Lessons from New Members

This week I found myself at my home club fulfilling the role of Table Topics Master. It was a role I had done many times before: think of questions (preferably related to the theme), and remember to confirm with timers and evaluators. However on this day one of our newest members, Ming, approached me at the break. Continue reading

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Trusting Myself Again

I am standing at the top, looking over the side. Pouring rain and strong winds made the water and snow pellets hit my face so hard I thought this was Mother Nature’s cruel way of giving me a free facial. Visibility had dropped to the point where I could barely make out what the terrain was like at my feet.

I remember what it was like last time.
I can’t do this. Continue reading

Learning From Restaurants

West Restaurant Salad

Happy 2014! Hope you all had a wonderful holiday with friends and family. Myself, I’m still scratching my head and wondering where 2013 went.

As I was trying to fall asleep the other night, my mind started to wander towards the upcoming Dine Out Vancouver Festival and my experiences during the same event in the prior year. During that period (I went to roughly ten restaurants in two weeks) some of the restaurant service experiences still stick out in my mind:

I still remember attending WEST with my mother, and never having an empty water glass, nor an empty bread basket because the waiters/waitresses were that attentive to ALL their tables.

I remember dining at BLACK & BLUE where the waiter took me on a guided tour and proudly informed me the third floor patio would be open by the summer of 2012. (I am tempted to think he mistakenly thought I was a journalist on assignment, instead of some poor soul that was dining alone on a weeknight). I also remembered the waiter offering to provide me with more light to read my menu (as the interior was quite dark) but I politely declined; he was essentially offering to use his lighter next to the paper menu.

Last but not least, I fondly remember ORU (Fairmont Pacific Rim) where the waiter wished me a good evening and addressed me by my name. In my opinion I thought that was a very nice touch by the staff: it made me feel like I a restaurant regular, instead of someone dining there for the very first time.

How do restaurant experiences relate to public speaking? Continue reading

Holiday Hero

It is early Saturday afternoon and I find myself at the mall to do some Christmas shopping, just like the thousands of people that are already there. I make my way to my favourite coffee spot (because I have a coupon in hand, and in dire need of coffee). There are only two people in front of me in the lineup: the person ordering, plus one gentleman behind them. While I am waiting, another person lines up behind me. There are now four people in the lineup. A few seconds later, another lady makes her way over to the lineup, grumbling the entire time:

What a long lineup, this is ridiculous! They should really open up some more cashiers, now I’m going to have to wait to get my coffee. I’d better get a discount for this.

Continue reading

Choices

We are the sum total of our choices.- Woody Allen

That was a quote a Toastmaster read as part of his inspiration,  a quote that his mentor had passed along to him. This individual went a step further and added the phrase “although we may not always like those choices…”

How fitting, I thought. Unwittingly I started compiling a list of all memorable choices in my life.
– Choices that I had regretted.
– Choices that I still regret.
– Choices in which I had no choice, but after I had made said “choice” I was promptly informed it had been my choice all along.

I started to wonder what it would be like to go back and change all those choices. But then I thought about what kind of a person would I be if I had taken another road. Would I be nicer, meaner? Would I be more naive, or wiser? Would I be more positive or more jaded? If I “succeeded” and had made the choice I had wanted…would I view it as such?

Not so easy to re-envision, is it?

In the end, I have to sit back and accept the fact there will always be choices in my life I wish I could go back and change, or wish I had done differently. But for better or for worse, I am who I am through the choices I have made.

Take Your Time

“You have all the time you need. All the time in the world.”
– Allan Quatermain, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

Shane West as Secret Service Agent Tom Sawyer.

Shane West as Secret Service Agent Tom Sawyer.

That quote is a line from the movie The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Allan (Sean Connery) is reminding Tom Sawyer (Shane West) about shooting. Never mind the target is the villain running for his life. Never mind he is already miles away. In that moment (pictured above), Tom Sawyer aims, takes a moment, fires, and hits his mark. He is finally an expert marksman.

I feel a bit old (the movie came out in 2003) but remembering that scene reminds me of a piece of advice I want to share (especially) with newer speakers. It is advice I have only recently begun putting into practice. Continue reading

What I Learned from Watching Stand-Up Comedians

Laughter is the best medicine; that was a outlook on life my mother tried to instill in me from an early age.

To say I watched a lot of stand-up comedy on TV was (at one point in my life) an understatement. I want to quickly go over a few things I have learned from watching stand-up comedians perform, whether it is on TV or live. I don’t want to focus so much on their techniques on how to be funny; if you are interested, Darren LaCroix teaches these techniques extremely well. Continue reading