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

2019.07.18 Weekly Window

Today was the first meeting where the role of Toastmaster-of-the-Day was pre-assigned. Having this crucial role filled ahead of time seemed to make things run more smoothly, and Twana did an exceptional job with the mantle. Not sure when you’re assigned to serve in this capacity? Check the Toastmaster-of-the-Day Assignments for July-Oct, 2019, and be sure to let VPE Sally know if you need to change to a different week.

Sally volunteered at the last minute to give a speech today, demonstrating how to begin the Pathways journey. This was a particularly helpful topic since not all new members have had the opportunity to sign up for Pathways. (If you need additional assistance, be sure to check out our guide to Getting Started with Pathways.)

Table Topics were a little different today as Loni tried a new format called “A 1000 Words,” a reference to the phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words.” In this exercise, volunteers were given a copy of a photograph and asked to speak about it for 1-2 minutes. (Looking for additional variations on Table Topics?)

Viewing the photograph at right, Joann immediately picked up on what she described as a connection between animal and man, sharing a tender interpretation wherein it had been the boy’s intention to share food with the pigeons that flutter around him. She even anthropomorphized the birds as feeling “anticipation” for the food being given them by the boy they regard as “Big Bird.” Thank you for the delightful story, Joann!

In the left photograph, Twana described a group of girls skipping rope, the photograph conveying movement and childhood memories of fun days outside. She ascribed the complaint, “is it my turn, yet?” to the girl who is the lone onlooker and managed to relate the photograph to her own memories of childhood, making us all feel as though we knew her a little better by the end of her speech.

Sally surprised us all with a sultry Gabor-esque accent (dahlink) as she spoke in the first person from the perspective of the beautiful woman shown in the photograph at left, owning her place at the center of attention in any room she graces and refusing to apologize for her habit of smoking cigarettes.

Finally, Doug opened his table topic speech about the photograph at left by asking what one wouldn’t be willing to do for a picture with the perfect point of view, pointing out the photographer’s precarious position on the narrow ledge. He successfully leveraged this rhetorical question into commentary on differences in points of view in a more abstract sense.

  • Best Table Topics: Sally
  • Word of the Day: bedlam

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!