When intelligent decision-makers meet effective altruists and get roasted in the bush

Dear fellow Toastmasters,

Last night, we were rewarded for a long working day with four excellent speeches.

Kevin introduced us to a most efficient way of decision making: 1, start with putting all available options on the table 2, sound-proof the selected one(s) in a reality-test 3, look at the choice from an emotional distance and move to action, and 4, be prepared to have made the wrong decision. Adrian convinced us to practice effective altruism – that is we shouldn’t only donate for the sake of it but in a way that the most people benefit from it. And Piotr cheered us up by “roasting” a colleague of his (who wasn’t present). Also, it was a great pleasure to listen to Mie, the winner of the Humorous Speech Contest. Mie shared with us her hilarious travel experiences to the bushes, and to other more luxurious but less startling places.

To all of you who don’t know yet: Hui Mei, our VP Membership sadly had to go back to her home country and therefore cannot continue to serve as VP membership. We very much hope to see her again some time and thank Hui Mei for her great efforts and her very efficient work.

Luckily for us, we found a very dignified replacement for Hui Mei: Michelle who used to be Sergeant at Arms in last years committee has agreed to take on the job as VP membership. Thank you very much Michelle for making this commitment! We very much appreciate that you will again serve our club and we are looking forward to have you back in our team.

Have a great time and see you in 2 weeks , Nicola

Club Humorous Speech and Table Topic Contest – great challenge, great fun

Dear members,

thanks to all of you who participated in the humorous speech and table topic contest last night. Rarely did we have so many contestants – 8 table topic speakers and 3 humorous speech contestants! It was challenging for the contestants and great fun for the rest of us. Felicitations to all competitors – you mastered this challenge really well!

Congratulations to Gabor Vozari for winning the Humorous Speech Contest and to Kevin Boosma, David Kearney and Piotr Skoczylas for coming in 1st, 2nd and 3rd in the Table Topic Contest.

The contestants weren’t the only ones who made this a very special evening. They were offered valuable support by the timers, ballot counters and the judges. And thanks to the contest chair Lesley Stephenson, the founder of our Club and semi-finalist of the World-Speaking-Championship, and to the chief judge Markus Kuenkel, our Division Governor, the Contest was very well prepared and most professionally run.

Our next meeting will be once more a regular meeting. There are still open roles – so don’t hesitate and sign up ASAP.

Warm regards to all of you


Workshop on vocal variety, its sources and resources

To Zuriberg Toastmasters Club

Dear fellow members,

now we know what vocal variety is all about – at least all those lucky ones of us who could attend Noah’s workshop last night. Thanks Noah for a most instructive, incredibly fun and cheerful workshop. While during the warm-up session no one dared to utter a sound when Noah asked us to “groan”, “sigh” or “moan”, the volume became higher and higher as the evening went on. In the end, the manager of the restaurant had to intervene because Noah’s instructions had become so persuasive that everyone started to test the full range of his or her vocal possibilities (and the other guests of the restaurant probably felt left out, and therefore complained ….). Eventually, even the shyest among us started to shriek like a witch, pronounce vowels like a warrior and to communicate with others by uttering consonants or meaningless syllables. In addition to the practical techniques, we learned a lot about the physiology and the evolution of the human voice. Well done, Noah. You surpassed our high est expectations ….

As mentioned before, our next meeting will be a humorous speech and table topic contest. Please check the meeting website and let us know asap if you can take on the role you have signed up for – or have been signed up for 😉

All the best and see you all soon, Nicola

Full of energy after the summer break!

Thanks to all Toastmasters and to the many guests – especially also to Helene Kriström, the Area Governor – for making this meeting a special, joyful and entertaining evening! Kevin, the Toastmaster of the Evening, guided us smoothly and professionally through the meeting so that we finished with Swiss precision at exactly 21:27 – as the agenda calculator had predicted.

Once again, the speeches were very varied reflecting the different cultural, professional and personal backgrounds of their presenters. While Michelle warned to us with Latin temperament about the many pitfalls of “big data”, Noah – who in “real life” is a professional voice trainer – vividly illustrated the different ways we can use our voice. Furthermore, he explained to us that the sounds we produce on a daily level (called language) are not unique to the human race. Instead, they have been there long before Homo sapiens appeared on stage. And Mai, the third speaker, convinced us that age is not per se an energy-draining problem but rather the fact that while moving into adulthood, we loose our ability to play and to get a good night’s sleep. So good luck with trying to convince your boss to install a playground and a relaxing zone in your office!    😀

The evaluators – Hui Mei, Vaclav and Ben – were well prepared and gave valuable feedback. They not only commended the speakers on their achievements but also included suggestions of how to do even better next time. As Gabor, the General Evaluator of the Evening, pointed out, it is always a challenge to address the critical aspects of a presentation. The art lies in phrasing the feedback in a way that the speaker doesn’t feel discouraged but rather motivated.

A warm welcome to our new members, Zhe and Tim, who were inducted last night! They now can start to participate in all communicator and leadership roles.

We’ll meet again in two weeks time, on September 3rd. Up to now, 4 speakers have signed up – so we’ll have a full program. However, you can still sign up for other roles.

Don’t forget: On September 17th Noah will give a workshop on vocal variety. The workshop is open to all our members. Please sign up ASAP since we cannot accommodate more than 20-25 participants.

Also: On October 1st we’ll have our humorous speech and Table Topic Contest. All members who have completed 6 speeches in their CC Manual can participate in the Speech Contest. No such requirements exit in the Table Topic Contest. Here, all of you are welcome to participate. So don’t hesitate – embrace the challenge, it’s definitely worth it.

Take care and see you all soon – Nicola

All marathoneers reached the finishing line

Thank you all for a most enjoyable, informative and fun marathon-speech-evening. Markus did an excellent job as Toastmaster of the evening – all slots were filled, every one knew what to do, and the meeting was running according to schedule. Also, all 12 marathoners – the 6 speakers and the 6 evaluators – reached the finishing line and thus met the objective of accomplishing yet another communication challenge.

Vaclav convincingly explained to us that the only way to grow and to be successful (i.e. with girls and other difficult to manage challenges) is to step out of your comfort zone. Seun started by asking “who owns a robot” (only one had went up) and then described the many useful ways robots can be used for on a daily, and not-so-daily basis. Thanks to Ben we learned a lot about the strategies of retailer brands, and thanks to Hui Mei we now are aware that you neither need a Ferrari in your garage nor (a lot of) money on your account to be wealthy. Elena introduced herself to our club with her “geography”: The running title and content of her Icebreaker speech were so convincing that she won the speech marathon. Congratulations! And Michelle managed to make the word “self-discipline” sound like something very soft and agreeable – of course, only if you apply it the right way. Due to Michelle’s commitment as SAA – self-discipline wouldn’t be the right word here according to Michelle  😉 – we always had a perfectly prepared meeting room and never run short of any equipment. Thanks Michelle for everything you did for this club.

The evaluations also were helpful and supportive. It is always great to see the personal touch each evaluator gives to his or her feedback: The evaluations encompassed suggestions like singing your speech when trying to improve on vocal variety (evaluation was given by an opera singer who definitely must know), to “TTT” (Turn Touch Talk) when using power point slides in a powerful way. By far the most challenging evaluation of the evening was the “evaluation of the evaluators” – a task Martin definitely excelled in. Martin reminded all of us that the only way to be remembered as an evaluator is by giving a memorable evaluation (definitely makes sense) – that is  a feedback that “sticks”.

Markus installed the new committee with grace! I am very much looking forward to a great, fruitful and fun year with the members of the new committee and all the members of our great and extremely varied Zuriberg Club.

Kind regards and see you all soon Nicola

Let’s go chicken

11th June 2014

Dear Fellow “Farmers”,

Thanks for your enthusiastic participation in yesterday’s meeting. It’s always wonderful to have such variety of speeches. Thanks to Noah we are now aware of the the different speech parameters – even though many of us still struggle to apply them. And thanks to Adrian we can relax knowing that the likelihood to be killed has gone down steadily, and is still dropping. In addition, Markus shared with us his very valuable experience about high performance leadership and Vaclav persuaded us to work (harder still) on our self-discipline. Also, Thomas was a great table topics master – he transplanted us all to a farm where we had to work our way through chicken houses, fruit trees, vegetable gardens and other less rural environments.

In two weeks, we’ll have the speech marathon – a perfect possibility to move forward with your CCM or advanced workbook. Many of you have (been) signed up already. Please check easy speak and either confirm or tell us if you cannot make it.

I am looking forward to seeing you all on the 25th of June,

kind regards, Nicola

Debate – what a challenge!

What a meeting! First, we had two high-level speeches: Hui Mei explained to us what to expect when we look in a – literal or metaphorical – mirror and Marc Suter took us on a trip to ancient Carthage when moonlight encounters of local women with Roman soldiers were deadly (for the Latin lovers, not the girls for a change). Thanks also to Adrian and Piotr for two excellent evaluations: Given the quality of the speeches it wasn’t easy to point out room for improvement.

After dinner, Giorgio Ripamonti chaired the debate session with great stage presence and passion! The two teams were fabulous: Kevin and Thomas P. commended a banning of human cloning and a 5 year moratorium on therapeutic cloning and Nick and David K. opposed the motion. Both, proponents and opponents, defended their view points very articulately. The arguments of the proposition were more convincing, however – their motion passed in the TM parliament. Anyway, the prospect of having two identical versions of the same person – be it one’s husband, wife or parent – didn’t seem to be very attractive to the audience.

Thanks also to Michelle and Noah for the preparation of the room and all the material. It was much more challenging than on a regular meeting. And thanks to all of you who came, participated actively in the discussions and helped wherever help was needed. We’ll do this again soon.

Kind regards and see you on the 11th of June, Nicola