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,


——————————————and here is a picture of the group:

Laughter is the best medicine [Meeting Report of 2022-04-26]

“A day without laughter is a day wasted”, for Charley Chaplin laughing and humor is vital. But also for us in these difficult times. Poorana, our presiding officer welcomes our guest Jazzmin, who was a member of Mannheim International Toastmasters for a long time and lives now in Capetown, South Africa. She has left a mark in the club and offered to do an educational speech on this evening.

The warming up session started off with a joke presented by Sybille:

Two men are driving through a city. The driver approaches a red light but goes straight through it. His friend says, “What are you doing?”
        The driver says, “It’s o.k. My brother does it all the time”. They come to another red light, which they go through it.
        His friend says, “This is really dangerous”, the driver replies, “My brother does it all the time and nothing bad ever happens.”
        Then they come to a green light, but the driver stops. His friend says, “It’s green you can go.” The driver shakes his head. “No, I can’t. My brother might be coming the other way.”

Our toastmaster Jeff recites a quote by Bob Hope, a well-known American comedian, relating to our theme:

        I have seen what a laugh can do. It can transform almost unbearable tears into something bearable, even hopeful.

He focused on the fact that we all need hope in these difficult times.

Table topics master Oliver gave some funny clues asking the members to invent stories around them.

1. Some people are scared of spiders. Your greatest nemesis of all are gummi bears. Ksenija vividly depicted how ugly and awful these jelly bears can be.

2. You are the Easter Bunny’s wife, the warehouse is full of eggs and the Easter Bunny has vanished and does not do his job. Sybille explained how she would solve the issue and included club members to help her.

3. What would your pet tell you when you unleash your emotions on the pet? Kala explained that pets are very supportive and full of understanding.

4. You have been turned into a vampire. Your problem is you faint at a single drop of blood. Poorana found a solution for the vampire.

Jeff started the second part of the evening with another quote. E.P. White, an American writer said: “Analysing humour is like dissecting a frog. Few people are interested and the frog dies of it.”

Sybille works on the path Presentation Mastery and delivered her forth speech in level one with the title “Women – go for it”. She gave examples of women who changed the world and who are role models. She wants to encourage women to take up challenges that come up in their life and talks about her own challenge she is going to tackle. Her speech was evalutated by Ksenija. She pointed out that more info about the struggle the women had to achieve their goals would have made the speech stronger.

Jazzmin’s educational session focussed on the topic how to start a speech to grab the audience’s attention. She collected over 20 possibilities on the whiteboard which was an eyeopener for the members. You can see the whiteboard below.

Since humor adds zest and depth to public speaking, Poorana, our general evaluator, found the meeting very entertaining. All roles were delivered well.

In the award session Poorana gave the Best Table Topic speaker award to Ksenja.

“I realize that humor isn’t for everyone. It’s only for people who want to have fun, enjoy life, and feel alive” by Anne Wilson Schaef

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

Join us for our next meeting on May 10th.  Till then, best Toastmaster greetings from me,



Here is picture of the white board from Jazzmin’s Educational on how to start a speech:

Here is the picture of the group:

Easter Traditions [Meeting Report of 2022-04-12]

“Easter is meant to be a symbol of hope, renewal and new life”, Janine de Giovanni, an American journalist and professor, refers to Easter as the time for a new start and celebrating life.

Oliver, the presiding officer for the evening, welcomed our guests, Jon and Mike, who know the club already. Firstly, JP reported about the project of the Competent Leader (CL) manual. He shared with the 12 participants the slides and link how to get credit for taking up roles in Toastmaster meeting. The process starts from now on. Members should decided before the meeting which role they are going to take and ask another member for feedback during the meeting. This can also be tracked in easy speak. The idea is to motivate the new members to take up roles in the meetings to make the meetings more lively, to facilitate the organization of the meetings, and to learn leadership skills by doing so.

The word of the day “halcyon” was given by Sybille who wished everyone halcyon days during the Easter holidays.
Halcyon: characterized by happiness, great success, and prosperity golden —often used to describe an idyllic time in the past that is remembered as better than today

The word was used by Florian and Craig several times.

In his thought of the evening, Jeff focused on Easter as the time of a new beginning like the buds renewing in spring time.  He gave the following quote from Barbara Shur :

You can learn new things at any time in your life if you’re willing to be a beginner. If you actually learn to like being a beginner, the whole world opens up to you.”

Sybille, as toastmaster of the evening, introduced her team taking over various functions, Mike spontaneously took over the role as General Evaluator, Kala was again the timer and Uli signed up as Ah-Counter. To address the theme of the evening Sybille presented some for us unusual Easter traditions, like the giant omelet. This is offered on Easter Monday in the town of Haux in southern France to 1000 people and contains more than 15,000 eggs. It is said the tradition refers to Napoleon and his army.

Our table topics master Jeff presented four questions:

1. What is your favorite Easter memory? Kevin shared with us a lovely story that being home with is family is the best.
2. Tell us one thing you would like to accomplish this spring. Our guest Jon took this question, sharing his wish to start swimming regularly after a long pause do to the pandemic and some health issues.
3. What would be the most amazing thing for you to find in an Easter egg? Uli dreams of finding a new job in her Easter egg and shared with us some of her endeavors so far.
4. What do you appreciate about changing seasons? Kala, originally from India, is used to warm weather but has learned to appreciate the various seasons here. They all have their meaning.

Before the break Sybille informed about the Easter tradition in Poland. On Easter Monday people try to drench each other with buckets of water. Legend says girls who get soaked on Easter Monday will marry within the year.

We had two prepared speeches. In his path presentation mastery, Florian delivered speech five of level 1, evaluation and feedback. He incorporated the feedback of his speech “Doing good better” and repeated the speech focusing on visualization and body language. JP, his evaluator stated a great improvement.

Managing a difficult audience. Craig’s task was to practice the skills needed to address audience challenges and handle interruptions professionally. He delivered a 12 minute speech with the title: Legend.Iconic.Colossal: the Earth Dragon. The speech was excellently presented. Obviously, members found it hard to interrupt this fluent speech. However, Craig reacted professionally to the few interruptions by Uli and Kevin. His speech was evaluated by Ksenja.

Mike rounded off the meeting with his general evaluation. He like the structured meetings and the atmosphere. He praised Oliver for putting the agendas together – as VP Education this is always a very demanding task.

Finally, the performance of the evening was awarded: the best evaluator was Ksenja, the best table topic speaker Uli and the best prepared speech was delivered by Florian.

“Easter us the only time of the year when it is o.k. to put all your eggs in one basket.”

(Thanks to Sybille for this great recap!)


Join us for our next meeting on April 26th.  Till then, best Toastmaster greetings from me,


Spring forward [Meeting Report of 2022-03-22]

Spring forward – Theme of the Toastmasters meeting on 22nd March 2022

Pablo Neruda once said: “You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep spring from coming.” No matter how bleak the situation is, there is always hope for the future. Despite all negative news we are approching the warmer season, time for joy, progress and growth.

14 participants took part in this spring meeting. Again our presiding officer Poorana welcomed our guests Ksenija, Moritz, Armin and Mike. All of them had visited the club before, so it was not necessary for Oliver, Toastmaster of the evening, to explain the structure of the meeting.
Jeff chose the word “plethora” as word of the evening which fitted the idea of spring. The garden shows a plethora of flowers in spring time. Or: There is a plethora of books about the royal family. The word was used a couple of times.

Martin cracked a joke about a magician working on a cruise ship which was well told, kept its tension and was rewared with laughter from the audience. As Table Topics master Martin made up some letters to an agony column and asked the members how they would answer.

1. A concerned mum complained about her son not dressing properly. Karl pointed out the feedom of will and differences of taste.
2. Former class mate sends weird messages. Moritz gave tips how to block these messages and to ignore the class mate.
3. Business man has trouble with superior because he comes late to work. Ksenija advised the man to get flexible working hours and have a talk with the HR department
4. Friends talk about their aches and pains all the time which makes you depressed. Ulrike advised to listen to them still and be sensitive.

We had three prepared speeches. Florian started with his second speech from the path presentation mastery. The purpose of his speech with the title: “Doing good better” was to convince the audience to choose effective charities having a greater impact on the world. His speech was evaluated by Sybille who suggested to explain the use of technical expressions more to help the listeners remember the content of the speech.
Poorana delivered the fifth speech of level three path presentation mastery. His project was to connect with the audience and he shared a story of his childhood with the title “the Genie has a message for you”. His speech was evaluated by Ksenija. Finally JP’s project from presentation mastery level 3 No 11 was to focus on the positive. “It is always good to have a plan”. His grandmother is a role model for him. She successfully led the family through difficult times – always having a plan. His speech was evaluated by Karl, who loved the authenticy of JP’s speech.

General Evaluator Jeff gave valuable feedback to all roles of the evening and asked for the reports of Ah-counter Uli and timer Kala. Again a great meeting with excellent speeches. Poorana gave the award for the best evaluator to Karl, Ksenija was awarded for the best Table Topic speech and the best speaker of the evening was JP.

“Spring is the time of plans and projects.” – Leo Tolstoy

Courage [Meeting Report of 2022-03-08]

Our President Poorana opened the meeting with a warm welcome to all, and especially to our two guests: Jon, who was with us for the first time, and Karl, visiting for the third time (a potential future member, maybe?). He also reported from the Area Contest, where JP won first place in the German Evaluation Contest; and Jeff won first place in the German and English Table Topics and second place in the English Evaluation Contest.

Poorana then gladly welcomed Martin Ernst to the club as our “newest” member.  Many of us know and appreciate Martin,  who was a member of our club long ago and is known for his kind heart and clear mind. It is really great to have you back, Martin!

As our Toastmaster of the Evening, Jeff made a short reference to the war in Ukraine, mentioning that the bravery being shown by the Ukrainian people was an impulse to have courage as our theme tonight. Toastmasters need courage to speak up in all kinds of environments and situations. This quote by Brené Brown states this well:  “Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.”

The Word of the Evening was given by Harriet.  Tenacious: Extremely persistent in adhering to or doing something; stubborn or relentless: “tenacious defenders of their harsh and pitiless land” (Dee Brown). b. Characterized by extreme persistence; relentless or enduring: tenacious detective work; tenacious superstitions.  Quite fitting for the theme  of the evening.

Kala led the Table Topics session with four questions involving courage:

  • Uli talked about “doing the right thing, standing up for one’s values”.
  • Martin was asked: “how do you show courage in your everyday life”.
  • Craig talked about the question: “is public speaking a crazy (i.e. stressful) thing?”
  • And Florian was asked: “When were you courageous in your life?”

All speakers bravely and smoothly told of their experiences.  Uli and Craig were voted both as best TTs.

We had two prepared speeches.

  • Harriet gave her Icebreaker with the title: Movement: the key to awakening a mind.  She shared her experience of getting more lively again after some stagnation during the pandemic by trying out some really new things.
  • Karl did a level three project: Presentation Mastery #3-11 – Focus on the Positive – 2, talking about attitudes of optimism, pessimism and realism. He also shared three things for which he is especially grateful.

Harriet was voted best speaker of the evening. 

JP led us through the evaluations as our General Evaluator.  Both speakers got insightful and valuable evaluations: Martin for Harriet’s speech, and Poorana for Karl’s.  Poorana was voted best evaluator.

JP underlined the high quality of the meeting, and especially that all roles were filled before the meeting. With their feedback at the end, our two guests confirmed their impression of an interesting and supportive meeting.

One last quote, this one from a famous cowboy: Courage is being scared to death … and saddling up anyway.” —John Wayne


We hope to see you all at our next meeting, which is Tuesday, the 22d of March. Until then, best wishes, Jeff

Mannheim Int. Toastmasters

Here a photo of the meeting: