Speaking out

Initiated by a basement brainstorm session in 1924 at the YMCA in Santana, California, by Dr. Ralph Smedley, Toastmasters international has grown to be world renowned in helping people become articulate and competent in their communication skills. The non-profit organization now has nearly 250,000 members in more than 12,000 clubs in 106 countries, thus offering a proven and enjoyable way to hone communication and leadership skills.

Smedley Toastmasters club was charted in Sri Lanka in 2004 and was one of the first community clubs formed in the island. The 6th installation ceremony of the Smedley Toastmaster’s Club was held in July. The ceremony revolved around the establishment of members of the upcoming year's (July 2009 – July 2010).

The Secretary of the Toastmaster’s Club, TM Dilmini Pieris gave all present, a prelude to the forthcoming proceedings of inducting newly elected members into the club, the insightful and thought-provoking speeches we were about to witness. A.Balraj, Immediate Past District 82 Governor went onto give words of advice to David Muller the incoming president – “Success does not come to you, you go after it.”

Chief guest Dian Gomes’s speech focused on overcoming the fear of public speaking. He drew a parallel between the fear of public speaking and the nation’s hopes resting on your shoulders – his prime example was taking Anuruddha Ratnayake the boxer to the Olympics. He said “with a speech you can afford to make mistakes, in a boxing ring if you make a mistake you are knocked out.”

The installation of new office bearers was then conducted by Rajiv Goonetileke. The New Executive committee of Smedley Toastmasters Club for the year 2009/2010 will compromise of the President – TM David Muller, Vice President Education – TM Aravinda Perera, V.P Membership – T.M Ganathiban, V.P Public Relations – T.M Sabirah Caffoor, Secretary – TM Dilmini Pieris, Treasurer –T M Charith De Abrew and sergeant at Arms – TM Amal Vithanage. Toastmaster of the Year was awarded to Sabirah Caffoor by A.Balraj.

Incoming president, David Muller quoted a paragraph by Sir Ken Robinson, where he said “you cannot make a tree grow, however you can create an environment that the tree will produce the best harvest.” “Likewise I believe that we should create an environment for people who would like to join toastmasters, give them positive feedback and support them to become great speakers and presenters.”

The club has excelled due to their members’ dedication and the reputation they have of being friendly and supportive in their approach to achieving the mission of Toastmasters. “We have lasted 87 years on the concept of friends helping friends,” said A.Balraj. Smedley meetings are conducted on the first and third Thursdays of every month commencing at 5.45pm at the Ceylon Hotel School Restaurant and anyone over 18 is welcome to become a member of this enriching organization. – P.M. Pix by Ranjith Perera

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