Speak­ing up about speak­ing out

The Leader (Nelson) - - YOUR HEALTH - WAR­REN GAM­BLE

Carl Horn has brought the cur­tain down on 38 years of pub­lic speak­ing with some typ­i­cally thought pro­vok­ing words.

Ev­ery New Zealand ci­ti­zen, he says, should be re­quired to take a Toast­mas­ters course, prefer­ably after they leave high school.

For the unini­ti­ated, Toast­mas­ters is an in­ter­na­tional or­gan­i­sa­tion made up of thou­sands of clubs with hun­dreds of thou­sands of mem­bers who prac­tice the art and craft of mak­ing a speech.

For many it helps them tackle one of our most com­mon fears - speak­ing in pub­lic - by pro­vid­ing a sup­port­ive, learn­ing en­vi­ron­ment.

You won’t find Carl’s com­pul­sory Toast­mas­ters edict in any po­lit­i­cal man­i­festo, but he is noth­ing if not per­sua­sive (that’s one of the speech cat­e­gories mem­bers prac­tise at Toast­mas­ters) .

‘‘There is noth­ing more valu­able than to be able to use words ef­fec­tively and ex­press your­self,’’ he says.

Carl joined his first Toast­mas­ters club in Canada in 1972. As well as be­ing a ded­i­cated and suc­cess­ful mem­ber, he has founded or helped to found 12 clubs since he moved to New Zealand in 1980, in­clud­ing four in one hectic week in Christchurch in 1993. All are still go­ing to­day.

He has been a mem­ber of clubs in Christchurch and Nel­son for the past 30 years.

Carl says he didn’t have a ter­ri­ble fear of pub­lic speak­ing, a com­mon mo­ti­va­tion for new mem­bers, when he first joined Toast­mas­ters. He heard a club pres­i­dent talk­ing about the or­gan­i­sa­tion on his car ra­dio in his na­tive Mon­treal, and thought it sounded like an in­ter­est­ing chal­lenge.

He still re­mem­bers the sub­ject of his first speech: ‘‘When the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is do­ing.’’

He hasn’t looked back, rising to the heights of District Gov­er­nor, the top New Zealand po­si­tion in 1994-95. One of his speak­ing highlights was de­liv­er­ing a twominute ad­dress to 1500 peo­ple at the in­ter­na­tional con­ven­tion in Toronto in 1993.

He has fin­ished the Toast­mas­ters com­mu­ni­ca­tion man­ual - re­quir­ing 10 speeches - three times and at least 12 ad­vanced man­u­als.

He even met his wife Sue at the Ever­est Toast­mas­ters Club in Christchurch.

But now he is call­ing time, largely be­cause of the lack of it. At 75 he is a mem­ber of 12 com­mu­nity or­gan­i­sa­tions, in­clud­ing chair­ing Se­niorNet. Some­thing had to give.

Carl, nat­u­rally, has some parting words about why peo­ple should join a lo­cal Toast­mas­ters club.

‘‘It’s won­der­ful, it’s fun, it’s a chal­lenge, it’s like bungee jump­ing,’’ he says.

* Nel­son has three Toast­mas­ters clubs. Mad­hat­ters meets ev­ery Fri­day at 7am in the AA build­ing on Hal­i­fax St; High Noon meets on Wed­nes­day at mid­day at the NMIT meet­ing room; and the Nel­son Club meets fort­nightly on Mon­day at 7pm at Hear­ing House. For more de­tails see www.toast­mas­ters.org

Carl Horn is call­ing it a day after 38 years of pub­lic speak­ing.

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