The power of language [Meeting Report of 2021-06-08]

Dear friends,
What a great theme for Toastmasters – knowing the strong impact language on our lives.
Again we had the pleasure to welcome guests from various countries, Anna Lena Brown, Vasilij Nakhin and Karen Hennessy took part in the meeting. The guests were warmly welcomed by our president Poorana.

Sybille functioned as toastmaster of the evening and took up the theme citing a quotation by the author Betty Eadie: “If we understood the power of our thoughts we would guard them more closely. […] In our thoughts and words we create our own weakness and strength.”

Sybille explained the structure of the evening and introduced her team, Martin as General Evaluator, Erjon as Timer and Craig as Ah Counter.
The word of the day “silver-tongued” presented by Sybille, was well used during the evening and easy to remember.

The guests participated very well in the table topics session and delivered vivid speeches to Oliver’s four questions aligned to the power of language:

1. “Do you think speaking different languages is a punishment or a bliss?” Poorana definitely sees it as bliss. Learning a language is like entering a new world and adds to the richness of life, making people more open to other cultures.
2. “How comfortable is it for you to travel into another country when you cannot speak the language?” Amrith talked about his experiences when he first came to Germany – he very much felt fear, shame and hopelessness. Which has of course changed in the meantime.
3. “In many films the sound is translated into German. Do you prefer to read or watch films in the native language?”. Anna Lena explained her reasons for consuming publications in the original language.
4. “What was the strangest idiom you came across when you learned a new language?”.  Juan gave examples of idioms when she learned German, like “es ist mir Wurst!”.
Great speeches had been delivered the award of the best Table Topic speaker of the evening went to Poorana.

After the break two prepared speeches were delivered.
“What do you do when you feel lost?” Fangfang shared with the team a lost moment in her life. She said that when we drive, we can rely on GPS to find our way. Unfortunately, there is no navigation system in our life.
Fangfang’s speech was evaluated by Jeff.

“My money mentor” was the title of JP’s speech. He went to school for 13 years and studied three years for this bachelor degree in business information technology. Here, he also learned economic subjects like accounting and controlling. But did he learn to take care of his own finances? In his speech he gave us the answer to this question. JP’s speech was evaluated by Oliver.

Martin, the General Evaluator of the evening explained the importance of evaluations for the development of the club members. He also pointed out the sandwich technique – mention the things that went well, give a few hints for improvement and then highlight what the evaluator liked best. Martin 
 gave valuable and motivating feedback to everyone participating in the evening.

As Presiding Officer, Poorana concluded the evening asking for feedback from the guests. The awards were given to Oliver for the best evaluation and JP for the best speech of the evening.

A big thanks to Sybille for this recap!

Our next meeting is on the 22d of June, we would love to have you join us! Best wishes to you all, Jeff

Here is a snapshot of the evening:

Colours [Meeting Report of 2021-05-25]

Poorana, our club President, opened the meeting with a warm greeting to all, and especially to our guests: Eloisa from Paraguay (lives in Mannheim now), Karen from Cancun, Mexico, Marcel (also living in Mannheim) and Prince, who has been a Toastmaster for over 20 years and lives in Luxembourg. All the guests were visiting for the second time . We again had the pleasure to vote a new member into the club: Marion. She jumped right in and did a great job as our Timer.  Welcome Marion!

Martin lead us through the meeting with his usual calm presence as Toastmaster of the Evening. His quotes on the meaning of color added to the theme of the evening, as well as his Word of the Day: “Gaudy”, which means especially colorful. His joke about someone who couldn’t find their shirt because it was in “camouflage” colors brought some wry  smiles to the audiences faces.

Jeff contributed the Thought of Day, encouraging us to dare to be more colorful in our attitude:

“Your attitude is like a box of crayons that color your world. Constantly color your picture gray, and your picture will always be bleak. Try adding some bright colors to the picture by including humor, and your picture begins to lighten up.” Allen Klein

Fangfang lead the Table Topics with the theme of personality types and color: Blue for the logical type, green for control, yellow for vision, and red for interest in people. The four contestants (Marcel, Marion, Eloisa and Karen) used the opportunity to share some personal information about how they see the world, both touching and informative.

We had three prepared speeches tonight:

Juan did her Icebreaker with the title: Be Myself. Congratulations for taking this first step, Juan!

Jeff completed his Level 1 in his Pathway Visionary Communication. His theme: Is it really better to give than receive? What research tells us about the power of kindness to boost our happiness.

And Poorana won the Best Speech Award for his lively and entertaining speech: Are you curious?

Our three Evaluators all did an excellent job in underlining the speaker’s strength and finding concrete suggestions for improvement. Fangfang evaluated Juans Icebreaker, Oliver Jeff’s speech, and special thanks to our guest, Prince, who evaluated Poorana’s speech.

Our guests gave the feedback that they really appreciate the supportive, warm atmosphere in our meetings.

Here is a snapshot of the evening:

The Tree of Life [Meeting Report 2021-05-11]

What a great and special evening. Our meetings have become very international. We had the pleasure to welcome Karen Hennesy from Mexico, John Nieradka from New Jersey, USA, Kevin Schafer from Pennsylvania, Georgia from Greece, Mr and Mrs Hutchinson from Dallas, and – a bit late – Prince from Luxembourg. What a global spectrum of guests. All of them were intrigued by the post in Facebook about this special evening. Thanks to Craig for taking care of these PR activities. What was special about the evening?

Working on the path “Dynamic Leadership #5-4” Martin’s  project was to lead a panel discussion. He has chosen the topic “Life’s great adventures – Lessons learned” and he had three panelists – Sybille, Poorana and Oliver – who delivered personal stories about their lessons learned in life.

The first part of the evening was structured in the usual way. The toastmaster of the evening, Oliver, explained the structure and gave various views on the theme, the tree of life. Juan took over the role as timer again and she has become very good in this role. The word of the day, noteworthy, delivered by Juan, was well used in the course of the evening. Sybille’s joke fulfilled it’s task and made the members laugh:

        A man who smelled like a distillery flopped on a subway seat next to a priest.
        The man’s tie was stained, his face was plastered with red lipstick, and a half empty bottle of gin
        was sticking out of his torn coat pocket. He opened his newspaper and began reading.
        After a while he turned to the priest and asked, “Say Father, what causes arthritis?”
        “Mister, it is caused by loose living, being with cheap, wicked women, too much alcohol and a contempt for your fellow man.”
        “Well, I’ll be dammed!” the drunk muttered, returning to his paper.
        “The priest, thinking about what he had said, nudged the man and apologized, “I am very sorry. I didn’t mean to come on so strong.
        How long have you had arthritis?”
        “I don’t have it, Father. I was just reading here that the Pope does.”

As a thought of the evening Sybille read and interpreted the poem “Think like a tree” written by Dr. Karen I. Shragg.

The guests participated very well in the table topics and gave very open and candid speeches to Poorana’s  five questions aligned to the theme of the evening.

1. “My biggest dream in life?” Juan talked about her fears speaking in front of an audience and is happy to be with Toastmasters to fulfill her dream of becoming a good speaker.
2. “My biggest failure in life? Jeff mentioned his urge to be perfect when he was younger. Luckily this self image has changed and perfection is not a priority any more.
3. “My greatest source of inspiration”. John is a scout leader and gets inspiration from mentoring the kids.
4. “The greatest pleasure in life”. JP’s greatest pleasure is the time he spends with his wife. They had their first wedding jubilee just a few days ago.
5. “The biggest mistake I have ever done.” Debbie shared with us the decision not to focus on her career but to stay at home to raise her two daughters.
From the current point of view this has not been a mistake at all, since the reward and inspiration she gained from her family was greater than any further education could have given to her.
Great speeches had been delivered
and the award of the best Table Topic speaker of the evening went to Debbie.

After the break the panel discussion started. Martin started with the words life is a great adventure full of love, hate, joy, sadness, failure and success. Key ingredients through life’s roller coaster are experiences and life stories. The panelists talked about their experiences in life and the lessons learned.
Sybille shared with the group a change process she had to face and which – after the suffering was over – had many opportunities for her. Her message was to stay open to change, connect with people and spot the door opening for you and go through it.
Poorana impressed us with his story about staying true to his principles. He did that in a difficult situation which paid off in the end.
Oliver told us about his adventure trip in the US years ago. Even though a lot of things went wrong he would never like to miss this adventure. His message is to focus on the positive side and celebrate achievements.

The project was evaluated by JP in the sandwich technique – mention the things that went well, give a few hints for improvement and then highlight what he liked best. JP did an excellent job in evaluating this long project, which was very much appreciated by our guests when they gave their feedback of the evening.

To round the evening off, General Evaluator Jeff  gave valuable and motivating feedback to everyone participating in the evening.

As Presiding Officer, Poorana concluded the evening asking for feedback from the guests. The guests were extremely happy about the evening and our club is growing which is a good sign for the high quality Mannheim International Toastmasters is delivering.

Our next meeting is on the 25th of May, we would love to have you join us!

Best wishes to you all, Jeff

Here is a snapshot of the evening:

Patience [Meeting Report of 2021-04-27]

“Patience is bitter but its fruit is sweet” – Jean-Jacques Rousseau. The theme of the evening focused on the thought: with patience we can achieve more in life.

Again we had the pleasure to welcome guests. For the first time Marcel and Eloisa experienced a toastmaster evening. Anna-Lena and Marion have already participated several times. Marion even took over the role as Ah-counter for the evening. It was a great pleasure for us to welcome Andrea Klee, our Division F Director, in our club. She gave the word of the evening and functioned as grammarian for us.

We are delighted to welcome a new member, Juan Kong, who was unanimously was voted in. Congratulations Juan and welcome in our club!

The word of the day 
ingenious was well used in the course of the evening. Jeff gave a joke which was in line with the theme:

        A client comes to his psychiatrist and asked: What can I do, my wife is so impatient.
        The doctor answered: Patience is a skill you can learn.
        The client said: But how can I do it quicker?

“Have patience. All things are difficult before they become easy”. With this thought from Shiraz, Jeff reminded us to be patient when we learn new things. It takes time but in the end we will get there. As Toastmaster of the evening he explained the structure of the evening and introduced the assisting roles. The function General Evaluator was taken over by JP, the Timer was Poorana.

The guests participated actively in the table topic session. Oliver presented four questions aligned to the theme of the evening and again he supported them with visual aids:

1. “Which of the two sayings – The early bird catches the worm / or: good things need to wait – is more relevant to you?” Erjon explained his attitude to both sayings.
2. “Some people tend to stick to plan A, others freely change plans because neither of them will come right. What is your view on planning?”. Juan pointed out that good planning is the basis for a successful conclusion of issues. She would feel uneasy without a plan.
3. “How can you teach patience to children when you are stuck in a traffic jam for quite a while”. Marion gave tips she has experience with her children in situations like that. 
4. “Patience while you are waiting in a line at the supermarket check out”. Marcel share with us openly how he would react when he changes lines to be faster.

With further quotations Jeff led on to the second part of the evening, the prepared speeches after the break:
“Adopt the pace of nature – her secret is patience”, by Emersson.
“Trees that grow slowly bear the best fruit”, by Molière.

We had two prepared speeches. Fangfang is working on the path visionary communication and she delivered the second speech with the title “the moon is crooked”. She told us about the joy her two and a half year old son expressed when he saw the crooked moon. She transferred this incident to the way we learn and develop. We should not lose the ability to observe and be inspired especially in our toastmaster journey. Her speech was evaluated by Martin.

Sybille delivered her third speech of the path presentation mastery. She shared a sad story with the team she had experienced and which has kept her busy all the year. It showed her what really counts in life. Her speech was evaluated by Oliver.
General Evaluator JP gave valuable and motivating feedback to everyone participating in the evening, which is always extremely helpful.

As Presiding Officer, Poorana concluded the evening asking for feedback from the guests. The awards were extended to Juan for the best table topic speech, Martin for the best evaluator and Sybille for the best speech of the evening.

Andrea Klee gave some final comments to the club. She praised the success achieved in the club and enjoyed the evening very much.

You will find a snapshot of the evening below.

(thanks to Sybille for this fine recap).

Human Connections[Meeting Report of 2021-04-13]

Our club meeting on Tuesday, April 13, had the theme of “Human Connections”.  Juan Kong was back as a guest, and she was warmly greeted by our President Poorana. She was also drafted as Timer, jumping in a good toastmaster fashion and doing a professional job of it.
As Toastmaster of the Evening I explained the importance of human connections on our happiness, and I recommended a Tedtalk on positive aging:

The Word of the Evening was Gregarious, meaning liking to be with other people : sociable.

The joke of the evening related to a special kind of social connection, marriage:

Kid: I heard that in some parts of the world a man doesn’t know his wife until they get married.

Dad: That’s true everywhere, son.

It was a special evening in that Poorana presented an advance project with a timing of 20 to 40 minutes: Innovative Planning #5-5 – Moderate a Panel Discussion. The topic was: Challenges in Public Speaking.  The panel was make up of three club members , all of whom have been Toastmasters for over 10 years. (Jan-Philipp, Martin, and myself).  I found this to be a great subject, and Poorana chose some great if challenging questions: Introverts vs. extroverts in public speaking / presentation of boring subjects to the audience / importance of voice in public speaking / Humor in public speaking / Importance of language proficiency in public speaking / dealing with blackouts in public speaking.

Poorana got helpful and appreciative feedback in a round robin evaluation.  We recorded the panel discussion and are considering making it available on our club Youtube channel.  I will let you know when it is available.  Our guest Juan commented:  “I have been richly gifted this evening, the panel discussion was like a workshop in public speaking”.

That’s all for now.  Be sure and join us for our next  meeting on April 27th.

Best wishes, Jeff

A snapshot from the meeting: