Liberty Village Toastmasters Meeting Minutes Jan 11th, 2012

Written by Ted Blanchard ALB ACG

The meeting was opened and the podium passed to the Toastmaster for the evening John Krissilas. John introduced the theme for tonight’s meeting and shared his thoughts on The Power of Design.

John Launched us out of the gate in this the first meeting of 2012 with a topic that is close to my heart, that of design. And what it is about good design that makes is so powerful. In his introduction he referenced a modern icon Steve Jobs and showed us just how much import Steve Jobs gave to design. All he wanted control over on the entire autobiography was the cover.

John then told us about why the idea of the power of design was so interesting to him and what the pay off was for all of us. He talked about the approach that designer’s use and why that has so much application to so many endeavors.
He referenced a book called Designing for Growth which identified and elaborated on the three key aspects of the designer approach that contributed to its power.
They are as follows:
(1) Empathy: Designers empathize with their audience as human beings. They understand how they’re thinking and feeling and design solutions based on that. For Toastmasters, that means always remembering to develop and present your speeches for a human audience—tailoring them to how your audience thinks and feels.
(2) Iteration: Designers expect to continually improve their solutions through ongoing feedback and experimentation. Bit by bit, they add to and take away from an experience to make it better. For Toastmasters, that means always remembering that your speech is never finished or set in stone—every new edit or rehearsal is a chance to make it better.
(3) Inspiration: Designers aim to grab their audience at an emotional level. They aspire to surprise, delight, and elevate their audience’s response to the next level. For Toastmasters, this means always trying to inspire your audience to feel something and connect with you on an emotional level.
A very compelling case for the power of the design approach and how each of us are affected by and can utilize its inherent power.
In closing John asked us to consider using these three principals in our speeches and our presentations and with a pinch of luck we might just become as good a presenter as Steve Jobs was.
Great kick off to the new year!
Thanks John.

Speaker One: Julian Humphreys
Project 7 Research Your Topic
Title: The importance of soft skills for you and your organization

Julian delivered a very insightful presentation accompanied by slides that dealt with the idea that soft skills are the most important skills you can develop and they are in fact the most sought after by employers. In fact so powerful are soft skills that Julian proposed that in fact soft skills can save the world!

He gave us a great definition of soft skills and used the negative form to illustrate it. Soft skills are not technical skills or domain specific skills – accounting skills, computer programming skills, engineering skills, or any other skill we normally associate with our job title. Soft skills are in fact are non-domain specific, non-technical skills that allow us to interact with each other in emotionally and socially wise

Following that clear and supported illustration of what soft skills are Julian showed us why he meet his objectives with this presentation as Project 7 of the Competent Communications manual requires the presenter to carefully support the main points and opinions with specific facts and examples gathered through research and Julian did not disappoint. He researched and shared that in 2001 a book titled “Lessons from the Top” headhunters suggested that soft skills were 80% of the drivers of success professionally. He told us that a 2009 survey of HR professionals showed that soft skills play a key role in the hiring decision in 70% of cases.

He then shared the results of another study from 2009 that listed the top ten soft skills and we found out that the number one soft skills is the ability to turn a negative situation into a positive one! Ultimately he suggested that people with the top ten soft skills are arguably as important to saving the world from the effects of global warming as are the best technical scientist.

In closing Julian left us with this thought. Soft skills are important to us, to the organizations that we work for and with and in fact they are critical to the world in which we live.

Great work Julian

Speaker 2 Francisco Altares
Project 8 Get Comfortable With Visual Aids
Title: The Happiest Baby in Liberty Village

Francisco delivered – please excuse the pun 😉 a newborns journey to happiness and shared the insights on how to help your baby, in this case Franklin be the happiest baby possible. I arrived at the meeting around 6pm to see the proud parents taking a backseat to the little sleeping beauty Franklin! Apparently he is a bundle of joy and cute as a button when he’s sleeping but like all babies a real emotional challenge when they’re unhappy. And this formed the basis of the insightful and informative presentation on how to help calm a fussy baby.

Francisco shared a book with us by author Dr Harvey Karp titled The Happiest Baby Book that he has studied. Dr Karp is a nationally renowned pediatrician, child development specialist and Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the USC School of Medicine. He completed medical school training at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in NYC, pediatric residency at Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles and fellowships in ambulatory pediatrics and child development at UCLA.

In pediatric practice, for almost 30 years, Dr. Karp has taught thousands of parents, from working moms to superstars like Madonna, Michelle Pfeiffer and Pierce Brosnan his secrets for soothing colic, boosting infant sleep, reducing tantrums, promoting patience and …making parents and children happy. The premise of Dr Karp’s system to have the happiest baby in the world is the idea of emulating the womb experience for the new born.

The system Dr Karp outlines breaks down in 5 keys components. The first is Swaddling. As Francisco shared the idea is to wrap the baby tightly and brought in a Swaddling wrap to show us. The idea is to confine moment much like a womb would. The second is Side/Stomach. This is the feel good position for baby. The third is Shhhh. This is the most soothing sound as it mimic’s the sounds baby hears in the womb. The fourth is Swinging and again it mimic’s the familiar motion that baby experienced in the womb as mom moves about. The final is Sucking which represents the icing on the cake. I think you can figure out why this is a real comfort 😉

Using props and a home video showing the proud father utilizing all the 5 techniques we saw the real promise of parenthood. That is the selfless focus and complete unwavering dedication to another who completely relies on you. This is a life reset and one that was shared with honesty, humour and a well earning patina of fatigue.

Congratulations Francisco on the arrival of baby Franklin! It was a great day in your life. It was a life changing day for you and your wife.
A great presentation Francisco!

Speaker 3 Arvind Karir
Project 1 Story Telling – The Folk Story
Title: Not the Rabbit in the Moon

Arvind has begun another stage in his Toastmasters journey at Liberty Village by selection his first advanced manual – Story Telling and we were entertained by a Folk Story about – no not the Rabbit in the Moon but in fact a folk story about a guru his daughter and how a boy of modesty won her hand in marriage by being self aware. The story was full of rich imagery and was a fascinating and timeless allegory – applicable to our time and place.

The story was set up in great detail; the history of the type of tale and all sorts of wonderful descriptive alliteration’s helped us understand the style particular to these tales. Arvind used this narrative form to create a wonderful rhythm to the speech and it was very effective in helping us construct the world he was describing in our minds.

The tale is essentially about the wise Guru who was sought out by boys so that they could be taught important lessons and knowledge the Guru could teach them. He would impart priceless life instruction and the boys would journey through a right of passage in essence and become men.

All the boys were instructed by the Guru to go out and steal objects of value from across the village and bring them back to him. The one condition was that no one was to see them stealing. There must be no witnesses. So all the boys proceeded to do just as the Guru had asked and went about the task. They all went out and did as the Guru requested. Each stole something of value, careful that no one saw and each brought their spoils back to the Guru and presented the treasures to him. All except one.

Gold coins, silks, precious stones and more. The treasure piled high at his feet, the Guru saw the last boy arrive empty handed. Wisely the Guru asked the boy why he did not do as he had been instructed and the boy said that he could not steal without anyone seeing because in fact he could see himself stealing so he could not do as the Guru instructed. He knew in his heart that it was wrong.

So in the end this one boy won the Guru’s daughter’s hand because of his conscious and that was the story within the story. The key take away message of the speech. We are as a society killing our conscious. Arvind then directly asked us to consider doing as the boy had done and not stealing – be true to our conscious, listen to it and be guided by it.

A wonderful story telling speech!
Nice work Arvind.

Table Topics were facilitated by Maria Lalla and where wonderfully handwriting on special sheets and we’re challenging. None the less Stephanie, a guest, didn’t hesitate to take part! Well done Stephanie.

The Table Topics session was followed by the General Evaluation session, including speech evaluations and reports. The chair surveyed the guests for comments and we got very good feedback. It seemed everyone was suitably impressed and out Table Topics guest Stephanie in fact decided to take the plunge and join the club! Way to go Stephanie. She will be inducted next meeting as well she will be doing her Ice Breaker speech. No point in waiting! Congratulations.

The meeting was completed and closed by the Chair at 8:15pm

About libertyvillagetm

Liberty Village Toastmasters is one of Toronto’s premier public-speaking groups.
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