Hope [Meeting Report of 2022-01-25]

Our President Poorana opened the meeting by greeting everyone, and especially the many guests. Experienced Toastmasters Mike, an American now working in Bulgaria, and Joy, from England, both returned as guests. Joy delivered a wonderful speech, and Mike gave useful feedback as Evaluator for JPs speech. Frequent visitor and Toastmaster friend Chris from the Heidelberg Rhetoric Club served as General Evaluator. Thanks to you all for your valuable support!

We also welcomed Armin back, and were delighted to greet three guests for their first experience with Toastmasters: Petra, Kathy and Moritz. With 18 participants in all, there was a good energy and liveliness to the meeting that really was a reason to feel HOPE.

 As Toastmaster of the meeting, Oliver led us smoothly through the evening, enriching the theme with interesting and sometimes profound quotes:

·        Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness. Desmond Tutu

·        In joined hands there is still some token of hope, in the clenched fist none. Victor Hugo

And especially poignant, these words from Amanda Gorman’s Poem “The Hill We Climb”:

·       For there is always light,
if only we’re brave enough to see it.
If only we’re brave enough to be it.

The Word of the day was Aspiration (noun)

  1. ·        a strong desire, longing, or aim; ambition:
  2. ·        a goal or objective that is strongly desired:

Ulrike did the Joke for the evening: Why can Peter Pan fly? Because he lives in Neverland, which got some wry smiles from the participants.

Kala did a fine job of leading Table Topics, explaining the benefits of practicing off the cuff speaking for everyday life. 

  • ·        Florian talked about the benefits of hope.
  • ·        Petra about what makes you feel hopeful right now.
  • ·        Mike about why hope is important in his life.
  • ·        And Karl about what the power of hope is.

Karl was voted as the Best TTs Speaker.  The Best Evaluator Award went to me for my evaluation of Joy’s Speech, and Best Speech of the Evening was awarded to Joy.

Poorana closed the meeting with asking our guests for feedback on how they experienced the meeting.  Here were some of the comments: “great to have such a large crowd”; “enjoyed the theme and the speeches”; “high quality content, I will be coming back!”; “I found the evaluations supportive and helpful”.

That’s all for now. Hope to see you all at the next meeting on the 8th of February.

Jeff Gordon, Mannheim Int. Toastmasters

Here is a photo from the meeting:

New Year resolutions [Meeting Report of 2022-01-11]

The club is growing, hurrah. The year started with two new members. Kevin and Florian were voted in the club. Welcome to the Toastmasters family to both of you. Again we could welcome a couple of guests who participated well in the course of the evening: Emircan and Karl-Heinz who came the first time to a toastmasters meeting, Lei Li, Mike Greer and James Falcon who already know other clubs.

“Year’s end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us”, Hal Borland.The New Year and people’s resolutions are the theme of the evening. Poorana, our presiding officer, took the theme up in a round table talk to use the time since we had only one prepared speech. A round robin with 15 people can be risky but it was a good start and an excellent opportunity to get to know everyone a little bit more.
Sybille as toastmaster of the evening explained the structure and the roles of the evening and presented Jeff as General Evaluator, Lei Li as timer, Harriet as Grammarian and Craig as Ah Counter. She also took up the theme with the quote by Brad Paisley, an American Country Singer:
“Tomorrow is the first blank page of a 365 page book. Write a good one.”

Auspicious” was chosen as the word of the day by Sybille. The adjective means full of promise. We all want to have an auspicious New Year 2022 with many happy moments, so it fits well to the theme.

As thought of the evening Jeff referred to the top five regrets of people dying and gave us a quote by Mark Twain:

“Twenty years from nowyou will be more disappointedby the things you didn’t dothan by the things you did.So through off the bowlines.Sail away from the safe harbourCatch the trade winds in your sails.Explore. Dream. Discover.”

The table topics session was lead by J.P. He explained the value of this part to practice off the cuff speaking and asked the following questions.1. If you could name the next big Corona variant what would you call it and why? Florian suggested to be more creative and make combinations. Tongue in cheek, he suggested that Florian might be a good name for a future variant.
2. Mike was asked to travel back in time before Corona started. He used this opportunity to give examples on time travel.
3. What did you learn during the Pandemic you might not have learned otherwise? Kevin focused on virtual activities and connections.
4. What do you really want to do when the Pandemic is over? Karl-Heinz would like to spend his life in a good and meaningful way and invest more time in social contacts.
5. What should we keep after the pandemic? For Uli the digital expertise should be kept.

After the break Sybille opened the second part of the meeting with the following quote by Joey Adams, an American comedian,
“May all your trouble last as long as your New Year’s Resolutions.”
She welcomed Anika, Karla’s daughter, as speaker of the evening. She very bravely stepped in and filled the gap. She spoke about how the people in ancient Greece thought their gods were made. The title of her speech was “The golden age of cannibalism”.

In his evaluation Poorana praised Anika’s start and her skillful story telling technique. She had a great energy level and is already a very good speaker.  She is obviously a future Toastmaster in the making.

Jeff, as General Evaluator, asked for the reports of the team. Craig gave us a very detailed and entertaining report on the mis-usages of filler words and Harriet kept a good eye on the proper use of the English language.

All in all, again a great evening. The best table topic award was given to Florian.

Greetings from Sybille

Our next meeting is on the 25th of January. Hope  to see you then!

Best wishes,


——————————————————————————————————————————————————————Here is a photo from the meeting:

White elephant gift exchange [Meeting Report of 2021-12-14]

Hurrah, again a new member. Uli Kerstin joined the club and was voted in. Welcome Uli in the team.

White elephants are sacred and expensive. When this animal is given as a present it is more trouble than it is worth. In a white elephant gift exchange participants have the chance to get rid of something that has been given that you definitely don’t want to have. You might say: one person’s junk is another person’s treasure. In our Zoom sessions this can only be done virtually. Six Table Topics sessions were based on this gift exchange and were good fun.

– Uli got a girl’s dress. She explained how wonderful this gift was.
– Harriet received an empty connective box. She made up various possible usages for this box.
– Armin admired the statue lovers in a heart and talked about the importance of true love.
– Kala liked the beeswax candles because they give so much light in these dark days.
– Adam received a white mug which suited well to his room and he likes coffee.
– Oliver’s oriental rug fitted well with the decorations in his flat.

Our guests participated eagerly in the Table Topics and we were glad to welcome Michel, Armin and Ira. Michal and Ira even delivered prepared speeches as guest speakers. Our friend and Area Director joined us again; it is always a joy to have Adam with us.

The word of the evening  “loquacious” was presented by Karl. It means to be talkative in the sense of talking too much. It was used three times.

The four prepared speeches were a real gift to the evening:

Michael Kana started with his speech “The bright side of shame”; in a very humorous way Michael depicted is first love story and the reaction of his family to it. JP evaluated the speech and advised Michael to use more pauses to give the audience the chance to digest the punch lines and laugh.

Poorana took over with his speech “Where are the cats”. He vividly described how a misunderstanding in a foreign language can cause trouble – a very entertaining and well-structured speech. In her evaluation Sybille pointed out the excellent use of body language and changing positions for the dispute of his inner voices.

Karl, our third speaker, talked about his Christmas experiences as a child: “Christmas, my story”. Jeff like the speech very much and suggested to use more vocal variety, body language, and to paint a fuller picture for the audience with more details (smells, descriptions, etc).

Our fourth speaker, Ira, gave a speech titled: “A hidden Gem”. Working on level 4 of Visionary Communication, Ira talked about how to develop the skills needed to effectively use public relations strategies for any group or situation.  Poorana was his Evaluator.

Craig rounded off the evening with his wonderful and lively General Evaluation and gave helpful feedback to all speakers and functions of the evening.
In the award session, Poorana was selected as best speaker and also as best evaluator. The award for the best table topic speech went to Harriet.

We wish all members and guests a great holiday season with lots of fun, joy, time to fill up the batteries and good health.
Stay negative and see you all in 2022.


Our next meeting is on the 11th of January. Hope  to see you then!

Best Christmas wishes,


Here is a snapshot of the meeting:

Thanksgiving – what are you grateful for? [Meeting Report of 2021-11-23 ]

In a round table talk all members and guest shared their thoughts on gratefulness. Mostly good health was regarded as a great treasure.

Poorana our presiding officer warmly welcomed our guests Florian, Armin, Andre, Kevin and Dhiraj who participated together with his son Daksch, definitely the youngest participant we ever had in our club.
Prior to the start roles were filled, Florian took over as time keeper for the first time. As Ah-Counter Kevin focused on filler words that break the flow of the speeches. Harriet concentrated on the usage of the English language as Grammarian.

We had the pleasure to vote in our new member Harriet. Harriet, welcome to the club!

In his thought of the evening Jeff reminded us that gratefulness is good for us. Every evening we should take two minutes to write down three things we are thankful for. Every day you should think of new things. Your brain gets tuned to notice more positive things around you. This will open up your perspective and make you more content.

The joke of the evening, told by Sybille, connected to Thanksgiving:

A man in Phoenix calls his son in New York the day before Thanksgiving and says “I hate to ruin your day, but I have to tell you that your mother and I are divorcing, forty-five years of misery is enough.“Dad, what are you talking about?” the son screams. “We can’t stand the sight of each other any longer”, the father says, “We’re sick of each other and I’m sick of talking about this, so you call your sister in Chicago and tell her”.Frantic, the son calls his sister who explodes on the phone: “What, they are getting divorced, I’ll take care of this. She calls Phoenix immediately and screams at her father: “You are NOT getting divorced. Don’t do a single thing until I get there. My brother and I will be there tomorrow. Until then, don’t do anything. DO YOU HEAR ME?” and hangs up.The old man hangs up the phone and turns to his wife. “Okay”, he says, “they’re coming for Thanksgiving and paying their own way.”

The Table Topics Master Sybille presented four questions related to Thanksgiving:1. Which ritual do you connect with Thanksgiving? Kala shared with us Indian traditions celebrating harvest times and the blessing of God.

2. In the US Thanksgiving is a bad time for turkeys. Families get together mostly with an abundance of food. “Which food do you like to eat at Thanksgiving festivities?” Dhiraj revealed that he has a sweet tooth and loves all kinds of sweet Indian dished. His description made us feel hungry.

3. In our modern society people tend to complain a lot, criticize everything and see the glass half empty. What do you think should people be more grateful for?
Florian pointed out that our society is so privileged – wealth, good social standard, good education, health system – things we take for granted but should be thankful for.

4. Quotation by Frank Clark, a former English soccer player: “If a fellow isn’t thankful for what he’s got, he isn’t likely to be thankful for what he is going to get.” What does this quotation mean to you? Jeff vividly explained that human beings needed a negative bias in order to sense danger and to survive. But in order to live a joyful and happy life thankfulness is the key.

We had one prepared speech delivered by J.P. Working on the path presentation mastery level 2 “Understanding your communication style” he spoke about his analytical approach and his role as treasurer for the club. The outstanding part were the professional slides which were easy to follow. His speech was evaluated by Oliver who especially liked J.P’s encouraging of members to take over officer roles.

In his report as General Evaluator, Jeff gave a brief feedback to all roles of the evening. Again a very enjoyable evening with lots of food for thought. We could only vote for the best Table Topic Speaker since we only had one speech and one evaluation. The award was given to Jeff.

(Many thanks to Sybille for this great recap!)

“There is always something to be thankful for.”

Do join us for our next meeting on 14th of December.

All the best,

Jeff, Mannheim Int. Toastmaster

Here is a snapshot of the meeting:

The joys of autumn [Meeting Report of 2021-11-09]

“Autumn is the mellower season, and what we lose in flowers we more than gain in fruits”, Samuel Butler

Our Toastmaster of the Evening Jeff flavored the meeting with quotes referring to the beauty of autumn, the theme of the evening.

Again we had the pleasure of welcoming guests – one newcomer Florian, and some regulars Kevin, Harriet and Prince. They were warmly welcomed by our Club President Poorana and supported the club by taking over roles. Kevin functioned as Ah-counter, Prince did the evaluation of the second prepared speech.

The word of the day was chosen by Poorana – ebullient, signifying liveliness and energy of expression. Example: I always feel ebullient when I drink my coffee in the morning. The word was new to most of the members and well used in the course of the evening.

Oliver as Table Topics Master presented five questions adhering to the theme of the evening:

1. Autumn traditionally is the time when you give thanks for the harvest. What are you thankful for in this year? Sybille described difficulties she had to experience and now the situation has eased so that she is able to relax and enjoy the beauty of autumn.

2. Picking chestnuts is a common ritual in autumn. What rituals do you connect with autumn? Florian shares his experiences.

3. Autumn leaves – wonderful or a nuisance? Harriet describes the hazards of leaves on the road for cyclists but also describes the beauty of the colors.

4. Fog frequently appears in autumn. What is your attitude towards fog? Craig vividly depicts various notions about fog in his clear and sonorous voice.

5. The date November 9 pinpoints two historic landmarks – 1938 crystal night and 1989 the fall of the Berlin wall. What do these dates mean to you?
For JP this date is not so prominent in his memory. It is not an official holiday and he was either not born or too young when these things happened.

We had two prepared speeches from our club members. Kala presented her second speech from pathways presentation mastery with the title “The user manual for human beings”. She gave us four levels that are decisive for a joyful and happy life: body, mind, emotions and energy and gave tips how to make the most out of these. Her speech was evaluated by Sybille. Kala gave a strong speech with numerous good personal examples. She might work on more vocal variety and a stronger intro.

Sriram delivered his speech level 3 no 12 of the path presentation mastery with the title “Woody of Jeff – I choose Jeff”. He inspired the audience  by describing how to become successful. He mentioned that Jeff has often quoted Woody Allen: “80% of success in life is just showing up”, and told a story about how his son became successful in chess through  practicing with diligence over months. He also quoted World Champion of Public Speaking Darrin LeCroix’s well known challenge to always take the opportunity to speak in public: “stage time, stage time, stage time!” For him Jeff is a role model, and concluded by encouraging our club members to come often and take every opportunity to practice speaking. His speech was evaluated by Prince who found that Sriram’s presentation showed many hallmarks of a great speech.

Our grammarian Craig again gave a vivid feedback of the usage of English in the course of the evening. He did it in such a positive and entertaining way which made it easy for the members to remember and enjoyable to listen to. Thanks Craig.

In the award session Craig was chosen as best Table Topic speaker with his speech about fog. The best speaker award went to Sriram. Congratulations.

“I loved autumn, the one season of the year that God seemed to have put there just for the beauty of it” – Lee Maynard.

(Thanks to Sybille for this great recap!)

It was a truly colorful meeting, as you can see from the photo below.  Please join us on the 23d of November for our next exciting meeting!

All the best,

Jeff, Mannheim Int. Toastmaster