What is Speechcraft? Am I correct – that is what I heard you ask?

Speechcraft is a training programme offered by Toastmasters to non-Toastmasters. It is a programme that covers the basic skills of public speaking. Like the Toastmasters programme, it teaches through practice. The Speechcraft programme may include four, six or eight sessions.

For the first time District 74 has a dedicated Speechcraft Coordinator this year in the person of Robin Prowse. Transformers indicated to Robin that we were eager to present a Speechcraft programme and Robin introduced us to Diesel-Electric. Diesel-Electric have been running Speechcraft programmes for their staff for several years and their Sale Director, Fred Bengsch, reports a discernible difference between staff who have completed the programme and those who have not.

On 4th October John-Peter Gernaat, Jim Powell, Keith Bowen and Glenice Ebedes met Robin at Diesel-Electric in Wynberg and were introduced to seven participants in the programme. During the next six weeks we coached these ‘Speechcrafters’ through impromptu speaking, the basic requirements of prepared speeches and the necessary listening skills to evaluate a prepared speech. The Speechcrafters introduced themselves in a prepared Icebreaker speech, then learned to overcome nervousness by speaking earnestly about a subject they were knowledgeable about. Thereafter the lessons in public speaking began as the Speechcrafters had to organize their speeches with an opening, a body consisting of sequential points and a conclusion, which rounds off the speech. The penultimate speech enabled the Speechcrafters to practise gestures, body movement and body language as an integral part of a speech. For the final speech they combined everything they had learned into a speech in which they experimented with vocal variety – voice volume, pitch, quality and speaking rate as well as the use of pause.

As Monday followed Monday we as Toastmasters, with Mary Byrne and Ryan Ebedes joining in a few of the sessions, witnessed the Speechcrafters progressing in their speaking abilities. At the conclusion of the programme our Division H Governor, Jenny Shiers, Fred Bengsch of Diesel-Electric and Robin Prowse spoke to the Speechcrafters about the value of the skill of public speaking. These motivational speeches encouraged not only the Speechcrafters but also the Toastmasters in their commitment to this worthy craft.

Speechcraft is a programme through which Toastmasters clubs may charge a company a fee, which is also to the benefit of the club. This enables clubs to purchase a library of Toastmasters manuals, for example.

For Transformers Toastmasters Club this Speechcraft programme is intended as the first in an ongoing effort to spread the skills of public speaking, create awareness of Toastmasters and boost our coffers to the benefit of our club and its members.

New Beginnings and a night of tales

Transformers met for the 590th time on Monday, 27th September. –Yes, in March we celebrate 600 meetings and in April 30 years.– We had 3 guests and at our next meeting we’ll have 2 new members. Having a great club with a friendly atmosphere and knowledgeable, stalwart members is an asset.

The theme of the evening was “Spring, a time of new beginnings”. Our toastmaster for the evening, John-Peter Gernaat shared how calendars are connected to the seasons with many starting the year in spring. He followed this with inspirational quotes about new beginnings and then brought the task home to the members to refocus on their goals for the Toastmasters year that is now a quarter of the way through. Could this be because he is also VPE?

Keith Bowen DTM gave tribute to water in the Toast of the Evening. Water and plants are amazing: noticed how the world in Gauteng is green with spring foliage and yet there has not yet been any rain.

The first prepared speech of the evening was given by Lerato Molefe in fulfillment of the requirements of a Competent Communicator project 3. She spoke without notes and explained the many benefits of taking up a hobby; benefits for our social life, our health or fitness and for our personal enrichment. She then brought the subject home with examples from her own life and the hobbies she has recently taken up. She received a glowing evaluation from Keith Bowen and received the trophies for Best Speaker and Most Improved Speaker for the evening.

Glenice Ebedes, fulfilling a project from the Specialty Speeches Advanced Manual, gave us a reading from Jody Picaults book 'House Rules'. The book is about Jacob Hunt - a boy with high-functioning autism - who is accused of murder. The reading was of Jacob describing himself. The passage was very compelling and was given a superb reading by Glenice which was competently evaluated by Lerato in her very first Evaluation Speech.

Then followed the tale of the evening: Rod Taylor DTM telling us a Folk Tale in fulfillment of a project from the Storytelling Advanced Manual. The tale was about a witch and a love affair and ended happily. Which witch you may well ask? Well, there are only two kinds of witches if you exclude the third kind. The third kind are Sand Witches of the desert regions and do not feature in this tale. The two kinds are bad witches and good witches although some good witches are not always good as this tale tells; well, there intentions are good but their skills do not always match their intentions with interesting consequences. Rod told the tale seated and succeeded in drawing everyone into his tale. Whether it is an original tale or a tale he tells Ruth’s son at bedtime he did not elucidate (Oh, by the way, that was the word of the evening selected by Lexicologist of the Evening, Ryan Ebedes!).

Ruth Taylor DTM had participants of the Table Topics digging into personal anecdotes when she handed out a set of topics that included the bicycle safety, the holiday from Hell (De Hell - that little place in the Swartberg mountains of the Little Karoo), the first kiss, favorite pet, favorite meal and ghost stories. Cheryl-Lynn won the trophy of best Impromptu Speaker (as well as Best Evaluator for the evaluation of Rod's tale) with a tale of the Dance of the White Sheet to appease a ghost in a pub in Pietermaritzburg that scared the wits out of the new, out-of-town owner of the pub.

Transformers will be running the first Speechcraft course in many years for a company starting on Monday, 4th October for 6 consecutive Mondays. Speechcraft is a programme designed to teach public speaking skills. During the programme, participants present three to six speeches, introduce other speakers and serve as evaluators. They also participate in Table Topics. This programme offers an outreach by Toastmasters to the public to teach the skills that has made Toastmasters so successful for over 80 years with over 12,500 clubs and more than 260,000 members in 113 countries.

Transformers Toastmasters next meeting is on Monday, 11th October and guests and visitors are always welcome. Come and enjoy the variety of speeches and the friendly, welcoming atmosphere.

Solani Bvuma in Succeed magazine

Transformers Toastmasters member Solani Bvuma appeared in Succeed with this Spotlight interview.

And the winner is ......

Yesterday Transformers Toastmasters held their annual Humorous Speech Contest. We were entertained with 3 great speeches that raised many a laugh and giggle. Our contestants were - in order of speaking: Ruth Taylor, Mary Byrne and Jim Powell.

Ruth asked the question whether choice always means more. She provided a picture of the luxury of childhood where everything is decided by some one else and the contrasted this with the dilemma of adulthood with its endless choices.

Mary spoke about herself in her speech entitled: What's in a name? Being a Mary among many Mary she was called by her surname, Joyce. Simple in Ireland but not so in South Africa where everyone assumes it’s a first name only. So she marries Byrne (pronounced Burn for the unenlightened) only to find her name problems continue. She had us stitches with some of the thoughts people have about names.

Jim transported us through a series of motorcycle accidents from the 1960's to 2008 and 'chicks' and concluded the twain never shall meet – not in his life anyway.

The worthy winner of our Club contest is: Mary Byrne. Congratulation!

Mary will represent the Club at the Area H3 Humorous Speech Contest on 20th September at Bytes Toastmasters Club in Midrand (in combination with the Area H5 contest). The winner of the Area Contests will participate in the Division H contest on 29th September at the Wendywood Sports Centre.