoy it! Injecting humour and emotion will create a reciprocated positive ripple across the crowd, which is a highly rewarding experience for the speaker.

Today if you asked me do I enjoy public speaking, the answer is it can be a laugh, but not in the way I imagined. The experience can not only be fun, but a skill with which to build confidence, experience personal growth and drive your own success in career endeavors. Ten years ago I thought I was brave enough to take on the World. Now I can also take on talking to a room full of people.  Take that, Glossophobia. 

Ayla Goddard is a member of Remuera Toastmasters in Auckland.

Revitalised Educational Programme - Pathways

Toastmasters International have released more information about the revitalised Educational Programme known as the Pathways Learning Experience scheduled to begin rollout in New Zealand in August 2017.

The programme will run concurrently with the existing programme for 24 months, and is being progressively rolled out around the world.

The July 2016 edition of The Toastmaster magazine has an article on the Pathways programme.

Pathways Learning Experience