Off the couch into the Club – get a free coffee and travelling advice! (Meeting Report of June 25th)

By invitation of outgoing Vice President Membership JP on the last Tuesday in June many couch surfers visited us. René as President welcomed themand many Toastmasters and gave an overview of the Toastmasters concept.

Then it was time for Katharina to take over the leading part as Toastmaster of the evening. Well structured and confident she designed the whole meeting and first asked JP to come on stage. He suggested “cadenza” as word of the day. The noun has two meanings. Originally it is a musical term and describes a sequence of notes or chords comprising the close of a musical phrase. Furthermore it can mean the modulation or inflection of the voice. As a joke of the evening Pradeep reported the fascinating effect of elephant milk on the growth of infants. 20 pounds per week takes an infant to gain weight when lined with elephant milk. At least if it is a baby elephant.

Guenter took on a double role. First he quoted Nelson Mandela in the Word of the Day: “Courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall. “. He then as Table Topic Master challenged the members to use their creativity. From a selection of books he read a brief beginning of a chapter and then asked to continue the story.

Rolf first reported on his incredible experience in Florence. A bolting elephant jumped into the River Arno and kept him away from visiting the Uffizi. After the fright he rather ate a large portion of pasta. The next Table Topic Speaker was JP who had serious trouble. As a good looking man visiting the town of Perugia all women were after him. So the only solution to get rid of all the ladies whas to put on a black cowl. From that on he was known as the black ghost of Perugia. Then it was Perrine’s turn. She told the story of herself and her friend Rosemary. Because of their great passion for languages they kept on learning one language after the other. Concentrating on Hindi they did not want any kind of distraction and avoided all cultural acivity. Last but not least, MartinE told the story of a 2nd son who was supposed to become a medical doctor. Since he had not any talent for this profession he rather wanted to become a piano player.

Excellently prepared Katharina introduced the prepared speeches after the break. Julia had worked on the project „Organise your speech“. As she likes to be abroad she talked about different ways of travelling. Highly she recommended to visit friends who live in other countries and to stay with them for a while. Doing that she discovers the different lifestyle of a foreign culture and reflects on her own life – „The traveller sees what he sees, the tourist sees what he has come to see.“. Being her evaluator Vivian was glad that Julia fully met the requirements of the project by structuring the presentation precisely. She encouraged her to avoid the use of notes because that would make the speech more fluent. By the personal experience and her opinion Julia convinced the audience.

„Random Acts of Love and Kindness“ was the title of MartinS’ speech. He called on everyone to make the world better with little efforts. Explaining this with three little stories his message became clear. Whether it is a man who plants a tree for the next generations, a clerk in a sports shop who allows a little boy a 60$ disount so he can buy the desired baseball gloves or a man who gives his icecream to a crying child – real beauty is something generated in your heart. From time to time Martin himself pays for an extra cinema ticket or an extra coffee for the next person showing up there even if he doesn’t know him or her. Unfortunately Martin didn’t tell where his favourite place for coffee is located . . . Evaluating the speech Awais stressed out the good resarch and the use of anecdotes. Improvemts could have been made with more voice variation. After all with arousing emotions Martin inspired everyone.

Starting the manual „Storytelling“ Alexander presented a folk tale from his home country. A hermit from the mountains came for a confession to the priest. The unmarried man didn’t know his age, had never been to church and committed intercourse with some woman. But he was worried to trample down aunts and bees on the ground so he wore tinker bells at his feet to warn the insects. So is this man really a sinner? May be he knows better. Jeff evalutated the speech and appreciated the development of the characters and the design of the setting. He suggested to reduce the role play and the movements on stage a bit. Doing that the audience could concentrate on the story itself. Alexander impressed with a tale full of wisdom and tension.

Our general evaluator Ombretta commented on the whole meeting, praised Pradeep (timekeeper) and Viktor (ah counter) but wasn’t satisfied with the grammarian (MartinE).

That night the Toastmasters year ended. President of Mannheim International Toastmasters in 2012/2013 René Fritsch handed over to his successor Martin Sturm who will lead the club during the next twelve month. A very warm thank-you to René and his team for leading the club successfully!

pictures: Bernhard Pixler/,,

Observing the time-limit – a case of randomness?

Our new room was a great place to spend the first Toastmasters evening in 2013. Many people  took part – Club members, Toastmasters and guests who wanted to get to know us. Vice President of Membership and Toastmaster of the evening JP led through the agenda in superior style. First it was Ravindra who presented the word of the day – “to exacerbate” means to make something worse, espcially a disease or a problem. Different kinds of sports are already at the Olympic Games, some new kinds will certainly be there in future. In the joke of the evening René explainded that one activity will never be there — sunbathing, because the best thing you can achieve is bronze. Hye-Jin suggested to do something risky. “To love is to risk not being loved in return. To hope is to risk pain. To try is to risk failure. But risks must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.” (Felice Leonardo Buscaglia), the thought of the day.

Being the Table Topic Master Guenter referred by to the new year. Again Hye-Jin came up front and talked about a special tradition in her home country. As a child she visited her grandparents at New Year’s Eve and got money as a present. And because South Koreans celebrate New Year twice a year, she hoped to be rewarded twice. Jeff explained the changes that will effect him in 2013 and said that he planned to hand over some of the duties in his professional live to a successor. Looking back at 2012 Ravi was happy to have become a team manager and to get the chance to qualify for even more demanding tasks at work. Many of us know the popular TV show “Dinner for One”. It was René who revealed the secret of Ms Sophie’s old friend Sir Toby who always is part of the round on Dec 31st.

The evening went on with Lale’s Ice breaker. As a professional coach still today she benefits from her experiences as a child – living in several countries, being always the “new kid on the block” and learning to be patient. Hope encouraged us that happiness is something that everyone already has. So do not try to become a kind of black hole and draw as much attention as you can but rather discover that you are already a light. Then Alexander gave an insight of his work to us. By showing several examples he appealed: “Do not try to predict unexpected things“. No wonder that he was able to portray the topic interesting, he is a statistician. Talking about the secret inside the Baobab tree MartinE closed the session of prepared speeches.

Perrine, Jeff, Veysi and MartinS were the evaluators and commented encouraging and precisely on the presentations. Though he did an accurate job as the timekeeper Christian had to remind many speakers to pay attention to the time frame. And right he is – only one prepared speech and one evaluations were within the limit. Rolf was our general evaluator; “We are here to develop and deliver speeches” he summed up the evening.

Ah stop – I forgot something very important. That night we gained three new members. They joined to learn to present better speeches, to improve the ability to chair workshops and even to find inspiration! I’m sure you will – a warm welcome to Heike, Chiafieh and Wenrong!



pictures: Mannheim Int. Toastmasters Club, Hans Peter Dehn /, Bernhard Friesacher /, Ulla Trampert /