Learning by doing [Meeting Report of 2022-09-27]

Learning by doing – Theme of the Toastmasters Meeting on September 27, 2022

“I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand”, Confucius
In our online session we had the pleasure to welcome 15 participants, our honored members and a couple of guests. We were glad to meet Anna from Aalborg Toastmasters, Aaquib and Jawed from India, and Bence from S. Africa, also an experience toastmaster. Lei from the BASF club joined in again and Nadine who recently moved to Mannheim joined us for her first Toastmaster experience. Anna contributed a lot to the evening since she took over one evaluator role.

The toastmaster of the evening, Jeff, briefly explained the structure of the meeting for our guests and led through the theme “learning by doing” which various quotes. He pointed out that Toastmasters is a safe place for people to take risks and learn. It is a safe place to practice and make mistakes. The following team took over roles: Gabi took the timer role, Uli was the Grammarian, Craig did the Ah-counter and Sybille the GE.

“Anything worth doing well is worth doing poorly at first.” — Ray Congdon

As word of the day Sybille chose a saying. Very often you have to learn something new when you are put in a new, difficult situation without preparation. The saying is: “to be thrown in at the deep end.”Florin did a good job taking over the Table Topics master role for the first time. He asked four questions relating to the theme.

1. Can you remember any situation where you learned from making a mistake“. Gabi shared with us her difficulties in passing the theoretical test when taking the driving license exam. In the end she has become very successful and can now drive any motorized vehicle no matter which size.

2. Can you remember a situation where learning by doing worked out very well for you? In her personal story, Nadine explained how she developed her expertise in music, first copying, learning from others and then creating her own music.

3. People learn by observing, reading, listening … What is your favorite way of learning? Bence told us that it is important to get the basics first but then try to solve the problems hands on. Research has proven that actively working at a subject is promises more success.

4. Learning and having fun. Is this a contraction for you? Lei had been raised in China. There children are told that hard work makes the fortune. The focus lies on competing to achieve the next degree. Fun is not regarded as necessary. We feel sorry for the Chinese kids.

We had two prepared speeches. Both speakers were working on the project presentation mastery #4-6 – Question and answer session.

JP gave us an “In introduction to Romania”, focusing on facts, food and fun. He showed his enthusiasm for Romania and interacted very professionally in the Q&A session with the audience. He gave very extensive answers and made people curious about Romania. His speech was evaluated by Florian.

Poorana spoke about “How we make an Indian curry from scratch”. In his speech his passion for cooking was oozing out, we could even smell the curry. He had a great intro to his speech and kept us hooked on to the dish. He answered all questions extensively. His speech was evaluated by Anna.

Sybille as GE was very happy about the evaluations. Both evaluators used the sandwich technique – say what you liked about the speech, give a few hints for improvements, say what you liked best.Both evaluators gave concrete examples, eg. Florian suggested to take a more catchy title for JP’s speech.

Sybille gave feedback to all roles taken in the evening. The important timer function was well organized by Gabi despite some misunderstandings regarding the timing of the two long speeches. Craig again pleased us with precise report about all the filler words used – Craig really is a great listener – he does not miss a single filler word. Watch out next time and practice!!Jeff did an excellent job as toastmaster of the evening making everyone feel at home.

This evening we could vote for three functions. The best TT award went to Nadine. Congratulations. The best evaluator was Florian and the best speaker Poorana. Congratulation to all winner. Thank you to everyone taking part in the meeting which was again a very joyful and inspiring evening.

“I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it”, Pablo Picasso

(And many thanks again to our club President Sybille for this great recap!)

Please join us for our next meeting on the 11th of October.  This meeting will be in-person at our regular meeting venue. And please note: starting on September 13th and at least till the end of the year we will meet in-person for the first meeting of the month (on the 2d Tuesday) and online for the second meeting (on the 4th Tuesday).  Our in-person venue is the Buergerhaus Neckarstadt-West, Lutherstrasse 15-17, 68169 Mannheim.

Best Toastmaster greetings, Jeff

Mannheim Int. Toastmasters


Here a photo of the meeting:

Everyday Magic [Meeting Report of 2022-09-13]

“Each day dawns with the promise of a personal miracle. Find some magic today. Even just a little bit can go a very long way.”
― Anthon St. Maarten

At last! After almost two years of on-line sessions we met in person again. How nice to see each other and how nice to welcome our guests in person.
The presiding officer Sybille welcomed our new guest Sarah, who was attracted by Meetup. We were also happy to welcome Karl-Heinz, who is a member of the Toastmaster Club in Heidelberg, Lei, from the BASF Club and Katharina who is a former member of our club. Alex, our Area director, also came to meet us in person, how nice.
The meeting started with the voting ceremony of new members. Gabi joined the club and was voted in. Welcome to the Toastmaster family, dear Gabi.
Florian was awarded the bronze medal for completing Level 1 of the path Presentation Mastery. JP received a cup for his achievements in the division contest in 2022. JP informed the participants about the various medals that can be achieved in toastmasters.

The toastmaster of the evening JP explained the structure of the meeting for our guests and introduced the team of the evening, Timer was Lei, Grammarian Alexia, Ah-counter Florian and the General Evaluator was taken over by Martin.

Florian gave us the word of the day: “dumbfounded” – something keeps you voiceless or speechless. Example: He was dumbfounded at the great news. The word was used twice in the course of the evening.
Sybille’s joke referred to magic and was well received:

A Woman was out golfing one day when she hit the ball into the woods. She went into the woods to look for it and found a frog in a trap.

The frog said to her, “If you release me from this trap, I will grant you three wishes.”

The woman freed the frog, and the frog said, “Thank you, but I failed to mention that there was a condition to your wishes.

Whatever you wish for, your husband will get it ten times!” The woman said, “That’s okay.”

For her first wish, she wanted to be the most beautiful woman in the world. The frog warned her, “You do realize that this wish will also make your husband the most handsome man in the world, an Adonis whom women will flock to”.

The woman replied, “That’s okay, because I will be the most beautiful woman and he will have eyes only for me.” So, KAZAM-she’s the most beautiful woman in the world!

For her second wish, she wanted to be the richest woman in the world. The frog said, “That will make your husband the richest man in the world. And he will be ten times richer than you.”

The woman said, “That’s okay, because what’s mine is his and what’s his is mine.” So, KAZAM-she’s the richest woman in the world!

The frog then inquired about her third wish, and she answered, “I’d like a mild heart attack.”

If you think the women was clever, then read on:The man had a heart attack ten times milder than his wife.

Moral of the story: Listen carefully

In her table topics questions, Ksenjia referred to the theme everyday magic:

1. What is magic to you? Katharina spoke about love which is magic to her.2. What is the most magical moment of your life? Florian shared with us how he felt when his son was born seven weeks ago. This was pure magic.

3. Is magic just an illusion? Alexia twisted the question and spoke about her magical moment when she was bungee jumping.

4. Children see magic because they look for it. Oliver agreed to that statement and referred to scientists who are children that never grew up.

We had one prepared speech from Poorana working at the path presentation mastery project 4 researching and presenting. His speech titled: the roadway to continuous development. He gave us the following introduction: Are you working hard but unable to see any results? Do you feel like you are stuck somewhere on your way to success? Are you frustrated with the thought that you will never get any better? Then this is for you. Poorana finds himself in the same situation in various aspects of life and in today’s speech he would like to share with us what researchers say about this situation and how to overcome this.
He shared with us the plateau effect which can be overcome by deliberate practice, getting back to basics and long-term focus.
His project was evaluated by Jeff. In the proven sandwich technique Jeff first mentioned what he liked in the speech. For improvement he advised Poorana to slow down and employ more pauses for more effect. He liked Poorana’s energy and vigor the best which made the audience feel the subject was important to the speaker.

 Martin as General Evaluator rounded off the meeting and gave extensive and precise feedback which was motivating for all actors of the evening.

In the award session for the best TT speech we had a tie between Florian and Katharina. Congratulations.

“When you quit believing in yourself, you get a life without magic”, Bryant Mcgill
(thanks to Sybille for this great recap!)
Please join us for our next meeting on the 27th of September (on-line) and on the 11th of October (in-person).
Best wishes,
Jeff  Mannheim Int.  Toastmasters
Here is a photo of the meeting:

Work / Play [Meeting Report of 2022-08-23]

“This is the real secret of life – to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now. An instead of calling it work, realize its play.” Alan Watts

Again we had the pleasure to welcome Patrick, Natheer and Lei in our meeting. Keyem dialed in from the Emirates for the first time and Alex, our division president, also took part to see how our club was performing.
Jeff, the Toastmaster of the evening, introduced the theme work/play with a short video showing his grandchild absorbed in work or was it playing?
With further quotes he gave more insights into the theme in the course of the evening.

JP gave us a great joke about Einstein which was well received by the audience.

One day, Einstein had to speak at an important science conference, but he was sick of being a guest speaker.
“I’m sick of these conferences too, you know,” he told his driver. “It’s always the same thing over and over and over again.”

“You’re right, sir,” the driver said. “I have attended all of them as your driver, and by now, I have memorized everything even though I don’t understand science. If you allow me, I can give the speech in your place.”

Einstein thought it was a brilliant idea. After all, no one there knew how he looked like. “Let’s do that!” he excitedly said.

After switching clothes, Einstein and the driver went inside. Einstein made himself comfortable in one of the seats while the driver headed towards the stage.

The driver delivered the usual speech. After he was done, claps echoed through the hall. Einstein was proud of him. Suddenly, one of the scientists stood up and asked him a tough question in an attempt to look smart.

The hall went silent as everyone held their breath. A moment later, the driver looked the scientist dead in the eye and said, “Sir, your question is so easy, I’m going to let my driver answer it on my behalf.”

As Table Topics Master Sybille explained the rules for the TT session and asked five questions:

1. Quotation by Einstein: Play is the highest form of research”. How would you explain Einstein’s statement? Poorana shared with us a story of his childhood. In his research about electricity he caused a power cut.

2. Watching children play you might see them totally absorbed in their world. Have you ever experienced this kind of flow in your work life? Patrick described his work as programmer which sometimes is playful but leads to solutions.

3. Companies have learned that employees are better motivated when they like their job and feel connected to their workplace. Does your company promote and work/play events had have you taken part? Ley told us about a company visit to Hambach castle and share with us what she learned about the German flag.

4. Brian Sutton-Smith, a Harvard Professor said: “The opposite of play is not work, it’s depression.” What do you think Sutton-Smith meant? Natheer pointed out the importance of being playful in your work.

5. Thinking of a top pianist – are his/her performances more work or more play? Keyem pointed out the elements of joy which are the basis for creative work.

We had one prepared speech delivered by Oliver. He is working on the path strategic relationships and his project was evaluation and feedback. He gave us a very emotional speech on asthma and the way the pharmaceutical companies do not really care. The title of his speech was “Can you make them care?”
Oliver’s speech was evaluated by Ksenja. She praised all the rhethorical qualifications Oliver showed in his speech. She loved his dedication to the topic. She would have liked more explanations when it came to specialist information. But all in all it was a great speech.

Craig rounded off the evening as General Evaluator. In his outstanding report he gave very detailed feedback to every speaker of the evening with lots of valuable take aways for everyone. This was simply “wunderbar.”

In the awards session the best TT award was given to Lei.

In the club business session the officers informed about the next meeting in presence at the Bürgerhaus in Mannheim Neckarstadt. We meet in person on September 13, 2022 there. From September till the end of the year we will meet in person for the first meeting of the month (on the 2d Tuesday) and online for the second meeting (on the 4th Tuesday).

Dolly Parton: “Never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.”

Many thanks to Sybille for this great recap!

Please join us in-person for our next meeting on the 13th of September.

Best wishes, Jeff, Ma nnheim Int. Toastmasters

Here is a photo of the evening:

Natural Wonders [Meeting Report of 2022-08-09]

“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better”, Albert Einstein.
After a long holiday in the USA Sybille takes over her role as presiding officer in the new toastmaster year. She thanked Poorana, the immediate past president and currant VP Membership for his dedication and commitment. She also thanked the officers’ team for their exceptional motivation to keep the club running.
She welcomed the guests Natheer, Shruti and Patrick who had participated in previous meetings already and Florian who joined in a toastmasters club for the first time.
Armin has become a new member and was voted in by the club members. Welcome to the Toastmaster family, dear Armin.

As Toastmaster of the evening Sybille put on a cap to indicate she is assuming a new role. She briefly explained the structure of the evening for the benefit of Florian. Then she referred to her holiday in the USA where she encountered breathtaking natural beauties. She shared some photos of these wonders.
Awe-inspiring was the word of the day – something is causing you to feel great respect or admiration. It was chosen because the combination of awe and inspiring was new and it fitted so well to the theme.
Examples: “Niagara Falls really is an awe-inspiring sight.” “Her knowledge of computers is quite awe-inspiring.”

As joke of the evening Jeff had a quiz with fun questions on natural wonders.

  • How can you tell the ocean is friendly?  It waves
  • What did the trees wear to the pool party? Swimming trunks
  • What do you get when you cross a cat with a lemon tree?  A sour puss

Our guests did extremely well in finding the answers.

Oliver used the theme Natural Wonders  for his questions as Table Topics Master.

  • 1. Aurora Borealis: If you did not know what is is, what would your explanation be? JP described how he enjoys the light.
  • 2. Grand Canyon – climate zones. Armin pointed out the greatness and vastness of this natural wonder.
  • 3. Volcano in Mexico – how would you feel as a farmer in Mexico when you see its eruption? Patrick refers to his stay in Mexico where he has seen his share of volcanoes. As a farmer he would run for his life.
  • 4. Victory Falls – swim in Devil’s pools at the edge of the falls. Natheer describes how he feels in the water, the refreshment but also the danger.
  • 5. Harbor of Rio – experience the view from a cruise ship. Shruti put herself in the shoes of a passenger on the cruise ship and shares what she sees – the beach, sugar loaf etc.

We had one prepared speech by Alexya with the title: “Who are you, truly, when no one is watching”. Her project is the path visionary communication Level 2, 3. She shared with us the importance of having a mentor. She gave us teeny tiny bits about 2 mentors in her life.

Her project was evaluated by Jeff. He gave examples how Alexya could have used more vocal variety in her already very excellent speech.

JP as General Evaluator rounded off the meeting, pointing out the unusual way the Toastmaster introduced the theme and the special joke of the evening.

The award for the best TT speech went to Natheer. The guests gave their feedback to the meeting.  Florian appreciated the clear and helpful feedback in the meeting; Natheer loved the meeting and said he found lots that he wants to take back to his home club in S. Africa; and Shruthi said that this evening was time well spent.   Finally,  the presiding officer adjourned the evening.

“Here is your country. Cherish these natural wonders, cherish the natural resources, cherish the history and romance as a sacred heritage, for your children and children’s children. Do not let selfish men or greedy interests skin your country of its beauty, its riches or its romance.” Theodore Roosevelt

Here is a photo of the evening:

Time is precious [Meeting Report of 2022-07-26]

Poorana, as our presiding officer, opened the meeting and greeted all. He welcomed our guests and ask them to introduce themselves and tell what brought them to the meeting tonight.  Gaby and Shruthi were returning guests, and Elena and Patrick were here for the first time.  Shruthi was asked to be timer, and Gaby to take the role of Ah-counter; they both showed the Toastmaster spirit and jumped right in to help us have a successful meeting.

Poorana also was our Toastmaster this evening, and he brought along a number of quotes about how precious time really is.

Poorana also gave us the word of the day: “jiffy”.  Jiffy is used as an adjective: “I’ll be back in a jiffy”, which means quickly or fast.

I told a joke demonstrating how time is relative, and JP gave us a lovely and wise quote as our thought  of the evening:

“Attitude is a choice. Happiness is a choice. Optimism is a choice. Kindness is a choice. Giving is a choice. Respect is a choice. Whatever choice you make makes you. Choose wisely.”― Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart


Uli led the Table Topics.  In a jiffy she explained the goal of spontanious speeches and the time limits.

  • Gaby talked of “what was her most precious childhood memory”. She vividly recalled times with her parents, especially camping and hiking.
  • JP was asked “why does time fly?” He gave examples from his life where time went really fast, but also that time can sometimes be sooo slow.
  • Patrick talked about “what he would change in the past?” He told how he stands by most of the important decisions he made in his life.
  • “How do you kill time?”  When given this question, Elena movingly explained that time is our life and that what we waste, can’t be gotten back. For her time is for being with people who are important  to her.
  • Lastly, Craig talked about “what is the right time to do something you don’t like?”.  He beautifully told about what was “the right time” and gave some clear images of a time when he learned to enjoy flying.

Craig was voted best Table Topics speaker.


Our sole speaker tonight was Oliver, who delivered an excellent speech with the title: Turning empty reeds to torches. (Strategic Relationships #1-1 – Icebreaker).  In his speech Oliver told of how he was drawn to the field of science, how he experienced teachers who often just provided information but little inspiration.  Near the end of the speech he quoted a Greek philosopher who said that education  was not akin to filling an empty vessel but rather lighting a fire of passion for knowledge (reeds to torches).
As Oliver’s Evaluator, JP praised Oliver’s technical set-up, the entertaining “cascade of stories” he used, and in general the strong delivery and message of his presentation.  JP suggested that the speech might have been even stronger if Oliver had helped the audience understand where he was taking them at the start of the speech, maybe with questions such as “what do you think makes for a great teacher”.


Please join us for our next meeting on the 9th of August.

Best wishes, Jeff

Mannheim Int. Toastmasters


Here is a photo of the evening: