the JOTTER Tuesday September 4th 2018

Jotter 953

Attendance 25-30.  7 guests including 5 from other clubs.


On Tuesday Sep4 we had a training session called ‘Speech Contests: Unpacking the Judging Criteria’, delivered by Alison Cleaver of the Lismore club.

Every year knock out competitions are held in 5 categories of public speaking: International, Humorous, Evaluation, Table Topics and Tall Tales. Winners progress from Club contests, through Area, Division and District contests, to arrive ultimately at the Toastmasters International Conference. There are strict rules, including of course for judging which aims to rank contestants according to set criteria.

On Tuesday we began with a close examination of the judging criteria for International, Table Topics and Evaluation. Then came a mock Evaluation contest with everyone in the audience being a judge.


Ernie as Test Speaker gave a speech which was intended to be full of egregious errors and ‘points for improvement’.

The 4 contestants then gave their evaluations, with 3 failing to meet all the judging criteria, leaving one as the standout winner.

DavidW’s evaluation was a whitewash, glossing over weaknesses.

Pauline’s evaluation was far too severe, not recognising strengths.

Fran’s evaluation was good but lacked a summation.

Barbara was Goldilocks as her evaluation was ‘just right!’, and the clear winner.

Scoring was by show of hands. I believe Fran got the highest score which wasn’t supposed to happen. However if everything had gone absolutely perfectly that might suggest we didn’t need the training at all.


The session was useful for people who will be judges, for those wanting to contest, and for people generally who want to be better at public speaking.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Next meeting Tuesday 18th September…Humorous Club Contest.



Jotter 950. July 17.    23 attended including 4 guests


For starters the line of ‘baffles’ across the room improved acoustics (we suppose), but also contributed a sense of warmth and intimacy. On top of this, Warm Up and Table Topics were both on the subject of true friendship. So a feeling of comfortable conviviality permeated the meeting.


In his Icebreaker entitled “Itchy Feet”, Ben described a life of constantly moving on from place to place and job to job, and from one adventure to the next. A life of action rather than words. But the words came and kept coming, quietly, in short sentences, like light pencil strokes, till by the end we had a complete sketch of his life.

Janet’s speech elaborated on the idea of collecting vs hoarding and was quite different in style. From centre stage, with rolling gesture and dancing voice, she conjured visions. The minutiae of life blossomed to become larger than life. We saw, hovering in the air, cabinets crammed with empty envelopes, jars stuffed with string, and a garage become storage while the family cars rust outside in the street.

Paolo gave a thoughtful Member’s Choice from the floor built around the idea that “every passer-by has an equally complex life”. He spoke of his Filipino uni friend living in Coffs, in this foreign culture, without family support or a car, and of how difficult life must be for her.

LOOKING FORWARD                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Contest season is upon us. Between August 7 and October 2 we will have 4 club contests, each one held before supper with more usual items after supper. We kick off at next meeting with a Table Topics contest followed after supper by Lachlan’s Icebreaker.



Jotter 949  July3

18 attending (including 1 guest).


It was Damian’s last meeting after 5 years in the club, because he and his family are moving to browner pastures down in Yass. Acting Pres. Deebee spoke of Damian’s ‘warmth and good humour’ and we wish him all the best.  And for our guest Una, it was a return visit to the club after 9 years! Back then she completed 10 speeches which, she says, helped her in her work where she must present to groups.


I don’t hear many actual Toasts, so it was valuable to hear a good model. It was short and smooth, and began with some wry reminiscences of club life before getting to the serious bit at the end. The gist of this was: ‘May you grow in your ability to speak … listen … serve the club … and support each other …’. Perhaps it might have been improved if we had then risen as one to our feet to the thunder of shoes on floor and falling chairs, roared out ’to growth!’, downed our shot of water, and hurled our empty tumblers into a fireplace.


Barbara confirms the stereotype of the Irish being great storytellers. Her Warm Up contribution was a true story about having an intruder in the house a few days ago! Timer Ernie gave Barbara free rein as this was a story that had to be heard. Barbara’s Real Life topic was ‘Has it been worth taking risks in your life?’, and this brought forth more yarns of dangerous situations she has been in. (A Real Life item is a realistic topic, with only a short time to prepare).


Barbara went 4 minutes overtime in her Real Life speech which James addressed. He was polite and gracious but pulled no punches. For “how we can all combat the dreaded going over time”, his practical advice was that we need only one story to make a point, not several. Good advice for all of us.


Next meeting July 17th.


Jotter 948


About 24 attending including 4 guests.


Speeches to order

One thing about a special event is that speeches aren’t just for practice, but must be done to order. Last Tuesday’s meeting saw the induction of the new executive for 2018/19, with 4 short speeches befitting the occasion. Area Director Sue Ashley (who inducted the new committee) gave a speech on the value of contests.  Outgoing President Deebee spoke about growth he has experienced and observed in others over the last 12 months. Pauline, the incoming President, spoke about 6 qualities desirable in a club, and in alphabetical order no less!  Awesomeness, Boldness, Compliance, Diversity, Efficiency and Fun. And DavidW, on the club’s behalf, said a few words of appreciation for Sue’s support over the last 2 years.


There was one other speech: Fran’s last speech from the CC manual with the aim of inspiring listeners. Fran spoke about the healing effect of laughter and the ‘incredible power’ of a smile to acknowledge others. Food for thought before the break for refreshments.

The trimmings.

Events are better with the right ambience and good tucker. Table cloths and tea lights? Tick. Black drapes and mood lighting? Tick. A cosy arrangement of tables with speakers at floor level? Tick. Background music? Tick. Good tucker and time to enjoy it? Tick. Tick. Tick.

Fun time

Barbara was challenging as usual. If you think you’ve been out of your comfort zone before, try standing up and singing 2 lines of a nursery rhyme to a roomful of people. This was followed by a rapid fire quiz from Janet.

See you all in the new (Toastmaster’s) year.

Next meeting: July 3. 

the JOTTER April 17th

Jotter 943/ April17.

“In quotation marks”
Tuesday April17 was our Area joint meeting
REACHING OUT (4 clubs).

“The meeting stayed on time and went fairly smoothly. 3 speeches and Real Life were good quality and held the audience. Barbara’s 40 year recognition was great: she was surprised and speechles.

Special thank-you & congratulations to our Sgt at Arms Christine Miller for stepping into the role of Toastmaster M.C. at late notice.
Deebee was suddenly called away as was David Whyte.

What’s all this about ‘Barbara’s recognition’?
Barbara is one of the club’s most highly esteemed Evaluators and Mentors, and this year is her 40th year in Toastmasters! Over the years she has been in Toastmasters clubs in Aukland, Darwin, Adelaide (where she helped get 3 new clubs started), the Gold Coast and Coffs. Congratulations Barbara, and thank you for all you do.

Meanwhile, down at the Jetty … !
A second Toastmasters club in Coffs has kicked off with a first meeting on Thursday 12th April in a back room of the Urban coffee lounge in the Jetty area. We had a Speech and Evaluation, Grammarian and Table Topics. A brisk morning meeting such as this (7 – 8 am) could really suit a lot of people. It felt like the mental equivalent of an early morning run along the beach and a dip in the surf before work. The next meeting of the Jetty Club is on Thursday May 3, and fortnightly thereafter. Contact Sue Ashley for more details on 0401 548 895.

the JOTTER 20th March 2018


Several weeks ago Barbara rang me with ideas to bring variety into meetings. The upshot was she was ‘Guest VPE’ last Tuesday and showed us what she meant. Her theme for the evening was ‘painters and paintings’ and, importantly, people stepped up to contribute. The 3 main speakers put together speeches on the theme, and in the very engaging Warm Up we all painted word pictures of beautiful sights in our lives. I especially enjoyed Table Topics when Janet projected about 8 well known paintings onto the big screen in turn, and 8 target speakers stood up to describe what they saw and felt. The audience looked and listened hard, through what had the quality of a dream sequence.

Janet’s choice of paintings included: Van Gogh’s “Cafe at Night”, Rousseau’s “Sleeping Gypsy”, Munch’s “The Scream”, McCubbin’s “On the Wallaby”, Renoir’s “The Ball”, Drysdale’s “Sunday Evening”, and more.

Perhaps we should try these ideas again before too long? A meeting strongly focused on a theme and/or a ‘Guest VPE’. Any suggestions anyone?

GUESTS                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Our 2 guests (and prospective new members) showed they already have what it takes. Both had something to say and wanted to say it.


On April3 we have Nominations before the Election on May1 of the next 7 executive officers to take over in July. Think of nominating yourself for a role. As well as giving back to the club, you will find it a rewarding experience. If you want to nominate yourself or someone else, tell Kyle who is the Nominations Officer.

David Whyte



Jotter 940  Mar6, 2018

18 attended including 3 guests.


Three speeches were delivered clearly and confidently without microphones or notes. John had 8 interesting Table Topics prepared. Respect to Mark, a guest on his very first visit, who when thrown the topic ”Who do you compare yourself to?”, stood up and spoke very creditably for nearly a minute.  Another guest, Lachie, served as Um Ah Counter (for his first time ever) and I suspect … um … learned a bit  … ahh … about himself in the … um … process. Sympathetic chuckles around the room signalled that we’ve all been there.

Timing is improving.

James was our punctilious Timer and his record sheet – annotated in red ink! – told its story in one glance!

The good news is we finished on time at 9pm, having still enjoyed a 15 minute supper. This was thanks to members being ready to leap to their feet or up onto the stage to speak, and keeping their remarks brief. However, with one exception, the Evaluations (both Speech and General) went overtime, as did the VPE Remarks at the beginning and President Remarks at the end. (Sometimes there is more to say and then the program should allow for this).

If we all aim for conciseness, we allow the meeting to expand in other areas.  So, for example, we allow the Toastmaster to be more creative, and all members to speak longer in Warm Up and Hats Off, and of courseTable Topics can be extended.

Pathways. Pulling ourselves up by the bootstraps!

In the Pathways system the club President, VPE and Secretary are the “Base Camp Managers”. However as VPE Base Camp Manager I feel a bit of a fraud. It’s as if I’m standing amongst the tents of base camp, peering through binoculars at a scattered line of solo climbers making their way up the snowy slopes. Narelle is in the lead, having completed 5% of Level1 (according to records), so when I’m asked how to do something online, all I can say, “Ask Narelle”. Anyway, one way or another, we’re getting there.

Next meeting: Mar20. Barbara is Guest VPE and the theme is “painters and paintings”.

The Jotter


Jotter  939  Feb20



Focus: “Timing is everything”.

21 attended, including 2 guests (one for his first time).

Best wishes to Deebee and Jennifer who couldn’t make it because of family health and injury issues.


We did better!

We did much, much better with timing this time, with the meeting finishing just before 9pm.

This was largely due to everybody trying harder – being ready to speak when their turn came and speaking briefly and to the point. (I’m aware though that the stand-in President (yours truly!)  did ramble on a bit).  General Evaluator James noted that keeping to time is a matter of equity, that when we take more time than necessary we are taking it from others.  James also pointed out that if we had had 3 main speeches as planned we would have gone overtime yet again. Gremlins caused the 2 main speeches to stretch out longer than intended. One because the timing lights were not visible at a distance and the other suffered computer software problems.


Real Life.

Our missing main speaker was replaced by Barbara who stepped in to do a Real Life item.

Real Life items require a volunteer (forewarned) to “say a few words at short notice” on a given topic. Barbara spoke to us as a bunch of trepidatious 17 and 18 year olds, giving us advice and encouragement on meeting the challenge of adult life.


Table Topics.

Danni gave her very first Table Topics. She was clear and concise and had 6 people up on their feet. Her topics were along the lines of ‘What would you do if …?”: eg … you were confronted by a murderous pygmy; … you were presented with $10,000 in India; … you were visiting an orphanage in Kenya.


Bunching up.

Is there anyway we can bunch up more in the hall to build a sense of conviviality, and to hear better and see better?  I wonder if we could squeeze 3 people in at each table, which would require one person at least to have their legs wrapped around the table legs! Any ideas anyone?



Next meeting is on March6. The following meeting on March 20 is being organised by guest VPE Barbara on the theme of paintings and painters. Keep watching this space!

The Jotter Jan’ 2018



A great first meeting of 2018 on Tuesday, January 16.  We had over 20 present including 4 guests/ prospective new members.

The 3 speakers were very much at ease, and obviously enjoying their own speeches. We laughed at Damian’s encounter with a horse. (Damian could make a household budget sound hilarious!). Lyn had invented a witty explanation of the transition from apemen to Adam and Eve. And newbie Pauline introduced herself (in her Icebreaker speech) with anecdotes on the theme of “Princess or Trooper?”.

Other first timers included Leon as Toastmaster and Jennifer as General Evaluator. Warm Up (John) allowed us to vent our political frustrations. For Table Topics Narelle chose questions suitable to the new year on what might yet be and what might have been. Her 6 targets all found something to say. Good practice! And on top of all that, watermelon for supper! (Thanks Christine).

What’s in the pipeline? About 4 or 5 people have launched into the new education program, Pathways, with more promising to follow. And for our next meeting on February 6, we already have an almost full program.

That’s it. See you all on Feb6.