Letters: March 2009

Letters: March 2009

Just Asking
Great article on Ted Sorensen in the January Toastmaster. We in Nebraska are very proud to call him one of ours.

A few years ago on one of Sorensen’s visits to Nebraska, I had the opportunity to ask him if he or John F. Kennedy wrote the words “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”

His answer was: “Ask not!”

All in Toastmasters can learn from him and Paul Sterman’s article.
Jim Otto • Southeast Toasters • Lincoln, Nebraska

Conquering an Old Terror
My terror of public speaking began 20 years ago during my final year of university. I can still recall the total and uncontrollable sense of panic I felt when I realized I would be unable to continue reading in front of my group. It was as if I were being choked and literally unable to speak; I was coated in a cold sweat.

For 20 years I was unable “to get back on the horse” and passed up more promotions and opportunities than I care to recall. Joining Toastmasters nearly two years ago has been a true revelation, and I’m well on the way to finally ridding myself of this debilitating “monkey on my back.” I wish to express my undying gratitude to Toastmasters and especially my club, Riverside, in Brisbane, Australia, for giving me a second chance to be the person I always wanted to be.
Brian Clayton • Riverside Club • Brisbane, Queensland, Australia 

Hearing Strikes a Chord
I like Rick Moore’s suggestions for both the listener and presenter in his article “Speak Up!” (February). As a hearing-impaired listener, I’ve practiced his suggestions. As a hearing-impaired presenter, I’ve been blessed with a resonant voice and receive compliments from hearing-impaired listeners because I know what they are going through.

The author spoke from experience. Hearing aids are very good amplifiers with the downside being all noise is amplified.

One aspect I’d like to add is the speed of the presenter’s delivery. It takes me time to take in what is being said, let my brain process it and then catch the next thought. In my experience, most presenters speak too quickly. (I’m so glad for closed captioning on TV and movies).

Executive meetings in Toastmasters and other organizations are also very stressful. I can’t count how many times I’ve spoken over someone who hadn’t finished speaking, but made the mistake of dropping their voice below my auditory limits. Ouch!
Larry Hurley, ATMB • Bay of Quinte Toastmasters Quinte West, Ontario, Canada 

On the Right Track
I just received my February 2009 issue and I truly appreciate Rick Moore’s article “Speak Up.” Not everyone wants to admit he or she has a hearing problem.

I am reminded of a past speech evaluation from a guest who felt I spoke “too loudly.” While I disagreed with his comments, I did consider the fact that this guest did not know the Toastmasters techniques learned in the basic manual. Neither did this guest know we had a hearing-impaired student in our midst. Even though she wore a hearing aid, members were not speaking as loudly as she needed.

Perhaps the assumption was, “She has a hearing aid. I’m sure she can still hear me.” I think we need to take the audience’s cues seriously, especially if they start cupping their ears or leaning forward to hear what the speaker is saying. Great article!
Martha A. Moore, DTM • GVSU Club • Allendale, Michigan 

Great Suggestions for Any Listener
As a Board Certified Hearing Instrument Specialist, I suggest looking into Wide Dynamic Range Compression (WDRC) hearing aids. These digital signal processors are among the most advanced amplification devices available. Simply put, they make soft sounds (consonants) loud, while loud sounds are compressed. This allows you to hear loud sounds, but your specialist can program how much the hearing aid lets through.

Many new hearing aids come with multiple memories which would allow a specific program just for meetings, lectures, etc. Many public places like airports and theaters are incorporating inductive coil loop systems that communicate directly to your hearing aid.

There are far better options available than cupping your hand over your ear. What you described was consistent with older linear hearing aids, where all sounds are amplified equally. I have not fit a linear hearing aid in years for the reasons you described.
Gene Lipin, ACS • Burbank Toastmasters • Burbank, California 

Thanks for the Timely Advice
Thank you for John Cadley’s recent column, “Big Words, Big Deal.” I especially appreciate his admonition, “If you’re going to use big words, study the master and do it right.”
Cynthia Parkhill, CC • Tenacious Talkers • Lakeport, California