Letters: October 2008

Letters: October 2008

Letters to the Editor

Right Brain Activity=Toastmasters
I need to thank Jim Davis for his letter about how Toastmasters helped him recover from a traumatic brain injury (“Voicing Gratitude,” July). I am an RN Life Care Planner, which mean I make out the costs for future medical care and life needs for those who are catastrophically injured – many of whom have traumatic brain injuries. I have never even thought of including the cost of Toastmasters membership in these plans – even though I have been a member for over 10 years and know the benefits.

I had those benefits filed in the TM part of my brain, which is different from my RN brain part – thank you, Jim, for creating a bridge between the two. And my future Traumatic Brain Injuries patients will thank you too! Good luck with your continued recovery.
Jill Aggersbury ATMS, AL • Firetalkers Club • Novato, California

Build a Smart Chart
The informative article “Giving Effective Financial Presentations with PowerPoint” by Sally Herigstad (July) contains much useful advice.

However, the two charts accompanying this article illustrate some potential pitfalls. The bar chart confusingly includes a “total” column, the effect of which is to compress the other bars, resulting in a less readable chart. It is also unnecessarily cluttered by the inclusion of two decimal places on the vertical scale (a scale that increases in tens of thousands). The line chart shortens the vertical scale, rather than starting at zero, giving the misleading impression of large increases.

For Toastmasters wishing to present data with impact, go beyond the software defaults to design your charts well – your audience will appreciate it.
Damien G. Raftery • Carlow Toastmasters • Carlow, Ireland 

A Toastmasters Ear
Having arrived in the U.S. more than a year ago, I have been fortunate enough to witness the run up to the presidential elections.While the media makes much ado of the eloquence of candidates, little is done to analyze their “Table Topics” skills in, for example, question-and-answer sessions.

Listening, as a Toastmaster, reveals time fillers, ‘ahs’ and ‘ums’, limited use of metaphors, repetitious phrases and an inability to close the topic out (although this itself may be a skill!) which added together, for me, detract from the overall delivery. I assume the candidates receive training in impromptu speaking – but, by whom? Are they Toastmasters? It seems the [candidates] need assistance from TMI.
Darren Murphy, CL • Shell Toastmasters • New Orleans, Louisiana 

Stop at the Summit Before You Plummet
While reading Paula Syptak Price’s article “Cut!” (July) about how to make speeches shorter, it finally dawned on me that the articles I’ve been reading in the Toastmaster magazine are actually speeches. The organization, flow, succinctness and content are all characteristic of good speeches.

Shortly after reading the article, I was approached by my local Kiwanis club and asked to speak about my mountain climbing experiences. The club said that I could speak for as long as I wished. Of course, I won’t talk forever – I’m a Toastmaster – but I will use the information in Price’s article to help me stay focused and succinct. Most importantly, I will use a very limited number of examples or stories to make my selected points. The timing of this article was perfect for me. I suppose I’d better stop here; I’ve made my point.
Art Huseonica • Kritikos Club • Odenton, Maryland 

Significance of the ‘Sergeant’
I can hardly explain how much I enjoyed reading the article “Sergeant at Arms: Leadership Through Service” by Ernest Ray Raynor III (June) on the importance of the Sergeant at Arms in a Toastmasters club.

I have never held the office, but I am sometimes shocked when people tell me they think it is a position of lesser importance. In fact, Raynor pointed out that the Sergeant at Arms has a great part of the club’s responsibilities. And for this I really thank him.
Valandie Kimberly, CTM, CL • Club Phare Nazon • Port-au-Prince, Haiti

Tribute to Jo Anna McWilliams
Thank you for the lovely tribute to Past International President Jo Anna McWilliams (October). She was an intelligent and special lady filled with warmth, class, charisma, charm, eloquence, humor and grace. I will treasure our friendship and will remember her warm smile, inspiring leadership and how she lived her theme, “Friends Helping Friends Succeed.”

Her theme describes the essence of Toastmasters and helped me, in turn, to inspire our team to earn the Distinguished District award. She touched my life and many others. She will be greatly missed but never forgotten.
Steve Kennedy, DTM, PDG • Leading Knights • Burien, Washington

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.