The power of appreciation [Meeting Report of 2021-09-14]

Dear friends of our club,

I had the pleasure this evening to be the Toastmaster of the Evening and General Evaluator. Our President Poorana had to miss the last meetings, so we were especially glad to welcome him back tonight. Because Poorana was a bit late (definitely a case of “better late than never”), Oliver opened the meeting as our presiding officer, warmly welcoming our two guests back: Kala and Isabelle, both of whom have visited a few times.

I think that we all appreciated having appreciation as a central theme.  Even the Joke of the Evening touched on this theme:

The Boss of a small company was complaining during a staff meeting that people didn’t appreciate him enough. Trying to change the attitude in the office he came in the next day with a sign for his door it said, “I am the boss”. One of the employees apparently not appreciating the change posted a post-a-note on the sign it said “your wife wants her sign back”

The following was the Thought of the day: “You will never have enough, do enough or be enough, until you see yourself today as enough.” – Cindy Keating

Oliver led the Table Topics, again with the technical help of great slides illustrating his questions:

Poorana was asked to talk about a situation where he was not appreciated. He spoke movingly of how difficult it was to change to an English language school when he did not yet speak English…….with a happy ending of eventually getting a best grade on an English exam.

Kala was asked to talk about an experience of being empowered though being appreciated. She shared a very personal story of how her husband’s support helped her get so proficient in German that she now has a great job in a German speaking company.

Ayo was asked about when he experienced a false appreciation. He told of a superior in a job he had that faked being friendly, and how terrible this felt.

And lastly, Isabelle was asked if she ever had the experience of not being able to accept appreciation because maybe she felt she didn’t deserve it. She explained that she doesn’t have this problem because her main interest is being kind to others, and encourage us to remember that it is not about us, but about the other in our communications.

Sriram did the one speech project, working on Presentation Mastery #2-1 – Effective Body Language. The speech title was Do you have a diaper? Sriram talked about having a chance encounter with a stranger last week who had an unexpected question, and the interaction inspired Sriram to look at his many life experiences, all of which were connected by an invisible thread.

His Evaluator Jan-Philipp pointed out the many strengths in this entertaining and well constructed speech, specifically giving examples of how Sriram used staging and gestures to make his body language effective and appropriate. He also added a specific point for improvement, dealing with the lack of clear transition near the beginning of the speech.

It was an enjoyable and quick moving evening. Poorana announced the winner of the Table Topics, and our two guests (hopefully soon to be members) Isabelle and Kala were delighted to hear they were tied for winner!

Our next meeting is on the 28th of September, we would love to have you join us!

Best wishes to you all, Jeff

Here is a snapshot of the evening.

Cultural Diversity [Meeting Report of 2021-08-24]

Dear friends,
“The beauty of the world lies in the diversity of its people” (unknown). This theme was the guideline of the meeting. Oliver, our presiding officer of the evening, chatted with and warmly welcomed our guests Isa, Kala, Ulrike, Andreas, Lei Li and Harriet. Some of them had already attended several times.

Sybille, as Toastmaster of the evening, briefly explained the structure of the evening and welcomed Jeff as General evaluator, Craig as Ah Counter, the timer function was split between Oliver and Christiane.

“The world in which you were born is just one model of reality. Other cultures are not failed attempts at being like you. They are unique manifestations of the human spirit” (Wade Davis). Sybille used quotes on the theme to lead through the evening. The word of the day “dazzling array” = a very impressive large number of wide range of something,  had a strong connection to the theme and was used many times.

Also JP’s table topics questions picked up the theme:

1. What is something from your culture that other people must experience? Craig gave a fabulous insight into the celebration tradition in the US focusing on Christmas time.
2. If you could experience a new culture for the next three months, where would you like to go? Kala would choose to go to Egypt. She vividly explained the differences between Egyptian and Indian culture.
3. If you could time travel what culture of the past would you visit. Isa would be interested to live in the culture of Mayas and Incas. She learned a lot about them when she stayed in Argentina for one year.
4. What place would you visit now and why? Ulrike would go back to Holland. She had experience an awesome light show in Eindhoven and loved the country.
5. You are a tour guide. What would you show to aliens and why? Harriet would focus on the diversity in our country and show beautiful sites like Gothic streets in medieval towns and natural beauties like the Black Sea.
6. Cultural diversity is also found in food. Which is your favorite food from another country? Lei Li described a chocolate cake from Switzerland so detailed and realistic that we could almost taste it and her speech made us all feel hungry.

Before the break Sybille gave a definition of cultural diversity from the UNESCO: Our rich diversity is our collective strength. The advantages are:
– Cultural diversity opens the mind to new ideas
– There is more creativity
– Greater problem-solving
– There is a strengthening of cultures
– It increases innovation and talent in one place
– Different cultures bring great knowledge and more points of view

“Peace is not unity in similarity but unity in diversity, in the comparison and conciliation of difference” (Mikhail Gorbachev, Russian Politician). With this quote the second part of the evening started. Two speakers delivered their prepared speeches.

Eloisa did her second speech in the path presentation mastery. Words have energy and power with the ability to help or heal, but also to hurt. In her speech titled “Power of words” Eloisa talked about the impact of words both in a personal and collective way. Her speech was evaluated by Jeff.

Martin finalized his path dynamic leadership with his speech “Let yourself be”. He focused on some myths that have been around in Toastmasters for a long time. It can be difficult for members to evade them because they linger in our consciousness in the background and can potentially wreak havoc without our apparent knowledge. He shared with us his long term experience he had gained during his Toastmaster membership. His speech was evaluated by Oliver.

The second part of the evening was concluded by a quote by Jackie Chan (Chinese Actor, Philanthropist and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador): “We live now in a global village and we are in one single family. It’s our responsibility to bring friendship and love from all different places around the world to live together in peace.”

In the evaluation session the Grammarian Craig gave a smashing educational on how to avoid filler words in his report as Ah counter. Always very helpful and extremely entertaining reports. Thank you Craig.

The General Evaluator Jeff gave valuable feedback to all functions and table topic speakers. His feedback helps all member to improve. Thanks to Jeff.

The results of the award session were: the best Table Topic speaker of the evening was Lei Li, the award for the best evaluation went to Jeff, and both speakers have won since there was a draw.Our next meeting is on the 14th of September, we would love to have you join us!Best wishes to you all, Jeff

( A big “thank you” to Sybille, who again has done an amazing job writing this recap.)

Here is a snapshot of the evening.

Being Human [Meeting Report of 2021-08-10]

Dear friends,

What an international meeting! Thanks to the great PR work of Craig and the strong commitment of our former Member Jazzmin, who emigrated to Cape Town in South Africa some years ago, we could welcome a good number of guests from many parts of the world. Oliver, our presiding officer of the evening chatted with and warmly welcomed Jazzmin, Kala, Julian, Domingos, Lei Li from Norway, Mona Lisa from Mozambique, Desberia and Tsungie from Zimbabwe, Ulrike from Essen and Prince, who has been a guest several times already.

Jeff, as Toastmaster of the evening and General evaluator, very briefly explained the structure of the evening and welcomed Craig as Grammarian, Martin as Ah-Counter and Eloisa as timer.

The word of the day “affable” – meaning easy to get on with, a friendly character – was well used.

Jeff’s thought of the day expressed that being human means we don’t need to be perfect. Making mistakes is very human.

The table topics questions were related to the theme and presented by Sybille:

1. What does it mean to be human? Amrith shared a story about his son. Don’t expect perfection and see the things from the point of view of the child.2. Quotation by George Orwell: “The essence of being human is that one does not seek perfection.”

Martin explained that it is more healthy to give up trying to be perfect. Let yourself go.

3. In what way are all human beings the same, no matter where they come from? Mona Lisa explained that all human beings are born, spend some time on earth and each and everyone dies in the end.
4. With their intelligence human beings have changed the world in many different ways for the good and the bad. Examples? Prince spoke about the fact that developments are neither good or bad. Only the way they are used by people.

Thanks to the commitment of our guests we had three prepared speeches. Fangfang working at the path visionary communication held her first speech at level 2, referring to understanding your leadership style. The title of her speech was: Leadership is like farming.  Her speech was evaluated by Jazzmin.

Desberia working at the path dynamic leadership no. 4 / level 3 delivered a speech focusing on storytelling with the title: “He almost died”. This was a very touching speech. She shared with us a very dark moment in her life. Well done. The evaluation was given by Oliver.Julian spoke about presentation skills focusing on effective visual aids. In his speech “cooking with color” he skillfully combined the image of cooking with the use of colors in presentations, visually and in the diction he used. Sriram gave his feedback to this speech.

In the evaluation session the Grammarian Craig gave a very entertaining and memorable report on the usage of the English language of this evening. The General Evaluator gave feedback to all functions and table topic speakers. He thanked Craig and Jazzmin for their commitment to invite so many international guests.

The award session was exciting since the speeches were all very good. The best Table Topic speaker of the evening was Mona Lisa, the award for the best evaluation went to Sriram and the best speaker was Julian.

Our next meeting is on the 24th of August, we would love to have you join us!Best wishes to you all, Jeff

( A big “thank you” to Sybille, who again has done an amazing job writing this recap.)

Here is a snapshot of the evening.

The lost art of spontaneity [Meeting Report of 2021-07-24]

Dear friends,

it was my honor to be Toastmaster of the Evening.  Spontaneity was the theme, and some great Toastmaster spontaneity helped make this an especially engaging meeting.  Shortly before the meeting was to start, Craig invited an experienced Toastmaster from England to present a speech: Joy Kurian from the Spa Speakers near Stratford upon Avon. And just before we started, Poorana offered to do his next speech.  We then needed one more evaluator, when my Toastmaster friend James Falcon from Saltsprings Club in Vancouver popped in unexpectedly. He was immediately drafted to do the third evaluation…………….and he spontaneously agreed. We were also delighted to have as a guest Adam McConnaughy from the Ramstein club. Adam is the incoming Director for our area.

Our President Poorana greeted everyone warmheartedly, and asked our guests (Joy, Adam and James) to introduce themselves.

As Toastmaster, I began with a quote from Bertrand Russell: “To like many people spontaneously and without effort is perhaps the greatest of all sources of personal happiness.”

Our Word of the Day was “blunder” : a gross, stupid, or careless mistake. If you want to be spontaneous, you have to live with having some blunders.

Marion gave the Joke of the Evening, also having to do with a kind of blunder:

At school, the teacher asked:
“Paul, give me a sentence with I”
Paul:” I is the…”
Teacher: ” no, Paul…you must say ‘I am..’ not ‘I is..’
Paul: ” ok, I am the ninth letter of the alphabet” 😁

Martin had questions prepared for the Table Topics:

  • Craig told a fast moving story about “where would he travel spontaneously?”
  • Marion gave her ideas on “why should the world be more spontaneous?”
  • Adam shared “what he cooks when friends come over spontaneously?”
  • And I got the question of “why being spontaneous is fun?”

Craig and Adam were both voted as Best TTs Speaker.

Prepared Speeches:

We had three great speeches tonight.

Eloisa gave her Icebreaker titled: “But really, who am I?” She gave an outline of her life in recent years, moving from her home country of Paraguay to Germany, to highlight how and why is it worth changing ourselves to be happier in life.

Joy’s speech from the Pathways Effective Coaching was titled: “Growth Mindset and Grit”.  She gave an inspiring talk about the  power of  perseverance and grit to help us succeed in all aspects our life. She referred to the work of psychologist Angela Duckworth on the importance of perseverance in attaining goals.  (Check her out:

Poorana‘s project was from the Presentation Mastery Path, Effective Body Language.  Title: “A Christmas Party”.  The great storyteller that he is, Poorana told how he and friends finally got to the Christmas party. His message: In life, when we need help, some people might ignore us like the fancy person, some people might not be able to help us due to personal circumstances but if we wait with patience, we will definitely meet the person who would be more than happy  to help us.

Best speech award went to our guest Joy.

Our three evaluators did an excellent job.  JP evaluated Eloisa’s Icebreaker, noting the many skills she brings to public speaking. Oliver praised Joy for her very inspiring and professionally delivered speech. And James reaffirmed that Poorana’s storytelling is very effective.

As best evaluator we also had a tie between JP and James.

Our next meeting is on the 27th of July, we would love to have you join us!Best wishes to you all, Jeff

Here is a snapshot of the evening:

Health is wealth [Meeting Report of 2021-06-22]

Dear friends,
“It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver”, with this quote from Mahatma Gandhi the theme of the meeting was set. In Poorana’s absence, Oliver took over the role as presiding officer and welcomed the guests Anna-Lena and Prince who had dialed in again. Oliver’s first task was to vote in Eloisa, our new member. She was asked a couple of questions and the team voted her in. Welcome on board, Eloisa! Since this was the last meeting of the current toastmaster year the new officer’s team was also voted in: Most of the officers are going to stay in their functions: Poorana will continue as presiding officer, JP will be the treasurer, Oliver stays VP Education, Martin VP Membership, Sybille continues as secretary. Jeff takes on the role as VP Public Relations together with Craig and Amrith assumes the role of Sergent at Arms. Thanks to all officers for keeping the club running with their special commitment.

Jeff, as Toastmaster of the evening, very briefly explained the structure of the evening and welcomed Craig as Grammarian, who also presented the word of the day, well-being. Erjon took up the role as timer again and JP functioned as General Evaluator.

The word of the day “well-being” seemed simple, but was presented in its manifold facets and frequently used in the course of the evening. Amrith shared with us a joke that really happened in his working life: His boss asked him: You are from a different cultural background. Could you tell me a joke from your home? Amrith answered: I am very busy at the moment, can I send it later, I have no time now. The boss’s answer was: That’s hilarious. Send me another one please.

The table topics questions were related to health and were well chosen by Oliver:
All things are poisonous. Only the dose makes if it harms or heals. Eloisa shared her view on this question.
What does health mean to you? For Amrith good social contact, especially talking to his family contributes to his health.
Mark Twain cynically says that to stay healthy is to do things you are uncomfortable with. Craig shared with us the notion to enjoy the food we eat, even if it is not so healthy. We should try to balance what we eat but always enjoy the food.
Your health is an investment not an expense. Prince pointed out that the best investment is investing in happiness.
Hearty laughter is a good way to jog internally without having to go outdoors. What do you do to cheer yourself up. Anna-Lena agrees that laughing and being in a good mood improves well-being giving some examples.

We had one prepared speech this evening. Fangfang working with innovations led a research tying to find out the top innovation killers. “Why does innovation die out in corporations?”. She presented her brilliant findings with great slides and found that ineffective cross-functional communication and command-control structures are the main killers.
Her speech was evaluated by Sybille.

As a bridge to the evaluations part of the meeting, our Toastmaster of the Evening (Jeff) left us with the following information: “Birthdays are good for  your health.  Studies have shown that people with more birthdays live longer.” In the evaluation session the Grammarian Craig gave a very entertaining and memorable report on the usage of the English language of this evening. The General Evaluator gave feedback to all functions and table topic speaker and praised the efficient time management of the evening.

The award session was short, since there was only one speech and one evaluation. The best Table Topic speaker of the evening was Craig – again a hilarious and entertaining speech. We were all proud to hear from Oliver that our club has received an award as “Select Distinguished Club” this Toastmaster year, in spite of the difficulties caused by having  to meet online.

(A big thanks to Sybille for this great recap!)

Our next meeting is in three weeks, on the 13th of July, we would love to have you join us!Best wishes to you all, Jeff

Here is a snapshot of the evening: