Mittwoch, August 03, 2011

Table topics: Stop to think

In our last meeting I learned two new things about Table Topics:

  • We have 30 Second to think about what we are going to say. Okay, almost nobody really takes this time but it is good to know that you can go on stage and quickly prepare your speech in your head before the clock starts.
  • One way to tackle a difficult task is to address the question to the audience. Okay, that is cheating as I called it in an earlier posting, but it is allowed :-)

Dienstag, Mai 06, 2008

#6: The Love Formula

Today was a special evening. Munich Toastmasters celebrated the 35th anniversary. It was founded in 1973. Many people attended today's meeting who shaped the club for many years, some of them still do.

Prepared Speech

C&L Project #6 (Vocal Variety): "The Love Formula"
(Inspired by The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen R Covey)

Mr. Toastmaster of the evening,
fellow toastmasters and honoured guests.


My subject this evening is [meaningful] Love [Pause].

Biologists tend to see love as a mammalian drive, just like hunger or thirst. Recent studies in neuroscience have indicated that a consistent number of chemicals are present in the brain when people feel love.

Specific chemicals are prominent during the lustful phase of a relationship. Others commonly found during the attraction phase. And some seemed to be more closely linked to long term bonding and relationships characterized by strong attachments.

Keeping that in mind, imagine a good friend of your is opening his heart and says [weak] "Things might look different on the surface [Pause] but I'm really worried about my marriage. It has gone flat. We don't fight or anything. We just don't love each other anymore. The feeling isn't there anymore. What can I do?"

What would you answer? If chemistry isn't right anymore maybe chemistry can provide a remedy? Is there a love formula?


What about Sildenafil citrate? Sildenafil citrate was indeed supposed to cure a heart decease [and?] Though it failed the clinical test against angina pectoris the male test persons were still pretty happy with this medicine and didn't want to give it back. [why?] It was the moment that by serendipity the formula for Viagra was discovered. [let 'em laugh]

While drugs like Viagra might change your physical abilities they don't change your mood.

[Pause] Pheromones do. In the world of animals they works like perfume and tell everyone in the vicinity "I am seriously horny. I need a mate. Now!". For animals this rather direct approach works pretty good. [pause] Up to now no respectable medical company is offering something similar to humans.

So maybe aphrodisiacs could solve your friend’s problem? Now, I wouldn't go that far to recommend he should put some Spanish Fly in his wife's morning coffee because certain less dangerous food can be an aphrodisiac, too. For example dark chocolate, oysters, ginger, nutmeg – and, yes, even tomatoes and potatoes.

[pause, low voice] To be honest, often the effect of erotic food is more based on belief than on actual facts. [louder] And in the end all this only drives passion – [low] not love.

But maybe preparing food leads us in the right direction. There is a German proverb "Liebe geht durch den Magen". Why that?

[cheeky] I assume that in most cases the quality of the food is not the main reason of the success. In particular if a besotted man cooks for a woman. But what is it then?


Let me go back to the situation from the beginning of my speech. Your friend said "The feeling isn't there anymore. What can I do?"

Well, if you think that love is something that just happens to you by chance and you are not responsible for the feeling [pause, low] you can do nothing but wait until Cupid's arrow hits you once more.

If you believe on the other hand that your feelings are a consequence of your actions then you can give the following advice to your friend: [pause] "All you have to do is to love her. Serve her. Sacrifice. Listen to her. Empathize. Appreciate what she does. Affirm her in doing so. [pause]

Make yourself lovable, 'liebenswürdig' again. [pause] Love - the feeling - is a consequence of loving actions. [pause] It can be recaptured. That might be hard work. [pause]

Are you willing to love her?"

If the answer is yes then you have found the love formula.

I hand back to the Toastmaster of the Evening


I was prepared and had done my rehearsals, so I was able to speak without notes. That made me proud. I was a bit too fast for the subject and skipped one or two little parts. It could have come more fluently and with more variety. But I am happy with my performance. Ppl liked it as well.

Subjective Feedback (by the lovely Denise)
  • What she liked: Almost everything.
  • Things to improve: Move out of your comfort zone. Go wild.
  • "Serendipity" was picked by the Grammarian as the "word of the day"
Objective Feedback
  • Time: 5:40
  • Ahs: Fabulous 2 Ahs

Dienstag, August 21, 2007

Table Topics Master - Unusual things

Today I was Table Topics Master again. In order to reduce preparation I though of something easy.

One thing to remember: All attendees should have a chance to speak. So get a list of all attendees and check off all those people how already have a role. Pick those how are left on the paper first.

Get into Action: Receive control from the Toastmaster of the Evening.

"Mr. Toastmaster of The Evening, thank you for the introduction.

I have the honour to lead you through the Table Topics section of this evening today.

As the Table Topic Master I will conduct the impromptu speeches - they are 1.5 to 2 Minute ad hoc speeches, that help you to learn to speak unprepared, and still deliver a coherent speech while thinking on the feet.

The traditional strategy to Table Topics is similar to the prepared speaches: Present sensible, worthwhile ideas that add to the knowledge of others. Seeking to entertain, rather to inform is a popular alternative strategy.

But there are very powerful "nontraditional stategies" as well:
  • Lie
  • Cheat
  • Steal
What is that?
  • Sometimes, we just don't have an honest response that we want to share. That's okay. We are here to have fun and give a good speach, not to turn our pockets inside out. There is no lie detector in Table Topics.
  • Exploring the question rather than answering can very interesting. Or answer the question "the way you thought is was asked" can be very entertaining. This is cheating but it can be as long as you give a coherent speach it is okay.
  • If you cannot draw from you own experience or knowledge, you those of others. Originality is encouraged, but it is not a requirement
No matter what strategy you use, commit to it! Save time by simply grabbing one and developing it.

So let's get it started.

Something really unusual happened to me while I was on a seminar weekend some years ago. On the first day people were brought together in groups of two. They were asked to talk to each other and find out something they had in common. Most pairs found out the usual things: They had seen the same film, they had visited the same countries or liked the same food. One group of two, a man and a woman, found out something rather unusual: They had been to the same country, visited the same beach and had sex with their respective partners at this beach. Impressive what you can find out in just five minutes...

Now that I have set the mood I will ask you about the unusual things in your life.
  • most unusual place you took a bath
  • ... situation wearing pyjamas
  • ... food eaten
  • .... car driven
  • most unusal music listened to
  • ... dress worn
  • ... discussion you had
Thank you for sharing all those unusual things with us. Now please take one of the prepared slips of paper and write down you personal favourite for the best Table Topics speach given tonight. I will repeat the topics and the names."

Hand over control to the Toastmaster of the Evening.


I skipped most of the preparation and drew on my papers from January. It turned out to be a bad move. A bit more preparation would have made it is much better experience for the audience.

This time i made a list of attendees and made sure that everybody had his/her chance to speak. I even asked one of the guests. That was good.

But I forgot two things:
  • The part about how to approach the Table Topics. I brought it in between the first and the second topic and gave an example for each of the three infamous rules. That was good and made it easier to understand.
  • I forgot mentioning the voting for the best table topics speach.
Things I took from other speakers:
  • drawings as visual aids should not be too small (A4 ist not big enough)
  • "too much information" is a common problem (not only mine)
  • be prepared to take more than one role
Objective Feedback
  • Ahs: about 10

Mittwoch, August 08, 2007


Yesterday I did an evaluation for a speaker. A speech with a higher project number that my highest project.

Don't forget to read out the objectives before the speech. It makes it easier for audience to give proper feedback.


Objective Feedback
  • Time: (too long)
Subjective Feedback
  • Not necessary to re-read the objectives as part of the spoken evalutation unless I want to point out something specific. And even in this case one would quote only one specific aspect of the objectives to comment on that

Donnerstag, Januar 11, 2007

Table Topics Master - Internet Domains

Yesterday I was Table Topics Master. It was the first evening in 2007 in a new venue.

One thing to remember: All attendees should have a chance to speak. So get a list of all attendees and check off all those people how already have a role. Pick those how are left on the paper first.

Get into Action:

Receive control from the Toastmaster of the Evening.

"Mr. Toastmaster of The Evening, thank you for the introduction.

I have the honour to lead you through the Table Topics section of this evening today.

As the Table Topic Master I will conduct the impromptu speeches - they are 1½ to 2 Minute ad hoc speeches, that help you to learn to speak unprepared, and deliver a coherent speech while thinking on the feet.

Because this is the first evening of the year. Because this is out first evening in the new venue, I tough of something special.

Normally the TTM sets a theme and asks questions. Sometimes you do not much about the TTM’s theme. Today you will know nothing. You might think this is going to be a nightmare if I pick you, but I know giving a brilliant speech about a topic you know nothing about is second nature for a Toastmasters.

The best thing about it is: It gives you the opportunity to make use of the three golden rules of Table Topics without feeling guiltily:
  • Lie
  • Cheat
  • Steal
In other words: If you don't know what to say you have two options: Keep your mouth shut or be creative. Today I want you to be creative.

My overall topic is the brave new internet and all the companies that mushroom from and in it. Many of you heard of YouTube or MySpace. You may know Flickr and even

But can you tell me what these companies are offering? //** show the prepared signs and wait until they stopped laughing **// - A site where you customize and buy pens online. - An advertising film director’s home page - An Italian Power Generator company

Now it’s up to you. You are the CEOs of some high-flying company. Imagine yourself at this very important convention. In this very moment you are asked to give a short speech about you and company.

Your company’s website is //**show the prepared sign and pick your victim **// - A metasearch interface that queries Google, Yahoo!, and MSN simultaneously... - is a web-based borrowing and lending exchange where people like you and me lend other people like you and me money. They disintermediate the bank. - A design and programming agency for Second Life and alikes. - A site where can make free international phone calls - uses computer power to predict the direction of plane fares. That helps travelers figure out the optimum time to buy a ticket. - Web calendar site - offers free, instant valuations of 67 million U.S. homes. The site says most of its estimates are within 10% of the eventual selling price. - Photo sharing site with custom photo galleries

Thank you very much for there very inspiring and eye opening views into the world of yet unseen services and business models."

Hand over control to the Toastmaster of the Evening.

Additional resources:


Though I was properly prepared with a lot of visual aids (big paper printouts with the URLs) I made an imortant mistake. While giving the introductional speech I decided to change the skript and include a little creativity exercise. It was surely fun but it made this long section even longer. The overall idea was good and most of the speakers found creative and funny ways to make a sales pitch for something they didn't know what it was about.

I forgot one of the members. One aspect of TT is to make sure that every attendee has a chance to speak. I didnt make a list of all and so forgot about one.

Mittwoch, Dezember 20, 2006


The last evening of the year. I was scheduled to do a evaluation for another speaker. But this speaker didn't show up so I agreed to do take the role of the Grammarian.

The Grammarian is supposed to be one of the objective evaluation roles. The tasks are:

The Grammarian selects a "Word for the Day". It should be a word that can be incorporated easily into everyday conversation but is different from the way people usually express themselves.

During the meeting announce the "Word of the Day", state its part of speech, define it, use it in a sentence, and ask that anyone speaking during any part of the meeting use it.

During the meeting the Grammarian listens to everyone's word usage and writes down any awkward use or misuse of the language (incomplete sentences, sentences that change direction in midstream, incorrect grammar, malapropisms, etc.) with a note of who erred. Write down who used the "Word of the Day" (or derivative of it) and note those who used it correctly or incorrectly.

The Grammarians report trys (sic!) to offer the correct usage in every instance where there was misuse instead of only explaining what was wrong. The Grammarian also reports on creative language usage and announce who used the "Word of the Day".

(Taken from ... /roles.html)

At the Munich Toastmasters we don't use the "Word of the Day" so my role was just to watch the "good use of grammar and language". Being a non-native speaker and having a subjective view on what is "good use" made it a very subjective type of objective evaluation in the end.

For the most part I mentioned phrases that caught my ear. Like
  • cradle to grave
  • the spirit lifts itself upon words
  • embrace a word
  • a positive negative
  • need for greed
  • the very pinacle of human achievment
  • a present and a privilege
  • all good things come in three

Since this is Toastmasters everone can do the Grammarian and grow in this role from time to time. Even a non-native speaker. In every evaluating role you improve your listening skills. This is a role I will have to do for the Leadership handbook. But then I will be better prepared, e.g. bring Murphy's English Grammar in Use with me and try to better structure my report.
Once again I had problems with my breathing: In order to have a steady pacing I tried to speak without breathing in too deeply. This only led to a hot head and finally made me breathless.

Objective Feedback
  • Time: 3:32 (too long)
Things to share
  • Start standing than move around (this creates more dynamism than the other way around)
  • leaning forward is stronger than leaning back
  • instead of only providing information, make them think themselves (e.g. by asking questions and using rhetorical devices)
  • in a Q&A session the speaker always repeats the question before answering it

Mittwoch, Dezember 06, 2006

#5: Second Life

Again we had a very entertaining and informative evening. We had great Table Topics (thanks to Sudhir Yoshi), two prepared speeches (I held my 5th speech, Pilar Gonzales an endearingly #6) and an interesting presentation of the no longer new Competent Leadership manual (thanks to Claus Drechsel).

Prepared Speech

C&L Project #5 (Your Body Speaks): Second Life

This time I was better prepared. I had written the speech over the weekend and had Monday to rehearse. So this was the first speech I did without notes. It should have been a little bit shorter and I could have rehearsed the final part more careful but overall it was pretty successful.

Madam Toastmaster of the evening,
fellow toastmasters and honoured guests.


My name is Lislo Mensing. I am an avatar.

I am going to tell you a little bit about the place that I live in. And why I am going to change your life sooner or later.

The place I live is a special place where everything seems to be possible. Where all your dreams can become true. For example
- live in a big house with a swimming pool
- buy the most beautiful dresses and they will fit perfectly
- spend the hole day watching the sunset at the beach

[Change voice]
Of course there is a downside:
- I could eat as much as I want without getting fat. But I cannot taste it.
- I could copy hundreds of roses for my girlfriend but she is unable to smell them

The point is: the place that I live exists only in the computer. I [point at me] live in a virtual world called Second Live that people like [point at them] you can only see when you go to the website Because real people like you cannot come over here in my world you use electronic people like me to live your second life.


I remember the day that I was created. I was in the middle of a plaza. I looked around. Above me there were birds in the blue sky. I saw trees moving gently in the wind and buildings like ancient temples. There were many other avatars already engaged in conversations. [make a face] Actually most of them were looking like Barbie and Ken. And so did I.

So I changed my appearance a little bit. Being an avatar it is easy to look like Schwarzenegger [chest, tall] or Denny DeVito [belly, short]. You just enter the menu [point into the air] and change everything from the colour of the hair to the size of the feet. Today I, Lislo, do look pretty much like Stefan - but with a much lower body mass index. [blush]

Then I made my first moves, trying to walk around without bumping into other people or objects. [walk like Charlie Chaplin]

I also experimented with my body functions: Clapping, crying, being bored, laughing. I can even select from 18 ways of dancing. From slow [rumba] to sexy [shake it baby] to crazy [act like a complete idiot].

The best thing here is that we all can fly. [raise arms] That is a very convenient way of travelling. Alas, I prefer teleporting [disappear with a sound and reappear at the other end of the room].

Enhancing your Second Life

You can spend a considerable time here before your Second Life gets boring. Many things can be visited and enjoyed for free. But the more interesting things do cost money. Linden dollars, a special in-game currency.

Most of these things have to do with your body. That can be [point] clothes, hair, skin, moves, sex.

Having said that, male avatars do miss a certain body part in the beginning. [blush] If you want to use it you have to buy one first.

Of course you can spend your money also on cars, houses or a spacecraft.

So the question arises where does the money come from? [finger on temple] Most people changing real money into game money other simply work.

Working includes being creative and do things others cannot do or simply don’t want to do. For example you can go to the menu select “create object” [point in the air]. Take a box [fetch prepared props], attach a tube and … here we go: a bedside lamp. I can sell that for 10 Linden dollars – that’s about 3 Euro Cent.

Everything within the Second Life world is build and programmed in that way. From my virtual wrist watch to the gurgling waterbed in my personal copy of castle Neuschwanstein.


Who are the people that spend so many hours in front of their computers, creating and living in the virtual world of Second Live? Nerds, who don’t have a first life?

Almost 1.8 million people created an avatar already. The average age is 32, and 4 out of 10 users are women.

With so many people demanding for virtual goods and services not only the virtual world is constantly growing but also the revenues.

What seem to be a game is in deed serious business. Accordingly many global brands have a presence in Second Life, e.g. Toyota, Adidas, Disney, Dell.

It’s a kind of gold rush at the moment. Some people [hands up closed] already made a fortune, most others [hands open wide] are still trying.


I just gave you a small view [fingers] on what is possible. In addition what can be seen today is just the very early beginning of something new. Not so many years from now we might got used to live a part of our live in a virtual reality. It might be for fun, education or business.

That’s it for now from the edge of technology. My name in Lislo Mensing and I log off now.

Madam Toastmaster of the Evening


Time was a problem but I didn't really know where to cut back. After three minutes I was out of breath (wrong breathing technique?). I mixed lines during the last third. That confused some of the listeners.

Subjective Feedback
  • What they liked: Good selection of topic for the project. Good use of body language. Spoke completely free. Paper lamp. Humorous. Involving. The idea of acting as a computer hero.
  • Things to improve: A little bit too long. Don't get nervous at the end from the red light. Mind your breathing (maybe get a good stance and inhale deeply into your belly). What was the key message? Don't leave the stage without giving back control to the Toastmaster of The Evening and being released.

Objective Feedback
  • Time: 7:36 (too long)
  • Ahs: 4 (great!)
Things to share