Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Well, well, well!
Hello everybody and a warm welcome to Algoa Toastmasters!
What time is it? It’s time to wake up and smell the coffee………. For some of you, it might  just be time to wake up and join Algoa Toastmasters!
Our meetings take place every alternative Tuesdays and are always filled with the riches of wisdom from ordinary people. “Who needs google when surrounded by so much wealth of knowledge at every meeting”. Well the meeting that took place this Tuesday, 13 October, was just as extraordinary.
I always listen to speeches without giving much thought to what goes on in terms of preparation and how much time you need to take preparing your speech.
Wow, I think this is particularly difficult for those of you who, like me, can talk the whole day long without considering this valuable asset….. “TIME”.
Please forgive me, as I am not only a woman, but I grew up in the then Transkei, where things were done till the cows literally came home, whatever time that was as long as it was before dark. Granny would tell me I could play outside and return home before the cows were in the kraal, not at 6 o’clock or whatever o’clock. Life in the rural areas was very nice.

I had the privilege of being responsible for timing all the speeches and got the shock of my life at how fast a minute goes before you are expected to wrap up. The one minute table topic speech topics were very well prepared this week by our lovely Zanele Hartman. I was enjoying the prepared speeches which are supposed to take between 5 to 7 minutes and, as they say, time flies when you are having fun.
Seriously, it never occurred to me that you don’t only practice your speech but have to time yourself too. Speaking over time generally is not only due to a lack of preparation, but is disrespectful to other people’s valuable time, their most valuable asset. Tell that to some speakers out there, at some big stadiums, who go on, and on, and on, till I even lose the value of what they were saying, and start yawning or budgeting in my head, sjoe!
You’ve done it too, I know you have. No such thing at Toastmasters as all speeches were interesting and well timed. I wanted more, but time was up!
Valuable lesson for me at toastmasters, hopefully for you too.

The clock speaks, it says,” Tick Tock, Tick Tock, Tick Tock or if you are South African, it feels sorry for you and goes something like, nci nci nci nci…..
Going onto the prepared speeches, if you were absent, you missed out on quite alot.
Whilst our first speaker, Awonke’s topic was about the richest man who had ever lived - Mr Musa. I was thinking to myself, in anticipation “alright, so where is he going with this, as I couldn’t wait”. Well I got bowled over by the valuable message as he described the good things the rich man did with his money. Well, we can’t all be financially wealthy, however, according to the wise suggestion by Awonke, we all should strive for balance of:
  • ·         Love in our lives
  • ·         Life experiences- ever heard the saying, “live a little”? and
  • ·         Money or financial provision

Because, as per Awonke, lack in any of these will disrupt the synchronization of our lives. What’s the point of having all the money in the world and no love or life experiences?
I don’t know about you but I agree with this wise speaker. Well, what’s the point of being rich if you cannot sponsor others to fulfil their dreams either by just living for yourself! 

Well our second speaker answers this question, I think.
Our second speaker of the night was Warren Tagg. Horse racing, according to this gentleman is rare because of it being such an expensive sport. Why is that and I would like to challenge those in the sporting field to sponsor those children who are interested in taking this sport further. If we want to put South Africa on the map, then money has to start rolling from somewhere…..hint, hint, (Department of Sport and Recreation)?

“Go on, empty those pockets for a good cause, and don’t be afraid, it’s a good investment”. Some are too afraid to sponsor others as they think they themselves will run out. 

What does it mean to be afraid or to fear, find the answer in the wisdom of our third speaker!

False Expectations Appearing Real

In the wise words of our third speaker, Themba Mvuleni, that fear is overrated. What do you think?
Has fear ever stopped you from accomplishing something that you should have accomplished? Have you ever:

  • ·         Missed out on an opportunity?
  • ·         Lost a girl you should have dated to a loser with a big mouth just because you were too afraid to ask her out?
  • ·         Lost a promotion to a job you were very much capable of doing just because you were too afraid to attend the interview or did not think you were good enough?
·         The list goes on and I would like you to make a list of all the things that you lost in life and the wrong decisions you made, where fear was your motivating factor for making those decisions. Well, come on, what are you waiting for? Pen and paper and make that list, good exercise, don’t you think? My pen and paper is handy, as I’m not giving this demon called fear any more power.
I love what Joyce Meyer says in one of her teachings. She says, “Just do it afraid, because we cannot always wait until the feeling of fear is gone before we make good and courageous decisions”. I’ll take that advice for myself.

Fear goes further than meets the eye. Well as a customer, have you ever been afraid to stand up for your rights and just took bad service because, perhaps you’re too afraid that if you speak up, somebody might lose their job?
Well, our last speaker very boldly explained all about Customer Service, what it is and what it’s not. Is there still good customer service in South Africa or is this phenomena fading away like a breeze?
I was quite interested when our last speaker Mimi Makupula took to the stage. I have wealth of experience in my chosen job and am one of the best. I sometimes think I have heard it all and have seen it all. I know what the customer wants and needs. Well, according to Mimi, I could not be more wrong, and I agree with her. This wise lady advised that when dealing with a customer, as the one giving the service:
  • ·         Listen to the customer and listen to what they are saying
  • ·         Give the customer what they are asking for and not what you think they want
  • ·         Don’t think you can finish the customer’s sentence as they may want something different from what you think.
  • ·         Listen with empathy

I could not agree more.
What are your good and bad experiences regarding the service that you have received as a customer? Well I will share one of my many.
Once upon a time I had decided to buy myself a laptop in order to make my life easier. I headed for this particular dealer (no names mentioned). The salesman showed no interest in what I was saying. He was annoyed at any question that I asked him and gave me the shortest possible answer, at times not even looking at me. I decided that fine, I will not report him to the manager but this shop is definitely NOT getting my hard earned money, so I walked out and went to the same shop but a different branch. Here the saleslady treated me with respect, answered all my questions and concerns and this is where I bought my laptop.
The sad thing is that because of that one salesman, I will tell my friends, “don’t go to that branch, but go to that one”.
That’s just how the cookie crumbles, hey. I chose to rather spend more petrol to get good service. By the looks of things, I am not the only one who thinks this way, per the extract below:
Want to get more people talking about your company? Don’t hire “influencers.” Instead offer amazing, blow-your-mind service instead. A new survey from American Express finds that outstanding service prompts customers to open both their wallets and their mouths. The survey finds: More than two thirds of American consumers say they’re willing to spend 14% more on […]
I would like to sincerely thank not only our speakers but all participants at Algoa Toastmasters, where nobody is idle, but contributes for the good of the team!
Go Team Algoa Toastmasters!!! Catch us on facebook…..
Well, well, till we meet again!
Ciao for now

Thandi Swekile

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