Thursday, February 26, 2015

Feb. 24, 2015 Theme: Greek Gods And Goddesses

According to Greek Mythology, humans were originally created with 4 arms, 4 legs and a head with two faces. Fearing their power, Zeus split them into two separate parts, condemning them to spend their lives in search of their other halves. ~~ unknown

Welcome to our last February meeting blog. On this day, we had the pleasure of becoming acquainted with 2 guests.  Our winning contestants, Naser and Linda from our club contest last week received their personally engraved trophies.

Alice was our toastmaster who conducted a very full meeting. She briefly talked about why the Greeks invented their multiple Gods and Goddesses as a way of explaining the realities of the world like thunderstorms and the 4 seasons. Both Mythology via stories and Philosophy helped amplify the world as it was known then, prior to Science getting a firm grip much later on.
The GAT(e)  team was: Kimberley as Grammarian (Kudos), Jessica as the Ah Counter, and Jung as Timer.           

Lynne was our first speaker of the afternoon. She completed the 8th project (Get Comfortable With Visual Aids) of the Competent Communicator Manual in 7:40 minutes. Her speech title was "Beyond Fortissimo: Discovering Mission" Her visual aid was a powerpoint presentation via her computer and the club’s projector.

In her speech, Lynne first told about a U.S. marine, who served in Iraq in 2004, who was very clear about his military mission. She referred to a book by Donovan Campbell, called The Leader’s Code, which concerns itself with a Leader’s mission, character, service and getting the job done.

She referred back to her previous speech #6, entitled: “From Pianissimo to Fortissimo, Living Out Loud.” given back on November 4, 2014, in which she reversed procrastination. Here, she is accepting the challenge of focusing outward to offer service as the Chairperson of her Yacht Club for 2015 that involves planning and organizing for Opening Day on May 2, 2015. (Her husband will be 1st mate in this new activity.)

Jim was her evaluator. Jim was impressed with her audio-visual skills with the power-point slides and admired the flow of her talk. He recommended that she use more vocal variety, even to the point of yelling to provide greater contrast and power that underlines her determination to go beyond self-protection into leadership.

Our second speaker, Naser, completed his 10th project (Inspire Your Audience), from the Competent Communicators Manual in 8:29 minutes. The name of his speech was "What Does Great Mean?Naser introduced his talk by managing  to not impress his son with the concept of greatness. This led him to entertain the title question, “Am I great?” And “If so, why?”  He determined that he was not extraordinary nor a hero. His own heroes were his Grandmother, who looked after him as a teenager and his best friend in College, who stood with him and told him the truth. Both of these people touched his life emotionally and repeatedly.

Naser has chosen this speech to be streamlined and given at the Area 54 International Speech contest on March 25, 2015 (at the Seattle Times Building at 6PM).

Jean was his evaluator. She noticed that he had excellent eye contact with individual audience members which has a contagious effect. His voice was strong, although there was a tendency to reduce volume at the end of a sentence or paragraph, making it hard to understand what was said. By improving pronunciation of his words, this can be overcome. (me: also deeper breathing?). She also encouraged him to reduce his speech by 2 minutes to insure he doesn’t exceed the 5-7 minute contest speech duration.

Jean was voted Best Evaluator.

Our third speaker, Amritha, completed her 2nd project (Organize Your Speech), from the Competent Communicators Manual in 7:10 minutes. The name of her speech was "Believe That All Things Are Possible".  Amritha introduced her talk by relating a personal story of healing. She was assisted by 2 women that helped her navigate through a difficult time in her life. One was a friend of her husband who was a long term cancer survivor. She demonstrated that a positive attitude affected health, lifestyle, food choices.
The other was a naturopath who was a huge contrast to her previous physician, who could only prescribe tests and supplements. The Naturopath met with her for 90 minutes to understand Amritha as a whole, not only her symptoms. After an expensive blood test, recommended that she change her diet severely: i.e. Brown Rice, Quinoa, Apple Cider Vinegar in Water before meals, Fruits and Vegetables. At the end of two months she was healed; At the end of 5 months, she became pregnant!

Both Amritha and Naser were voted Best Speaker in a tie.

Linda was her Evaluator. Linda expressed how inspired she felt after Amritha’s speech. She said the enumerated suggestions were valuable, helpful and timely when she needed them. Linda recommended taking more space in the U shaped area of the conference room. In fact, walking deep into the audience area for a closer connection, using more vocal variety as well as pauses in her story and refining her speech to enable more time for the conclusion, which was impactful.

Due to time constraints, Table Topics/ Humorist with Robert was skipped and will occur "elsewhen".

Attendees were:  Linda, Lynne, Jean, Jim, Robert, Barb, Pauline, Alice, Jung, Grace, Amritha, Kimberley, Jessica, Naser, Dave, Diane, Kathy along with guests: David P. and Pam R. Both of our guests, Dave P. and Pam R. joined our club today.  Our membership total is now at 25.

~~~~~ Respectfully Submitted by Robert, the Secretary [Write or comment] ~~~~~

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Feb. 17th, 2015 Theme: International Speech And Evaluation Contests

All language is a popularity contest. ~~ Erin McKean

Welcome to our semi-annual club contest meeting blog. On this day, we were delighted to welcome 7 guests.  

Jean was our toastmaster for the contests. In addition to providing a special written agenda, she also provided contest-like scoring sheets with tear-off voting preferences for each contest. The scoring sheet contained the criteria and suggested point values to distinguish the best in each contest category.
The meeting was conducted like an area level set of contests to give the winning contestants the experience of rehearsing for the area level contests.
The (Ga)T(e) single member team was: Jim as Timer.           
Naser was our only contest speaker of the afternoon. He completed his speech entitled "Cooking With Love" in 9:00 minutes. Consequently, he will go on to participate in the area-level International Speech contest.

In his speech, Naser described the changes that started when he became a first time father-to-be. He had never cooked before and decided to make it a goal for his wife and himself. He connected Life with Cooking as it had the qualities of creativity, passion, strong intention and Love. He humorously described the plight of his wife being unwilling to eat healthily, so he managed to disguise the healthy ingredients by preparing over-powering tastes to cover the healthy ingredients and evading announcing specific ingredients of the various meals to her. He came equipped with Apron and Spatula.

Naser is planning a different speech for the Area level International Speech contest, which we will see and hear in the next two weeks.

Towards the end of the meeting, Jean conducted a round-robin audience evaluation of Naser’s speech.

Melissa B. was the target speaker for the evaluation contest. Melissa is a member of the Canyon Park Echoes Toastmaster Club and kindly consented to speak here to let the evaluators focus on a new and outside speaker. Her speech was entitled: "25 Cents In The Therapy Jar".

Her very humorous and anecdotal speech allowed us to share in the experiences and the coping mechanisms involved with learning to be an effective mother. She labeled herself as a “Tiger Copter” mom (!), and later a “Let’s keep it Real” mom. She was completely focused on her son’s proper upbringing, no matter how responsibility-averse he tried to be.

 Robert was the first evaluator (determined by guessing the closest number to Jean’s chosen number.  He praised her delivery and various speech characteristics and recommended that she actually bring in a therapy jar with enough quarters in it to make noise.


Linda was the second evaluator (who, while deliberately outside the room, did not hear Robert’s evaluation). She offered praise for Melissa’s speech, body language, eye contact, and use of humor. She had several recommendations including slowing down in her speaking somewhat and also suggested bringing in a Therapy Jar as a prop.

Linda was voted the winner of the Evaluation contest and both She and Naser will go on to participate in the Area-level Contests on March 25, 2015 in the Seattle Times Building at 6PM.

Each contestant was interviewed while the ballots were counted

All contestants were given Participation Certificates and the winners will receive personalized trophies with their name engraved.

Attendees were:  Lynne, Jean, Jim, Robert, Barb, Pauline, Alice, Jung, Grace, Amritha, Kimberley, Jessica, Naser, Linda along with guests: Diana W., Victoria W., Myrna R, Barbara R., David P., Anisha A. and Melissa B.  Anisha, one of our guests, joined our club today.  Our membership total is now at 23.

~~~~~ Respectfully Submitted by Robert, the Secretary [You’re invited to comment] ~~~~~

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Feb. 10th, 2015 Theme: Success

80% of success consists of just showing up. ~~ Woody Allen

Welcome to our 6th meeting of the year and this Blog. Today, we had the pleasure of receiving 6 guests. Jean acted as president since Linda was away at the U.S.-Asia Education Winter Summit Conference.

Amritha was our toastmaster. She told about the ingredients for success. She made the point that success is not a consequence of smartness or luck. Her success acronym:
See your goal;
Understand the obstacles;
Create a positive mental picture;
Clear your mind of self-doubt;
Embrace the challenge;
Stay on track;
Show the world you can do it.

She also recommended a Ted Talk by Richard St. John that offered the secrets of real success.
The GAT(e) team was: Lynne as Grammarian (achieve), Jung as "Ah" Counter, Kimberley as Timer.      
Robert was our first speaker of the afternoon. He completed the 1st project (The Entertaining Speech) from the Advanced Entertaining Speaker Manual in 8:30 minutes. His speech title was "Blogging for Profit, Duty and Fun". As introduced by Amritha, the word blog (originally web log) was defined as an easily updatable, online, interactive, dated diary.

In his speech, Robert described his 3 blog efforts. The one for profit was his Erasable Games blog ( where, during 2007-2008, he produced 84 weekly cartoons and descriptions of many different Sudoku puzzle variations.  His handout showed the cartoon evolution between the first and last blog post. Throughout his talk, he offered several blog quotes that were appropriate to each of the blog efforts he undertook.

His current blog activities include the weekly toastmaster blog update (as meeting secretary) on (which you are now reading) and a Math and Computing blog ( where he writes about accessible math and computing topics (e.g. the constant π (pi) ). 

Naser was his evaluator. Naser explained his utter delight in being able to respond to his wife’s questioning: What happened at the toastmaster meeting? Naser: Please read the toastmaster blog and look at my pictures. He was very grateful for Robert’s consistent attention to detail in describing the meeting. Because Robert used papers in his talk to accurately speak quotes from time to time, he suggested that the papers be put down when not quoting. He also suggested that Robert could increase audience understanding by talking louder.  

Naser won as best evaluator (tie).

Our second speaker, Alice, completed her 6th project (Vocal Variety), from the Competent Communication Manual in 6:40 minutes. The name of her speech was "Hear What You Hear". Alice introduced her talk by quoting (“mimicking”) children about their writings and being interrupted. 

She said that listening is input and speaking is output. She explained that it is very important not to interrupt and/or jump to (erroneous) conclusions. 

We interrupt because:
• We are smart
• We are eager to help
• We are forgetful, so we must (over)talk now.

It is important to patiently listen and be curious, since the other person’s end of the conversation may surprise you. Since we have 2 ears and 1 mouth, we should listen more than we speak. Listening shows love and caring.

Alice was voted best speaker.

Dave was Alice’s evaluator. Dave appreciated Alice’s variation with her speech patterns and her good eye contact with the many members of the audience. He empathized with her as he recalls his wife finishing his sentences for him (and sometimes incorrectly). He liked the excellent points Alice made about listening. He was positively impressed with her dignity, poise and great presence as she spoke. He suggested that perhaps she could move around rather than be at a single comfort spot.

Dave won as best evaluator (tie).

In harmony with today’s theme, Jim, the Table Topics Master, provided a collection of questions relating to success, chosen by number (1-5). Three improvisers variously talked about who is more successful, John F. Kennedy or Bill Gates; Most inspiring successful person: Abraham Lincoln; What success can be achieved in Toastmasters?  Naser, responded by talking about Alice In Wonderland being led by the special cat, and was our best table topics speaker.

Jean recognized Grace as having given her Icebreaker speech (and translating it into Cbinese) at yesterday’s Toastmaster segment at the U.S.-Asia Education Winter Summit Conference in Seattle.  See the February 9, 2015 blog post, below, for a summary of that meeting.

Attendees were:  Lynne, Jean, Jim, Robert, Barb, Pauline, Alice, Jung, Grace, Amritha, Kimberley, Dave, Naser along with guests: Diana W., Jessica K., Echo L., Kyle Y, Anisha A. and Divi P.  Jessica and Diana, two of our guests, joined our club today.  Our membership total is now at 22.

~~~~~ Respectfully Submitted by Robert, the Secretary [write now – in a comment] ~~~~~