Last night was the first meeting of a new Toastmasters year. It has also been a year since I started writing this blog and so, as is the habit of this creature called man (or woman), I reflected upon the year that has past and upon new beginnings.
What is it that makes us want to draw a metaphorical line in the sand and say, “This is it; this is the start of something new”? Whether that something new entails a renewed enthusiasm for life; or for honouring the commitments we have made in the past, but to which we have paid scant notice, it is all the same. I suppose if we didn’t, we might find ourselves despairing that change is impossible and that we are forced to keep on committing the same foolish errors forever.
In any event, the closing of one door leads inevitably to the opening of another. We find ourselvestaking stock of our lives; setting new goals and aiming for a better year to come. It is my wish for all of you that a year from now you will look back having realised all of your dreams.
I want to commend two people from our club especially. The first is a new member (not to Toastmasters, but to Algoa) who did her CC1 Ice-breaker last night. Megan Judd already has an ACG award, but she has set herself the goal of starting afresh in a new club. This is not an easy thing to do because, although the requirements for a CC1 are not stringent by any means, we all know that so much more is expected of someone who is doing it for the second time. Well done, Megan!
The second person is our Area Governor, Colleen Love. Colleen joined Toastmasters in 2006 through a Speechcraft Course. She was painfully shy at the time and really worked hard to overcome this, finally earning her CC award. Subsequently, she has served on the club Executive; then as President and she is currently fulfilling the role of Area Governor – for the second time. However, getting involved in the running of a club and its affairs does not leave much time for personal development. Colleen did the first speech last night from the Speaking to Inform Manual – it was her first project speech in three years! Some initial nerves were soon overcome and she proved the truth of the expression ‘it’s just like riding a bicycle’. Congratulations, Colleen!
I was privileged to spend the past ten days in Grahamstown at the National Festival of the Arts where, amongst other performances, I watched my two sons deliver comedic performances of a very different nature. Rhys, my younger son, is a rock star in the making who is also the King of ad lib. I Impromptu, reactive and spontaneous. I couldn’t help comparing his performance, which relies largely upon interacting with the audience; to the skills we learn when we do Table Topics. I remember how fearful I used to be of them. These days I am a little more philosophical, but it is definitely a skill which one can master through practice.
My older son, Gareth produces what one would call a ‘thinking man’s comedy’. He has taught me so much when it comes to the preparation of my own speeches. A notebook is always at hand into which he jots ideas and his observations on life. He works hard at his writing, honing the contents of his comedy to get the perfect punch-lines. I am reminded of the recent LeaderCon, which we attended in Johannesburg. One of the presenters – I think it was Mark Brown – encouraged us to remember the everyday occurrences and stories of our lives as material for our speeches.
Every time we speak before an audience, whether it is impromptu or prepared, we are performers in our own right. Let us learn whatever lessons we can along the way in order to make our own dreams come true.
Until next time