March 27, 2013: Meeting Recap (Focus on The Good in Life)

posted Apr 5, 2013, 6:46 AM by Advanced Public Speakers Toastmasters Club   [ updated Oct 15, 2014, 1:47 PM ]
Dear APS Members and Guests,

Toastmaster of the Day Michael Platania introduced the meeting theme “Focus on the Good in Life!” Why are some people happier than others even when they have less? According to Michael the key word is “focus” because what you focus on is what you get!
A recent focus for Michael has been Toastmasters, where he has found acceptance, personal growth and happiness. You don’t need to live a life of lavish extravagance to be happy if you focus on the good things you already have. “Lavish” was the Word of the Day from Grammarian Marcia Berry.

Harry Aneziris gave “Proud of my Heritage,” his entry for the International Speech Contest. It’s the powerful story of Greek heritage from antiquity to the difficult recent period, and Harry asks the important question “are we living up to our responsibilities?” The Round Robin evaluation team got down to business, praising Harry’s dramatic content and rousing ending. The critique was that the speech contained no personal stories allowing the listeners to get to know the speaker, and that more movement in the speaking area, content specific gestures and a slower pace were needed. There was disagreement about whether humor should be included to lighten up this entirely serious speech.

Eloise Johnny brought history to life with “Mother Teresa” a project from the Storytelling Manual. Eloise gave a passionate accounting of Mother Teresa’s lifetime call to help the poor of Calcutta, leading to her own Sainthood and Nobel Peace Prize. Speech Evaluator Marcia Berry noted that Eloise started out lightly but finished up with the conviction of a church sermon. Eloise succeeded in bringing the story to life, but the excessive reliance on notes inhibited eye contact and prevented the use of both hands for emphatic gestures.

“Other People’s Money” by Jerry Sterner was the play chosen by Sandro Fuscofor a project from the Interpretive Reading Manual. Do companies exist solely to make money, or is there a deeper purpose of service to stakeholders and the public? Sandro chose an excerpt from the play that brought these issues to a head – the shareholder meeting, as a corporate raider sought to take over a small New England manufacturing firm. As Speech Evaluator I complemented Sandro for his deliberate delivery and his choice of this key excerpt since it dealt adroitly with these significant issues. The improvement I suggested was for Sandro to ignore the confusing project requirements and add more vocal differentiation between the characters. 

Table Topics Master Derek Chen offered probing questions that brought the focus back to the “good in life.” Is life about the journey or the destination?Brian Robinson said that “It’s all about the journey,” and that he had been overcome with emotion and gratitude because of his recent marriage. Brian also mentioned that his Toastmasters experience served him well, allowing him to speak with confidence at the reception. Which educational system is better, the Chinese use of force or the American use of encouragement? Eloise Johnnydisagreed with the “Tiger Mom” approach, suggesting that encouragement is likely to get better results. Marcia Berry said that her teenage daughter is a fashion designer, but her most “Lavish Style” is likely her Belly Dancing outfit. Do you prefer the “happy talk” of the Chinese media or the sensational American media style? Michael Platania said he is happier when tuning it all out!

For the General Evaluation, I moderated the Round Robin and got detailed reports from Grammarian Marcia Berry and Timer Brian Robinson.

The next APS meeting -“Practice-a-thon”- will be Thursday, April 11. 5 APS members (and a few guests) will be practicing for their various Division Contests.
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Todd McKinney
President, Advanced Public Speakers