Sergeant at Arms Isaac Tanner-Dempsey introduced today’s Toastmaster, Louise Green, who had chosen the theme “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?” A chance to reflect on the things which scare us most – what could be more fun?
Grammarian Terrelle Hegarty introduced us to a splendidly useful new word: Mullock, meaning worthless material or rubbish. She also reminded us that filling our speech with ums and ahs is definitely mullocky behaviour.
Alana Bogart looked the embodiment of summer in a pretty flowery dress as she introduced the first speaker, Mark Glanville. Mark tackled the very difficult topic of what to say to people who are grieving. He explained the grief process and how, from the best intentions, we often add to the troubles of bereaved people by avoiding the name of the dead person or telling them to cheer up. Mark explained the importance of empathy and how it differs from sympathy. He gave us many good tips about how to support our friends in their time of trial and backed it up with a useful hand-out.
Mo Yakubu introduced the second speaker, Alan Calder, who spoke about the vital necessity for businesses to embrace change and be aware of disruptive technologies. He used the example of Kodak, once a leader in the film and camera industry, who built the first digital camera in 1975 but failed to capitalise on it, sticking to their film-based business model and ending up bankrupt. Another example was Blockbuster Video, whose management laughed at Netflix but lived to regret it.
Natalie Perzylo introduced the final speaker of the morning, David Cooper. David’s speech invited us to be grateful for the benefits of progress by describing the life of slaves in the Roman Empire. Even the good emperors were barbaric by our standards and life was not much fun for those at the bottom of the heap. The empire-building efforts of Julius Caesar, Pompey the Great and other generals sent nearly 12 million new slaves to Rome, which must have placed a strain on the infrastructure. With the Roman’s penchant for crucifixion as a punishment, making crosses was big business for the carpentry shops of Judea and David wondered how many crosses Jesus made before he was himself killed on one. Whatever we may think of some of our leaders today, there’s no doubt we have it easy compared to life under the Romans.
Mark Glanville kept us up-to-date with the Boaters’ Bulletin and Alannah Vickery added the news that Tina Mackie, doing great work in Cambodia with street women, is running out of funds. A quiz night has been arranged to raise money and Alannah would like as many people as possible to attend.
Table Topics Master Vivien Cowey rang variations on the theme of “things we’re afraid of”. This being quite a sparsely-attended meeting, she seized the opportunity to spread trepidation and consternation by calling on people who already had a role and had been thinking themselves safe from Table Topics.
Timekeeper Deb McAlpine reproved us for being a little long-winded, with most speakers going over time. General evaluator Sabine Parry kept her evaluation within time and gave useful tips to all participants, using her kinesthetic ability to demonstrate how effective gestures and body movement can lift performance.
Roydon Gibbs presented the Toastie award to Mark Glanville, for his speech on a difficult and important topic.
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