Creativity [Meeting Report of 2022-07-13]

The meeting theme was: creativity.

It was such an enjoyable evening.  We had both returning guests and new ones. Yuni, Armin and Gabi were “repeat offenders”; Shruthi, Natheer and Fursey were with us for the first time.  Yuni joined us from Singapore and Fursey from China. The meeting ended at 3 AM in their time zone, so we have decided to award them both a virtual medal for Toastmaster engagement above and beyond the call of duty 😉.  Highlight of the evening was Fursey’s speech, but more about that later.

Poorana opened the meeting as Presiding Officer with a warm greeting to all.  The guests introduced themselves to the group and Poorana gave the screen to JP, our Toastmaster of the Evening. He led us smoothly through the warm-up and prepared speech part of the meeting.  He also added wise quotes on the theme of creativity interspersed with the various agenda points:

Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere. ~Albert Einstein”

Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep. ~Scott Adams” Dilbert Comics

“Others have seen what is and asked why. I have seen what could be and asked why not.
Pablo Picasso”

And he ended his  part of the meeting with this quote:

It’s more fun to be a pirate than to join the Navy. ~Steve Jobs”

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Kala led the Table Topics with questions about our opinions and experiences regarding creativity.  Our guests Shruthi and Armin took the challenge, as well as club members Uli and Florian.  We learned something from each speaker about their values and life stories.  Best TTs speakers were our guests Shruthi and Armin.

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Our sole speaker tonight was Fursey Gotuaco.  Fursey is a Chinese-American living in China and working as a principal in a school in a large city. As his introduction for his speech says: Fursey has been a life long teacher for over 30 years and has a unique perspective of how to we mentor the people who come into our lives. This year is the second time that he has qualified for the semi-finals of the Toastmasters International Speech Contest, and we had the honor of letting him practice one of his two contest speeches tonight.

The title of Fursey’s speech was: Message in a Bottle. In the speech, Fursey shared with us his journey from being a teacher who tried to implant his knowledge into his students to one who learned from his students, and especially one who learned to listen. His delivery was professional, lively, human, and I think that he touched us all with his message: your students don’t care what you know if they don’t know that you care.

I had the honor (and challenge) to be Fursey’s evaluator, and JP, Poorana and our guest Shruthi also gave verbal feedback. We were all of the opinion that this speech is a world class speech. Areas of possible improvement were using more pauses and change of pace in the first part of the speech, maybe leaving out a superfluous comment, etc. 

I feel it was an inspiration for all present to experience Fursey’s presentation.  It definitely fit in with the them of creativity to see Fursey fine-tuning an already great speech to make it an extraordinary one.

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Oliver led us through the last part of the meeting as General Evaluator. Yuni gave an impressive report as Grammarian, using screen-sharing to show who used especially good or interesting forms of English. As Ah Counter, Uli was exact in her helpful feedback.

Before closing, Poorana asked our guests how they enjoyed the meeting. We were especially happy to hear from the guests that they not only enjoyed the meeting, but that they valued the warm, supportive and accepting climate in the club.

Please join us for our next meeting on the 26th if July.

Best wishes, Jeff

Mannheim Int. Toastmasters

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Here is a photo of the evening:

Good Leadership [Meeting Report of 2022-06-28]

We were glad to have Poorana back after he has been traveling and couldn’t attend several meetings. It was his last meeting as club President after 18 months in this role, and at the end of the evening he thanked all the club officers for their loyal service.  And thank you, Poorana, for your service!

We again were happy to have guests.  Gaby and Alexya were return guests, and Alexya has now joined the club (she’s glad not to have to introduce herself every time she attends 😉).  Alexya is an experienced Toastmaster, and in the spirit of Toastmasters she was willing to jump in tonight to give Ksenija a helpful evaluation. Yuni is a Toastmaster living in Singapore.  Originally from Indonesia, she joined us for the first time. She is obviously a dedicated Toastmaster, since when she joined the meeting it was 3 AM in Singapore! She did a great job as Ah-Counter.  We also welcomed back Christiane from the Rhetorik Club Heidelberg.

I had the honor to be Toastmaster of the Evening. During the evening I offered some fitting quotes regarding “good leadership”, e.g, this bit of wisdom from the great country singer Dolly Parton:
“If your actions create a legacy that inspires others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, then, you are an excellent leader.”

Poorana gave the word of the day: spearhead, meaning to lead. It can be both a verb and a noun.

I offered the joke of the evening with the following one liner from the American comic Groucho Marx.

“Only one man in a thousand is a leader of men — the other 999 follow women.”

Poorana spearheaded then next item on the agenda as Table Topics Master.

  • He asked Kala who her favorite leader was and why; she spoke of Gandhi.
  • Alexa talked about “what is the most important quality in a leader?” She spoke of her admiration for Michelle Obama and how her uniqueness inspires.
  • The next question was: “do you need a title to be a good leader?”. Our guest Gaby jumped in with her convictions that personality is most important in a leader.
  • I was asked to give my take  on the statement: ” a ruler should be slow to punish and swift to reward”. I talked about what I think a good parent should do to support and help kids.

Our first speaker was Florian who finished his Level  1 of the Presentation Mastery tonight with a well delivered speech on “How to overcome the pluralistic ignorance effect in order to maximize your chances of receiving help from bystanders in an emergency.” His Evaluator Oliver underlined how much Florian has improved in his (relatively) short time in the club.

Ksenija was our second speaker. Her project: Dynamic Leadership #4-6 – Manage Online Meetings. She gave an inspiring 25 minute webinar on 7 Tips on driving your own development. Her Evaluator Alexya praised Ksenija’s warm presence and professional development of this important theme. Among other things she suggested that Ksenija consider using less text and more images on her slides.

JP as General Evaluator did his usual great job leading the evaluations part of the meeting.

After hearing from our guests, Poorana closed the meeting with announcing the awards:

Best TTs: Jeff / Best Evaluator: Oliver / and Best speech: Ksenija.

And here is one last quote on leadership:

If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.”
― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Best wishes for now and hope to see many of you at our next meeting on July 12th.

Jeff, Mannheim Int. Toastmasters.

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Here is a photo of the meeting:

The joys of summer [Meeting Report of 2022-06-14]

“And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.”
― F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

Oliver acting as presiding officer welcomed our guests Gabi, joining in the first time, as well as returning guests Lei, Alexya and Mike Greer. Before the meeting started some club business needed to be done. The new officers’ team was voted in by the members:
– Sybille as President
– Ksenija as Secretary
– Oliver as VP Education
– Jeff as VP Public Relations
– JP will remain our treasurer

A dedicated VP Membership and a Sergeant at Arms still need to be found…..any volunteers? Working with the club officer team is a great and fun experience, and is perfect for developing leadership skills.
Sybille, the toastmaster of the evening, introduced the theme with a personal story and lead into the evening with a quote by Walt Whitman, American journalist and writer: “Keep your face always towards the sunshine – and shadows will fall behind you.” For the new comers she briefly explained the structure of the evening.

The word of the day breeze,proposed by Ksenija, was well used in the course of the evening in all its various meanings.
Jeff gave us a joke about a priest and a rabbi taking a swim and Lei made us think about the productivity of preparations.

Oliver’s table topic questions were in line with the theme:

1. Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability. What is your idea of activities in Summer?
    Kala likes to sleep in the afternoon but does lots of activities later like hiking.
2. When the sun is shining, I can do anything. Tell us about it.
    Alexja loves winter, summer is not the right season for her. She likes to spend her time in the lab.
3. I wonder what life would be when there was always June. Mike is enthusiastic about his time in Texas, the sunshine state. He got addicted to heat and sun.
4. Everything magic happens between the months of June and August. Gabi refers to the holiday season as the best time of the year.
5. What makes you feel really cosy in summer? Lei refers to the barbecue Mannheim Toastmasters had at Sybille’s place and gave details of activities done there.

Sybille ended the first session of the evening with a quote by John Lubbock, British scientist, “Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass on a summer day listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is hardly a waste of time.”

Florian delivered the prepared speech of the evening. He learned to appreciate clean air, fresh water and safety when he lived in Santiago de Chile for a long time. He shared with us how he realized that often simple things are so fundamental to the improvement of the quality of life.

His excellent speech was evaluated by JP. There was hardly anything to improve. A few comments to improve vocal variety should help for next time.

The General Evaluator Jeff asked for the reports of timer, Ah-counter and grammarian. Craig gave a very detailed and again entertaining report of the use of the English language, a really outstanding contribution with lots of benefits for everyone. Jeff encouraged members to take up roles of the evening like toastmaster.

The evening went smoothly and had a good flow. The award for the best table topic speech went to Mike.

Final quote by Nandina Morris, and Australian teacher: “Don’t let the shadows of yesterday spoil the sunshine of tomorrow. Live for today.”

(Thanks to Sybille, our Club Secretary and soon to be President, for this great recap.)

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Best wishes for now and hope to see many of you at our next meeting on June 28th.

Jeff, Mannheim Int. Toastmasters.

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Here is a photo of the meeting:

The joy of giving [Meeting Report of 2022-05-24]

As the presiding officer, Oliver greeted all of us, and especially our new guest Alexya. Alexya is from India, but is now living in Mannheim and working on her doctorate. She is an experienced Toastmaster and was immediately willing to jump in as Evaluator for Kala’s speech project. I think that a part of the excitement of a Toastmaster meeting is that you never know when you will be called on to serve and hopefully experience the joy of giving first hand. Thanks to Alexya for helping out!

Oliver was also our Toastmaster of the Evening, and he led us smoothly through the agenda, bridging agenda points with lovely quotes on the evenings theme. As everyone attending was an experienced Toastmaster, Oliver started directly into the program. 

Florian told a really funny story about Sherlock Holmes and his side kick Watson and their missing tent.

I brought in a Thought of the Evening with a true story of a friend of mine who, despite her own chronic pain, experiences meaning through serving others, adding the following quote:

Remember that the happiest people are not those getting more, but those giving more. H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

JP led the Table Topics session, giving the following questions, all relating to the theme of the evening:

  • Oliver was asked to share his  wisdom about the positives in giving.
  • Alexya was asked to talk about which gift that she has received gave her the greatest joy.
  • Kala was asked about what she would wish for if given three wishes.
  • And I was asked about what I would definitely take with me if I was stranded on an island.

I think that we all found it fun and uplifting to be able to talk about such  positive experiences.

We had two prepared speeches tonight.  Kala finished Level  1 of the Presentation Mastery Path with a well delivered speech on how important the soil is for our world. Her evaluator was Alexya, who pointed out how effectively Kala used her background picture and even her tee-shirt with the title of her speech printed on it: Save Soil.  Congratulations Kala on finishing Level 1 with this passionate call to action!

The second speaker was Craig, who did Project 1 of the 5th Level, also in the Presentation Mastery Path. This was a longer speech (18 to 22 min.). I was Craig’s evaluator and I had high praise for Craig’s professional stage presence and use of voice, gestures and dramatic story-telling to keep the audience glued to their screens.

JP was also our General Evaluator.  He commented on how well everyone did their jobs, some of them on short notice, to help us have a flowing and exciting evening. He specially thanked Alexya again for spontaneously agreeing to  be an evaluator tonight; and Florian, who took on three roles tonight (Joke, Ah-counter and Timer!) Great work Florian.

Our next meeting will be in three weeks, on June 14th.  Till then, best Toastmaster greetings from me,

Jeff


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Motivation [Meeting Report of 2022-05-10]

“Of course I struggle, I just don’t quit.”

Poorana, our presiding officer welcomed Joana, our guest from Sweden who volunteered to evaluate Craig’s special project of this evening, a panel discussion. The toastmaster of the evening JP informed about the recognition medals which can be achieved for various programs (finishing a path, leadership program). With various quotations he referred to the theme of the evening: “People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that is why we recommend it daily.” – Zig Ziglar, American author, salesman and motivational speaker.

The word of the evening is “tenacity” – stick to something even when it is difficult. The word was used several times in the evening. Jeff referred to Ralf Smedley, the founder of Toastmasters, for the thought of the evening. He focused on the importance of evaluation to foster enthusiasm in TM clubs. Florian gave us a nice joke with a surprising twist in the punch line.

Poorana led through the table topics session:
1. Tell us why Schnitzel is your most favourite dish. Kevin told a nice story about his childhood.
2. Which of the two cities is a cool city – Mannheim or Ludwigshafen. Uli reported about the negative things in Ludwigshafen pretending she loves them. This irony made the story exceptional and enjoyable.
3. Tell us why afternoon naps should be made compulsory at work. Joana referred to the many advantages power naps have and gave Spain as example. Naps are needed there as a protection from the heat.
4. What is the one thing you really hate in Germany. For Florian this is carnival. In Bayrisch Baden this festival is extensively celebrated and he does not like it.

Another motivational quote: Steve Jobbs – “Time is limited. Don’t waste it to live someone else’s life”.

This evening Craig led through a panel discussion with the title “Social Media Addiction & Mental Health – the 21th century stressor.
This project is part of this path presentation mastery level 5-4 – Moderate a Panel Discussion. His panelists are JP from generation Y, Ksenia from generation X, Kevin from generation C and Florian from the millennium generation. Jeff represented the (pre) baby-boomers.
Craig asked the panelists various questions, included everyone and stuck to the time limit of 45 minutes. Examples of questions:
– What is your No. 1 goal of using social media?
– Which activities on social media foster good mental health?
– How can social media have a negative impact?
– How hard would it be for you to face a hiatus of social media for several months?

The panel discussion was evaluated by Joana. She praised the choice of panelist and the way Craig involved everyone. She missed a predefined goal of the discussion and a summary of the findings in the end.

The general evaluator Sybille, asked for the reports of grammarian Oliver and Ah-counter Uli. She gave feedback to the TT speakers who all did a good job delivering well structured speeches. In the table topics session she missed the link to the theme. Joana’s evaluation was excellent covering all the points the GM has found. All in all an exceptional meeting, very demanding and entertaining thanks to Craig’s project.

In the awards session the best Table topic award was given to Uli.

Final motivational quote: Confucius – “It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.”

(Thanks to Sybille for this great re-cap!)

Join us for our next meeting on May 24th.  Till then, best Toastmaster greetings from me,

Jeff


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