Toastmasters International

Last Saturday the Annual Toastmasters Division E – International Speech & Speech Evaluation Contest was held in Zurich. The English Toastmasters Club Zuriberg Toastmasters organised and hosted the event. I had visited the club a few weeks earlier in their beautiful meeting place, the restaurant Blue Monkey. My experiences that evening made me expect a very professional day – I was certainly not disappointed.

So Toastmasters competed in English as well as in German. Besides the competition the day offered two workshops in each language and since I followed most of the English parts I could enjoy J. Vincent’s and K. Bullus‘ presentations.

I was curious to finally see J. Vincent as I have read some posts on his Blog. I thoroughly enjoyed his informative presentation „Selling in the Brave New World“. Real content enriched with stories from his professional life made his teaching speech very entertaining. It was refreshing to hear that in order to sell well, listening skills are slightly more important than communication skills.

Who would not have become inquisitive reading the title of K. Bullus‘ workshop „Having fun with disaster“? With a lot of humour he stimulated us to develop some solutions to possible „accidents“ happening during a presentation and then came up with his own way of handling the situation. We had a lot of fun and K. Bullus inspired me with his very liveliness and his unagitated way to deal with „disasters“ during his workshop.

My highlight of the day was the English speech contest and therefore I will expand on that a little.

Camran told us about the day Ajatollah Chomeini returned to Teheran after years of exile – it was February 1st 1979. An ocean of people moved towards the airport while he, an eleven year old boy, walked against the crowed. Chomeini was not his leader. He understood then that there are two types of leaders. The ones who want to divide and the ones who try to reunite. With his speech Camran reminded us to choose wisely whom to follow.

From Silvana I learnt that soup is not just soup. When her father – who’s upbringing did not at all include him working in the kitchen – made her a soup he communicated his care for her and that is what she always remembered: that he cared. I could feel and hear how much this meant to her and how she was still touched by her father’s gesture. With her speech she produced pictures in my head, I can still see them. I very much liked her advice to all parents, to please cook soup for their children.

Just as pictorial was Maria’s speech when she described her Italian family now living in Australia  sitting in front of the TV to watch The Godfather. For her parents this was not a movie about the mafia but about their native village. Maria’s mother grew up in the small place Forza d’Agrò (Sicily) where parts of The Godfather were shot. The lively Australia-Sicilian Maria explained with all her temperament how she got more and more frustrated over the fact that the whole world seemed to connect nothing but the Mafia with Sicily while for her Sicily is a beautiful island full of history and culture. So she decided to reframe MAFIA: Mangare (her description of the delicious dishes was kind of a torture – I got more and more hungry!),  Amore, Forza, Italia, Amici veri (true friends)!

In Mahima’s speech FEAR and TRUST put up a good fight. As in a boxing match she introduced the two fighters virtually sitting in opposite corners. It was a tough slugfest between staggering, cautioning FEAR and enthusiastic, motivating TRUST. I knew way too many of FEAR’s arguments and was very happy for TRUST to pass enthusiasm on to me.

When Leslie started she did not talk about anger – she WAS anger. Her facial expressions were scary, her voice filled the room and probably the whole hotel. She clearly advocated anger to be a very valuable source of strength. Anger is fuel! Channel your rage and you will have enough energy to solve nearly everything.

For a few months now I have been following John Zimmer’s Blog regularly. His analysis of speeches are a true treasure chest. He also analysed his speech with which he won last year’s District Contest of humorous speech. This speech as well as it’s analysis are a real joy and so I was very curious for his speech in this contest. He started with an amusing episode during a holiday with his family in Istanbul and then lead over to a story of a woman who survived the Holocaust . She remembered the last moment with her brother when she told him off because he had lost his shoes. This tirade were the last words she would address to him. Shortly after they were separated, she didn’t see her brother again. She swore to herself to never again use words that she would regret. A big vow, but certainly one that is worth aiming for. With great sensitiveness John brought us from this very touching story back to the market in Istanbul, he made us laugh and he drew a bow to his message: Make your words special beyond measure.

It was no surprise that John won the contest with this speech, he was great. I have to say though: I was glad I didn’t sit in the jury, it was a difficult job as ALL the speeches were simply marvellous.

It was all around a successful day. I met a lot of great people and took home plenty of food for thoughts. Congratulations to the Zuriberg Toastmasters Club! It was a great event, very professionally planned and organized.

2 Responses to “Soup, Mafia and Anger”

  1. 23. Mai 2010 um 20:45

    Es ist ein wahres Vergnügen, Deinen englischen Bericht zu lesen. Grossartig!

  2. 24. April 2010 um 14:41

    Herz und Verstand im Einklang!

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