Monday, 24 January, our second meeting of the calendar year saw a wonderful turnout and a full programme. The theme of the evening, selected by Toastmaster of the evening, John-Peter Gernaat, was communication.

Toastmasters – public speaking – is all about communication; interesting what has been said on communication:

King Solomon: Give me the gift of a listening heart.

Ernest Hemingway: I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen.

Larry King: remind myself every morning: Nothing I say this day will teach me anything. So if I'm going to learn, I must do it by listening.

Turkish Proverb: If speaking is silver, then listening is gold.

Erma Bombeck: It seemed rather incongruous that in a society of supersophisticated communication, we often suffer from a shortage of listeners.

Dr. Joyce Brothers: Listening, not imitation, may be the sincerest form of flattery.

Charles Caleb Colton: Men are born with two eyes, but only one tongue, in order that they should see twice as much as they say.

Listening is as much a part of a Toastmasters meeting as is speaking. We learn to listen in order to assist our fellow Toastmasters by providing an evaluation of prepared speeches. We listen for grammatical excellence and assist where grammar and word usage may be improved. We listen for the sheer joy of learning about a subject that is close to the heart of the speaker.

On Monday, Nontu Made, in her speech in fulfilment of project 2 of the Competent Communicator programme, explained to us the meaning of names, the Zulu names of her sisters, and how their names had influenced their life choices, whether her sisters acknowledged it or not. She challenged us to find out the meaning of names of people close to us – all our names have meanings: – and to see how their names have influenced their life choices.

Angelica Smallwood told us about her most embarrassing moment, when she stood on a toothpick and it entered her foot. Her sister tried to pull it out for her but it broke off, resulting in surgery and two weeks on crutches. How to explain that to your friends as a young girl?

Rod Taylor, in a speech fulfilling the requirements of project 9 of the Competent Communicator programme, persuaded all of us to attend the Club Officer Training this coming Saturday, 29th January. The reason for attending was to “serve ourselves”: to learn more about the running of Toastmasters, networking with other people or simple curiosity.

Jim Powell provided us with the most beautiful images of elements of our universe taken from outer space. In order to show that we are small although we may feel ourselves to be the centre of the universe, we looked at the relative size of the planets in our solar system, the relative size of our sun to other stars; we looked at galaxies and nebula.

In the Table Topics session Solani Bvuma gave us the opportunity to give President Zuma advice for his State of the Nation address. The speakers took on specific roles and gave the advice from the perspective of that role or character.

The evaluations of the prepared speeches were thorough, as was the grammarian’s report.

The evening saw a number of firsts for newer members and guests: Sumari Meintjies taking on the role of grammarian, Matthys Meintjies giving his first evaluation speech, Solani Bvuma chairing the Table Topics session and our second-time guest, Margie Skeen, giving her first impromptu speech.

What do our members have to say about communication?

Ryan Ebedes: A connection between two entities with the goal of creating understanding.

Solani Bvuma: Interaction with others verbally or in a non-verbal manner.

Nontuthuzelo Made: It’s more than what you say.

Angelica Smallwood: Communication is critical to having well-functioning relationships.

Rod Taylor: The transfer of a thought or an idea from one mind to another in a form that can be understood and acted upon.

Jim Powell: The other person understands.

Matthys Meintjies: The method in which we transfer knowledge between each other.

Mary Byrne: Message sent and received and both understand the same meaning.

Ruth Taylor: Conveying and understanding a message (two-way).

Sumari Meintjies: The transfer of ideas, feelings and knowledge between each other – both verbally and non-verbally.

Keith Bowen: Getting the message across.

Our next meeting is on Valentines Day, 14th February 2011. A special evening is planned befitting the special day. All guests and visitors welcome.

Our club International Speech Contest, Evaluation Speech Contest and Impromptu Speech Contest take place on Monday, 28th February. All welcome – we will need assistance with judging, counting and guiding the evening.