To be Vulnerable is Just Fantastic

The mission of Toastmasters 7 club is to provide members with a mutually supportive and positive environment to practice public speaking while receiving constructive feedback to improve communication and leadership skills.

One thing I think is especially striking about our club (besides the fact that we like to have fun!) is the members and guests are in a safe and comforting space to explore and push past their comfort zone in developing their communication skills. Over the past six years, I have listened to and been moved by too many speeches to count.

I think it is the speeches where our speakers describe their vulnerability that tends to have a dramatic impact – in both subtle and overt ways. That opens a door, inviting us to develop and strengthen our sense of empathy and ultimately, become better people.

Last week’s meeting was held on Valentine’s Day, our Vice President of Public Relations gave a speech that resonated with me a great deal. I was also her evaluator and she wanted me to evaluate her based on her vocal variety, stage presence, and storytelling while displaying emotional vulnerability – this is a degree of skill that only advanced speakers can execute well, and Elaine did so.


I asked Elaine what motivated her to give the speech.  To which she responded –

“When I signed up to give a speech on Valentine’s Day, I wanted to push myself further out of my comfort zone by sharing an emotional story. My past speeches have been informational without touching on emotions whatsoever.  In the past months, I’ve heard many powerful and vulnerable speeches that really touched my heart – Jeremy and his transformation because of his daughters, Tomo and the loss of her father, Landon’s area contest winning speech and recently Dave Z.’s inspirational 10th speech.
Initially I thought about telling the story about my husband and how he is the opposite of my Dad but I didn’t want to just talk about my love life. Instead I wanted to share a part of me that others can learn from. I realized this after listening to my daughter’s speech.  In comparison with the rest of the students who did their TED talk at school, Eyva’s speech was encouraging.  This inspired me to open myself and also present an encouraging speech .  I felt my story of discovering self-compassion can move someone towards discovering their own.
The speech also made those raw emotions come alive – in a way it helped to revisit these emotions as I drew strength from them. Through suffering can I only grow stronger.”

And that is a sentiment I suspect a lot of you can relate to. Thank you, Elaine, for sharing your story.

*Thanks to Joy Clausen Soto, Guest Speaker, and winner of the evening’s Speakathon for the inspiration of the title of this post. Her speech was based off Zig Ziglar’s use of the word ‘Fantastic’. Yes, sometimes we have Speakathons because we have so many outstanding members waiting to give equally outstanding speeches.



TM7 Author Bio

The importance of Audience Feedback: The Hype Man and Hype Woman

Public Speaking is almost universally recognized as something that brings great fear and anxiety to most people. It is often listed as one’s biggest fear. Toastmasters is a program designed, in part, to help one overcome that fear. How does one overcome the fear of public speaking? Not in small part due to member enthusiasm.

Toastmasters 7 has many enthusiastic members. Above: Lou Weimann, Toastmaster last week. And a guest, Zak, who won best Table Topics speaker and gave excellent meeting feedback


At the end of our last Toastmasters meeting, one of our guests (pictured above) gave feedback about how enthusiastic our club was. He specifically mentioned how there was a “lot of hootin’ and hollerin’” that added to a very enthusiastic and energetic atmosphere. It was then I realized that I needed to focus some attention on that unrecognized, but valuable member(s) of our club: the hype man and hype woman.

Above is a gif of Flavor Flav who probably brought worldwide acclaim to the importance of the hype man in a hip-hop band. In wikipedia I found this little blurb:

Music writer Mickey Hess expands the term as follows: “a hype man is a figure who plays a central but supporting role within a group, making his own interventions, generally aimed at hyping up the crowd while also drawing attention to the words of the MC.”

That perfectly encapsulates the role of the hype men and women at Toastmaster 7 meetings.

When someone is speaking at our Toastmasters meeting, encouragement plays a huge role in both creating a sense of camaraderie and making the speaker feel appreciated and encouraged to repeat and push themselves within Toastmasters and outside the club.

After the meeting last week, I was talking to one of our members, Sureal Sparx, about some of the other clubs he had visited in the past and he mentioned how one club only offered a polite golf clap after every speaker exited the stage.

Boo to polite golf claps

Now I am not sure about you. But if I am not feeling confident about giving a presentation and I get a polite little golf clap, I’m not sure I’d want to do that again. But on the other hand if I get the equivalent of Flavor Flav hyping up the entire audience to be the most enthusiastic they’ve ever been – I am going to exit the stage feeling pretty good about myself and inspired to push myself further.

Therefore, this post is dedicated to our many hype men and women: The Lynettes and Albertos, the Yesicas and the Sureals, the Corinnas and the Christophs.

I can promise you this: if you come to one of our meetings,

you will leave feeling pumped

and ready to tackle anything life throws at you.


Much appreciation to our creative writer:  Sam Ollinger!

TM7 Author Bio


A Remarkable Transformation: David Zarella

As always, Dave held the audience’s attention in the palm of his hand when he delivered a powerfully raw, and hilarious tenth speech from the Competent Communicator manual. Photo: Yesica Vazquez
At our last meeting, one of our members crossed an incredible threshold: Completing the tenth speech in the Competent Communicator manual.

David Zarella’s speech was titled “A Remarkable Transformation”.

The man from Jersey recounted his growth within Toastmasters 7. He described his first meeting two years ago which had a very somber mood because our beloved  Club President had just unexpectedly died.

Dave talked about how joining Toastmasters had made him feel part of an inspiring community.

And then he switched gears, with his trademark and hilarious expletive laden style, and launched a call to action to our guests to join Toastmasters, “the members of this club will help you achieve any level of confidence you want.”

Dave touched on why our club is so special, “you become part of a community,” and how he found his own speaking style – “Unfortunately, it’s the irreverent smart-ass style. But I dig it. So you’re stuck with it!”.

That tenth speech by Dave, was quite the emotional roller coaster. He held the audience in the palm of his hand, in complete mastery of the craft of speaking well – I noticed that all thirty one attendees laughed uproariously and shed a tear or two during the course of Dave recounting his journey within Toastmatsters 7.

And having witnessed Dave’s journey so far from the beginning in just two years – I have to admit that it was indeed, a remarkable transformation.



Toastmasters Gives Us Life!

The title of this post is a slight play on the name of venue where we held our last meeting, The Life Community Center. We are in the process of deciding where a new meeting space should be. And why are we pondering this? That is because the California housing crisis has hit us here at Toastmasters – the rent of our existing meeting space at Normal Heights Community Center has gone up!

Increasing rent gets a thumbs down.

Last Thursday, we met at a potential new meeting space The Life Community Meeting Center. As Toastmasters members, we have the opportunity to weigh in on the decision on our new permanent meeting space that will also fit our budget (which is partly funded by member dues).

But the main reason we all keep showing up every week is because learning how to communicate effectively and become leaders in the process – a skill that will benefit all of us throughout our lives. Below is a recap of last Thursday’s meeting. All photos were taken by the VP of Public Relations, Elaine.

Tomo (left) was our lovely Toastmaster of the evening. One of the guests, Brad, was a Table Topics speaker who won Table Topics.
Ron (right) received the coveted blue ribbon for being the best evaluator of the evening in evaluating Matt’s speech
Matt (left) won the blue ribbon for being the best speaker of the evening.

If this has piqued your interest, consider attending our next meeting on January 17th (Thursday) which will be held at:
4649 Hawley Blvd, San Diego, CA 92116

The meeting starts at 6:30PM. See you there!

Starting the New Year with TM7

It’s nine days into the brand new year and the Toastmasters 7 crew has already started out the new year with the best foot possible. On the horizon, a new fancy pants new meeting location (scroll down for details).

Last Thursday’s meeting in pictures thanks to the talented Elaine Dusetzina, VP of Public Relations.

Christoph Kubitza, Knowledge Keeper of all things!
The always wonderful Yesica Vasquez, Toastmaster of the evening here introducing the word of the week (WOW) and the meeting’s theme
The evenings functionaries who were all definitely more enthusiastic than they appear in this photo.
Elaine (right) the Table Topic Master who led a fun Table Topics session.







Our three fantastic manual speakers: Lou, Jose, and Matt. Matt was the winner of the evening.







Our three fantastic evaluators: Lynette, Tomo, and Omar. Lynette was the winner amongst the evaluators.


On Jan 10th, San Diego Toastmasters 7 is trying a different community center to host their meetings for a possible relocation. Please join us this Thursday, 6:30pm to 8:00pm for another night of fun while improving your public speaking skills.

LOCATION: 6244 El Cajon Blvd Suite 22, San Diego, CA 92115

P.S. Meetings will resume at Normal Heights Community Center after 1/10 until further notice.

From Christoph:

LIFE Community Center is located on a Medical, Dental, Professional Center Campus.

Coming from I-805 N or South or North bound I-15 catch I-8.
– Take the Fairmount Avenue/Montezuma Road exits and take Montezuma Rd.
– Turn Right at College Avenue and drive about 1 1/2 miles and turn Left at Arosa Str.
– Follow Arosa Street into Rose Street and
– Turn Right at 63rd Street.
– Turn Right at El Cajon Blvd and the destination is around the corner on your right. See Pictures.
If you pass Effin’s pub west bound you have gone too far.

Thank you for reading. See you at the meeting!

The purpose of Table Topics

When you attend a couple of  Toastmasters 7 meetings, you will recognize how the meeting is divided into three main sections – Table Topics, Prepared Speeches, and Evaluations.  A week ago, Salam Alchi, a seasoned Toastmaster who recently joined our club was the Table Topics Master (TT Master) and his explanation for the purpose of Table Topics was on point:


“The purpose of Table Topics is to help us sharpen our skills in impromptu speaking. Our goal is not just to simply speak for one minute and provide an answer to the question. Rather, it is to perform a miniature well-organized 1 to 2 minute speech addressing the question concisely and articulately.
The response should be given with purpose, whether to teach, inspire, confound, or amuse the audience. Tying the response to the theme is an added bonus.
The reason we are here is to hold space for each other to improve. The most crucial part of Table Topics is to do your best and have fun. Our inner critic is often the harshest one.
As the TT master, I believe it’s important to set up the participants for success by asking thought provoking and understandable questions. This provides participants a better opportunity to develop confidence and improve.”

Salam’s approach, which is a good example on how to conduct a Table Topics session, was to ask the question first then call on a member.  This allows everyone to digest the question and start thinking about on how to answer it appropriately.  Typically, the TT Master would call on a few members, then give an opportunity for guests to participate.

Here are some of the thought-provoking questions crafted by Salam surrounding the theme and Word of the Week: Satisfaction.
  • What does it mean to be satisfied?
  • What should be the goal of humanity?
  • Is suffering a necessary part of pleasure or satisfaction? Why?
  • How would you define genius?

If you’d like to take a stab at these questions and share it with us, write in the comment section below!  And if this is something that you’re interested in participating, you’re welcome to attend our meetings as a guest.  Check out our Meeting Info page for location and time.


About Salam Alchi:
Salam was born in Baghdad in 1988 and immigrated to the US in 1993. His passion in life is to study and understand the nature of our existence, both individually and collectively. When ready, he will apply what he has learned for the betterment of his family, peers, and environment. “
As above, so below, as within, so without, as the universe, so the soul…” – Hermes Trismegistus

A Cathartic Speech – by Tomo Osako

When you lay your emotions out in the open, it becomes a cathartic experience.  You feel a huge burden off your shoulders.  It’s still a part of you but it’s easier to breathe because you shared it with others.  The beauty of showing your vulnerability in a Toastmasters’s speech is that everyone is listening to you and is affected by your experience.
Tomo Osako presented a powerful speech for Project 4 – A Dramatic Talk, of the Advanced Communicator Series.  Titled “What is your Legacy?”, Tomo revealed to us the story of her father in his deathbed, the events leading up to it and what he left as his legacy.
I was touched at her courage to take us to a vulnerable part of her life.  This made me think about a book I’m currently reading, Rising Strong by Brene Brown when she talked about courage.

“Courage is contagious.  Rising strong changes not just you, but also the people around you.”

Not many people are bold enough to be in a vulnerable state, particularly when you’re standing in front of a crowd, some of which are strangers. Yet Tomo stood firm – even in the midst of tears, she kept her composure.  I couldn’t help but cry either.  In fact, I observed many others in the audience who cried with me.  All of us were touched by her story in one way or another.  And possibly given us the chance to ease tender emotions we’ve kept far too long inside.
In the past year, I’ve witnessed many courageous acts from fellow members who allowed us to be a part of the darkest days of their lives.  It allowed me reflect on my experiences and even made me consider to take a courageous leap in revealing my vulnerable side.
The end of every Toastmaster meeting is dedicated to recognizing the Best Table Topics Speaker, Best Evaluator and the Best Speaker saved for last.  It wasn’t a surprise that Tomo Osako received Best Speaker.  She truly deserved this recognition.

Did you miss Tomo’s speech?  If you’d like to view it, please visit our YouTube page by clicking on the link => Tomo Osako ACS Project 4 Speech

Our meetings are held every Thursday night from 6:30 – 8pm.  Meeting start on time therefore please arrive at least 15min early to allow for parking and meet our members.

Written by Elaine Dusetzina, VP Public Relations


What you missed during our 11/1/18 Meeting!

Our esteemed Christoph Kubitza concerted the meeting effortlessly with the theme of ‘Superstition’.
Running with this theme is Table Topics Mistress, Linda Hau who presented the audience with engaging questions.  She is edging closer to her Competent Leader award!


Those who dared to answer were Sureal Sparx, Elaine Dusetzina, Gerald Eldred and Guests Jamie, Brennan, and Brandy.
Gerald distinguished himself with the best reply in the audience’s eyes.

Best Table Topics -Gerald Eldred

Gerald also passed his 1st Time General Evaluator baptism by fire with flying colors and took home a great evaluation team made up of Omar Ocampo, Elaine Dusetzina, Lou Weimann with functionaries, Ron Morrow, Shadi Abudayyeh, Antonio Garcia, and Joyce Persichilli.  Our Sargent-at-Arms and humorous, Lou Weimann distinguished himself as the best evaluator.

tm7Our Functionaries – Shadi, Ron, Antonio, Joyce

First time General Evaluator – Gerald Eldred

Best Evaluator – Lou Weimann

Last but not least, even when serious in filling in the media on a crisis at sea, Jon Berman could not stop making Matt Mounier laugh.  Dave Zarella persuaded us why he is the best realtor in San Diego and why we should pick him to sell our home in his Project 9 Persuade with Power speech.
But it is the deep spiritual Ice breaker part II by Salam Alchi that swayed the audience to distinguish Salam Alchi as the best speaker of the night.

Best Speaker – Salam Alchi

Best of all, we welcomed two new members – Teresa Rocha and Jamie Deproso!
Don’t miss our next meeting – every Thursday night from 6:30pm to 8pm at Normal Heights Community Center.  Any questions about the meeting, please contact us at

This brief summary is written by Christoph Kubitza, DTM/Treasurer.


Effective Speech Evaluations

On August 16th, our meeting consisted of five speakers and five speech evaluators that we call a ‘Speakathon’. Providing effective speech evaluations are a key aspect of our club’s culture.  This culture is rooted in the deep care and concern our members have for one another.  
The members of our club just don’t show up for meetings; their lives are also bound by the friendships they develop.  Each of our members want the best for one another. They enjoy helping each other grow and succeed.
This week, like any week, each of our evaluators gave everything they had to help improve the speeches of the presenters that preceded them. Our members learn to provide excellent speech evaluations not only by observing other people deliver exceptional evaluations, but also by attending seminars that help its attendees develop highly effective speech evaluations.
The excellent evaluations in turn motivate the speakers to achieve their goals.  And that achievement is reflected in the Communication and Leadership awards that the Club received in the most recent Toastmasters year, which were more than any other club in District 5 Toastmasters.
By: Eric Linder, DTM

Eric became an enthusiastic, fun-loving member of San Diego Toastmasters 7 in February 2006. After the first several months of being a Club Member, Eric began to focus on the leadership aspects of Toastmasters.
Here’s an extensive list of his accomplishments:
– Mentored over a dozen SDTM7 members and as an advisor to many more.
– Served nearly every Club Officer role and is a five-term SDTM7 Club President.
– Trained District 5 Club officers for every Club Officer role except for one.
– Served as the Area 9 Director for six Clubs.  Awarded the Area 9 Director of the Year (Making A Difference) Award for 2016-2017 and was also the Area 9 Contest Chair for Fall 2017.
Eric received the Distinguished Toastmaster award in 2018.  But his favorite activity in Toastmasters is interviewing Contestants at Speech contests because “they always have something interesting to say when you give them the chance.

Don’t miss out on this Thursday’s comedic event!  The Roast of Eric Linder.

RSVP on our Facebook page event =>