Speak With Confidence

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What is Leadership?

In CC Manual, Speech #6: Vocal Variety, Speeches on April 17, 2011 at 3:54 pm

by Linda Li

Linda Li gave an interesting speech about leadership and its potential misconceptions. She used her earliest concept of leadership (learned from her family) and showed, using specific examples from her own life, the process by which she shifted her perception to the leadership model she values today.

She didn’t write out her speech and recite it – rather, she used the following as notes to refer to when needed. (But, as with most heartfelt speeches, she barely referred to her notes at all.)

  1. What is leadership?

I’d like to ask you to close your eyes and ask the following questions in your mind:

    • Who is the leader in your family?
    • Who is the leader at your work?
    • Who is the greatest politician leader that you really admire?

What’s the first impression that they bring to your mind? Is it power, respect, or taking control?

  1. Leadership = power, respect? NO

As a teenager, I read biographies of great leaders. I interpreted great leaders to be above all other people, powerful, and controlling everything.

But recently, through observation of things surrounding me; I realized I was so wrong! Leadership is more about motivating other people to grow and achieve the common goal.

The leaders from Toastmasters are excellent examples. We have very great leaders here, not because they have power to collect the dues, but because they help other members conquer their fears and improve their speaking skills. At my workplace, I’ve been seeing that a great manager helps employee achieve their own goals while contributing to the company.

Leadership = helping a group of people to achieve common goal

  1. What are the barriers blocking you from becoming a great leader?

Barrier 1: Overemphasizing Personal Goals

True leadership is about making other people better as a result of your presence—and making sure your impact endures in your absence. That doesn’t mean leaders are selfless. They have personal goals—to build status, a professional identity, and a retirement plan, among other things. But the narrow pursuit of those goals can lead to self-protection and self-promotion, neither of which fosters other people’s success.

I once heard a friend say, “I don’t want to work with that manager anymore. Everything he does is to secure his position.” At first I thought, Yeah, that’s what a leader is supposed to do. But my friend continued, “So because this guy is so self-serving, a lot of my co-workers are applying for jobs somewhere else.” Something clicked for me in that – I started to think that maybe to be a good leader, overemphasizing personal goals could do more harm than good.

Barrier 2: Protecting Your Public Image

Another common impediment to leadership is being overly distracted by your image—that ideal self you’ve created in your mind. Sticking to the script that goes along with that image takes a lot of energy, leaving little left over for the real work of leadership.

For example: as a leader, you may want to build a friendly manner. But a friendly image may restrict you from asking tough questions sometimes. Or maybe you want to build a no-nonsense, tough leadership image. But that will make you unapproachable, blocking people from communicating with you.

A good leader needs to draw their image from within, and be flexible with it – being tough when a situation calls for it, and approachable when an employee has an idea or an issue they’d like to discuss. Being a slave to a rigid public image is not leading – it’s more like following a script, and doesn’t foster anyone’s growth.

Barrier 3: Going It Alone

Another barrier is going it alone. In my family, my dad plays the big role of leader. The whole family listens to him, because he supports not only our small family, but his sibling’s families as well. He is highly respected, but I think if he would only listen to other family members’ suggestions, he would be a happier, stronger leader.

 Linda concluded with an appeal to the audience to rethink how we see leaders – if we share any of her misconceptions, she suggests we take a close look at the style of leadership that helps us grow, and try to model our own leadership on that, not on some fixed image of what we think leadership is supposed to look like.


Best of the Best

In CC Manual, Speech #7: Research Your Topic, Speeches on February 2, 2011 at 5:02 pm

by Freddy Irani

Here’s a cool first for Richmond Toastmasters’ blog – an audio recording of a speech.

Instead of writing his speech out in words, Freddy wrote down bullet points and practiced with his iPhone until he got it right. The audio clip above is his best practice run. The real speech was even better, because he engaged with the audience and had us laughing and hmm-ing throughout.

His intro got lopped off of the recording – he opened by saying that he’s made a promise to himself to be the best of the best in the new career he’s chosen.

His speech was inspired by ideas he learned from the Mike Ferry Organization, but his delivery was pure Irani awesomeness.

His bullet points were these four things, which he says put together makes a person the best of the best.

1. Enthusiasm

2. Confidence

3. Thinking Outside the Box

4. Punctuality

In his speech, he gives exercises to demonstrate how to achieve these states of mind, even when we’re not feeling them.

And the most fun part of all – he helps us shut up our drunken monkey.

Remembering Dad…”Swinging on a Star”

In CC Manual, Speech #4: How to Say It, Speeches on December 3, 2010 at 9:04 am

by Lorna Boyle

Lorna delivered this moving speech at Deltones Toastmasters. She is a favourite guest at Richmond Toastmasters – both in real life, and here on this blog. Lorna has her own blog, you can find her on Twitter, or listen to her smooth-as-silk podcast.

I got a call from my brother, Mike last month.  It was a call I’d been waiting on for a long, long time. Mike called to tell me that our Dad had passed on.

I can’t say it was a shock.  We’d been expecting it and neither of us could believe Dad lasted as long as he did. He had never really taken good care of himself and had been in poor health for the last 20 years of his life. I still find it very difficult to reconcile with the fact that Mum went first.

Dad didn’t have any insurance, but we made sure we gave him a good send off. My brother Mike and his son Dan, said goodbye to Dad on October 29th, the day before what would have been his 82ndbirthday. Dad would have really enjoyed it. It wasn’t a religious service; he wasn’t into religion.  They said goodbye to the sounds of Matt Monroe and Nat King Cole and one of his favourites, Frank Sinatra, singing “Would You Like to Swing on a Star”.

I’ve always said I have no regrets… but perhaps that isn’t quite true. I do have one; my one big regret is that I was never able to get to know my Dad.  I mean really get to know him on a deep personal level. I often thought about it. I often yearned to have long meaningful conversations with this person who was my father, the man my Mum fell for, but it just never happened. We were never able to connect that way. It hurts to know the last time we spoke he could hardly even remember me and asked me if I was married, if I had kids, how much did I weigh and… “Are those all your own teeth?”

A few years back I told Mum how I felt and was shocked at her response.  She said, “Well, to be perfectly honest, Lorn, there really isn’t that much more to know.”  I found it profoundly sad.

My relationship with Dad dwindled to almost nothing in my adult years, especially after I came to Canada. It wasn’t as bad as my younger brother, Ed. He felt so disconnected from Dad that he changed his name when he was 18 to Summers, our Mum’s maiden name. But at least for Dad and I there were still the phone calls at Christmas, and Mum and I would always visit him for a few hours whenever I went back to England.

And there were the birthday cards we sent to each other. It always put into perspective for me when I tried to choose a card for Dad.  It was always very difficult.  If the card mentioned all the usual “Thanks so much for everything you’ve done for me, Dad” and “Thanks for your support” or “your wise advice “, they just wouldn’t make the cut. It would be phony and almost hypocritical to send it so he got one with a cute kitten or a dog on the front. I never knew why he wasn’t forthcoming with the kind of fatherly wisdom I saw in other families. Perhaps that figure is something you only see in the movies. I do know his own Dad didn’t stick around for very long so I guess he never had a good role model. Or possibly it was because we all got so much from Mum. She was so strong and maybe there was just nothing left for him to give.

I can’t say Dad and I had a troubled relationship… there were no major battles or anything.  Not once I’d left home anyway. I do recall one powerful exchange I had with him when I was about 14. Not long before Christmas, Mum had had enough of his antics so she took off for a while to stay with her sister. I can’t say I blamed her. I remember telling him then if he wasn’t careful he’d lose her forever. It turned out to be true.

I used to try to figure my father out. If a team of psychoanalysts had ever got hold of him they
would have had a field day! Dad had been an only child who had been completely mollycoddled by his mother. I even heard tales that she carried him up the stairs until he was five years old; she was so worried he’d fall. He was protected every step of the way. And then he went into the navy straight after school and told what to do for the next 25 years. “Civvy Street” was really hard for Dad and two years after he came out the Navy he and Mum finally split. After that he never got it together and never held a job for very long. And as for his next two wives… well, I don’t think I’ll ever understand those choices!

I spent the week after I heard feeling kind of numb. But then I found my thoughts slowly starting to change. I had written a blog to help me sort out my confused feelings and after I posted it the kind words and condolences started to come in from my friends and family.

It was my cousins who made the difference when they sent me their memories of Dad; memories of an entirely different person… the person I’d forgotten.  They all remember what a great character he was and how wonderful Mum and Dad were together when we were kids – always cuddling and joking and giggling. Dad was such a great giggler.

They remember the seaside summer vacations spent at our house in Portsmouth and spoke about the gargantuan meals my Dad made for everyone, those wonderful roast dinners.  Oh yes, and the enormous mess he always left behind. I can’t imagine Mum was ever too thrilled about that, but she did love his cooking.

My Dad taught me to cook; that’s something I’ll always be grateful for.  He never did anything by halves and his baking sessions were legendary.  I recall those baking days when all the kitchen surfaces were covered with mouthwatering goodies. The aroma of bread fresh from the oven would greet me on those mornings and oh God… the chocolate éclairs he used to make would just melt in your mouth; and all the wonderful pies, apple and cherry and his famous custard tarts. I’ve never been able to recreate the creaminess of his custard tarts.

One fantastic memory I have from my childhood was the Christmas menu he would pin up on the kitchen door every year.  He would list all the sumptuous meals we would be enjoying throughout the holiday season.  My brothers and I would gather round, our mouths watering, reading what delicious feast was coming up next.

My cousin Tony recalls an incredibly kind and generous man. And I suppose he was… His words made me think back an occasion when Dad came home without his coat one day.  He’d given it to a homeless man who he figured needed it far more than he did.  The fact that my father was probably “three sheets to the wind” at the time is beside the point. I believe it still came from the heart.  Of course the day he stumbled home with a stray dog on piece of string is another story…

I sang a couple of songs for him on his birthday last month. I raised a glass or two in his honour and tried to remember the good things.

My Dad was always a dreamer… and was forever wishing for the day when things would turn around, when his horse would finally come in… the day when he would be “Swinging on a Star”.

I love you dad…

My Mum and Dad – A LOVE STORY

In CC Manual, Speech #3: Get to the Point on August 24, 2010 at 5:43 pm

by Lorna Boyle

Richmond Toastmasters is thrilled to welcome Lorna Boyle, Secretary of the Deltones, one of our nearby associated Toastmasters clubs. She is sharing her 3rd manual speech, which she delivered with heartbreaking sincerity.

Towards the end of her life, my Mum started to get a little bit cheesed off with my Dad. He kept asking her to marry him again… and again… and again. He seemed to completely forget that he had remarried a couple of times since they divorced in 1973.

My mum and dad had an unusual relationship, especially after they divorced. I often think about what they had… and lost, and regained. Losing mum so suddenly a couple of years ago made me want to put together some of her stories, including this one, of how they met. I believe there should always someone to record the stories that happen within a family. They say a picture tells a thousand words, but to me, well-written words will always give a far richer portrait.

Mum had been the youngest of 6 and was desperate to see the world when she left home at 17. By the time she was 21, she’d been a land army girl, a kennel maid in Lincolnshire, and a waitress at the White Swan in Stratford-upon-Avon,

Jose Summers met my Dad the evening of her twenty-first birthday. She had been persuaded by some friends to spend the evening at a dance hall in the city. She wasn’t at all keen on dancing, so this certainly hadn’t been her idea. By the end of the evening her girlfriends had met up with a group of guys and they were urging mum not to be a wet blanket and go on somewhere with them, but mum wasn’t keen. As she struggled with her coat, wondering how she was going to get out of it, she found someone was guiding her arm into her sleeve. She turned and saw it was a sailor; a very nice looking sailor with bright blue eyes and a wonderful smile. She called out to them, “It’s OK. You go on. I’m with him!”

I imagine my dad was quite surprised at this… but he’d also had a disappointing evening, so he asked if he could walk her home. By the time they reached mum’s door he was well and truly smitten. He asked her to marry him! She said, “But I can’t cook!” He said, “Oh, but I can! I’ll teach you.” The best he could get out of her that night was a promise of a date the next day. They arranged to meet underneath the clock tower in the town centre at noon. Dad had to send a telegram to a girl his mum had been trying to set him up with, but as he’d never sent one before, Mum said she’d give him a hand. She agreed and started to write his name on the form: “A L A N… ” and then realized she has no idea of his last name. He said it might be best if he spelled it for her. “P…Y…W…E…”. By this time she’s really wondering what on earth could possibly come next! It was just two Ls …PYWELL. She didn’t yet know she’d spend many years spelling it out to everyone herself.

They walked and talked through the whole afternoon, went to see a film that night and then walked and talked all the way home again. By the time they reached her door, my Mum is also very taken with this young sailor.

I’d like to share a poem Mum wrote 4 years after they divorced… it gives me such a great picture of their marriage, which at times was a bit of a rocky road. My dad was sometimes away at sea for 12 to 18 months at a time, but the honeymoons every now and then were lovely.

Marry in haste – repent in leisure

that’s how the saying goes

But that’s not true in every case

and I am the one who knows

My husband and I “met and married”

in the space of twenty-eight days

When one falls in love at first sight

it puts life in a “golden haze”

I enjoyed my marriage; it lasted

just twenty three years.

With all the usual ups and downs

through sickness, joy and tears.

We had a daughter, then two sons

to us “Our Imps” from birth

Finding the pleasures of Motherhood

seemed my reason for being on earth.

All the “happenings” as they grew

talking, walking, cuts to heal.

Toddlers, teenagers, now adults, yes

my memories are so real.

My husband and I have now parted

it seemed the best thing to do

I was just a home bird, while he

was a “boy in blue”.

The life he loved – the “Social Whirl”

I never enjoyed at all.

So it was, “you go your way, and I’ll go mine”

I hope you have “a ball”

Four years have passed since that day

we are still the best of friends.

If I can stay as contented as now

I’ll be happy till my life ends.

After they divorced they never did lose touch, in fact, my mum hosted my dad’s third wedding. Now that’s another story. He and his new wife, Sheila stayed with my Mum and her second husband, Wally, a number of times during their marriage.

Mum and Dad wrote to each other regularly for the rest of their lives, and when Dad’s writing got a little too shaky he phoned her almost every week. And yes, he frequently asked her to marry him again. He would say, “Oh, Cuddly, why did we ever part?” She could have easily replied, “Oh, let me count the ways! You drank like a fish and gambled our money away.” But Mum, who had been very happily single for the last twenty years of her life, just said, “Oh, Al, it would never work out. Best keep things the way they are…”

My brother Mike and I visited Dad in the home where he now lives and had a very emotional meeting with him the week after Mum’s funeral. We needed to tell him face to face what had happened. It took him a while to understand and he cried a fair bit. But then we had a bit of a singsong together, singing some of his favourite Nat King Cole songs, and he seemed OK. He then asked me who I was again. I admit I don’t talk to Dad often. But I really should call him, just to see how he’s doing.

Unforgettable Email

In CC Manual, Speech #4: How to Say It, Speeches on August 12, 2010 at 7:55 pm

by Doris Wong

Doris is sharing a speech that had the Richmond Toastmasters audience on the edge of our seats. Her speech objectives were to choose the right words and sentence structure to communicate her ideas clearly, accurately, and vividly. Her delivery was stellar.

E-mail is fast, efficient, and flexible.

You can send it any time you want; there is no time restriction.

You can send it anywhere you want; there is no distance limitation.  It will be delivered in a minute.

But all these good qualities will turn into nightmare if we do not use it carefully.

Tonight I am going to share an unforgettable e-mail with all of you.

Think twice before you click

We had been developing a potential customer for 2 years and it was coming down to the final stages of securing his business.

On one special day, I typed a detailed e-mail with costs, detailed product spec sheets, and pictures.  When I finished, I moved the cursor to the top row right beside “TO.” I typed in “Jo” and John popped out, then I moved the cursor up a little to “SEND” and clicked.  Simultaneously, from the corner of my eye, I saw that I’d sent the e-mail to John the potential customer. BUT the e-mail was supposed to go to John, the competitor of potential customer.

My heart stopped beating.

My right hand index figure froze in the middle of the air.

My left hand reached out to the screen, trying to get it back desperately.

Of course, the e-mail would be delivered in a minute.

What I got from my boss was a 10-minute lecture with only 4-letter words in it.

I deserved it.  It was a fatal mistake and we lost the customer for good.

After the incident

I reorganized my address book so that all addresses started with the company name followed by first name.  It took some time to reorganize it and get used to it.  Once I had it set up, I could search a person by his company name or by first name.

I also went online and found out “How to recall an e-mail.”  You have to open the e-mail you want to recall. Under tool, action, customize, you will see a recall e-mail icon.  Click on it. The screen will prompt you to delete the message or delete with a 2nd message.  Why do we need to delete with a 2nd message?  When you recall a message you can only recall the content; no matter what, the e-mail was delivered.  You need a 2nd message to set it straight why you sent somebody a message and recalled it later.

You can recall a message from Outlook XP to Outlook XP, or MS Outlook to MS Outlook.  You cannot recall a message from Outlook XP to MS Outlook.  Also, you cannot recall a message send from Gmail or Hotmail.  You will get an automatic reply about whether the recall was successful or not.

Now that I have my address book reorganized, I still rethink before I release every single e-mail.

Pass the Salt

In CC Manual, Speech #3: Get to the Point, Speeches on August 9, 2010 at 8:57 am

by Andrew Scallion

Have you ever worried about high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, chronic fatigue, pneumonia or kidney or liver failure?

Or, maybe you suffer from type 2 diabetes, insomnia or even low libido.

If any of these conditions apply to you, maybe you should ask yourself if you are getting enough salt in your diet.

Mr. Chair, fellow toastmasters and welcome guests.

Salt. We all consume it everyday. Whether shaken on your order of fries or as a naturally occurring element in your steamed broccoli. Salt is everywhere. And its important. So important in fact, that in its absence many of our bodily systems would cease to run efficiently… or even run at all.

So, why is it that the government and health authorities are telling us we need to reduce the amount of salt we consume or even adopt low sodium diets?

The theory that high sodium intake could be dangerous is credible and worth exploring. However, presently there is no proof this is true. Government wants to regulate how much sodium we get in our diets. The current recommended daily maximum is 2300 mg, roughly the equivalent of a teaspoon of table salt. That is 17% below the lowest level of sodium intake worldwide and a startling 38% below the worldwide average. But has anyone considered the ramifications to society of not having enough dietary salt.

There have been many studies done on the links between salt and health. But they touch on a very small part of an extremely complex relationship between sodium and our bodies. None of the studies done make the case for assuming that higher salt consumption leads to harmful health effects. For example, no study has ever shown that higher salt consumption increases death rates from cardiovascular disease, heart attack or from any other causes.

Only one study, conducted by the cardiovascular centre at cornell university in the 1990’s, followed hypertensive patients on a low sodium diet. The conclusion, those who consumed more sodium had less risk of a heart attack. The 25% of male patients who consumed the least amount of sodium had four times as many heart attacks as the 25% who consumed the most.

Sodium controls the the fluids in our bodies. It regulates blood pressure and the pressure inside and outside our cells to keep them from collapsing or exploding. And in doing this, Sodium must maintain itself at a very precise balance. So it makes us crave salty snacks when its too low and if its too high, the excess comes out in our urine.

It also effects different people in different ways. African Americans, for example, are thought to be salt sensitive meaning higher sodium intake has more of an effect on blood pressure. Whereas the kuna Indians of Panama, when studied in the 1940’s had a diet very low in sodium and regular blood pressure. Now 50 years later with salt consumption at norh American levels the average blood pressure has remained stable.

Dr. Michael Alderman, former president of the International Society of Hypertension and current editor in cheif of the American journal of hypertension believes that lowering salt levels across the board when every individual responds differently to salt in his estimation is foolhardy.

Writing in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Dr. Alderman explains that the health effects of sodium reduction will only be beneficial if reducing our intake of sodium kills fewer people than it saves.

Salt has been an essential part of the human condition forever. It has been used for centuries as a preservative for food and is a very important culinary component of nearly every culture on earth.

It is historical fact that a societies access to salt is in direct correlation to its overall wellbeing and to its longevity. The Japanese, who consume more salt than almost any other nation on earth, are the most long lived society on the planet. And the Jewish people, whose salt laced kosher foods keep their salt intake high are not far behind.

To have government, health authorities and low-sodium advocates regulate sodium intake based more on poorly studied beliefs then on scientific evidence seems , to me at least, bad judgement. So, the next time you are at the dinner table thinking, should i pass on the salt? Don’t, speak up and say Pass the salt!

Andrew Scallion has helped Richmond Toastmasters go back to the sushi bar, unafraid of piling on the soy sauce. Great speech, Andrew! Thanks for sharing.

Why Do I Hunt?

In CC Manual, Speech #2: Organize Your Speech, Speeches on July 29, 2010 at 10:17 am

by Andrew Scallion

There are three primary reasons why I hunt.

But, before I get into those, let me tell you why I do not hunt.

I do not hunt for trophies.

I do not hunt because I like to kill things.

I do not hunt for more meat than I can consume.

So, why do I hunt? As I said, there are three primary reasons. Physical, ethical, and spiritual.


I hunt on foot. I don’t use a quad, snowmobile or a horse. I drive my 4×4 into the bush and park. All the rest is one foot in front of the other.  It’s not uncommon to cover 20-30 km in a day stalking and tracking an animal.

I love the sheer physicality of grinding up the side of a mountain in the timbers and getting above the tree line where the air is thin. And the sheer exhaustion after a day of hunting that leads to the most restful and satisfying sleeps I have all year.

I do one major hunt every year. I go into the bush for 10-14 days and when I come out I’m always 10-15 pounds lighter than when I went in.


When you go to your grocery store and you see all the nice cuts of meat lined up on Styrofoam trays, do you ever think about how it got there?

Have you ever seen a cattle feedlot?

Have you ever seen a chicken factory farm?

Have you ever wondered about the quality of life of the animal that the steak, or drumstick or bacon strip you are about to eat came from?

Because if you haven’t, you should. If you’ve never looked at a documentary on meat production in North America, go find one, it will change the way you look at the meat on your plate.

I’m a firm believer that the only truly ethical way to consume meat is to harvest it yourself.

Consider;  farm raised meat is considerably more susceptible to disease, therefore antibiotics and other drugs are used to keep the animals healthy.

Feedlots and factory farms keep the animals in cramped and near inhumane conditions. With chickens in particular, they will never see the light of day.

But beyond the moral factors of how animals are treated, consider the environmental aspects of meat production.

According to the Worldwatch Institute, about 15 to 20 percent of global methane emissions come from livestock.

Methane is 24 times more potent a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports that animals in the U.S. meat industry produce 61 million tons of waste each year, which is 130 times the volume of human waste produced, or five tons for every U.S. citizen

The USDA, for example, says that growing the crops necessary to feed farmed animals requires nearly 80 percent of America’s agricultural land and half of its water supply.

Wild game requires none of this. In fact, controlled harvesting of wild game is essential to the healthy viability of the animals themselves. If herds are allowed to grow unchecked, it will lead to over-population which leads to food competition and eventually scarcity and finally a large winter die-off which can nearly wipe out stocks in and area in only one year. It then takes generations for the herd to rebuild and become healthy again. Controlled harvest keeps the herds at optimal levels and allows for enough nutrition for all of the animals to survive the winters.


It may sound odd to link hunting to spirituality but to me it seems only natural.

There is the sense of self reliance that comes from not only bringing home the meat for my family but everything else connected to it. From the field craft required to spend two weeks un-assisted in the bush to the adrenaline of the chase and victory of the conclusion.

There is the spiritual connection to the animal itself. This beast is going to nourish my family, my children, and help them to grow healthy and strong.

I hunt it, I kill it and I gut and skin it. When I get the meat home I butcher it into steaks and roasts and ground meat and with the scraps I make sausage. I know that every bit of that animal is getting used. From the gut pile and skin I leave in the bush that will feed bears, wolves, racoons and birds to every last scrap of meat that will feed my family.

It is the ultimate connection to my food.

Andrew is the Treasurer for Richmond Toastmasters. Here he shared the 2nd speech he made from our beginner manual (Competent Communicator). He delivered the speech like a pro, and deserves kudos for such a compassionate argument on such a controversial subject.

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