Pushing Buttons

Transformers Toastmasters discussed pushing buttons on Monday, 9 September. This was the theme of the evening. A leader will push buttons that motivates his or her followers, that tie in with their dreams, aspirations and goals and in pushing these buttons propel his followers to excel. There is also the negative connotations that people have buttons that cause irritation. These buttons can be pushed by strangers because their behaviour is inconsistent with our values or by loved ones who know us very well. Toastmaster of the evening, Chamu M’Kombe, prepared fabulous material to motivate us as Toastmasters and as South Africans to push buttons that will encourage our fellows to excellence. – Please chat with him about this when you next visit our club as he is very enthusiastic on making a difference.

The evening’s programme was run a little differently: the contestants for the Humorous Contest had both been ill at our last meeting and at this meeting only Judith Taylor was able to make it. John-Peter Gernaat educated the members on judging a contest, comparing judging and evaluating, and after Judith presented her contest speech entitled “Giving Birth” we all provided feedback to her in accordance with the judging criteria to assist her in her preparation for representing the club at the Area Contest on 23 September.

The programme had only one prepared speech by visiting Toastmaster and Area Governor Dineshrie Pillay who informed us of her investigation into role of a Day Chairman at a Toastmasters conference as a project from the Advances Speaker series of manuals. Her enthusiasm was catching and her findings were based on her own experimentation at other industry conferences. Expect to see Dineshrie on stage soon as the dynamic Day Chairman of a Toastmasters conference.

Zanele, a guest, giving her award winning impromptu speechThe Impromptu speeches lead by Table Topics Master Judith Taylor were all related to the speaker having his or her buttons pushed in specified circumstances; e.g. in the traffic, by loved one or at work. The speeches entertained us thoroughly.

The evaluators’ reports: evaluation of Dineshrie’s speech, the um-counter, grammarian and general evaluator, were followed by a discussion on how to inspire you, the reader of this report, to attend one of our meeting. You are always welcome to attend any of our club meetings including the meeting on Monday, 23 September when we host the Area Contests and hear the best speakers from the clubs in our Area compete with one another to find the speaker who represents our Area in each of the Humorous and Impromptu Contests at Division level. Arrive at the Morningside Country Club at 18h45 and make you way to the main club house on 23 September or to the tennis pavilion on any other 2nd or 4th Monday of the month. There is no obligation or fee to be a guest at one of our meetings, and we serve snacks!

Survivor 2013

survivor 2013The contest will take place in the main clubhouse of the Morningside Country Club, De la Rey Road, Morningside Ext. 1. RSVP to attend (for catering purposes) or register to compete (open to all, only 16 places available)or for more information contact Margie Skeen at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

The Road Goes Ever On

Bilbo Baggins’ walking song (J.R.R. Tolkien from Lord of the Rings) was the theme for the last Transformers Toastmasters Club meeting of the Toastmasters Year held on Monday, 24 June 2013. The Toastmasters year runs from 1 July to 30 June. The end of the year also coincides with a new club committee being elected and inducted and all the measures used within Toastmasters to measure success culminating. This often means that Toastmasters are scrambling to complete speeches to register educational awards.

This last meeting of the year had three prepared speeches, two from members of the club who both completed educational awards with these speeches and a visiting Toastmaster also heading towards completing an educational award.

The first speaker was Rod Taylor giving the 6th project from the Competent Communicator speech. This speech is about using vocal variety to enhance the speech. Rod told us about his swimming exploits as a child that culminated in him winning the biggest race on the school calendar in his final year beating the school hero. His gestures flowed naturally and the excitement was palpable in his tale.

Next, a visiting Toastmasters from CIMA Toastmasters Club, delivered the penultimate speech from the Competent Communicator manual: persuading the audience. She told us how hoarding had finally resulted in a stagnation in her life and how she had finally learned to de-clutter which had brought purpose and flow back into her life. Not only this but it had caused people around her to begin de-cluttering through the energy she started exuding. Her challenge was to each one of us to de-clutter.

Finally, John-Peter Gernaat presented a Roast from the Special Occasions Speeches Advanced Speaking Manual. Interestingly he elected to roast himself, placing himself as an imaginary person in a chair in front of the audience. He picked on his childhood ineptitudes, poking fun at his inability to comprehend sport although his nickname was ostrich. The nickname more aptly described his ‘head in the sand’ unawareness of life around him, being hit on at university and being totally unaware. Because the occasion was ostensibly the party before the induction to Toastmasters District office, he suggested that roasting himself demonstrated his lack of friends and network connections and that he should take stock and get to know himself before becoming too ambitious. In her evaluation of the speech Mary Byrne pointed to the facial expressions and eyes that turned to poking remarks to humour.

The Table Topics session run by Mary Byrne had the speakers comment on the meaning of names of towns as defined in the “Meaning of Liff”, a book by Douglas Adams (author of Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy) and John Lloyd. An example was Rod Taylor being asked to discuss the meaning of the word HASSOP (n.) as being “The pocket down the back of an armchair used for storing two-shilling bits and pieces of Lego.”

The Area Governor elect inducted the new Club Committee.

The outgoing Club President awarded John-Peter Gernaat with the award of Toastmaster of the Year for his contribution to the club and active participation outside of the club. This is the third consecutive year John-Peter has been awarded this honour. (It means that the “Pic of the Month” is again the pic of the month.)

We welcome guests to our club meetings and make you feel very welcome. There is no charge for visiting us and a meal forms part of the evening. You will learn from the experience and may even want to join Toastmasters and our club. We look forward to meeting you.

Passing on the Baton

An appropriate title for the club meeting and AGM where the new club committee for the Toastmasters year starting 1 July 2013 till 30 June 2014 was elected. With Mary Byrne as Toastmaster of the evening the 650th meeting of Transformers Toastmasters on Monday, 10th June was destined to be informative. Throughout the meeting Mary drew comparisons between the club committee positions and the running of a company.

The Toast of the Evening by Chamu M’Kombe was dedicated to leadership and described three characteristics of good leadership. Margie Skeen gave the response to the Toast drawing on one of the characteristics of leadership: being available.

Five prepared speeches is an indication that club members want to complete goals before the end of the Toastmasters year. The first speech by Rod Taylor was in fulfilment of the third project of the Competent Communicator Manual. Rod’s point was to share some of the great things about South Africa. Most notably a first world banking system that is infinitely more advanced than the British banking system. His points made everyone feel proud to be South Africa.

The second speech by Goran Radanovic, who recently joined the club as a dual member, was in fulfilment of the fifth project of the Competent Communicator Manual. In this speech that required Goran to use gestures, body language and facial expressions to enhance his message he told us how he, and each one of us, is unique. Yet, we allow the thoughts of people who do not hold our growth in regard to effect our self image and so we view our greatest qualities as failures. Goran inspired and challenged each one of us to accept our uniqueness as a positive quality.

The third speech by Vero Ardies was also in fulfilment of the fifth project of the Competent Communicator Manual. She spoke passionately about everything she had learned at the recently held Toastmasters Southern African conference from the various speakers on stage. Her challenge to everyone was to use the club meeting as a platform to prepare to speak on a large stage to a large audience and to experiment with using the stage space, props and gestures.

Sriram presented an Advances Manual speech in which he inspired a sales team to be star salespeople.

Finally, John-Peter Gernaat, also presenting an Advanced Manual speech, spoke in praise of Dr Madan Kataria, the founder of Laughter Yoga, at the fictitious opening of a University where Laughter Yoga will be taught as well as research conducted into the benefits of laughter.

The evaluations delivered were motivating and insightful.

Highlighting some of points in the President’s report by Margie Skeen:

“Transformers Toastmasters has had a year characterised by a wide variety of speeches delivered in the club and by several club members being actively involved in leadership assignments both inside the club and within the broader Toastmasters organisation.

“Transformers is on track to achieving most of the educational goals in terms of the Distinguished Club Programme. The good performance of our members at Area and Division contests further bears testament to the quality of speeches and evaluations delivered in our Club. We are on our way to achieving President’s Distinguished status if we are able to gain charter strength during June.

“Our Club was represented in Area and District Structures during the past year by John-Peter Gernaat and Keith Bowen respectively. John-Peter will go on to serve as Division L Governor while Keith will serve a further term as District 74 Treasurer during the 2013/2014 year. The 2013 Maxicon, “LeaderCon”, organising committee was headed up by John-Peter Gernaat. The conference, which featured World Champions of Public Speaking Ed Tate and Mark Brown, was a great success. The first ever Sotho Contest, organised by Chamu M’Kombe, was held during LeaderCon. We recognise the significant amount of hard work needed to host a successful conference and are proud to have John-Peter and Chamu as members of our club.”

The new committee, as nominated, was accepted without opposition:

Club President

Chamu M’Kombe

Vice President Education

Judith Taylor

Vice President Membership

Tibor Nadj

Vice President Public Relations

Vero Ardies


Sriram Murali


Leonard Yelverton


Brian Manase

We wish the new committee a wonderful experience in the coming year

We welcome guests to our club meetings and make you feel very welcome. There is no charge for visiting us and a meal forms part of the evening. You will learn from the experience and may even want to join Toastmasters and our club. We look forward to meeting you.