Meeting on January 6, 2014 at Chez Clément (St Michel)

By Bob Mohl, General Evaluator


Our first meeting of 2014 and our first time at Chez Clément! We had a great way to start the New Year in a warm and cozy room upstairs just off the fountain of St Michel. We all enjoyed a three-course dinner with wine and coffee. The Theme of the Evening was, “This year will be the first time I...”


Our elegant and distinguished president, Antonio Meza, opened the meeting welcoming our ten guests to introduce themselves: Milie (a visiting Toastmaster from Vancouver), Karine (sister of Milie), Sue (a Toastmaster of the OECD club), Longy, and Marc and Pierre (sons supporting their father Benoît Sarazin who was giving a speech).


Toastmaster of the Evening, Carol Bausor led the meeting with her masterful panache. She announced a number of first time achievements some members were looking forward to in 2014:

Competent Communicator

Travel to Prague
Client surveys
Trying out his new digital camera


Matching names to the experiences is an exercise left to the reader:

Longy stepped up without a moment's notice in David Logan's absence to give the Toast of the Evening to a wonderful year ahead.


Our ever so perspicacious Wordmaster Marc Yoshikawa showed impressive perspicacity in offering the Word of the Evening. Were you equally perspicacious, dear reader, using your ability to understand quickly, to guess the word of the evening? “That's right,” as Marc says, it was Perspicacity.


Here's a joke for the blog in keeping with the Theme of the Evening:
A sale representative stops at a small manufacturing plant in the Midwest. He presents a box of cigars to the manager as a gift. "No, thanks," says the plant manager. "I tried smoking a cigar once and I didn't like it."


The sales rep shows his display case and then, hoping to clinch a sale, offers to take the manger out for martinis. "No, thanks," the plant manager replies, "I tried alcohol once, but didn't like it."


Then the salesman glances out the officer window and sees a golf course. "I suppose you play golf," says the salesman. "I'd like to invite you to be a guest at my club."


"No, thanks," the manager says. "I played golf once, but I didn't like it." Just then a young man enters the office. "Let me introduce my son, Bill," says the plant manager.


"Let me guess," the salesman replies. "An only child?" 


Speech Tip (from Ed Tate via Antonio)
The first step when you start a speech is to break the preoccupation of the audience. They are not all tuned in to you yet. Some are checking their smart phones, some are looking at the schedule, some are thinking about lunch, etc. Before anything else, Break Preoccupation with something that gets everyone's attention.


For an example, see Rose Marie Burke's prepared speech below. Just as she was beginning to speak, she suddenly realized she'd misplaced her notes and went through a frantic moment searching and “cursing.” She captured everyone's concern and empathy... until we realized this little drama was performed to introduce her subject: cursing.


Once you have the audience's attention, the second step is to Frame the Message, ie. let the audience know where you're going with your speech, so they don't get distracted wondering what you'll be talking about.


Prepared Speeches

In her project number 6 “Vocal Variety” Rose Marie Burke illustrated her speech with various ways of saying some swear words. She shared three tips on when using swear words in polite society. First, spell the word and even whisper it e.g. s-word, f-word or F U. Second, say the word bleep e.g. I cannot bleeping believe it! Third, use euphemisms or near swear words such as darn it. There are also a lot of synonyms like dog gone, confounded, dumb it.  


Benoît Sarazin posed the question, “Why do established companies fail at innovating?” He took the example of Nokia which has been extremely innovative with many diversified businesses. When launched the Nokia mobile phone was seen as very innovative but when Apple launched its iPhone in 2007 Nokia rapidly lost market share. The mobile phone business was sold to Microsoft. To succeed a small company needs to be innovative but a large company has to be disciplined.


Using a projector to illustrate his speech with visual aids Sean Ryan said that despite the proliferation of new ways of communicating – emails, text messages, mobile phones and social media – the overall quality of writing has decreased. People are not paying attention to what they are writing. This can be extremely damaging as the credibility of companies and professionals are at stake. He gave a number of tips to take into account when writing various communications.


Table Topics

Karolin Krüger, our resolute Table Topics Master, provided each victim with a new resolution for the New Year.


The book Sue resolved to write was a murder mystery in a Toastmasters setting, to be finished in 2014 and self-published if necessary.


Marc S' world tour took him to Papua New Guinea with a whole Toastmasters division to learn a new language.


Longy's new musical instrument to learn was the guitar, which he chose because he could do it on his own. He liked being alone and entertaining people. (Hey, it's Table Topics!)


Pierre resolved to learn a new language to add to the three he already knows. Languages four, five and six would come from the eight on Papua New Guinea.


For a new career Cyrille chose to become an artist, combining photos and media.


Elisabeth Dancet evaluated Rose's speech, demonstrating by example how to increase vocal variety (having the unfair advantage of the French accent which stresses every other word. Syllable? Letter?).


Nicolas Stricher evaluated Benoit's speech giving three favorable points and three suggestions for improvement. It was great to see one non-native English speaker correcting the pronunciation of another non-native speaker.


And finally, Jean Delaunay evaluated Sean, commending him for using PowerPoint but recommended more legible slides.


Ribbon Winners
Best Table Topics: Sue Kendall-Bilicki
Best Speaker: Benoît Sarazin
Best Evaluator: Elisabeth Dancet


Next Meeting

Our next club meeting will be on January 20, 2014 and will take place at Chez Clément, 9, rue Saint-André des Arts, 75006 Paris.


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