Recently, we had the honor to host a guest from Italy – Antonio Blissett, the Immediate Past President of the Erzelli Toasters in Genoa and the current Area A5 Director. His visit was a good reminder of how Toastmasters extend beyond our home club and a great way to make connections in new places! Furthermore, by visiting other clubs, we can learn something new that we can take with us to make our club even better. With clubs in over 140 countries, it’s almost a guarantee you will find one in every major city.
Due to my curiosity, I was interested in learning more about Antonio’s experience with visiting our club. Here’s what I found out!
I was just lucky to find one of the most history-rich Clubs on the planet !
TM7: What motivated you to visit?
Wherever I go, I try to see if a Toastmasters Club in the area has a meeting schedule compatible with mine. I did it once out of curiosity, and I liked the experience so much that it has become a habit.
It’s just so exciting to meet other Clubs: you can always learn new tricks and bring them home for the benefit of your fellow Toasties 🙂
TM7: What was your best experience during your visit?
I was delighted by the team spirit you have shown while setting up the meeting and by the warm welcome you gave to me and to the other guests.
Also, Alberto’s workshop was top-notch. Engaging, effective, entertaining.
Alberto Alvarado, soon to be Distinguished Toastmaster, presented The Art of Evaluation workshop. He shared his knowledge and expertise on how to effectively give feedback when evaluating a speech.
TM7: While it was a different format than our regular meeting, did you notice similarities and differences between your club and ours?
I liked a lot of the formal ceremonies you performed during the meeting – the Pledge to the flag, the induction of a new member with a secret vote. Small but important rites which add solemnity, and increase the feeling of belonging. Our Club is just 3 years old, and we should definitely learn from you.
TM7: Additional feedback on the way we conducted our meeting?
Really enjoyable atmosphere! Professional, but with the right amount of humor !
Thank you Antonio! We look forward to your visit again next year. And if we ever find ourselves in Genoa, we’ll make sure to connect with The Erzelli Toasters!!
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
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.
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.
Our 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 email@example.com.
This brief summary is written by Christoph Kubitza, DTM/Treasurer.