Club Contest 2023

Fellow Toastmasters,

This years club contest, the first non-virtual one for many members, was an amazing event enjoyed by a large crowd: more than 35 people attended the evening, including Division Director Karina Castella. 14 competitors had stepped  forward to challenge themselves in either the international speech, evaluation, and table topic contest.  Contest chair Harry Loots lost no time pointing out his amazement on how many  new members signed up.

Chief judge Vanessa, who next to Harry surely had the most effort in preparing this smooth-running event, explained the rules to everybody. To make sure a contest is according to toastmasters Standards is no easy feat by any means, filling all roles and briefing everybody to make sure compliance is kept.

The international speech contest featured four very experienced speakers. In Michelles speech about the importance of not being stuck in the past also gave advice on when it’s appropriate to wear wetsuits, this way not just giving good advice, but also insights about one of her big passions, open water swimming. 

Roland pondered in his speech “The power of choice” on whether we really have choices when things get tough and came to the convincing solution that yes, we do. 

Santhiago told us on how to “Think for yourself” on both airport queues and financial advices, making sure we’re now less likely to follow the crowd without second though.

As final speaker in the international speech, Monica held a speech with the boisterous title “The communication war in our sergeant role”, detailing her views on communication and information overloads in the 21st century and their impact on communities and us.

Harry presenting the winners of the International Speech Contest: Santhiago (1st) and Monica (2nd)

All being excellent speeches, it was a difficult choice for the judges.

Next up was the evaluation contest. Benjamin from TopNotch Toastmasters gave an insightful speech on Chat-GPT and related AI products and possible dangers and countermeasures, which was evaluated by Janna, Roxy, Alice, Sara and Samira in that order after a challenging 5 minute preparation time. While nervousness showed here and there, we all learned a lot. Congratulations to all, for 4 out of 5 evaluators it was their first contest.

Harry presenting the winners of the Evaluation Contest: Alice (1st), Samira (2nd) and Sara (3rd)

Last up was the table topic contest. Table topics are 1-2 minute impromptu speeches, and in a contest, all competitors have the same topic. This time, it was “A night at the movies”. Our Contestants Kevin’s, Thomas, Gabriel, Riccardo and Hugo enlightened us with a variety of interpretations, from their adventures in a moist 4DX cinema to appreciation of new experiences and cherishing the people that make you experience them. In a fitting finale, Hugo quite literally ended the Table Topic contest with a literal bang.

Harry presenting the winners of the Table Topics Contest: Gabriel (1st), Kevin (2nd) and Riccardo (3rd)

Thanks to all the Contributors & Organizers the evening went smoothly and enjoyably for all involved.

We want to congratulate all contestants and especially the top two places in each category of the Club Contest, who will represent Zuriberg Toastmasters at the Area Contest on the March 30th. Fingers Crossed!

Looking forward to seeing all of you again on our next regular meeting on January 31th, themed “Universe”.

All the best

Richard Bruckner

Curiosity – Meeting January 10th

Word of the Day

Dear Zuriberg Toastmasters and Friends

The new Calendar Year started for Zuriberg Toastmasters Club past Tuesday, 10th of January 2023 as lively and animated as the year 2022 ended. With ‘CURIOUS’ as the theme of the evening, an Evaluation Workshop, 4 prepared speeches and 4 great evaluations the agenda was packed and promising. And everybody delivered! Yours truly presented an introduction to Evaluation Theorie with emphasize on how to prioritize and structure successful feedback. Reference notes can be found here.

The speeches by Kevin von Niederhäusern, Gabriel Espadas, Svetlana Sailer and Hugo Schotman were varied and rich. We learnt about overcoming fear and apprehension when speaking in public, why we should never underestimate the (emotional) intelligence of animals, the wondrous relationship between neuropeptides and the human emotional stages and last but not least a lot about the motivation of Hugo Schotman to once more devote time and energy to the practices thought at Toastmasters! To all the speakers a great compliment for the effort and time they have put-in in preparing. 

As the evening was essentially an Evaluation Workshop, evaluators had to overcome a significant hurdle to deliver their assessment. In a twist to normal procedure, evaluations were given right after each speech and evaluators had only two minutes to prepare. The result was astounding: Precise, coherent and on-point feedback delivered in pleasant, encouraging ways. Admittedly, with one exception all evaluators were well versed in the art – but the one exception, Alice, did as well and eloquent as did the longstanding pillars of Toastmaster knowledge: Santhiago, Harry and Tatyana. A big thank you goes to Nicola and her evaluation team members: Yesenia, Rafael and Emilio for the supporting roles and great general feedback on the whole evening. 

The next meeting on January 24th 2023 is the Zuriberg Club Contest with 14 participants in 3 different categories! Please join us for an evening of great performances and help cheer and celebrate the brave girls and guys throwing their hat in the ring!

With kind regards and best wishes for a productive and successful (dry) January 
Please click here for details of our next club meeting

Roland Straub

Merry Christmas and a happy New Year

Dear ‘Zuriberg’ Members, Friends and Guests

Past Tuesday, December 13th 2022 at the occasion of our Club Christmas Party – held in the beautifully decorated Guildhall at the Blue Monkey – I invited a festive and cheerful crowd to use the coming Holiday Season to reflect on their individual journey through this soon ending year 2022; be this in respect to their development as Toastmasters – be this in respect to their individual life path.

The ensuing joy- and cheerful evening with an interactive Christmas Quiz, co-hosted by the Quizmasters Alice and Richard, the rich and delectable Christmas Dinner and the christmasy-themed Table Topics hosted by Harry might have somewhat distracted from this invitation but certainly made for a wonderful and entertaining evening. Though nothing is lost – not even in respect to the suggested reflections – since the calmer days of the Holiday Season are still ahead. 

Toastmasters Zuriberg after a successful end of the Zuriberg Year (apart from Roland, who took the pic)

With that in mind I’d like to expand on the reflection theme some more and share a deeply felt wish with all of you:

I hope that in the year to come, you’ll make mistakes! Because only by making mistakes you’re actively expanding your horizon, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself and changing your world. As Toastmasters we avoid getting in a stalemate stage, we don’t stop and we don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect! Then whatever it is: work, family, love, or life in general we go on trying, making mistakes and in the process we receive the gift of getting better!

So my wish for all of you including myself: Whatever it is we’re scared of doing, let’s do it.

Marry Christmas to you all and a happy, joyful and fulfilling New Year
Please click here for details of our next club meeting

Roland Straub

Preview to our Christmas Party

Dear Zuribergers and friends of Zuriberg

For those of you who have missed our special award dinner on the 29th of November, stay cheerful because we are not yet done with end-of-year festivities. Next Tuesday we will host our traditional Christmas party, with Alice bringing a program full of sparkles and fun as our Santa-Claus-Toastmaster of the evening. Together with her, Richard will charge the Christmas atmosphere with themed fun game that will leave you with a smile, a little more knowledge – and a sweet prize for the winner. Harry will make sure our speaking skills don’t go rusty before we spread out for Christmas break. 

For this last Zuriberg meeting of the year, let our attire show how much we cherish this occasion. For Gents we suggest a 3-piece-suit with Christmas decor. Ladies: Something elegant to level up with the Gents 😉 Christmas features are more than encouraged!

Drinks and delightful desserts will be on the house! 

Let’s make this a memorable celebration to leave us energized for the last gift hunt, last batch of Christmas bakes and lots of glühwein still to come. Have a wonderful week, get your festive mindset ready and come in good spirits next Tuesday.

All the best and see you all coming Tuesday
Please click here for details of our next club meeting

Roland Straub

Award Dinner – Meeting November 29th

Dear fellow Toastmasters

I sometime hear the underhanded and possibly somewhat ‘woke’ remark that contemporary life is loosing the power to celebrate. And there might be a kernel of truth to that often rather innocently uttered complaint because the desire to be entertained and amused is high on anybody’s list these days. However, contrary to the passive nature of receiving pleasure afforded by an amusing act or a spectacle – Celebration is a confrontation; it means giving attention to the transcendent meaning of our actions.

And this is exactly what happened at the occasion of Zuriberg Toastmaster Club 2nd annual Award Dinner yesterday. Tatyana was the most graceful and eloquent host of this special evening and as ‘Lady in red’ (‘I have never seen that dress you’re wearing’) did share litte ‘rebellious’ secrets about all the performers of the evening! The two specially honored members were Michelle Sabatini and Nicola von Lutterotti. Nicola, more engaged in her professional life than ever, is not only an honored and most distinguished Toastmaster but also in high international demand at scientific conferences and podiums. Thus Zuriberg had to take second row and bestow the award ‘in absence’! All the more did we all celebrate the presence of Michelle and members and well wishers are looking forward to raise their glass with Nicola at the occasion of the Club’s Xmas Celebration on Dezember 13th! 

District 109 Director Karina gives her speech

Thirty members and guests (among them the Area Director Christina Gomez and the District 109 Director Karina Castella – who is of course a member of Zuriberg TMC) – seated at the festively prepared large banquet table – had the privilege to witness two exceptionally well prepared recognition speeches – by Santhiago Alves Vieira for Nicola and by Harry Loots for Michelle and in true Toastmaster manner these star performers got well formulated and very appropriate feedback from Alice Nuslova (Santiago) and Thomas Mühlegger (Harry)! The evening ended with aligned Table Topics which were won by Riccardo Stella. 

I take this opportunity to thank all the contributors to this indeed most successful demonstration of a Toastmaster Showcase and all members and guests for their help and contribution to make this Club the vibrant and truly ‘alive’ organization it is!

Best wishes
Please click here for details of our next club meeting

Roland Straub

A bewitching prospect

Dear Zuribergers!

For the story tellers among us, the theme of our next meeting – bewitching – is the perfect start into a world of tales – be they fairy tales or tall tales. 

In every day life, if can help to be bewitching once in a while – for example, if you want to convince your boss to give you a pay raise. In this case, it’s essential to make your case with allure (word of the day).

A reminder to our speakers: Please confirm your role and fill in the title of your speech!

Also, we need one evaluator and a sergeant at arms to help us with preparing the room: Bewitch your Toastmaster of the Evening Vanessa by signing up NOW Big eyes

All the best and have a wonderful Sunday


Upcoming Meetings

Dear Zuriberg Toastmasters

The adjective ‘poignant’, the theme of the our meeting coming Tuesday November 15th 2022, has several distinct meanings according to Merriam-Webster Dictionary: It can be used to describe something painfully affecting feelings, i.e. piercing (e.g. ‘my boss made a poignant statement about the quality of my work’) or something touching (e.g. she gave a poignant eulogy) or to make an impression, i.e. cutting (e.g. this standup comedian delivers poignant satire). It is also used to describe something as pleasurably stimulating (e.g. ‘the meetings of my local Toastmaster Club are poignant entertainment’) or to describe something as apt (‘the minister’s speech about the current state of the economy was informative and poignant’).

In short when we use the adjective ‘poignant’ we normally refer to some actual action, event or occurrence influencing our emotions in various ways. This brings me directly to two upcoming events at Zuriberg Toastmasters: The Award Dinner on November 29th (Tuesday in a fortnight) and the Club Contest held on January 24th 2023. With respect to the Award Dinner I specifically call out to past members who still receive this news letter to come and join the Zuriberg Community for that evening. We’ll witness two presenting speeches, evaluations of this speeches and table topics. Matching the occasion dinner is a tad more festive and there is an opportunity to socialize with current and hopefully many past members as dinner time is prolonged  The now yearly held ‘Zuriberg Award Dinner’ is a simple enough affaire without glamour and a red carpet. Also we do not use the occasion to roast certain people – but to recognize a small number of commit tee selected members for their extraordinary past and current contribution to make this club a better place to experiment, to gain experience and to learn – helping to make every single member a small grain wiser with each meeting.

Regarding the Club Contest held on January 24th 2023 there will be more information coming forth coming Tuesday November 15th. But I use this occasion to encourage all members to participate and to inform either the VP of Education Vanessa Stournari or the Contest Chair Harry Loots before December 31st 2022 of your intention to compete!  Please note: The only speech contest with an education requirement is the International Speech Contest. To participate in any level of the International Speech Contest, a member must have completed Levels 1 and 2 of any path in the Toastmasters Pathways learning experience. Only members who joined Toastmasters prior to the rollout of Pathways in their region can apply speeches from the Competent Communication manual to speech contest eligibility. For members who qualify, at least six speeches in the Competent Communication manual must have been completed.

Best wishes and see you in great numbers coming Tuesday and at other poignant Zuriberg Toastmaster Club events in the near future
Please click here for details of our next club meeting

Roland Straub

Gut feeling versus fortune tellers – Meeting November 1st

Dear Zuribergers!

Last tuesday, the oracles (theme of the day) were challenged with difficult yet relevant questions like: “Should I rather marry the sexy beggar or the rich bore?” or “Which hair colour should I wear on my next job-interview – green or purple?”

Not all advice-seekers were satisfied with the answer they received. One even went haywire (word of the day) when he was told to rather look for a shrink then for a new job.

As it turned out, most speakers and evaluators didn’t trust the fortune-tellers. When having to make a decision, they rather relied on their sisters and mothers, their gut-feeling, a suitable coach or simply good luck.

Our next meeting will take place in TWO weeks that is November 15th.  So far, all roles are taken with the exception of the joker (hot seat).

Have a wonderful week and see you soon

All the best

Please click here for details of our next club meeting

Nicola von Lutterotti

How to write an effective speech – workshop October 18th

Dear All

“Our perception is always limited at best and skewed at worst – thus we should always part with our truths with a caveat”! Sounds like a message concerning some life ‘insight’ …? Well, it is (or at least it is meant to be) and was one of the 5 messages I wrote down as Alberto had asked all participants of yesterday’s workshop to do – the literal ‘starter’ for the ‘writing part’ of his workshop: ‘How to write an effective speech’.

Alberto presenting the workshop
Alberto presenting

Alberto Halfeld from Toastmasters St. Gallen came to our Guild Hall well prepared and with excellent credentials: He is – beside pursuing advanced studies in corporate finance at HSG – a film buff (currently pursuing a side kick as a screenwriter for a U.S. based production company), a Toastmaster Mentor, Past President of Toastmasters St. Gallen and Winner of the Evaluation Contest District 109 E4! 

In summary – an evening to remember and serving to everybody present as a reminder why we have joined Toastmasters; communication is the most important channel to practice social competence and speech writing is the indispensable scaffolding for the delivery of a valuable message!

The workshop group
The workshop group

Dear fellow Toastmasters – when you read this summary and were not present yesterday I’m sure you’ll have second thoughts about your absence… but a lost opportunity is not the end of the road!

Next meeting

Come and join us next week (usual place, usual time) for four regular speeches with evaluations with our host of the evening Santhiago Alves Vieira and our one and only Table Topic Master Tatyana Mishchenko!

With best wishes for a productive and successful week
Please click here for details of our next club meeting

Roland Straub

All workshop material can be found in Workshops & Material

Rumors and truths – meeting October 4th

Dear fellow Toastmasters 

In the days leading up to last night’s meeting of Toastmasters Club Zuriberg rumor had it that the evening was going to provide another rich, colorful and riveting experience in the welcoming and accommodating Guild Hall of the ‘Blue Monkey’, aka ‘Zunfthaus zur Schneideren’ in the old town of Zürich. Well, as it turned out rumors – for once – were spot on! As Toastmaster of the evening Monica Vlad presided over a well run and indeed enjoyable evening. The four prepared speeches provided knowledge and insight about a wide range of themes spanning from coming of age impressions by Kevin von Niederhäusern, to advice how to not give advice by Richard Bruckner, to an enlightening research presentation on the formation of individual believe systems by Karina Castella to an introspective on procrastination by Anna Franzen. 

After the dinner break speech evaluations assisted the audience to recognize and value the finer technical and rhetorical tools and methods applied by the speakers. In no way less inspiring were the table topic presentations, skillfully hosted by Marc Cannell and won by Costas Bakopoulos, who introduced the audience to the newest climate change phenomena: Ice-bears in the Amazon gorging on huge python snakes!

The well formulated and sympathetically presented reflections on the evening by the GE Vanessa Stournari and her team; Roxy Yilmaz – timer, Sara Cordairo Duarte – ah counter and Gabriel Espadas – Grammarian helped the numerous guests and the present members to gauge the evening as a whole and the individual support functions form different perspectives. In all a great evening living up to its rumored promises – a fact also confirmed by the positive and amicable feedback from our guests.

Coming Tuesday, October 11th the Executive Committee will meet – thus there will be no Club meeting. The following Tuesday, October 18th, 19:00h club members and guests will be treated to a Workshop by Roberto Halfeld (Toastmasters Club St. Gallen) on how to write an effective speech.

So long, be well and see you all in two weeks 
Please click here for details of our next club meeting

Roland Straub