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

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: