“Tech and Technique”: Laura Bruce’s tips for humorous speaking and how to win in Toastmasters online contests

An invitation to be a guest speaker at another new club can be an exciting, albeit somewhat daunting prospect! Having triumphed at the 2020 District 72 Humourous Speech Contest, I was invited by Boaters Toastmasters in Christchurch, New Zealand to present my tips on humorous speaking and online competing.

Only problem is, they meet at 7am! Yes, Boaters Toastmasters is one of a handful of breakfast clubs in the Garden City.

“Never fear, Laura is here!” I got up early, found the venue in plenty of time, and had a wonderful time, meeting new people and going for coffee with a group from Boaters after the meeting. What fun! It was worth getting up very early after all!

If you’d like to watch the video of my presentation, “Tech and Technique”, here it is, courtesy of Louise Landess at Boaters Toastmasters.

Competing online is part of the brave new Toastmasters world post-March 2020. This presentation was in October, 2020. Toastmasters clubs in New Zealand resumed in-person meetings in July 2020 after we returned to normal life on the islands. Unfortunately, clubs all over the world have had to meet online to cope with various regulations around social distancing.

At the time of writing (July 2021) Toastmasters Clubs in New Zealand continue to meet in-person. At Christchurch Women’s Toastmasters, we relish the opportunity to visit with our friends, go for coffee afterwards, and enjoy all the ancillary benefits of being a Toastmaster — part of a worldwide community of people committed to becoming better speakers and leaders.

Welcome the new CWC Committee!

A group of CWC toastmasters have coffee after the meeting.
The first committee meeting of the year was held Friday 9 July and new members and visitors attended.

The first of July marks the beginning of a new Toastmasters year! Congratulations to the new slate of club officers at Christchurch Women’s Toastmasters club! And a big thank you to the previous club officers, whose efforts helped our club to achieve President’s Distinguished status for the 7th consecutive year. This is the highest level of achievement a Toastmasters club can reach. Well done team!

Here are your club officers for 2021-22:

Sergeant at Arms: Elizabeth de Jong

Secretary: Frances Williamson

Treasurer: Nicola Tiffin

VP Public Relations: Laura Bruce

VP Membership: Sheila Hailstone DTM

VP Education: Candy Green

President: Lovey Ratima-Rapson

Past President: Sheila Hailstone

Christchurch Toastmaster Sheila Hailstone DTM wins 2nd place in New Zealand speech contest

Christchurch Toastmaster Sheila Hailstone DTM placed 2nd in the 2021 Toastmasters District 72 International Speech Contest.

Congratulations to Sheila Hailstone, right, presented here with her Silver Medal. Sheila, founder and current president of Christchurch Women’s Toastmasters, which meets weekly in Papanui, placed 2nd in District 72 for the International Speech Contest! The medals were presented on 22nd June at a special meeting of Avon Toastmasters in Christchurch.

Free communications skills workshop for businesspeople

A Christchurch public speaking group will host a free lunchtime seminar Friday March 26th.

Become a better business speaker: free lunchtime seminar 26th March in Papanui

A local public speaking group is hosting a free seminar for business people.

Sheila Hailstone, MBA, DTM
Sheila Hailstone, MBA, DTM

The 40-minute lunchtime seminar by Christchurch Women’s Toastmasters in Papanui will help anyone who needs to do presentations at work, or speak about their business in public.

Distinguished Toastmaster Sheila Hailstone MBA, a former European Training Manager and CEO, will present this free seminar at Christchurch Women’s Toastmasters’ Open Meeting Friday 26th March from 12.30 to 1:30pm. 

The workshop will be held at The Village, 460 Papanui Road at the corner of Frank St. Free parking is available at the rear of the venue. Everyone is welcome. 

Attendees will discover tips and techniques to improve their effectiveness when presenting in a business setting, including how to capture your audience’s attention in the first few moments, how to structure your presentation, and how to ensure you are communicating something of value.

Registration is recommended and can be done via Eventbrite here.

Become a better business speaker: free seminar 26th March in Papanui

Need to do a business presentation but have no time to prepare? Learn how to cut your preparation time and present a powerful, well-structured speech that your clients will remember.

Sheila Hailstone, MBA, DTM
Sheila Hailstone, MBA, DTM

Have something important to say at a networking meeting but the moment it’s your turn, your legs turn to jelly and you just want to sit down?

Come along to this 40-minute lunchtime session sponsored by Christchurch Women’s Toastmasters. You’ll learn helpful pointers that will change your approach and improve your results. 

Distinguished Toastmaster Sheila Hailstone MBA, a former European Training Manager and CEO, will present this free seminar at Christchurch Women’s Toastmasters’ Open Meeting Friday 26th March from 12.30 to 1:30pm. The workshop will be held at The Village, 460 Papanui Road at the corner of Frank St. Free parking is available at the rear of the venue. Everyone is welcome.

Tickets are free but registration is recommended. Secure your place by booking via Eventbrite. Click here to reserve your free ticket: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/become-a-better-business-speaker-free-lunchtime-seminar-tickets-143906402925.

Humourous Speech Contest 2021: new member triumphs!

Congratulations to Esther Skinner, winner of the 2021 Christchurch Women’s Toastmasters club Humourous Speech Contest!

Esther was competing in her first Humourous Speech Contest. She wasn’t even a member when we held our previous one, in September 2019! Esther came along to her first meeting in May 2020, attending online via Zoom due to pandemic restrictions on on-person meetings.

Esther’s performance shows that even new members have a chance when it comes to taking part in speech contests. Well done Esther!

Congratulations to everyone who took part. Second place winner was Lovey Ratima-Rapson (below, second from left), and third place went to Steph McDade (left).

Photo of speech contest winners holding their certificates, with contest chief judge.

Thank you to all the contest officials, especially Chief Judge John Ballantine of Bishopdale Toastmasters (above, right).

Our next and final contest of the Toastmaster year is the International Speech Contest which will be held at our meeting Friday, 26 February at 12.30pm. Visitors are always welcome! 🙂

If you think Christchurch Women’s Toastmasters may be for you, please join us at one of our meetings. Click here for details.

Humourous Speech Contest this week at Christchurch Women’s Toastmasters

Laura Bruce holding the district 72 Toastmasters Humourous Speech Trophy, with Erin Daldry DTM
A member of our club is the reigning District 72 Humourous Speech Champion!

Fancy flexing that funny bone? Friday’s the big day as Christchurch Women’s Toastmasters will hold its 2021 Humourous Speech Contest.

All members of the club are welcome to compete. The Humourous Speech Contest is a 5-7 minute prepared speech that is designed to entertain the audience with humour.

Wondering if it’s worth it to compete? Think again! Last year, CWC member Laura Bruce won the club contest, and went on to with the District 72 Championship!

Good luck to all the competitors!

Follow-up to a member’s book launch

In this blog post, our President Sheila Hailstone reflects on the launch of her book and how Toastmasters has helped achieve this success. Enjoy!

The front page of the local newspaper featured a story on CWC President Sheila Hailstone DTM and the launch of her book Dancing Around Cancer.
Christchurch Women’s Toastmasters Club President Sheila Hailstone DTM reflects on the events subsequent to her July 2020 book launch

It’s been quite a month. After a highly successful book launch in July, at Turanga (Christchurch Central Library), I was delighted when the ensuing media publicity resulted in Turanga purchasing 4 of my books for the Canterbury community. It just felt right, as if I was in this amazing circular community bartering system. 

I paid the library to hire a room. People came, which created publicity, which resulted in an article in the newspaper. The publicity resulted in people in the community asking the library to purchase the books. The library purchased the books and I sent the money to Breast Cancer Cure to support their work in research. My objective of helping make deaths from this disease history in your lifetime became one step closer.  My oncologist purchased the last printed book left over from my book launch. Yes, true! I sent $1900 to Breast Cancer Cure. 

No, that’s not going to result in world-breaking research. But as the little boy once said, as he threw one starfish back in the water, on a beach covered in dying starfish, “it made a difference to that starfish.” We have no idea what the smallest action can result in. My efforts are ongoing, I am figuratively picking up more starfish.

My book Dancing Around Canceris on the Amazon Website and both the paper and e-book can be purchased through the Amazon US website. All the profits raised will go to Breast Cancer Cure. A dear friend in Germany, and a fellow cancer sufferer, sent me a message to say her book group will buy digital copies for their next book discussion. So you see more starfish …

I am also investigating getting the book printed here to save the cost of postage. So do let me know if you are interested in getting a copy this way.

We recorded my interview at the library book launch, with CWC Toastmaster and comedian Laura Bruce. I will be putting that on my website this week. So if you missed out you can still enjoy it on… www.cancer-cancan.com . (Remember the hyphen.)

If you’re not a member of our Christchurch Women’s Toastmasters group, why don’t you come and visit us? We meet every Friday at lunchtime. Meet my amazing team of women and find out why we were awarded top community-focused club in New Zealand for the past two years running.

Sheila Hailstone DTM

President CWC Toastmasters

New members welcomed

Christchurch Women’s Toastmasters has welcomed a number of new members during the past few months. We’ve also had a number of visitors attend a meeting for the first time.

If you are thinking you may want to become a more confident speaker, you can be assured of a warm welcome at Christchurch Women’s Toastmasters Club. When you arrive someone will greet you, give you a name badge, ask you to sign the guest book, and then take you to a seat where you will find a meeting agenda. They’ll also ask if you are happy to speak if you are called upon, or if you would prefer not to speak just yet.

After the meeting, we like to go across the road for a coffee and a bit of conversation, and you will be invited to join us for this too.

If you have any questions about Toastmasters, please click here and send us a message. We will promise to give you a warm welcome, so don’t be afraid to come along. Try to arrive around 10 minutes prior to our 12.30 start time if you can, as this will give us time to get you properly settled in before the meeting begins.

In the news: Christchurch Women’s Toastmasters club

We were delighted to get media coverage of our club’s recent achievements in the Nor’West News this week in Christchurch.

At the District 72 conference, our club won an award for having a positive impact on our community. It’s the second year we’ve won the Jack Duffy Memorial Rose Bowl.

Thanks to the Nor’west News for their interest in our community and our club!

“If at first you don’t succeed, compete, compete, again.”

Also at the conference, Laura Bruce won the District 72 Humourous Speech Contest with a speech entitled, “Smart, Helpful, and a Great Communicator, She’s the Ultimate Assistant”. Prior to this win, the best Laura had ever placed in the Toastmasters Humourous Speech contest was second place in her club contest in Scotland, in 2018.

“My experience with the Humourous Speech Contest should be an inspiration to all Toastmasters,” said Laura. “My first year in the contest [2014] I came second. The second year [2015], I went over time. The third year [2016], I came second. The fourth year, 2017, I was on the District Leadership Team and could not compete. In 2018, I placed again — but again, only second — and so could not progress to the Area contest.

“To finally make it to an Area contest in 2019 — now a member of Christchurch Women’s Club — was such a thrill! I was delighted to proceed to the Division Contest in April. But to win at District is the biggest thrill ever!”

“What I have learned from competing each year since I joined Toastmasters is that persistence pays off. I have also learned that it’s important that your speech be funny, and it’s good to get an early laugh to put your audience at ease.”

“It’s important to remember what you present in the Humourous Speech Contest still has to conform to the structure of a speech. It can’t be a series of one-liners, or a stand-up comedy routine,” she added.

“That being said, a funny story is an ideal starting point for the Humourous Speech Contest. I still remember the District 71 Contest at the Titanic Conference in Belfast in 2014. One of the contestants, a speaker from Ireland, talked about his trip to a water park in Italy. The imagery of his swimsuit making him stick to the water slide, together with the accompanying gestures, was hilarious. He had us in stitches — and he didn’t even win!”