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Toastmasters Champion Table Topics - Jim Carty 2010

In 2010, Jim Carty won the Toastmasters District 61 Table Topics contest.

The question, "Which has greater value, what others see in you, or what you see in yourself?"

He responded with 267 words of eloquence...

He responded with 267 words of eloquence over 1:59, or 133 words per minute.  He was poised, conveyed calm and confidence. He is obviously intelligent, with a straight forward humility that brings us together.

Notice the repetitions of these phrases, adding to the clarity of his message:

"think you are"

"we don't react"

"each and every"

"they think about"


Mister Contest Chair, fellow Toastmasters, welcome guests, you're not who you think you are. In fact, you're not even who other people think you are. You are, in fact, who you think other people think you are.

We don't react to the reality of a situation. We don't react to what we actually have within us. Each and every person in the room has more within themselves than they show each and every day. Each and every person in the room has the ability to do so much more than we do, but we hold back. We hold back because of what we think other people think of us. We don't know what other people think of us, in all honesty I don't think other people do think of us near as much as we like to think that they do.

I was often told that you are happy when you are getting attention. Your happiness is caused by your happening (it's what's going on around you). Those people giving you the attention, thinking about you in the way you would like, but they don't. They think about themselves. They think about themselves and what you think of them.

It's a phenominal question, "Which has great value?" but I believe that the question is a little bit skewed. I think the most important thing is changing our opinion of other people's opinions of our own opinion of us. I would encourage you: do what you can do, do what you do do, do your best each and every time, and other people's opinions won't matter. Contest Chair

In 2014, we asked Jim for him recollections of the contest and his personal reflections on those moments: hearing the question, walking up, answering, and walking off. Here is his response:

Over the years, I have had conversations with people about contests, Table Topics and Table Topics contests.  During that time, I have come to the conclusion that a Table Topics contest, while a great tool to improve many of the skills needed in effective communication, on some level, really isn't a "fair" contest.
In April 2010, I had the great fortune of placing first in Table Topics during the District Contest.  I am quite confident that I'm no better a speaker than any of the other division representatives that shared the stage with me that morning.  Nor for a moment do I wish to imply that anyone was cheated in anyway.

What I do believe is that with Table Topics, there will be times in which, in the language of baseball, "You receive a low hanging curve ball".  On occasion, you are presented with a topic that, due to your life experience; or your chance love of old books; or simply because of what you do for a living; the topic presented to you could not have been chosen better, and you "knock it out of the park."
When Horace, the Contest Chair, read the topic for me in 2010, the first thing that came to me was a conversation I had with a mentor of mine over apple pie and coffee many years ago.  I had been trying to explain to him why I wasn't able to do something and all the people who had told me why it was a terrible idea.  My mentor then asked why I was seeking advice from people who hadn't done what I wanted to do and weren't prepared to assist me.    

"People don't think about you... they think about themselves."

Having received my share of topics that cause me to draw a complete blank, I knew that this was a topic that "suited me."

I look forward to the next competition.  Not because I expect to win, but simply because the more times I draw a blank, the deeper my own well of life experiences will be.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas - Narrated by Craig Senior

Craig Senior, a member of our club, narrated "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" at a local Chapters store.


Toastmasters Contest Judging Workshop

District 61 puts on contest judging workshops in English and French in the major centres: Quebec City, Montreal, and Ottawa. in the fall of 2014, Craig Senior from our club delivered the workshop in Ottawa. He used the criteria for the Humorous Speech Contest and Evaluation Contest becuase they would occur at the upcoming Fall District conference. 

Part 1: Teaching

Part 2: Mock Humorous Speech Contest and Analysis


What You Usually See and Hear at our Training

Training sessions at Toastmasters clubs around the world are very similar although some serve a meal, evening clubs tend to have slonger meetings, and lunch time clubs are all about time and using less of it.

The Sergeant-At-Arms calls the session to order and introduces the Toastmaster.

The Toastmaster is the master of ceremonies:

  • opens with some positive remarks to set the tone and possibly introduce a theme
  • reviews the agenda
  • welcomes guests
  • calls for executive reports
  • calls for the Word of the Day.
  • introduces the Ah Counter, Grammarian and Timekeeper roles.
    • Ah Counter highlights our uses of words and sounds such as “ah” and “um.”
    • Grammarian monitors our creative and erroneous uses of language.
    • Timekeeper monitors overall meeting time and the time for each activity, signalling with lights or cards how much time is left for each activity.
  • introduces prepared speeches.  One or two members present prepared speeches from the Competent Communicator (CC) manual, or one of the Advanced Communicator (AC) manuals.  Before each speech, an evaluator describes the speech project objectives.  Speeches are usually 5 - 7 minutes in length.  The Timekeeper gently ensures that we keep within time.
  • introduces the Table Topics Master.

The Table Topics Master guides us through speaking of the cuff, impromptu speeches, improvisation - however you'd like to refer to it. Members with unassigned or minor roles are called on to briefly respond (1-2 minutes) to questions or scenarios.  This enables members to increase their confidence and proficiency in unplanned speaking situations.

The General Evaluator leads the evaluation section of the meeting during which we provide feedback in front of the group:

  • Speech Evaluators provide positive, specific, helpful feedback for prepared speeches (speakers also receive written feedback from all other participants).
  • Ah Counter reports on our use of crutch words and sounds
  • Grammarian reports on creative and erroneous uses of language.
  • Timekeeper reports on the length of each role, particularly speeches and Table Topics responses.

Finally, the Toastmaster closes out the meeting:

  • summarizes
  • asks Guests an opportunity to share their response to the training
  • reminds guests that they just spoke in public (it starts small and get ready to grow)
  • announcements
  • adjourns.

Script: Grammarian


Use the Word of the Day (Word) (Rich Text Format (RTF) template to present the Word-of-the-Day and a blank piece of paper to record grammatical notes and report at the end of the meeting.

Explain the Role (Start of meeting)

As Grammarian, the first part of my role is to present the Word-of-the-Day. In our group, we create a little fun by trying to use the word of the day on-the-fly. We acknowledge when anyone uses the word by lightly rapping on the table.The Word-of-the-Day today is [reveal the word and say it]. [Word] is a [verb, noun, etc] that means [definition]. For example, [use the word in a sentence]. 

I also listen to our use of language, taking note of erroneous and creative words or grammar, and report at the end of the meeting. Our aim is to speak concisely and achieve clear, eloquence speech. At the end of the meeting, I will report on my findings.

Report (End of meeting)

[To save time, we stand at our seat and report, but if you want it video recorded, just walk up and the General Evaluator will hand off to you.  Keep the tone light, cheerful and humourous.]

Today, the Word-of-the-Day was used 5 times: Zoe once, Yuwin three times, Xavier once, and Wiley once.

On grammar, someone said, "We will be going to listen to..." Try the simple form of the verb, "We will listen to..."

Someone said, "our plans going forward." Are the plans going forward?  Does "going forward" mean future time or progress?  From the context, we don't know.  Is it future plans, or plans for the future? For what other time would one plan but the future?  Therefore, all we need to say is, "our plans."

Timothy said, "...trumped by tiny terrible twos at the terrifically traumatic toy store." Quite literally a linguistic alliteration. Double marks for saying it with a smile.




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