George V. Reilly

Bad Speakers at Meetups

Perhaps I've been spoilt, but most of the speakers at the technical meetups and con­fer­ences that I go to have something to say and say it well. I've also been to hundreds of Toast­mas­ters meetings and I've heard many speakers at all levels.

I went to a tech meetup tonight and I sat through two bad hour-long pre­sen­ta­tions. The first speaker should have eliminated the first 20 minutes of his talk, a self-indulgent ramble about various other projects that he had attempted, which shed no light on his main topic. He could easily have eliminated another 15 minutes from the rest of his talk and it would have been the continue.

Toastmasters' Evaluations

Toast­mas­ters teaches three skillsets. By far the best known is public speaking, but evaluation and leadership are also valuable. Learning to evaluate a speech teaches you to listen carefully and to give useful feedback. The Toast­mas­ter­s' Sandwich is the best-known approach: point out several things the speaker did well, suggest some areas of im­prove­ment, and conclude with more praise.

The evaluator benefits too from the evaluation, as they hone their listening and critical skills and as they learn to give helpful feedback. The audience also benefits, as they hear both the speech and a measured response to the speech.

Outside of Toast­mas­ters, feedback is often negative and critical ("Here's how you're fucking up"), which leads to de­mo­ti­va­tion continue.

Toastmasters Transitions

Two tran­si­tions at Freely Speaking Toast­mas­ters tonight: Kim gave her last speech before moving to California and Shasti gave her tenth speech, which earned her her Competent Com­mu­ni­ca­tor award.

It's always exciting to see people proceed through a series of speeches and achieve milestones like the CC. You see them get better with each speech. The awkward fumbling hesitation of the early speeches is supplanted by growing fluidity and confidence, as the practice and the eval­u­a­tions help them improve.

Toastmasters Assistant Android App

I signed up for a three-part Android Study Jam organized by the Seattle Google Developer Group, at the behest of a colleague who is also one of the organizers. The last session takes place tomorrow morning.

I've built a little Android app that I call the Toast­mas­ters Assistant for the final project. It doesn't do very much yet, except present some in­for­ma­tion about Toast­mas­ters meetings, roles, and speeches in an Ex­pand­ableListView. I have some ambitions to do more with it. Specif­i­cal­ly, I want to add a speech timer.

Fear of Public Speaking

It is often said that people fear public speaking more than they fear death. I certainly used to fear getting up in front of a crowd, though not to the point of death. Tonight I spoke about Fly­ing­Cloud in front of more than 100 people for half an hour at the PuPPy Meetup. I wasn't nervous beforehand and I wasn't nervous talking to the crowd.

I've been an active Toast­mas­ter for nearly 15 years and I've spoken at Toast­mas­ters hundreds of times. I'm used to a room of 15–25 people but not to a larger audience. Adam and I put our slides together late last week. We ran through it together continue.

Toastmasters Speech Contest

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I was going to be the Contest Chair for the In­ter­na­tion­al Speech and Evaluation Contests at Freely Speaking Toast­mas­ters. Those contests were tonight, and I was both Contest Chair and Toast­mas­ter. The contest chair sets up everything be­fore­hand; the toast­mas­ter runs the contest itself; frequently but not nec­es­sar­i­ly the contest chair is also the toast­mas­ter.

I'm happy with how it came off. I managed to recruit two speakers for the Speech contest and three evaluators for the Evaluation contest, all of whom acquitted themselves well. I also recruited three judges, two ballot counters, one timer, a sergeant at arms, and a test speaker to make the contest continue.

Toastmasters Contest Chair

I've played many roles at Freely Speaking Toast­mas­ters over the last twelve years, but I've never before chaired a contest.

Every spring, Toast­mas­ters runs the In­ter­na­tion­al Speech and Evaluation Contests. In the autumn, the Humorous Speech and Table Topics Contests are held. The contests are held in most clubs; each club's winners advance to the area contests; thence to the division contest; and finally to the district contest.

I've par­tic­i­pat­ed in each of the contests in the past, making it to the area contests and oc­ca­sion­al­ly the division. I'm not competing this spring, so I'm going to run our club's contest instead.

I sent this email to the members tonight:

I am the continue.

History of Toilet Paper

Let me tell you, people go on and on about what a great idea electricity was, but I'm going to put toilet paper right next to the wheel and say those are the best ideas anyone's ever had. Scoff at it if you will, but try living for two millennia without it and then we'll talk. - Kevin Hearne

At Freely Speaking Toast­mas­ters tonight, Kim gave a talk on the History of Toilet Paper. It was inspired by the quote above from the Iron Druid Chronicles, by a 2000-year-old druid.

She got much of her in­for­ma­tion from wikipedia. I found the toilet paper FAQ while writing this post.

At FSTM, after the speech evaluator gives the speaker a formal evaluation, we have five minutes of open evaluation from the audience.

My father has a hundred or so sayings that he trots out again and again and again—much to the annoyance of those who know him well. When he moved from the Dublin to the London office of his


On Blogging

Blogging has been on my mind lately, as I've just set up an en­gi­neer­ing blog at work.

I gave a speech about blogging earlier tonight to my club, Freely Speaking Toast­mas­ters. I no longer write speeches be­fore­hand; I ex­tem­po­rized my speech from a mindmap that I had prepared yesterday. This post is a more coherent and expanded rendition of my points.

As Toast­mas­ters, we give speeches about topics that interest us, when we want to share or inform or entertain. A live, in-person speech reaches a direct audience at one point in time. A written blog post can reach a much larger audience. Toast­mas­ters have something to say, whether in person or in continue.

FSTM Treasurer

The Toast­mas­ters year closes tomorrow. We held our Annual Meeting tonight at Freely Speaking Toast­mas­ters and elected a new set of officers. One new person was elected to the board, replacing the one person who stepped down, but everyone except the VP Education and the Webmaster changed roles. I am the outgoing Secretary and the incoming Treasurer, and I also continue as the Webmaster.

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