Club celebrating 2500th meeting


It was the early 1970s and Dunedin man Trevor Pullar had seen a drastic change in a couple of formerly shy fellow search and rescuers.
– You see a
blossoming in confidence. It doesn’t matter who you are –
‘‘All of a sudden they perk[ed] up and I just couldn’t work out why they were so forward in their presentations at the meetings.’’
Mr Pullar was perplexed. These men had previously been less than forthcoming.
Then he discovered the key to the men’s improved confidence was joining the Dunedin Toastmasters Club.
Not long afterwards Mr Pullar joined.
The club, founded in 1962 by the late Rob Hendry, holds its 2500th meeting this evening and Mr Pullar (76), who has been a member of the club for 42 years, has attended more meetings than most.
Toastmasters is an international organisation which began in the United States in 1924 and started in New Zealand with the Dunedin club.
It aims to build people’s confidence and encourage their personal development by improving their communication.
Two Dunedin club members, the late Brian Buchanan and present member Craig McGregor, have competed in the world toastmasters’ competition.
Members give speeches at each meeting and are critiqued on their delivery.
Mr Pullar said these evaluations were the centre of the Toastmasters programme.
In order to build each member’s confidence, a suggestion for improvement is enveloped by two positive remarks. This takes the form of ‘‘commend, recommend and commend’’, he said.
‘‘It’s not finger pointing at a person. It’s just offering a recommendation.’’
As members practised delivering speeches at each weekly meeting, improved confidence was inevitable.
‘‘You see a blossoming in confidence. It doesn’t matter who you are.’’
Club sergeant at arms Colin Nicholls said a desire to improve his confidence in speaking had motivated him to sign up to the club.
Speaking too fast was a common mistake people made when giving speeches, Mr Pullar said.
Speaking well and with correct grammar was also stressed, so it became a habit, Mr Nicholls said.
‘‘It might seem a bit artificial but after a while you do build it into your psyche and people do tend to use it. People do notice it. They notice the change in your delivery and the way you converse with people.’’
Mr Pullar said audience engagement was the essence of a good speech. – Tonight’s meeting will be MCed by club member Graeme Hunt. Carol Hendry, the wife of club founder Rob, will be a special guest.