Letters: March 2008

Letters: March 2008

Inconvenient Truth
I look forward to the Toastmaster, or more accurately, I used to.

I personally found your article on Al Gore and his “inconvenient truth” message very political. There is a large part of the population that firmly believe that Gore is full of pomposity and irritation. A lot of these people belong to Toastmasters.

I did not expect this article – which I consider political propaganda – to be in the Toastmaster, though I realize that those who think Gore is not full of nonsense will love the article.

If you are going to say that this is about a public speaking approach, don’t try. However, if you are sincere about a public speaking approach, then I expect a balanced article from the certified scientists who are using a Toastmasters approach as a foundation for convincing people that the inconvenient truth is a myth.

This edition is in the round file.
John Trip, ATM • Ernest Speakers • Burbank, California 

No Political Bias
I was surprised by the letters regarding the “Inconvenient Truth” article (December ‘07). Toastmasters teaches effective communication and leadership. Judging by the world-wide response, Al Gore’s work was well received and produced the desired effect. As a Toastmaster, I watched his presentation carefully, looking for ways to improve my own presentation and persuasion skills.

Toastmasters uses a widely known and celebrated communication model – as a teaching tool, not to make a political statement. I do not believe the magazine was endorsing any political or scientific position. Its staff chose this article as a successful example of a well presented point of view, where the author clearly had the intention to motivate the audience to take positive action (from Mr. Gore’s point of view). The only political bias I saw came from the letter writers, who apparently disagreed with the message. We are members to make us better communicators and leaders. Please leave the political statements for a more appropriate venue.
Scott Redstone • Bullish Expressions Club • New York, New York

Contrary to the opinions in your “Letters” section of the February issue, neither Toastmasters nor any other organization, corporation or individual need treat global warming as an issue that requires debate. One need look no further than last year's Nobel peace prize award as an indication that the scientific community accepts global warming as a reality. The opposing viewpoint will shortly be relegated to the same status as creationism: fringe and lacking any factual basis. It’s time to start acting to save our planet so our children will inherit a livable planet.
John Kerenyi • Moreno Valley Motivators • Moreno Valley, California 

The Secret is Not Science
I think of the Toastmaster as a solid magazine, but Judi Bailey’s article “Visualize Success” (January 2008) was a few bricks short. Bailey claims that, “A principle of energy is that energy of a certain quality or vibration tends to attract energy of a similar quality or vibration.” That principle is from folk traditions, belief systems and spirituality, not science. In science, the opposite ends of magnets are what attract.

The nadir for me was Bailey’s mention of “The Secret,” the philosophy for enlightened narcissists. To believe that “we attract into our lives whatever we think about the most” is to embrace a vicious, corrosive mindset. No one fervently hopes to be poor or deathly ill. People don’t vividly envision being destroyed by natural disasters, wars or genocide.

I hope to see future articles from Ms. Bailey with more transcendent themes.
Cate Bramble, CC • Warner Center Toastmasters Woodland Hills, California 

Stretching the Boundaries of Humor
I really enjoyed John Kinde’s article “Acceptable Humor: The Mark of a Professional” (January 2008). As a Toastmaster who aspires to become a stand-up comic, I’d like to try out my material at a club meeting. I belong to two clubs and they are miles apart from each other on what they consider acceptable humor. My home club is more conservative. It would not be a good idea to practice in front of them.

My second club has a more relaxed atmosphere where banter and humor are always present. This club is unique. We encourage our members to take a risk, go beyond the “accepted” norms of Toastmasters and push our speaking material to the edge and maybe a little bit over it. Two years ago I gave a speech titled “How to Become a Greek Goddess in Five Easy Steps.“ It was a hit but it certainly was not home club material. My suggestion to would- be comics and those who want to stretch the boundaries: Start a club with like-minded Toastmasters and let the creative juices and humor fly.
Rose Beeson, MA, DTM • Well Done! Toastmasters Scottsdale, Arizona

Editor’s Note: The reason Toastmasters International advocates a conservative, “clean” view of what constitutes acceptable content for speech material is that any Toastmasters meeting or contest needs to be a place where visitors can feel comfortable attending without risking being offended by speech content.

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.