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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.

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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