Letters: June 2008
Tips: Toward a Transcending Ending
Bob Leo’s tip to spend five or 10 minutes preparing for Table Topics “Mastering Table Topics,” (April 2008) defeats the purpose, at least from the point of view of my club here in Brussels. As we use it, Table Topics is supposed to help you learn to think on your feet. We seldom have a theme, so the topics can be widely disparate, not to mention bizarre.
My best Table Topics tip under these circumstances is: Aim for the finish. Since the topics are virtually always a total surprise, you never know how you are going to start your talk. Therefore, devote your time to thinking about how you are going to end it. This sets a target, so however much you may meander until then, your path down the home stretch will be straight and true.
There is nothing like a firm, confident finish to give the impression that you knew what you were talking about all along, even if you didn’t.
Philip Yaffe • Claddagh Toastmasters • Brussels, Belgium
A Gender Offender
Neil Chethik’s article, “Speaking to an All-Women Audience…When You’re a Man” (April 2008) lost me at “...I’m not on the prowl.” I found much of his advice demeaning to women and thoroughly unhelpful. Some of the generalizations I found troubling were: “…women don’t like to be pelted with facts” and “Some women are initially suspicious of a man who assumes authority....”
If women are interested enough in a subject to pay to see someone speak about that subject, they don’t care whether the speaker is a man or woman, they want facts, and they don’t want to listen to a man who thinks he’s so appealing he must first establish his marital status to prevent swooning. The insert giving advice for women was below par as well. It assumes all women are diminutive, wear clothing to make themselves appear sexy, are over-dramatic Valley Girls, and will get their feelings hurt if the audience doesn’t over-react to their speech.
I find most of the articles in your magazine very helpful and interesting, which is why I was doubly disappointed about this particular one.
Jeanette Bartley • State Farm Speakeasy Toastmasters Club Bloomington, Illinois
The shocking generalizations Neil Chethik makes in his article left me speechless (no pun intended). I often speak to audiences dominated by females, and never once have I had to question my speaking skills or presentation techniques. I’m not sure if Mr. Chethik knows this, but women are (brace yourself), human beings.
I don’t deny that a male speaker needs to be careful using certain types of humor in front of a female audience, but anyone who is even contemplating potentially offensive jokes in front of any audience simply should not be speaking. Such glaring stereotypes as “the odds are against” a man getting a laugh from an all-female audience is blatantly offensive.
Please remember that all male speakers can treat the women they stand in front of with the same respect and professionalism they would give to any audience.
Dan Bocchino • IEEE Livewires • Piscataway, New Jersey
Switzerland to the Rescue
It’s always a treat when the Toastmaster appears in my mailbox. However, a graphic in the last issue (March 2008) made me grimace.
In “Remedy for a Lifeless Speech,” there’s a Swiss passport lying on top of the stethoscope. Most likely, you were confusing it with the Red Cross, symbolized by a red cross on a white background. However, a white cross on a red background is the national flag of Switzerland.
As a member of a Swiss Toastmasters club, I found this both amusing and sad. While it’s fun to get some publicity for this beautiful country, it’s a pity that people confuse the nation with the medical organization.
Susan Vogel-Misicka, CC • Zug Toastmasters Club Zug, Switzerland
Editor’s Note: Many apologies for this embarrassing oversight.
President Chris Ford on TV
How thrilled I was this morning, Tuesday 15th April, to see our International President being interviewed on a local Australian television station.
I live in a very rural part of Australia, a four-hour drive from Sydney and two and half hours from Canberra, where the nearest Toastmasters clubs are located. This is too far for an 80-year-old lady to travel to attend meetings, but yet I still retain my membership via the Eurobodalla Shire Club at Moruya.
It was wonderful to hear Mr. Ford. His manner was so easy and friendly and I heartily endorse his message that shaping yourself can shape the world.
Thank you, Mr. Ford, for taking the time from what, I am sure, must be a very busy schedule to talk on our television sets so that we who live in rural Australia can see and hear such a very nice man.
Coral M. Ordish, ATMB • Islander Club • Berridale, NSW, Australia