Area Contest

Another evening of contests awaited us, this time it was the Area Contest. Nicola Lutterotti welcomed guests and fellow toastmasters, many of whom had travelled far to attend this evening. Kevin Boomsma lead us through an evening of exciting speeches, evaluations and fierce but friendly competition.

Vaclav Matousek started out the speech contest with “More tourists, please”. Vaclav told us how he wants to fulfill his lifelong dream of opening a perfume museum in his home town in Bohemia, Czech Republic. Combining his artistic interests and his love for chemistry, this museum would include many interactive elements. For example a 4D movie theater where the sense of smell is added to the 3D experience. We all shuddered imagining the smells associated with a Dracula movie.

Mie Hanson was the second contestant and encouraged us to “Face your fears”. She told us how, out of fear, she missed an early opportunity in life. This experience, and witnessing a friend overcome her fear of swimming, encouraged Mie to face her own fears. Joining Toastmaster helped her to face her biggest fear; public speaking. The friendly faces in the audience encouraged her, and we got to enjoy her great speech because she overcame her fears.

Our third contestant of the evening was Mark Alder with his speech entitled: “Some dreams come true”. As a child, Mark could not believe that planes could fly, but the cards from his deck of cards did not fly. In an animated speech he illustrated why some dreams come true and others don’t. A clearly defined goal is necessary, but not sufficient. He convinced us that not only do we need to believe in our dream, we also need to make others around us believe. The bigger the dream, the bigger the team of believers to make the dream come true.

After these three riveting speeches, the judges cast their votes and while the vote counters determined the winner, Kevin interviewed the speakers and shed more light on the ideas behind the speeches.

The ranking of the speech contest was: 3rd: Vaclav Matousek, 2nd Mie Hanson,  Mark Alder took the first place.

After a somewhat delayed dinner, Oscar Swine from the Mosquito Hill Toastmaster Club gave the target speech for the evaluation contest. In a speech that was easy to relate to, he dissected the pros and cons of his hometown of Brighton and his current home of Zürich. The weather, the people, opportunities for growth and also the consideration of finding a woman were factors in his assessment.

Anna Bot, Ben Nordemann and Katja Töttler evaluated the speech, pointed out it’s strengths and made suggestions for improvement. The judges for this part of the contest decided that Ben Nordemann had the best evaluation, followed by Anna Bot and Katja Töttler.

This concluded the regional speech and evaluation contest. It was a great success and the winners can go on to compete in the Division Contest on the 3rd of May in Bern. All others are invited to support their competing club members and to enjoy the speeches of all the area contest winners.

It was a great contest and we are excited to see you on April 15th for a regular TM evening!

A remarkably unusual Club Contest

Michelle Sabatini guided us through the eventful evening as the Chairman of the night. She introduced the Target Speaker, Tulia Lopes, who delivered a speech for the Evaluation Contest participants to evaluate. She led us on a philosophical trail of thoughts on whether happiness is timeless or time-framed, explaining a very complex matter in an understandable way. Tulia is Area Governor of Area E1, a member of Zurich Toastmasters as well as the “Walk the Talk” club. Following her speech, one by one, the evaluators, Henrik Karlsson, Ben Nordemann and Anna Bot were able to give their evaluations on this excellent speech. Ben Nordemann gave the best evaluation and was chosen the winner of the Evaluation Contest.

After the break, we listened to three speeches. First up was Vaclav Matousek, who took part in the International Speech Contest with his speech “The Perfume and Smell Museum”. He presented his idea of a potential museum in his home town in the Czech Republic and the rivalry between that and the adjacent town for tourists. His idea of a museum where you could possibly watch and smell a Dracula movie was very intriguing and fun to listen to.

Charmiene Maxwell-Batten, coming all the way from San Antonio as a guest speaker, talked to us about empathy, giving a very informative speech on this feeling. She spiced up her speech with facts and her own life experience, involving the audience by asking questions and giving a very heartfelt speech.

Surprisingly, Piotr Skoczylas agreed to take part in the International Speech Contest without any preparation. His speech sparked with ingenuity as he thought of talking about his two flatmates with whom he shared an apartment during university. He made us laugh by recalling funny moments and won the International Speech Contest with this truly outstanding speech.

It was a great evening and we are looking forward to hosting the Area Contest on the 1st of April here at our club!

From great speeches to the toilets of India

The evening was begun by Marijke Habermann, who, despite initial stumbling, delivered a very interesting speech on the mantra “Do what you love, love what you do.” In an insightful speech, she explained that this attitude can devaluate the actual work you do and not make you live in the moment.

Zhe Nie, in his ice-breaker speech titled “The journey of running” took everyone of us on a journey with him through his life experiences that were always connected with running. With humour and originality, he mastered the task of speaking in front of the club for the first time wonderfully.

Next up was Vaclav Matousek, who, in a fun and unique way, described how important that spark of ingenuity in humans is and how, therefore, he is an optimist when thinking about the future. He managed to present complex and usually rather boring information in an easily understandable and exciting way.

Our last speaker tonight was Alister Smith, who made everybody laugh with his use of props: He chose to speak about costume parties and what he learnt from them, connecting interesting bits of history with funny stories and pictures from costume parties he attended. He convinced the audience and won the award for best speaker.

After an informative evaluation round, which Paul Seaman won due to an outstanding evaluation, Thomas Portenseigne took us on a trip around this world’s museums during the Table Topics. There are many special and funny museums in this world, and the Table Topics speakers had to make up reasons on the spot why we should all visit for example a museum about UFOs or one about bananas. Adrian Engler won Best Table Topic Speaker by holding a hilarious speech about a museum in India, which exhibits toilets and his experience of toilets in Russia.

All in all, it was a great evening, and we are all looking forward to next meeting, where we will be holding an international speech and evaluation contest. I encourage everyone, members and guest alike to come and take part in this exciting event!

A debate – what a challenge!

Even though Table Topics sharpens our impromptu speaking and fast reaction skills, this Toastmasters meeting pushed some of us even further: After two speeches and their evaluations, there was a debate, a special and exciting event, where Toastmasters are challenged to improve their ability to think on the spot.

Before the debate took place, Rouven Krauer explained to us in his first speech, the ice-breaker, how speaking without words has had such a great impact on his life. From dreaming of becoming a cowboy to helping others understand what their horses are telling them, Rouven gave us a witty personal account of what was and still is important to him: communication without words.

After that, Vaclav Matousek, who had to use vocal variety in his sixth speech, told us about how he made the best out of a discouraging experience and used an electronic diary to find new techniques to evaluate himself.

Following the two speeches, everyone was curious how the debate would turn out. Even though the format was new and a bit unusual, the two debating teams shared their knowledge on the motion “Should animal testing be banned?”. The opposition team was Marc Suter and Paul Seamen while Adrian Engler and Anna Bot made up the proposition team. The event was chaired by David Kearney.

The proposition team argued that animal testing is usually cruel, that the medicines gained from such experiments are not always safe or that we even might miss out on important medical advance, and that there are valuable alternatives we should consider. However, the opposition team convinced the audience by arguing that animals do not suffer the same as we humans do, are not as advanced and that we are superior to them. Also, they argued that many scientists support animal testing, and that if we supported the motion, we should become vegetarians. They explained that animal testing is a terrible, yet necessary evil for medical advance.

After the audience had a chance to ask challenging questions, it was decided that the motion should not be supported. Everyone enjoyed the debate format, which is very different to prepared speeches, but also suggestions for improvement were offered. At the end of the meeting, Adrian Engler received the award for having completed the Competent Communication Manual, a great achievement, since it means that Adrian has successfully held 10 speeches and has grown and improved over time.

Great Speeches

Last Tuesday we had a fun event with speeches that gave food for thought and that made us look on life from different perspectives.

First was Anna Bot, our youngest member, who in her second Competent Communication Manual speech told us about her relationship to Joshua. This was no conventional teenage love story, but a moving testimony to Anna’s adult mind and conscience, as Joshua is a young prisoner in a USA jail. After reading a website dedicated to helping young prisoners Anna had taken the decision, to participate by agreeing to a long-term letter exchange with him. I was a well organised speech which she made with feeling, composure and maturity.

Next was an Ice Breaker Speech from Bertrand Kohl, who told us colourful stories of his childhood in Morocco, his teens and 20s in Burgundy, and of 2 years he was recently working in China. He concluded with his approaching departure for a new job in Hamburg.

And third was Celestina Kuhl, who visited us from another Zürich club, and gave an excellent speech on the importance of intuition in decision making – not only in private life, but in professional contexts also – accompanied by a well designed and well managed PP show that inspired us. She demonstrated how, in certain situations, intuition can be a far more rapid and reliable way to decide on a course of action than the ponderous mental weighing of pros and cons.

These three main speakers were making Workbook speeches for only the first, second and third times at Toastmasters, and very impressive each of them were. We in the club look forward to sharing their journey and helping them develop even further. Although we were a relatively small group of members, everyone contributed to making the evening run smoothly and enjoyably.

The short and spontaneous speeches in reply to Wanbun Ho’s challenging questions as Table Topic Master added spice to the second part of the evening.

The presence and participation of the exceptionally high number of seven guests was another most encouraging sign of things to come for our club.

Below you can find a picture of the proud winners of the evening. Celestina won the speech contest, Noah the table topic contest, and Thomas was voted the best evaluator of the evening.

photo (15)


What is more, the new Club brochure has arrived. It is available for both those curious about Zuriberg Toastmasters Club, as well as for existing members who would like one for friends or colleagues. Please see a scan of it below and just ask take one, or ask for it at the next meeting.

See you all soon again at our next meeting!

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