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.