Posted by on Oct 29, 2014 in Meetings

Toastmaster Alannah Vickery today got us thinking outside the square. An excellent theme to have chosen as it offered many possibilities for speakers. To activate the grey matter early in the morning Alannah presented us with a couple of puzzles, challenging us to solve them ourselves without resorting to Google. And throughout the meeting her own stories of thinking outside the square made great transitions between speakers.

Grammarian Dennis spoke of how Toastmasters has made him much more aware of the correct use of the English language and reminded us to avoid filler words. I think tenacious came in there too as the word of the day. More on Dennis later.

In Brent’s speech ‘Grin to grimace’ his objective was to weave humour and substance into his speech. Brent has an arsenal of delightful stories to tell us, always with a message, and this was no exception about how a small child can be totally unpredictable and ‘reset’ you when you least expect it. Grin – to grimace – and back to grin again.

For my speech I used two experiences I’d had in Uganda to illustrate fear, trust and growth. These were white water rafting on the Nile and abseiling down a sheer cliff. I still don’t know how I managed to step backwards off the cliff in the latter experience, but I did, and what I learnt from the fear and trust involved, has added to the tapestry of my life.

Third speaker was David Clarkson with a variation on a monologue, entitled ‘the Cut’. This was highly entertaining as David fluently assumed another persona to relate how the man with the cut on his finger became so famous. We travelled with ‘the man with the cut’ from A&E, to fame in the press and TV, to being on Oprah, meeting Obama and finally standing with the Pope on the balcony in Rome. The final line – no matter how famous you are, there’s always someone more famous than you – that’s the real cut! Very clever.

Steve Kennelly’s table topics had speakers thinking outside the square. Claire (aka Catherine Zita Jones, yes there definitely is a resemblance) is moving outside the square this weekend to play netball on an oblong in Timaru. Brett extolled the virtues of day-dreaming – on the job – as an important part of life, Kevin Cusack has shifted outside of the square to be at TM and to be speaking in front of a group, and John MacVicar told us of stepping well out his comfort zone by deciding in his 40s to move country and retrain in a new field of work.

And so to Dennis …
Sadly Dennis McGrath is leaving Boaters as he and Grace are soon to move to Pleasant Point to begin the next chapter in their lives. I’m sure everyone will agree with Colin’s words in his tribute to Dennis; Dennis has made a massive contribution to Boaters, by single-handedly increasing our club membership. The majority of our new members have come to Boaters because of our website. And that website was created, and constantly tweaked and improved, by Dennis. We will all miss you Dennis, your expertise, your humour, friendliness and the support you have given us all. Good luck and very best wishes to you and Grace in your next venture.

Sandra Smith

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