Phoenix Rising

The 9th of January was a big day for us Phoenix Speakers: We moved to our new venue at the Department of Transport – familiarised ourselves with the new security procedures – arranged our meeting in an unfamiliar room – attracted several new guests from the Department of Transport and from outside the Department – used the new Open Meeting format that starts with prepared speeches and ends with table topics – had a brilliant evening – and ended up with two new members.

The meeting was opened by Roland, who provided the guests with an introduction to Toastmasters life, focusing particularly on the benefits provided by being part of the Toastmasters International organisation, while Shane sparkled as Toastmaster of the Day, ensuring that the different roles and speeches were smoothly linked and that the energy in the room remained high.

Ana’s gave a speech on her first skiing experience, which involved sliding sideways, sliding out of control and sliding into other people on the slope. It was a very vivid description of events, so in our minds, we were sliding with her. Bryan described South Africa, his home country, as a fascinating holiday destination. After hearing about Table Mountain towering 1000m above the sea, lions, leopards and buffalos, ice-cold beer and small wine-farms near Stellenbosch spoiling their visitors, many in the audience felt tempted to go right now. For those, Bryan emphasised the cheap and excellent airline connections. Brad reminded us of the impact we have when interacting with others by telling his story about a brief encounter with a primary-school girl in India. She wanted to try out her English and this was most likely the first encounter she had with a Westerner. How easily could that event have been spoilt by dismissing her as a beggar.

Timekeeper Mike explained that time is an illusion, but continued to measure it anyway. Brad guided the introduction of all our guests to the audience.

After the break, Trang shone as table topics master, stimulating the speakers with intriguing questions that they answered without hesitation. Robert worried about going into the wrong meeting room and ending up late at a wedding. Roscoe promised to make 2019 the “year of 100% go” for his degree, his work and his whole life. Tom‘s principle for 2019 was “Don’t let Sunday spoil your Monday”, promising great parties and spectacular hangovers. Asked for a decision that had changed his life, Roland mentioned his move to South Africa, the place Bryan had so lovingly described in the first half of the meeting. Walter, a Director of Photography, illustrated how he had learned to take still pictures last year and compared this skill to operating a washing machine. Karsten remembered that he had been down and without friends a few years ago, but that the people he met through his work in the last years had made a big difference to his life. Neil agreed that life is too short to spend it on talking to people who suck the life out of you – and if one has to, one should focus on what one can get out of them.  Ariel supported the idea that beauty captures the eye – by describing how he met his last girlfriend – but that character captures the heart – by describing how they split up.

The audience voted on the performance of the participants and decided that Ariel had been the best table topics speaker, Roscoe had given the best evaluation and Ana had delivered the best prepared speech.

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