Open up for summer action but be aware of grandsons with pillows [meeting report of 2014-05-27]

457102_Rainer Sturm_pixelio.deWhen opening the meeting on May 27th President Martin S got us into the perfect mood. He asked the really relevant question to find out this season’s favourite ice cream flavour. Toastmaster of the evening Christian managed perfectly to keep track of the meeting. After introducing all the supporting roles he started the warm up session.

“Torrid” was suggested by Jeff as Word of the Day; the expression means exposed to great heat and also hot in temper or passion. Women sometimes tend to comment on the driving style of their husbands intensively. What would happen if a man did the same with the cooking of his wife? This was lively described in Jazzmin’s joke. Inspiration for summer activities were given by Martin — drinking lemonades, fishing or counting stars. He quoted a little poem as thought of the day.

To describe the best places for vacation was the challenge for the Table Topics. Chairing this part of the agenda Martin S had prepared photos of holiday destinations. Living on the beach, swimming in the sea and watching fish — for Katharina the Caribbean is the place to be. Heidi felt comfortable spending some time in Palma de Mallorca, though belonging to Spain almost everyone would understand German too. She was almost succesful to convince the Table Topics Master to pay for the trip. Monty Python’s dead parrot sketch was the reason why Guenther wanted to go to Norway; the lifeless bird is said to come from there and the Scandinavian country is ideal for some reflection in the nature.

681848_Lupo_pixelio.de_.jpgAlthough she had already visited Asia Judith wished to go again. Keen on river rafting and nightlife she talked about a perfect time in Nepal. Jeff vividly described how the Baltic Sea and the horizon on the island of Ruegen would inspire him because “If you travel with an open heart you’ll never come back as the same person”. Heading to the Maldive Islands Jazzmin wasn’t sure if spending 4 weeks on her own would be fun. So she invited every Toastmaster to join in. Martin E’s plan was a holiday at home. He recommended a staycation and wondered why his grandma used to go to the mountain’s with her three sisters every year in a small VW Beetle.

After the break JP continued in the session of prepared speeches. He assumed the role of a grandson with serious money problems. Though he hadn’t seen his grandmother for a long time he suddenly became very worried when the elderly lady made acquaintence with “Rosie” — a man who was 25 years younger than herself. The entertaining presentation finished dramatically when grandma drew her last breath because of a pillow pressed on her face.

Alexander powerfully persuaded the audience not to dedicat oneself just to big projects in life. He stressed out that taking care of everyday issues — simple things like health or eating and drinking — is important too. He included a personal experience about his recent relocation from Mannheim to Oxford.

489992_Konstantin-Gastmann_pixelio.de_.jpgIn the 3rd speech Sophia demonstrated how to get a message across without sayinga word. Non-verbal communication is even more important than verbal communication, what an interesting topic for every Toastmaster! Supported by excellently chosen photos she figured out main aspects of confident body language: take up space, remove barriers and maintain eye contact. She will continue talking about the subject in another presentation.

Being the General Evaluator Guenther introduced the feedback speeches by Katharina, Jazzmin and Martin. As an experienced Toastmasters he furthermore had carefully observed the meeting. So he was able to make some fundamental suggestions to improve the meeting’s procedure and atmosphere.

Finally it was President Martin S’s duty to hand over the awards for the best speeches to Katharina (evaluation), Jeff (speaking of the cuff) and Sophia (prepared speech). Before the crowd finished the meeting he announced upcoming Toastmaster’s activities like the meeting of the Rhetorikclub MannheimBASF Toastmasters and the conference of the new District 95 in Frankfurt.

Rainer-Sturm /
Lupo /
Konstantin Gastmann / pixelio

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/,,

If you light a lamp for someone else…

.. it will also brighten your path.

My dear fellow Toastmasters,

how did it feel to find out about Toastmasters?
How did it feel to act on it and to attend?
How long did it take you?

Maybe there was someone who told you about it, maybe you found out on your own.
It does not matter, now that you are here!

But there are others out there who YOU can give a little light.
That friend, that colleague, that acquaintance who could really benefit from better speaking and leading skills.

Light a lamp for them and invite them to Toastmasters, it will brighten your path as well.

We have our Membership Contest running in May and June. And you can win A FREE MEMBERSHIP!
It’s easy:
For every guest you bring, you get 1 point.
If a guest you have brought joins us in May or June, you get 1 more point.

If we grow by 5 new members in these 2 months, then, and only then, the person with the highest number of points wins the FREE MEMBERSHIP! If there is a tie, we will draw for the winner.

It’s easy, it’s fun and you can help others!

I bet you are already thinking of someone you could invite for Tuesday. DO IT NOW!

Mapping the Toastmaster’s genome (meeting on Apr 23rd)

The Panda bear, dogs, a chameleon, butterflies, a cheetah, worms – just to mention a few, all kind of animals are the favorites of Mannheim’s Toastmasters. They were the answers to MartinS warm up question what animals fascniated the audience. He handed over to Guenter as Toastmaster of the evening who chaired the evening successfully. Explainations of the main structure, smooth transistions between different parts and roles and a precise meeting process made it easy to follow. „Lunacy“ was Steven’s choice for the word of the day which means a stupid behaviour that will have bad results or (old fashioned) mental illness. Then Lorna told the funny story of Bill who started a new job as painter. He delivered an outstandig performance in painting yellow lines on his first day. But from day to day his efficiency declined as the way to the paint bucket became longer and longer. „Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.“ (Robert Louis Stevenson) was the thought of the day presented by Jeff.

Being the Table-Topic Master Jazzmin encouraged the members of our club to take on different roles and to present dialogues off the cuff. So Perrine and MartinS acted as a couple. Returning home she had to communicate carefully that she crashed his Porsche. Rudy played the role of a little boy who had to convince his father Rolf that aliens were in their garden. As a police officer Steve wanted to fine Lorna on her black and white painted horse for speeding. But instead of paying a penalty she offered him a ride into the sunset at the Neckar beach. Than the audience witnessed a historical argument. Napoleon (Jeff) and the Emporer of China (Artur) argued who would be the greatest man in the world. Finally the little Frenchman wanted to know the way to China to conquer Asia and offered some fine French wine as a good and valuable consideration.

Continuing the meeting after the break Steve presented his Icebreaker. He said that relationships play a fundamental role to us – some they kill, others they bring back to live. An important relationship to himself began when he was in Spain and met his girlfriend for the first time. Because of her he came to Manheim and now he learns German and discovers the culture and the people of the country. In her evaluation Sophia emphasized the flow and the clear structure and suggested to work on vocal variety and pauses between the different parts. Steve delivered his first speech in a serene and confident manner.

Vivian explained the differences of „nature and nurture“ that influences children when growing up. By using profound facts and examples she illustrated the main impacts on personality – heredity, shared environment and unshared environment. Being her evaluator Rudy noticed the good organisation and the awesome composition of the speech. In his opinion a little story related to each statement would make it even more memorable. By using a sharp contrast in her opening Vivian immediately draw the audience into her presentation.

Being on the verge of despair Rolf shared his experience with his new tablet computer. Whether it was an e-mail account screwed up, a film dubbed in the wrong language or unwanted facebook buddies, Rolf gave a lively report about boon and bane of modern technology. Now he wonders if his airline would accept tickets that are printed into „the cloud“ instead onto a sheet of paper. Reviewing the speech Jeff was happy about the great choice of the topic. He pointed out the strong and lively voice that makes it easy to listen. Jeff recommended to use a joke or a funny story in the beginning to fullfill the objectives better. After all Rolf’s entertaining speech convinced with subtle irony.

Taking over again MartinS talked about the „beat the clock“ membership contest. If the club gains at least 5 new members in May and June the person who brings in the most guests and new members will win a one-year membership of our club! At the end of this evening it became clear that active members, entertaining Table Topics and profound presentations certainly are part of the Toastmaster’s genome sequence.


pictures:, C. Falk /, Gerd Altmann /, Matt Buchanan (