What an enjoyable evening last night at the Oriental Thai Restaurant. Fantastic company, stimulating conversation, exciting speeches, a lot of fun and some delicious food and drink. Excellent combination.
When I arrived at 6.40pm there were already a lot of people there sitting down at the big table that had been reserved for our group… that swelled to about 25 of us by 7.00pm – a very good turn out. After welcoming everybody and identifying the apologies and guests, the theme of the evening was highlighted – dining out – and people were encouraged to take the edge off their appetite with plates of entree edibles being distributed along the table.
Once people had had an opportunity to have a nibble the agenda was re-engaged and Rebecca was invited to take the floor and take us on a foray into the world of food with her table topics… Rebecca gave us some sound advice, encouragement and inspiration to… Eat real food, not things that look like food; preferably plants; and, eat in moderation. With this in mind we delved into the table topics:
Matt was selected to deliver the first table topic – on “look like foods”, and with his usual quick wit and excellent sense of humour and ocassion *Matt *revealed his secret of being a man made of pizza boxes… a pizza lover… More specifically a Domino’s man. Matt went on to explain his passion in more detail and certainly kicked the topics off well with plenty of humour and laughter – a good sign.
Nick came next with his story of the “most shocking meal” and, once again, the audience was entertained with his mirthful anecdotes from his student flat days and his flatmates masterful mince mixtures with food colouring added. Nick definitely painted some visual images that both humorous and left many of us reflecting on our student days and food experiences.
Laura, our newest member, was then given a warm welcome as she was asked to tell us of her “favourite meal*” and expand upon when it may have been… Laura quickly grabbed the topic and introduced us to her mum’s lamb roasts, which were a Sunday regular and something that she really enjoys when she goes home still. We learned a bit more about Laura in the process too – it is always enjoyable getting to know more about our fellow toastmasters and Laura is no exception.
Antony then regaled us with a story from a trip to Rhodesia a few years back where he had had an “interesting eating experience” to say the least. After painting some fantastic visual pictures of the place and the wildlife, and the dung beetles, we then heard about Antony’s potato experience when he picked up a piece that had slipped from his plate, only to discover he now had one of those beetles in his mouth. His imagery with words was so strong you could almost feel it.
Next up was Mike W. who added some “international flair” with his recount of his time in Italy and the fantastic food, atmosphere and experiences he had while there… Italian being one of Mike’s favourite
styles of cuisine we heard about the cannelloni meal at his 21st and were pulled into his story with his obvious enthusiasm for the subject and the experiences he had there.
Finally Bronwen took us to Sydney where she had caught up with some friends for dinner at a Greek restaurant and enjoyed the delights of the food and the people and the atmosphere. Bronwen shared her passion for the ocassion with a very strong display of vocal variety which certainly worked to make the table topic enjoyable and finish the table topics session strongly.
Now that Rebecca, and her table topic victims and volunteers, had done such a fine job in warming up the audience for the big speeches to come, the floor was handed over to Mike to introduce our first speaker for the evening, Ryan, and his icebreaker speech entitled “Lessons, obsessions and recessions”.
Ryan gave us a great introductory view into his background and some of the insights that have shaped him. Born to farming life in Gore in 1986, Ryan had an entrepreneurial start early, having his first business at the age of 17 in the firewood trade where he had 12 part time workers in his employ. His interests included the outdoors & hunting (he shared an interesting goat hunting expedition with us), snow boarding and water sports – these he termed his “obsessions”. Ryan went on to university at Massey
in Palmerston North where he got his degree in Environment and Resource Planning. He went on to take up a role as a town planner in Queenstown, however the recession hit and his job was axed so he moved on up to
Wellington where he got work for Beca where he got selected in a team of 4 to work on the biggest project in Australian history – the Brisbane Link Project. Unfortunately, after 5 months at Beca the recession once again took its toll and his role was axed. He now works for Landlink and is thoroughly enjoying his role as the sole planner there. Ryan shared the lessons he has learned in life so far with us: Never burn your bridges; understand people; you are who your friends are; and, back yourself. Thanks for a great icebreaker Ryan – it certainly kept us all involved and not only gave us more of an appreciation of who you are, but also had some great messages to share.
Steve L. followed on from Ryan to introduce Simon, who was giving us a speech from the advanced “Speaking to Inform” manual, with his speech titled “Future Proofing” Simon started by ensuring everybody was in a position that they could see his speech – a great way to ensure he had our attention… Once he had
captured that he then went on to give us some very sound advice on the important things in life and ensuring you are able to “Future Proof” yourself to ensure you were in a position to handle challenges and go on enjoying the opportunities you have. *Simon *shared some valuable thoughts on retirement and the impact that a loss of work can have on you through some personal stories that really taught lessons. The four key concepts that he wanted us to take on board were that we should look after our health and treat our bodies well, eat well, sleep well and keep our bodies and minds active and exercised; we should look after our family and always make sure we have time for them… and not just our immaediate family, but out wider whanau – personal family and close friends; we should look after our wealth – not only in the bank, but in our skills – be aware of them and open opportunities to let them work for us; and fourthly, we should look after our others – become a part of the wider community. Certainly a thought
provoking speech with a lot of good ideas and stories shared with the support of personal experiences.
After Simon’s speech it was time to enjoy the main meal and dishes of rice, beef, pork, fish and vegetarian thai dishes were delivered and social networking went into full force with everyone enjoying the opportunity to interact over a nice meal. After about half an hour Bronwen then was given the opportunity to introduce Gareth, who was about to give his number three speech from the project “Get to the Point”. His speech was titled “StrongLifts 5×5″.
Gareth took the floor and exercised his body language and vocal variety with a very good introduction to what “StrongLifts 5×5″ are, and why we should think about trying them ourselves. Gareth has, for the past three weeks, been on a new exercise plan and he gave a persuasive speech to encourage us to follow in his footsteps. The *StrongLifts* are a series of exercises for the gym designed with muscle mass improvement in mind. Using two different programmes of exercises (#1: Squats, Bench Press, Inverted Rows, Push Ups and Reverse Crunch; and #2: Squats, Overhead Press, Deadlift, Pull-Ups and Prone Bridges) using the rule of 5 sets of 5 reps. 5×5. With these alternating workouts 3 times a week, with each subsequent session
increasing weights by 2.5kg, the aim is to get fit and look fit through progressive loading on short efficient workouts where you can push in with power and strength. The benefits? Muscle gain and fat loss (even when resting), strength gains, improved motivation and better health… all very good reasons to encourage us to take up *Gareth*’s challenge.
Oliver then had the pleasure of introducing our final formal speaker for the evening, Victor, who was giving his second speech from the Competent Communication Manual, Organising Your Speech. Following the theme of the evening *Victor *had chosen to take up the challenge of good foods and bad foods and explain some of the things to look out for in our fast foods and pre-packaged foods. Having a look at some
of the tricks of the trade that the food industry uses to hook us into their food products, Vistor then encouraged us to eat together, eat fresh food and cook our own food wherever possible as this minimised the bad stuff. Victor’ speech was very relevant, informative and tied in well to the points that had been made earlier throughout the evening.
After the final speech it was time to see how well we had all been listening, observing and evaluating the words, speeches, topics and thoughts that had been conveyed in the main meeting throughout the evening. Agata Kesy had been taking notes all evening and selected a good range of testing questions to interrogate us with. Agata approached her task in a positive fashion and everyone responded equally positively – and obviously the evening must have been both entertaining and engaging as the answers
Then it was almost time to wrap up the formal part of the evening, however not before a couple of specials were added to the menu.
Firstly, Jacque was invited up to accept the trophy and certificate for the Area E7 International Speech competition which she had won on 24 March. Jacque was also congratulated for her excellent performance at the Division E conference last Saturday where she represented both the club and the Area exceptionally well with her speech, “When the Small Things Become the Big Things”.
And finally, to wrap up the evening a toast was raised to Sarah. Not only is Sarah an inspiration in her positive approach to the club, her indefatigable smile and energy for the club, always being one of the first there to help out… organising many social events, like our dinner last night… and giving some very interesting speeches. But she is also the longest serving member of Mt Vic Toastmasters. Sarah was there at the first meeting of the club back in 2001 – two years before it chartered. Sarah was involved as the club built numbers to reach the charter levels required, which it did in 2003, and has continued to take a prominent role in promoting it in the 215 meetings at the club since then. Well worth recognising and thank you Sarah.
That all done, it was time to wrap up the official side of the meeting and encourage people to continue networking and enjoy a cup of coffee or tea.
Overall, a very enjoyable evening and I look forward to the next dinner meeting, probably in about 3 months time