July 27, 2011

A Toastmasters Journey – Yours!

By Jennifer Moon, DTM

Road trips, camping by the lake, a weekend at the cottage or an international adventure, vacations come in all shapes and sizes. Travelling is all about visiting people and places and leaving with a sense that we've been changed forever.

Through travel, we become more aware of others and the diversity around us. We learn to embrace different cultures and we share our experiences, leaving our hosts with the best we have to offer.

Travel, no matter how you define it, can open our eyes to the world. Fortunately, we have everything we need to become globetrotters too: our Toastmasters membership. Not only does it help us to achieve our personal development goals, this passport of sorts allows us to travel around the Toastmasters world.

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

The idea of travelling to other clubs can awaken some anxiety within the most seasoned adventurer. While we can be fairly sure you won't encounter giant venomous spiders, erupting volcanoes or perilous ocean voyages along the way, you may still be asking yourself why you would bother leaving the cocoon of your home club to venture abroad. After all, you know your club, its membership and how it operates. Why rock the boat – or for some, the cruise ship?

Being very comfortable with your club membership might be the perfect reason to embrace the adventures of that exotic Toastmaster trip. After all, you can become a well-travelled Toastmaster without the hassles of airport security, the complications of connecting flights or the challenges of jet lag. Pack your bag!

Boarding Pass and a Ticket to Ride
Looking at the Toastmasters travel brochure (the Toastmasters.org website) it's easy to select a destination that suits any schedule. What would you prefer? A breakfast club in central Toronto, no problem. A Saturday morning advanced club, also available. Searching for clubs by geographical region is also easy (especially on Meetup). Most clubs provide a link to their website (example). There, you can find contact and meeting information and, in most cases, a map for the club location. Maps are very helpful to us as travellers!

The benefits of visiting other Toastmaster clubs are numerous. Some of my favourite reasons to be seen outside the club include:
  • Seeing how other clubs operate – What fantastic ideas you might be able to bring back to your "home" club?
  • Experiencing the broader Toastmasters organization – What volunteer opportunities exist in Toastmasters and beyond?
  • Engaging with others who share a common purpose and understanding – How do new "first impressions" help you become a better leader or speaker?
  • Networking – Who and what exist beyond the club to help you achieve your goals (conferences, training opportunities etc.)?

Visiting a new club also gives you the opportunity to give back. Imagine how interesting it is for the members whom you are visiting to get your feedback on their club. New ideas and a fresh perspective are part of the sharing that strengthens the Toastmasters experience.

Preparations Prior to Travelling
There are, of course, a few points of etiquette that I would suggest in order to make your visit to another club even better.
  • Make a reservation – ensure that the club contact knows you're coming and confirm the meeting details in case of a last-minute change.
  • Exchange your currency and be ready for change – while all clubs share a common purpose, not all meetings unfold in the same order or make use of the same participants. Enjoy the familiar but be ready for an adventure.
  • When in Rome – be a good guest. Volunteer for a role if needed, participate in Table Topics if appropriate and offer your feedback after the meeting. You might even consider sending your host a thank-you note the following day.
The World Awaits
Travelling is more than a hobby; it's an opportunity to broaden our horizons and to give back to the world around us. Is it time for you to experience the world beyond your Toastmasters club?

My challenge to you: start planning your next trip to a Toastmasters club. Clubs around the corner and across the globe are waiting for your visit. My final piece of advice before you go is simple: leave room in your luggage for fresh ideas, rediscovered inspiration and a growing circle of colleagues. I'm sure you'll be amazed by your fellow Toastmasters, wherever you happen to be!

July 25, 2011

Table Topics: What Do You Want To Be When (If) You Grow Up?

Table Topic Master: Jennifer Moon
Date: July 21, 2011
Theme: What do you want to be when (if) you grow up?


What do you do for a living? What would you do if you could pick another career? Today is your opportunity to step into a pair of ballet slippers, work boots or diving fins. You get to be something or somebody you're not — and have fun doing it. The purpose of Table Topics is to deliver a mini-speech without much time to prepare. Our theme today is occupations.

Do you know what a bed rubber does? How about a flatcar whacker? Well, the first operates machines which smooth stone blocks and the whackers? Well, they maintain and repair logging rail cars. Not exact job titles I remember from my childhood. What do you want to be when you grow up? How about a carroter? They condition fur for use in hat manufacturing. Not to your tastes? What about becoming a worm picker? Yes, even the local bait and tackle store needs only the best in hermaphroditic lures.

Today is all about dream jobs and unusual occupations, so I've selected some topics and a word of the day to help us have some fun as we contemplate our career choices. On each of the slips you’ll find a position title and it’s your job to concoct a crazy, funny or intriguing story for us in about one minute. You can tell us about your first day on the job, pretend that you're hiring for the position or maybe you are at your retirement party, thankful to be leaving the profession. No matter what, you are asked to use the word of the day.
  • Today’s word is: Diligent (adjective)
  • Meaning: hard-working, showing care or effort
  • Example: The diligent researcher checked the measurements multiple times.

All members are required to use the word or they will be fined 50 cents. Guests are encouraged to participate and to use the word, but both are optional. After the Table Topics session, we will be voting to pick our favourite speaker. To be eligible for the vote, speakers must stay within the time limits. Timer, please show the green light at 30 seconds, the amber light at 45 seconds and the red at 60 seconds. Those speaking for less than 30 seconds or more than 1 minute, 15 seconds will be disqualified from the vote.

Table Topics Slips
  1. Forest Fire Lookout
  2. Zoo Keeper
  3. Dinosaur Hunter
  4. Bomb Expert
  5. Mad Scientist
  6. Opera Singer
  7. Cowboy or Cowgirl
  8. Treasure Hunter
  9. Wine Tester
  10. Taste Tester
  11. Crocodile Farmer
  12. Fortune Teller
  13. Detective
  14. Professional Whistler
  15. Rodeo Clown
  16. Furniture Tester
  17. Exterminator
  18. Pilot
  19. Pirate
  20. Astronaut (winner)
  21. Professional Athlete
  22. Rock Star
  23. Talk Show Host
  24. Actor on a Soap Opera
Table Topics Winner
The ribbon for best Table Topic went to Trevor Kelly who spoke about becoming an astronaut.

July 15, 2011

Table Topics: Interpreting Quotes

Table Topics Master: Salpy Kevrekian
Date: July 7, 2011

Time Limit: 30-62 seconds (green at 30, amber at 60 and red at 62)

Table Topics give attendees the opportunity to improve their impromptu speaking skills. An envelope contained the following quotes on separate slips of paper. In turn, each attendee randomly drew a quote and spoke about the meaning.

The Quotes

When you dream alone, with your eyes shut, asleep, that dream is an illusion. But when we dream together, sharing the same dream, awake and with our eyes wide open, then that dream becomes reality!

And it's my opinion, and that's only my opinion, you are a lunatic. Just because there are a few hundred other people sharing your lunacy with you does not make you any saner. Doomed, eh?

Family means too much, Friends are too valuable, And life is too short, To put-off sharing with people, How much they really mean to you, And pursuing whatever it is that makes you happy.

Happiness is not so much in having or sharing. We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.

Friendship marks a life even more deeply than love. Love risks degenerating into obsession, friendship is never anything but sharing.

Great leadership does not mean running away from reality. Sometimes the hard truths might just demoralize the company, but at other times sharing difficulties can inspire people to take action that will make the situation better.

Talent is always conscious of its own abundance, and does not object to sharing.

Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery. — Winston Churchill

The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries. — Winston Churchill

People say New Yorkers can't get along. Not true. I saw two New Yorkers, complete strangers,sharing a cab. One guy took the tires and the radio; the other guy took the engine.  — David Letterman

The greatest ignorance is to reject something you know nothing about.

Hollywood and the recording industry argue that current law permits the copying of songs and movies, and sharing them on the Internet. This enables young people to grow up learning how to steal. — Suzanne Fields

Those who have much are often greedy, those who have little always share.

There is nothing we like to see so much as the gleam of pleasure in a person's eye when he feels that we have sympathized with him, understood him. At these moments something fine and spiritual passes between two friends. These are the moments worth living.

Suggest Revision: Wisdom alone is true ambition's aim, wisdom is the source of virtue and of fame; obtained with labour, for mankind employed, and then, when most you share it, best enjoyed.

You can't get rid of poverty by giving people money.

A book is not only a friend, it makes friends for you. When you have possessed a book with mind and spirit, you are enriched. But when you pass it on you are enriched threefold.

If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else.

If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other. — Mother Teresa

A bone to the dog is not charity. Charity is the bone shared with the dog, when you are just as hungry as the dog. — Jack London

Educate a boy, and you educate an individual. Educate a girl, and you educate a community. — African proverb

It takes a lot of courage to show your dreams to someone else. — Erma Bombeck

Even though friends say they are interested in your life, they never really want to talk about you as much as you want them to.

Keep your fears to yourself, but share your inspiration with others

A speech should not just be a sharing of information, but a sharing of yourself. — Ralph Archbold

Table Topics Winner

Attendees were to speak for a maximum of 62 seconds (instead of the usual limit of 75 seconds). Since many were disqualified for speaking too long, Salpy decided that no ribbon would be awarded for the best speaker.

Table Topics: Speaking and Translating a Nonexistent Language

Table Topics Master: Leila B.
Date: June 30, 2011

Table Topics:
This Table Topics session involved two members at a time. Normally, each attendee works independently.

  • Explore how speaking and being heard is more that than what you say.
  • Manage and cultivate all the physical factors associated with communication to effectively enhance your message.
An envelope was passed to each member in turn. He/she pulled out a piece of paper. Each member got a different description to vocalize and act out within a time span of 30-75 seconds.

  1. This summer, I'm going to scuba dive. 
  2. This summer, I'm going to plant trees.
  3. This summer, I'm going to work at the drive in movie theatre.

Word of the day:
Each member had to include the word of the day into their impromptu translation or pay a fine to the club. Guests were exempt from the penalty.

Subjects performed in tandem. All the members were seated around a circular boardroom table. We initiated the session counter-clockwise. 

Member 1 vocalized and acted out an improvised subject in a non-existent, made up language, while member 2 extemporaneously translated, into English.
Next, member 2, seated on the right, got a chance to take on the role of the speaker. Now the member on the right was the translator. And so on, until the circle was closed. This process gave every member a chance to experience both roles.

Translations were based on deciphering the following factors:
  • Gesticulations
  • Eye contact
  • Voice inflection
  • Body movement and body language
 Outcome:  This Table Topics session was extremely challenging. We realized how dependent we are on everyday spoken language to be descriptive and to communicate our ideas & thoughts.

On the bright side, this challenge stirred up a lot of laughs and self awareness.

July 1, 2011

Viewpoint: The Living Legacy of Goodyear Toastmasters

A Viewpoint has three sections
  1. the speaker expresses an opinion
  2. the Chair leads a group discussion
  3. the speaker returns to summarize
In May 2011, Goodyear Toastmasters celebrated its 30th anniversary but there few artifacts from the past years. The magic that happens in the meetings quickly fades away. In this Viewpoint, the incoming President, Promod Sharma, proposes ways the club can help the community and create a legacy using social media. 

The group discussion was edited out to preserve the privacy of members.

This live recording was made with a Zoom Q3HD on June 2, 2011 in the Council Chambers of the Etobicoke Civic Centre.

Have Your Say

What's your point of view? Feel free to leave your comments below and contribute to the legacy.

You’ll find more than you want to know about Promod with a Google search.