The Green Card

A Timer Most Colourful

Today, I will be the official Timer for tonight’s Loudoun Toastmasters. Last time, I was on hold to do an Evaluation but the speech maker was ill so instead I was instead without a role. On the upside, it gave me time to consider using my Zoom background to enhance the effect of the Timer role. I was therefore anxious to try it out as soon as possible.

Originally, my dear friend Capt. Laura Savino was planning to be Timer, but, since SARS-CoV-2 she’s been busy hanging out with her wonderful boys as she’s hunkered down, sheltered in place. Hope to see her again after Covidapolis is over. But, in the mean time, for tonight, I’ll be stepping into her role.

The role of the timer is to time how long speeches are and to indicate when time is running out to the speaker. Each speech has a minimum time. When that time is hit, I indicate success with a green background.

The Green Card
The Yellow Card in Toastmasters means you’re met the minimum time requirement

Next, when a speaker is half-way through her or his allotted time, I flash the yellow background.

The Yellow Card
The Yellow Card in Toastmasters means you’re half-way through your allotted, acceptable time

Finally, when the speaker is out of time, I flash the red background. At this point, the speaker has thirty seconds to wrap up or be disqualified because his or her speech ran too long.

The Red Card
The Red Card in Toastmasters means you’re out of time

I time all speeches, which range from 5–7 minutes for a standard speech, 4–6 minutes for an Ice Breaker speech, 1–2 minutes for a Table Topic speech, and 2–3 minutes for Evaluations.

It all happens tonight. Stand up straight and deliver my friends!

Listener in Cyberspace

Today we had our first Loudoun Toastmasters meeting in Zoom. And my good friend Leigh-Ann, or Toastmaster of the Evening, asked me to take on a new role, the official Listener. My job is to pay attention to each story and find an interesting fact about it, then pose it to one of our members without a role.

What kind of seed did Kevin pull from his back yard?

From the Garden of Gethsemane, Kevin delivered a charged speech about believing in oneself and growing to attain a higher power. Much like his Black Walnut seed, he wished give us inspiration to help us achieve more.

Black Walnut
These are black walnuts. You can find them on Amazon.

Who wrote the passage Jill shared with us?

Apsley Cherry-Garrard was an impressive Zoologist who wrote about all creatures great and small from the lowly diatom to the enormous Blue Whales which roam the antarctic seas. He wrote about all the animals he saw in both poetry and prose and was thrilled to be a part of Scott‘s expedition to the South Pole.

Apsley Cherry Garrard
Apsley Cherry-Garrard was a Zoologist who accompanied Captain Scott on his Antarctic Expedition and composed wonderful poetry based on his experiences.

What animal did Apsley Cherry-Garrard most want to see?

Garrard loved all animals but he was especially fond of Penguins. Although Adélie Penguins on the Antarctic Peninsula fascinated him, his real quarry was the 1 meter tall Emperor Penguin.

Emperor Penguins
Emperor Penguins are the coolest of Penguins. Nearly a meter in height as adults, the male birds are the ones who protect the eggs while the females spend the winter hunting for food. The adorable grey chicks with their grey, downy feathers, then spend most of their time with the mother as she feeds them and teaches them how to fish.

What are the two llama communication skills?

Don’t just expectorate, take the high ground, stand tall, and be the big llama on campus. And while spitting is something the 1918–1919 Flu taught us not to do, making yourself known by taking the higher road and not sinking to the your base instincts is a good form of management.

Spitting Llama
This is a Spitting Llama, trying to act tall and take the high ground, his main way of expressing his feelings. © 2020, Vice News

What did Ursula Burns suggest you do more of?

Ursula Burns was an amazing President of Xerox who learned early on that the it was best not to speech too much, and that sometimes you need to listen. Very sound advice indeed, as my role was indeed, to listen!

Ursula Burns
Ursula Burns was the former head of Xerox but found that she needed to talk less and listen more. This was what propelled her to the top.

Persuasive Influencer: Level 1: Evaluation

Today I evaluated an absolutely wonderful fellow Toastmaster. Rick Halstead is no novice to Toastmasters, but today was his Ice Breaker. That’s because anyone in ToastMasters these days is now using the Pathways system to progress through their journey and Rick, though an old hand and excellent Toastmaster, had yet to start his Pathways journey. I was very honored to be his evaluator when he took this first step in a new direction.

I took an Uber to the meeting as I had leftover credits from Tesla and #CO2Fre needed an update, but I’ll write more about that tomorrow. It was close, but I arrived just on time. I was able to convey Rick’s wishes to make sure he didn’t embellish too much and advised him afterwards how you could use a little more embellishment to his advantage, including a summersault. But overall, Rick was very hard to evaluate as there was so little fault with his to all intents and purposes perfect speech. Spend most of my time in fact rattling off all the things he did right like dynamics and gestures and our shared love for New Zealand.

My friends Laura and Leigh-Ann were both stiff competition as wonderful evaluators today and I felt sure one of them would get the ribbon for best evaluation. But to my surprise…

Best Evaluator, March 2020
For the 5 March Meeting of Loudoun Toastmasters, I delivered an award-winning evaluation for my friend Rick Halstead. © 2020, Jeffrey C. Jacobs

…it was in fact me! Wow! Thank you Loudoun Toastmasters!

Talk to you again in a fortnight my fellow orators!

Who is the TimeHorse

I joined Toastmasters last year to both practice my public speaking and to lear to be a better performer when acting. I enjoyed answering Table Topics and being challenged to come up with a spontaneous speech—at least when I knew what the topic was—but when it came to my own Ice Breaker speech, I kept putting it off.

The thing is, I don’t like talking about myself. I love writing fiction and talking about Science but when it comes to my personal life, I get embarrassed and ashamed. Much of my personal story is really not for public consumption and is rather confounded with emotional difficulty and lack of self-worth. I do hope through Toastmasters, to overcome that, just as I have found Cosplay to help with my self-image, but that journey isn’t the subject of this post.

Instead, I want to talk about my Ice Breaker.

I decided to cover my digital self. As you can see from the side menu in the upper-right corner of my site, I have a lot of social networks accounts! Indeed, the currently 26 or so I have listed there are only a fraction of the dozen or so twitter accounts I have, the half-dozen Facebook pages I run, the three instagram accounts I control, the dozens of meetups I’m in with my two accounts, one professional, one personal. Or even the fact that I have a separate blog for Reston Writers and one for the Affordable Electric Car NOW!

The long and short of it is, I wanted to talk all about these accounts, right back to the Original George Harrison and Tomorrow People home page and MINITEL in France and 1200 Baud Modems. I wanted to covey my diverse interests in so many subjects, and I planned a 6–7 minute speech to do it.

Of course, seasoned ToastMasters will know that your Ice Breaker is actually 4–6 minutes, not 5–7, so my speech ran long. And I did tend to lose my place as I spoke, having had no time to memorize it word for word. Nonetheless, I did my best and delivered my speech and got some great advice from my friends and colleagues at the Loudoun ToastMasters, club 5154. My mentor Jonathan gave me some amazing and helpful advice and I am so thankful to all of my fellow Toastmasters!

What do you have to say?