Serependity [Meeting Report of 2023-02-28 ]

“Serendipity. Look for something, find something else, and realize that what you’ve found is more suited to your needs than what you thought you were looking for”, Lawrence Block.
We had the pleasure to welcome six guest at our in-person meeting. We got to know Sohil, who has participated in the John Deere Club already, the Russian couple Tanja and Ilia who were here for the first time, Marc from Mannheim and Pio who has attended two online sessions. Lena came to her third in-person session.

Poorana led as Toastmaster through the evening and thoroughly explained the structure of the agenda. Sybille gave the word of the day: copacetic – very satisfactory, fine, ok. Example: I was worried the concert was going to go badly, but John assured me everything was totally copacetic. The word was used three times.

Nadine as TT Master explained the TT rules and gave questions with reference to the theme serendipity:

1. Are you a lucky person or haunted by misfortune? Oliver tells us a personal story about his struggle to be self-employed.

2. A woman turns to you and tell you you have some toilet paper on your shoes. How do you change the situation?
Pio referred to the toilet paper shortage during the pandemic and manages to invite the women for coffee.

3. Share with us a story from the past when you felt so lucky. Tanja gave us a personal story when someone brought back the phone she had lost.

4. It is your Wedding Day and you can’t find the rings. What do you do? Marc had many ideas to make up for the loss. In fact, he had just proposed to his girlfriend and she said yes.

5. What is your biggest lesson about luck and to be lucky in your life.
Lena shared with us how she experienced serenpidity twice when she came to Germany without knowing the language.

Quote from Laura Lippman:
“There is a serendipity to real life that the internet cannot duplicate. Do you use the library? For anything? Well, sometimes you end up picking up the book next to the one you were looking for, and that’s the book that changes your life.”

We had one prepared speech by Gabi. It is a non-manual speech. The idea is to give her the opportunity to practice a speech she has to deliver as head of the parents’ association of her daughter’s school. As an exception she spoke in German. The title of her speech was: “Geschafft” – und jedem Anfang wohnt ein Zauber inne.
Her speech was evaluated by Sybille. The intro was catching with rhetorical devices like repetition. The voice was clear, pauses good. However, she might work on the structure and focus more on the time when the young people prepared their A-levels and include the challenges during the pandemic.

We only voted for the best TT speaker. The award went to Lena.

“Sometimes serendipity is just intention unmasked.” ~ Elizabeth Berg

(Thanks to Sybille  for this fine  recap!)

Our next meeting is on the 14th of March and is online.  Please  join us!

Best Toastmaster wishes, Jeff

Mannheim Int. Toastmasters

Love [Meeting Report of 2023-02-14]

We were happy to welcome Sharon, Brian, Johannes, Pio, Turin and Bianca at our meeting on Valentine’s Day – a great occasion to think share thoughts and ideas about our topic love.

Paulo Coelho: “Life is short. Kiss slowly, laugh insanely, love truly and forgive quickly.”

Sybille our TM of the evening introduced the theme with background information on St. Valentine. There are various stories. One dates back to the year 270 CE when Roman emperor Claudius II outlawed marriage for young men to get better soldiers. But bishop Valentine continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret (and was beheaded for his efforts).

In the warm-up phase Sybille gave the word of the day: adulate which means admire. Example sentences: Most critics adulated Leigh’s work. Or: Honors were showered at him and he was adulated everywhere he went. The word was used four times in the course of the evening.

She also gave the joke:
A wife asks her husband: “How would you describe me?” Her husband replies: “A B C D E F G H I J K.”The wife asked confused: “What does that mean?Husband replied: “Adorable, beautiful, cute, elegant, fashionable, gorgeous and hot”.Wife reacted: “Wow, thank you. And what about IJK?”“I am just kidding.”

Gabi explained the rules of the table topics session and informed about the timings. Our guest Bianca spontaneously took over the timer role and did a really good job.

Table topics questions:
1. If you were to change something about Valentine’s day, what would it be?
Alexya talked about the commercial side of Valentine’s day, which she does not like.

2. Would you rather kiss 100 frogs to find out your dream partner or forget the frogs and run the risk of not finding the right partner?
Pio dealt very well with this difficult question and explained his trust in God to find the right person,

3. What is the most romantic thing you have ever done?
Johannes organized a big event for over 100 people to impress the love of his life.

4. If you were to design a dating site what would it be like?
Oliver explained technical issue of this site focusing on the ability to pres-elect.

Quote by Daila Lama:
“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive.”

The second part of the meeting consisted of two prepared speeches. Gabi worked as an outdoor guide in the past. In her speech with the title “well planned and organized is half the summit” she tells the audience about her personal experience as an outdoor guide and points out the most important criteria to plan a hiking trip so that everybody feels well at the end of the day.
Her speech was evaluated by Poorana. He liked the power of her voice the comfort she has when speaking. He advised her to work on a clearer structure to get a better impact of her speech.

Jeff shared with the audience his experience running Bonding Groups in his center in the German countryside. After describing the elements of their setting, he talked about the special format for 3,4, and 5 residential bonding workshops. The title of his speech was “Have you ever had a dream?”
Oliver evaluated his speech. As this was a trial run for the a professional presentation that Jeff will be giving soon. Oliver gave some tips about the content and the structure of the speech.

As General Evaluator Jeff praised the participation of the guests and especially the timer who jumped in spontaneously. In the award session the best Table Topic award went to Alexya. Best Evaluator was Oliver. The best Speaker of the evening was Gabi.

Antoine de Saint-Exupery: “True love begins when nothing is looked for in return.”

(many thanks to Sybille for this recap!)

Join us on the 28th of February for our next in-person meeting.

Best Toastmaster wishes,


Success: What does success mean to you? [Meeting Report of 2023-01-10 ]

What a pleasure to welcome 9 guests at our online and first meeting of 2023. We welcomed Bianca, Caroline, Frauke from Cologne, Suphwadee from Thailand, Alisa, Serena, Aldo from Chile, Zaki from Egypt and Jeri. What an international group – this is the Toastmaster spirit.

Jeff, our Toastmaster of the evening, started off with a quote by Woody Allen: “80% of success is just showing up.” Let’s go for the other 20%, he said. Poorana’s word of the day: to pull off – in the sense succeeding in achieving something difficult, ex.  I’m sure you will pull off the competion, was well used in the course of the evening.
Sybille’s joke showed a special view on success:

A businessman was talking with his barber, when they both noticed a goofy-looking fellow bouncing down the sidewalk. The barber whispered, “That’s Tommy, one of the stupidest kids you’ll ever meet. Here, I’ll show you.”

“Hey Tommy! Come here!” yelled the barber. Tommy came bouncing over “Hi Mr. Williams!” The barber pulled out a rusty dime and a shiny quarter and told Tommy he could keep the one of his choice. Tommy looked long and hard at the dime and quarter and then quickly snapped the dime from the barber’s hand. The barber looked at the businessman and said, “See, I told you.”

After his haircut, the businessman caught up with Tommy and asked him why he chose the dime.

Tommy looked at him in the eye and said, “If I take the quarter, the game is over.”

 Oliver gave us a thought referring to Booker T. Washington, an American Educator, who fought against slavery and racism.
“I have learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed.”
― Booker T. Washington, Up From Slavery: An Autobiography

Nadine led us through the table topics session with 5 questions on success:
1. What is your personal view on success? Caroline pointed out that success means something different to everybody. For her it is to live a good life and to be content.
2. What was your personal biggest success in 2022? Frauke mentioned that professionally the year was challenging but she found a hobby to distract her which is knitting and she likes it.
3. What success was really important to you in 2022? Alisa openly spoke about her shyness and how she could overcome this when she met new people in a pub crawl last year.
4. Share with us a success story of a friend or family member which inspired you. Serena described how a colleague has become a role model for her.
5. What would make 2023 a successful year for you? Aldo shared with us how much he wishes to delegate his work.

Quote on success by Oprah Winfrey: Doing the best at this moment puts you in the best place for the next moment.We had two prepared speeches. Gabi did the second speech of her path presentation mastery. She informed about the gardening project she belongs to and how she regularily receives her own veggies without gardening herself. Her speech was evaluated by JP. He praised her confidence in speaking. He would have like to have a clearer structure and more background information on the project.
The second speech project was delivered by Poorana. In his speech titled “From No Job to Yes Job” he shared a personal story how a mentor has significantly contributed to his life and why everyone needs a mentor. His evaluator Sybille was fascinated by the professional use of rethorical devices (repetitions etc) and his use of vocal variety.

The General Evaluator Oliver informed about the area contest end of February and asked the members to let him know if they are interested.
The awards were given to: Caroline as best Table Topic speaker, JP as best Evaluator and Poorana as best speaker of the evening.

Hope you enjoyed the recap (thank you Sybille for this great recap!).  Join us on the 24th of January for next (in-person) meeting.

Best Toastmaster wishes, Jeff

Mannheim Int. Toastmasters

Here a photo of the meeting:

White Elephant gift exchange [Meeting Report of 2022-12-13]

For many years our club has had a tradition of doing a “white elephant gift exchange” at our last meeting of the year. This celebrates the season and is a fun way to give and get from each other. This gift exchange is a chance to get rid of something you don’t want any more. You might say: one person’s junk is another person’s treasure.
Poorana introduced the white elephant tradition to our guests Chris (from TM Heidelberg), Altun, Simon and Lena who participated for the first time in a Toastmasters meeting.  He introduced the team of the evening: Chris jumped in as Grammarian, Gabi took the important timer role and Katharina functioned as General Evaluator.
The word of the evening was kismet – destiny or fate. Example: “Let your kismet decide what gift you will get this evening.”

The table topics session was based on the white elephant gifts. Once the members get their gift they have 1 to 2 minutes to tell what is so special, great, fantastic about the gift.

  • Oliver received a big paper sun. He described how important it is to have the sun in the dark season of the year.
  • Chris picked a thermal cup. She uses it as a reminded to drink more and elaborated about health issues.
  • Lena received a gift in a bright orange color, usage unclear. She saw in it a perfect match to many things and was very enthusiastic about the gift.
  • Gabi got a piggy bank in the shape of a washing machine. For her a perfect reminder to save money when washing.
  • Simon received a gadget with three ugly dwarfs. He seemed to be happy about new flat mates.
  • Katharina received her own gift back. It is kismet she cannot get rid of it but she will try again next year.

We had two prepared speeches.
Nadine did her Icebreaker with the title “A year without alcohol”. She explained her motivation to refrain from alcohol and described her experiences. Her speech was evaluated by Oliver who praised the speaking skills she showed already in her first speech.
Shruti did her second speech in the path Presentation Mastery. Focus of her speech was body language and vocal variety. In her speech, “my experiences in Germany”, she gave us personal stories about public transportation and hospitals and compared these to her life in India. Sybille evaluated her speech and suggested a more catchy title to the speech and to check the unintended body movement which made it a bit hectic.

The GE Katharina rounded off the meeting with her evaluation of all roles. All in all an enjoyable and inspiring evening according to our guests.

The awards went to Katharina for the best Table Topic Speech. Nadine was the best speaker of the evening. There was a draw between to two evaluators Sybille and Oliver.

Thanks to Sybille for this great recap!

Have a peaceful and fulfilling holiday season, best wishes, 

Jeff, Mannheim Int. Toastmasters

Remember: The next meeting will be on January 10, 2023 – Online!

Here is a photo of the group this evening:

Farewell and new beginnings [Meeting Report of 2022-11-22]

“Do not wait until the conditions are perfect to begin. Beginning makes the conditions perfect.”  Alan Cohen

As Presiding Officerour VP-Ed. Oliver welcomed everyone, and especially our two guests; Caroline, who has visited the club once in-person, and Hadi, who is a newcomer to Toastmasters. Both live presently in or near Mannheim.

I had the pleasure to be the Toastmaster of the Evening, and as such I had the support of the following roles: Gabi gave the word of the day (“invigorating”), as well as an quote fitting to the them of new beginnings as the Thought of the Day;  Uli jumped in spontaneously to do the Timer job (well done!); Oliver gave a funny story for the Joke; Nadine was grammarian, and Poorana took the role of General Evaluator.

Oliver also brought some great and challenging questions for Table Topics.

  • Nadine talked about “starting a new chapter in her life”  She movingly told how she left a steady and safe job to follow her heart, a move she never regretted.
  • Gabi took the question: “which chapter in you life would like to close.”  She shared with us the different work fields she had learned which took her afar in the world, and how she landed back at an older occupation that suits her today.
  • Caroline took the challenge and talked about “when it was time to say farewell for her own good.” She shared a very personal and moving story about having to take distance from a close family member, and how this was the best for her and the family.
  • JP talked about “a life chapter that was closed, which he only later realized”.  He talked about his moving from the great city of Mannheim to the smaller and more peaceful town of Walldorf. There are always trade-offs in changes we make.

Nadine was voted best Table Topics Speaker. Congrats, Nadine!

We had two prepared speeches.  Shruthi gave her Ice-Breaker with the title:  Life is not what it is, but how you take it . He Evaluator JP praised her storytelling, and gave some concrete tips on improving, i.e., making sure she is easily seen by getting better lighting.The second speaker was Alexya who was working on the project: Visionary Communication #3-1 – Develop a Communication Plan.  I gave Alexya the evaluation, underlying the strength of her message that both content and form are important in communication.  The title of her speech said it all: Plan your work and work your plan.
Poorana led us through the evaluation part of the meeting and gave everyone who didn’t have one an evaluation.  As he said, the meeting went smoothly and was a again a fun learning time together.

Hope you enjoyed this recap.  Join us on the 13th of December for our last (in-person) meeting of the year.

Best Toastmaster wishes, Jeff

Mannheim Int. Toastmasters

Here a photo of the meeting: