RANDOM ROLE MEETING (aka Grab Bag or Spin the Wheel)

The upcoming “Spin the Role” meeting in which members will enter their names and a computer program will assign them random roles, is a meeting we haven’t done in a while. It’s an exciting opportunity to do something different and unexpected.

You’d like to participate but you’re nervous. What if you’re assigned Toastmaster or worse, Speaker? Is there any way to prepare for this meeting?

Yes, there is. And, I’m glad you asked.

Before I begin I’m going to start with 2 rules:

#1 There is nothing in the Toastmasters promise that says a member needs to be perfect

#2 If you are assigned a role you’ve never done, do it to the best of your ability. No one expects you to be perfect and you may surprise yourself.

Okay, now let’s eliminate the roles that can be done without preparation: Grammarian, Ah Counter, and Vote Counter.

Wow…that doesn’t eliminate much.

Let’s start with the easier roles to fulfill if you’re assigned to that role:

Presiding Officer: This role is usually reserved for a member of the Executive Committee but all roles might be in play so you may find yourself in this role.

At the beginning, they gavel the meeting to order, remind folks to silence their smart phones, read the club mission, and ask each guest (or a few guests depending on how many there are) to introduce themselves, say how they heard about Toastmasters, and what they hope to gain from Toastmasters. Then they introduce the Pledge & Inspiration speaker.

At the end, the Toastmaster will turn it back over to you and you will ask each guest (or a few) what they thought of the meeting. Then you will close the meeting by thanking everyone for being there and drop the gavel again (I say gavel but during this pandemic people usually say, “I’m gaveling this meeting to a close” instead of physically doing anything. Then you will reopen the meeting for club business and host that section before wrapping the meeting completely.

Timer: All you need is the length of speech each speaker is presenting so you can time them appropriately. If you don’t know where the boundaries of the green, yellow, and red are, ask the speaker. You’ll also need a way to keep time. If you have a smartphone, you can use that or go to google and type in stopwatch, hit enter, and one pops up for you to use.

General Evaluator: You need to tell your speakers (aloud or over chat) to put their project evaluation PDF into chat for the evaluators. You need to tell the evaluators to ask their speaker what they’d like for them to watch for. And if you see a name that you might not be able to pronounce, ask that member how to pronounce it so you can give them a good introduction when the time comes.

Speech Evaluator: If the General Evaluator hasn’t told you already, please ask your speaker for their evaluation sheet either by email or by chat and ask them what they want you to look for (if anything).

Table Topics Master: Usually questions are aligned with the theme and the word of the week but they don’t always have to. If you are feeling adventurous, you can wait until the Toastmaster announces their theme and word of the week. From there you have until the functionaries introduce their roles before you need to run the Table Topics section. It’s enough time to quickly write 5 questions.

Alternatively, you can also come up with questions now or be completely off the cuff with your questions. There are members who can come up with things on the spot. Any way you choose to do it, it’s the impromptu speaking section so I encourage you to be as impromptu as possible also. Remember rule #1? You don’t have to be perfect.

Pledge & Inspiration: This role is usually aligned with the theme and word of the week but you won’t know those until you introduce the Toastmaster who will reveal it at that time. UNLESS you ask them what it is as soon as you find out who it is.

But a better method might be to think of something recent that makes you curious, happy, angry and tell the group about it while trying to say what you learned or what the moral of the story is. You have a short time (2 minutes) but you don’t have to use all of the time. At the end of the story you then introduce the Toastmaster of the Evening.

Manual Speaker: You can either come up with a speech when you find out you have the role OR you can go through your path now, select a speech, then brainstorm on what it could be about. And download the evaluation in case you have to email or attach it to chat for your evaluator.

Whether you outline or completely write that speech is up to you. But keep in mind rule #1 is you don’t have to be perfect. Also keep in mind that your effort to prepare isn’t wasted because you now have a speech (or idea of a speech) you can give at a future time.

Toastmaster: This is the mother of all Spin the Wheel roles. Since you control almost every aspect, you need the agenda. You can print an old agenda and white out the names and hand write them in that night OR I have attached a blank agenda to each ‘confirm your role’ email I’ve sent in the past few weeks and can attach it in chat at the meeting if requested. Print that blank agenda so you can print on it and you’re in business.

You also need a theme and word of the week NOW so your Pledge & Inspiration and Table Topics Master can get started on their roles if they choose to use it as inspiration. If you put it in chat for everyone, the members can start using it and the Grammarian can start logging its use.

You also need to say a little something about the theme and word of the week before introducing your functionaries. They will be easier to do if your theme and word of the week are something important to you right now. You can either make it up at the meeting or give it some thought now. If you don’t end up using your ideas this time, you can always use it in the future.

I hope this helps demystify the upcoming Spin the Role meeting. Please participate. These are fun, imperfect, meetings where we all support each other and take the plunge together. Contact Christoph Kubitza if you want to participate (I already have). On the night of the Spin the Role meeting, you can come back to this blog and go over the role you have to remind yourself what to do.

See you at the meeting!

Chris Hammell, DTM

Club 7 Members at DiMilles

What Did I Miss: 11/12/2020

Last night we gathered at DiMille’s and had an in-person meeting for the first time in 7 months. We had pizza, table topics, and fun talking to each other in person. Over Zoom (the meeting was broadcast live) we even had a guest hang out throughout the meeting and even participated in table topics.

Vice President of Membership Sureal Sparx led the meeting and his word of the week was “Glory.” Club Alumni, Monica Feliz and Lynette Benitez were in attendance. Lynette even rejoined the club (welcome back!).

Sureal gave everyone two table topics questions and the first one, for everyone was, “How are you feeling and where are you feeling it.” Answers ranged from “normal everywhere” to “a lot of love in my heart.” From there, he employed a wheel of names which he would spin and then you would choose even or odd and a random number generator selected your question from a list of 364.

When Should you reveal a secret you promised not to reveal? Yesica Vazquez answered that you should reveal it if it compromises your integrity or may compromise you in the future.

What is the best decision you ever made? According to Area 14 Director Corinna Koehler, starting her bachelor’s degree because she met amazing people and it was f#$%ing fun.

What could society do without? Eric Linder showed his dark side by revealing that society could do with less….oxygen! Too many people are breathing and he feels like there are a lot of people who shouldn’t be breathing his precious oxygen.

Who is your mentor and what have you learned from them? Vice President of Public Relations Tomo Osako revealed that she was drunk as she sang Christoph and Eric’s praises as her mentors. Eric even had her to his house once and…he was a perfect gentleman.

As Tomo answered, a car honked its horn and Corinna admonished it with: “shhhhhhhh!” Did it work? The car stopped honking so you tell me.

How much money per month is enough to live comfortably? Kalina Cardoso took us through her thought process because she’s comfortable in a one studio apartment. But to live in her dream house on oceanfront property, send daughter to school, and ski more, 20K per month is the magic number.

Who is the strongest person you know? Chris Hammell (ahem…that’s the author of this blog) told us about his father’s struggle with trigeminal neuralgia and heart attack.

If life is so short, why do we do things we don’t like and like things we don’t do? (say that 8 times fast) Vice President of Education Christoph Kubitza explained that he had pressure from society and his parents who told Christoph what to study in college. He crossed the Atlantic so he could break away and do what felt good. His advice: Do what you love (Unless you like depriving people of oxygen, Eric Linder!).

In one year from today, how will your life be different? Lynette Benitez is excited. She’s going to places like Puerto Rico, Florida, and Washington DC to have adventures all over the world. But at this moment she is working on her physical and mental health and trying to live in the moment.

What has life taught you recently? Club Secretary Kris Manske talked about Essentialism which is a book she’s reading that teaches you to tear down what you don’t need. A company went from 5 day, 40 hour work week then stripped out things like meetings and found they could work 4 days, 32 hours a week and accomplish the same amount of work.

What makes you smile? For Bob Dietrich: Foot rubs. He doesn’t have a foot fetish (the gentleman doth protest too much methinks). Massages make him smile. Foot rubs can be sensual and not sensual but can they be both at the same time? Bob puzzled his way through these questions which will haunt and give me the giggles for some time.

What is the best part of being you? Monica Feliz is a lifelong learner who loves learning every day and having experiences with new people. She’s also happy being an optimist.

Where do you spend most of your time while you’re away? Dave Zarella described a work environment before computers then moving to a tiny amber screen on a word processor. Now his computer is so powerful he can do anything with it. He spends most of his time tied to a computer.

What things in life should always be free? Club President Jon Berman as socialist leanings now. It used to be, when we wanted to eat, we could hunt and when we needed shelter, we could find it or build it. Today, if you have no money, you don’t have access to food or shelter. Luxuries are the only things that shouldn’t be free (Oxygen isn’t a luxury, Eric!).

If you could do it all over again, would you change anything? Sergeant-at-Arms Jeremy Johnson wouldn’t change a thing. Everything he’s done and everything he’s been through has made him the man he is. He tries not to make the same mistakes but otherwise, those mistakes have brought him to DiMille’s to answer that question.

What are the primary components of a happy life? For Immediate Past President Alberto Alvarado, finding your closest five friends is important. Hopefully one of them will be your soulmate. And if you find a job you enjoy, you will never work a day in your life. His advice: live with child-like enthusiasm (He said as I wondered if my Star Wars Stormtrooper action figures (not dolls) would be waiting in my mailbox when I got home so I could pose them (they were)).

Who would you like to forgive? Club Treasurer and District 5 Club Growth Director Joyce Persichilli told us about her ex-husband. They married when they were young but he was [redacted in case Joyce wants to run for office one day]. Joyce took home the prize for Best Table Topics Speaker but it would not be the only award she left with (that expert level foreshadowing).  

Then we received a Grammarian’s report from Lynette, an Ah Counter report from Christoph, and a Timer’s report from Tomo.

Sureal closed the meeting by telling us to believe in the system and believe in each other. Then Jon opened for Club Business and there were a number of exciting and stirring bits of business.

Alberto started by presenting Club Treasurer and District 5 Club Growth Director Joyce Persichilli with flowers and the Grab the Gavel award for being a great mentor while he served in the district and always helping to guide him as our Club President. It moved her to tears and was a great way to start Club Business (in my own opinion).

Not to be outdone, current Club President Jon Berman popped up and answered the challenge by awarding a trophy to Alberto for serving two consecutive terms as Club President while shattering the record for educational awards.

Christoph reminded us that Officer elections are coming up and encouraged us all to think about helping the club stay on track and offering support to incoming club officers as well as training from the members who are currently serving in those roles.

Sureal announced that Bob won the Area 13 Humorous Speech contest and will compete at the division level in March next year. Chris Hammell competed also and secured last place. He’s not bitter but if the winner and runner up are…say…deprived of oxygen (this is a hint for Eric Linder) then Chris would have no choice but to go (oh no, did I just join the dark side?).

Christoph announced that we lead the district in 8 DCP goals and we are third highest in educational awards (15). Eric first emailed us about this impressive accomplishment last Monday.

Yesica acknowledged and thanked her division from last year, including Jon and Sureal, for all of their hard work.

CLUB 7 CALENDAR

11/14: On November 14 at 8:30am, Area 23 Director, Matt Corrales, has organized a speech contest so feel free to log in and watch as amazing speakers deliver great speeches and support Matt: https://d5tm.org/event/northern-division-online-area-contests-area-18-23/

11/26: Thanksgiving – no meeting

12/3: On December 3rd, we are having a “Spin the Role” meeting where all roles will be decided at the meeting. Will you be a speaker, a grammarian, Toastmaster? Instead of a grab bag, we’ll be using the magic of random computer magic to choose the roles.

I hope you’re all doing well,

Chris Hammell, DTM

What Did I Miss: 10/15/2020

Last night, we held a very successful Open House with 15 guests including Guest Speaker Eric Gillman, past members Amin Iman, and Alexandre Jacquet, and the Art Institute’s Bernie Nofel. For those who don’t know, Bernie used to bring each of his student groups in for one Toastmasters meeting to see what it was all about and we can’t wait until we can welcome him and his students back in person.

Club President Jon Berman, was our Toastmaster of the Evening for this event. His theme was Opportunity and his word of the week was Venture.

Vice President of Membership Sureal Sparx led Table Topics by telling the audience to use the following in their answers: Where are you, who are you with, and describe your sensations and what you smell. Then he showed each participant a photo. Guest Ricardo described being at a store picking fruits & vegetables to cook with his family. Guest, and Club 7 alumni, Amin Iman described going to the San Francisco fish market with his cousin. Guest Irene described a baking class in which she melted sugar with a blowtorch on top of crème brule. Guest Jess described watching a Chargers game in Pacific Beach with her friend. Best Table Topics Speaker, Guest Bernie Nofel, described (and rhymed) a tall tale about his background in mercantilism and the world’s leading importer and exporter in Timbuktu.

Chris Hammell (hey, that’s me) shined a spotlight on the Toastmasters Accredited Speaker Program (and revealed the results of a survey some members of Club 7 completed for research on this topic).

Jacob Hilt spoke about leadership lessons from the military and being an adaptable leader.

Best Manual Speaker went to Guest Speaker Eric Gillman, who took his sales and Zoom expertise to share 3 Zoom Do’s and 3 Zoom Don’ts (which would have been useful before my speech that night (*blush*)).

Vice President of Education Christoph Kubitza led a well-prepared evaluation team. Vice President of Public Relations Tomo Osako delivered a funny, specific, and supportive evaluation of Guest Speaker and Toastmasters Hardhat’s Club Member, Eric Gillman’s speech. In telling him that he should say what he’s going to say then remind people of what he said at the end because, “people are dumb,” she secured the Best Evaluator win for the evening.

Next week our Club Treasurer, and District 5 Club Growth Director, Joyce Persichilli, will be your Toastmaster of the Evening.

And, as a reminder, Humorous Speech Champ, Dave Zarella and International Speech Champ, Bob Dietrich are going to the Area 9 Contest to represent us TOMORROW, October 17thBookmark this page, https://d5tm.org/event/southern-division-online-area-contests-area-9/ , and stay tuned for more information.

Also, there are several other contests being run by our members who are serving the district as Area Directors and they could use our help. Please reach out to any of them if you are free on the following days.

October 24 @10am: Corinna Koehler, Area 14 Director (https://d5tm.org/event/southern-division-online-area-contests-area-12-14/)

November 14 @ 8:30am: Matt Corrales, Area 23 Director (https://d5tm.org/event/northern-division-online-area-contests-area-18-23/)

I hope you’re all doing well,

Chris Hammell, DTM

Table-Topics-Mania Night at DiMille’s

We will gather on November 12th from 6-8:15pm (gavel drop at 6:30pm as normal) at DiMille’s outside on their patio (https://dimilles.com/) for our first ever, TABLE TOPICS MANIA NIGHT AT DIMILLE’S!

That’s right! For the first time since March, we’re going to gather together to eat pizza, have drinks, and bond (…James Bond…sorry, couldn’t resist). The pizza is on us, you’ll just need to purchase your own drinks.

This will be for members only to ensure that as many of us are able to get together as possible. We will open it up to others if we have room closer to the event. If you haven’t registered with the link below and you show up, we may have to turn you away (which will be awkward…my stomach hurts just thinking about it).

There is only one requirement (in addition to mask wearing and physical distancing), the number of people is limited to 20 so we are asking everyone to register at https://tinyurl.com/sd7pizza to reserve your spot.

For those who are new, this is a great opportunity to meet us in person and DiMille’s is practically an honorary member. Because it is close to our usual meeting space, it’s become the place that we gather before and after meetings to have dinner, drinks, and conversations. It’s a place where mentor/mentee matches have been made, awards have been given, and where we’ve encouraged each other’s goals.

Frankly, in order to guarantee my spot, I registered before I wrote this and I can’t wait to see 19 of my fellow club members and meet new members.

Stay safe!

Chris Hammell, DTM

What Did I Miss: 9/3/2020

What did you miss last night?

In the Humorous Speech contest, First Place winner, Dave Zarella, compared masks to having a used diaper taped to your face. Second place, Tomo Osako, talked about the pitfalls of online dating. And Kris Manske demonstrated the shell-shock of your social media feed.

In the International Speech contest, First Place winner, Jon Berman, showed us a world upside down and how it inspired him. Second place, Bob Dietrich, introduced us to his Guardian Angel, Sarah. And Jeremy Johnson showed us a life changed from anguish to accomplishment.

Dave and Jon will be going to the Area Contest to represent us Saturday, October 17th. While there aren’t any events posted to https://d5tm.org/district-calendar/ , stay tuned for more information.

If you want to learn more about the contests, the rulebook is good for club, area, division, and district level contests. We organize our contest according to the rules so that our club members can participate, perform functions, and even lead at higher level contests. That’s why you see so many of your fellow club members at higher level contests and serving is various district roles. This club produces leaders and the contests help us build them. Here is a link to the contest information: https://www.toastmasters.org/-/media/df5b90486396457dade944becca89cf0.ashx

Next week, Commander Christoph Kubitza, is going to lead us into our first post-contest meeting.

I hope you’re all doing well and I’d love to see you next week (and the week after, and the week after that, and the week after that)!

Chris Hammell, DTM