Letters: February 2008

Letters: February 2008

Letters to the Editor

Rules Rule!

I enjoyed Judi Bailey’s article on “Handling the Hostile Crowd” (September), especially the part about laying out the parameters ahead of the talk. I attended a speech on a particularly controversial subject and the presenter announced that she would take no questions until she had finished, explaining that there would be plenty of time to answer them at the end of the meeting.

One frustrated audience member asked why. The speaker said she wanted to give the complete talk so that everyone understood her project. She stuck to her rule and got her points across while the questioners [later] got their points across. The meeting went smoothly.
Bob Ziller • New Richmond Toastmasters New Richmond, Wisconsin 

Sifting Through the Site
Although it’s taking time to get used to, I’m starting to like the new Web site. I’ll look forward to digging into it more in the coming weeks!
Major Mark Pearson • 1500 Speakers Toastmasters Arlington, Virginia 

Three Cheers for Bad Ears
I just wanted to say thank you for the very entertaining article by Marion Amberg (December). Oh, how it made me laugh!

I thought I was the only person who misheard things. It has caused my husband endless frustration – that is, when it hasn’t had us in fits of laughter! I could really relate to Marion’s plight and am relieved to know there are others in this boat.
Karen Rowell • Five-O-Five Club • Melbourne, Victoria, Australia 

Not a Monster-In-Law
Since no one else has responded about John Cadley’s article titled “Some Free Advice” (October), I will. I try to keep a sense of humor, a sort-of ‘perspective without prejudice,’ since I became a mother-in-law. But I really believe Mr. Cadley’s analogies were a little over the top. Do we really need, in the official publication of an organization such as ours, an offensive lumping-together of mothers-in-law with castor oil, shingles, root canal treatment, income tax and lima beans? Sorry, but I don’t see the humor there, I just see a perpetuation of an unnecessary and unattractive concept – the mother-in-law as ogre.
Alison Watson, DTM • Southern Cross University Club Lismore, New South Wales, Australia 

A Judge With a Grudge
I’ve read every issue of the Toastmaster since joining in the fall of 1990. This article piqued my interest because speech contests are a passion of mine. As Chief Judge for District 42, I was horrified by Cliff Suttle’s comments in “Size Up Your Audience” (December 2007). He writes:

“Some clubs and club contest judges already understand that they are looking to advance someone to the next level who can win at the next level. These clubs and judges may be looking for the big speech as opposed to the smaller, flatter speeches.”

As judges, we are to judge – without prejudice – the current speech on the current day. We are to judge according to the criteria for the contest without consideration of who the speaker is, how they have performed in the past or speculation on the future. All Toastmasters judges training I have ever attended has emphasized this point.

To consider what the contestant “might” do at another level appears to me a blatant contradiction of the code of ethics. If this is happening within Toastmasters, I trust that we can do more to educate our judges so that it is stopped immediately.
Connie Paus, DTM • Wild Oats Toastmasters Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada 

“Inconvenient Truth” Politically Biased
I admit that I am fascinated by the power of propaganda and the speaking skills required to achieve action from it. However, I’m a bit surprised that the Toastmaster would present the politically biased piece “An Inconvenient Truth” (December) without providing appropriate balance.

Theories presented in the book and movie are controversial and not completely accepted by the scientific community. The article did have good presentation suggestions, but I expected a far less political charged piece from this organization.
Lisa M . Madsen, Ph.D., ATMB • Pall Toasties • Port Washington, New York

I disagree with the Toastmaster’s editorial decision to devote space to Al Gore’s presentation, “An Inconvenient Truth.” Even if we disregard the questions about his credibility (his excessive personal energy use; his profiting from the purchase of “carbon offsets,”) and his information (the disputed “hockey stick” graph; a misleading photo of supposedly “stranded” polar bears,) we are stuck with his statement “The debate is over.”

Gore’s continuing campaign to stifle opposing voices would seem to make him the antithesis of what Toastmasters represents – a training ground to help its members speak their minds.

Aristotle’s advice on rhetoric recommended that the speaker convey emotion, logic and credibility. Al Gore and his presentation appear inadequate in two of the three. The magazine space could have been devoted to more useful material.
Kyle Word • Toasters Toastmasters • Lubbock, Texas>

Do you have something to say? Write it in 200 words or less, sign it with your name, address and club affiliation and send it to letters@toastmasters.org.