Welcome to CTI Techtalkers! We are an open Toastmasters club that is committed to helping our members achieve their communication and leadership goals. We offer encouragement and support, a mentoring program and lots of fun while learning. Guests are welcome.

Meetings are held every Wednesday from 12 noon to 1 pm at 3553-31st St NW, Calgary, AB. Our club meets all year.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Love and Marriage...

Meeting, Wednesday 17th October 2012:
...Go together like a punch to the face...
In attendance: Julie, Simon, Reuben, Kathy, Braden, Helen, Rosario, Jean Francois
Guests: Aldrin, Elena, Claudette

Word of the day: Canny: 
1. Careful and shrewd, especially where one's own interests are concerned.
2. Cautious in spending money; frugal.
Antonym: Uncanny

Today we had an entertaining session. Husband and wife team Reuben and Kathy both spoke. Kathy led out with her icebreaker speech about what you give out, or bring, or some Oprah type stuff. But mainly it told us lots about Kathy.

There was an initial kerfuffle when Kathy had counted on husband Reuben going first and had written a reference into her speech on this fact. Toastmaster Helen pointed out that junior speakers go first. I was in favour of letting Kathy go second, partly because I thought it would be less stress, partly because I hate rules as you all know by now.

I probably should have learnt more from Kathy's speech, but I was busy timing it. It's always hard to listen and do other things. Well, lets face it, as a man...listening is always tough...

What I did learn is that nerves aside, Kathy was eloquent, and intelligent, and we should expect good things in future speeches.

We demand...the 1st speech!

Then we moved on to Reuben, whose speech was about being a Father, and the lessons learnt. He may have said rules, but like the Knights of Ni, suffice to say the 'r' word is one I cannot hear...

Reuben mentioned that if you get your wife pregnant with twins she may just punch you...

There were other lessons about how other peoples children are better behaved. I think they call that Karma Reuben...

Great speeches...and then...a shrubbery...I mean Table Topics.

Jean Francois spoke about spanking his kids, or in his case, biting them in the head; Rosario spoke about life's biggest lesson (take care of your self), Claudette mentioned her thoughts on "best friends", Braden on fighting for his country... (Dulce et Decorum est pro patria mori?....Braden thinks so...; Reuben again on whether all dogs go to heaven.

Our joint winners were newcomer Claudette and Veteran and Club Toastmaster of the Year, Rosario. Congratulations to both...

And now...it is right and proper, as both Horace and Owen said...that I should skiddadle...

Friday, October 05, 2012

Leaving but not totally gone...

Dear CTI members,

This past year has been a glorious ride for CTI: 10th anniversary, President's Distinguished Club, great representation in all the contests, 3 new DTM's. CTI is respected all around Calgary for its accomplishments, for its professionalism and for its warmth. I am proud to be a charter member of this club.

Unfortunately, the time has come for me to move on to other things. Wed just isn't a good day for me, and it's time for me to retrieve my unfinished book from its dark and dusty place in the basement, dust it off and finally get it written. I have thrown out a mountain of procrastination excuses and cleared off my desk.

Thank you to all of you. You have been a very important part of my Toastmaster journey. Your suggestions, encouragement and support have helped me to grow and gain confidence.

It is never easy to say good bye and so I will say "Au Revoir" - until we meet again. While I am not able to come to meetings at CTI on a regular basis, I will come back to visit from time to time. Please let me know when you have special events and I will do my best to come to celebrate with you.

All the best to you as you continue to develop your skills as outstanding communicators and leaders.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Area contest - A smart choice!

Contests. They are a smart choice. See...I could do Smart Technologies jokes all night long.

That said our Area 41 contest was held on October 3rd, 7-9pm at the Smart Technologies building, and most ably too I might add. Smart provided not just contestants, but chief judge, and other functionaries, so thank you Smart.

This being my first 'out of club' contest attended I shall put down my thoughts, which you are welcome to love, loathe, agree or disagree with as you please. :) And if you really disagree feel free to write a rebuttal.

5 clubs represented, namely Smart, CTI Techtalkers, Igniters, Sait Speakers, and U of C.

Firstly Table Topics: with the speakers being Shana, Simon, Jacob, Angela and Kendra.

The topic was "Are Calgary Drivers good drivers or bad drivers?"

I'll start with the winning placings:

1st   Jacob
2nd  Kendra
3rd  Simon

This was a great topic. I believe it was chosen by Darlene Davies who from experience always gives you something you can get your teeth into.

I led out with a comment on how bad the drivers were "excepting the natural born locals on account of my wife". One of the dangers in a topic like this is that you might alienate the judges with your comments, which is something I probably did mildly on this one.

One thing I like to do in situations like this is compare myself and try and guess where I will come. It is however VERY hard to judge yourself, because in the heat of the moment you can't always spot your own mistakes.

I felt I did really well in this contest and was hoping for 2nd place, although 3rd seemed reasonable. I was convinced that Jacob had won, because he spoke so fluently, quickly and had the audience laughing the whole way through. I got some laughs, but sensed his strength.

Ironically Jacob was a last minute ringer as his club colleague Ali never showed up. Stepping in and winning is a great job. Definitely deserving of victory, if he repeats the performance I could see Jacob going a long way.

I thought I might have edged Kendra but would have to see the tape. Mostly this was because she said Calgary drivers are good drivers, which made me think she was either sarcastic or deluded. :) I suspect the judges didn't share my opinion.

Calgary Drivers...

Humorous Speech Contest

with the speakers being Richard, Jacob, Simon, Nandini and Kendra.

Richard's speech was "Monster in Law?"
Jacob: "My life"
Simon: "My life as a teenager"
Nandini: 1st date from hell"
Kendra: "Am I lucky?"

The results were:

1st:  Nandini
2nd: Kendra
3rd: Richard

I didn't place in this one, but if I tell you I'm not surprised will you believe me?

The one thing I regret about contests, which makes me think they are way less useful than Toastmasters meetings, is that you don't get an evaluation back. Without feedback, you can speculate as to what you did badly, or needed to improve on, or what you did well, but you'll never really know.

They (the ubiquitous they, or senior toastmasters attendees) will always tell you contests are important for gaining confidence and honing your speaking. However...I think they might get you in front of new people, which is good for nerves, but without an independent evaluation you are left guessing. My advice: attend your club meetings.

My speech lacked a couple of things. Overworked and overwrought of late I didn't have enough time to practice. This slowed me down, added too many pauses, and disrupted my flow. I can't complain. The old adage of getting out what you put in is true.

That said, I'm funny. At least if feedback is true. Am I a Toastmaster speaker? Definitely not.And I say this with a mixture of pride and belligerence.

I think where my speech lost most in the contest is that it wasn't a "traditional speech". Beginning, body, conclusion, etc. Mine was more of a thematic monologue. I sense that this didn't fit the mold. Perhaps with a joke or two too close to the knuckle. Lack of connection to the judges, and a little irreverence about the Toastmaster process.

The podium places shocked me though. Taking myself out of the equation, so you don't think what I say comes from pure bias; I was shocked at the results. The speeches I thought were funniest by far, and certainly well put together, did not place as well as I expected.

I want to take nothing away from Nandini. She is an excellent Toastmaster. Spot on execution in "The Toastmasters way". Moving across the floor. Check. Eye contact with audience. Check. Beginning, Body, Conclusion. Check. Toastmasters bases covered. Check.

My issue. I think Richard was much funnier. I think Kendra had a natural goofish hilarity that came across well. Did they cover their Toastmaster checkmarks. Sure. My confusion was that the natural jokes and humour didn't win out.

I guess what I'm saying is: I got the Table Topics results perfectly. But for me, a humourous speech should be well presented. But also, dang funny. I suspect my humour and that of the judges differs wildly. I think it's a cultural thing and ne'er the twain shall meet.

Congratulations to all, and I certainly learned a lot! I highly recommend you all to attend the contests yourself to see them in action. Then join me in the pub to argue the subjectivity.


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Humorous Speech Contest

Meeting, Wednesday 26th August 2012:   

A Horse walks into a bar......

In attendance: Darlene, Simon, Geetha, Chris, Kyle, Janet, David, JF, Rueben, Kathy, Rob, Julie, Kevin, Val, and about 7000 other people who did judging and stuff....

Speeches are fun, and they can be funny. Today saw the event of CTI Techtalkers Humorous Speech Contest.

Despite the fact that we have many fun members, just two took part in the contest today. Val "The Beast" Erickson, and Simon "Teenage Brat" Jackson.

Val led off with a funny story about her husbands crappy beater of a truck, nicknamed 'The Beast" and it's role in her son's summer job debacle. Listeners were entertained and surely somewhat sympathetic of the parental plight of paying a fortune for ones offsprings failed work attempts.

Which led neatly into Simon Jackson's speech "My life as a teenager" in which Simon, with very little effort, behaved and parodied the actions of a teenage brat.

The judges, clearly convinced that Simon was a viable teenager in every way, sent him on to the next round.

Results were:
1st Place - Simon Jackson - My life as a teenager
2nd Place - Val Erickson - The Beast Slayer

Photo's to follow :)

Table Topics Contest!!

Meeting, Wednesday 19th August 2012:   

On the spot and hot to trot......Gotta be Glib to Ad Lib...

In attendance: Darlene, Simon, Geetha, Chris, Kyle, Janet, David, JF, Rueben, Kathy, Rob, Julie, Kevin, Val, and about 7000 other people who did judging and stuff....

The formal stuff out of the way, 4 people competed for the CTI Techtalkers Club. Namely Chris Hecker, Julie Wright, Rueben McIntyre, and Simon Jackson.

The question for the participants was "Which is more important, Intelligence or Common Sense?"

As a contestant myself I can't say much about the content of the speeches, because I didn't hear them. For myself I argued that 'there is no such thing as common sense, because sense seems a rare commodity'. Citing drivers on the Deerfoot among other things, I clearly convinced the judges, and thank them for sending me on to the Area contest on October 3rd, held in the SMART Technologies building!

I can ascertain  that all of our club members are great speakers and did us proud! Go CTI Techtalkers!

2nd Place in the Club Contest -Julie Wright (receiving from Contest Chair Kyle Wilson)

1st Place in the Club Contest - Simon Jackson