(First ideal Protégé – to draft) Onboarding. What are the benefits to you? We see it as a conversation.

A day in the life of a Mentor

For ALL speakers who would like to improve

ABLAZE Community – Onboarding

Since we are mentoring people from all over the world, it is practical to have clear guidance on the culture of ABLAZE Community. Most people like to know where they stand, what they can expect and what is expected from them. This knowledge forms the basis of psychological safety and it is in my opinion a basic human right. Without this knowledge it is hard to fit it, even harder to feel that you belong. 

What will we concentrate on? We need to find common ground in/on the following:

  1. Your goal assessment.
  2. Communication, all aspects.
  3. Ethics and morals.
  4. Procedures.
  5. Technology.
  6. Social media.
  7. Marketing.

This is not a complete list and it may vary from time to time as your focus is you, what you need and what we can do to help you improve. 

All meetings are on Zoom. You need a fast computer with a good camera and a good microphone. 

Part of onboarding is to access your immediate needs in your workplace to assess how we can best serve you. If you are not working that is not a problem, we still do the assessments as you might have specific goals for what you want to achieve. From this we will together draft a plan that can work for you. This will all be part of your personal goal setting. 

You need to be added to our team by submitting a photo and a short description of who you are and what is making you “tick.”

What we do need to know if that you are going to be an active member of the group, willing to learn and in turn, teach others. 

This is the way we all are making the world a little bit better for someone else. 

Please get in touch today by filling out the contact form. You will be so glad you did yourself this favour. 

Finding a mentor

What is a mentor and how can they help you overcome not only the angst of speaking in public but also guide you to enjoy it?

A day in the life of a Mentor

For ALL speakers who would like to improve

Finding a mentor

Many people realised that frequent ongoing training is something they desperately need. 

Where do you go? There are so many options to enrol for classes. A class is one thing, it is not giving you ongoing opportunities to really sharpen your skills without losing face. 

Here are a few things you need to know before you engage in ongoing training.

It is important to know these things as you want to be successful and feel great about yourself. 

  1. Make sure your confidence will not be ruined by tactless people.
  2. However, the environment must not be so safe that you go to sleep. Your speaking skills MUST be challenged in a supportive way.
  3. If it doesn’t then you’ll feel like your time and money will be wasted. 
  4. Any good mentor should let you experiment but at the same time encourage you to apply concepts that have been tried and tested. 
  5. When you choose a mentor from this website, make sure you have something in common if possible. Why? We are humans first and it is great to have something like a language or even a hobby in common. 
  6. A good mentor can help you determine the right strategy for your talents, skills and goals.
  7. Mentors are lifelong learners. Pick one that is not afraid to share their wisdom, knowledge and techniques. 
  8. You will know when you struck gold in a mentor when they ask you lots of questions. To best help you, the more they know about your ideas, the better their advice will be.
  9. Make sure your mentor can give you realistic feedback and who is not afraid of telling you the truth. By this I mean the truth about the things you can improve when drafting, practising and delivering the speech. Insist that your mentor do a full speech analysis with you after the speech. This can only happen when your speech is recorded. 

I had the privilege of mentoring people from all over the world. As this is a huge time commitment, I need to know that you are also fully committed. That you are eager to show up, learn, apply and improve. 

We have a whole team of mentors ready to help you. Get in touch with us today. You will be so glad you did. 

My next post is about Onboarding. It is designed to help you. 

Ablaze Community

Who and what is the ABLAZE community? What benefits can they provide to guide you in enhancing your speaking abilities?

A day in the life of a Mentor

For ALL speakers who would like to improve

ABLAZE Community


You might need little guidance or a lot.  More importantly you need a place where you can truly experiment and improve. I understand this. Experiment do, try it over in a different way, getting truthful feedback and not a “formula” is of the utmost importance. 

This post will tell you what you need to know to make sure you select a speaking club where you are free to try and try over without the fear of harsh comments. What just as important is having regular opportunity to test, and re-test. 

ABLAZE Community is such a place. Why?

  1. Currently several of our members are paid public speakers.
  2. One of the paid speakers was my mentee/protégé. He learned fast. Now he in turn is teaching and mentoring others. 
  3. We all learn from each other. The other members are just like you. Eager to learn and experiment more. 
  4. At Ablaze we say every “mistake” is a learning opportunity and we mean it. 
  5. Perfection is also a myth. It is the strive to improve that counts. 

Our ABLAZE Community is our incubator group. It is here where we help people like you who are willing to take the first step. Here we do the basics. Once we are happy that your basics knowledge and techniques are working, you can move on to “Advanced” status. The duration of your Community training is going to depend on you, how fast you learn and how much time you can dedicate. Yes, there is a fee. Currently it is US$100 for 6 months. 

How much would you pay to get at least 2 speaking opportunities a month? Your audience are all people who started the same way you did. I invite you to continue this discussion in the chatbox, below. We are not in the hard sales business. We don’t promise that you will earn millions in your first year. What we promise is support, guidance, understanding, and a positive learning experience. 

We meet online in our Zoom room and all our training is also done in Zoom. With online training it is your time zone that is of the highest importance. Make sure it is sustainable for you. 

You will need a newish computer as the software requires it. Of course, you will need a good camera and a good quality microphone. Are you interested to know more?

Fill in our contact form. Get in touch. It will bring you a step closer to your goal of speaking with confidence. 

My next post is about finding a mentor.

What is your thing

What is your “thing,” the thing that is holding you back from being your creative self when you talk?

A day in the life of a Mentor

For ALL speakers who would like to improve

What is your “thing?”

Long ago I heard the expression: “The first sign of greatness is when a person does not attempt to look or act great.” I can’t remember who said it. It is still the case today. 

In our Western culture we are often “selling ourselves” even from the first greeting. My reaction to this is usually “get over yourself” and that kills off the possibility of a relationship. I always think, “don’t tell me how great you are, I will make up my own mind in this regard.” If this is your way of starting or keeping a conversation going, just know that you are not doing yourself any favours. 

Do yourself a favour and address that thing. Get professional help when you stutter, or your accent is such that people ask you to repeat yourself. You will not shy away of seeing a doctor when you have a medical problem. See it in this light when you try to sort out this hinderance that is keeping you from having a full life. 

If your thing is a lack of confidence, knowledge and opportunity we can work together to help you overcome that problem. We have been where you are. We are willing mentors who can walk with you. 

You get to the stage where you enjoy doing a speech, telling a story, or doing a business presentation! Many people discovered this truth. Then one day, they discovered the angst of speaking in front of other people is gone. I want to be one of those people. 

Of course, there are things that you need to do:

  1. Find a community like ours where you can do at least 2 speeches a month. It can be as short as 2min when you join ABLAZE Community.
  2. We help you with ideas to create your speech.
  3. We guide you on the delivery. 
  4. Then post delivery we do a full speech analysis to help you improve.
  5. When you are with us, you are speaking to us as your ABLAZE friends. 
  6. There is a weekly time commitment involved. You must attend all the sessions. This will accelerate your learning as you will get more opportunities to speak. 
  7. Integrity is important. 

Can you say “yes” to this and overcome your “self-consciousness or that ‘thing’ that is holding you back?” We want to guide you to become successful. We have a variety of mentors who can help you. 

My next post is about the ABLAZE Community.

If you are looking for knowledge and opportunity to speak, contact us at Ablaze: https://ablaze.toastmastersclubs.org/

My video with the title “You’re fired!” It is a tongue in cheek presentation.


Please hear me

Your body language will tell me what your needs are. During my greeting I will notice if you are relaxed and I will make a comment that will add to relaxed atmosphere. I will meet you where you are. 

A day in the life of a Mentor

For ALL speakers who would like to improve

Please hear me

Maya Angelou got it right when she said: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you make them feel.” These are wise words when you meet someone for the first time. 

Learn to take the thorn out of first-time meetings. Over the years I purposefully developed several greetings to make it easy for the other person to remember me. It also serves as an icebreaker and it is telling the listener something about me. 

At an informal occasion, I might use this introduction: “Hello, my name is Magda. My middle name is “speed.” Ha-ha, it is not really my middle name. I love speed when I drive a car or getting things done. That was until I got 3 speeding tickets in 2 months. Strange how valuable the hard lessons in life is. Now I am a bit more careful.” It is usually getting a smile. I can see the other person relax. Then I stay quiet. Give them space to breathe and to think. Usually they come up with something very interesting and it is not uncommon to find a shared interest. 

The Internet is full of websites with many ideas on this topic. One is “70 Ways to Make Others Feel Special.” If you use something mentioned on these websites, make sure you can back it up with your own story. Integrity shows. 

After their introduction if you feel can you proceed you may ask a question. Ask a light probing question e.g. “What is the title of that book you are reading?” “What is the best thing you saw in the newspaper today?”  

Every person feels irritation or pain somewhere. This is your opportunity to see if you can help in some way. Ask “Would you mind if I share my opinion on this?” Once you have their consent, they feel respected and valued. You will be amazed how often this simple step is opening ears and doors. Now the person is willing to listen to you. Your silent plea has been answered. 

Making the other person feeling good is also opening their ears to listen to you. You might be able to give a referral to a third person, or even recommend a dentist or a school.  

Communication is all about being in a relationship. At ABLAZE we cherish our relationships. It is the one thing that is making us different from many other clubs. Please feel free to contact us, as we know how to help you to get your conversations going. 

What is your thing? That thing that is holding you back from contacting us. Or What is your “thing,” the thing that is holding you back from being your creative self when you talk?


Fool of myself

Is your body posture open to entice conversation?  Is the other person ready for a conversation? How do you know? 

A day in the life of a Mentor

For ALL speakers who would like to improve

I don’t want to make a fool of myself

I deeply understand this statement. All humans in most cultures feel this way. It is easy to understand why. If you stand out as different you might be ostracised from your clan or tribe. Break the ice with your greeting.

Your greeting is the first step in communication. It can be in an informal setting, just passing someone in the street. However, passing a colleague at work, that greeting is a bit more complex.  The reason is that greetings are culture and situation-specific. 

The situation and culture will also determine if there is touching and kissing involved. A Google search will clarify the different ways of greeting in different cultures. Often the type of greeting is based on the existing relationship between the parties. We tend to be more formal when we meet new people. This is even true for email communication. Social media, on the other hand, is far more informal even with complete strangers.

A greeting is important as it signals that you acknowledge the existence of another person. A Shamanic healer Greg Drambour said “If you honor them, they will honor you.” It is a simple principle, but it can make a world of difference to start your communication. 

Getting a response, that will depend on you and your body language. I learned something great from a book with the title: There is no such thing as Public Speaking by Jeanette and Roy Henderson. They mention the “full frontal stance.” The meaning of this is facing the other person with your full body turned to them, shoulders relaxed and making eye contact. 

I do have reservations about this statement in the widely different situations we find ourselves in but I do agree if someone is so fully focused on me and what I have to say, it will be much easier than trying to have a conversation with someone who are looking like they are ready to flee. We see the latter often in office corridors where employees race by, not making eye contact etc. 

This is the test… when you greet someone, do they turn to you and make eye contact. A smile with it will encourage to proceed. If not, here is the lesson: don’t waste your time. Move on. If you MUST talk to that person, find a better time and you will have more success.  

The very next thing you do is to help the other person meet their needs. Your first thought is how can I help them in a way that they are going to feel comfortable. 

That is our next topic. It is starting with our silent plea… “please hear me.”

I am too shy!

I am feeling to shy to speak in public. I get anxious. My body is doing all kinds of strange things…

A day in the life of a Mentor

For ALL speakers who would like to improve

I am too shy!

You feel shy to speak up because English is not your first language. It might be because you are unsure of what to say. Or you feel that you don’t like the spotlight. It does not matter what the reason is, in all these instances you are acutely aware of who you are. 

Self-consciousness when speaking is a common problem. Yet as a child learning all kinds of new things and making many mistakes, we did not have this problem. It is only when an adult scolds us for something said or our peers tease us that we become aware of our verbal expressions and how we deliver it. 

There are many ways around this. One way is to set yourself mini goals. If you don’t like talking to strangers, start off with a greeting, finding out what they liked about their day or making a comment on something. You are going to think it is plain nonsense until you do it. Make it a habit. Smile. You might feel like you are faking it in the beginning. It will get better. Your face muscles will go… “Yes! I do have action of “smile at strangers” in my muscle memory.” Smile till that smile is in your eyes. 

I too was self-conscious outside my family and friend circle. Even in my chosen career I experienced angst from time to time. I am an avid reader and I was reading books but that did not help me. Then I joined Toastmasters and I set myself a target to stand and speak in front of groups of people at least 100 times. Even if the “speech” was only 2 minutes, I counted it. It is the high exposure on a regular basis that made the difference. Yet a book with an interesting title helped me to understand my role. That it is to guide and help the audience. The listener can be one or many. A small group of people is an audience. This group can be your colleagues at work or members of your sport club. 

The meaning is that all my focus should be on the person(s) listening. They are my audience. I am only a vehicle for delivery of information, directions or even a joke. The title of the book is “Kama Sutra of Public Speaking by Radislav Gandapas. This book is a pleasure to read and I highly recommend it. I then realised, if I focus on the audience, everything is easier. I even found my spunk. Instead of being self- conscious, I became audience- conscious and that makes all the difference to me. See our tab for the book discussion. 

There is so much we can learn from mentors, books and conversations. In conversation, there is a first step before you even say a word. Do you know that a lot depends on your body posture?  

Is your body posture open to entice conversation?  Is the other person ready for a conversation? How do you know? 

That is what we are going to talk about next time. 



Secret 1. You might already be a paid public speaker.

A day in the life of a Mentor

For ALL speakers who would like to improve


I want to tell you several secrets. The underlying principles of speaking to one person is the same as speaking to many. Find out more…

Secret number 2: You are already a speaker!  From one year onwards you’ve learned the art and mechanics of speaking. You can’t deny it. Some people use their voices, other sign language and other gestures. It is all forms of communication. Let’s concentrate now on people using their voices to communicate. Since you can speak here is the next secret.

Secret number 3: You have been a “public speaker” for years. Do you remember some of your performances to aunties and uncles or to friends of the family? Maybe you presented a poem, a story or a play. You were eager and spontaneous. Afterwards, you felt good. Then slowly others told you that you are not good enough. Yet, it is not taking away from the fact that you have already performed in public and you were a hit!

In your mind, you might be laughing and maybe saying…” yes, but my family had to say I am cute!” You are still uniquely you. You still speak in public. Let’s consider all conversations outside your home as public speaking. The other people understood you, most of the times. At times you laughed and cried. At times you spoke fast and slow. At times your voice quivered and sometimes it went into different ranges because you are so excited to tell the story. Do you agree?

Then suddenly … you heard the term public speaking and now it is sounding sinister because you know there are people out there making a living from public speaking. Now you have a paying audience in mind and suddenly you can’t “do” public speaking. At this stage, you might even think… “I never want to be a public speaker,” meaning a paid speaker on a stage. 

Yet, you are a public speaker, with or without pay. 

Secret number 4: You are a PAID public speaker. If you work for an organisation, irrespective if it is a non-profit or for-profit organisation and speaking at office meetings, to customers etc. is part of your job, then you are a paid speaker. Ha-ha. It is too late now to get the jitters.  You have all the tools in your toolbox. 

How to effectively use those tools in your toolbox is something that you can benefit from. You can learn from books, video’s and blog posts but you still need the practise of delivering a story, speech, technical presentation, toast or keynote in front of an audience. This is where we can help you. 

Fill out our contact form and start the conversation. We have a wide range of mentors to help you to “sharpen” your tools. We look forward to meeting you. 

If in your opinion you feel you are too shy, then the next post is for you. 

How to conduct an argument

An argument is a statement or multiple statements to support another statement or the premise. A statement can be true or false. An argument can be valid or invalid.  If the premise is true, then the conclusion must be true. Remember this? All men are mortal. Socrates is a man. Therefore, Socrates is mortal. We are all human and we have different opinions and we sort it out by entering a verbal discussion, the argument. This is not a war. We are all learning from each other. When it is a heated argument you need conflict resolution. Now let’s start with finding a solution to a problem…

It will be helpful when both parties agree that an argument is to explore the views of each other. Winning should not be the goal. It should be understanding from both parties to find the best solution for the e.g. problem/issue/statement.

Huffington post, (2015) 5 Tips to property argue your point is handy.  To these I will add my notes.

  • Argue the point, not the person. Please view my previous blog posts for more information on this point. 
  • Use data and research as much as you can. Indeed. If you are making a claim, you must prove it, ALWAYS. The intention with background facts is to illuminate the issue. Refrain from saying “you are defensive.” This comment is only showing ignorance. Facts to illustrate or give background information are just that – Facts. The Business Dictionary has a good definition of fact: “Event, item of information, or state of affairs existing, observed, or known to have happened, and which is confirmed or validated to such an extent that it is considered ‘reality.’ See also assumption, rule of thumb, and science.
  • Don’t put words into your opponent’s mouth. Or assume you know what they think, feel etc. You lack the qualifications to analyse the character of the other person. This will not help or forward your argument. As I have reasoned before, it can only harm your integrity. 
  • Don’t go on a tangent. Stay on point irrespective what the other person throws at you. If they don’t hit the target, bring them back to point. If their arrows are intended to hurt you, sidestep it if you can. This is sometimes very hard, I know. 
  • Stay positive, polite, and professional. I agree. 

There are many sleaze-ball ways on the Internet on how to “WIN” an argument. Is that really what you want? I knowledgeable person will look right through these tactics and where is that going to leave you?

Another way to flex your reasoning skills is to invest time to study critical thinking. 

If time is in short supply, learning how to frame your questions will also help to guide you in reaching a solution in an argument. The Internet has many lists of useful questions. If that is not an option remember to ask “How, Why and What.”  Call us today

Screen Shot 2019-09-06 at 10.35.31 PM.png

The “Do your job” philosophy 

No excuse will work if you don’t do your job. No tactic in any book will give you the edge. Do your job, that is your protection.  

This is the issue: Certain work must be delivered in 24-48 hours. One person is constantly not complying.Geographically the parties are on opposite ends of the world. All communication is by email.

A – went to great lengths with this person during onboarding in zoom chats etc explaining what the organisation is all about. 

A – emailed and asked for the work to be delivered.

B – answered by making excuses and trying to deflect by pleading ignorance on where to find the information. Then this person complained about the tone. For A the tone of the email was neural: It was framed like this. Here are facts, please comply. If not possible how can I help you?

Nothing happened and A had to request the same work again, this time referring to the values the organisation. In the mean time A received 3 complaints of other people regarding B’s lack of consideration and respect. 

A – emailed again, this time referring to the breach of values and how it is perceived by the organisation. 

B – responded with more name calling. This person also makes a point to remind A of how “important” they are etc. This reference to status is a bit of a joke. 

Did B address the issue at all. No. In the last email this promise that the outstanding work will be delivered but the 3 people are still waiting. 

This is so typical in business. In my opinion we don’t have to massage the “egos” of colleagues. “Do your work”, I often want to cry out. That is the bare minimum required from you!

It is not that the rules of the “game/work” were unknown. Every person in the organisations are aware of the “game plan” as they agreed to it verbally at the induction ceremony. Each person knew exactly what is at stake as the common and personal goal. The personal goal is set by each person. The person is failing in fundamentals and refuse to deliver. This person also failed to create trust and confidence. 

Yes, niceties are great but not when one person refuse to do what he/she is supposed to do. Then it is time to remember the Brene Brown Quote in Dare to Lead on page 41: There’s probably not a single act at work that requires more vulnerability than holding people responsible for ethics and values, especially when your’re alone in it or there’s a lot of money, power, or influence at stake. People will put you down, question your intentions, hate you, and sometimes try to discredit you in the process of protecting themselves.” 

My solution? Keep the goal and the reason for the communication in mind. Your point is valid. Show the other person where you can that they are missing the point. Only if these people are important to you. Learn how to use your words in such a way that people listen to you. 

Get in touch with us today. Please leave your comment below.

Refute a statement or premise of an argument

To refute a statement, one must prove that it is wrong by producing evidence. These are the synonyms for the word “refute:” disprove, prove wrong/false, rebut, confute, debunk, discredit, and invalidate (to name a few.) “You are wrong because…”


There are two ways in which this can happen. One is to refute not the main argument but something else. For example, there could be a problem with the logic as it could be based on a bias. Or there might be other definitions with a broader meaning. Or you can show that the research was based on a small group say only 10 people and can’t be used as fact.

The other way is when you refute the central point of the argument. This is often easier said than done. Often in a situation where parties disagree tempers can rise, and they say things that they later regret. For this reason, it is better to learn how to do it in a friendly atmosphere where you can test your effectiveness. ABLAZE Advanced Online Toastmasters is the place to be. Get in touch with us today.

How you use your right to refute can make or break not only your career but also your integrity and creditability. Always be the “good person.” Be courteous. There is no need to raise your voice, your language must always be appropriate to the audience. Stay respectful, irrespective of the conduct of the other person. 

Use four simple steps to refute.

  1. Restate word for word what bit of the argument you want to refute. They say it must be so accurate that you can put what was said, into quotation marks. To keep things neutral don’t refer to the second person “you,” as it is too confrontational. Rather use the name of the person. Here is an example of a statement (premise): Employees work only 40 hours per week.
  2. Refute. A simple way is to after the above statement is to say, “but I disagree.” Keep your sentences simple. For example, speaker one said, “Employees work only 40 hours per week,” but I disagree. Internet work done at home raise the bar to 60 hours per week.”
  3. The next step is for you to prove your statement with reasoning and evidence. This is your “because clause” Because these are the statistics on hours, burn out figures of employees etc. 
  4. The last step is to conclude. An easy way is to start your sentence with therefore.  Therefore, employees who work 60 hours per week at work or home will not be able to work on their wellbeing and that is to the detriment of the employer.”

Aaah you say, this is like a debate. Yes, it is. Is most sharing of ideas not a debate? Some participants truly strive for a solution. Others? They use the negative techniques to reflect the attention away from the issue/problem/statement.

With the information in this series, you can distinguish what is going on an choose the correct response. Contact us today and we will help you to find your voice and your path in communication.  More people will consider your opinions when you know how to express yourself with clarity and compassion.

Get in touch with us today. Please leave your comment below.