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

One Set of Rules to Rule them All

We will have a special guest this week, Tammy Garner, to speak on Parliamentary Procedure.  This is the formal process of running a meeting that is used by Toastmasters and many other organizations.

Sally will serve as Toastmaster for this special event and — while this will not have the standard format of our usual meetings — we still have a few roles to fill.  We still need a Timer, an Evaluator and a Grammarian (for a word of the day).

We encourage you to share the news with your friends and anyone who might be interested in this topic and come support our guest.

The Magic Formula Behind Better Storytelling

Ever since the release of their first feature-length film in 1995, Pixar has been known for their creative, often heart-warming storytelling. In the video Pixar Storytelling Rules #5: Essence of Structure, Bloop Animation describes the typical formula they use to tell stories in iconic films such as Toy Story, A Bug’s Life, and Up. Watch below to learn how you can employ the same techniques when telling a story as part of a speech, helping take your narrative skills to Infinity … and Beyond!

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2019.10.17 Weekly Window

Our October 17th weekly was very enjoyable, with everyone pitching in to ensure things went smoothly. The theme of the meeting was “Change,” in honor of autumn and the upcoming holiday, Halloween. As Toastmaster-of-the-Day, Loni briefly detailed a few strategies she has found help when you find yourself faced with unexpected or sizable change. She closed by sharing the following quote:

"You're always you, and that don't change. And you're always changing, and there's nothing you can do about it." -- Neil Gaiman, "The Graveyard Book"

Doug gave his Icebreaker speech, entitled “Things I’ve Done, Places I’ve Been.” We learned about his life as a musician, with emphasis on the iterative nature of music practice. This lead to an explanation of how he spent several years in Brazil, outside of his comfort zone in a new country where most don’t speak English. This was both his first speech in Toastmasters and the first speech within the “Visionary Communicator” Pathway. Congratulations, Doug!

Christine served as Table Topics Master, asking a number of great questions designed to stimulate the minds — and mouths — of those who volunteered to respond. Usamah described his personal worth in terms of helping his son to grow into a loving human being, one who cares for other people. Joann shared the view that sometimes giving up is the right decision and that doing so doesn’t mean you didn’t learn something along the way or change the lives of others. Loni shared how Toastmasters had made something seemingly impossible — the task of speaking in front of a crowd — possible. And Doug explained that it is difficult to say who one is since every person has so many different facets and are even sometimes different people in different situations.

  • Best Speaker: Doug
  • Best Table Topic Speaker: Loni
  • Word of the Day: temper

Thanks to all who contributed to a fabulous meeting and hope to see you all again soon!

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