Festivals [Meeting Report of 2021-10-26]

“Festivals”, theme of the Toastmaster Meeting on 26th October, 2021

“Festivals are happy places, and you don’t really want to enjoy them on your own”, by Christine and the Queens. Our presiding officer Poorana started off the meeting with a round table on the best festival the members had experienced. Also our guests – Harriet and Ulrike who were with us before and two new guests Kevin and Gaurav – took the chance to talk and contribute. Thanks a lot.

Prior to the warming up phase the roles were filled spontaneously, Poorana did the timing, Ulrike took up the role as Ah-counter and had an eye on the filler words, Harriet – as a native speaker – focused on the use of the English language the Grammarian of the evening.

As Toastmaster of the evening Sybille referred to the theme with a quote by David Binder” Festivals promote diversity, they bring neighbors into dialogue, they increase creativity, they offer opportunities for civic pride, they improve our general psychological well-being. In short, they make cities better places to live.”

Jeff started the warming up phase with the word of the evening “revelry” – example “The lottery winner was exhausted after a long night of revelry.” The word was used twice in the course of the evening. The joke explained the difference between wit and a joke:

        A young filmmaker, excited to be part of his first film festival, is attending a talk between a director and a writer. At the end of the talk he asks the question:
        What is the difference between wit and a joke?
        The writer looks at him for a second, picks up his glass of water and pours it over the filmmakers head and says “this is a joke.”
        Surprised by this sudden act the young filmmaker stutters, “and what is wit?
        The writer responds, “Wit is dry.”

Eloisa was the Table Topics master of the evening and asked four questions:
1. In festivals we are surrounded by delicious food. Which is your favorite food when you are celebrating?
    Gaurav talked about Indian festivals and made our mouths watery describing all the delicacies offered there.

2. Festivals are sometimes spooky like the Mexican way of celebrating the “day of the dead”. Kala depicts an Indian festival not at all like Halloween when families reunite and say good bye to their loved ones who passed away.

3. Which is the best gift you have received at a festival? Kevin remembers Easter times when he and his brother were looking for Easter eggs.
    For him the memory on spending time with his brother at this occasion was more important than the eggs.

4. Festivals and holidays can be stressful. Can you give an example? JP mentioned that shopping for presents can be annoying, especially when the people say they don’t want anything.

Thanks to the commitment of our guest Joy from the Spa Speakers, Leamington Spa, England, we had one prepared speech “Growing with gravitas”.  Joy referred to a book by Caroline Goyder called Gravitas. Caroline is a renowned voice coach and speaker in England and around the world. Her speech was evaluated by JP. He praised her great presence and charisma, especially the way Joy smiled and took us in to her speech. Her speech would have even been stronger with more personal examples and less focusing on the book.

Finally, Jeff as General Evaluator, asked for the reports of the Ah-counter and Grammarian. Both did an excellent job. All in all again an excellent meeting. For the round table he suggested to give a time limit because the contributions tended to be a bit long.

Since there was only one speech we only voted for the best TT speaker. The award was given to our guest Kevin. Congratulations!

Thanks to Sybille for this great recap!

Best wishes and hope to see you all at our next meeting on the 9th of November.

Jeff for the Mannheim International Toastmasters.

(ps: if you are looking for a Toastmaster Halloween treat, I recommend the Vancouver club that I have mentioned previously.

Saltspring Canada TM Online; https://us02web.zoom.us/j/984893810    Meeting ID: 984 893 810 . They have a Halloween themed evening on Sunday, 11 o’clock Vancouver time.

Please check the time because Mainland Europe goes off Daylight Savings-time tonight, so instead of a 9 hour difference there will just be an eight hour difference from Germany, etc..)

Here is a photo of the meeting:

Meeting Report of 2021-10-12

Our President Poorana was back after having to miss the meetings for almost two months.  All of us, including Poorana, were delighted to have him and his kind energy back.

Again, we were able to welcome a new member to the club: Ksenija, who has lived in many places throughout the world and is a experienced Toastmaster who will surely bring good stories and energy to the club. Area Director and Toastmaster friend Adam McConnaughy was back, always a pleasure to have him as guest; and Ulrike was here for the third time, which gives us hope she may consider joining the club sometime soon.

JP led us through the evening as TME.  Besides being a  competent host, JP shared information for all on how to use easyspeak to best use the clubs resources.

Eloisa did a great job in her first time role as Table Topics master. Here the questions she brought about vacations:

  • 1 Adam: Your best green vacation. Adam talked about loving the warmth of some vacation locations.
  • 2 Kala: Your best travel experience. Kala talked immediately of how wonderful her vacation in Egypt was.,
  • 3 Ksenija: Your most interesting experience with food on vacation.  She told of loving to travel, and the the food was always exciting, but just one  part of the joy.
  • 4 Jeff: If you could bring along 3 persons from an earlier time with you on vacation, who would it be.  I loved the question and imagined vacationing with three of my favorites: Epictetus from ancient Rome; Henry Miller, the American author, and Mark Twain.

I was kindly voted in as best TTs speaker tonight.

The one prepared speech was from Kala, who was doing her Icebreaker.  The title: Life is Beautiful. As Kala’s Evaluator, I was flabbergasted (the Word of the Day) by how much talent Kala demonstrated in her first project: clear language, great content that told us lots about her life and her values. Well done Kala!
Best wishes to you all, Jeff

Humility [Meeting Report of 2021-09-28]

“There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.”― Ernest Hemingway

Dear friends,

we had another exciting evening. Here are some cornerstones of the meeting:

We had 14 participants.
•    We again welcomed a new member: Kala.  Kala, so glad to have you as a part of our Toastmaster family!
•    We had 7 guests: first time guests Ayumi (new to Toastmasters), Ela (who is a member of a club in Poland), Ksenjia (an experienced Toastmaster who just moved to Mannheim), and Faiz, an experienced Toastmaster from India and a guest speaker for tonight. Harriet and Andreas were with us for the second time. We were also glad to welcome Christiane back as a guest who we are always glad to see.
•    I was Toastmaster of the Evening and General Evaluator.
•    Oliver was our Presiding Officer and did a great job as Table Topics Master.
•    Joke Master was Martin, and Ksenjia jumped in spontaneously to help out as our Timer.
•    Craig did his usual great job as Grammarian and Ah-Counter.

For the Table Topics Oliver brought in some wise quotes from some very wise people; e.g., Einstein and Gandhi. Here are the questions and the participants who dared to give their thoughts regarding some challenging questions: 

•    Kala spoke about humility in a situation where somebody helped her.
•    Ela talked about the difference between humility and modesty.
•    Christiane expanded on the role of humility in realizing you might be wrong about something.
•    Harriet dealt with humility as a source of guidance.
•    And Andreas spoke about the experience of becoming better through losing.

Congratulations to Harriet, who was awarded the Best TT Speaker for tonight.

We had two prepared speeches.

Jan-Philipp’s (J.P.) project  was Presentation Mastery #2-1 – Effective Body Language. The title of his speech says it all: Deep Dark Holes, a truly funny tale of his fascination with digging deep at the beach as a child. Sriram did a wonder job as his Evaluator, giving specific examples of what made J.P.’s humor work, and how his body language added to the effect.

The second speech was from our guest speaker Faiz, who was working on Level 2, Intro to TM Mentoring. His speech title was: Coach – today and tomorrow. Faiz shared with us his excitement about being a mentor, and gave a number of examples of Toastmasters he has guided in their development.  Martin was the Evaluator  for Faiz, and also shined with concrete examples of what worked in the speech, but also found specific suggestions for improvement on how to make this speech even more effective.

We had two really great evaluations, and Martin was chosen as the Best Evaluator for the evening.

I want to close with one more quote on humility:

“On the highest throne in the world, we still sit only on our own bottom.”
― Michel de Montaigne, The Complete Essays

Our next meeting is on the 12th of October, we would love to have you join us!
Best wishes to you all, Jeff

Here is a snapshot of the evening:

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.