Letters: July 2008

Letters: July 2008

Letters to the Editor

The Best Mike for the Job
Many thanks for the article taking the “dress for success” concept to new heights. I took special note of the box “Miked for Sound” (April).

As the “sound guy” for many district events, I take extra care to be certain that speakers are properly set to be heard. You can guess how many times contestants have lost points because they became overly excited and popped the mike off their collar, becoming nearly mute to many in the audience.

Although I provide several types of mikes, I always recommend using the wireless mike, and I brief the contestants on its proper use. Often, experience is the best teacher and Toastmasters events are the best learning opportunities.
Craig W. During, ATMB • AeroVision Toastmasters, Club 4419 • El Segundo, California 

Speaking Paradoxically
We are consistently admonished in the Competent Communicator manual to eschew words of many syllables in our speeches. Words of one syllable are heavily promoted as most effective. One assumes that these short, plain, Anglo Saxon words would be satisfactory for all communication. Most of the others are derived from Greek, Latin and French. Each of these languages was considered necessary for an American High School education in the past.

My dilemma is this paradox we face: Toastmasters are also encouraged to increase our vocabularies at every meeting with our Word of the Day segment. The Vice President Education specifically appoints a member to present an intriguing but not exotic word at each meeting.

Enhancing our vocabularies appears to be considered meritorious. Nevertheless, the more successful the Word of the Day, the more words we have to cross out when preparing our speeches.

What a perplexing, baffling, inexplicable puzzle! An enigma without parallel!
Peggy A. Caselle, DTM • Savvy Speakers • Syracuse, New York 

Saluting the ‘Sergeant’
I am a “lifer” Sergeant at Arms for my Toastmasters club (I’ve spent eight years in that officer role to date). Ernest Ray Raynor III, the author of the article “Leadership Through Service” (April 2008), said it all and said it well, in respect to the best practices of the Sergeant at Arms role: “Toastmasters should be an oasis of order and purpose amidst the chaos and confusion outside our meeting halls.” Thank you for a long overdue article on this key club-officer role.
Rosemary Wilson, ACS • Midtown Clayton Toastmasters • Clayton, Missouri 

Voicing Gratitude
At 65 years of age I joined Toastmasters. I was in the hospital for more than six months with traumatic brain injury and a few other serious symptoms, and was told to retire. I did retire but did not like it and looked for a few other things to do. Toastmasters has taught me communication skills and I like it a lot. Thanks for what you are doing.
Jim Davis • South Suburban Toastmasters • Littleton, Colorado 

Fewer vs. Less
As a new Toastmaster, I would like to say how much I enjoyed my first experience of the Toastmaster magazine. I did feel compelled to write in to point out a grammatical point that has been passed down from generation to generation in my family as our sacred duty to correct whenever this common mistake is made. I am often branded as a pedant for this obsession but cannot help drawing attention to [this mistake], even though I make many myself.

This grammatical point is the use of the word less instead of the word fewer. The word fewer should be used whenever something is countable. The word less is for a single thing. You can have less money but you have fewer notes. You can have less hair but fewer hairs. You can have less shopping but fewer items. The instructions on the Letters page of the magazine should therefore read: “Write it in 200 words or fewer...”
Marc Delesclefs • London Corinthians Kensal Green, London, United Kingdom

Editor’s Note: You raise a good point. However, some distinguished grammarians (Bill Walsh, chief copy editor at the Washington Post, for example), maintain the use of the word “less” is acceptable in this context. Grappling with grammar rules is always a challenge! 

Article is Letter Perfect
I’ve been a Toastmaster for many years, and generally read all the articles in each month’s issue of the Toastmaster. The article “Better Presentations from A to Z” by Carol Smith White (May 2008) was one of the very best I’ve read in this publication, or any other publication. It occurs to me that such a well-written article takes considerable effort to create, so I wanted to commend the author for her effort, and thank the Toastmaster for including it. All Toastmasters can benefit greatly from the practical tips and pointers Dr. White packs into three pages, from beginner members to seasoned ones. Anyone who did not read it should do so. Anyone who did read it should read it again.
Tom Fredricks, ATMG, CL • Mad Toasters • New York, New York

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.