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

Toastmasters Meme

What Did I Miss: 11/19/2020

While this humble author’s laptop rebooted twice at the beginning of the meeting and was heartbroken to miss almost everything until the end of Table Topics, it was still a great meeting.

The Magnificent Manny Thosy led the meeting with his theme, “memes” and his word of the week, “laughter.” Fortunately, Manny had plenty of memes to show that evoked laughter.

The Ah Counter, Area 23 Director Matt Corrales, got an assist on his duties from his mother who was appropriately ruthless with the bell. She legitimately caught my ‘so’…so…well done. She should be armed with the bell at every meeting.

The Table Topics Master was Jacob Hilt and while I missed the question, I did get to see why the group chose to award Guest Mark Wang’s answer about his love of Dad jokes, the Best Table Topics Speaker ribbon.

After a break last week for an all Table Topics extravaganza, we had 3 great speeches.

Budd Barmeyer introduced us to his partner and their 3 silky chickens (which look like Muppets). He gave us some facts about chickens (they’ve been great fighting anxiety and depression), talked about their preferences (televised thrillers and crime drama), and plugged one of their social media accounts (https://www.facebook.com/Tannerthechicken not to be confused with Tanner’s Chicken Restaurant in Cumming, GA (https://www.opentable.com/r/tanners-chicken-cumming).

In a speech titled, “The Alternate,” Dave Zarella spoke talked about how disappointed he was with his performance in the Area 9 Humorous Speech Contest. What went wrong? He skipped his morning workout, had a cappuccino, couldn’t see the audience reactions, or maybe it was just a different crowd. Whatever it was, it was still a good enough performance to earn him 2nd place which makes him the alternate who will go to the Division contest if the winner cannot. He received a video of his speech but couldn’t watch it all the way through but he remembers a shaky start that culminated in crutch words and xeroxed lines.

Club Secretary Kris Manske earned the Best Speaker Ribbon with the story of a bike trip with her friend from Madison, WI to New Orleans, LA by following the Mississippi River. She illustrates how we should support each other and have each other’s backs when a man drives the pair 50 miles away to a campground when it is pouring rain and the road is narrow. There was also mention of a police escort through an area but she’s saving that for popular demand (so start emailing her now).

First time General Evaluator, Kalina Cardoso, led a well-prepared team into the evaluation section of the meeting. Chris Hammell won the Best Evaluator ribbon with his masterful (That’s right, I called myself masterful. If you want to call yourself masterful, you write this excellent blog) evaluation of Kris Manske’s speech.

With their assignments last night, both Kalina Cardoso and Chris Hammell have completed the first level of their paths. Kalina has also held all meeting roles.

And last, but certainly not least, we voted in a new member, Raymond Samson.

CLUB 7 CALENDAR

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.

12/24: Christmas Eve – no meeting

12/31: New Year’s Eve – no meeting

I hope you’re all doing well,

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: 11/5/2020

Last night we had fun and plenty of guests to get to know. We even voted in a new member, Carla Ruiz-Velasco, to San Diego Toastmasters 7.

Kalina Cardoso was our fearless Toastmaster (and it was the first time she held the role). Her theme was “Festivities” and her word of the week was “pleasant.”

Vice President of Public Relations, Tomo Osako, seized on the theme to ask questions about festivities. Guest, Sammy, won Best Table Topics when Tomo asked about the most festive person he knows, and he told us about his mother and her propensity for amazing house decorations during the holidays that make their neighbors jealous.

Honorable mention to Ruben Figueroa for answering a question about the weirdest celebration he’s been a part of. He described one on Christmas Eve…which I will not recount here…he may run for office one day. Then he went on to set up a story about a weirder celebration that happened on New Year’s Eve in San Francisco THEN DIDN’T TELL US! He is the king of suspense. He is Club 7’s Stephen King. How does he do it?

Oh, and thanks to Tomo asking about any personal/secret celebration you might have, Club President, and last night’s Vote Counter, Jon Berman reveals that he goes to Baskin Robbins on November 4th of every year and ordered a one-gallon milkshake. This is a new tradition that I plan on participating in.

As for the speeches, the manual speakers gave the audience their money’s worth. Jeremy Johnson earned the best Speaker of the Evening when he talked about the importance of community and unity. He loves you no matter who you voted for.

Chris Hammell told a few stories from his 10 years of public speaking. It was pretty good stuff.

And Club Treasurer, Joyce Persichilli, talked about her 20 years of public speaking and all of the ways that Toastmasters has benefitted her. She also talked about the first club she joined and the nervousness she felt.

Area 14 Director, Corinna Koehler, led a lively and attentive evaluation portion. Dave Zarella took home the Best Evaluator ribbon as our awesome Ah Counter.

CLUB 7 CALENDAR

11/7: Fellow club members, Chris Hammell (that’s me) and Bob Dietrich will be competing in the Area 13 Humorous Speech and International Speech Contest. Drop in tomorrow morning if you can: https://d5tm.org/event/western-division-area-13-online-humorous-international-speech-contests/

11/12: Next week, November 12, we will be meeting in-person at DiMille’s which will be led by the always superb, Sureal Sparx. Go to the blog for more information and to sign up (only members who RSVP will be able to attend): http://toastmasters7.org/table-topics-mania-night-at-dimilles/

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/

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: 10/29/2020

Last night we our Vice President of Membership, Sureal Sparx, led the meeting as our Toastmaster. His theme was “Slow Down To Speed Up” and the word of the week was “calm.” And Surreal taught us, and the many guests, some of the secrets of being calm.

In her Pledge & Inspiration, Club Secretary Kris Manske, explained that her internet connection has been stable and dependable throughout the pandemic…until she had a very important presentation. In the interest of Halloween tomorrow, I’m going to purposely leave that on a cliffhanger. You’re welcome.

Antonio Garcia led Table Topics by using the word of the week, “calm” to ask questions about what the calmest place, music, or person is. Chris Hammell won the Best Table Topics Speaker ribbon by talking about the calmest person he knows, his father.

In the manual speeches Gregory Pitts, took home the Best Speaker ribbon for delivering a speech about choosing your priorities. After choosing work for so long, he’s shifted to family and he’s moving back to New York to be closer to the people he loves the most.

In 1976, Club Vice President of Education, Christoph Kubitza stumbled in on leadership when he convinced his fellow Rugby players to assemble for practice. As his life experience grew (French military service, Toastmasters), so did his leadership skills. That’s right, Christoph was in the military. (Because Halloween is tomorrow…) That would explain the sudden, unexplained disappearances in your neighborhood.

Area 14 Director, Corinna Koehler, talks to us about the different mentors (her mother, her friend, Mike, and our very own Christoph) in her life and their different styles. She then talks about her own experience mentoring at Club 7.

Our first time General Evaluator, Manny Thosy, did a great job running that section and evaluating the meeting. (And again, because it’s Halloween…) During his evaluation of the meeting, Christoph appeared behind him. I tried to scream, “Christoph is RIGHT BEHIND YOU!!!!!”, but I forgot to take myself off of mute and Manny has been missing since last night….

Also, there is one more contest being run by one of our members, Matt Corrales.

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

Club 7 hopes you have a glorious and safe Halloween.

Chris Hammell, DTM