Monday, December 5, 2011

Christmas Edition - 22 November

Dear members,
It’s been one of those weeks, with mark deadlines and he who shall not be named piling menial jobs on us, and so this blog is very late. It’s also going to be the last one for this year, and so it seems appropriate that we should have celebrated in Christmas fashion at our last meeting. Well done to Colleen Love, Santa’s elf, Leann Roos, and the rest of the stalwarts for decorating the venue so splendidly. Our turnout this week was 23 members and 3 guests: Johanna Swart (Liandra Schoultz’s mom, come to listen to Liandra’s CC3), as well as Dxy Madikizela and Deon Basson. As Colleen put it, “This is the last time they will be welcomed” – no we didn’t mean that!! Both Deon and Dxy have submitted their applications. We look forward to inducting them in the New Year.

We were delighted to welcome Roger Ah Kun back from his American travels, as well as Ricky Woods, Alan Hunter and Angie Kivido. A special appearance was Geoff Coomb Davis who has been a (now honorary) member for 48 years! Although Geoff has latterly taken a back seat in club activities, we are grateful for his ever-present advice.

District 74 is having competition to see who has been the longest serving member. Our other “old” member, Tom, has entered. He has been a member for 42 years and is as active today as he ever was.

Several of our members are going to be away over the next few weeks. Leann Roos has been selected to umpire the U/19 girls in Kimberley, while several of our high school teachers will be away serving King and Country as matric markers, and Plaxcedes Ndlovu will be enjoying Christmas in Germany with her family, while Denise Pudney is in New Zealand. We wish them well in their travels.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to the following Christmas babies:
13th December – Ayanda Ngcwabe; 21st – Rosemary Sampson; 26th – Marianah Lourens; 28th – Antoinette Baatjies. We hope you are spoilt rotten, in between family festivities.

Congratulations to our rookie Toastmaster for the evening, Rhona Murchie, who kept a gentle hand on the sleigh reins with her appropriate Christmas theme. Something that perhaps you didn’t know about Rhona: she says she enjoys reading, eating and sleeping when she’s not being a mom, teacher and theology student.

Some interesting trivia about Christmas
The name comes from Christ (the anointed one) and mass. The date was chosen by Constantine, the 1st Christian emperor, who changed the festival of Saturnalia – the birthday of the “unconquered sun” (because days started getting shorter) to the “unconquered SON (of God)”.

Tanja Gauss as timekeeper sounded the times with jingle bells in keeping with the Christmas theme. Angie Kivido, as the um and ah counter, asked forgiveness, since this is the silly and forgiving season, as she forgot to count. Grammarian was Marianah Lourens who chose commiserate (“to feel or express sorrow or sympathy for; empathise with”) (used by many people) as the word of the day.

Table TopicsAlmost everyone participated in Glenis Whitehead’s brilliant festive Christmas theme. She had wrapped each topic (a title of a Christmas song) in a Christmas cracker, which created quite a buzz!! Some interesting ideas raised by speakers included:

Just how many Fathers Christmas are there – since there seems to one on each corner. Tom has the perfect gift-receiving strategy for women. All you say is “Guess what – I saved you the trouble of shopping – I bought this perfume for myself – all you have to do is wrap it”. Plaxcedes is really dreaming of a “White Christmas”. She’s off to Germany for Christmas. The girls just can’t contain themselves (and it’s children, really, who bring the magic of Christmas back to us). . Did you know that Candy canes (made by elfin fingers) is where the idea of Jingle bell rock comes from? And finally, Father Christmas must be a woman. After all, who ever heard of a man being in 6 places at once!!!
On a more serious note, Alan Hunter reminded us of the meaning of Black Tuesday. As educated people, we should not give up the fight to protect our freedom.
The Prepared Speeches
Liandra Schoultz – CC3 (get to the point) – gave us food for thought with her speech entitled “Life as we know it”. From Timone and Pumba, who believe that the stars are “fireflies stuck to that great bluey-black stuff up there”, to Carl Sagan who advised us to think about this: “somewhere, something incredible is waiting to happen”, surely we cannot be complacent about the miracle of science and nature.
Alison Immelman delivered her CC10 (inspire and motivate) titled “Let me be a little kinder” – about the malignancy of stress, chaos and bullying that our children face daily. We can work as a community to eradicate this menace to show our children – and each other – that we love them.
Marianah Lourens (making progress with her AC) entertained us with a folk tale “Waarom olifant a slurp besit”. Marianah is a natural raconteur and this was indeed her milieu.
Quinton Jacobs has been working on a possible new web page for “Future Toastmasters”. He reminded us that nothing is as constant as change. Toastmasters has changed their logo and slogan for the 1st time since 1924. So... now for something else completely new: “Easyspeak”. On this site, one can change personal details, track one’s speech history, and request a speaking slot or to carry out one of the other duties. He says there are three kinds of people: technophiles, normal or technophobes!! If you fit into the 3rd category, don’t be afraid! Requests can be made on your behalf, or you can do it the old-fashioned way! Watch this space to read about more of the benefits. Quinton suggested that we should run a parallel system until at least the AGM, when we can vote on the system.

The Toast of the day was offered by Reinhardt Botha. He had thought of singing us a song in the Christmas spirit but fortunately the secrecy bill was passed to protect us! Instead, he told us of one Christmas when the pipes burst and the municipality dudes came out. The technician estimated that he would be home at only 7 that night. Yet he was still cheerful. A most fitting tribute: “To those who work on Christmas day”
More good advice from our evaluators:
From Nicholas Mitchell (the king of evaluation): slow down to allow your audience to digest facts and figures. Make sure that the purpose of your speech is clear. Summarise your own conclusions, rather than relying on someone else’s quote. From Ricky, one of our DTMs: motivate and uplift, perhaps by including a success story. Antoinette Baatjies reminded us that every cloud has a silver lining, which is probably the reason that we tell and enjoy folk tales.
Tom Horne, also a DTM, (early morning mass and 4 generations of backyard cricket characterise his family Christmas) suggested that we should not try and make excuses for what has gone wrong, but should rather focus on the positive spinoffs. A proposal speech should make us feel “Yay! – that’s the way to go!” When using the data projector, one can check on the laptop for the next slide, rather than turning to look at the screen.
DID YOU KNOW: Father Christmas used to wear green until Coca
Cola got on board – A sure testament to the power of advertising!
And, The Christmas pud traditionally has 13 ingredients representing
Christ and his 12 disciples. Everyone stirs it from east to west to
symbolise the Magi coming to visit Jesus.
And, Mistletoe was seen as the
union of heaven and earth – because mistletoe fell from heaven and
landed on a tree that grew from earth.

Louise Solomons gave us the General Evaluation for the evening. She highlighted the fact that the theme was communicated to us early, which meant that everyone was able to participate, and this helped to raise the tone and spirit of the meeting. She reminded us of Ricky’s maxim: “Proper Presentation Prevents Poor Performance”.

In closing:President Colleen Love presented the Advanced leader (Bronze) to Glenis. Just goes to show that it is never too late to learn (even though she is already a DTM).
Congrats were again due to our top Table Topics speaker. Once more it was a case of the duelling banjos between our regular stars Chenielle and Reinhardt – but tonight it went to our friend Chenielle with her hilarious story about her Christmas without her two front teeth... we’ll certainly miss your humour.
Top toastie was awarded to a gentleman and a scholar – Tom Horne, for his wisdom, encouragement, and all-round spirit.
It just remains for this blogger to wish you and yours a fabulous Christmas season. Travel safely, eat wisely, and show your family that you care.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Believe us..... NOTHING is trivial - 08 November

Once again we had an intimate gathering of only 16 members (and for the first time in a long time, no guests) – the pressures of year end are beginning to bite, clearly.
Some business...
Join us on 22 November for a club bring and share (and a little bit of Christmas cheer) – to
celebrate the joys and growth of the year. Trivial pursuit has been postponed.
We will aim to get together early in the new yr to bond – before we become so berserkly busy

We are soon going to have to bid a sad farewell
to a loyal, involved member of Algoa: Chenielle
Jeffries- Badenhorst. Chenielle has opted to
relocate to the big smoke, Johannesburg. We’ll miss you, friend. Would that all members were carved from your stock. Don’t forget us – we won’t forget you!

Quinton is considering starting a web page to facilitate meeting organisation – WATCH THIS SPACE! He’s planning to pitch the proposal as part of his AC programme. Prepare to be there so you can be part of the discussion.

As her theme for the evening, Colleen Love chose a Trivial Pursuit montage. So here goes –
Did you know that coke was originally green in colour (eeugh!), and that the word TIPS was an acronym for “To insure prompt service” (and yes, the Americans strike again, because we who speak English know that it should be “Ensure”, and therefore TEPS...); The names of all the continents end with the same letter that they start with Asia, America, Australia, Europe, Antarctica. Each KING in a deck of playing cards represents a great king from history:
Spades – King David; Clubs – Alexander the Great; Hearts – Charlemagne; Diamonds – Julius Caesar.

It is impossible to lick your elbow.

Wearing HEADPHONES for just an hour will increase the bacteria in your ear by 700 times.

ELEPHANTS are the only animals that can't jump.
RATS multiply so quickly that in 18 months, two rats could have over million descendants.

Time Keeper was Reinhardt Botha who had even more fun with the new-tech gadget.
Um and ah counter was Belita von Steiger who described those nasty little bugs as “bridges” in speech – a good metaphor, because they certainly help us to get from here to there.
Again we showed an improvement: Belita said that she only detected 2!
There is some interesting stuff on the net at the moment, which suggests that the odd um or ah adds an undeniable humanity to our speech – just putting it out there...
Grammarian was Alison Immelman and the word of the day was Berserk, stemming from the Viking marauders of Hagar’s ilk. It describes behaviour that is violently or destructively frenzied; wild; crazed; deranged. Seven people used the word, Marianah thrice.
Table Topics were conducted by Jessamy Kromhout, who, I thought, used title of her favourite books as a prompt. Being far too honest, she admitted that it was actually “famous” books and that she hadn’t actually read Crime and Punishment or War and Peace!!! (has anyone?). Speakers had a whale of a time, describing a Brave New World as some staggering IT development, while Death in the Afternoon must be the graveyard session when exam candidates have to pretend to be creative in the heat of high summer

The Prepared Speeches

Rosemary Sampson presented her CC2 (organise your speech) entitled “Of baubles, Bells and Christmas trees” in which she offered some interesting ideas about our behaviour at Christmas, including politically correct Christmas (or holiday) trees! She maintains that no-one should apologetic about their beliefs, and that there are surely more pressing issues. Amen sister!

Rhona Murchie presented her CC7 (research your topic), “Wearing a Green Belt”, which was a moving tribute to the Kenyan tree lady Professor Wangari Maathai. This Virtue in Action lady had to face the prejudice that it was totally unacceptable in her traditional culture for a woman to have a mind of her own, and proved it by winning a Nobel Peace Prize!

Marianah Lourens reminded usof the TMI motto, “Where leaders learn”, in her Educational on the CL manual.
Really easy, guys! Just remember to bring your manual on your off weeks and get evaluated on your other roles. Watch this space for pointers for the various roles (otherwise Google Toastmasters International – or a most useful website called “6 Minutes” – I guess because that’s how long you get to make your impression through speech-making. – you can also get a regular post sent to your mailbox)
No more excuses!!
Remember to tell programme organiser so you can be scheduled in one of your roles.

All the continents end in the same letter that they start with!!

Glenis – area report – madiba bay – meet once a month on a Monday – a most moving experience.

Toast of the day: Marianah
Single moms – 9 of the 16 women
Wearing headphones for an hr incrs the bacteria in your ear by 700%
TIPS to ensure prompt service
Don’t even try and lick you elbow.

Some useful advice
Evaluators: denise - slow down and enjoy speaking – will ensure that you will fill your allotted time.
Catchy opening – gets the audience’s attention.
Quinton -

GE – mimi makapula

Um and ah – we’re getting better – especially our 2 prep speakers who didn’t use any

2 1 1 1 1 1 7
marianah plax mimi louise s deborah jessamy alison
the collective SA - how deep are the footprints of Nelson Mandela

how wonderful that we share the ability to deep and lasting friendship in SA

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Its that time of the year again - 25 October

On Tuesday, 18 of our stalwarts turned out. We had many apologies, especially from our teacher members– I guess it’s that time of year again!
A special welcome to our 2 guests: Irna van Zyl and Deon Basson. Hats off to Erna who went to the ends of the earth to track us down. We hope we made it worth your while.

We were particularly happy to see Michael Warren again. In essence we were guests at his stag party because in 10 days, 20 hours and some minutes Michael Warren becomes a SMUG MARRIED PERSON. We expect lots of fireworks on the 5th November, Michael!

BIRTHDAY WISHES this week go to Toastmasters International, which celebrated its 87th birthday this week. Sharing that milestone was Alison Immelman, who reached her HALF-CENTURY!!!!
Also celebrating in the next fortnight are Barry Serfontein on the 3rd and Denise Pudney on the 7th of November.

Some business mattersQuinton Jacobs is organising the programme at the moment. Please contact him with your speaking needs (His number is 0828194445, or email him on Remember our quest for a third year of distinguished club status – and your own personal growth plan.
Don’t forget that everything that you do during the evening, quite apart from your speeches, can be evaluated towards your COMPETENT LEADER standing (for our new members, that’s the other manual you received when you joined Algoa).

Do you want to win aAll you have to do is design a header for the Blog, or suggest a catchy slogan. For the official entry form, mail Alison Immelman on, and she will send you one. Send your entries to this address, too, or bring them to the next meeting.
Entries close on 8 November

Who’s up for a challenge? Wethinks that ANDREW THE TRAVELLING GAVEL
has been at Madiba Bay for far too long. All we need to do is to visit their club with five of
our members to claim him for Algoa. Let’s go, guys. Listen out for the looting plans.

Toastmaster for the evening was the ever-cheerful Nicholas Mitchell. We know he is busy with his 4 children and his newish law partnership, but he never turns down a job, lending truth to the suggestion that one needs to ask a busy man if one wants something done. Nicholas has been appointed a club coach for USpeak to help them to get back to charter strength (at least 20 paid up members) meetings are between 8 and 9 on the 1st and 3rd Friday of the month. Please support them if you are able. Meetings are short and to the point.

Just when Michael Warren was greeted joyously, and felt it was a case of “Honey, I’m home”, he received an impassioned plea: “We need a timekeeper!” He pointed out that this is one of the most important lessons that we learn at Toastmasters. Imagine if everyone spoke for just one extra minute. We would be here for an extra ½ hour. Which is why Michael was so excited to use our new alien invasion, zooty time machine – his very own “concorder” (with apologies to Star Wars and their “tricorder”). He said he would have come back sooner if he’d known he’d have such fun!

Grammarian for the evening was Jessamy Kromhout. As Word of the Day she chose “imbroglio” – Italian in origin – meaning mess, or entanglement. Four members used it in their offerings.
Um and ah counter was Liandra Schoultz. She identified only 6 uses of those pesky verbal crutches – quite an improvement on last week. Perhaps there is hope!

Table Topics master was Tanja Gauss. She elected to keep the planet green by presenting a LUCKY DIP, wrapped in recycled paper. What an original, entertaining set of items – from stripy socks to mini fans, and a personal mini magic carpet to a tasteful, bright orange, plastic jack o’ lantern. Our job was to promote the item in-store. The whole house took part, and did we have fun! Perhaps the best sales pitch came from Nicholas, who suggested that if all else fails, re-gift – to your mother-in-law!!

Prepared Speeches

Barry De Klerk undertook his CC3 (Get to the point – try to avoid using notes) with a speech entitled “Energy Anyone?” He told us about a product initially designed to cure jetlag: Red Bull. The cute cartoon ads emanated from a lack of marketing budget. And they had quite a job to do: imagine trying to sell 100 ml less of a drink for double the price of a normal soft drink – and it tasted vile. In clinical trials it has been established that the only harmful substances are sugar (less than a can of cooldrink) and caffeine (about the same as one cup of coffee).

Belita von Steiger delivered her CC4 (Select the right words to communicate the message effectively; avoid jargon) with a “dream” of a speech about “The World Cup that Wasn’t”. Striking images included the sickening “Body hits body, bone hits bone and cauliflower ears get a little more scrunched”. But, alas, it was only a dream because we didn’t even get to the stadium.

Marianah Lourens is moving on apace with her Advanced Communicator projects. Tonight, she presented her AC4 (use principles of voice and inflection to convey a story) from the reading manual. Marianah delighted us with her animated interpretation of an extract from Risk by Dick Francis.

The Toast of the day was offered by Alison Immelman to “growing old humorously”. She quoted Francis Bacon who put it this way: “I will never be an old man. To me, old age is always 15 years older than I am.” And perhaps that’s the secret: to live, laugh, love, and be happy.

Evaluators for the evening were Mimi Makapula, Denise Pudney and Quinton Jacobs. All gave extremely positive, helpful evaluations, bearing out the truth that we learn by doing, and grow by learning. General evaluator was Antoinette Baatjies who pointed out that we are all at different levels of confidence, which is one of the things that makes us so interesting. She reminded us that Tom Horne was the guest speaker at the Westering Prize-giving, while another Toastmaster spoke at Lawson Brown, the first guest speaker ever to receive a standing ovation (27 yrs after she matriculated from Lawson). Antoinette herself found herself delivering an impromptu devotions session which she had forgotten to prep, which is why she’s proud to be a Toastmaster.

The Best Table Topics was awarded to Chenielle Jefferies Badenhorst with her spray gun which she suggested could be used to control unruly exam candidates!

Top toastie of the evening was awarded to the King of Table Topics, Michael Warren, because he’s only going to be king for the next 10 days, and then Lindi takes over!!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Heat Wave - 11 October 2011

So there we were, on the day after the hottest day in 26 years – PE peaked at 41.2o on Monday! And that’s in a city that hardly ever gets into the 30s!

We were a way smaller group than normal – perhaps the bizarre heat laid our members low? Nevertheless there were 16 members and 2 guests: Sindile and Dxy (a returnee who is also part of the current Speechcraft course). We hope you liked what you saw, and will visit again.

Once again, we were delighted to bestow a 5 speech pin, this time on Leann Roos. Leann did her CC5 on her passion for cricket umpiring...
Leann is another member who is well on her way to her CC10, ensuring another year of distinguished club status for Algoa Toastmasters.
Welcome back Denise Pudney and Reinhardt Botha – we missed you!

On a Business note:
Did you know that we have a library of manuals so that you are able to have a look-see before you order your AC choices? Just speak to Marlene Vosloo.
Act’s Speakathon is on 3 November – let the pres know if you’d still like to enter.

Toastmaster for the evening was Quinton Jacobs – our resident weatherman. And yes, Quinton – we are going to blame you for the heat!!

The Grammarian was Nicholas Mitchell. For the Word of the Day he chose candour/candid, denoting frank or open, or alternatively candid camera (an honest portrait) – from the Latin “candidus” which means white or perhaps unembellished. The word was used by only 3 doughty speakers – and, yes, I’m going to blame the weather!
Um and Ah Counter was Alison Immelman. By her count, only four speakers used no verbal crutches. The rest of us had a doosie of an evening with an average of 2.3 stumbles per person, ranging from the usual ums and ahs, to “like”, “okay”, “you know” and “Yeah?”

Table Topics were introduced by Marianah Lourens, who gave us terms from the theatre. Really – these words do have a meaning – really!
Some of the speakers who contributed were:
Alison Immelman, who regaled us with tales from The Bold and the Beautiful – forget the main plot of making clothes – really the “subplot” is way more important – who’s married to whom who used to be married to the other...
Louise Solomons dealt with gaffer tape (really cloth tape, which doesn’t reflect the light, used to hold down cables) that she suggested should be used on Oubaas from 7de Laan to keep him quiet since he always has a chirp. .
Glenis Whitehead, who spoke about “Gel” – like Clinton who definitely spent more time in front of the mirror today than most of our lady members – to get that carefully constructed bed head.

Tom Horne spoke about “ghost lights”. He told us that this would be the light carried by Uncle Pete who died 33 years ago. Really it’s the light kept burning by the stage door to keep the ghosts happy
Reinhardt Botha spoke about “wings” to fly across the world – and don’t forget buffalo wings or the red bull variety. After all – “All the world’s a stage”!
Well done to our guests who both participated in this part of the programme!

As always, we had a varied speaking programme.

Tanja Gauss kicked off with her CC2 (organise your speech, with a strong opening and closing and appropriate transitions), “For the love of the rowing”. Life would just not be the same without it. Did you know that a boat can go for R160000? Tanja suggested that you should rather drop yourself than the boat!! She told us that rowers do more before 8am than the rest of us do all day. Rowing requires total dedication because your crew is totally dependent on you and the boat would just go skew without you. Rowing personalities include the arrogance of the cox, whininess, the amnesia of number 3, the one who is late for everything except for lunch, the cheerleader, and the bowman who has the most to say because he’d be the first in a collision. Tanja’s closing words? Real athletes row – the rest play games

Antoinette Baatjies is heading strongly for her Advanced Communicator: silver. Her AC14, from the story telling manual, was entitled “Do you look back?” What would you do if you found money? When Antoinette tried to hand it in, she was told that she should invest it in the evening’s entertainment – all in the interests of the SA economy. The next morning she woke up with an orchestra playing in her head. In the next year she was robbed 5 times, once at knifepoint. By the end of 2006, the Cops at Mt Road were like family! She even had to sign affidavits for affidavits!! Maybe there’s something to be said for karma and payback. But, after all, life happens!! Antoinette suggested that we should try to forget the past and not look back. We have two things to say to Antoinette – we’d love to be in your class! And ... tell us a story

Tom Horne chose to practise his key-note address that he was scheduled to present at a school prize-giving. This most unusual practice session proves that Toastmasters can help you do anything!! Tom’s message was that we all have a gift for a lifetime – time – and he shared some most valuable insight into how can we use it to benefit others and ourselves.Although Glenis Whitehead is already a distinguished Toastmaster, she has decided to start at the very beginning and share her expertise with us by starting her Competent Communicator projects all over again. Thank you Glenis!

Apparently one of the ladies up north has been through the CC programme 9 times and has qualified as a distinguished Toastmaster 3 times – talk about living and breathing Toastmasters.
Glenis delivered her CC1 (begin speaking before an audience and develop existing skills). After 4 daughters, Glenis’s parents decided enough was enough already – but then comforted themselves that this sixth baby would surely be a boy and a buddy for only son, Trevor. John, however, turned out to be Glenis!
Glenis showed us to great effect what to do when the technology lets you down. Take a deep breath and on Macduff! She introduced herself to us by sharing touching stories about her family. Wise words in closing: Friends will get us through, though, and life is great.

Reinhardt Botha delivered his AC1, an educational on how to do visual presentations. A rule of thumb is to think about why we do what we do. An aid must be there to support what we say. It’s not the message itself. Nor can it fix a bad presentation. Two important things are content quality and presentation quality.
Perhaps a PowerPoint presentation is not even necessary. You could use props as well, like Jamie Oliver who used a wheel barrowful of sugar to show how much sugar there is in flavoured milk!
Make sure you’re ready long before you have to do your speech.
Minimalism is the key! If you find it interesting, the chances are that the audience will too.
Important Advice
• Avoid bullets
• And Keep
• the audience from
• reading every
• single world that you
• plan on
• saying people cannot
• read and listen
• at the same
• time.
For more useful stuff, follow the link to Reinhardt’s blog
The Toast of the day – to medical angels – was proposed by Denise Pudney. Speaking from personal experience, she told us of doctors and nurses who would visit long after 10 at night – as if they don’t have a life of their own. We’re inclined to remember them only when we need them!
Evaluations for the evening were carried out by:
Leann Roos with her maiden evaluation. Well done. A most constructive evaluation.
Denise Pudney, one of our more experienced Toastmasters, offered advice in her usual informative way from which we always learn something.

A note for new and prospective Toastmasters. We clap ourselves stukkend in Toastmasters – in between presentations, and until a speaker reaches the lectern and then returns to her chair. Reinhardt showed us how it’s done by sprinting forward to do the General Evaluation.
He suggested that we have the formula right at Algoa and that we learn by smiling

Best Table Topics of the night was awarded to Reinhardt, while the Top Toastie was presented to Antoinette.

P.S. A serious omission from the last edition was a note about Louise Solomons’ General Evaluation. This was Louise’s maiden GE, and, as with all she is involved in, her comment was gently and constructively encouraging.

And finally, a last word on the weatherman and the heat wave...