Category Archives: toastmasters


Good to be back in Toastmasters. For the table topics game, I asked people to tell me what they liked the most about Toronto. Everyone had fun talking about Toronto, and I added a few new items to my list of things to do or see while I'm here. It turned out that one of the guests was also new to the city. Great timing!

I've volunteered to do my eighth speech next week. I'll be talking about Secret Happiness. The eight speech project is about using visual aids effectively, and I'm sure my wonderful socks will be an excellent visual aid. ;) Secret Happiness!

We had an executive meeting, too. Must get the hang of organizing my notes for the minutes. Will write up the minutes tomorrow and send it to exec.

Oh! I did the secret geek handshake today. One of the guests mentioned conferences - "cons", in geek lingo. Gaming conferences, in particular. First half of the geek handshake. I responded by telling him that in terms of computer gaming, I'm weird - I'm into Nethack. If you could've seen him just light up... Secret geek handshake indeed!

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I gave speech #8 at our Toastmasters meeting earlier. I talked about secret happiness: colored socks for sunshine, dangling earrings for the laughter of seas, and a star for love. =) Everyone loved the speech!

I'm doing "Evaluate to Motivate" next week. I have plenty of stories to tell them about my family and my friends! =)

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Finished my tenth speech!

I'm now eligible for the Competent Toastmaster (CTM) award! Hooray, hooray! My tenth speech was named "Cook or Die", and I talked about how cooking means happiness, comfort and love. =) It was good practice for the upcoming club competition.

The club gave me a CTM pin and a very interesting book entitled "48 Laws of Power". They also signed a card... Awww! =)

Happy, happy, joy, joy!

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If I give the universe a chance, it does its best to be absolutely wonderful. =)

I had misgivings about the Toastmasters speech contest held Thursday, but when I gave myself permission to just go ahead and do it, I had tons of fun. I gave a speech entitled "I Will Learn How To Cook... Or Die Trying". Frequent readers of my blog (none of which were among the audience) would recognize some of the misadventures I've had. =) I'll post the MP3 one of these days. (I really should start an infrequent little podcast...)

My contest performance was only the second time I'd run through that particular version of the speech. Still, I had no problems connecting to the audience, treating them as friends, and making them laugh. I missed a few jokes I had wanted to make, but it flowed together well. I'm still having problems ending on the strong note everyone expects, probably because I pour a lot of energy into the beginning and middle as well.

Even though I threw the revised speech together as hastily as a stir-fry on a starving Saturday night, I won second place. =) The man who won first was a really cool Toastmaster, and his speaking skills are far beyond mine. Lots of things to learn!

Mrs. Castillo would be thrilled to hear that people liked my use of props. I can think of no other cause for this but the drama in education program we had in grade school. =) My father and my sister must share the credit for anything I might know about humor and storytelling. My mom's encouraging note earlier this morning was the source of my energy during the speech. And oh, so many people who keep me going and make me laugh... If I spread sunshine in people's lives, it is because I get so much from others!

I need to work on speech organization a bit more, and endings are still one of my weak points. I have plenty of things to learn, and I love that. I don't want to be a good speaker. I want to become a brilliant speaker so that I can inspire people not only to adopt the ideas I want them to consider but also to improve their own communication skills. =)

Very good day.

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Random Japanese sentence: 彼女はその猫に牛乳をやった。 She fed milk to the cat.

Helping people find their voice

One of my friends scoffs at Toastmasters, but moments like this make it definitely worthwhile.

Today one of the members brought his girlfriend to listen to his first speech. The girl was painfully shy and clearly terrified of public speaking, even during the Table Topics and guest comments section.

She approached me afterwards, though. And oh, the stories I could see inside her... CN Tower Stair Climb T-shirt, colored bands around her wrists: these are the marks of someone who cares deeply about some things. I listened to her fears and shared my own experience learning how to speak - at first starting out because I couldn't stop talking about technology and I wanted to get into conferences for free, and then realizing how much fun it was to help people learn. I told her that the real trick to speaking in front of an audience - or at least in front of Toastmasters - is to speak to them one person at a time, treating them as your friends.

Most of all, I looked into her eyes and told her in many different ways that she had stories worth telling.

When I felt her tentatively reaching out, I closed the loop and we hugged. The hug was one of the best I've ever had, and her thank you one of the sweetest.

This is what I live for: that deep connection, that chance to help people find their voice.

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Random Japanese sentence: 猫がソファーでねむっている。 The cat is sleeping on the sofa.


We had another executive meeting for Toast I.T. Toastmasters. I'm really glad to have this opportunity to serve the club as the secretary / treasurer, and I'm starting to get the hang of things. I'm planning to run for either VP education or VP membership in the upcoming elections. I know the position of vice president of education involves a lot of work - keeping track of people's progress, thinking of ways to help them improve their speaking skills - but that's exactly the kind of coaching I want to do. =) The VP of membership, on the other hand, is in charge of keeping in touch with members old and new, and reaching out to guests too. Either will really help me grow! =)

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