Meeting on May 5, 2014 at Chez Clément (St Michel)

By Sean Ryan, Vice President, Membership


Club President Antonio Meza welcomed everyone to the evening and he explained the choice of the theme of the evening : Cinco de Mayo. It commemorates the 1862 Mexican Republican’s win over Napoleon III’s army in Puebla. It is an important holiday in the US among Mexicans but is little celebrated in Mexico itself.

Benoit Sarazin was the Toastmaster of the Evening and he hoped that everyone would be able to fight the fear of public speaking during the evening.

Joke of the Evening by Peter Kenton
“In the United States there was a new young Indian chief who was not sure of himself. It was getting cold so he advised his tribe to go and collect more firewood and to keep it under the teepee.  He called the US meteorological service to check on the weather forecast. They told him that it would get colder. He then asked his tribe to gather even more firewood. He again called the weather service who told him that their studies showed that it would get even colder. For the third time the chief asked his tribe to collect more firewood which filled their teepees. He then called the weather service a third time. They told him that the forecast was for a very cold winter as they had never seen so much firewood being collected by Indians in that area of the country!”

Word of the Evening
David Logan introduced the word of the evening: Gumption. He began by saying that Napoleon Bonaparte had it; Queen Victoria had it; and Forest Gump had it. Gumption means having guts, spank, will, determination, being dynamic and having a sense of purpose.

Speech Tip
In his speech tip Bob Mohl gave advice on how to reduce stress before speaking:

  1. Do it often. Speak more and more.
  2. Prepare and rehearse so that you are more comfortable.
  3. Visit the room and see the stage so that you are more familiar with both before you give your speech.
  4. Picture your speech in your mind.
  5. Do some breathing exercises such as breathing deeply and relax so that you are consciously more calm.
  6. Let yourself enjoy the moment.

Prepared Speeches
We had three prepared speeches by members of the club.

New member Mark Finneran gave his first speech in the club: the Ice Breaker. His objectives were to speak before an audience; use existing speaking skills; and introduce himself to fellow club members.

In his speech entitled ‘Who am I and why am I here?’ Mark said that he grew up in Ohio from third generation Americans but moved to France 25 years ago in search of adventure and new challenges. After many years as an English teacher he joined a company to become the University Manager where he develops training programs for clients and consultants. He gave a few pieces of advice based on his experiences: to have an interesting life it is necessary to take risks and be empathetic to the needs of others.

Marc Yoshikawa is a very experienced Toastmaster having been a member of a number of clubs in Japan and is now based in Paris where he is a member of three clubs. He came second in the District 59 Humorous Speech Contest in Budapest, November 2013.

His speech ‘Persistence Pays Off’ focused on using his body movements. He spoke movingly about getting medical treatment for his mother in Tokyo. After an initial false diagnosis from a doctor he had to get not only a second opinion but a third opinion. The third diagnosis saved his mother’s life. Based on this experience Marc said that we need to have gumption (intelligence, determination and courage) to protect loved ones.

The third speaker Elisabeth Dancet was giving a speech from the advanced Storytelling Manual. The objective of ‘Bringing History to Life’ is to use storytelling skills developed in previous projects to tell a story about an historical event or person. Elisabeth told the story of Louise Michel, the Red She-wolf, who was a teacher, anarchist, feminist and leader of the Paris Commune in 1870 – 1871. She was deported to French New Caledonia but returned in 1880 after an amnesty and she died in 1905. Her funeral was the second largest at the time after Victor Hugo. Today, there is a metro station in Levallois-Perrot named after Louise Michel.  
Table Topics
In keeping with interesting and lesser known holidays in May Rose Marie Burke led the Table Topics part of the meeting. She mentioned that May 2 was Scurvy Awareness Day. May 5 is also Wash Your Hands Day. She asked a number of people to pick a card and to give their thoughts.

Longy Agoha on May 16: Love a Tree Day
Ash Brown on May 18: No Dirty Dishes Day
Carol Bausor on May 30: Water a Flower Day
Karen Frey on May 25: Move a Bit More Day

Speech Evaluations
We then had the evaluations of the three prepared speakers.
Sean Ryan, in his evaluation, complimented Mark on his preparation, using no notes, facial expressions, humor, body movements and interaction with the audience. He recommended that Mark give equal weight to the two themes announced at the beginning of his speech. Also, that when he couldn’t remember particular points just take a pause until the idea comes back.

Karolin Kruger said in her evaluation of Marc’s speech that she liked his story of the crisis in his family and that he used the word of the evening, gumption, very well. The speech project was ‘Your Body Speaks’ and she recommended that he use more facial expressions and move around the stage.

Nicolas Stricher praised Elisabeth for capturing his attention from the beginning of her speech. He found it to be very powerful; had strong articulation of words; had many climaxes; and there was a strong conclusion. For improvement he recommended that Elisabeth had slower climaxes of important moments so that they would be even more powerful and impactful.

General Evaluation
Jean Delaunay gave the general evaluation pointing out what he thought went well and what could have been better.

Ribbon Winners
The winners of the ribbons were:
Best Table Topics: Ash Brown
Best Evaluation: Sean Ryan
Best Speaker: Elisabeth Dancet

Concluding Remarks
The Club President Antonio Meza gave two announcements. The District 59 Conference was taken place on May 16 and 17 in Krakow, Poland. Two of our members would be taking part : Bob Mohl in the English Evaluation Contest and Carol Bausor for the English International Speech, French Speech and French Evaluation.

The fifth Italian National Toastmasters Conference would be taking place on June 28 to 29 in Rome. One of the workshops would be given by Carol Bausor.

Next Meeting
Our next club meeting will take place on Monday evening, May 19, 2014 in Chez Clément, 9 place Saint André des Arts, 75006 Paris.

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