Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Table Topics Contest

Great news everyone! Last week we have conducted a Table Topics Contest. After the great response we got last year, we have decided to make this our annual tradition.

Each meeting is fun and interesting on its own, but from time to time we want even more emotions, a spirit of contest, communication with other clubs. That is what contests are for: to show what we can do, and to watch others in action! People from different clubs gathered in Lviv this time to compete for the titles of Best Table Topic Master, and Best Table Topic Speaker.

What are Table Topics anyway? Table topics are small impromptu speeches. They are just 2 minutes long, but need to have perfect structure, to be emotional and inspiring.

Table Topic masters announce the rules and general theme for talks. They conduct the show, talking on a subject to help speakers form their own story or a viewpoint, they also make transitions between speakers and their speeches.

This year we had four contestants who prepared their Table Topics sessions. Four judges, two from Lviv, and two from Kyiv, apprised the Best Table Topic Master based on fixed criteria and cold-minded analysis of strengths and flaws of each of four contestants. We paid much attention to fair metrics, so that a cheerful smile and contagious positiveness do not outperform thoughtful preparation and elaborate rehearsal. This is our second contest already (see the Table Topics contest 2009), nevertheless we still see the ways to improve our scale.

A fair democratic voting was our way to let the people’s hearts choose the best Speaker and the Chosen Table Topic Master. This way we made sure that no pure technical trick or weeks of thorough preparation would outperform the natural charm and enthusiasm!

Lyuba Lazarenko was first to present a topic of cartoons. The cartoon heroes we all know appeared in different situations on her pictures. Speakers were asked to describe the story behind the illustrations. All the stories were quite unexpected, and interesting :) And as one of the speakers, I must admit that they were challenging to compose. Only when one tries walking in Table Topic Speaker's shoes, can he understand how brilliant some stories and speakers truly are!

Christina Domashchuk asked the audience to come up with an alternative story based on well-known fairy tales. As in the childhood, the tales were entertaining and had a happy ending. But unlike hearing your grandmother tell the story again and again, knowing every next word, no one could ever guess what comes next! The listeners were roaring with laughter at very unexpected turns of the plots.

Yustyna Holubets was about to found a Total Happiness Organization, and conducted interviews with candidates to the head positions of departments of Confidence, Luck, Success and Creativity. Speakers presented their own ways to run the organization and help people according to their department’s competence. Very thought provoking, the topic has led to interesting ideas and thoughts that make us look at our ways of life from different angles.

And no discussion today can be conducted without trendy social networks! Yuriy Karabach lead the discussion, asked provoking questions, and even called 2 speakers at once to make a sketch on personal communication in an office while facing an impatient deadline. I am personally not a big fan of all the e-social stuff, but the discussion made me consider: maybe it’s worth a second try? It definitely sounded cool!

All the masters were hilarious and creative in their own way, and speakers were a good match to them!

Overall, the contest turned out to be a success. Ancient streets of old Lviv met the first snow, while in the SoftServe’s meeting room Toastmasters enjoyed the cozy atmosphere of friendly talks, stories, and presentations, the rage of a contest, and the joy of sweet victory.

Congratulations to Lyuba Lazarenko, she was chosen by the audience to be the Best Table Topic Speaker!

Congratulations to Christina Domashchuk, she received the Audience Choice Award!

Congratulations to Yustyna Holubets, she was chosen by the jury to be the Best Table Topic Master!

Congratulations to all participants and guests, we had a whole weekend of fun, and that was brilliant! :-)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Games Toastmasters Play

It’s a well-known fact that people come to Toastmasters to learn. It’s also a well-known fact that people come to Toastmasters to have fun :)

And what better way to combine business with pleasure than to practice your English and public speaking skills by playing games? That’s why occasionally we play games at the meetings. There are a lot of speaking games out there and we have tried many of them, until we found two favorite ones, which have the advantage of giving players a great opportunity to use their speaking skills, while being very thrilling and entertaining.

Hide a Word

To play this game, the audience is divided into two teams, and each player gets a piece of paper with a common, fairly everyday use word, which they don’t show to anyone.

Players from each team are then called to the stage in turn to give a one minute speech on a topic provided by the opposing team. The topic can be anything: the weather, fishing, astrology, etc. The key is to use your secret word during this one-minute speech at least once. When the minute is over, the opposing team gets three attempts to guess what the secret word was. If they guess the word, they get a point, and if they don’t guess, then the speaker’s team gets a point.

The trick is to forward your speech in the necessary direction or to slip the secret word into a sentence without going too far off topic; otherwise the opposing team will easily guess it. And here is where your Toastmasters practice comes in handy :)

Of course, the more specific or unusual the topic is, the more difficult it will be for the speaker to use the secret word without going off topic too much, so there has to be a moderator to make sure the topics aren’t completely bizarre.

We usually play a practice round with the game master being the speaker with the secret word and the players giving the topic and trying to guess the word, so that everyone understands the idea of the game.

This game is great for Toastmasters since it develops quick thinking, adept speaking and attentive listening.

Just 1 Minute

Another game we like to play is called “Just 1 minute” and is fairly popular among Toastmasters.

As with “Hide a Word” the audience is divided into two teams. The game master gives one of the teams a topic to speak on and starts the timer. A speaker from this team starts to speak on the given topic and continues until he is stopped by a player from the opposing team. Any player of the opposing team can stop the speaker if he makes any kind of mistake in his speech, like says “um”, takes a pause which is too long, makes a grammatical mistake, or goes off topic. The player who stops the speaker then proceeds to speak on this topic until he makes a mistake and is stopped by the opposing team. The teams continue until the minute runs out. Whoever is speaking at the end of the minute gets a point for their team.

This game is very competitive and thrilling and really keeps you on your toes. It teaches you to think ahead of speaking even when time is limited, producing an eloquent and seamless speech.

Other Games

We are always looking for new ideas to make our meetings even more diverse and interesting, so if you know other speaking games you would like to play at the meeting, don't hesitate and sign up for the Game master role!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Lemberg Toastmasters! We rock! We have 2nd place winner among the best Toastmaster speakers in Ukraine!

Time flies, seems like only a month ago we had our Local Speech Contest held in our club in winter.
We had two winners, Lena Koronenko and Alex Sheremet! According to the rules local winners went to Fifth Annual All Ukrainian Speech Contest to take part, and we won 2nd place! Within 14 participants, our Lena Koronenko won as a second best Toastmaster speaker in Ukraine!

Our warmest congratulations to Lena who brought such an honor to Lemberg Toastmasters club as a 2nd place winner in All Ukrainian Speech Contest. That means that Lemberg Toastmasters have a real potential, and we are proud of having such a professional member in our club.

The Fifth Annual All Ukrainian Speech Contest was organized by Toastmasters clubs in Ukraine and took place in the premises of Master-Klass Cultural Centre in Kyiv on April 25th, 2010. More than 120 people have attended the event and witnessed 14 articulate and very creative speeches delivered by representatives of 7 Toastmasters Clubs.

The winners of the contest were:

First place – Evgenia Poluektova, American Chamber of Commerce Toastmasters Club, Kyiv
Second place – Olena Koronenko, Lemberg Toastmasters Club, Lviv
Third place – Tatiana Lukinyuk, American Chamber of Commerce Toastmasters Club, Kyiv

On the picture: (from left to right)Olena Koronenko, Evgenia Poluektova, Tatiana Lukinyuk.

There were 3 people from our club who took part in the contest:
Lena Koronenko (contestant), Alex Sheremet(contestant) and Yaroslav Kisylychka (judge). I (Olena Derzhko) was lucky to talk to each of them and to get their impressions after visiting such event.

OD: Lena, what did you like the most in the contest?
OK: It is a great opportunity for each speaker to try him/herself in doing your best when competing to be the best public speaker. Such opportunity is of course challenging, but gives you lots of feedbacks: those are learning what it takes to be the winner, practice it and just a pleasure when you perform on a stage when the audience counts more than 100 people, and those are not your friends or relatives. It is all much more serious.

OD: Lena, were you scared to perform? Events of such importance do not happen so often?
OK: No, I wasn’t scared. The main thing, I was prepared and when you are prepared, you have nothing to be scared of.

OD: What are the benefits of participating in such contests for a Toastmaster club member?
OK: It is beneficial for any Toastmaster because you get a chance to speak in front of a large audience, from a big stage, which is it is another experience comparing to speaking in front of your well-known audience of your local members. Plus, you gain completely new skills when you speak among the best speakers, and get to be evaluated by unbiased jury with a really objective opinion about you. And also it is a great chance to meet different Toastmasters, to extend your networking. I consider All Ukrainian Speech Contest as a very great entertaining, even if you don’t go as a speaker-participant.

On the picture: Alex Sheremet delivering his speech

OD: Alex, what are the advantages of taking part in such events like Annual All Ukrainian Speech Contest?

A.Sh.:First of all, there you will see the best prepared speeches, what they should look like. It means fresh ideas and approaches to communicate with people, not just theory, but the best practices. You see what works, and what does not. Also, you meet many new people, and making personal contacts is always good for business and hobby.

The Toastmasters community consists of active people, who are professionals in certain area. It is surprising, how quickly my contact list grows with people I know personally, who can help me in my projects, or suggest being a part of theirs.

And last, but not least, participating in a speech contest is an unmatched experience, it is always exciting, it is a good benchmark of what you really can as an author and speaker.

On the picture: Yaroslav Kisylychka, judge at the contest)

OD: Yaroslav, you participated in Annual All Ukrainian Speech Contest as a judge. Tell us your impressions, what did you like about your role?
Y.K. As a judge I liked to evaluate every separate speaker according to 5 important skills, that a good speaker should have. It is not that hard to evaluate speaker objectively, still it requires some experience of evaluator, and exactly the first 6 speeches allow you to gain the mentioned experience and all the rest is just to polish the things you have learned.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Ha ha! So funny… Applauses! Yahoo! Great! Perfect!

Those are just some of the things you could have heard while passing 52 V. Velykoho St, the usual place for Toastmasters regular meetings, because that's where THE FISRT HUMOROUS SPEECH CONTEST took place on Wednesday, March, 31st, right before April’s Fool Day!
And that was HI LA RI OUS!

Why? Because 6 speakers delivered their funny speeches competing for the first place in the contest. The Chairman of the evening was Yaroslav Kisylychka, who kept the atmosphere of a holiday and all the fun the audience were ready to accept. And we did! We really enjoyed the contest!

First was Alex Sheremet with his speech “Snowboarders vs. Skiers: who rules the slope?” telling and showing us not to judge others until we've been in their shoes. Metaphorically and literally.

Second was Lena Koronenko, explaining how great it is to have a cat, imitating the cat behavior very realistically, persuading us in her speech “9 and a half reasons to have a cat” that having a cat is really worthwhile.

Then Olena Derzhko with her speech titled “Be weird, bright life is here” showed that being weird is really beneficial and funny, as your eccentric look and behavior can give you lots of benefits besides just simple FUN.

After weird Olena, it was Christina Domashchuk's turn, and she told us a “Tale of her life” walking us through all the most interesting milestones of her life, in a very funny and eccentric way.

Fifth speaker was Reno Derosier who shared all the funniest moments of sailor’s job in his speech “Hey, mate”.

And finally Lyuba Lazarenko told us the story of traveling to Jerusalem, almost a script for an adventurous film but produced as a great comedy.

We were happy to greet our winners with the strongest applauses:
3rd place – Lena Koronenko,
2nd – Lyuba Lazarenko and
THE WINNER of the funniest speech according to audience choice – Christina Domashchuk!
Who, by the way, has just become our new Toastmaster member.

Congratulations to all the contestants, chairman and timer, and all the guests because the event was great and very positive!

Lets laugh, let’s be funny, and LIFE WILL BE SUNNY!!!!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Lemberg Toastmasters extends boundaries

Visiting the "Language Step" school was a new, yet very cognitive event in the Toastmasters community. The aim was clear – to get new members by attracting them within an audience struggling to succeed in learning English.

The idea was evoked in terms of PR activity, to promote the club within and audience that expresses interest, like students of language schools.
Having one of our honored guests, Christina Domashchuk, as a teacher in a language school, we gladly accepted her invitation and scheduled the Open meeting in the "Language Step" school for Wednesday, 24th of March.

The meeting was greatly held.
Lena Koronenko as a president did her best to introduce the club to the "Language Step" school students, being a Toastmaster she professionally kept the atmosphere of Toastmasters harmony throughout the meeting.

General evaluators did their best to provide clear and effective evaluations in terms of the clearness of speech, precise timing and correct grammar usage.

The View Point speaker, Dasha Leskiv with her topic "Post-Relationship Friendship: Yes or No", encouraged our guests and old members to talk a lot.
Olena Derzhko with her fascinating speech about famous people of Venice, playing the role of an Italian girl from Middle ages, took everyone on a marvelous journey throughout the ages.

Then Yaroslav Kisylychka organized a 15-minute fun time with his Table Topic questions about the life of a stone on a beach and all the involved people around.

Finally, evaluators of prepared speeches and table topic sessions delivered their objective yet positive evaluations.

Well, applauses and admiring feedbacks were the great result we expected.

Toastmaster, go ahead! New members, new events, new inspiration!

Friday, February 12, 2010

The First Local Speech Contest has taken place in Lviv

Finally! Great event in Lviv!

On Wednesday, the February 3rd, 2010, the very first Local Speech contest was held in Lemberg Toast Masters club. This is annual Toastmasters contest that runs through all levels of the organization. Starting with club-level contests in the early months of the year, contestants proceed through higher levels until reaching the finals at the Toastmasters annual conference. Winners of this contest are awarded the title "World Champion of Public Speaking".

On the occasion of the contest Lemberg Toast Masters gathered a lot of people, TM club members and guests. That was definitely worth coming to watch as a guest and taking part as a speaker-contestant, judge, chairman of the event, and in any other roles those were important.

The first speaker Yaroslav Kisylychka in his speech "The cage for our soul" raised deeply interesting point about reincarnation, talking about the importance of a soul as integral part of a human personality as well as a body that should be kept as healthy as possible to ensure further life of a soul after it is reincarnated. The photo represents how deep subject of a speech keeps a speaker in that philosophical mood far long after the speech is given.

Second speaker was Andriy Mudryy, with his speech "Visiting Vienna", that was actually about how he didn't manage to see anything in the city, being stuck instead in Vienna airport. This was a story about how cognitive it can be to learn how to communicate with people of different ages and ranges.

Third came Lena Koronenko, who amazed us how many things applicable in our real life fairy tells can teach us. “A magic fairy hat” title was reflection of all the tricks and magic approach we can learn from children literature and to apply it in our life.

And the last but not least speaker was Alexander Sheremet with his speech titled "What makes things simple” where he uncovered his personal approach on living life in easier yet very enjoyable way.

The speakers’ efforts in preparing their works were evaluated by four judges with a chief judge Lyuba Lazarenko.

Also special gratitude should be given to counters, Olesya Dzyben and Dasha Leskiv, timer - Alex Andreew and Toastmaster of the event - Olena Derzhko.

Local Speech Contest was a prominent event in Lemberg Toastmasters Community. First of all it marked great enthusiasm of the speakers, who decided to try themselves and to receive award in art of public speaking. Secondly, people having taken all the roles, can be distinguished for their devoted approach to further prosperity of Lemberg Toastmasters club. As a result we are happy and it is great honor for us to have 2 winners, Lena Koronenko (1st place) and Alexander Sheremet (2nd place), who are delegated to take part in All Ukrainian Speech Contest, that will be held in Kiev in spring of the year 2010.

No wonder, that event like the described above not only is followed but just requires a celebration part, and we accomplished that task with the highest grade. Enjoying fascinating discussions and sharing the latest impressions, alltogether with new ideas as a result of fresh inspiration was a good supplement to tasty food and noble alcohol we had on such a great occasion provided by Toast Masters community for its members and followers.