Books that have influenced you the most

Not an unexpected theme for a Toastmasters meeting! The range and scope of books that have influenced the members, visitors and guests of Transformers Toastmasters Club speaks to the erudition (oh! that was the Word of the Evening) of the assembled group on Monday, 22nd April. Ryan Ebedes, Toastmaster of the Evening, revelled in sharing the titles, authors and the briefest of synopses of the lists of books presented to him as the continuity between the segments of the evening’s programme.

The Toast of the Evening, presented by Tibor Nadj, was to the ideas that inspire us; and we were in for an inspiring evening: five prepared speeches, five impromptu speeches and five thoroughly considered evaluations and well as the open evaluation of Keelan Naidoo’s contest speech.

Rod Taylor, Distinguished Toastmaster several times over, presented the icebreaker speech from the Competent Communicator manual, once more going back to the beginning to ensure the basics are never forgotten. Entitled “The Other Rod Taylors” he introduced us to Rod Taylor the Toastmaster, as we all know him, and then proceeded to introduce us to all the other aspects of himself we know less of, or only know of only indirectly: Rod Taylor the imperfect, the academic, the Bohemian, the agitator, the husband/father/grandfather, the friend, the adventurer, the professional and the lover. Well, not really, he did not get to telling us about Rod Taylor the lover, he had already exceeded his allotted time.

Chantal Weisshaupt inspired us to revisit our values and to find our authenticity and live life as the real us. Her fascination for other cultures and for travel has led her to live in 48 countries – that is an authentic living of one’s values.

Judith Taylor shared with us the facts about the negative effects of uranium mining around the world in her 7th project from the Competent Communicator manual requiring a speech on a researched subject. The statistics she presented were disturbing.

John-Peter Gernaat presented the speech that is required at the beginning of the High Performance Leadership programme – presenting the vision of his project. The HPL programme is the pinnacle of leadership in Toastmasters and is a programme that is suitable for every project undertaken in life where leadership is required. His project is the convening of the annual major Toastmasters conference for southern Africa and the vision is required to inspire the audience.

Finally, Keelan Naidoo presented his contest speech in which he compared the trust and faith of a fledging eagle taking its first flight from the nest to his own realisation that he had to leave his comfort zone in order to truly achieve the rewards of life.

The meal during the recess was scrumptious: lentils with chicken, pasta with vegetable and tiramisu.

For the impromptu speeches the speakers had to imagine themselves as the author of the book that inspired them most or the protagonist and share an idea with the audience to inspire the audience. The ideas ranged from Spud to Anthony Robbins and other gurus of our time.

The evaluations and the grammarians report provided a carefully considered analysis of the speeches against the objectives of the various projects, from which not only the speakers learned but everyone in the audience could take away valuable lessons.

At the end of the evening the evening’s awards were presented as follows: Ryan Ebedes received the award for best Impromptu Speech, Mary Byrne for best evaluation and Rob Taylor for best contribution (i.e. for the best list of inspiring books) and best speech of the evening.

We had two guests visiting for the second time and both have joined as members while Goran Radanovic will be joining us as a dual member.

We welcome guests to our club meetings and make you feel very welcome. There is no charge for visiting us and the meal is 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.

The Spark

Transformers Toastmasters has helped produce another Inspirational Leader: Chamu M’Kombe completed his 10th project from the Competent Communicator manual – the inspirational speech – this evening.

We had a full programme of seven prepared speeches and still squeezed in four impromptu speeches. The theme of the evening was The Spark; open to interpretation by everyone. The Toastmaster of the Evening introduced each of the participants on the programme by sharing what ignites a spark their life and interspersed quotes of what authors and people of note consider to spark inspiration. An example is the author Suzanne Weyn who said: “Your life is an occasion. Rise to it.”

Visiting Toastmaster Goran Radanovic presented a speech in compliance with the 4th project of the Competent Communicator manual that he entitled: The turning point is my life. He spoke of how he learned that life gives back what you give out, after having only tried to take from life, which produced pain.

Tibor Nadj, in compliance with the 5th project in the Competent Communicator manual on learning to use gesture and body language, told of his experiences in Bangkok. His first experience was the care that the people take in their greeting of each other, to the careful way the chaotic traffic functions through mindfulness to finally learning from a monk that the secret of life is in breathing.

Visiting Toastmaster, Ian Bratt from Benoni, wanted assistance in improving his contest speech. His speech entitled And the winner is was about the one word he would like to see removed from language: loser. In any race there can be only one person who comes first, but that does not make the others less significant, they are also-winners.

Keith Bowen completed a project from the Advanced Speaking manual on leading discussions. His panel had each prepared a speech for or against mother-tongue education. Vero Ardies spoke on how mother tongue is the only language in which one can express the depth on one’s heart in a speech in accordance with the 4th Competent Communicator project. Judith Taylor spoke about language as a living means of communicating and expressing culture in a speech to demonstrate use of vocal variety. Chamu M’Kombe inspired his audience to adopt his position on mother tongue education based on the experiences that abound in southern Africa of children whose lives are never fulfilled because their education was hampered by being educated in a language they do not understand. Using both emotion and research he was certainly inspiring and won the Best Speaker award of the evening.

Following a delicious meal Vero provided four people with topics related to the theme of the evening to speak on off-the-cuff. From Judith Taylor we learned of a South African breakthrough in water filtration with the design of a new membrane that will produce potable water from any water source. Mary Byrne spoke of other South African inventions that will soon see the light of day that will make sustainable living more practicable. Tibor entertained us with a tale of the first kitten he brought home of a snowy winter’s night. Goran introduced us to his 6-spark plugged lady.

The evaluations of the prepared speeches were as always insightful and Ian left with some ideas to try in improving his contest speech. Our two guests were very complimentary of the meeting and Goran wants to return to present more speeches at our future meetings.ater source. Mary Byrne spoke of other South African inventions that will soon see the light of day that will make sustainable living more practicable. Tibor entertained us with a tale of the first kitten he brought home of a snowy winter’s night. Goran introduced us to his 6-spark plugged lady

We always welcome guests and there is no requirement to attend a Transformers Toastmasters meeting. Come and find out why others have enjoyed the experience.


Six guest, five prepared speeches and 5 impromptu speeches made for an exciting and full programme on Monday evening, 11th March.

We learned from Vero Ardes that poor communication is the cause of relationships breaking down, both in the workplace and at home. This speech fulfilled the requirements of her second project, which is concerned with the structure of a speech.

Chantal Weisshaupt, also completing her second Toastmasters speaking project, very descriptively told us how music can restore one after the “noise” of a busy day.

Judith Taylor described in wonderful word pictures, vocal intonation and gesture an opera project in which she’d been involved in her youth. The carefully created costumes turned out to be barely suitable for the venue where the performance was staged and only luck prevented the very serious production unraveling into a farcical comedy.

John-Peter Gernaat presented a lifetime award for benefits to humanity to Dr Madan Kataria, founder of Laughter Yoga, for the lives that have been saved and the many other benefits of prolonged voluntary laughter.

Finally Rod Taylor entertained us with visual deceptions in a speech that explained how poorly we can or should rely on our sight for determining truth or reality. See for yourself: in this picture the coke bottle is a chalk drawing of the same surface on which the artist is haunched, but will your eyes accept this?

The impromptu speeches run by Sriram Murali required the speakers to regale the audience with their special connection with a season of the year, drawn at random. We heard about the beauty of spring, snow and a white Christmas in Europe experienced as a child from Africa, filming a tropical cyclone in summer, killing a huge black mamba in autumn and the lazy, hazy days of summer.

Toastmaster of the evening, Keith Bowen, provided the continuity of the evening using the theme of the evening "Harvest" to share a diversity of quotes on the subject.

The evening was social - commented on by our guests, entertaining and educational. We welcome guests and hope to see you at one of our club meetings soon.

Annual International Prepared Speech Contest

Once a year our speakers take special care to prepare their best possible speech and participate in the Club International Prepared Speech Contest. Monday, 25th February saw three of our Toastmasters compete for the honour of being Club Champion. Seasoned Toastmasters Mary Byrne and Rod Taylor were joined by Chamu M’Kombe.

Chamu spoke of the ticking time bomb of unemployment in South Africa and cited an example of a company who was taking the initiative of providing a skill that could then be used in an entrepreneurial way to provide a service and up-skill others in the process.

Mary Byrne spoke of the prophesy of the Popes attributed to Saint Malachy, a 12th-century Archbishop of Armagh, Ireland in which Saint Malachy is said to have described the next 111 Popes beginning with Pope Celestine II (1143–1144). Currently retiring Pope Benedict XVI is the 111th Pope. Following this at some unspecified time is the end of the Roman Church and of Rome. This prophesy has not had the same acclaim as the end of the Mayan Calendar but is as apocalyptic and topical.

Rod Taylor spoke of achieving the impossible. He started by saying that even the proponents of Positive Thinking are turning to caution to say that we must guard against the fanciful in our positive thinking. From his personal experience when he saved himself and a female friend from certain death by an out-of-control oncoming car by “transporting” himself and the friend over a 2½ metre high, impenetrable hawthorn hedge he explained that the improbable or fanciful is possible.

The International Prepared Speech Contest was followed by the Evaluation Contest in which four contestants prepared an evaluation of a speech given by visiting Toastmasters (from Morningside Toastmasters Club, Keelan Naidoo. Keelan gave a speech in honour and praise of Lucas Radebe, soccer hero. We learned everything there is to know about this “chief” in 6 minutes. Four well thought through evaluations were delivered by Rod Taylor, Mary Byrne, Margie Skeen and Sriram Murali.

The second place winners of the evening were:

  • International Prepared Speech Contest: Chamu M’Kombe
  • Evaluation Contest: Margie Skeen

And the winners were:

  • International Prepared Speech Contest: Rod Taylor
  • Evaluation Contest: Mary Byrne

The winners go forward to compete in the Area H3 Contest.