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 del.icio.us.

But can you tell me what these companies are offering? //** show the prepared signs and wait until they stopped laughing **//

penisland.net - A site where you customize and buy pens online.
speedofart.com - An advertising film director’s home page
powergenitalia.com - 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 **//

huckabuck.com - A metasearch interface that queries Google, Yahoo!, and MSN simultaneously...

zopa.com - 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.

electricsheepcompany.com - A design and programming agency for Second Life and alikes.

jajah.com - A site where can make free international phone calls

farecast.com - uses computer power to predict the direction of plane fares. That helps travelers figure out the optimum time to buy a ticket.

30Boxes.com - Web calendar site

zillow.com - 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.

snapmania.com - 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:
>> http://www.toastmasters.nl/tt/KNOP6.htm
>> http://ronnibennett.typepad.com/weblog/2006/10/weekend_fun_wit.html
>> http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1546327,00.html


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 http://www.umanitoba.ca/ ... /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, 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, April 06, 2005

My first role: Timer

Have been to the Toastmasters again. They have a new president. Despite being a guest they assigned a role to me: Timer.

Subjective Feedback:

  • They gave me a lot of positive feedback. So obviously I did my job well.

Objective Feedback:
  • More than 30 Ahs. That's too much (in my opinion) but okay for an absolute beginner.
Things to share:
  • Always bring a pen and paper
  • You start you speech with "Thank you Mr. General Evaluator. Dear Toastmaster of the Evening, Toastmasters, honoured guests"
  • Preparation (Google): Let the topics pull you through
  • Rehearsal: Silently, finnish every session (otherwise you will have a good start and a poor finish)
  • Mentally visualise you success.

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