28 Nov

December 2017: “Winterdorf” & White Elephant Gift Exchange

Dear colleagues and fellow Toastmasters,
in December we will meet for a glas of hot spiced wine in the “Winterdorf” at Rhein Galerie. A doodle survey to find a date / time for as many as possible will be sent out soon.
On our last Toastmasters meeting on Mon 11th December we will have a White Elephant Gift Exchange​. This funny part of our last session in 2017 has become a nice tradition.
Looking forward to see you all in December and again in the new year!
16 Apr

“PS: I Love You” or How I Broke the Ice

A post by our co-blogger and member of BASF Toastmasters Subhamoy Bhattacharya.   
Quite aptly the first speech for a new member in a Toastmasters Club is called “The Ice Breaker“. The competent communication manual mentions that in this “project” the speaker introduces him/herself to the audience and also gives them some information about his/her ambitions/interests and background. Below are some excerpts from the speech I delivered which might be helpful for some future Ice Breakers 🙂

Since I find it a bit awkward in general speaking about “myself” (maybe its a cultural aspect I am still to overcome), I decided to narrate a few anecdotes from my life and in the process outline my experiments with public speaking in the short 6 minute speech cryptically titled: P.S. I Love You

My first experience in public speaking came at the early age of a few days. A week after my birth I was “displayed” in front of my relatives and since I was too overwhelmed by all the attention, I didn’t manage to “say” anything. My audience returned disappointed. Lesson learnt: “Audience is everything, keep them engaged”.

My second experience came during my school days in Kolkata (India) when I for the first time faced a “real” audience for the inter-class debate competition. I was selected to represent my class and had 7 days to prepare a speech and deliver in front of a 50 member strong audience. Sounds like an easy job now, but would have been impossible had it not been for my first unofficial speech writer: Dad. He wrote, I learnt and delivered on D-Day the mugged up version. The audience cheered, I came second and learnt the second lesson: In a speech “Content is king”.

With experience and exposure, I very soon was a confident debater still mostly using learnt material to deliver speeches. This changed one fine day when in a fit of excitement during an external visit to another school I forgot my lines. I stumbled, fumbled and luckily could come up with something completely new but thankfully relevant to the theme faring not so bad in the end. I learnt pretty quickly my lesson this time: A good speech should have elements of “Improvisation”.

The next lesson I learnt came during my days in College when as part of the Dramatics team I used to stage plays and sometimes used improvisation in the dialogue delivery styles to make the audience laugh. With the limited independence I got in terms of improvisation during those days I realised interestingly that I derived energy from the laughter of the audience and an aspect I later successfully transferred to my speeches as well. Lesson learnt: “Humor” is to a speech what oxygen is to life.

My final learning experience so far was at the Inter-University debate competition when in a foreign location, devoid of supporters and in front of other seemingly favourite speeches I stuck to the basics, incorporated the above elements and still came out on top. Lesson learnt: “A good speech never fails”.

When people ask me, despite all these experiences so far why I joined Toastmasters, I put on the table two primary reasons:

  • A quote by my favourite public speaker: “Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish” (Steve Jobs, Stanford University Commencement address 2005).
  • The title of this speech itself: “Public Speaking: I Love You

picture:  Rolf Handke  / pixelio.de / Image-ID: 441778

23 Mar

Make them say “Yes” (1/2)

By experimental research Robert Cialdini found out major principles of persuasion. He focussed on the behavior of   “compliance professionals”, e.g. people working in sales, adertising or marketing. People working in these fields find themselves often in a position where they have to persuade their vis-à-vis for a positive decision.

Usually a speaker isn’t in such a “dialogue” situation, but she / he also wants to convince the audience of an opinion or make them agree to the speech content. So why not try to adapt Cialdini’s principles of persuasion to your speech?

Reciprocation or “give & take”

It’s human nature that we respond to try to react in a corresponding matter to someone’s (friendly) gesture or action. This principle is used in sales – you get a taster or a freebie and feel obliged to buy a product or service. As a speaker you usually would not scatter little presents among your audience like pens or pocket lighters.

But sometimes you have prepared a handout of your presentation anyway. So why not handing it on to your audience with a remark like “It was an additional effort for me to prepare this handout / paper but I thought it might be useful for you.” May be you have arranged an object of demonstration or a special simulation to support your speech. Talk about it: “Especially to make it clear for you I have this and that, I hope you like it”. Receiving a “gift” like this makes your audience feel that they are in your debt. The need to “repay” can lead them audience to agree, for example if you need acceptance of a proposal or a project.

Commitment and consistency or “yes, yes, yes”

Once we are dedicated or used to an activity or an attitude we usually remain constant to it. Quite the same is with opinions or commitments.  The challenge is to find a basic opinion or question the audience will easily approve. Have a look at your them main idea or assumption of your speech, is there a part in it acceptable for everyone? Then you can build on this first acceptance and create a chain of agreements that lead to your request.

Let’s make a simple example. If you want to convince your audience to exchange conventional bulbs to energy-efficient lamps you probably won’t succeed with a statement like “You should exchange every bulb in your household immediately!”.  Instead try this one

  1. For sure reduction of CO2 emission is a major challenge of our society.
  2. Do you agree that energy efficiency is a key factor for reduction of CO2 emission?
  3. And everyone can contribute to make energy consuptiom more efficient.
  4. Even small measures are helpful.
  5. It’s clear that it’s up to each and everyone of us to each do something about it.
  6. So a change to a change to energy-efficient lamps can be implemented easily by everyone.

Social proof or “success by imitation”

Our behaviour is mostly orientated to successful patterns we already know. Feeling uncertain about an issue we try to follow proven examples and decide in accordance.

Ask yourself: How do recommondations for a product or a service affect your personal buying decision? So by mentioning successful examples of similar cases in a speech your audience will follow the suggestions you make. Try to provide cases where the concept or the ideas of your presentation were already effective.

S. Hofschlaeger  / pixelio.de
Thommy Weiss  / pixelio.de

28 Feb

Starting the new Toastmasters blog

In this blog, we want to let you know some information about Toastmasters, advice on improving your public speaking qualities and pointers on how to develop leadership skills. “The Art of Communication Is the Language of Leadership (James Humes)” — according to this motto content will include:

  • The development of BASF Toastmasters club,
  • news and stories that focus on improving yourself in communication and leadership that we come across
  • our personal experiences and ideas and the structure and organization of Toahttp://www.librarything.com/author/humesjamescstmasters International as well as its activities in the Rhein-Neckar-Region.

Variety is guaranteed because experienced Toastmasters from our fellow club in Mannheim and strong supporters of our club, will contribute as guest bloggers. Furthermore everyone of our community is welcome to join in and provide a blog post!

Looking forward hearing from you, your BASF Toastmasters team!

07 Jan

BASF Toastmasters in 2014

Dear colleagues and Toastmasters,

best wishes for 2014! Perhaps one of your New Year’s resolutions is to improve your communication skills? Well, you will have to be patient until the end of January because our first meeting this year will be on Monday 01/27.

Everyone is welcome and will participate actively e.g. in Table Topics, presenting the joke of the evening or giving valuable feedback. As a Toastmaster you can proceed in the competent communication program by presenting a prepared speech.

As we want to become a regualar Toastmasters Club: Please spread the word by forwarding this message. Let us know if you need some hardcopies of flyers or material to promote our club to your fellow colleagues.

03 Jan

That’s worth mentioning: New Year’s resolutions

Thinking about a professional development, organising a family reunion, a new hobby? How about becoming a Toastmaster and improving your public speaking skills?

Twice a month members of BASFToastmasters improve their communication skills in many ways. Every club member works step by step through the program of competent communication and competent leadership at his / her own pace. This way everyone becomes more confindent in talking in front of a group. The feedback by every member and the speech evaluations help to identify opportunities for improvement and existing rhetorical skills. Furthermore speaking spontaneously can be learned by participating in Table Topics — short impromptu speeches given on a keyword or a question.

BASFToastmasters belongs to Toastmasters International. Toastmasters was founded in 1924 in the United States. The well-proven Toastmasters concept allows you to learn communication and leadership . Membership in a Toastmasters club is unique and different from other offers of rhetoric training. Good news: If you want to join BASFToastmasters, you only have to pay as little as 6 EUR a month.

Every BASF employee who is interested to get to know Toastmasters is welcome to visit us. Our regular meetings in 2014 start on January 27th. From that on we me meet on the 2nd and 4th Monday each month.

19 Sep

BASF Toastmasters starts successfully

On Sep 12th 2013 the Toastmasters at The Chemical Company had the very first meeting. With strong support of Mannheim’s Toastmasters the organizers were able to set up a full agenda. In a positive and friendly atmosphere people who are new to Toastmasters could experience the different parts of a Toastmasters’ evening.

By answering the question “Which item, object or matter has played an important role to you during the last days?” in our round table everybody could improve his / her speaking skills. Furthermore some of the participants had the opportunity to take part in a table topic session. Simple but striking was the idea of our Table Topic Master: Handing over a coin she asked the participant what happened to him / her in the year of the coinage — interesting and entertainig stories came out.

Hye Jin and Patricia presented different speeches of the manual “Competent Communication”. The audience could listen to the experience when visiting Germany for the first time and finding out that there is so much more to discover than just poets and thinkers. Furthermore we learned how ones posture can influence the self confidence.

BASFToastmasters will continue the series of meetings to start a club at BASF. Everyone is welcome to join and to make the Toastmasters experience.

04 Aug

Improve your public speaking skills at BASFToastmasters

Get to know Toastmasters International and the regular club meetings held on site at BASF in Ludwigshafen. During our first evening sessions we want to explain the idea behind Toastmasters and show how you can improve your public speaking skills. Each meeting will include

  • a warm up session to get to know each other,
  • Table Topics ® short impromptu speeches presented by the participants (no preparation in advance needed),
  • prepared speeches presented by experienced Toastmasters,
  • feedback on prepared speeches,
  • more information about Toastmasters International.

Meeting information:
Thu Sep 12th, 2013
Thu Sep 26th, 2013
Mon Oct 14th, 2013
Mon Oct 28th, 2013
starting at 6:15 pm for a duration of about 1 1⁄2 hours;
BASF SE, Ludwigshafen,
C104, room 240 (2nd floor), next to gates 1/2/7.
If interested, please contact us by e-mail or phone.