Saturday, April 30, 2016

April 26th 2016 Theme – Superstitions Surrounding Cats

“People that hate cats will come back as mice in their next life…” ~~ Faith Resnick

Welcome to the fourth meeting in April.

         Pauline was the toastmaster of the day.

The GAT(e) team comprised of Grammarian – Pratap (surreal), Ah-Counter – Tobias and Timer – Chizuko.

Anisha was the first speaker of the day. She completed Project #8 from the CC Manual – Using Visual Aids. Title of her talk - “The Hidden Enemy in our Lives” which she completed within 7 minutes.

Anisha shared with us a story of how she felt irritated during one of her camp trips when she was awakened from restful sleep by the barking of a dog. With no idea of how to stop the dog from barking incessantly, she woke up tired and angry. She points out how we in this generation, leading a contemporary lifestyle get irritated, angry and stressed out very soon. A book that helped her understand the mechanics of stress is Super Genes by Deepak Chopra.

While different strategies like time management, compassionate communication, avoiding multitasking, joining a Toastmasters club etc are available to combat stress, one solution that has radically enhanced her ability to be less stressful is – meditation. Anisha shares that through meditation we are able to connect to the stillness in our body. We become our own creators and embrace all possibilities willingly. 

Anisha was voted the best speaker.

Lynne was her evaluator. Lynne appreciated Anisha on her well-prepared and presented talk. She started off with a story that immediately captured audience’s attention. The visual aids added positively to the message of her talk. As a suggestion, Lynne offered Anisha to perhaps use few more slides emphasizing couple more crucial points of her talk and work on a stronger conclusion.

Lynne was voted the best evaluator.

Nancy was our second speaker. She completed Project #1
from CC Manual – Ice Breaker. Title of her talk “Life on Purpose” which she completed within 6 mins.

Through her speech, Nancy walked us through a series of events from her life that led her to discover the purpose of her life. Her career started years ago in the biotech field. Though she had a good pay with lots of benefits, her inner desire to find her true passion led her to be a volunteer in “Stand Up for Kids” – an organization that devotes itself to working with homeless kids.  There she worked one-on-one with homeless kids supporting and encouraging them.

Her growing discontent being in the biotech industry led her to quit her job. At that time, since coaching seemed right to her, she got trained as a coach and earned job in a coaching company. After a series of ups and downs as an employee in the coaching firm, she decided to set up her own company. Today, Nancy is a Life on Purpose Coach and with her own company “Reclaim Courage”. She and her company works with Cocoon House, an organization that helps young people navigate through tough situations in life.

Warren was her evaluator. He greatly appreciated Nancy for all the speaking skills that she already has. With great confidence, body gestures and by including stories from her life, Nancy delivered a fabulous Ice Breaker. As a suggestion, Warren offered Nancy not to walk into the audience space, instead stay back in the speaker space so that her voice and facial expressions are projected throughout the room.

Jean, our table topics master had some quotes for the speakers to talk on.

Madhuri, our first table topics speaker spoke about how she overcame the English language barrier and taught herself to communicate in English when she joined College. Prior to her college years, her entire schooling was in her local language. Her mother played a pivotal role by encouraging Madhuri to keep moving forward and to Never Give Up.

Emery, our return guest spoke about the mask of procrastination that he has been wearing. He asks himself – When is the right time to remove that mask? By believing that he can achieve the tasks he anticipates to do, he knows he is half way there.

Jan shared her view of life – it is all about trying, taking chances, and stretching oneself. While there is one voice within us which always doubts the decisions and risks we are willing to take, there is another voice that pushes us to keep moving forward. She persuades us to take new chances and venture into new adventures.

Tobias spoke about how unique Michael Jackson and Prince were. With a demonstration of some of their dance moves, Tobias set the audience in laughter. Both of the musicians did things that no one else did, they stuck their neck out and the joy of trying set them free.

Julie spoke about how destructive fear can become. When people get afraid, many times they hurt others. She suggests to overcome fear in the world, get all the politicians in a TM meeting with the theme – Friends Helping Friends.

Jung shared with us how she learned English as a non-native English speaker. She took tiny steps after arriving here from South Korea. They included attending ESL classes, followed by attending writing classes and now she is learning Public Speaking by being a part of our club.

Tobias was voted the best table topics speaker. 

We had 1 return guest (Emery) and 15 members in attendance.

Member attendees were: Amritha, Anisha, Chizuko, Jan, Jean, Jim, Julie, Jung, Lynne, Madhuri, Nancy, Pratap, Pauline, Tobias and Warren.

Respectfully Submitted,
Amritha Imandi, Secretary

Public Speaking Northwest #9406.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

April 19th 2016 Theme – Poker Is Fun

“The beautiful thing about poker is that everybody thinks they can play.” ~~ Chris Moneymaker

Welcome to the third meeting in April.

Grace was the toastmaster of the day.

The GAT(e) team comprised of: Grammarian – Hadaya (discourse), Ah-Counter – Warren and Timer – Jim.

Lynne was the first speaker of the day. She completed Project #3 from the Story Telling Manual – The Moral of the Story. The title of her talk - “The Angel Lady” which she completed within 7 minutes.

Lynne started her talk with a conversation that occurs between an old woman and her granddaughter Ashley. After watching a superhero movie, Ashley is convinced that being a superhero is the only way to help people. In response to Ashley’s viewpoint, her grandma narrates a story.

The grandma’s story revolves around Marlyn who works as a sales associate at the local drug store. Her job helps her support her ailing husband and herself. She makes friendship with 2 older women who are regular customers at the store. One night, while Marlyn was stalking shelves at the store and her mind was occupied by thoughts of her husband’s cancer reports, a male customer walks in furiously and behaves in a harsh manner. Marlyn is greatly saddened.

Due to the lack of any other sales people that day at the store, she soon gets back to work. Within minutes one of the old lady walks in. Concerned by Marlyn’s sad face, she enquires about the cause of her sadness. Marlyn shares her experience. The old lady hugs Marlyn and flips a small thing “A Sweet Little Angel” into her pocket.
Marlyn carried the Sweet Little Angel with her all the time. During tough times, it reminded her of the old lady’s kindness. Through this story, Ashley learns that in order to help others, one does not need to be a superhero. By our simple acts of kindness, one can be really helpful – just like the old lady.

Lynne was voted the best speaker.

Kathy was her evaluator. She appreciated Lynne’s original story and her story telling skills filled with conversations, various characters, vivid imagery, body language and descriptions well-tied with the moral of the story. As a suggestion, she offered Lynne to use more vocal variety esp. the little girls voice to make the story even more effective.

Jung was our second speaker. She completed Project #3 from CC Manual – Get to the Point. The Title of her talk “Life Lessons I Learned from Hiking” which she completed within 7 mins.

Through her speech, Jung shared with us the life lessons that she learned while going on hikes with her husband:

1.  Patience and Perseverance – While Jung finds going uphill is always challenging, without any clear picture of the path ahead, she has learnt that taking one step at a time with patience and perseverance is the key.

2.  Enjoy what is right around you – Jung talks about the beauty that is right around her while going up the trail. Instead of thinking about what is next, when she appreciates what is right around her – flowers, rocks, waterfalls etc; the journey becomes easier.

3.  Do not give up – Right before reaching the summit, she finds that the path is the toughest – resulting in temptations of giving up or turning back. Jung advices that we should not give up, rather keep going. Once at the summit, the feeling of accomplishment is just amazing.

By sharing her experiences, Jung encourages us to have patience, perseverance, overcome challenges, enjoy the beautiful moments around us and keep going steadily towards the summit of life.

Anisha was her evaluator. She commended Jung on her
well-organized speech packed with wisdom. Without any crutch words, Jung did a great job at delivering her inspirational speech with appropriate pauses making it very easy for audience to receive her messages.

Pratap was our third speaker. He completed Project #1
from CC Manual – Ice Breaker. The Title of his talk “Searching for myself” which he completed within 6 mins.

Born and raised in a small town in India, Pratap belongs to a middle class family of farmers. As a child, he dreamt of becoming a scientist. He had great love for math and science subjects. As he grew up, his ambitions also grew. He now dreamed to be an entrepreneur. Many questions arose. What was his passion, what did he want to really do? His search led him to a weird point in his life where he questioned himself “What is the purpose of my life?”

After he participated in a 10-day meditation camp called Vippasana in California, every bit of his thinking changed. With strict rules of no talking, no eye contact with fellow meditators and no gadgets; each day was filled with 10 hours of meditation. The teaching behind practice of Vippasana is self-transformation through self-observation. It was here that Pratap found his answers. He says that the purpose of life is simple – be of service to other people. He further says that passion is a positive energy inside each one of us and it is up to the individual to unlock it.

Amritha was his evaluator. She appreciated Pratap’s confident stage presence, organizational skills and clear delivery of his Ice Breaker. Amritha offered Pratap to consider stepping up to the stage with a mindset of having a conversation with a group of friends – her way of easing before talks.

Amritha was voted the best evaluator.

Jean was our general evaluator. She commended all those who had roles – esp. Grace who did a fabulous job as the toastmaster for the very first time by being well-organized and prepared with her GATe team, speakers and evaluators. She gave kudos to all the evaluators who encouragingly evaluated each speaker offering them suggestions to improve as well.

We had 2 guests (Emery and Victoria) and 14 members in attendance.

Member attendees were: Amritha, Anisha, Dan, Grace, Hadaya, Jean, Jim, Kathy, Lynne, Madhuri, Pratap, Pauline and Warren.

Respectfully Submitted,
Amritha Imandi, Secretary

Public Speaking Northwest #9406.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

April 12th 2016 Theme – Friends Helping Friends

"A good friend will help you move; but only a very good friend will help you move a body." ~~ Author Unknown

Welcome to the second meeting in April.


 Anisha, our cheerful toastmaster with her party hat!

GAT(e) team comprised of: Grammarian – Jean (distinguished), Ah-Counter – Jung and Timer – Nancy.

Chizuko was the first speaker of the day. She completed Project #8 from the CC Manual – Get Comfortable with Visual Aids. The title of her talk - “Be Aware of and Proud of Your Culture” which she completed within 7 minutes.

Through her talk, Chizuko shed light on the positive points of Japanese and American Culture. The strong point about the Japanese – they encourage students to clean their classrooms and school premises at the end of each school day. It is a practice that all students – right from elementary all the way till high school are required to do. In fact, Japanese schools don’t employ any janitors. This daily practice allows students to be more responsible and teaches them to keep their space clean.

The strong point about American culture is the opportunity available to volunteer which many people take for granted. It provides lots of experience for people in the non-profit sector. As for students, they can benefit from the hours volunteered towards their college hours. As a middle schooler, by being able to volunteer in elementary schools, her daughter is able to teach, share and connect with younger children.

Chizuko encourages all of us to think about our culture from a different perspective so that we are proud of it and not take it for granted.

Amritha was her evaluator. She gave kudos to Chizuko’s well-organized enlightening talk that she delivered with the use of just the right number of slides. By cleverly using stage space, Chizuko’s talk was well-paced. Her use of notes was perfect with no distraction to the audience. As a suggestion, she offered Chizuko to perhaps raise her volume while asking a question or look at one person while asking the question and then look at the entire audience.

Amritha was voted the best evaluator.

Sarah was our second speaker. She gave her Project #1 from CC Manual – The Ice Breaker. Title of her talk “How did I get here?” which she completed within 6 mins.
Born and raised in Washington, Sarah always dreamt of becoming an interior designer right from her school years. After a divorce in her twenties, she pursued a degree in interior designing. But soon she was diagnosed with breast cancer. After overcoming that life crisis, she took up a job at a lighting showroom. With her degree in interior designing, she was able to assist customers very well. She also got the opportunity to work on 2 of the 3 extreme home makeover projects at that time.

While the housing market crashed in 2008, Sarah lost her job, and eventually took up a job in the Energy Efficiency Dept. At age 37, she was again diagnosed with breast cancer which she successfully overcame. She soon met her now husband and they decided to drop everything and enjoy traveling the world in a sailboat. But that was not very practical and had its own ups and downs.

Hence, when a job opportunity in Puget Sound Energy came up, she readily took it. Today, Sarah and her husband have a property in Monroe where they grow their own organic vegetables and have many farm animals including chickens, turkeys and many more.

Sarah was voted the best speaker.

Julie was her evaluator. She commended Sarah on her stage presence, confidence and wonderful eye contact.  By sharing deep personal stories about herself, Sarah gave a clear glimpse of her life to the audience. As a suggestion, Julie offered Sarah to step back a little bit on stage and present herself.

Our table topics master was Warren. His questions were based on the theme of the meeting “Friends helping Friends”.

Jean shared her views about this quote by Khalil Gibran Friendship is always a sweet responsibility, never an opportunity. She shared how as a little girl she expected to make many friends and please everyone by bragging about herself. As she grew older, she learnt that was not the way to make friends. With this understanding, she made many good friends in college who happily shared their thoughts with each other.
Robert elaborated on the following quote by AlbertCamus: “Don’t walk in front of me… I may not follow, Don’t walk behind me… I may not lead, Walk beside me…. Just be my friend.” Robert’s viewpoint - When I follow someone or am followed by someone, there is a status of hierarchy that gets established. While I follow, I might decide not to do so. While being followed, I might refuse to be a leader. The essence of the saying is to maintain peer relationship by walking together.

Amritha shared her thoughts on the quote by Aristotle “What is a friend? A single soul dwelling in two bodies.” She shared about one of her family friends whom she first met as her first neighbor in Bellevue. As years passed by, their friendship grew stronger and stronger. Coincidentally, they live very closeby in the same neighborhood. Amritha recalled and shared a particular incident which in synchronous with the quote.

Colleen answered the question: “Who was/is your best friend other than another homo sapien?” She shared with us her passion towards dogs. Having grown up with dogs always, she currently owns a rescue dog named Boomer who is very affectionate and walks beside her.
Robert was voted the best table topics speaker.

We had 1 guest (Naomi) and 14 members in attendance.

Member attendees were: Amritha, Anisha, Chizuko, Colleen, Grace, Jean, Jim, Julie, Jung, Lynne, Nancy, Robert, Sarah, and Warren.

Respectfully Submitted,
Amritha Imandi, Secretary
Public Speaking Northwest #9406.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

April 5th 2016 Theme – Persistence

“Knowing trees, I understand the meaning of patience. Knowing grass, I can appreciate persistence.” ~~ Hal Borland.
Welcome to the first meeting in April.

        Amritha was the toastmaster of the day.

The GAT(e) team comprised of: Grammarian – Pratap (zenith), Ah-Counter – Chizuko and Timer – Dan.

Jean was the first speaker of the day. She completed Project #8 from the CC Manual – Get Comfortable with Visual Aids. The title of her talk - “Your Toastmaster Journey” which she completed within 10 minutes.

Through her speech, Jean walked us step by step through the journey that we take in Toastmasters. There are 2 paths that members take – Communication and Leadership tracks – and all the manuals are a subsection of these 2 tracks.

Starting with the CC and CL, the basic communication and leadership manuals respectively, each comprising of 10 projects, she explained what it meant to finish those books and how members earned stars on the charts displayed in our club. New members are helped by mentors to figure out these details in greater depth.

Upon completion of CC and CL, members move onto advanced manuals. Each Advanced Communication Manual has 5 projects and focuses on a particular genre eg: humorously speaking, persuasively speaking etc.  Moving onto the Leadership track, members have the opportunity to take up leadership roles in the club, area or higher levels. Once a member completes all the required communication manuals and has fulfilled the required leadership roles, he/she is entitled with the highest award in toastmasters – the DTM (Distinguished Toast Master).

Towards the end, Jean emphasizes that it is the journey that we as toastmasters take together that makes the learning fun and enjoyable. We are friends helping friends succeed one step at a time.  

Tobias was her evaluator. He thoroughly enjoyed her well-organized speech which helped him understand the hierarchy of toastmasters, the various manuals and the charts that are displayed in our club. By relating to club members who have accomplished various levels of proficiency, she made the talk very personal to the audience.

Warren was our second speaker of the day. He completed Project #7 from the CC manual – Research Your Topic. Title of his talk “Are You a Farmer or a Hunter?” which he completed within 7 mins.

Through his speech, Warren took us straight into the world of sales. He introduced us to the 2 broad categories in sales – Farmers (people who tend to build sales from their existing business) and Hunters (people who go out to create new businesses). Contrary to the popular negative notion of being a salesperson, in reality being in sales is about one’s ability to help another person meet their goals.

In order to be a better sales person, Warren encourages us to understand oneself – by learning what personality type we are. He shared with us a model of personality classification that he has used successfully for years. He gave us examples of how he and his wife fit in different categories. This self-awareness helps one to be more effective and patient as a listener and communicator thus allowing room for better opportunities.

Lynne was his evaluator. She gave kudos to Warren on his well-researched informative talk with personal stories weaved into it. By using the white-board to emphasize the different personality types, his talk became much clearer and understandable. As a suggestion, she offered him to possibly use more vocal variety.

Both Warren and Lynne were voted best in their respective categories.

Our third speaker was Hadaya. He completed Speech #2 from the CC Manual – Organize Your Speech. The title of his talk “Human Life and Cigarette” which he completed within 7 mins.

Hadaya walked us through the various stages of life when people might fall into the trap of cigarettes. While adolescents pick up smoking by watching their peers and parents trying to fit in the social structure around them, adults mostly fall into the trap of smoking due to stress from various factors like job, economy, relationships etc.

He further explained the immediate changes in body chemistry that happen as a result of smoking. Shedding light on the fact that that there is only temporary relief while smoking and the damage that occurs to human bodies is long term, Hadaya says smoking should be avoided at all costs. By sharing with us the story of one of his professors, Hadaya reemphasizes that smoking is never a permanent solution to any tough situation.

Grace was his evaluator. She commended Hadaya on hiswell-organized and informative talk that he gave with great confidence. With the use of his prop at the beginning, he captured the audience’s attention. With smooth transitions, he moved from one section to the other. And by ending with a personal story, he reemphasized his point that smoking is injurious to health and is never a solution for any situation.

We had 2 guests (Shreya K. and Yash K.) and 18 members (including Colleen and Madhuri as our newest members) in attendance.

Member attendees were: Amritha, Anisha, Barb, Chizuko, Colleen, Dan, Grace, Hadaya, Jean, Jim, Jing, Julie, Jung, Lynne, Madhuri, Pauline, Pratap, Robert, Tobias and Warren.

Respectfully Submitted,
Amritha Imandi, Secretary

Public Speaking Northwest #9406.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

March 29th 2016 Theme – New York Alki

Members, please note: There is still time to grab a role for the upcoming speak-a-thon
Email if you would like to play as a speaker or an evaluator for the speak-a-thon.

Seattle is polite, unlike New York i.e: “Anytime four New Yorkers get into a cab together without arguing, a bank robbery has just taken place.” ~~ Johnny Carson

Welcome to the fifth meeting in March.

Warren was the toastmaster of the day.

The GAT(e) team comprised of: Grammarian – Chizuko (prosperous), Ah-Counter – Tobias and Timer – Jim.

Jing was the first speaker of the day. She completed Project #2 from the CC Manual – Organize Your Speech. The title of her talk - “When Science Meets Real World” which she completed within 7 minutes.

Through her speech, Jing shared with us her experiences when she entered real business world after having spent years as a successful research scientist. While as a scientist, she was always provided with the best equipment, labs and never had to worry about the cost factor, once she entered the world of entrepreneurship she had to learn to manage finances and equipment more cleverly.

She had to make a switch to 3rd party manufacturers (considered not trustworthy by scientists) for her product and to her surprise the products were of very good quality and much cheaper. She pointed out how expensive and time consuming it is to file a patent and get it approved – relatively easy for institutions funding research scientists but it is a lot of money for entrepreneurs to afford. And still there are budding businesses which end up spending that extra money on patents.

In her attempt to bridge the gap between science and real world, her company has come up with a product for cat litter - Nonscents Odor Control Cat Litter Additive. If any one of you is a cat owner, you can try this product for free and in return please write your honest review.

Amritha was her evaluator. She commended Jing on her well organized, well- prepared speech. With a strong opening, she led the audience smoothly into the body of the speech with appropriate supporting material. As a suggestion, Amritha offered Jing to work speak at a little slower pace.

Amritha was voted the best evaluator.

Anisha was our second speaker of the day. She completed Project #8 from the CC manual – Research Your Topic. Title of her talk “Is Organic Food Better for You?” which she completed within 7 mins.

Through her speech, Anisha shared with us her viewpoint of consuming organic food. Her question to the audience, “Does it really make one healthier?” According to EPA, more than 600 chemicals are being used in the conventional agricultural sector. Though there are tests to determine the amount of chemicals that leach into foods grown in this manner, they are unreliable.

It definitely makes more sense to eat organic, but the increased cost factor drives many away. Her conversation with a whole foods representative revealed the dirty dozen (fruits and vegetables high in chemicals, hence prefer organic) and clean 15 (low level of chemicals). A tip to budget-friendly organic shopping – buy from completely organic food stores rather than stores that have a small organic section.

Robert was her evaluator. He gave kudos to Anisha for getting the audience to participate at the beginning with her questions. With a clear speech, she shared valuable information with the audience which could help them make a choice between long term health or short term health. As a suggestion, he offered her to use slides or power point.

Our third speaker was Hadaya. He completed Speech #1 from the CC Manual – Ice Breaker. The title of his talk “My Life” which he completed within 6 mins.

As a child, Hadaya grew up in a Southern Province of Afghanistan. In search of better opportunities, his parents moved to the capital city Kabul. Eventual war in Kabul with Russian forces led his family to migrate to Peshawar, Pakistan. With few basic amenities and no good affordable schools, life was hard for him as a child. With his family’s continued support, Hadaya completed schooling, moved back to Afghanistan and graduated as a Medical Doctor.

Even with a doctor’s degree his income was meagre. He later took up a position in UN as a language facilitator. After working there for a year, he got his US visa (after a long wait of 8 years). Due to cultural disparities, his family found it hard to adjust at first. Today, he is a licensed surgical assistant and is working hard to grow up in his career path. He joined Toastmasters to improve his public speaking skills.

Hadaya was voted the best speaker.

Grace was his evaluator. She commended him on his clear introduction, body and conclusion. With a well-prepared and well-organized speech, he gave a clear picture of his life through personal stories. As a suggestion, Grace offered Hadaya to work on maintaining eye contact with the audience.

We had 14 members and 5 guests (Colleen Z., Madhuri, Naomi, Sunny, Vernell K.) in attendance.

Member attendees were: Amritha, Anisha, Barb, Chizuko, Grace, Hadaya, Jean, Jim, Jing, Pratap, Robert, Sarah, Tobias and Warren.

Respectfully Submitted,
Amritha Imandi, Secretary

Public Speaking Northwest #9406.