Monday, September 17, 2012

Do as I do .........and as I say!! 11 September

The role of mentors and mentoring in a club

I was asked to do an Educational Speech about mentoring and it got me thinking about our Mentorship programme in Toastmasters. I looked at the TI website, where I found some of the following ideas (which I have adapted a bit):

New members benefit by:

• Understanding the club programme format and its customs

• Developing confidence as they participate in club activities and work on their CL manuals

• Learning speaking skills to advance through their CC manuals

Older members can also benefit by:

• Refining their skills

• Mentoring in specialized areas

Mentors benefit by:

• Keeping their skills honed

• Earning the respect of their mentees

• Learning skills from those they mentor

The club benefits by:

• Having happy members

• Retaining members – and growing the club

I like the term, symbiotic relationship, which refers to a mutually beneficial relationship between parties – a win-win situation. That is, as long as all parties involved buy in to the idea; and to do what is expected of them. Otherwise, we may have a strong chain; weak link situation.

Each new member who is assigned a mentor should make use of that person, whether it is to find out how things work, or to ask for help with the presentation of a speech or with a role that has to be performed at the next club meeting. Mentors, on the other hand, should not leave it up to their mentees to make a move. You are in the stronger position, so extend a hand of friendship or guidance to the person assigned to you to care for. Remember too that mentoring is not just for new members. So often, as one proceeds into the advanced manuals one can gain such benefit from the more senior members, especially those who have exhibited a particular skill in a specialized area. Do not be afraid to ask for help. I am sure they would be thrilled to render assistance.

* * * * *

Tuesday’s meeting saw a wonderful display of a range of project speeches. Visitors to the club, and there were many, including old friend Chenielle Barnard, were treated to an edifying evening of learning by doing. Belita von Steiger, as table Topics Master, wrapped up a whole lot of goodies from her kitchen and challenged members to relate incidents from a day in the life of those appliances. Butter knives, cheese graters and chopsticks have never been put to such unique use before!

The prepared speeches began with Mike Brosnahan’s Ice-Breaker speech, The Pommy. Mike, we too are happy that you love South Africa and want to stay.

Deon Basson, in his CC3 speech (Get to the point) gave us some very interesting tips on Remembering Names

The Deborah Stevenson (CC4 – How to say it) related her very painful experiences with scabies in her speech entitles An Itch In Time Saves Nine and left us with the warning that one really should seek professional help for persistent medical conditions.

Finally, Louise Erasmus, speaking from the Advanced manual, Public Relations Speeches, entertained us with a radio programme on the history of Collegiate High School, entitled Organizations in and around the PE Community.

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Flower Power! No, this is not a re-run of The Beatles’ music, but rather our Mini-Con, on 12 -13 October at Kirstenbosch Gardens. It is very well-subscribed already, but should any members wish to attend, they should look at the website and register. It is sure to be great!

On that note, Saturday past saw the Division Humorous and Impromptu Speaking Contests, which took place at VP Grey. It was very well-supported, especially by the 17 members who came all the way from East London. There were four contenders in each competition and the standard was very high, but once again Algoa can be deservedly proud of Nicholas Mitchell, who will be going to Cape Town to represent Division E in both events. Runners up were Charlie Mzimane and Michael Travis in the Impromptu and Humorous Contests respectively. Well done, Nicholas!

Charlie Mzimane and Nicholas Mitchell

Michael Travis and Nicholas Mitchell

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Give something back - 26 August

Give something back . . . . . . and see what you get in return.

My initial involvement with Toastmasters, which has endured for the best part of fifteen years, was a selfish quest. I had to be able to take school assemblies, but I feared (what I perceived to be) the critical comments of the staff behind me on the stage. The five hundred or more pupils in the hall in front of me were not the problem. I had seen the transforming benefits of the Toastmasters Youth Leadership courses at our school, for so many of our pupils. I figured that if they could make such a difference to the pupils, they would surely be able to help me. The rest, as they say, is history.
I had been teaching then for almost fifteen years, but I recall as if it were yesterday, my anxiety when I stepped up to do my Ice-Breaker speech, entitled No Man is an Island. Dry mouth, clammy hands, cue cards clutched desperately like a lifeline for a drowning (wo)man, I stumbled and stuttered my way through it. Then came the adrenalin rush afterwards – and I was hooked.

I am sure, at this moment, many of you have been transported back through time to your own first speech. I know you identify with how I felt. But, I am sure you also feel the benefits of what Toastmasters has done for you. So, what happened next? I became involved in the running of Youth Leadership courses at my school, and in assisting at other schools. Two years ago I decided to get involved in the running of Speechcraft courses that are run on the same basis – 8 weekly sessions of fairly intense Toastmasters training encompassing learning the skills of meeting procedure; doing impromptu speeches; finding out about the intricacies of vocal variety, gestures and body language; learning about the value of organisation and planning and a host of other skills that one assimilates along the way.
Fourteen Youth Leadership courses and three Speechcraft courses and I still can’t get over the ‘kick’ it gives me to see the metamorphosis – literally lives are changed by the experience. I shouldn’t be surprised. I have experienced it in my own life. So have you. My challenge to all Algoa members is to get involved. I know you are all busy people, but giving back what you have gained to the community – at any level – will give you much more satisfaction than if you had kept it to yourself. Clearly not everyone wants to run a course, but you can offer to help. Speak to VPEd, Alison Immelman, to find out where your help might be needed.

I must tell you about our Speech contest, which was held on 28 August. Both competitions yielded high quality speeches. Firstly, the Impromptu Contest saw members; Alison Immelman, Nicholas Mitchell, Mariannah Lourens and Trevor Wells wax lyrical about the word FLAT. From buying their first flat, to feeling flat at the end of the day, our competitors managed to rise to the occasion. Congratulations to Nicholas for winning the contest and to Alison for her second place! Then it was the Humorous Contest. Mariannah Lourens entertained us with her views on Road rage in an aptly named speech, Roadrageous. After that Nicholas Mitchell had us chuckling with his thought-provoking speech on the joys of large families, Why Four? Finally, Trevor Wells had us experiencing his pain on being dumped by a wave in his speech, Washing Machine. Our congratulations (once again) go to Nicholas on winning this contest – and on the announcement about Number Five! Also to Mariannah on her second place – and on the announcement about the birth of another grandbaby, born in Hawaii! Now it’s up to us to support the winners as they compete in the next rounds: Area Contest - (8 September, at VP Grey – 10 am). Then the Division Contest (15 September, also at VP Grey at 10 am). I am sure Colleen Love (Area Governor, E1) and Glenis Whitehead (Division Governor) would be most grateful for your assistance. Think about the benefits of giving back.
Until next time.
Ricky Woods