Together Beating the Drum

The drum has its origins in Africa where it is symbolic of communication. The drum announces the important events in life: birth, death, an imbizo and sends messages across distancesDjembe drum more rapidly than a messenger could run. The drum can be called upon to make many different sounds and many different beats and each has its own meaning. And metaphorically speaking every Toastmaster has his or her unique tune. We try to express ourselves in words but th ese fall short of the “music” we would like to express. Toastmasters helps us to express more of our music.

The toast of the evening built on a quote from Henry Ford: COMING TOGETHER is a beginning. KEEPING TOGETHER is progress. WORKING TOGETHER is success. People working together accomplish more than the sum of their individual efforts. In response to the toast by John-Peter Gernaat, Jim Powell expressed how Toastmasters is so unlike the corporate world where people expend energy in opposing the common goal, while Toastmasters come from divergent backgrounds and interests for the purpose of improving communication and despite their differences work together at this goal. Word of the EveningThe word for the evening was synchronous: happening, existing or operating at exactly the same time. This word was first coined in 1669. It was used six times during the evening.

Three prepared speeches featured on the programme; the first was a Competent Communicator project 1 speech by two times Distinguished Toastmaster (DTM) Rod Taylor. It served a wonderful example of an autobiographical speech for those listening. Rod spoke as if giving a eulogy. He began with his parents who married when he was already 6 months in the womb and had as older sister. At school he tried boxing but a future England champion was in another house and thought the better of being constantly beaten and took to the water where he excelled, first in shorter distances but later settling into the unassailable champion of the longer distances. He was an adventurer by nature and by age 17 had explored the Alps and had participated in a trip to Iceland to measure adiabatic winds. A scholarship permitted him to read chemistry and he received a lucky break when in his first job he had the opportunity to commission an extraction plant while his manager was off. His adventurous nature took him to South Africa where he married and had two sons who have produced grandchildren. He joined Toastmasters shortly into his married life as a charter member of a new club. Sadly his wife contracted cancer and after a short reprieve succumbed to the illness. This led Rod to forming his own company in the field of training and after 15 years of bachelorhood met Ruth at Toastmasters only to see her marry another man. He did not have to wait long, however, until he could make Ruth his and having reached the present ended his speech with his untimely death. Buyer beware!Jim Powell, who became a member only recently and completed his second project two week earlier, seems determined to speed his way through the Competent Communicator projects and delivered the third project speech. The objective was to construct a speech with a beginning, body and conclusion and ensure a clear flow of the message from one point to the next. He used a real experience of being telephoned by a sales company informing him that he had won a prize but needed to attend a presentation with his wife in order to retrieve the prize. The presentation promoted a timeshare holiday and before he knew it had signed, only to be frustrated each year with the booking of a holiday, until he surrendered the timeshare points for no financial return simply to be rid of them and the frustration of having to settle for a resort in a different part of the country, sleeping fewer people and at an unsuitable time. This was a prime example of the axiom: buyer beware!

John-Peter Gernaat delivered his project 9 speech of the Competent Communicator in which he had to persuade his audience to adopt his point of view. He demonstrated to his audience how there is untapped income hidden in the consumer items we all buy weekly and monthly if we chose to purchase directly from the manufacturer through a network of clients. Companies who market their products through these prosumer networks reward clients who help to build the network and use the money other companies spend on marketing to pay out bonuses. These bonuses can quickly exceed the total of one’s own purchases if one actively works at growing the network. His speech gained him both best speech and most improved speaker awards for the evening.

Mary Byrne provided an education session entitled “Evaluate to Motivate” on the task of evaluating a speech. The purpose of a speech evaluation is to provide immediate feedback that highlights the good aspects of the speech and the delivery of the speech while providing constructive assistance on those aspects where the person could improve or try a different approach.

Table topics provided the usual opportunity for quick creative thinking and great amusement. The aim was to deliver the story of a popular nursery rhyme or fairy tale backwards.

Jim saw to it that Little Red Riding Hood was spared her ordeal by getting grandma to beat the wolf up and turn him into a floor decoration. John-Peter put Humpty Dumpty back together again. Ruth Taylor seemed to get Jack into a never ending cycle of beanstalk growing. Glenice Ebedes turned the three little pigs on their heads because the brick house could not survive the Haiti earthquake while the house of sticks was blown away by the wind. The house of straw, however, provided a soft bed for all three when it collapsed. Mary roasted three billy-goats gruff and was awarded best impromptu speaker of the evening.Toastmaster of the Evening

The awards for best contribution of the evening went to Solani Bvuma who took the role of Toastmaster of the evening for the first time. She brought the theme of the evening and the meaning of the drum into vivid context.

The best evaluation award was given to Ryan Ebedes for his evaluation of John-Peter’s speech.

The next club meeting will take place on Monday, 26th April at the usual venue. The theme for the evening resonates with the public holiday that follows and is “Freedom”. All guests are welcome. We are a friendly and fun club although we take the task of Toastmasters seriously.