World Cup 2010 (Meeting number 583)

There could be no other theme for the first meeting after the start of the 2010 Soccer World Cup. No international guests or visitors yet, but we enticed four local guests to came and experience our club. Our Toastmaster of the Evening, the person who guides the programme and maintains time, Rod Taylor, had a strong word against Fifa. Fifa have taken to calling this an African World Cup and yet Africa has contributed nothing to this event, it has been solely a South African endeavour. Fifa should rightly call this a South African World Cup. The opening event, we were told, attracted South Africa’s highest TV viewership of 31 million viewers.

In his Toast of the Evening Ryan Ebedes considered an earthquake of a different kind. In 2001 a million children in England jumped up and down for five minutes for the same period while seismologists looked to see whether this would register on the Richter Scale. Predictions that the energy of all these pounding feet would stir the earth were proven to be without foundation. However, the first goal scored by our South African striker certainly caused an “earthquake” here in South Africa. So we raised our glasses to “a giant leap for South Africa”.

Our grammarian, Cheryl-Lynn Langley, asked that we use the word “timorous” as often as possible through the evening. Although timid and easily alarmed is the diametric opposite of our speakers, several incorporated the Word of the Evening in their contributions.

Angelica Smallwood presented the second project of a Competent Communicator and entitled her speech “New Adventures”. She opened with a quote from David P. Gardiner: ‘We learn simply by the exposure of living’. Growing up in the US where it is more American to hate soccer than apple pie and 90 000 soccer fans follow the beautiful game in secret, she was completely unaware of the parade in Sandton on the Wednesday before the opening of the World Cup. However, when she found herself out on the street and felt the energy of the crowd she felt the unifying power of soccer. Subsequently, going to watch the Argentina – Nigeria match confirmed for her that this would not be the last Soccer World Cup she’d be watching.

Keith Bowen presented the eighth Competent Communicator project, demonstrating the use of visual aids. His speech entitled “The Carbon Tax” gave his audience an appreciation of the forward planning that Eskom is undertaking in response to the government’s proposed Carbon Tax. This tax is aimed at reducing the cost differential between coal generated electricity and cleaner alternatives. It is interesting to see what the influencing factors are that will result in cleaner power generation. Being a Toastmaster has the bonus of listening to interesting and relevant speeches that enlighten and educate.

The final prepared speech of the evening was a tenth project Competent Communicator speech. This speech earned John-Peter Gernaat an international education awards: the Competent Communicator Certificate. John-Peter’s task was to inspire his audience and he chose to encourage those listening to achieve their very best. Two reasons we don’t achieve according to John-Peter are negative stress in our lives and fear. Our lives have changed since our ancestors lived in rural villages and with it the nature of stress in our lives. The only stress our ancestors experienced related to survival. Our bodies have adapted to this, so that stress results in chemically driven, physiological changes that make us faster and stronger in order to survive. Physiological de-stressing is the results of physical activity and full-lung breathing (panting). Modern stress does not call for physical activity as so we don’t de-stress properly. One of the results of stress is the switching off of the cortex of the brain to prevent creative and innovative thinking and communication. Survival is better served by learned patterns of behaviour. Laughter is nature’s antidote to stress and immunises us against imminent stress and by de-stressing us enables creative innovation. Fear is the projection of the negative outcome of a past experience on a future event. Fear does not exist in the present when we are in “flow” or “in the zone”. The samurai of old used laughter to bring themselves into the present.

How to laugh? Select laughter triggers: anything you encounter daily that draws your attention and decide to laugh at each encounter. John-Peter listed three references that prove levity and laughter result in greater achievement in life. His message: laugh a lot and achieve your very best.

The prepared speeches were followed by an educational session presented by our club president, Ruth Taylor. She spoke about the role of mentorship in Toastmasters. This is one of the cornerstones of success in Toastmaster. The knowledge, experience and insight of experienced Toastmasters is available to newer members resulting in faster assimilation of the programme, a sense of involvement and belonging. This has benefits for mentor, protégé and the club and adds to the enjoyment of Toastmasters.

A very sociable recess was followed by Table Topics. Table Topics Master for the evening, John-Peter, asked the volunteer speakers to draw for a soccer playing country. Each speaker was given a soccer related word to speak about that they had to relate back to their selected country.

Tony Higgins, a first time guest, drew the lot to speak first and had to relate the word penalty to his Brazilian team. Baby boys, he informed us are selected to play soccer based on their kicking ability in the crib. Failure to groom them for their soccer role would lead to a penalty.

Jerry Goodman provided information on “the least understood rule is soccer”: off-sides and advised that as an Englishman it was advisable to be on-sides when sleeping with your neighbours wife as you would have two people at your back.

Ryan, as a loyal German, pointed out that a ‘fraulein’ can stop a ball from a corner unlike the English with their bedroom rules, let alone goal keeping skills. Germans understood all soccer rules and had no need to watch babies kicking in their cots.

Glenice Ebedes reminded us that although South Africa might not have had a striker on the soccer field a few weeks ago they certainly had them in the streets. The goal of striking is better pay. The United States had taught Europeans that the easier route to more money is by employing an agent.

Keith assured everyone that the French had always had a goal: ever since Napoleon it has been Moscow.

Ruth was categorical that Australia had the right idea by having a local coach who would always do the best for his own country.

The fun over, the evaluations of the prepared speeches were insightful and both encouraging and helpful for the speakers. Cheryl-Lynn’s evaluation of language use was insightful. Rod’s throw-away comment: “winner or dinner” received a mention, as did Angelica’s expression: “native tradition”.

Before the awards of the evening were announced the club held its annual general meeting at which the greater part of the new club committee was voted in – see the newsflash on this site.  Our club President deliverd a comprehensive report of the years activities and achievements while our treasurer reported that although our financial situation is tight we are still on the right side of nil.

The evening’s awards were as follows:

· Best and most improved speaker awards went to Angelica

· Best Impromptu speaker award to our guest Anthony

· Rod carried off the best contribution for his role as Toastmaster of the evening

· Best Evaluator went to Cheryl-Lynn

Our next meeting on the Tuesday, 29th June - TAKE NOTE - is the last meeting of this Toastmasters year. The meeting following will be the induction dinner of the new committee – details later.

Guests are always welcome at all our meeting. Come and find out what Toastmasters has to offer you. We hope to see all our members at the next meeting as I’m certain our outgoing Vice President Education will have something special planned.