slide showing Puerto Vallarta

What Did I Miss: 1/14/2021

We “assuaged” the crowd’s tension to “Bridge the Divide” last night as Area 23 Director, Matt Corrales was our Toastmaster. His theme was “Bridge the Divide” and his word of the week was “assuage” (now go back and read that very first sentence and you’ll find that I’m very clever (and that I like recycling joke setups)).

Chris Hammell, gave a stirring Pledge & Inspiration as he forgot the pledge and focused on Bridging the Divide…which left the crowd divided into the laughing and not laughing (FYI, when you don’t laugh, I die a little inside…).

For Table Topics, Vice President of Membership, Sureal Sparx led his session by asking questions surrounding the freedom of expression.

Are there any topics we shouldn’t talk about? – Best Table Topics Speaker winner, Dave Zarella said a lot of people he’s seen on social media are misinformed. It’s very difficult to have an intelligent conversation with a stranger when politicians can’t even agree on anything.

What would a society with no freedom of expression look like? – Antonio Garcia explained that expressing ourselves helps keep us sane. We need to be sane to even build that society. It’s difficult to be human and we need a way to creatively express our frustration and disappointment.

Argue for freedom of expression. – Guest Andrew said, as a military person, you can’t tell the public how you feel about politics but you can discuss it with your fellow military personnel.

Argue against freedom of expression. – Carla Ruiz-Velasco explained that she’s against it when it incites violence. It’s a slippery slope though because anyone’s words can be blamed for violence.

In the manual speech section, Budd Barmeyer gave us a researched speech on Puerto Vallarta and the many reasons it’s now a top three destination. He punctuated his research with engaging photos of white, sandy beaches and described the delicious, plentiful, and inexpensive restaurants.

Best Speaker winner and Area 14 Director, Corinna Koehler, tackled the judgement she feels when she tells people she doesn’t want kids. She likes her body, she doesn’t want the responsibility, and she’s already a helicopter parent to her friends. If think you can convince her otherwise…you can’t – she’s happy with her life.

Club Secretary, Kris Manske, taught us about the vagus nerve and it’s involvement in her insomnia. She showed us a chart of what it does then used her dog, Banana, as an example before moving to her more complicated reaction to it. She even shared some ways she’s combating insomnia through mindful acceptance.

The General Evaluator and Club President, Jon Berman, presided over the evaluation session. Best Evaluator winner, Kalina Cardoso who evaluated Corinna’s speech, said that she was passionate with good vocal variety. She also liked that Corinna delivered the speech standing up so it was more dynamic. She pointed that she was forceful and passionate during most of the speech so Kalina suggested bringing the energy down in places to provide a bit of vocal variety.

During his General Evaluation, Jon Berman pointed out that despite our small crowd (about 15 folks including 1 guest (Andrew), 1 club alumni (Bob Dietrich, DTM), 1 member without a role (Dave Zarella), and 1 guest speech evaluation from Matt’s mother, Terry Corrales (who evaluated Kris Manske)), we were participatory and energetic.

You should have been there. There’s always next week, right? You’re darn right you’re right and it’s your right to do the right thing and click right on the meeting link.

I hope you’re all doing well, Chris Hammell, DTM

Toastmaster of the Evening Jon Berman

What Did I Miss: 12/10/2020

We “resolved” to show “True Grit” last night as Club President, Jon Berman was our Toastmaster. His theme was “True Grit” and his word of the week was “resolve” (now go back and read that very first sentence and you’ll find that I’m very clever).

Vice President of Membership, Sureal Sparx, gave a stirring Pledge & Inspiration as he spoke about his mother and signing up for a blood drive to donate in her honor (it’s December 23rd and there are spots remaining if you want to join him – CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE!

Club President, Jon Berman, donned a cowboy hat and kept it on throughout the meeting to introduce us to his theme. He spoke about a paper in which pointed out that grit was a better predictor of success than academic achievement.

Special shout out to our own Area 9 Director, Elaine Dusetzina for serving as our timer and making the green, yellow, and red very creative. She used holiday themed backgrounds. Christmas trees stood in for green, a yellow snowman (and a warning against eating yellow snow) for yellow, and a field of candy canes for red. It was both joyful and triumphant (Jim Carrey’s “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” is streaming now on Netflix and Hulu).

For Table Topics, Chris Hammell led and used the word of the week in each of his questions. Inspired by Jon’s cowboy hat and cowboy puns, Chris adopted a cowboy drawl that was both hilarious and inconsistent simultaneously (how do I do it?). Here are the questions I asked and the summary of the answers.

Looking back over this past year, what things did you resolve to do that you were able to accomplish? – Club  Secretary, Kris Manske, said she was very happy with her Toastmaster accomplishments and that the lack of other things to do meant that she was able to tackle the curriculum more quickly. Kris shared the Best Table Topics Speaker of the Evening with Tomo for her answer.

We’re close to a new year, what do resolve to do to make life better for yourself next year? – Second-time guest, Gail, said she just moved from Thousand Oaks to San Diego so she was going to join Toastmasters to get back on track and develop the instant community that Toastmasters provides.

This has been a tough year, is there anything you resolved to do this year that you couldn’t because of the circumstances? – Lane Seidman pulled off the ultimate trick in 2020 by safely getting married in August (take THAT 2020). At the beginning of the year, he was training to run half and full marathons and didn’t get the opportunity to do it other than virtually so he’d like to accomplish that…and he’d probably like to go on a honeymoon too (he didn’t say that, but it was a rough year for travel).

If you could use resolve to accomplish only one goal in the next year, what would it be? – Guest Andy said he’d really enjoy finally getting good enough on a surfboard to do aerials. I hope he does because I can’t tell you how exhilarating it is (I didn’t do it in real-life but in an old 32-bit game that felt like real-life).

When you’re losing your resolve, how do you refocus on your goal? – Vice President of Public Relations, Tomo Osako said that most of the time when we lose focus on our goals, the solution is to take a nap. When she’s feeling stressed or irritable, she finds a nap helps her reboot and come back at the goal refreshed. Tomo shared the Best Table Topics Speaker of the Evening with Kris for her answer.

Carla Ruiz-Velasco started the manual speech section by delivering an Icebreaker speech. The Icebreaker is great for the member but it’s also the club’s first opportunity to get to know the member and we found out a lot about her. From preschool to 4th grade, her mother drove her from San Diego to a school in Tijuana so she could become bilingual and enjoy the same education that she did. It was there that she discovered a love of public speaking. After college she taught English and Spanish in Brazil. She even teased using public speaking in her volunteer work.

Area 14 Director, Corinna Koehler, talked about passive aggressiveness as conflict resolution technique. She went over the two types of conflict: as a mediator and handling a direct conflict.

Area 23 Director, Matt Corrales, took home Best Manual Speaker when he talked about the life-saving gift of a near-fatal car accident and the prison sentence that followed in his sobriety. Because of his record, he’s had no choice but to be honest about who he is and what he’s done. With his demons in the past, it’s time to decide for himself what path is best for him to take.

General Evaluator and Vice President of Education, Christoph Kubitza, led a fantastic evaluation team including first-time speech evaluator, Budd Barmeyer, who did a great job of giving specific and supportive feedback.

Lynette Benitez took the award for Best Evaluator of the meeting with her evaluation of Carla’s Icebreaker. She connected with Carla by sharing that she was also talkative and outgoing. She suggested Carla plant herself whether it is in a chair in front of the camera or standing so she isn’t shifting around. She also said she liked Carla’s speech because she could feel her vibe and authenticity.

Next week we’re having club elections and they announced tentative plans on 12/19 for a Virtual Holiday Party.

CLUB 7 CALENDAR

12/17: Club 7 Officer Elections

12/19: Virtual Holiday Party (more information coming)

12/24: Christmas Eve – no meeting

12/31: New Year’s Eve – no meeting

I hope you’re all doing well, Chris Hammell, DTM

Meeting Agenda

What Did I Miss: 12/3/2020

We had our “Spin the Role” meeting last night. There were plenty of Toastmasters signed up to take part and our Vice President of Education, Christoph Kubitza, played master of ceremonies, using wheelofnames.com to pair Club 7 member with roles.

When a name was selected, Christoph would ask if that member was present. If they weren’t, he would spin again to ensure that a member could get assigned a role and immediately start preparing themselves for it. With that in mind, he chose a presiding officer and manual speakers first followed by a Toastmaster, Table Topics Master, General Evaluator, then the rest of the functionaries. The remaining members not chosen were placed in the pool for Table Topics. Christoph then generated an agenda 5 minutes before gavel drop (which I’m using at the accompanying picture with this blog).

All choices were random and this is how the agenda looked last night:

Presiding Officer: Tomo Osako Pledge & Inspiration: Manny Thosy Toastmaster: Ben Nitti Grammarian: Matt Corrales Ah Counter: Bob Dietrich Timer: Dave Zarella Vote Counter: Ruben Figueroa Table Topics Master: Kris Manske Table Topics participants: Kalina Cardoso, Lynette Benitez, Ray Samson, Carla Ruiz-Velasco, and Joyce Persichilli Speaker 1: Chris Hammell Speaker 2: Christoph Kubitza Speaker 3: Budd Barmeyer General Evaluator: Sureal Sparx Evaluator 1: Antonio Garcia Evaluator 2: Lane Seidman Evaluator 3: Jon Berman

Vice President of Public Relations, Tomo Osako started the meeting on time and had some of the guests introduce themselves. There were a lot of lucky guests present to watch us pull off a meeting that was one hundred percent entertaining.

Manny Thosy came up with a terrific Pledge & Inspiration on the spot based on Ben’s impromptu theme, “To Live is to Travel.” Manny reminded us that while we can’t travel like we want to, San Diego is a county with many opportunities to get out of the house and hike places like Cowles’ Mountain. Manny likes to hike and try to live in the present moment and encouraged us to do that as well.

Ben Nitti, a newer member, did a great job as a first-time Toastmaster considering that he only had 15 minutes to prepare. His word of the week was “euphoria” and despite the fact that no one had any warning ahead of time, most managed to work the word in.

In Ben’s opening remarks to the club, he reminded us that the Spin-the-Role meeting was about learning and growing and not about being perfect. For never being a toastmaster, he set a great tone for the meeting.

Then, Club Secretary, Kris Manske ran the Table Topics portion of the meeting. Her approach was to ask two questions about etiquette that were on her mind first then ask questions based on the theme, “To Live is to Travel.”

Kris asked Kalina Cardoso what she does when she’s talking to someone and they start scrolling on their phone. Kalina explained that her time is valuable and she’s intentionally present while meeting with someone. If they look down at their phone she stops talking and waits for them to re-engage even if they tell her to go ahead. If she needs to check her phone, she excuses herself, checks it quickly, then re-engages in her conversation. Kalina shared the Best Table Topics Speaker of the Evening with Ray for her answer.

Lynette Benitez was asked if she texts people back right away and whether it was rude or not to make people wait. In Lynette’s opinion, it depends on the audience. It’s normal for her and her circle of friends in business to not return a call or text for a week. But with a friend, she tries to text or call back right away but isn’t constantly on her phone so she’s not always aware there’s something to respond to right away.

With those etiquette questions answered, Kris asked Ray Samson to tell her about the last time he experienced euphoria. He talked about a trip he took to Cabo San Lucas with his girlfriend that he was nervous to take (he has friends on Border Patrol and they’ve told him stories). But he had a great time, so many tacos, parasailed even though he couldn’t swim, and experienced total euphoria. Ray shared the Best Table Topics Speaker of the Evening with Kalina for his answer.

Carla Ruiz-Velasco was asked to tell us about the best or worst travel adventure she’s had. All travel is euphoric and you get to look at beautiful things and meeting great people but an adventure that stands out is when Carla and a friend of hers from Romania when to Tequila, Mexico. They had a great time singing drunk songs and ate like queens.

Club Treasurer and District 5 Club Growth Director, Joyce Persichilli was asked about something she’s learned from traveling. Joyce has learned to never let her husband be in charge of anything. The last time they went to the Grand Canyon, she planned it out and they had such a great time with a guide who showed them the sites and served them lunch on fine china.

For the impromptu speeches, Chris Hammell told a fictitious story about visiting a Toastmasters Club in Los Angeles where celebrities are members. It was a fun speech that allowed Chris to use bad impressions of celebrities.

Vice President of Education, Christoph Kubitza talked about his anal communications style and how it was formed from his overly analytical mind and how he has tempered that through the years. He talked about using a lighter tone and his analytical mind when he researched Toastmasters’ mentorship program and pitched District 5 on mentorship as a way of helping clubs retain members and be more engaged. He ended the speech by encouraging members to get involved in club leadership and pointed out that we needed new recruits to help run the club for the next 6 months. Christoph did all of this while also doing something he said he has also worked hard to learn: ending his speeches on time.

Best Speaker of the Evening, Budd Barmeyer, answered some frequently asked questions about his roosters. Do they eat chicken? No, Budd isn’t raising any cannibals. Do they lay eggs? Well…they’re boys…so… Where do they sleep? Inside a box…in a closet…Harry Potter-style. There were also funny anecdotes like taking them to the park where they would stay on the blanket unless they had to open a can of whoop ass on a homeless person or child who got too close to them.

Vice President of Membership, Sureal Sparx, led an all-star team of evaluators.

Best Evaluator of the Evening, Jon Berman, gave a great evaluation of Budd’s speech where he complimented his use of intonation and pace. He encouraged Budd to give more detail to his speech to really bring it to life before letting him know that his humor made the speech really enjoyable.

Special mention for Bob Dietrich who, as Ah Counter, gave a loooong and hilarious report where he joked that , “Tomo spoke for 15 seconds and had 37 ‘ah’s” and “I got Antonio for a few ‘ah’s and a heavy accent.”

Speaking of Antonio, when evaluating my speech, he remembered the first time I delivered it. I wrote the speech for the club’s Tall Tales Contest (which I won…I probably didn’t need to add that) which was a 3.5 to 5 minute time limit. I wrote new material for that speech and took out some older material that didn’t age well. I had a great time repurposing that speech and had a lot of fun delivering it and I appreciate that Antonio remembers that first version. Okay, back to the blog:

Despite everything, Tomo kept a keen eye on the time and managed to end the meeting very on-time. This was not a meeting to be missed and for those of you who were there, it was a great time.

Next week we’ll be back to a normal meeting but I can’t wait for another one of these event meetings next year.

CLUB 7 CALENDAR

12/24: Christmas Eve – no meeting

12/31: New Year’s Eve – no meeting

I hope you’re all doing well,

Chris Hammell, DTM

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