Saturday, July 18, 2015

July 14 2015 Theme:Leadership

“Leadership cannot really be taught, it can only be learned.” ~~ Harold S. Geneen

Welcome to the second meeting in July blog. Today, we had 3 guests attend our meeting. 

Barb was our toastmaster today.

The GAT(e) team was: Julie as Grammarian (Pernicious), Andrew as the Ah Counter, Nicki as the Timer and Jean as the evaluator.

Jung was our first speaker today She offered her 1st
Speech from the Competent Communicator Manual, Project #1 – Ice Breaker. The title of her speech was “New Priorities”. She completed her speech within 7 minutes.

Jung began her talk by sharing with us her belief that setting priorities is important for leading a balanced life. She was a Korean literature teacher in her home country Korea. While in her 40’s, due to a better job opportunity that her husband got, she and her family (husband and 2 daughters) moved to Seattle.

Her priorities changed while raising her daughters in America. Wanting to be the best mother to her children, she decided to stay home and give them the best education possible.

Today she and her husband are the proud parents of a doctor and a lawyer. Jung’s elder daughter is a practicing doctor in Boston. She went on to graduate from MIT, then to receive a PhD in Immunology from Oxford and thereafter to Harvard to earn her MD. Her younger daughter graduated from UW, Seattle and studied law. Currently, she is a practicing attorney in Seattle.

After her daughters moved out, she realized it was time to reprioritize her goals in life. 6 years ago, she discovered her passion for oil paintings. She took art lessons, met many artists and visited museums around the world. Painting gives her a peace of mind and a sense of accomplishment. She shared with us 2 beautiful oil paintings that she made. She aims to have her own exhibition one day.

Her desire to improve English communication skills led her to Toastmasters.  She thoroughly enjoys being a part of our club. Today, she is thrilled to have new priorities and goals – working on improving her oil painting skills, becoming fluent in English and building her self-confidence.

Amritha was her evaluator.  She liked how well Jung introduced us to herself and her family in her short Ice Breaker Speech. She appreciated Jung sharing her viewpoint on prioritizing and setting goals.

Amritha liked that Jung’s speech was well-organized, clear and audible with good pauses. She congratulated Jung on not using any notes. She appreciated Jung sharing her paintings with the club.
As a suggestion, she encouraged Jung to move out in front of the podium and get comfortable with the stage space in future speeches. She also suggested that Jung could have passed her paintings during the course of her speech instead of towards the end.

Our second speaker was Sepideh (Sep).  She offered her
her 1st Speech from the Competent Communicator Manual, Project #1 – Ice Breaker. She completed her speech within 6 minutes. 
Through her Ice Breaker, Sep shared with us her experiences in JinZhou (pronounced Gin-Joe), China – where she was an English teacher for a local university for 3 years.

Sep graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in Communication Journalism. Through her friends, she came across a Chinese company looking to hire English teachers for their University in China. Though she had little hopes of getting accepted, her desire to lead a less stressful life and enthusiasm to visit another country led her to apply for the position. To her surprise she was accepted.

Eager to travel to a new country she did her paperwork, packed and within weeks was in China. Being a foreigner, she carried with her a mandarin phrase book which she hoped would help her to communicate with local people.
One day, on a cold winters evening she was walking along the street in Tiananmen Square, hungry and thirsty. Not able to find a restaurant, she approached a guard who was close by, and asked “Where is restaurant?” in English but the man did not understand even a single word. She tried to tell him using signs and then used her phrase book to show the guard what she meant. She soon realized he didn’t know to read.

At last, she said “Woalla” meaning “I am hungry” in Chinese. She learnt this from her brother whose goal in life was to learn “I am hungry” in all languages. The guard had a hearty laugh and pointed her in the direction of the closest restaurant. A one mile walk led her to McDonalds.
During her 3 year stay, she made great friendships and found some of her best friends. Sep shared with us her Chinese driver’s license and 2 pictures – one of herself in a Chinese costume and the other with a friend.
Sep was voted the best speaker.

Alice was her evaluator. Alice appreciated how Sep started her speech with a question - a great interactive start to any speech. She liked how Sep walked to the front of the stage and presented herself without just staying behind the podium.
She gave kudos to Sep’s natural, smooth body language with good hand gestures. The use of humor throughout Sep’s speech was well appreciated.

As a suggestion, Alice recommended Sep to talk a bit louder.

Our third speaker was Naser.  He offered his 4th Speech
from the Humorously Speaking Manual. The title was "Weatherman". Through his hilarious speech, Naser shared with us how he earned the nick name "Weatherman”. He completed the speech within 8 minutes.

In the year 2005, while being dissatisfied with the job he had in India, Naser decides to look for a new job. When the upper management learns about this, he gets a call from the VP of his company with a better proposition for him – a job offer to manage a team in Boston, MA.

Instead of listening to his brain (which weighs the pros and cons of the offer) or to his heart, he chooses to listen to his wife (so that if things did not work out well, he could blame it on her) whose desire is to come to US.

Before his travel, he gets trained to familiarize himself with US culture. In the training, he is informed never to have a conversation with Americans about family, religion, and politics – he is left wondering what was left to start a conversation. That is when he is told it is always ok to talk about the weather.

Shortly thereafter, he gets posted to Illinois. His friend receives him at the airport. Naser is eager to have a conversation with his friend about family, children etc. but did not want to offend him in any way. So the only topic remaining to Naser is to talk about the weather. The next day at work after being introduced to the team, to start the conversation, again he talks about weather. And thus began his journey towards earning the nickname “weatherman”.

A few years later, he was transferred to Seattle. He faces situations where he has to interact with clients. Due to lack of topics for conversations, sometimes he chooses to be quiet and sometimes, talks about weather.

Ultimately, he went to his first toastmasters club in Bellevue. There he met toastmasters who spoke about family, relationships and much more. He fell in love with the energy, passion and enthusiasm of these men and women and decided to become a member. Since that day, he has actively participated in toastmasters.

Jim was his evaluator. He appreciated that throughout the speech, Naser stood with confidence and took deliberate strides. He especially liked the humor that Naser put into the beginning of his story – passing the choice to his wife thus insulating himself from criticism.

As a suggestion, Jim offered Naser to consider using props – one to depict his move from India to US and another related to weather, to set the stage up for humor.

Jim was voted the best evaluator.

Jean was our general evaluator today. She appreciated Robert who volunteered to lead the pledge of allegiance in the absence of Lynne. She also appreciated Naser who took over Linda’s role to preside over the meeting and to welcome guests.

She explained the importance of timing speeches. She pointed out that if speakers were to take part in competitions or speak in events outside the club, it is important that they stay within time limits. She gave a brief description to our guests about the sandwich model of evaluations.

She also suggested that evaluations should always end with a summary of the points already made – the compliments, suggestions and compliments (sandwich method).

Robert was our humorist today. He shared with us a conversation between a husband and a wife. The wife is making fried eggs for both of them. Her husband walks into kitchen, looks at the stove and her and starts micro-managing her egg frying procedure with screams, panic and anxiety.
Listening to her husband, she asks, “Do you think I don’t know how to make fried eggs?”
The husband replies, “Honey, I just wanted you to experience how it feels while I drive with you in the car!!!”

Towards the end of the meeting Naser presented awards. Nicki, Jung and Sep received their Certificate of Achievement for completing their Ice Breaker speech. Robert received the Competent Leadership award for taking up leadership roles in the club and mentoring fellow club members.

Attendees were:  Naser, Jim, Dave, Alice, Rance, Sep, Grace, Robert, Nicki, Julie, Jean, Jerry, Andrew, Amritha, Jung, Barb along with 3 guests: Dan K., Jessica P. and Liz L.
Our active membership total currently is at 30.

Respectfully Submitted,

Amritha Imandi, Secretary
Public Speaking Northwest #9406


  1. Amritha, thanks for the very thorough summary!

  2. The speeches were especially good. I enjoyed Naser's account of how he learned about American customs. It is always so much fun to see your culture through another's eyes.

  3. Amritha, you wrote an outstanding summary of the meeting. Your listening abilities are vast. And your writing skills are super.

    One suggestion, you may have worked too hard to give us this account. To not "burn out," consider writing less. Also, if you give so much, non-attending members won't wonder what they missed. You are a big "giver" and, I know, this will be hard for you.