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Thanks to everyone that contributed to our interactive meeting on May 10th. The theme of the day was “Holidays,” and we all learned quite a bit about international celebrations. Brenda served as our Toastmaster and Lorri delivered an educational prepared speech that covered various types of leadership. Rehana stumped us with Table Topics questions that guided us around the world. We heard about Cinco de Mayo, Diwali, Eid, and Oktoberfest.

Rehana also brought up some more obscure festivities. Did you know that in the Philippines, New Year’s is celebrated with polka dots, circles, and coins, all of which represent good luck and riches? In Finland, there is a fortune-telling holiday where metal is melted and subsequently poured into a bucket of snow or ice-cold water. After the metal solidifies, the shape is held up to a light. The shadow cast by the metal chunk is representative of one’s fortune. Fascinating! Thanks to Rehana for the thought-provoking questions, and thanks to everyone that participated in answering!


While Saturday’s Table Topics answers were well-crafted and humorous, many Toastmasters fear this section of the meeting even more than the prepared speeches. At least with the speeches, we can think of something to say in advance and bring our notes! But with the Table Topics, we are asked to think on our feet, be organized, funny, and entertaining – all with just seconds’ notice!

So how can we feel better prepared to conquer the dreaded impromptu speech? Here are some tips:

– We can always buy time by pausing, taking a breath, and then thanking the Table Topics Master and audience. After this, we can simply begin by restating the question as a statement. This serves as a good introduction to the mini-speech.

– We can buy ourselves even more time by discussing what makes answering the question difficult. We can describe the delicacy of the hypothetical situation, or talk about how we imagine the scene would look.

– We can talk about what we know. If the question posed is about an unfamiliar topic, we can transition into something we are more comfortable with.

– We can make the answer up. If someone is asked about his children and he does not have any kids, he can use his imagination and describe his fictional children. He can be completely outrageous and unrealistic! Sometimes these crazy answers are the most humorous.

– We can remember our organizational skills learned from the prepared speeches. Table Topics answers, though impromptu, should still have an introduction, body, and conclusion. At the end, reiterate the question and main idea.

– We can be enthusiastic! Even the most boring and trite questions can be answered creatively and with emotion. Adding passion and feeling to Table Topics answers brings the audience in.

– Most importantly:

have fun

Everyone has that one Toastmasters role that they simply dread. For some, it’s the prepared speeches that immediately make their stomachs drop. For others, the responsibility of leading the meeting as Toastmaster is cause for panic sweats. Perhaps it’s the Grammarian role that strikes terror in the heart – having to listen so closely to individual words as well as overall content is a big ask.

For me, it’s the Evaluator role that brings on the palpitations. How can I offer constructive criticism without sounding harsh? I’m such a beginner myself, what do I know about properly delivering a speech? I’m being asked to evaluate some very seasoned speakers, what do I have to offer? That speech was perfect! I have nothing substantive to say!


To help those of you floating along in the same boat, here are just a few tips and tricks to give your evaluations a little boost. Try implementing one or a few of these suggestions during your next report as Evaluator. Or, if you prefer a more concrete and straightforward method, print and bring this speech evaluation form to your next meeting and see how it might improve your report.

“COD” Style of Evaluation


Clear? Interesting? Thought-provoking?
Did the speaker establish credibility?
Did you gain new knowledge?
Were the facts well illustrated (sources cited, facts researched)?
Were the key terms well defined (no jargon, obscure vocabulary)?


Clear introduction (clear statement), body (flesh out argument, evidence), conclusion (did speaker make his argument)?
Did the speaker capture audience’s attention immediately?
Did the body of the speech accurately reflect what was stated in the introduction?
Did the conclusion summarize what was said in the introduction and body?
Was there a logical flow and were all points supported by examples?
Were transitions smooth and easy to follow?


Is the speaker calm, poised, and in control?
Is the complete stage area used to embrace the entire audience?
Is there a bond with the audience?
Is the speaker passionate and energetic?
Are there any distracting mannerisms?

General Tips for Evaluation

Know your speaker. What are her capabilities? Improvements?
Listen with your eyes.
Jot down a quote from a speech that is particularly compelling.
State your point in an orderly fashion: introduction, body, conclusion.
Summarize the highs and lows. Do not try to say everything in your evaluation.

As I Saw You

Approach, position, personal appearance.
Gestures, facial expression, distracting mannerisms.

As I Heard You

Content (information)
Voice (vocal variety, pitch, intonation, volume, enthusiasm)

As I Reacted to You

What specifically did your speech mean to me? What touched me and why?
Did you achieve your overall purpose? What was missing?
What can you do specifically to make your next speech a better one?

Evaluator Language

Use personal statements. Use speaker’s name and look her in the eye.
“I felt…”
“It seemed to me…”
“My reaction was…”
“My impression was…”
“I believe…”
“In my opinion…”

Avoid impersonal statements.
“They say…”
“People believe…”
“One must…”

4 B’s of Speech Evaluation

Be clear and focused.
Be positive, specific, and honest. If you liked the speech, explain why.
Be motivational and sensitive. Talk about your desire to hear more from the speaker.
Be concise.

Well, it’s mid-April and Easter and Passover are just around the corner. Here in the Portland area, we’re finally getting into short-sleeve temperatures, the sun is shining brightly in the clear, blue sky, and the flowers are in colorful bloom. We’re all starting to get our groceries at the farmer’s markets again, rather than hitting the closest Fred Meyer. The Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival in Woodburn is in full swing, which means there are acres of gorgeous varieties of tulips just a short drive away. (It’s the perfect background for that new selfie!) And at this moment, I’m staring out my window to take a look at the planter on my balcony. The flowers that I was sure had frozen to death in our uncharacteristic winter have grown back with purple and yellow gusto.

What does this have to do with Toastmasters? Well, it’ll take a couple of steps, but I’ll get you there. What I described in the prior paragraph are events symptomatic of many folks’ favorite season: Spring. Everyone starts thinking about cleaning and organizing, children get a well-deserved week off from school to refresh, people begin thawing out and revisiting nature. It is metaphorically and literally a time of rebirth.


We at Embracing Cultures are simultaneously going through a “rebirth” of sorts. A new Toastmasters term began on April 1st. Our membership and Officer assignments have shifted slightly. The website has been updated to include our current meeting time and location: Saturdays at 10:30 in the white house to the left of the parking lot at 4115 SW 160th Ave, Beaverton, OR 97007.

In addition, we came together last Saturday and recommitted ourselves to the group. We began a Membership Drive in an effort to get some new guests and potentially new members. The Drive will culminate on May 3rd, when we will be holding our Spring Open House! We are very excited for this event, which promises to be a lot of fun. We’ll have some entertaining and informative prepared speeches, as well as a dynamic round of Table Topics. We’ll also be listening to a couple of member testimonials. Here, we’ll learn first-hand what our members have gained through their participation in the club. It should be an impactful and engaging morning. Be sure to arrive hungry, because we will all be bringing dishes representative of our cultural backgrounds. It will be an exotic feast, so bring those adventurous appetites!

We hope to see you in a meeting soon. Feel free to show up any Saturday, or if you have further questions, just shoot us a message.

Effective November 15th, 2012 …

Embracing Cultures Toastmasters meet Thursdays at 6:30 PM

Hillsdale Public Library – Meeting Room #1

1525 SW Sunset Blvd
Portland OR 97239
Conveniently located on  Bus Routes  from Downtown Portland : #44, #45, #54 and #56 – Get off at Stop #955
Conveniently located on common SW Bike Route from Downtown Portland.

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