The sky was threatening but for the first time in three meetings no rain fell. Instead we had three wonderful new guests: Jeanne Wissing travelled from Centurion, Jim Powell had been a Toastmaster more years ago than he cares remember and Faruk DuPont. We also had a fourth guest, Syabonga Ndlovu who has attended a few of our meetings and gave us his icebreaker speech.

The theme for the evening was Blink!, which was an enigma to most of us until Mary Byrne, our toastmaster for the evening, explained that this was the title to a book by Malcolm Gladwell published in 2005.

Toastmasters - Mary Byrne explaining Blink!
Mary Byrne explaining Blink!
The main subject of this book is "thin-slicing": our ability to gauge what is really important from a very narrow period of experience. In other words, spontaneous decisions are often as good as—or even better than—carefully planned and considered ones. This book legitimises our gut-feeling. The book is also described as “Thinking; Thinking about thinking; Thinking without thinking. Mary enlivened the evening with interesting excerpts from Blink! and several examples where it has been demonstrated that the impression gained in the first 2 seconds is more accurate that considered thought.

The Table Topics provided by Table Topics-master, John Russell, took the theme of the evening and gave the speakers interesting subjects that resulted in some of the best impromptu speeches I’ve heard at our club. The topics were:

  • “In the blink of an eye”, that allowed Ruth Taylor to consider how much in live seems to occur in the blink of an eye because we fail to deliberately give them sufficient attention and time.
  • “Wink, wink” gave Keith Bowen plenty of scope for innuendo.
  • “Eyes wide shut” encouraged Ele Mandavha to reveal a secret life ambition that was different from her career. She is a hard working engineer but would rather be a teacher or even a netball coach.
  • Jim explained how one, or something, functions intermittently while “On the blink” until we/it blinks no more.
  • Another of our guests, Jeanne, took the plunge to speak at a first meeting on the topic “You blink and they’re gone” and won the prize for best impromptu speaker.

But I’m running ahead of myself. After the opening formalities of the evening we all raised our glasses to the little things in life after Glenice Ebedes explained that the inventor of the golfing tee, a dentist, Dr George Franklin Grant, who made his first tee in 1899 and gave away about 5000 during his live, only received full recognition in 1991. John Russell responded to the toast with a reminder of the other little things in life that are so important such as a smile.

The evening’s programme was very full with four prepared speeches. Firstly Syabonga provided a view on his life and how he had met the love of his life only to end up living 1400km apart. His speech entitle “Why, oh why” ended in hope as he is planning that he and Ele, with who he is already married in a traditional ceremony, will be living together by the end of this year.

Solani Bvuma gave the second Competent Communicator project speech entitled “Personal life transformation and energy renewal” and provided a simple method for achieving the transformational resolutions we make at the start of each year and during our life.

Keith Bowen in one of his best speeches entitled “Doubting Thomas” clearly explained how a financial bubble is created through faith in a product until doubt in the value at the elevated price causes the market in that product or commodity to burst as doubting Thomases withdraw en-mass for this market. It then requires faith to destabilise the market. This speech fulfilled the requirements of project 7 for a Competent Communicator.

Rod Taylor prepared a speech to meet the requirements of the first project of the Persuasive Speaker advanced manual requiring him to sell a cheap product to a buyer as an Effective Sales Person. Rod very effectively explained the process of persuasive selling but in the roll play failed to sell to his buyer although he carefully listened to his buyer and was very persuasive in demonstrating value in his product.

A full evening was brought to a close with our guests telling of their enjoyment of the evening.