The Jotter – 17 May 2022

Mark, as VPE and true to form, brought fun to the evening with the theme “space travel”, and as Grammarian, asked that we use the word “spaghettification” as often as possible. Joyce continued the unexpected in her Warm Up by situating us all in a space ship on its way to “save the Ewoks” (or some such mission), and inviting us to share what, if anything, was going through our heads.

President Elaine had a particularly busy meeting. She started by inducting our newest member Gerry, and then went on to conduct the election of our next executive who will take office on July 1. (Seven executive officers take care of money, correspondence, properties, membership, PR, and training/ education). Later still Elaine announced the choice of Glenn to be Area Director for a second year.

Inductions and elections remind us of the opportunities and the obligations we each have while doing our bit to keep the show on the road. This includes those attracted to the leadership path in Toastmasters, a path which begins in a club and goes via Area (Coffs and Jetty clubs), Division, District, and Region (Australasia) to its endpoint at International where a different person each year presides over 16,200 clubs in 145 countries, with about 364,000 members all told*. (*Wikipedia).

There were two main speakers. Barbara spoke about the critical importance of evaluation for improvement in public speaking. Next, in her “icebreaker”, Gerry described how her passion for environmentalism interlocks with the work she does and her motivation to improve as a public speaker. I’m guessing this link between work and public speaking skills resonated with many of us.

President Elaine was back on her feet after supper to progress arrangements for our debate with Coffs Rotary next month. It is now confirmed that the topic will be “Aliens are living amongst us”. Coffs club will argue for the affirmative, and our three speakers will be ElaineMelissa, and Mike.

Next meetings:

Coffs Harbour – Tuesday June 7.

Jetty Speakers – Thursday May 26.

The Jotter – 5 May 2022

Theme of the evening…. Choices in Life

Glenn, our faithful Sergeant at Arms called the meeting to order, and Elaine our President welcomed everyone and opened the meeting. The executive elections are coming up soon, and information on the roles will be emailed forthwith.

Mark outlined the alterations and thanked all those who stepped up to cover extra roles for the evening. First-time Toastmaster Gerry shone in her latest role, ensuring that the meeting flowed smoothly and amiably. Barbara earnestly welcomed our five daring and delightful guests – Jena, Caitlin, Anna, Cathy, and Melissa. Each guest brings enthusiasm and pluck to our meetings, and we all learn and grow in the process.

Wordmaster/Grammarian Melissa divulged the word of the night – in a ‘lackadaisical’ manner. Barbara commenced the warm-up, recounting a brave life choice involving leaving her country of birth (Ireland) and moving to the land of the long white cloud – a move that ultimately changed and saved the lives of her family.

Members and guests each described major life choices relating to changing locations, switching jobs, family, and health needs. When people listen deeply to us, we feel connected, valued, and understood, and this in turn builds trust and respect.

Elaine’s speech (Speaker 1) celebrated the power of listening and gave us valuable tips on how to improve our listening skills.

Joyce (Speaker 2) had us reflecting on our life choices – were they our own, or were they influenced by others? Her story took us from a young child visiting the corner store to embarking on a spiritual healing journey – an inspirational account.

Supper AND A BIRTHDAY CAKE was provided by the supremely big-hearted and talented Joyce, and we celebrated Melissa’s upcoming 18th. Congratulations Melissa we all wish you well in this ‘Year of the HSC!’.

Mark had us selling in Table Topics: a cardboard box (Barbara), an empowered rock (Jena), a big hole (Caitlin), an unlimited, self-emptying, garbage bin (Anna), and an outdoor bathtub (Gerry).

Mark and Glenn’s speech evaluations were thorough, helpful, and supportive.

Melissa’s Wordmaster/ Grammarian report included the number of times we each used the word of the day ‘lackadaisical’ and how many times we each ‘umm-ed’ and ‘aahh-ed’ (a few).

Karen’s general evaluation encouraged us to continue to support each other and offer helpful suggestions, whilst erring on the side of kindness. Glenn gave an insightful Area Director update. Thanks to Ernie for your meticulous timekeeping and reporting.

Barbara sincerely asked for and received feedback from our wonderful guests, who are already helping us to improve – we hope to see you again soon.

The Jotter – Karen

The Jotter – 5 April 2022

The theme of the evening…. Teamwork makes the Dream-work

Glenn, called the meeting to order and our acting President David M welcomed everyone and opened the meeting. Mark outlined the alterations and thanked all those who volunteered to fill in for those unable to attend. Toastmaster Barbara warmly welcomed our two brave and charming guests – Jena and Melissa. Each guest is inspired to attend when circumstances call them to develop their speaking skills, and we all benefit from their presence and participation.

Joyce presented a spirited and motivating Two Minute Tip which had us dreaming big and writing down the steps we need to take to fulfill our dreams.  Gerry commenced the warm-up, recounting a time when she was part of a ‘Dream Team’ at work. Members and guests each described their experience of a dream team – at work, on the sports field, or in other groups. Wordmaster/Grammarian Mark revealed the word of the night which was a wonderfully amicable one.

Karen’s speech opened our eyes to the power of our thoughts. A story of intention setting, focused thoughts, and group healing. Glenn told us two truths and a half-truth, and members and guests had mixed results in identifying the ‘lie’. Supper was provided by the generous, creative Joyce – a delicious serving of delectables.  Joyce then had us spellbound with a roving kind of Table Topics which saw an AFL dream team dig all the way to China (or thereabouts). There were sleepyheads (Mark), hardworking organisers (Dean), crocheting neighbours (Gerry), members of the constabulary (Melissa), and the finisher-upper (Glenn).

Mark’s evaluation of Karen’s speech was comprehensive, thoughtful, and encouraging. Mark’s wordmaster/grammarian report included how many times we each used the word of the day (‘amicable’) and how many times we each ‘ummed’ and ‘aahhed’ (a few). Mark also identified some noteworthy words and phrases used during the evening, encouraging us to increase our vocabulary every day.

Mark’s general evaluation was all-embracing, and he urged us to be mindful of the correct way to fulfill our Toastmaster roles and work together as a team. Thanks to Dean for your methodical timekeeping and Barbara for amiably and enthusiastically weaving the Teamwork theme throughout the meeting, with insightful quotes and kindness. Thank you to our fabulous guests, we hope to see you again soon.

The Jotter – Karen

The Jotter – 15 March 2022

Theme: Spirit Animals

Our president Elaine welcomed everyone with a poignant story about the birth of her grandson and the signs pointing to his spirit animal – the eagle.

David welcomed our three courageous and delightful guests – Melissa, Alan, and Donna. Each guest has a different motivation for attending, but all are interested in developing their speaking skills and gaining confidence in speech writing – “Getting the butterflies to fly in formation” (to quote Barbara the master!)

Karen’s Warm-up began with her childhood memories of Flipper, a dolphin who spread joy and managed to save lives at the same time! Then in turn we each described our relationship with a spirit animal or animals in general. We heard about the magnificent presence of tigers, favourite native animals, team mascots, spirit animal internet quizzes, Harry Potter, land mullets, pets, and WIRES (the organisation). Wordmaster Dean revealed the word of the night and was very “decisive” about it.  

Joyce’s Icebreaker received a standing ovation. She recounted a moving story of losing her voice, finding it again, and now helping others to find their voice. A story of authenticity, changing mindsets, and meeting fear head on to achieve goals. It was an uplifting and inspiring first speech!

The next speech was Barbara’s second instalment in her ‘How to prepare for and give a speech’ series. We all now know that, generally speaking, people remember 7% of the words of a speech, 36% the voice, and 57% the delivery (ie the speaker). In the first 20 seconds grab your audience’s attention (or lose them!) with a question or statement, and introduce your speech; the body of your speech will have two main points; and the conclusion harks back to the introduction. Barbara also covered topics such as: choosing an objective relevant to your audience, eye contact, voice projection, pausing for effect, gesture, cadence, rhythm, variation in speed, small anecdotes, and light (non-offensive!) jokes. Barbara finished her 10-minute speech on the dot of 10 minutes, and the crowd went wild!

Ernie’s Table Topics continued the animal theme and then meandered into new territory. Mike had us spellbound with his impromptu speech about which animal he would be if he wasn’t a human. Of all things, it was a wombat – the single-minded, determined, powerful, Steve Irwin biting, James Bond style, wombat! David M told of when he and his wife were led on a wild goose chase by Satnav. Mark recalled getting the lion’s share of a birthday cake. Glenn let us know who he wouldn’t like to sit next to on public transport and Melissa gave us some insight into the contents of the back of her sofa.

David W’s evaluation of Joyce’s speech and Elaine’s evaluation of Barbara’s speech were both comprehensive, useful, and supportive. Dean’s Wordmaster report counted how many times we had each used the word ‘decisive’ and ‘umm-ed’ and ‘aah-ed’, and recalled good use of language generally.

David M’s general evaluation was a thoughtful overview of the meeting, recounting positives, congratulating speakers and evaluators, and reminding us that timeliness is a focus of Toastmasters, as both a skill and a sign of respect to others.

And finally a special mention to Joyce for the delicious sandwiches.


The Jotter – 1 March 2022

It’s been raining cats and dogs, and at the last meeting it also rained guests. We had 7 guests, and would have had 9 except 2 had just joined up and are now members. So a special welcome to new members Gerry and Joyce.

The warm-up had us up on our feet talking to the theme ” Together we learn, together we grow”. Karen was Toastmaster for the first time, there were 2 main speeches (Barbara and DavidW), and Fran gave the General Evaluation.

At least 3 people reminded us all (again!) that we need to stick to allotted times. Some things take time to sink in, and I speak as a sinner.

There was a quite different item on the agenda thanks to Mark, our tireless VPE. Three pairs of volunteers (including 4 guests: Dean and NathanJoyce and ErikaMark and Melissa) role-played 3 different scenarios, impromptu as with Table Topics.

The scenarios were in brief: “whose fishing gear is better?”; a deaf lady tries to get a burial plot for her deceased dog; and 2 people who had the exact same dream! It proved to be a great way to get people to shout out, think on their feet, lose their nervousness, and get applause at the end!

Mark flagged another new idea for a meeting not too far in the future: a ‘backward meeting’! Hmm! Do we begin with Hats-Off and end with the President’s Welcome? Evaluation before a speech? Whatever it is, it’s going to be fun.

Our next meeting is on Tuesday 15 March.

And don’t forget there are 2 Toastmasters clubs in Coffs. Jetty Speakers have breakfast meetings on 2nd and 4th Thursdays.

Cheers, David Whyte.

The Jotter – 20 February 2022

Meeting – 15 February 2022 – written by Karen

Theme of the evening…. I Love You, I Love You NOT

Glenn, called the meeting to order and enthusiastically set the LOVE scene. Elaine welcomed everyone with the lyrics from a beautiful song encouraging everyone to learn to love themselves as it is “The Greatest Love of All.” Mark called for a volunteer, and Glenn took on his third role for the evening. Thank you, Glenn – you personify team spirit and the ability to multi-task!

David welcomed our brave and wonderful guests for the evening – Joyce, Nathan, Rachel, Gerry, Evans, and Dean. Each guest is interested in developing their speaking skills, with motivations varying from enhancing one-on-one conversations, to giving a speech at a wedding, to addressing a conference audience of 2500 people. We look forward to seeing each guest achieve their goals – in a manner above and beyond anything they can currently imagine!

Karen commenced the warm-up with a call to action – let’s see if we can shower those we love with kindness! Members and guests each described what love means to them, taking us on a magical journey involving parenting, relationships, pets, sounds, places, games, words, and memories. Wordmaster/Grammarian Andrew revealed the word of the night – it was truly sumptuous.  

Mark’s entertaining speech really got us thinking about an individual’s reactions to the Covid19 vaccinations – before, during, and after the needle! Fran took us back to the ’60s describing her ‘Weird Wedding’ when she got married, (but not sure if it was to the minister or to Theo), a marriage which is now in its 61st year. Funny and entertaining…. from descriptions of the proposal to the planning, invitations (word of mouth), and outfits, she had us rolling in the aisles.

David’s table topics continued the love theme, initiating six open-hearted speeches, each one based on a saying: ‘Opposites attract’ (thanks Gerry); ‘Strangers are just friends waiting to happen’ (thanks Glenn); ‘There is no cure for love, other than marriage’ (thanks Karen); ‘A dog is a mans best friend’ (thanks Nathan); ‘Love makes the world go round’ (thanks Elaine); and ‘Blood is thicker than water’ (thanks Andrew).

A new item was added to the agenda tonight – “Two truths and a lie”. Joyce enthralled us all with her descriptions of three stages of her life: as a champion runner at school, walking El Camino de Santiago, and as a parent. Which two were true, and which one was a lie? Well, she completely bamboozled me, and most of the others. Well done Joyce – such a masterful presentation at only your second meeting – I think that must be a record!

Barbara’s evaluation of the two speeches was thorough, helpful, and encouraging. Glenn’s general evaluation provided his overview of the meeting, a most successful one by all accounts. Nevertheless, he reminded us that timeliness is a focus of Toastmasters, and we must try to stick to the allotted times – this is both a skill and a sign of respect. Elaine was a first-rate Timekeeper and Glenn a top-notch Toastmaster.

Thank you again to our fabulous guests, you really made the night a memorable one. A special mention to Joyce for supplying the delicious sandwiches.

The Jotter 6 February 2022

We had our second meeting of the year on Tuesday Feb.1. It was a rip-roarer with numbers swelled by 5 guests.

The theme was Pirates and there were more bandanas and 3 cornered hats than you could shake a cutlass at, and much “Arr”ing and ferocious glaring too. I’m sure we were all at times carried away (in our imaginations) to lives of crime on the high seas, whether in the crows nest, tending the animals below decks, or walking the plank (which as a Table Topic takes exactly 2 minutes). As one of our guests said, it was “lighthearted”. Respect to the people who came up with the idea, organised it, and entered into the spirit.

There were 2 main speakers. Elaine gave a fine speech about leadership, in which she described the leadership skills of 4 of our members. DavidW gave an autobiographical speech which went overtime … again! (Tut tut, David, and you must project your voice more!) – I refer of course to the useful evaluation and feedback which follows every speech.

Our next meeting of Coffs Toastmasters is on Tuesday 15 in Cavanbah Hall. And don’t forget that Jetty Speakers (the other club in Coffs Harbour) meet on the 2nd and 4th Thursdays of every month in the morning before work. See our shared website for further details.

The Jotter – 10 December 2021

Sunday December 5.

Last meeting of the year. We gathered at Boambee Creek Reserve for picnic tucker and talk. It rained on and off but that’s quite nice when you’re under a tin roof. We each brought something spoken to present.

We enjoyed: the story of a memorable family Christmas;  New Year celebrations in Japan; the “Four Agreements” of Don Miguel Ruiz; “Galway Bay” sung by guess who; jokes (including “A snail knocks on the door of a bar at closing time …”); a game; and two poems (including “Smiling is infectious” by Spike Milligan).

Only twice did we fall silent. Once while a cloud-crowd of querulous corellas celebrated an outbreak of watery sunshine, and again while a freight train rumbled across the bridge. A special Hats Off to President Elaine who did so much to make the day a success.

While most of us were at Boambee, a few of our number were helping with contests via Zoom for Area 5 (Taree and Port Mac). Mark, Ernie and Glenn were judges and Hansika gave the target speech for the Evaluation Contest. (All 4 are either in Coffs club or Jetty club or in both clubs).

That’s it folks. Our next meeting will probably be on the 3rd Tuesday of January, but that is still to be confirmed. Happy Christmas all, stay safe, and have a good start to the new year.

Written by David Whyte.

The Jotter – 28 November 2021

’Tis the season to be contesting, la-la-la-la-laa la-la-la-laa !
A time when we all smarten up, whether speaking, judging or officiating.

Tuesday Nov 16 – CLUB Contests – on Zoom
Humorous. Barbara and DavidW contested. Both were disqualified for going overtime, both were invited to represent the club as delegates at Area Contest, and both declined. And that’s no joke!
Table Topics. DavidW and Andrew contested on the topic “A day at the beach”.

Personal styles differ. On one hand, for example, Barbara’s fantastic tales get two simultaneous reactions from me: “That can’t be true! Or can it?” and “That’s amazing, but is it true?”.
On the other hand Andrew’s mellow sentences flow “without hesitation, repetition or deviation”, as in the BBC game “Just a Minute” which inspires him.

Sunday Nov 21 – AREA Contests – on Zoom
There were contests in all 4 categories for Area 17 (2 clubs in Coffs) and Area 29 (3 clubs in Grafton and Lismore) in tandem. The efficient officials included !!Zoom Master!! and Sergeants-at-Arms (who monitored the Breakout Room, as in “Keep your hands where I can see them!!”).

In Area 29, first place getters go on to compete at Division level. They are Mark West (International), Rupert Godwin (Humorous), Danni Auch (Evaluation and Table Topics) – all from Jetty club. Congratulations to them!

I keep learning about Zoom. In the Club contests I was speaking to 4 rows of faces, mute and (almost) motionless. It felt like talking to exhibits in an art gallery.
In the Area contests all participants turned off microphone and video unless actually speaking, which reduced listeners even further to nothing more than name cards. Speakers on the other hand could have an enlarged view of themselves. This time it felt like I was speaking to myself in a mirror, while being judged by silent watchful listeners. (Ooo … Spooky!!).

Our last (informal) meeting of the year will be around picnic tables at Boambee Reserve on Sunday Dec 5 between 11am and 5pm. Emails have gone out but if you need more details, please phone our contact numbers.

The Jotter – 10 November 2021

International and Evaluation Contests

by Barbara Stewart

Hello again my friends. What an interesting and thought-provoking evening we had last Tuesday. Everyone has learnt something new – and what is life for, if not to learn, and to keep on learning?

Many congratulations to our winners and participants in our speech competitions and to every organiser. I think all members of our club were involved in one way or another in bringing our evening performances to fruition.

I’m not going to give a repeat of the General Evaluation, that would not be necessary except to say, that it made me think! I can not think help but ponder about the general feeling I have regarding the niggles of disquiet we all have, often unspoken, hidden within us, about the state the country, the world, and our individual reality that “we can’t make any difference”, “there is nothing we can do”? – Ah, but we can. We all know the meaning of “the kindness of strangers”, don’t we?

We might feel we are simply one little drop of water in the mass of the ocean of humanity, and what difference do we really make – can we really make? We can! We do! – if we think positively, if we act with kindness. In the world today, where instant gratification is being spread across our televisions, radios, laptops, and mobiles, it is hard to reject the constant advertising, to not comply with the everlasting advertisements to buy more alcohol, sugar infused drinks and lollies, extra clothes, another car, and yet one more plastic bag etc. But with mates, friends, relatives and ourselves, moan about restrictions, home-schooling, and more, how can we escape the Me, Me, Me attitudes, and demands for instant gratification – it is an incessant pressure upon us all. So, we need to remember the old saying “the journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step”. So, smile, be kind to one another, maintain a positive attitude and travel a new path. Costs us nothing and won’t hurt anyone. It may cost you the effort of thought.


I must record the names of our winners of the two competitions.

International Contest
1. Elaine Ghali
2. Mark West

Evaluation Contest
1. David Whyte
2. Elaine Ghali

Our next meeting is on Zoom, Tuesday 16th November at 7:00pm, where we will be holding our Humours and Impromptu speaking competitions.
I look forward to our new agenda and to another interesting and exciting evening. See you then!