Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Rhetorik Wiesbaden And Word Weavers Are Holding An Open House

Rhetorik of Wiesbaden and Word Weavers- Toastmasters of Wiesbaden are holding an Open House on April 30th and you're cordially invited. The purpose of the evening is it introduce Toastmasters to people interested in finding out more about it in Wiesbaden. This is a first for the Wiesbaden Area as the Open House will be bilingual (conducted in German and English).

Toastmasters International is a non-profit educational organization focusing on the development of members' communication and leadership skills.  Toastmasters started in 1924 and has grown to over 290,000  members and 14,000 clubs around the world. This year is Toastmasters 90th Anniversary and it is expected that it will surpass 300,000 members globally.  At Toastmasters International, the club and its members are the focus. Clubs around the world meet in a variety of locations and times. At most club meetings there are prepared speeches, impromptu (speaking off the cuff), as well as evaluations of the speeches and various other aspects of the evening.  Toastmaster members start working on a series of speech projects within the Competent Communication manual (often referred to as the basic manual) that focus on different things like organizing your speech, vocal variety, body language, using visual aids, and so on. In survey after survey it is revealed that most people are terrified of public speaking.  Toastmasters gives members a chance to work on their public speaking in a safe and friendly environment. After completing the Competent Communication manual, members can start doing other specialty manuals with a wide variety of projects available.

Toastmasters also runs two different sets of speech contests. The International Speech Contest is held yearly in the Spring and the finals are held at the Toastmasters International Convention, it is really something to make it to this level of competition, as you can imagine. I highly recommend that you do a search on YouTube to see some of these contest winners.  In the Fall, there is a Humorous Speech Contest, but this ends at the District level, so there is not a global final for this contest. In addition to the International Speech Contest and the Humorous Speech Contest, there are also contests for Speech Evaluations as Table Topics (impromptu speaking). There will be a District Conference 59 (Continental Europe) in Krakow, Poland on May 16-18, and the winners from there will get to compete in the International Conference being held in Kuala Lumpur August 20-23.

Rhetorik of Wiesbaden and Word Weavers- Toastmasters of Wiesbaden are holding this Open House together, so you'll get the chance to get a taste of a meeting of both clubs at the same time.  Since it is being held in German and in English, you can experience Toastmasters in both languages.  Rhetorik of Wiesbaden conducts their meetings in German, while Word Weavers conducts their meetings in English.  Word Weavers has had several members that wanted a chance to use and improve their English and Rhetorik members see this as an excellent opportunity to train their rhetoric skills. At both clubs you'll find a supportive environment where you can work on developing your communication skills. In the few years I've been a member of Toastmasters, I've been amazed to see the personal growth of members as they go from speech to speech. You can see the confidence building and the skills developing and I never get tired of this aspect.

Toastmaster meetings are a good place to meet and network with new people outside of your work. I really enjoy meeting all the people at Toastmaster events, the people are always interesting and friendly.  Since there are so many different speech projects that members can do, you get to learn about a lot of things at a typical meeting and really no two meetings are the same because of this.

The Open House is being held at:

SEIBERT/MEDIA (5th floor)
Kirchgasse 6/LuisenForum
65185 Wiesbaden

Members from both clubs will be available for questions at 7:00 PM and the meeting will start at 7:30 PM

You can get more information at:

Rhetorik Wiesbaden: Website Facebook: http://www.twitter.com/TMWiesbaden

Word Weavers- Toastmasters of Wiesbaden: Website:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WordWeaversToastmastersWiesbaden
email:  wordweaverswiesbaden@googlemail.com

I've had the pleasure of serving as the President of Word Weavers for the 2013-14 Toastmaster year and I'm very excited about this unique event and hope that you'll take this opportunity to meet members from Word Weavers and Rhetorik. I'm looking forward to meeting you at the Open House, it should be a lot of fun!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

The 2014 Division F Spring Contest Was Incredible


The Toastmasters 2014 Spring Contest Season is open now and running nearly at full speed.  Most clubs and areas have had the contests and now the divisions are determining who they’ll send to the District competitions. April 5th was the District 59 Division F Contest and it was incredible. 

Division F (Southeast Germany) is made up of five areas and they were all represented at the contest. There were people from Frankfurt, Wiesbaden, Darmstadt, Stuttgart, Karlsruhe, all assembled in Mannheim for the contest.  I mentioned in my article about the F3/F4 Area Spring Contest, that I really like the cultural diversity of living in Europe. We had contests in French, German, and English yesterday.

Division F Governor- Regina Kroemer kicked off the contest by mentioning that winners of the contest would be eligible to compete in the District 59 Spring Conference in Krakow (May 16-18, 2014) and the winners from the district would be eligible to compete at the Toastmasters International Convention being held in August in Kuala Lumpar. She also mentioned that Division F would become part of the new District 95 but that we’d still be Division F, where we “Focus and have Fun”.  District 59 Public Relations Officer- Ruxandra Balboa-Pöysti delivered and opening greeting via video. While there is nothing like being there in person, it was nice that we were still able to have a district office be part of our contest. Ruxandra was also the French Target Speaker.

While there is always wonderful things going on at Toastmasters and the different clubs, the two contest seasons really give Toastmasters a chance to shine and to show all the skills that they’ve developed.  It is also an opportunity to learn a lot from some great speakers.  In addition to the messaged that mentioned in the F3/F4 Area Contest (since some the winners there advanced to the Division F Contest) here are 3 new messages that I picked up:

·         You need to have special talents or tools to help others and save lives
·         What if we could turn our weaknesses into our strengths
·         Teachers are all around us (often in unusual people), are you learning the lessons their offering

I was really excited to see Rudy Morales put all his Toastmasters years to work in his speech. In fact I first met Rudy at the Division F Spring Contest in 2012, when he evaluated the target speech that I gave that day. Another aspect of Toastmasters that I really love is watching people grow and develop.  You see time and again that people will start out wanting to improve their public speaking and not only do they become better speakers but they also become leaders and better people.

Until you’ve taken part in a contest or watched one, you don’t know all the work that goes into running a contest.  There needs to be the contest chair for all the contests, which can be challenging with contests being held in three different languages.  There is also a large number of judges needed (including tie breakers) and this can be challenging due to all the languages represented in the contests being held.  The timers play a very important role, watching the time of each speech and evaluation and recording the final time.  A lot of contestants are disqualified because they go over the time limits. There are various other roles as well, but at whatever contest, people are needed in order that a contest can be held. Even if you don’t participate as a contestant, you’re help would be welcome at most any contest and the contests are usually a lot of fun, so it is time well spent.

After two contest weekends, I’m getting excited about the District 59 Spring Conference in Krakow.  If you can find the time to attend, I’m sure that you’ll have a blast.  Since District 95 will be starting after the conference, this will be the last chance to meet so many Toastmasters from all over Continental Europe. I hope to see you there.   

Note: The picture above was taken at the contest before it officially opened and gives you an idea of all the hustle and bustle it is in my club's Flickr group. You can see more pictures from the contest there if you're interested.

Monday, March 31, 2014

The 2014 F3/F4 Spring Contest Was Amazing


The Toastmasters 2014 Spring Contest Season is open now and running nearly at full speed.  Most clubs have had the contests and the area contests are under way. March 29th we had the District 59 Area F3/F4 Contest and what a day it was.

If you’re a Toastmaster and haven’t been to any of the contests outside of your club, well you’re really missing out.  If you haven’t been to one in a while, it is time to check them out again.  Areas F3 and F4 decided to run joint contest so that less people are needed to run the contests and this has been a wonderful idea, one that I would recommend to other areas that might be struggling to get the enough support staff on boar. It has also meant that people can see more great speeches and evaluations, than if the contests were limited to just one area. The impact is just that much more impressive.

One of the reasons that I love living in Europe is the cultural diversity.  On Saturday there were contests held in French and German, in addition to English.  One of the contestants participated in 6 different contests (English, French, and German), for those of us with command of one language this is quite a feat!  There was another contestant that did all of the English and French contests, and a few contestants did English and German contests.  At the area contest level, the quality of speeches is a notch above what you’d expect from the club contests, but there really wasn’t a bad speech in the bunch.

I like the Evaluation Contests because you get to hear a great target speech and then see what advice the contestants have for the target speaker that would make their speech that much better. The English target speech was called “Why Men Don’t Listen And Women Can’t Read Maps”, so as you might expect it was about relationships, a topic that most of us can relate to. The German Target Speaker was not a Toastmaster, so while his speech might not have conformed to the expectations of the audience, the speech was about something that everyone could relate to and that was trying make sense of the things that we have to do in our lives today and applying the idea of doing one third less things to be one third better. For most of us our “To Do” list is getting too big and complicated, it would make sense for us to have a “To Not Do” list. Even with the speaker not being a Toastmaster, the contestants were still able to apply Toastmaster style evaluations, showing where the speech was strong, where the speech could be improved, and summarizing their recommendations.

It was nearly impossible to have attended the contest on Saturday and not be awed, inspired, and changed for the better.  There were so many great themes and messages and I thought that I’d share a few of them.

  • Trust is at an all time low in our society- and why should people trust us
  • There are a lot of ordinary people doing wonderful things, being modern day heroes- don’t we all want be heroes like this and doesn’t the world need more people being modern heroes 
  • Legendary UCLA Basketball coach John Wooden would rather have outstanding teams than teams with outstanding players that don’t perform well as a team 
  • Do we deal inspiration or are we users of inspiration 
  • What do we want to accomplish in our lives (especially for those of us that are already parents)
  • We are enough- we need to transport this message to our kids so they live it
  • We’re too quick to judge ourselves and declare ourselves failures, in the long run many of these failures really aren’t failures but a way of changing our direction
  • We shouldn’t play with our smart phones when we should be present. Pay attention to the people you’re with, when you’re with them
  • Music is a mood changer and can really inspire you
  • Communication makes the world go round, we need to speak the same language to each other and make sure we have the same understanding of the words used (don’t assume)

On a personal note, at my club contest I was talked into competing in the English Evaluation Contest for the first time, so I’m honored that I placed 3rd in the F3 competition.  I’ve entered various speech competitions in the past, but this was the first time that I tried the speech evaluation contest, so now I’ll be watching the evaluation contests with a different perspective.

On April 5th, the Division F Contest is being held in Mannheim, Germany. Not only the winners from F3 and F4 will be there, but areas F1, F2, and F5 will be competing there as well. Contestants will be competing in French, German, and English contests. Given the level of competition at the F3/F4, I’m excited to think about the quality of the speeches and evaluations that I’ll see in Mannheim. Considering all the great messages I picked up on March 29th, I can’t even imagine what messages I’ll take away.  This is a rare opportunity to see some of the best speakers in Southeast Germany. I challenge you to attend and not leave a changed person. If at all possible, the division contests are worth checking out and I hope to see you in Mannheim.

Note:  The picture above is of some of my fellow club members and me taken at the F3/F4 Area Contest.  I've posted several pictures from the contest at our club's Flickr group.