The Power of Language

A theme such as “The Power of Language” is bound to produce an inspiring evening. With Judith Taylor as the Toastmasters of the evening sharing her love of language the continuity of the evening was motivational.

Transformers Toastmasters meeting number 658 on Monday, 14 October brought ten eager Toastmasters together. These included a “lapsed” Toastmasters recently from Cape Town looking for a club to join in Johannesburg and our newest club member who stayed till the recess before dashing off to keep communication links going on a cellular network. Goran Radanovic came to say farewell as time commitments are forcing him to reduce his membership of three Toastmasters clubs to one.

The prepared speeches this evening were delivered by Tibor Nadj, Keith Bowen and John-Peter Gernaat. Tibor completed the seventh project from the Competent Communicator manual by delivering a speech supported by research. He spoke about bridges – physical, metaphorical and philosophical – using literature and films to illustrate the message.

Keith delivered a monodrama from the Interpretive Reading Advanced Manual. He delivered the soliloquies of Salieri from Peter Shaffer’s play ‘Amadeus”. He delivered these with passion to bring to life the tragedy of Salieri who was called the greatest musician during the latter part of his life, after the death of Mozart, which he may have facilitated, but fades into obscurity after death while Mozart grows in fame. Salieri realises, as he nears death, that he was mediocre as a composer in comparison to Mozart, yet he had pledged his soul to God to be a composer while Mozart was a foolish child gifted with the ability to hear heavenly music complete in his mind.

John-Peter gave the closing out speech of his High Performance Leadership (HPL) project. This project was the convening of LeaderCon in May and the Toastmasters HPL programme is a valuable tool to help leaders build and lead teams. Teams on any project, but more so on a non-remunerative project, are fluid and John-Peter twice experienced the teams that had been assembled vaporise. However, as he concluded, a team can achieve more that a group of individuals, and so it was the work of effective teams that produced arguably the best conference yet in Southern Africa for Toastmasters. However, John-Peter noted, working with teams is an ongoing challenge and each new project can benefit from the HPL programme.

John-Peter ran the Table Topics session of the evening. He provided a topic and asked whoever related to the topic to speak for 1 to 2 minutes on the topic. The topics were related to the power of language. Judith spoke of being embarrassed by not being able to speak a language when, immediately after school, she took a vacation assignment in Finland to teach English and could not communicate with the locals because she had no Finnish at all. Chamu boasted about the number of language he could speak. Alan informed us that there is no such thing as an instruction in plain language. Rod regaled us with a tale that illustrated that some language should not be acted upon. And finally Goran motivated us not to die with regrets but to live to the full, using several quotes from literature to illustrate his message.

Best Table Topic speaker was awarded, by popular vote, to Goran, best speaker to Keith and best evaluator of the evening to Rod.

People stayed to chat for a good half hour after the meeting highlighting the social nature of the acquaintanceships build at a Toastmasters club.

You are always welcome to attend any of our club meetings including our next meeting on Monday, 28 October. Arrive at the Morningside Country Club at 18h45 and make you way to the tennis pavilion on any 2nd or 4th Monday of the month. There is no obligation or fee to be a guest at one of our meetings, and we serve snacks!

Pushing Buttons

Transformers Toastmasters discussed pushing buttons on Monday, 9 September. This was the theme of the evening. A leader will push buttons that motivates his or her followers, that tie in with their dreams, aspirations and goals and in pushing these buttons propel his followers to excel. There is also the negative connotations that people have buttons that cause irritation. These buttons can be pushed by strangers because their behaviour is inconsistent with our values or by loved ones who know us very well. Toastmaster of the evening, Chamu M’Kombe, prepared fabulous material to motivate us as Toastmasters and as South Africans to push buttons that will encourage our fellows to excellence. – Please chat with him about this when you next visit our club as he is very enthusiastic on making a difference.

The evening’s programme was run a little differently: the contestants for the Humorous Contest had both been ill at our last meeting and at this meeting only Judith Taylor was able to make it. John-Peter Gernaat educated the members on judging a contest, comparing judging and evaluating, and after Judith presented her contest speech entitled “Giving Birth” we all provided feedback to her in accordance with the judging criteria to assist her in her preparation for representing the club at the Area Contest on 23 September.

The programme had only one prepared speech by visiting Toastmaster and Area Governor Dineshrie Pillay who informed us of her investigation into role of a Day Chairman at a Toastmasters conference as a project from the Advances Speaker series of manuals. Her enthusiasm was catching and her findings were based on her own experimentation at other industry conferences. Expect to see Dineshrie on stage soon as the dynamic Day Chairman of a Toastmasters conference.


Zanele, a guest, giving her award winning impromptu speechThe Impromptu speeches lead by Table Topics Master Judith Taylor were all related to the speaker having his or her buttons pushed in specified circumstances; e.g. in the traffic, by loved one or at work. The speeches entertained us thoroughly.

The evaluators’ reports: evaluation of Dineshrie’s speech, the um-counter, grammarian and general evaluator, were followed by a discussion on how to inspire you, the reader of this report, to attend one of our meeting. You are always welcome to attend any of our club meetings including the meeting on Monday, 23 September when we host the Area Contests and hear the best speakers from the clubs in our Area compete with one another to find the speaker who represents our Area in each of the Humorous and Impromptu Contests at Division level. Arrive at the Morningside Country Club at 18h45 and make you way to the main club house on 23 September or to the tennis pavilion on any other 2nd or 4th Monday of the month. There is no obligation or fee to be a guest at one of our meetings, and we serve snacks!

Survivor 2013

survivor 2013The contest will take place in the main clubhouse of the Morningside Country Club, De la Rey Road, Morningside Ext. 1. RSVP to attend (for catering purposes) or register to compete (open to all, only 16 places available)or for more information contact Margie Skeen at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

The Road Goes Ever On

Bilbo Baggins’ walking song (J.R.R. Tolkien from Lord of the Rings) was the theme for the last Transformers Toastmasters Club meeting of the Toastmasters Year held on Monday, 24 June 2013. The Toastmasters year runs from 1 July to 30 June. The end of the year also coincides with a new club committee being elected and inducted and all the measures used within Toastmasters to measure success culminating. This often means that Toastmasters are scrambling to complete speeches to register educational awards.

This last meeting of the year had three prepared speeches, two from members of the club who both completed educational awards with these speeches and a visiting Toastmaster also heading towards completing an educational award.

The first speaker was Rod Taylor giving the 6th project from the Competent Communicator speech. This speech is about using vocal variety to enhance the speech. Rod told us about his swimming exploits as a child that culminated in him winning the biggest race on the school calendar in his final year beating the school hero. His gestures flowed naturally and the excitement was palpable in his tale.

Next, a visiting Toastmasters from CIMA Toastmasters Club, delivered the penultimate speech from the Competent Communicator manual: persuading the audience. She told us how hoarding had finally resulted in a stagnation in her life and how she had finally learned to de-clutter which had brought purpose and flow back into her life. Not only this but it had caused people around her to begin de-cluttering through the energy she started exuding. Her challenge was to each one of us to de-clutter.

Finally, John-Peter Gernaat presented a Roast from the Special Occasions Speeches Advanced Speaking Manual. Interestingly he elected to roast himself, placing himself as an imaginary person in a chair in front of the audience. He picked on his childhood ineptitudes, poking fun at his inability to comprehend sport although his nickname was ostrich. The nickname more aptly described his ‘head in the sand’ unawareness of life around him, being hit on at university and being totally unaware. Because the occasion was ostensibly the party before the induction to Toastmasters District office, he suggested that roasting himself demonstrated his lack of friends and network connections and that he should take stock and get to know himself before becoming too ambitious. In her evaluation of the speech Mary Byrne pointed to the facial expressions and eyes that turned to poking remarks to humour.

The Table Topics session run by Mary Byrne had the speakers comment on the meaning of names of towns as defined in the “Meaning of Liff”, a book by Douglas Adams (author of Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy) and John Lloyd. An example was Rod Taylor being asked to discuss the meaning of the word HASSOP (n.) as being “The pocket down the back of an armchair used for storing two-shilling bits and pieces of Lego.”

The Area Governor elect inducted the new Club Committee.

The outgoing Club President awarded John-Peter Gernaat with the award of Toastmaster of the Year for his contribution to the club and active participation outside of the club. This is the third consecutive year John-Peter has been awarded this honour. (It means that the “Pic of the Month” is again the pic of the month.)

We welcome guests to our club meetings and make you feel very welcome. There is no charge for visiting us and a meal forms part of the evening. You will learn from the experience and may even want to join Toastmasters and our club. We look forward to meeting you.