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Spirited Speech Masters and guests honor Dr. Farzana Chohan

Using Writing Prompts to Improve at Table Topics

300 Writing Prompts by Piccadilly

Looking for a way to improve at delivering compelling table topic speeches? Try a writing prompt notebook like this one from Piccadilly. Each lined page has 1-2 brief prompts along the lines of what you might expect to encounter in a table topics session during a Toastmasters meeting. Flip through, pick a prompt (or throw literary caution to the wind and select one randomly) then write out a half to full page response. To ensure you focus on impromptu thinking, try not to pause during your writing (the process of writing already provides a built-in delay). And try to resist the urge to wordsmith since this isn’t something you’re generally able to do when speaking extemporaneously.

This type of exercise is great because it’s easily portable and can be done on your own, i.e. when you’re jonesing for your next meeting, but it’s still six days away!

2019.06.27 Weekly Window

We had an extra special meeting today, celebrating the 15th anniversary of Dawn first having joined Toastmasters, a momentous accomplishment. We celebrated with cake and strawberries! Congratulations, Dawn!

Usamah graciously fulfilled the role of Toastmaster-of-the-Day, selecting the theme “Happiness” and explaining that the root of the word — hap — means luck or chance. As our Grammarian, Joann opted to highlight the differences between the two related words, sympathy and empathy.

Loni gave a short presentation on the three main objectives of our web site: Recruiting, Member Recognition, and Information Sharing, along with a call to action for all members to consider ways they might contribute to the web site’s development. For those interested, the PowerPoint presentation is available for download here.

Asad joined our chapter and even delivered his Icebreaker speech, “Introduction to Me.” His introductory speech included advice to never stop learning and to use teaching others as a source of personal growth.

As our Table Topics Master, Karl borrowed inspiration from the recent live-action release of Disney’s Aladdin and asked volunteers to speak about the three wishes they would ask for, were they to encounter a magic genie of their own.

Christine volunteered first, explaining that she would forego the traditional wish for riches in favor of success for her son, good health, and world peace.

Boundless wealth? Eternal youth? World-wide understanding of Project Management? Decisions, decisions!

Asad didn’t let having delivered a full-length prepared speech deter him from participating in Table Topics today, wishing that his parents lived close to him, that everyone in the world should know Project Management (who wouldn’t wish for that?), and that he could take the genie up to heaven with him.

Joann used her three wishes to eliminate Houston traffic, add more green space to the city, and to have her own personal aircraft to commute to and from work (no doubt some of that green space would come in handy as a personal landing pad).

At the end of the meeting, Sally passed around a sheet with assignments for members to serve as Toastmaster-of-the-Day for upcoming meetings. Please be sure to check when your assigned meeting will be so you can feel comfortable and adequately prepared. And don’t forget that, as Toastmaster-of-the-Day, you get to select a meeting theme!

  • Best Table Topics: Asad
  • Most Improved Speaker: Asad
  • Best Evaluator: Sally
  • Best Speaker: Loni

2019.06.20 Weekly Window

This week, we had a tremendous turnout of long-time members and a number of visitors. We were also able to welcome Maxine back after a few months’ hiatus and welcomed Doug, a brand-new member! That means we still have three new- or returning-member prizes available to be claimed! Join or return today to win a beautiful wooden magnet in the shape of the great state of Texas, handmade by our Treasurer, Dawn!

Join or rejoin today to win a fabulous, handmade wooden magnet!

Joann served as our Toastmaster-of-the-Day, and while ordinarily quite upbeat, it was clear that she was feeding off the energy of the room today! For the benefit of our several guests, she outlined the basic structure of our meetings, leading us through an explanation of several of the weekly roles as the “dashboard of our rocket”! Stellar job, Joann!

As our Grammarian, Maxine introduced us to the word malapert, which seemed to be a big hit with those present, being used more than five times in today’s meeting!

Usamah delivered a speech entitled “My Wife’s Cancer Journey,” sharing an intimate glimpse into his wife’s cancer journey and giving us all pause to consider the use of warlike terminology — battle, warrior, fight — when we talk about cancer and cancer patients. Having given this speech will allow Usamah to complete the Competent Communicator manual, earning him the CC educational distinction. Congratulations, Usamah!

Loni filled the role of Topics Master, soliciting volunteers from the audience to speak extemporaneously on a number of topics.

One of our guests, Christine, was actually the first to volunteer, recounting how she dealt with the loss of her mother by crocheting a blanket. This was a lovely story humorously punctuated by an explanation that her blanket eventually got quite large since her mother had never taught her how to stop crocheting!

Rachel rejoined us today and related a responsibility she would prefer to permanently eschew while still acknowledging the odious task as a continued source of personal growth.

Doug didn’t let his status as a new member deter him from volunteering for Table Topics, speaking about his time with his wife in Brazil, learning Portuguese through non-traditional methods.

Finally, Dawn answered a question about the part of her job she most enjoys. She related the exhilaration she sometimes experiences during a work-crisis and explained that she takes pride in being able to make a difference in the clinical environment. She even gave a specific example of a dialysis report that has positively impacted patient outcomes.

Christine receiving the Best of Table Topics award from President Sally Boyd

Thank you to all of our members and guests who turned out this week. I hope you will be able to join us next week when I will be speaking on the ways we can all hopefully benefit from the utilities available through our new newish web site! (There’s still one speaker slot available, however!)

  • Best Table Topics: Christine

President’s Update

Spirited Speech Masters is having a “Jumping June” this last month of the Toastmasters year! On June 10th, we had our officer elections, and I’m pleased to say that we have all of our Officer Positions filled!  Our 2019-2020 Officers will be:

  • President: Joann
  • Vice President Education (VPE): Sally
  • Vice President Membership (VPM): Twana
  • Vice President Public Relations (VPPR): Loni
  • Treasurer: Dawn
  • Secretary: Allison
  • Sergeant-at-Arms (SAA): Naureen
  • Immediate Past President (IPP): Sally

I am really excited to see some of our newer members step up into officer positions.  Good luck to all of our new officers!  Our officer installation will be July 11th.  We will be installed by our new Area Director, Patricia Koch!  There will also be speeches by our outgoing and incoming Presidents.

Open House!

Our open house was so much fun!  We had a great crowd!  Dawn gave a great speech on packing a backpack, and Loni did a wonderful job as her evaluator!  Thanks to Joann for an interesting Word-of-the-Day, and we introduced the practice of snapping our fingers when someone uses the WotD!  Karl had the Table Topics theme of “Vacations,” and several of our guests gave great presentations.  We hope to see some new members coming in soon!  Finally, both Allison and Naureen gave their “#MyWhy” speeches, telling why they joined Toastmasters!  Overall, it was a great meeting.  Thanks to all of the members who pitched in to help!

How to Give a Great Speech Evaluation

When people think of Toastmasters, the first thing that usually comes to mind is giving speeches. And while we are certainly focused on developing our oratory skills, we also develop the ability to evaluate speakers. A good evaluation provides valuable feedback — delivered in a supportive and constructive manner — to help a speaker continue development.

Jonathan Peng is the winner of the 2017 District 85 Evaluation Contest. In the video below, he gives tips on how to deliver a stronger, more compelling evaluation, including emphasizing that an evaluation shouldn’t necessarily be delivered solely to the speaker but should make an effort to make the audience feel included, as well.