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

Dienstag, November 21, 2006

#4: Are video games evil?

Tonight our TM meeting was a little bit different. Almost all scheduled speakers and roles didn't show up so we had to improvise. It was very funny. We had a lot of guests and some new members, some of the latter are already exerienced TMs in other clubs (Munich hat several clubs).

Table Topics

When I was called to give an impromptu speech about what dreams I had for this year and which of those became true or not, all I remembered was lie-steal-cheat. So I complained about sience not having invented flying cars despite they promised us 50 years ago that mankind will have flying cars in year 2000. (I should have expanded on that but instead) I than presented the dream-not-come-true that we have two young cats now and they drive me crazy. After 1:50 I decided not to open up another dream and left the stage.

To my surprise I was voted best Table Topics speaker of the evening.

Prepared Speech

After that I held my prepared speech. C&L Project #4 (How to say it): "Are video games evil?"

It was (again) not properly prepared in part because I did not find a good topic until the last day. Then when I heard the news I knew what I would talk about. It was important to me to give my opinion. In preparation I shamelessly stole arguments and words from an Economist cover story (thanks to this) and Wikipedia. Although I had about three hours to rehearse I eventually had to use my notes and almost read the entire speech.
Madam Toastmaster of the evening,
fellow toastmasters and honoured guests.


We all heard the news today. Again a young man stormed into a school, tried to kill teachers and students before he committed suicide. It could have come much worse. But still a young life is wasted. I feel sorry for him and his parents.

The young man is said to have played a lot of violent video games. Is that why he turned into a killer? I don't think so.

[Go to the lectern]

"It is an evil influence on the youth of our country. It encourages violence, promiscuity and Satanism."

[Go back]

How said that? What do you think? A politician condemning video gaming? No. Actually, a clergyman denouncing rock-and-roll 50 years ago.


Scepticism of new media is a tradition with deep roots. It is said that Socrates had objections to rely on written texts, rather than the oral tradition. It would "create forgetfulness in the learners' souls".

The opposition to gaming springs largely from the fear of anything new that has pitted the old against the entertainments of the young for centuries.

Most gamers are under 40, and most critics are non-games-playing over-40s.


But what about the specific complaints
- that games foster addiction?
- that they encourage violence?

Back in 2003 American teenage boys played video games for about 13 hours a week. In addition they spent about 25 hours watching television. The minority who seriously overdid it showed addictive behaviour in other ways too. In short the problem was with them not with the games they played.

When talking about violence, not much long term research is available. Some short term studies showed that frequent playing of a violent game over a month had no effect on participants' level of aggression.

And, during the period in which gaming has become widespread in America, violent crime has fallen by half.

So are games good, rather than bad?
[Change side]
Good ones probably are.


Games are widely used as educational tools, not just for pilots, soldiers and surgeons, but also in schools and businesses.

Games require players to construct hypotheses, solve problems, develop strategies, learn the rules of the in-game world through trial and error.

Gamers must also be able to juggle several different tasks, evaluate risks and make quick decisions.

Playing games is, thus, an ideal form of preparation for the workplace of the 21st century, as some forward-thinking firms are already starting to realise.


Pointing all this out makes little difference, though, because the controversy over gaming, as with rock and roll, is more than anything else the consequence of a generational divide.

Especially in sad times when people are looking for simple answers and politicians are eager to provide them.


But how can the disagreements between old and young over new forms of media ever be resolved?

Well, sometimes attitudes can change relatively quickly, as happened with the Internet. Once condemned as a cesspool [Jauchegrube] of depravity [Verderbtheit], it is now recognised as a valuable new medium.

Politicians now even worry about extending access to the have-nots.

Eventually, objections to new media resolve themselves, as the young grow up and the old die out.

The average age of gamers is already 30. One day video games will ultimately become just another medium, alongside books, music, Internet and films.

And soon the greying gamers will start worry about some new evil threatening to destroy the younger generation's moral fibre.

Madam Toastmaster

I could have developed it a little more in terms of how to protect teenagers from over-consumption of electronic entertainment and violent pictures. The content was pretty good. Because I used notes my speech lost a great deal of liveliness. A real pitty.

Subjective feedback
  • What they liked: Good use of figures and examples, Good arguements, intelligent speech, Passion about the topic, Nice selection of words, Good structure, Dramatic start - happy end, good voice / intonation, Strong start (with the quote), Many rethoric questions
  • Things to improve: Try without notes. It took much of the flow. Thus, more eye contact, more body movement. If you have to read hold the paper in front of you at arms length (looks silly but works). Never say sorry again (it broke the spell). More passion, more courage [Mut, Tapferkeit]. More vocal variety - you have a good voice, please use it.
Things to share
  • Even the most impressive speakers started once shaky.
  • The presentation of the speech is as important as the words you use.

Mittwoch, Oktober 11, 2006

Toastmaster of the Evening

Yesterday I was TMoE. That is a special role. I had the honour to lead through the evening. That included straighting out the agenda, explaining the several meeting roles and then introducing the Table Topics Master, the Speakers and the General Evaluator. Of course there were some things to do in advance.

For preparation I read the manual but that was not a big help. I was looking for a step-by-step guide, in particular for what will happen at the evening. Yes, I could have taken more notes while others are TMoE but I didn't. I might do in the future to improve my future performances as I noticed that TMoE is a necessary role in the Leadership Handbook.

I was lucky in two ways. Firstly Christopher Magyar (District 59 Governor and member at the Munich Toastmasters like me) offered his help and advice but I requested it too late - he was in the States then and was only able to send some helpful hints per e-mail. But secondly Eva Beldiman send me her notes on short notice so I had everything I needed to be prepared.

At the meeting I was - as usual - only half as good prepared as I could have been. Moreover I forgot my notes at home. The upside was, this time didn't fiddle around with several papers in my hands. Finally things went well. In beginning I stuttered a little bit later I though I was a little to talkative.

I had a formal business meeting in the afternoon so I still wore my dark suit with a beige shirt and a tie. In hindsight it was the proper clothing for this role and I have got positive feedback on this.

Subjective feedback
  • What they liked: Good improvisation, well organised, fluent, you dressed the part
  • Things to improve: No need to talk about things that went wrong.
Objective feedback
  • Ah-Counter: 15 (I know it was much more)
Things to share

Mittwoch, August 02, 2006

#3: Geocaching

Prepared Speech

C&L Project #3 (Get to the Point): Geocaching

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


I am sorry that I have to say that, but I assume that most of you are "muggles". Muggle is a term you might know from "Harry Potter" novels. There "muggles" are ordinary people who don't know about magic. In my case "muggles" are people who don't know anything about Geocaching.

But don't worry, I will change that.


Geocaching is a game. It's an entertaining adventure game that makes use of the internet and GPS units. [Show the unit and pass it around]

You all know GPS? A GPS unit is an electronic device that can determine your approximate location on the planet using satellite signals. Car navigation systems use this to guide you and your car from point A to point B.

So what is Geocaching about?

The basic idea is simple. Some people hide things and other people try to find those things. Those how hide a cache, record the coordinates with their GPS unit and publish these coordinates on the internet. Others take the coordinates from the internet and try to find the cache. You see with Geocaching you are the search engine.

Btw, it is spelled C A C H E and not cash like money.

You might ask "What's the deal? I have the coordinates so I know where the cache is. Seems pretty easy."

Yeah, it seems easy. But I tell you it's one thing to know where an item is and it's a totally different story to actually get there and find it.

Most caches are hidden somewhere in the great outdoors. E.g. in trees with holes, crevices {krewises} or large roots.

Other caches are hidden in the centre of cities right next to were all those muggles live. They might be hidden in telephone booths, under bridges or behind statues.

Believe me when I tell you that it is adventurous and very much fun to walk cross-country following only the arrow on your GPS unit. You have to know that, the unit only knows how close the site is as the crow flies. So you may be only 10 meters from the cache, but there may be a river in the way, or a near-vertical climb involving 3 km of switchbacks - you get the picture.

In my opinion the best thing about Geocaching is that you see places that you might not have visited otherwise. These are often beautiful spots and sometimes even magical places with an interesting history.

You might be surprised to hear that there are hidden more than 500 caches in the Munich area. And new caches are placed every day.

Btw, it's a free fun. Everybody how has a GPS unit can join in. Seekers don't have to pay. Hiders don't get money for it. And many seeker start hiding their own caches sooner or later. - Like I did recently.

So what is that cache thing? How does it look like?

A cache can come in many shapes and sizes. It can be very small like a plastic film can [show size with fingers], mid-sized like a Tupperware container [show with hands] or large like suitcase [show with arms].

A cache always contains a logbook. Some caches are too small to contain anything else. [Show little white can].

The logbook contains information from the founder of the cache and notes from the cache's visitors.

Larger caches will contain the logbook and any number of more or less valuable items. [Take out the larger cache and pass it around]. These items turn the cache into a true treasure hunt. You never know what the founder or other visitors of the cache may have left there for you to enjoy.

Items in a cache like that could be anything that fits in. Key tags, little cars, games, ...

Especially kids and teenagers have fun with not only seeking the cache but also enjoying the surprise of what the cache might contain.

But remember, if you take something, its only fair for you to leave something in return. So we always take a bag of stuff for trading with us.


Okay, to summarise: I told you what the game is about, what caches are and why it is so much fun.

What does that mean for you?

Most important, you are insiders now. You are not "muggles" anymore.

And if you are looking for a new hobby or thinking about ways how to lure {lur} your kids outside, consider buying a GPS unit and start Geocaching.

Mr. Toastmaster

  • Things to improve: Explain difficult words (e.g. Muggles), speak freely you don't need notes anymore, TMI (too much information)
Objective feedback
  • Time: 7:08

Things to share
  • To apologise is weak. Thanking is stronger. (E.g. in the beginning)

Mittwoch, Juni 07, 2006

Mittwoch, April 05, 2006

#1: A weekend that changed my life

My Icebreaker. I spoke about my B822 residential school weekend and how it changed how I see myself. I opened with ...

be happy

[slap – clap – snip]

Buddy you’re a boy make a big noise
Playin’ in the street gonna be a big man some day
You got mud on yo’ face
You big disgrace
Kickin’ your can all over the place

We will we will rock you
We will we will rock you

It was the opening motivation for the seminar weekend. And it was a great opening for my speech. I used as well a flipchart paper with a rich picture I made on this weekend. A picture about me and the things that worry me.