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Apologies for the hiatus

Well, something went wrong in the registration of the domain name, and then something went wrong in the DNS configuration, but everything’s fixed now and the site is live again. Updates will therefore resume.

Our next meeting is in the Tullamore Court Hotel about an hour and a half’s time. It’s the end of year party at 8:30 tonight, Thursday the 12th of December. That’s it for 2013. Meetings next year will resume on the 9th of January, at the usual time and place (8:30 p.m., in the Tullamore Court Hotel)·

The 2013/2014 year is almost upon us!

The Tullamore Toastmasters calendar runs from September to June. Our summer break is nearly over: back to business from the 12th 19th of Septmmber, with a whole new team at the helm.

See you on the 12th 19th!

As usual, the meeting is in the Tullamore Court Hotel at 8:30 p.m. sharp. After the 12th 19th, meetings will continue once a fortnight.

AGM 2013

The last meeting of Tullamore Toastmasters, on the 9th of May 2013, was also the AGM. The meeting began with an abbreviated topics session run by new member Paul Stephenson, followed by one speech from Claire O’Brien. This was followed by the AGM, presided over by the outgoing president Patrick Hynes.

The new committee was appointed as follows:
President: Jennifer Dillon.
Vice-President Education: Timothy Green.
Treasurer / Secretary: Ciara Kinarney.
PRO: Claire O’Brien.
Fáilte Officer: Mary McKernon.

There will be one further meeting in this season of Toastmasters, on Thursday the 23rd of May, followed by the summer break, during which the new committee will take up their duties. Tulllamore Toastmasters will then reconvene in September.

Website back up and running

The website went down for a while, but is now working again. It’s good to be back!

There are only two meetings left in our schedule for this year: The AGM tomorrow night, and our final meeting a fortnight later. Then we’ll break for the summer and prepare to start up again (with a new committee at the helm, appointed at the AGM) in September.

International Speech & Speech Evaluation Competitions 2013

Our last meeting at Tullamore Toastmasters, on Thursday the 28th of March, was the International Speech Competition and the Speech Evaluation Competition. These competitions were held within the club to decide who would go on to represent Tullamore Toastmasters in the next round in Ballymahon on Monday the 15th of April.

The meeting ran smoothly, with the experienced Pat Kilroe as contest chair. Jennifer Dillon, who organised the competition, was also the Topicsmaster, giving the audience things to talk about during the pauses in the competition. John Murphy, the chief judges, ensured that all Toastmasters competition rules were properly adhered to.

To enter the International Speech Competition, you must have previously given five speeches in the club. The order of speakers is chosen by random draw. The three entrants, in speaking order, were Timothy Green with a speech entitled “Stonewall”, Patrick Hynes, club president, with a speech entitled “Golden Slippers”, and Nuala Murtagh-Carton, vice-president membership and a past-president of the club, with a speech entitled “Silence in the Court House”. In the competition, speakers choose their own topics, and these were three very different speeches: one on a 1969 riot in New York which was historically important in the struggle for gay rights; one on the life of a nun, a relative of Patrick’s, who worked tirelessly for the rights of poor and homeless people; and one on the importance of making your voice heard. Nualah Murtagh-Carton won the competition, and will go on to represent Tullamore Toastmasters in the next round, in Ballymahon on Monday the 15th of April.

Jennifer Dillon presents the award to Nuala Murtah-Carton, winner of the International Speech Competition in Tullamore Toastmasters

Jennifer Dillon presents the award to Nuala Murtah-Carton, winner of the International Speech Competition in Tullamore Toastmasters

Jennifer Dillon presents Patrick Hynes with the 2nd place award for the International Speech Competition.

Jennifer Dillon presents Patrick Hynes with the 2nd place award for the International Speech Competition.

 

After a break for coffee, we had the Speech Evaluation Competition. This is open to all members, and one of our contestants, Paul Stephenson, was a new member who has given one speech and had not before given an evaluation. The other contestant was Patrick Hynes, club president. Our test speaker was Tom Murray, who had travelled from Athlone to present a speech entitled “King of the Road”. It was an interesting speech about the history of drug use in competitive cycling, and was quite technical in places, but it was also a speech about the importance of whistleblowers more generally. Paul Stephenson and Patrick Hynes then left the room and were given time to compose their evaluations, Jennifer Dillon keeping the audience engaged with topics the meanwhile, then returned in order, Patrick first, then Paul, to evaluate Tom Murray’s speech. Patrick Hynes won the Speech Evaluation Competition, and will go on to represent Tullamore Toastmasters in the next round, which is held along with the International Speech Competition in Ballymahon on Monday the 15th of April.

Jennifer Dillon presents Patrick Hynes with the 1st place award for the Speech Evaluation Competition

Jennifer Dillon presents Patrick Hynes with the 1st place award for the Speech Evaluation Competition

 

Jennifer Dillon presents the award for second place in the Speech Evaluation Competition to Paul Stephenson

Jennifer Dillon presents the award for second place in the Speech Evaluation Competition to Paul Stephenson

Tullamore Toastmasters next meeting is in the Tullamore Court Hotel at 8:30 p.m. sharp, on Thursday the 11th of April. This is a standard meeting, not a competition.

An enjoyable evening on Valentine’s Day

Tullamore Toastmasters meet every second Thursday. And our last meeting, for the first time in the club’s history, fell on Valentine’s Day. We decided to go ahead with the normal schedule. Some people, understandably, had other commitments on the night, so it was a smaller meeting than usual, but it was still as enjoyable as ever. The first item on the agenda was voting a new member into the club: Michael Mulvin. David Reynolds treated us to a lively topics session, urging us to speak on short notice (or no notice at all) on prompts as varied as our worst ever meal and why people read death notices.

For the second part of the meeting, the prepared speeches, there was more entertainment in store. Phil Newton’s brief was to talk about an abstract concept. Phil is a founder member of Tullamore Toastmasters, and is a very experienced speaker. She chose to talk about love, and how it has affected history, with examples of poets, philosophers and politicians who have fallen in love, and how love touched their lives and work. John Murphy, our second speaker, was also speaking from an advanced manual. His brief was to retell a folk tale. He ignored the podium, and spoke to us as as to a bunch of friends sitting round an open fire as he told us the scary story of “The man in the coffin”, warning us of the terrible dangers in interfering in fairy forts.

Finally, we had a guest speaker, who came to us for practice and for feedback before she enters an all-Ireland competition.

Our next meeting is on the 28th of February, at the usual time of 8:30 p.m., in the Tullamore Court Hotel. See you all there!

Toastmasters Officer Training

Tullamore Toastmasters is a local group, but it’s part of Toastmasters International, a worldwide body which provides educational material, coordinates competitions and other forms of inter-club cooperation, and provides training. A training session for club officers in our district was arranged for Monday night, so four of us — Nuala Murtagh-Carton, Donal Hogan, Jennifer Dillon, and Timothy Green — travelled to Ballymahon. The meeting turned out to be useful and informative. Club officers were in attendance from Athlone, Longford, Mullingar, and the newest club in the area: Carlow.

First, we were educated on the structure of the organisation. Most of us had an idea how Toastmasters was organised, but there was plenty of fine detail which was new to me, at least. There was also education and sharing of ideas on how to attract new members to Toastmasters. That can be tricky, because different people come to Toasmasters for different reasons: some people want to improve their public speaking skills for business reasons; some people find the many and varied topics discussed at Toasmasters meetings engaging and interesting, and come because they always learn something; some people want to learn how to chair and manage meetings, and to improve their leadership skills; some people come for the social evening. And no doubt there are many other reasons I’ve not thought of. A Toastmasters club can serve all these goals and more, and the same club can serve different goals for different people. A large part of both the fun and the learning come from the fact that the membership is quite varied, with different ages, different levels of experience, different jobs. For myself, the initial reason for coming was actually the social evening — and Tullamore Toastmasters provide a good social evening —, but my skills and my self-confidence at public speaking have also received a massive boost.

I’m glad I went to the officer training night. It was interesting, and we all learned something. I always learn something at Toastmaster meetings.

Next club meeting is at 20:30 in the Tullamore Court Hotel on Thursday the 14th of February.

Breaking ice with the Asgard

It’s always good to get an Icebreaker speech.

A new member’s first speech at Toastmasters is known as the Icebreaker. It offers the new member a chance to introduce themselves to the club, and to say something about their interests. We had an excellent one at our last meeting, as Paul Stephenson told us some accounts of his life on the Asgard.

Paul came to a few Tullamore Toastmasters meetings as a guest, before joining the club. In this, his first speech, he told us a little about his childhood, education, and time in the navy. But the centrepiece of the speech was the tale of the time he spent on the training ship Asgard. In his telling, Paul evoked the feel of the small sailing ship, bringing his audience with him on a tour of the vessel. from the cabins (which smelled) to the rigging (which soared). He described his fellow-crew members, and spoke to us of evenings ashore and nights aboard; of nights in port and nights at sea; and of trainees young and trainees old. (There were always two separate groups in the pub of an evening, he told us.)

Paul left the Asgard not long before she was lost (luckily with no loss of life) in the Bay of Biscay. His time aboard had come to an end, but people he’d spent a lot of time with in close quarters were on the ship when it sank. Paul’s speech was an excellent demonstration of the art of storytelling, and we look forward to his future contributions to the club.


Tullamore Toastmasters is always open to visitors. Come and see for yourself what we’re at.

Welcome to 2013!

It’s a new year, at least in the calendar we use in this part of the world. And, in the Mayan calendar, we’ve been in a whole new b’ak’tun for a few days now. I haven’t checked where we are in the Jewish, Islamic, and Chinese calendars.

Anyway, for us in Ireland, this is a new year. And after a brief break, Tullamore Toastmasters are back in action, with our first meeting of 2013 on Thursday the 3rd of January, at 8:30 p.m., in the Tullamore Court Hotel.

See you there!

Hans Rosling makes data sing

Hans Rosling has some very interesting things to say about the developing world and about the need for open access to statistical information. From a Toastmasters perspective, though, his talks also serve as an excellent demonstration on how to use visual aids while giving presentations.

I’ve seen some interesting things happen at Toastmaster meetings, but not yet sword-swallowing. Maybe one day.