Category Archives: Notes from our Meetings

Meeting Notes, 3/21/2017; Theme: Podcasts

Tonight’s meeting was well-attended, with 19 members and three guests. Bob served as our toastmaster, with the theme of “Podcasts.” The Question of the Day, “Do you listen to podcasts?” revealed that about half of those in attendance listen to podcasts regularly. Bob shared podcast trivia, anecdotes, and recommendations. There were three speakers this evening.

Tina delivered project no. 3 (Get to the point), “With an Open Heart and an Open Mind, Anything is Possible.” Tina is preparing for a 90-minute presentation on Quantum Hypnosis she’ll be delivering soon at East West Bookshop. Tina shared several personal stories, and introduced quantum hypnotherapy as a method of harnessing the innate healing ability within. If you are interested in attending Tina’s full presentation, find more information here. Tina’s speech was evaluated by Ben.

Adam gave the second speech, project no. 2 (Organize your speech), “Don’t be deceived by the numbers.” He presented several scenarios where statistics can be presented in a misleading manner to manipulate perception. This technique is commonly used in advertising and many forms of reporting. Adam stressed the importance of looking at statistics objectively, and always considering the intent of the party presenting the data. Adam won the best speaker award for the evening. Louise won best evaluator for her critique of Adam’s speech.

Ram gave the final speech of the evening, project no. 4 (How to say it), “Are we solving the right problem?” Ram discussed the importance of approaching challenges and conflicts from different perspectives. Sometimes a simple solution can be found from simply looking at the issue from another angle. I was Ram’s evaluator.

Dave P. led the debate, arguing preferences for podcasts over DVDs for information and entertainment. The Podcast team won.

Jeremy led table topics. Guest Katie was the winner, discussing her fitness goals and penchant for making lists.

Nigel presented the word of the day, “Equanimity.” Ram won the prize for using the word twice in his prepared speech.

We inducted three new members this evening: Mike, Scott, and Margarita. Welcome to our club!

I am looking forward to being toastmaster next week, with the theme, “A Night at the Opera.” For the first half of the meeting I will share some fun facts about the history of opera, and protocol for attending opera. In the second half, I will discuss rock band Queen’s classic 1975 album entitled “A Night at the Opera.”


DUES: It’s time to pay! Semi-annual dues are paid in March and September, so please pay up by the end of the month. $70, checks payable to Chamber Club 540 and delivered to Mitch. He will also accept cash or paypal.

OFFICER RECRUITMENT: Our current officers’ terms will be ending in June, and we are looking for capable and dedicated members that would like to step up to the plate and contribute to the leadership of our club. If you are interested in serving as an officer for the next term, please speak to any officer, and we can discuss which position might best suit you. Having an effective slate of officers is vital to the health of our club, so please consider serving in this capacity.

Meeting Notes, 3/14/2017; Theme: Roadside Attractions

Greetings fellow Toastmasters,

Jessica was the toastmaster this evening, and she led us in an enthusiastic discussion of Roadside Attractions. She definitely spoke from experience, having embarked on numerous road trips in her youth, visiting 48 states! Jessica talked about some of the better-known tourist draws, such as Wall Drug, the Corn Palace, and the Cadillac Ranch; as well as some lesser-known attractions such as The Museum of Barbed Wire. Were you aware that there are more than 2000 types of barbed wire? No wonder there is a museum to display them! Did you ever wonder what happens to luggage that goes unclaimed at the airport? Eventually it is shipped to the world’s largest lost & found in Scottsboro, Alabama and sold to visitors. Next time you are in Alabama you might see if you can get a deal on someone’s abandoned personal effects. Jessica also analyzed the phenomenon of the roadside attraction, speculating that they help put an unremarkable town on the map by turning something ordinary into something extraordinary.

In attendance this evening were twelve members and two guests. The Word of the Day was “Speculatory,” offered by Tina. Christa and Ram tied as winners, each using the word once.

We had two speakers. I took the opportunity to practice a speech I will be giving at an upcoming fundraising gala. Mitch delivered a speech from the Speaking to Inform Manual, about the reasons people have difficulty sticking to an exercise routine, backed up with statistical data and followed by a Q&A session. Mitch’s speech went slightly over time, and I won the best speaker award for the evening. I was evaluated by Megan M, and Mitch was evaluated in a round robin format.

Nigel led table topics which was won by Ben. Ben was asked what kind of roadside attraction he would like to build, and he described an oasis where people could pull off the road, have a drink at the bar and relax in one of many hammocks, surrounded by beautiful scenery. Ram led the debate, asking if it is a good idea to bring pets to work. The Con side won, arguing that it’s best to leave the pets at home.

Please remember that March is the time to pay your dues for the next six months. If you haven’t already paid, bring your checkbook next week or contact Mitch to pay through paypal. Semi-annual dues are $70.

We have a full roster of speakers for next week but we still need a Toastmaster. If you are available to attend and haven’t run a meeting for a while, consider stepping up! If you have never been toastmaster but have given a few speeches, maybe it is time.

Respectfully submitted,
Karen Helseth
Chamber Club 540 Secretary

Meeting Notes, 2/28/2017; Theme: Ask Ben

Meeting recap 2/28/17
Ben served as toastmaster this evening, with the theme “Ask Ben.” Participants were invited to write down questions for Ben, and throughout the meeting he randomly drew questions and attempted to answer then. We learned about Ben’s favorite sport (basketball), enlightenment, and some challenges he has faced in his career, among other topics.

There were eleven members present, and four guests. The Question of the Day was “What is your favorite meeting role” for members, and guests were asked to share what brought them to Toastmasters. We had three speakers.

Tina delivered the first speech of the evening, “Diving into the Depths of our Mind.” This was project four (How to Say It) from the CC manual, and was evaluated by Jeremy. Tina’s speech delved into the subject of consciousness, and the study of the unknown.

Hannah spoke second, also giving project 4, “Group Dynamics,” which was evaluated in a round robin style. Hannah recounted a humorous recent experience of a ski trip where she attempted to coordinate eight people on the slopes.

Azeem delivered the final speech, project 2 (Organize It), “Annoying Coworkers” which I evaluated. Azeem identified four types of bothersome colleagues, the Sloth, the Frenemy, The Gossiper, and the Oversharer; and provided tips for dealing with each personality type.

Nigel led both the debate and Table Topics, all on the theme of Advice. During the debate, participants pondered whether experience is more valuable than advice. The Con side won, arguing that advice is preferable to experience. Our first-time guest Sergio won Table Topics, sharing an experience where he advised a high school student not to quit school, and the student ended up graduating as a result of Sergio’s sage advice and mentorship.

Jeremy won Best Evaluator, and Hannah won Best Speaker. The word of the day was “Alchemy” presented by Christa who served as grammarian. Tina and Hannah both used the word in their speeches, and split the chocolate prize.

We have a full roster of speakers next week, but plenty of other roles available. Please sign up for a role if you are available to attend.

Dues are paid in March, due by the end of the month. Mitch will send information about the various ways to pay your dues.
Last call for the upcoming speech contest. If you have given at least six speeches, you are eligible for the contest. Contact Louise if you are interested.

See you next week!

Respectfully submitted,
Karen Helseth
CC540 Secretary

Meeting Notes, 2/21/2017; Theme: Mindfulness

Greetings Toastmasters,

Despite a few last-minute role replacements this evening, we had a fully filled agenda and the meeting was well-attended with 13 members and 5 guests. Jeremy served as our toastmaster with the them “Mindfulness.” Throughout the meeting he shared a variety of ideas and techniques to relax, focus, and be present in each moment.

Jessica delivered the first speech of the evening, the demonstration speech from the Speaking to Inform advanced manual. She demonstrated the proper method for folding a fitted sheet, and shared a bit of trivia about the evolution and function of fitted bedsheets. Several members where aghast at Jessica’s sheet-folding prowess. Jessica was evaluated by Mitch, who unfortunately surpassed his time limit for the evaluation as he reenacted the laundry epiphany he had experienced during Jessica’s tutorial. Jessica won the best speaker award for the evening.

Margaret was the second speaker, delivering speech #10 from the CC manual, “Speaking to Inspire.” Margaret’s speech was about how to deal with criticism. She offered a helpful quote from life coach Annie Lalla, “Criticism is useless if not rooted in self-love.” Margaret shared an anecdote about her brother’s boss, a childish authoritarian with an inflated opinion of himself who rejects all critical feedback (sounds like someone else I have been hearing a lot about lately). Margaret’s tips for making criticism productive included adopting an attitude of curiosity, and reflecting constantly on things one is grateful for and proud of. Also, it is important to acknowledge one’s own flaws, and commit to continued self-improvement. Margaret was evaluated by Tina, who won the best evaluator award.

Ram gave the final prepared speech of the evening, speech #3 in the CC manual, Ram spoke about the value of lifelong learning. He offered several reasons to continue learning: it increases economic possibilities, improves health and lifespan, leads to intellectual and professional achievements, and causes social life to flourish. Ram was evaluated by Chris.

In the second half of the meeting we engaged in our impromptu speaking exercises. Christa led Table topics, which was won by Mitch, who described his harrowing ordeal when he was running to catch a bus and ended up running right into a moving car. Because the collision caused him to miss his bus, he asked the stunned driver of the car for a ride to his desination. I served as debate master, asking participants if it is important to schedule time for deliberate mediation each day, or if mindfulness can be achieved through other means. The Pro side won, arguing that deliberate meditation is the way to go.

We will be paying dues next month.
There is a speech contest coming up. Consider participating with an inspirational speech. There will also be an evaluation contest.
Our current officers’ terms will be concluding in June. Please consider taking a more active role in the club by serving as an officer next year.

Meeting Notes, 2/7/2017; Theme: Changing Seasons

Hello Fellow Chamber Clubbers! Here is your meeting recap from the last meeting!

Dave was our Toastmaster for the evening and his theme was “Changing Seasons.” He and the other attendees took us on quite an exploration of the seasons that spanned topics such as the weather, sports seasons, the seasons of the life-span, and even how to properly season our food!

Closely related to the seasons is weather patterns, such as the snow that we’ve experienced lately. In leading the debate, Nigel had us argue whether or not Seattleites are capable driver’s in the snow. Despite the weather outside, the debate really heated things up, and in the end we decided that Seattleites do alright in the snow.

The Word of the Day was Winningest – one who has the most wins, and given how many times it was used this night, it must have been one of the most winningest WOTDs in recent club history.

Table Topics was won by Eric tonight. He explained to us why he believes that cold weather is motivating and forces us to be more present as opposed to warm whether which may be enjoyable but can make us soft.

Two enjoyable speeches tonight by Adam and Lauren. Adam gave his Ice-Breaker, telling us about his recent journey from college in Canada to starting his career in the sports world first at Washington State and then moving to Seattle. Lauren gave some great advice about how to travel on a budget by seeking out cheaper air fare, lodging options, and other less expensive amenities. I won best evaluator for my evaluation of Adam’s Ice-Breaker and Lauren won best speaker.

Great job everyone who had roles!

Your Assistant Secretary,


Meeting Notes, 1/31/2017; Theme: How to be Curious about People

Hello Fellow Chamber Clubbers!

We had another very exciting meeting tonight with three speakers, a lot of humor, and a pretty full house! Louise was the Toastmaster for the evening and her theme for the night was How to be Curious about People. Some of the highlights from her topic were her explanation on how to inconspicuously follow and eavesdrop on people (but not in a stalker kind of way!) if you are curious about them. Additionally, it is good to try to find things to like about people, ask genuine questions, and wonder how something they are telling you that you may disagree with could be true.

The word of the day tonight was Epitome: a person or thing that is a perfect example of a particular quality or type – and of course, tonight’s meeting was the epitome of a good time!

Contributing that that good time was a pretty hilarious debate, led by Dave, about whether curiosity killed the cat, or perhaps the dog. We found out tonight that in fact, curiosity killed the dog, and not the cat. While cat’s may have 9 lives, the curiosity of dogs just seems to get them into a lot more trouble.

One of our three guests, Christina, won best table topics by telling us how she is often told that she resembles Diana Ross’ daughter, Tracee Ellis Ross. I had to look her up, but I can definitely see it!

Ram gave his second speech tonight, speaking on the common elements of successful movements, which he defined as: making your purpose clear, values are more important than slogans, group conformity is more important than group size, the need to overcome increasing resistance, and relying on engagement rather than rhetoric.

I gave my first speech from the Interpretive Reading manual as I read a scene out of Erich Maria Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front. This book from 1929 was a work of fiction written from the perspective of a German soldier fighting in the trenches of WWI. I highly recommend the book because I think it does a good job of painting some of the horrors of war and how it can break down a person and a society.

Jeremy gave speech from the Storytelling manual, telling us the exciting story of an unforgettable anniversary which he spent with his wife. The two of them were visiting Kathmandu when a major earthquake hit, leaving them to navigate a natural disaster in a foreign land. For his speech tonight, Jeremy won best speaker and Hannah won best evaluator for her evaluation of Ram, congratulations!

We are starting to fill up next months roles pretty well, but could definitely use some Toastmasters and a couple other roles coming up, so please sign up soon! Hope to see you all at our upcoming meetings!


Meeting Notes, 1/24/2017; Theme: Precious Predators

Hello Fellow Chamber Clubbers!

In case you missed tonight’s meeting, here’s a recap!

Tina was our first-time Toastmaster and she did an excellent job! The topic was Precious Predators and Tina’s presentation included many fascinating facts about various predators as well as pictures of predators in action. Some interesting facts about predators: Odds tend to favor the prey over the predators, for example, because of the low success rate in attempts to get food, 90% of cheetah cubs do not make it to their second birthday.

The Word of the Day tonight was Ecosystem: a complex network of interconnected systems. It was used by 3 people, included Jessica who fit it into her prepared speech.

Tonight’s debate was in regards to animal liberation! The pro side argued that animals should be freed back into the wild from zoos, farms, and the oppressive captivity of pet-hood while the con side argued for the status quo. The con side won, good job debaters!

We had many interesting Table Topics tonight about predators of various types. Mitch won best Table Topics by telling us that if he had to choose an animal to go extinct, he would choose dog breeds that have been specifically bread to kill, because of the danger that they pose to society.

There were two speakers tonight, Lauren and Jessica. Lauren gave her Ice-Breaker speech and did a great job as she told us about her many moves growing up and how different experiences over time have helped her to gain confidence and open up as a person. Jessica gave a humorous speech about a trip to Nicaragua involving a bus full of spring-breakers and a trip to a tattoo parlor. Dave won best evaluator for his evaluation of Jessica and Lauren won best speaker for her Ice-Breaker speech. Congratulations!

Please remember to sign up for roles for the upcoming weeks (by the way, we need a Toastmaster next week!) and I look forward to seeing everyone at future meetings!



Meeting Notes, 1/17/2017; Theme: Civil Conversations On Social Media

Meeting Recap, 1/17/17

Louise served as our toastmaster this evening, with the theme “Civil Conversations on Social Media.” She offered a number of tips for keeping our online interactions courteous and respectful:
· Ask genuine questions, and be genuinely curious about the perspective of others.
· Find common ground.
· Do not adhere to false arguments – ask for more information if you feel that someone is mistaken.
· Consider adopting an alter ego to engage those that might not see eye to eye with you.
· When someone is rude to you, respond as if you were having a normal conversation. Ignoring their impoliteness may help to diffuse it.
· Thank people you engage with on social media for sharing their perspectives.

We had fourteen participants in this evening’s meeting – eleven members and three guests. Margaret was the only speaker tonight, delivering an impromptu speech discussing some strategies she has learned for improving communication in personal relationships, from a podcast by Jayson Gaddis.
Margaret was evaluated in a round-robin format, with Jessica, Dave, and guest Danielle weighing in with compliments and suggestions.

Mitch led the debate, about how to properly end a dating relationship that has just begun, when you decide you are no longer interested in seeing the other person. Is it better to be upfront with them about why you have decided to move on, or “ghost” them by just cutting off communication with no explanation? Our participants made a convincing argument that ghosting is the best way to go, to avoid potentially awkward confrontations.

Jessica led Table Topics, with seven participants. Our guest Lenza was awarded the prize for best table topics, discussing the value of comments on an online article or posting. He argued that comments allow the discussion to move away from the potential bias of the original article, and validate a more diverse array of opinions.

The word of the day was decorum, monitored by Dave. Several people utilized the word throughout the meeting, with Louise earning the prize.

Although the start of this meeting was a bit rough due to traffic delays and cancellations/no-shows, the club rallied to make the best of it by stepping up to fill roles where needed, and communicating effectively.


Members are asked to please communicate by text and/or e-mail as early as possible if you are signed up for a role and won’t be able to make it, so we can reassign the role to assure that the meeting runs smoothly. Please contact the toastmaster of the meeting; if no toastmaster is assigned, contact an officer that attends regularly. It doesn’t hurt to let more than one person know, to ensure the message gets through.

Mitch will be performing at amateur comedy night at Jai Thai on Capitol Hill this Sunday evening. All members are invited to come cheer him on!

We have a speech contest coming up. If you are interested in participating with a serious or inspirational speech, talk to Louise, who will announce more details soon.

Monthly post-meeting Happy Hour will be at Angry Beaver on February 7.

Respectfully submitted,
Karen Helseth
CC540 Secretary

Meeting Notes, 1/3/2017; Theme: Ask Mitch

Hello Chamber Clubbers! Here is your recap from tonight’s meeting.

The topic for tonight was “Ask Mitch.” Some of the highlights from what we learned about Mitch tonight were that his 3 favorite movies are Audition, Total Recall, and Lion (not all of these are horror movies, by the way), his spirit animal is the praying mantis, and he gets drawn into the comments section of the internet, despite a recent attempt to stop looking! Apparently, someone is still wrong on the internet!

Another big night for the word of the day, which was used by 6 people! The WOTD was Sage: a profoundly wise man, especially one in ancient history or legend. We are lucky to belong to a club full of sages!

Tonight, we debated which pet makes a better companion, cats or dogs. Dogs won, despite the fur and the slobber, because you can’t beat their unconditional love.

Dave won best Table Topics as he explained the human desire to celebrate holidays, reminding us of the amazing food and music involved in a holiday such as Christmas.

Christa gave her second speech, imploring us to consider a move away from the city and to an island! She shared with us some research indicating that people tend to be happier living in places with lower population density and went over some steps we could take to move our lives to an island.

Azeem gave his Ice-Breaker speech, telling us of his childhood growing up in a huge family focused on school, do it yourself projects, and family time, as well as the story of how he came to go by Azeem, instead of his original name, Abdul.

Louise won best evaluator for her evaluation of Christa, and Azeem won best speaker of the night! Congratulations to you both!

Our first meeting of the year included 12 members and 6 guests and was a great way to start off the new year! Hope to see everyone at a meeting soon!


Your Assistant Secretary


Meeting Notes, 12/13/2016; Theme: New Year’s Resolutions

We had a scintillating meeting this evening, with Olia as our toastmaster discussing New Year’s Resolutions. 13 members attended, and 3 guests. Olia shared her experiences over the past year as she has strived to open herself up to vulnerability, guided by her world-class therapist. In the question of the day, we each shared a resolution we have managed to maintain in the past.

We had three speakers this evening. Jeremy spoke from the storytelling manual, sharing the story of Buddha, who as a youngster was able to escape his pampered lifestyle to discover human suffering, which launched him on the path to enlightenment. Hannah completed project #3 (Get to the Point) in the CC Manual with her speech “Swipe Right,” in which she shared her recent experiences with online dating. Although she was at first apprehensive about the process, she learned that with an open mind and a sense of curiosity, online dating can lead to self-discovery and potentially more. She offered advice and reassurance for those new to the process. Jessica was the third speaker of the evening, delivering project #4 from the Speaking to Inform manual, in a partially impromptu fashion with a Q&A period at the end. Jessica shared the results of her fact finding report on automated convenience stores that are being tested by Amazon. She discussed the pros and cons, and the effect of automation on the job market.

Louise led table topics, out of the question box. Colleen was asked what undone task she would like to get done, and responded that she would like a deep clean of her house of 30 years. Azeem was asked if he could do something dangerous with no risk, what would it be? Jumping out of a plane with no parachute. Mitch discussed his dream job; after pondering his current situation where he is employed but there’s no work to do, he decided that he’d like to get paid to read. I (Karen) discussed what “fantastically impractical” car I would like, and discussed what I would do with a time machine (made out of a Delorean, of course). Guest Nigel was asked what type of business he’d like to open, and said it would be a restaurant.

Jeremy led the debate, on the topic of Human Cloning. The con side won, arguing that we have enough people in the world already, and don’t need any more of ourselves.

The word of the day, selected by Dave Puffert was “annual.” Despite this being a fairly common word, we did have difficulty applying it in context so there was no winner.

Hannah was selected best speaker for the evening, Margaret won best evaluator for her critique of Jessica’s speech, and I (Karen) won best Table Topics.


The annual holiday party is next week (12/20) instead of our regular meeting, at Naked City Brewery. Guests are welcome, and all members are encouraged to attend. Light snacks will be provided, and of course there will be a no-host bar. You can show up as early as 6:30.

There will be no meeting on December 27. We will resume regular meetings on January 3. Sign-up sheet for January is posted and speaking roles are filling fast. All members are encouraged to sign up for roles. If you have signed up to be toastmaster, you can fill in the theme on the spreadsheet.

Respectfully submitted,
Karen Helseth
CC540 Secretary