Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Poll: Audio Recording

As many of you know, for a while I've been bringing a recording device with me to each meeting I attend. I do this for the blog, to make sure my summaries for each speaker, evaluation, table topic, or what-have-you, is accurate. I’m one of those guys who can describe in vivid detail events that happened several years ago, yet can forget things that have happened only ten minutes ago. So the recording device has been instrumental in my ability to write the blog’s “Weekly Recaps.”

But my point isn't to share my short term memory issues. Thus far I've promptly deleted the audio files after the respective “Weekly Recap” has been posted. However, recently I've been thinking that there may be an opportunity to benefit the meeting’s speakers, so I thought I’d run my idea by everyone.

So what do people think about a given speaker being sent a personal sound bite of their respective role? I want to make it clear that I would only be sending audio clips of the requesting speaker’s respective speech/evaluation/table topic/etc..

What do you stand to benefit from this?

Listening to yourself speaking allows you to analyze your public speaking in an otherwise unavailable manner. For example, one thing I've learned from listening to the recordings relates to my own perception of time. Every time I've stood up to speak I remember all the thoughts that ran through my head, racing to string ideas together.

Going back and listening to the recorder, I've noticed something: time seems to pass by faster when you aren't speaking. I remember how long it felt that time passed while I spoke in front of people. Listening as an outsider to myself, I now realize that during those moments when it felt like my thoughts were spanning over several seconds, in actuality passed in less than a second in real time.

I should've known better. As I've mentioned in the past, I've long had an interest in quantum physics, and one of its primary focuses is on the subjective and malleable nature of time. Our brains are wired to sense time at certain intervals. Our perception of time can be experienced like a turn of a dial based on various circumstances, an extreme example being of how time can seem to slow in a desperate life-or-death scenario.

Enough with the lecture, the point is that I learned that when I speak, my perception of time seems to slow. Knowing this, in the future I can speak more confidently at a somewhat slower pace to bridge my thoughts, which makes it easier to avoid the perilous “ahs” and “ums” all too commonly used to fill the gaps between thoughts. I’m not saying that this revelation made an instantaneous impact for me, but I feel that it has begun to help somewhat.

In any case, that is one example why you might find it worth listening to an audio recording of your public speaking at a given meeting. So I’d like to get your input. Does this sound like a viable idea? I would only be sending them by request, and only the audio of the respective requester. The reason I’m polling this is because if it’s a go, it requires additional effort on my part. I won’t bore you with the details, but basically my recorder’s formatting is not ‘user-friendly’ outside of the device itself. So if few to nobody is interested, I won’t bother.

If you are interested, post a comment saying so. If you’re particularly disinclined, post a comment saying so as well. If you feel like you need to share the highlights of your afternoon or reminisce about the days of old—that’s cool too, I guess. Whatever bastes your turkey!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Weekly Recap: "Organizing"

Craig served as this week’s Toastmaster, and as always did a great job facilitating the meeting. Anna gave us the thought of the day, though was mistakenly informed that the week’s theme was “Thriller,” which is in fact next week’s theme. With that in mind, this was her Thought of the Day:

“Imagine a hundred zombies all dressed—some in lace, some in elegant costumes, but all covered in blood and white, and suddenly they begin to dance. A few minutes later you hear Michael Jackson. This is the annual Portland Thriller Dance. I don’t know if any of you have had the pleasure to of seeing it but every year hundreds of people practice the Thriller dance around the city and all come together on Halloween and at a certain time spontaneously begin to dance all in unison. It happened in Pioneer Square about two years ago and up in north Portland last year. It makes me think ‘why do this?’ It’s simply a random act of fun. We all hear of random acts of kindness but this is an opportunity to get together and join with your fellow Portlanders and do something that you can only see in Portland Oregon.”

ANNOUNCEMENTS: Mike shared with us some of what was discussed in the “Officer’s Meet.” Once a month they discuss ideas to improve or solve any problems involving the club. One of the decisions they came to was to start the meetings on time, at the stroke of 12pm (so don't be late!). Another policy change is that the week’s Toastmaster will print handouts containing the agenda of both the current week and as well as the next week’s itinerary. For the holiday weeks of Thanksgiving and Christmas, instead of the regular meetings, we will have a lunch meeting, which will just be a social event. The ET leadership is also looking at special meetings to emphasize different techniques, as well as having a microphone day, where they hope to grab an auditorium where the whole meeting will be a Table Topics session. Lastly, the Annual District 7 Toastmasters Conference is coming up November 3rd. Visit the Toastmasters District 7 and Register nowWe also have a new member, welcome Erik Sundstrom to the Electric Toasters club!

SPEAKER 1:  Kayla – “Tax Compression 101"

As luck would have it, the speech Kayla gave had objectives focused on organization in her CC Manual. Titled “Tax Compression 101,” she put forth a noble effort to educate us of something. Admittedly, when it comes to talk of tax in the technical, my eyes immediately begin to glaze over. Fortunately, that’s why I bring my recorder! Otherwise my attempt to summarize the following info she provided would likely end with members being audited by the IRS. For those who’re as lame as I am or didn’t make it to the meet, read further and learn what statistically only fifty people in all of Oregon know:
The three components of tax compression that will give you the base level understanding you need as an informed voter:
  1. Limits: In 1990 measure 5 was passed in Oregon by a 52% vote, which capped the annual property tax at $10 for every $1,000 of real market value, plus an additional $5 dedicating to school funding. Measure 50 passed in 1997, which limited the adjustments in assessment value growth. The immediate impact was $51.4 million reduce in tax revenue within the first few years. 
  2. The type of tax levy matters: Some tax levies are compressed more than others. Permanent districts are compressed less than temporary districts. On any given property, you could have a city taxing district, county, sewer, water, port, community colleges, or an infinite amount of special districts. In the event that they’re all permanent, they all then compete for a certain amount of the real market value. Whatever remains is left for the temporary levies.
  3. Every property is impacted in a unique way: This relates to the limits and the inequities of how assess value is calculated and the different taxing districts that cover a given property. Depending on the relationship between the assess value and the taxing district of a property is categorized under, a property might not be compressed at all, or compressed to the limit.

Congratulations, if you’ve read this through (or listened to Kayla’s speech at the meeting), you’ve just become one of Oregon’s intellectual elites (on tax compression, anyway). So when considering how you vote in the upcoming election and all thereafter, keep in mind the information you now know thanks to Kayla’s great speech!

 “Organizing” TABLE TOPICS:

The meeting’s Table Topics Master was Ryan this week. Being that there was only one speaker for the day, he was stretched into providing quite a few more topics than usual. Personally, I always appreciate it when a Table Topics Master initiates each topic with a bit about himself that relates to the following question. It gives the mind a hint as to where he or she is taking the conversation. At this meeting Ryan did an excellent job of doing just that.

The first topic was volunteered by David, who does three things to stay organized at both home, and at worked. Those include a checklist of tasks, and utilizing different organizational technological mediums. Lastly, his wife helps to keep him in line.

Second was Susannah, who has friends who have hired workers who help clean up and organize their houses, who seem to hoard the possessions they pick up throughout their life. Susannah on the other hand, tends to move every couple of years, so she tends to have fewer possessions.

Erik was a member of the boy scouts and eagle scouts. He told us about the history of the organization, originating in England. In addition to skill and leadership training, Erik taught us that the scouts were all about organizing hikes, meets, camping trips, and other events.

Asked about a historical figure that interested me, were my brain better organized I might’ve talked about Thomas Jefferson. Being that I was struck with “stage stupor” (as I often am), I instead shared that I can be both messy and OCD about different things, an example being that I used to separate my Legos in Ziploc bags when I was a kid.

Next Pechara was asked about a good leader or a team that has been well organized. Unfortunately, her voice was so soft-spoken I couldn’t hear much of what she said. To anyone who was able to hear her, please email me so I can update this section.

Lisa has recently Google’d a lot about the Adobe Premier software, to get answers to her questions, since she is learning to use the program. One specific inquiry she searched was “how to import footage,” which was the first thing she needed to do.

Eric says he goes through cycles in his personal organizational levels. He loves to be organized, but if he gets too much on his plate he can sometimes let things at home get sloppy, though he’s good with information organization, such as with his business. For Eric, it just depends on what the subject is.

Mike was called upon to answer the question I sidestepped, who talked about Earl Nightingale. Mike thought this historical figure was interesting because of “The Strangest Secret,” a message he wrote that in summary was about how “we become what we think about, and our mind controls a lot of our lives.” Since that time he came up with a number of programs that have been influential to Mike in his life.

Kayla, our sole speaker for the day, was asked to be our final Table Topics speaker (as Ryan was running out of people to call upon). Kayla listens to a podcast that she describes as a morning radio show, which play this game called “You Auto-Complete Me,” every week. She’s played the game herself a few times, and said it was a lot of fun, and recommended the rest of us try it sometime.


This week’s evaluator for Kayla’s speech was Neal. He told her how he appreciated the information she provided about tax compression, and felt that she was very brave to have tackled such a topic. He offered to Kayla an alternative intro she might’ve used to hook the audience’s attention. Neal also stated that her hand gesturing helped him to follow along with her.

I don’t usually refer to the “Ah Counter’s” report, simply because I don’t believe there is anything constructive that comes out of posting online how many ‘ahs’ and ‘ums’ each person says in each meeting. However, I make an exception only to recognize the “Ah Counter” David himself, who gave about the most thorough report I think I have ever heard. Way to go David!

Lisa, the General Evaluator for the week, praised Neal for his energy right off the bat in evaluating Kayla’s speech. She also appreciated his acknowledgement and gratitude to Kayla for the knowledge she shared, which Lisa felt was important. She also felt that in summary his reiteration was well organized, and suggested that Neal introduce what he concluded with at the beginning of his evaluation.

  • Best Speaker Awarded to Kayla Mullis.
  • Best Evaluator Awarded to Lisa Cicala.
  • Best TableTopics Awarded to Susannah & David.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Update: Where it's at & Where it's Going...

This blog post is just a heads up addressing the recent activityor rather lack-thereofconcerning the blog itself.

During the entire month of September I’ve basically fallen off the map, blog-wise. You can now see the post for the Humorous Speech Contest, which is dated on the 16th, but it’s a lie! Even though the post-date says it, I actually finally wrote and posted it about twenty minutes ago (By the way I wrote 'twenty minutes ago' about five days prior to post). Blogger lets me be deceitful that way. Now I know quite a few of you have shed some tears over this, but now’s the time to finally dry your eyes.

But seriously, I apologize to all members, especially the winners and runner-ups of the two contests. That blog deserved to have been posted much sooner so they could bask in their well-earned glory. I don’t have much in the way of excuses. In the end, it comes down to self-discipline, something I am improving on but at times is still a struggle. 

I decided to hunker down and pound out a few in advance (which I've begun to do), and hopefully just keep throwing more onto the pile. Otherwise this November would be especially challenging, since I will be participating in a month-long contest called “NaNoWriMo,” which is a smooshy-word for “National Novel Writing Month.” It means exactly as it sounds: writing a novel within the month. If I end up coming to the meetings throughout November, I will really try to keep up with my “Weekly Recap” posts. 

Well anyway, I’ve come up with an idea or two about how I want to move forward. I really don’t want to turn my posts into an advice column; frankly I’m in no position to be telling people how to deliver a better speech. In fact, I’ve been a member for the better part of a year now, and most if not all the guests who’ve done table topics have shown stronger public speaking skills than I do. Instead, one thing I’ve been considering is to post content that analyzes video speeches/debates outside of Toastmasters, and narrow in on something specific thing that a given speaker did that was strong in his/her speech, as well as what was done poorly or could’ve been executed stronger, analyzing why.

When I joined as a contributor Craig suggested I write an introductory blog for new members, which sounded like a good idea. Turns out the execution’s more of a challenge than originally anticipated. Getting contact info from a new member and then sending interview questions and getting their reply to then write a post on—by the time all that’s done the new member isn’t exactly ‘new’ anymore. So instead I’ve been thinking about posting entries that provide some basic info (background, interests, random facts, etc.) I might put together a form and send it out to each member, and they can put down whatever they want to share (if anything).

So that’s where my head’s at. As always, if you have any questions, comments, requests, or suggestions related to this blog, post a comment below, or you can contact me directly if the subject is outside the scope of the respective entry.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Weekly Recap: “Discovering New Places”

I’m just going to start off by making note that this week’s recap is going to come up a little short. For whatever reason my recorder quit on me less than twenty minutes through the meeting. My memory is already a little foggy about some of that meet, and I’d sooner cut the parts I’m unsure about over rambling on with inaccuracies. 

Before handing it off to Toastmaster Kat, ET President Mike welcomed for us a new guest Yunuen. She was brought here by Kerry. Gerard and Eric were returning guests this week. Scott volunteered to give us an impromptu thought of the day, though he was twice interrupted by the LAN phone in the room, oddly enough: 

“I’ve had the opportunity to discover a new place a couple weeks ago. It was wonderful to have a break. It was wonderful to see new and exciting things to explore. So I encourage everybody at every opportunity to explore new places.”

October 10th’s ‘Word of the Day,’ imperative, was given to us by Grammarian Ryan. Imperative is defined as something absolutely necessary or required; unavoidable. Jeff found himself having quite a lot of fun with this word. I believe in his grammarian report Ryan chalked Jeff’s usage to four counts (to me it felt closer to twenty).  

SPEAKER 1: Angela – “A Team Meeting”

The speech Angela shared with us had been composed for her team at work. She had prepared a PowerPoint presentation to go with it, but for last minute reasons she had to share a printout of the slides instead. Evidently Angela recently posted her resignation from her current management role. To allude to how she felt about her team and the oncoming challenges they face, she drew parallels from a thoroughly thought out metaphor about the Iditarod. 

Like sled dogs, her team members exhibit similar qualities, those being their stamina, speed, thick coats, endurance, and a love of work. “If you ask them to do something, they will give it 110% simply because you asked them to,” Angela said, quoting an Iditarod musher. In her slide she mentions the lack of snow in some of the pictures. The pups who’ve never ran an Iditarod aren’t aware of what they’re training for until they get there. She compares this to the next few weeks of uncertainty during the transition of her leaving. 

Angela then went into a story about a rookie Iditarod musher whose lead dog got a sore wrist, and had no choice but to leave it behind at a checkpoint. The same thing happened to her next two lead dogs. She tried twelve of her remaining thirteen dogs hoping to find a new lead. None of them worked out. She was left with the thirteenth dog ‘Gopher,’ a follower who in Angela’s words “never had an original thought in his life.” To her surprise Gopher took them all the way to Nome, because leadership can emerge in sometimes unexpected ways. 

SPEAKER 2: Craig – “A Vacation to Remember”

Craig put together a speech for us minutes before presenting, which he called “A Vacation to Remember.” After moving “from heaven… into Detroit” for a two year stay, he decided to take him and his family on two vacations. One of which was in Kitty Hawk, famous for the Wright brothers of Dayton, Ohio. Heading through the Smokey Mountains, he described them as ‘totally unimpressive mountains,’ well compared to the Saw Tooth Mountains in Canada and here in Oregon.  

After that they went on a camping trip, only to find out that they had arrived just in time to be hailed on by an oncoming hurricane. Craig said he’d gone through tornadoes, earthquakes, and thunderstorms, but it was his first experience being stuck in a hurricane. Though perhaps a little wetter than he’d hoped, he nonetheless was grateful for the experience and challenged us to seek similar adventure in our own lives. 


The week’s Table Topics was provided by Topicsmaster Jean Pirkl, who gave us some great questions. Evaluations were then delivered by Kerry who evaluated Angela, and Jeff who evaluated Craig’s speech. Gail Worden served as General Evaluator. Mike delivered to us his Timer’s Report, and Sue did the same as our Ah-Counter.
  •  Best Speaker Awarded to Angela Mahoney.
  • Best Evaluator Awarded to Jeff Brooks.
  • Best Table Topics Awarded to Gerard (Guest).