Spirited Speech Masters and Dan Rex honoring MD Anderson and Shibu Varghese

Rising to the Toastmaster Challenge

Basically as challenging as serving as Toastmaster

We’re a couple of months into Fiscal Year 2020 and already our VPE’s efforts have borne fruit. As most members can tell you, serving as Toastmaster for a given meeting can be challenging. In addition to being the Master of Ceremonies for the first half of the meeting — opening the meeting, helping to introduce various other roles, calling upon each evaluator to introduce his or her speaker — a good Toastmaster often makes an effort to ensure a successful meeting even before it begins, emailing members ahead of time to fill roles, to send reminders, and even to choose a theme around which the meeting can be planned.

It’s no wonder then that many newer members shy away from filling this role, often resulting in the same handful of more experienced individuals having to act as Toastmaster week after week. In an effort to ameliorate this problem, VPE Sally instead created a weekly schedule specifically for this role, ensuring that — while the newest members are spared — the more veteran among us get a little push to try something that we might have otherwise avoided.

Spirited Speech Masters has benefited greatly from this new policy, as we have enjoyed hearing differing and unique perspectives. Perhaps the greatest benefit is that — when a person doesn’t have to serve in this role on a regular basis — they have more energy to fulfill the role when they eventually do. Over the past couple of months, I have witnessed some really unique themes, not to mention some great introductions that, in many cases, could serve as standalone speeches!

Along these lines, I wanted to give a shout out to the Toastmasters from our two most recent meetings, Usamah and Karl:

  • Usamah chose the theme “power” for our meeting two weeks ago and surprised us all by helping us see not only the dangers inherent in the pursuit of power but also the power in acknowledging one’s own weakness.
  • Karl chose the theme “pain,” striking because the concept so often carries such a negative connotation. He helped us re-evaluate our view of pain as providing a barometer of bodily injury and a sense of appreciation for our good health.

Thank you to everyone who has stepped up in recent weeks to serve as Toastmaster. I look forward hopefully to a continued diversity of perspective and experience!

Sonya receiving a Best Table Topics certificate from Joann on October 3rd

2019.09.26 Weekly Window

During the introduction of last week’s meeting, Loni gave a quick presentation on how to accept an award, including the following 5 steps:

  1. When possible, enter from Stage Left (House Right).
    This ensures the award giver will appear on the left side of any photographs that are taken. The left side is considered dominant.
  2. Make eye contact. Smile and shake hands.
    The human connection of accepting an award is very important and demonstrates graciousness and respect. By shaking hands before accepting the award, you ensure that your hands are placed comfortably.
  3. Accept award with your left hand.
    While maintaining the handshake, the award giver should extend the award to you with their left hand. Accept the award and hold it level so that it will be legible when photographed.
  4. Turn to the camera or audience. Smile.
    You won’t always be photographed, but you should acknowledge those who came to see your award acceptance.
  5. When possible, exit Stage Right (House Left).
    This is particularly important in situations where multiple awards are being given, as it helps to ensure that the previous recipient doesn’t collide with the incoming recipient.

Let’s hope that we all have more opportunities to accept awards with grace in the future!

This week was a very special occasion with Christine giving her Icebreaker speech, the very first speech of her first Pathway! She used her speech to rejoice in her status as a recent “empty-nester,” rejecting the negative connotations that are sometimes associated with the term and delighting in the benefits of having a home that was all her own. Asad delivered a warm and engaging speech about initiating communication styles, the first speech of level 2 of his current Pathway.

Thank you to everyone who turned out last week. We are still in need of a Toastmaster for next week’s meeting. I encourage everyone to please sign up in advance for a meeting role!

And with just a little bit of coaching, look how much better everyone did accepting their awards this week!

  • Best Speaker: Christine
  • Best Evaluator: DS
  • Word of the Day: burgeon

2019.09.12 Weekly Window

The theme of our September 12th meeting was “Planning for Success” which our Vice President of Education and Toastmaster-of-the-Day, Sally, sneakily managed to relate to The Pathways education program. As part of the meeting opening, Sally shared the following quote from Harvey Mackay with us:

She related the message of this quote to the success striven for and achieved by Houston native Ramona Smith, the 2018 World Champion of Public Speaking, emphasizing the safety and support that Toastmasters provides to members who want to take a risk and try something new.

Joann graciously stepped in as Table Topics Master at the last minute, using a creative variation where each volunteer picked up a copy of one of the Toastmasters monthly magazines, opened it to a random page, and spoke about the an idea therein.

  • Loni talked about having investigated what it takes to deliver a TED talk, sharing that — while she considered this type of speaking to be outside of her wheelhouse — she’s still determined to (eventually) take it for a spin.
  • Maxine spoke about her appreciation of the emphasis upon goal-setting within Toastmasters and how that’s made a difference to her.
  • Sally spoke about failure as a learning tool, not just for oneself but potentially for others, if you’re brave enough to share the lessons learned from your setbacks.
  • Joann gave a short speech about saying cheers around the world.

Thanks to everyone in attendance last week! We hope you can join us this Thursday for our weekly meeting, the theme of which will be “Accepting Appreciation Gracefully.” Loni will serve as Toastmaster-of-the-Day, and you can help out by signing up for a role here.

Update Your Profile, Earn a Cupcake!

If you’ve been planning to update your profile, now is a fabulous time to do so! If just four members update their profiles before October 31st, I will make homemade pumpkin cupcakes to share at our Halloween meeting!

But I don’t know what to write…

Understandable! The goal of our roster is to give prospective members an idea of the diversity of reasons that people join Toastmasters. With any luck, they will read about your reasons for joining and find something familiar! Here are a few ideas to consider:

  • Where did you first hear about Toastmasters?
  • Why did you decide to attend your first meeting?
  • What is one thing that surprised you about Toastmasters?
  • How has Toastmasters helped you grow?
  • What are your current goals and how do you think Toastmasters will help you achieve them?

NOM NOM NOM! I can’t wait!

Fabulous! You can update your profile by visiting the Profile Page. To update your picture, use the gray field at the top of the page. To edit your profile, scroll down to the Biographical Info field. Once you’ve finished editing, scroll to the bottom of the page to click the Update Profile button.

Finally, if you simply prefer to email me your profile and/or photo for me to update for you — just let me know!

2019.09.05 Weekly Window

The theme of this week’s meeting was “Enjoy the Journey.” Joann fulfilled the role of Toastmaster-of-the-Day, opening our meeting by presenting a map of Seaborne Creek Park. She used the map’s “You Are Here” marker as a metaphor for appreciating one’s current circumstances instead of coveting something unattainable.

Loni delivered a speech from Level 1 of the Innovative Planning Pathway, speaking from experience about different strategies to survive a Timeshare Presentation without making a commitment to buy.

Asad delivered a speech about the project management concept of gap analysis, a method used to determine whether business requirements are being met and — if not — what steps should be taken to get from the current, inadequate state to the desired state.

Sally introduced a fun variation on Table Topics, asking each member or guest to write down words to represent each of the letters in a provided acronym. These words were passed along to another person, and volunteers were solicited to tell a story using all of the words on the page. D.S. stole the show with a story about teaching her then-teenaged son how to drive a stick-shift.

  • Best Speaker: Loni
  • Best Evaluator: Twana
  • Best Table Topic: D.S.
  • Most Improved: Asad
  • Word of the Day: adventure