A Meeting filled with information and laughter!

As you know our incredibly cerebral toastmasters cerebrate often.  Today, they demonstrated just how marvelous their cerebrating skills are when answering Table Topics questions, presenting beautiful speeches and particularly when evaluating the meeting

Our first speaker, Daniel Frasson, gave an engaging speech comparing the use of porcelain tiles and hardwood flooring.  Dan explained there are three factors to consider:

  • Design and flexibility
  • The Cost of Ownership
  • Durability

Wood plank tiles have the look and feel of hardwood.  They can be made in a variety of colors, moving more to the grey that is fashionable now.  The cost of hardwood runs about $125 per square foot.  Wood plank tiles, on the other hand, cost about $7.00 per square foot.  Wood looks great, but pets and children can stain and scratch the material.

Be armed with this information if you are planning to redecorate your home.

If you’ve been in the club for any length of time, you know Paula Hesch.  Today we had a re-introduction to Paula, with an Icebreaker.  She asked us if we had ever been advice from our parents that impacted our lives.  Her mother’s counsel was, “to always be independent and be able to support yourself.”

Her parents separated while she was in college.  Her mother went back to school and prepared to pursue better employment.  After college, Paula traveled throughout the world.  She married and moved with her husband to Albany New York.  The big city girl wondered what she was going to do in Albany, a small city, during a recession.  A job and career opportunity,  in her field of interior design, presented itself.  She preferred working in commercial design — not retail, so she entered a 2-year masters program in New York City.  Once a week she’d travel to school in the “Big Apple,” the remainder of the week, she continued to work in Albany.

Paula’s husband’s job took him to the University of Miami School Of Law.   Having a family was also important to Paula, and the couple had two children, Jason and Dana.  She taught at Bauder Fashion, Miami-Dade College and FIU as well as working at some notable interior design firms.  But Paula was looking to move forward.  With her 20-year marriage coming to an end, her children young teenagers, the thought of starting a business seemed a new and exciting challenge with more flexibility in her life.

Today, Paula counts herself as lucky getting her mother’s advice.  She is undoubtedly independent and able to support herself.  She claims her daughter is also an even more independent woman.

Dan Sanchez-Galarraga presented some questions that certainly pushed our contestants to cerebrate during Table Topics.  Our Blue Ribbon Winner was Dwayne Robinson, who when asked, “Who was the biggest influence in your life?” responded that it was his mother.

Our evaluation team led by Cris Stenstrom, along with Felix Lorenzo and Jim Hartnett, gave us all some thoughtful ideas for our future presentations.  Here are a few you may find helpful:

  • To add emphasis, repeat main points.
  • Using pauses will break up multiple facts.
  • When giving an informative speech, try not to pause and look upward.  It appears that you may not have all of the answers.
  • Begin the speech with what you want everyone to hear.  Do not start with something extraneous or immaterial to your talk.

Wonderful meeting.  Hope to see you next week…..

Here’s what you missed July 5, 2018

Seldom have I attended a Toastmasters meeting that was as thoughtful and profound as this meeting.  Our first speaker, Jason Hesch, gave a speech titled, “Is love a right?”  He brought the audience into his speech by requesting we imagine a romantic situation in which we are rebuffed.  Then he asked, “What if this rejection happens over and over again?”  This is an on-going reality for many disabled persons.  Jason’s 9th speech from the manual was provocative, challenging and insightful.

Our second speaker, Felix Lorenzo, began his talk with an admonition,  “Perhaps what I’m about to say is for a different audience.”  Is there Ageism in Miami?  Miami appeals to the young, with its sports facilities, places of entertainment, tourist attractions and beaches.  So much of what is Miami’s allure is paid for in part by taxes.

As his speech progressed, we found ourselves once again, considering life from a different point of view.  Few in the audience are of retirement age.  Yet Felix was speaking of the desperation some older residences contemplate.  Thoughts such as, “shall I pay for medication or food,” or “do I have enough income to sustain me?”  Real estate taxes continue to rise and are more than what some elderly can afford.  The economy and retirement are things we must all consider…regardless of where we are in life.

Our Table Topics master, Sharon Patish brought a lighter side to the meeting.  Our contestants had time to weigh in on their best, and worst vacations, as well as letting us know their preferences on the length of time away, and even where to go on a destination wedding vacation.  Of course, there can only be one Table Topics Winner, and this week, Tara Christou told us about her best vacation, where she and her family were able to view the aurora borealis and even play with reindeer (Santa Claus was not included).

Tu Duong, our Master Evaluator, along with his able team, Dan Sanchez-Galarraga and, Paula Hesch added to our knowledge with some evaluation tips.  Two suggestions are:

  1. Don’t use lengthy notes — outlines are easier to handle.
  2. Particularly, when stating a problem, leave the audience with a call to action.


From the “New Miami,” to learning American Politics, to Living a Dog’s Life….

You missed a great hour if you didn’t make it to our Miracle Mile Toastmasters meeting.  There were 2 marvelous prepared speeches, and innovative Table Topics questions. We learned one of our members won an award at her company’s “boot camp” training, another Award Winning Toastmaster will be off to London to continue her career there, and OMG, if Alex could be anything else it would be a dog???

Our first speaker, Angela Martinez is a Miami Realtor who spoke about “The New Miami.”  Angela compared the real estate market to the stock market with it’s ups and downs.  “After all, it can’t always be driving upward.”  We’ve certainly seen bumps in the road, but understanding what drives and sustains the market is important.  Some of the statistics she gave were encouraging.  Buying a home can be an excellent investment as a place to live or to rent.  Currently 50% of the homes/condos in Miami are rented.  Miami is the #2 city in the country when looking at population growth.  We have more than 26,000 additional jobs in January 2017, than in January 2016.  Future development looks excellent.  It seems now is an exciting time for the real estate industry.

Our second speaker was Felix Lorenzo.  Coming from Cuba he brings an interesting perspective to his speeches.  He said on his arrival to the United States, folks said he came from a banana country (or republic).  He wasn’t quite sure what that was.  Felix noted that as a young person Communist newspapers were shut down.  Later after regime changes, he noted that many people who worked actively in the former government, found jobs in the new — there was a requirement however — becoming a communist.  Today, Felix is neither a Republican nor a Democrat.  Instead he is proudly an Independent.  What he does do is listen to both sides of political discussions and recommends we practice using our listening skills as well.

Table Topics was most enjoyable.  Our speakers were Tu Duong, Alex Moreira, Jerry Bailey, Ghislaine Demombynes, Arlene Amitirigala, Hang Tran and Mike Molina.  It was hard to choose the top three from this group.  In third place was our award-winning Table Topics speaker, Arlene Amitirigala, speaking on WHAT?  She’s moving to London!  Our loss is the UK’s gain.  In second place was Mike Molina who admitted he doesn’t think about others as often as he should.  Our Mike?  Say it isn’t so.  And the winner was Alex Moreira who believes a dogs life isn’t so bad.  His mentor:


Our evaluation team (Chris Mesa, Elena Cobo and Sharon Patish) gave us all something to think about before we deliver another speech.

  • In order to make a point — use examples that are relevant to the audience.
  • If your giving statistics round up your numbers (i.e, more than 20,000 instead of 20,435).
  • Make your ending strong.  Preface it with a comment like, “This I know for sure.”
  • Organize the speech.
  • Where possible use a conversational tone.

Thanks to everyone who made this meeting so much fun.


Cristian Stenstrom was Toastmaster of the day,  leading  a great meeting with a theme of “waiting for winter”.   He longs for cooler weather this time of year, but living in Miami cool weather does not come around often.  Fortunately, he is able to get away to ski in the mountains from time to time.

Our first speaker,  Jim Hartnett, graciously volunteered to speak off-the-cuff because the scheduled speaker was unable to make it.  Jim shared with us remembrances of the Biltmore before it was the “BILTMORE.”  On December 7, 1941, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, starting WWII.  Jim was 10 years old. During the period following our entry into WWII, the Biltmore was turned into a hospital where wounded soldiers, mostly 17-18 years old, arrived daily and were tended to with the best of care.  Jim and his friends volunteered and were assigned to work the 2 bowling lanes used for rehabilitation.  They were also assigned to keep track of planes flying overhead.

Speaker Two was Anna Kay Lue delivering a wonderful icebreaker.  Anna Kay was born in Miami to Chinese parents.  She told us her upbringing was defined by three bits of advice from her parents: 1)   children should be seen and not heard, 2) eat everything on your plate, and 3) be a doctor.   As a consequence she was shy as a child and only spoke when necessary.  Her mother is the best cook she knows, which made it was easy to eat all her food.  She started pre-med but it was not what she wanted.  She graduated from college and went into web design.  Her brother became a doctor so even if she didn’t become one it helps to take advice from a doctor, especially if that doctor is your brother.

The Table Topics Master was Virginia Wolber who had challenging questions.

1)      Sharon Patish told us her favorite time of year is autumn, not much of it in Miami.  Speaking of seasons reminded her of a time long ago when it snowed in Miami.  The snow disappeared before it hit the ground.

2)      Lina Draney shared with us her most memorable Christmas in 1976 when she spent the night at a friend’s house.  Lina had never seen snow before.  That night there was dancing and food and then bedtime.  She was later awoken by her friend’s mother and led to the window and there was snow everywhere.  What impressed her most was how everything was so silent.

3)      Chris Wolfe shared his mission statement.  Chris said it changes every year but what remains constant is that it should ensure a balance between one’s personal, family and business life.

4)      Cristian Stenstrom told us his favorite winter sport is skiing, which he often gets to practice in Europe.

5)      Luisa Herran told us what season most resembles her. She started out by saying it was not winter because even if it looks so lovely in postcards with the snow, it turns out to be a mess when the snow melts and people get depressed and commit suicide.  However, she can definitely identify with spring which is about renewal and getting rid of the old.

6)      Jane de Cardenas told us her most memorable holiday presents are the ones made by her children because they are so very precious to her.

7)      Chris Nolte said he and his wife no longer exchange gifts for Xmas.  They have opted to share experiences instead, which is a relief to him because she already has too many purses.  He is thinking of a weekend away or longer depending on his budget.

8)      Nick Zwemer has developed winter sporting skills and it is not skiing which he tried when he was younger with his brother but couldn’t quite master.  However, he has developed skills in snowboarding.

9)      Tu Duong told us if he could change careers he would be an engineer.  He specialized in physics,  but wanted to be an economist.  However, his nature is more of an engineer than a business person

1st place: Chris Nolte

2nd place: Lina Draney

3rd place: Chris Wolfe

The Master Evaluator was Tu Duong who gave a great evaluation of the meeting followed by evaluations of the speeches.

Evaluator 1, Chris Wolfe indicated that Jim Hartnett’s speech was a great demonstration of impromptu speaking. Good structure, good opening, excellent voice.  Suggestion for improvement: conclusion was somewhat weak.  Remember to tell the audience the purpose of your speech when closing.

Evaluator 2, Alexander Moreira commented that Anna Kay gave a great icebreaker; it was very personal.  The speech was well structured, great opening, and humor.  It is difficult to bring humor in when doing an icebreaker.  Room for improvement: voice projection (speak louder) and slow down.  Also get rid of notes.

We closed by welcoming 3rd time guest, Paul Massard and 1st time guest and Tu’s wife, Hang Tran.  Hope to see you in our next meeting.