Tag Archives: Toastmasters

“A good landing” (speech)

Over a year ago, I wrote a post about a speech I gave at the then prospective Toastmasters club that some colleagues were pushing to set up within Airbus in Toulouse. Yesterday, we had the 48th session of the club. And yesterday, the club president (Sarah) announced that the club, Airbus Speakers Toulouse, is now a chartered club (1). For this achievement, I wanted to congratulate our colleague Eduardo, who a few months ago left Toulouse for Seville:

Coincidentally, yesterday I was giving a speech at the club. It was the second project of the advanced manual “Speeches by Management” (2), that is “The Technical Speech”. I had to convert a technical paper into a speech, use a technique called “inverted-pyramid” and effectively read out the speech. This was a challenge in the sense that, since long time ago, I don’t use notes for the speeches I prepare. I don’t like it. And this time, I didn’t need them either. But as part of the exercise I forced myself to use them, in order to practice for a situation in which I might need them. That is Toastmasters: practice, practice, practice. (3)

In order to read out the speech, the manual gave tips on how to write the speech in paper: large fonts, short sentences, bottom of each page blank, etc., very useful tips. See below how for a 10-minute speech, about 1,000 words (4), it took 7 pages, instead of about 2 that it would have normally taken (find here the speech) [PDF, 623 KB].

A good landing

Above you can see how I made some grammar corrections, how I deleted some sentences which did not sound well, how I annotated some instructions (e.g. to distribute copies of the paper), how I emphasized some words and… how I introduced some last-minute adaptations. In Toastmasters’ meetings we normally have a word of the day which speakers should strive to introduce in their speech. Yesterday’s one was split. You can see how upon discovering it at the beginning of the meeting, I scanned my speech and located the 3 places in which I would insert it (which I did in the delivery). 🙂

In our club, we not only have a word of the day but we have a theme of the day, picked by the Toastmaster of the day (5). Yesterday’s theme was Hollywood. You can see how, as soon as I learned about the theme, I decided to make reference of a movie which featured Chuck Yeager (6) as I was quoting a couple of sentences from him. Funny enough, I had learned about that movie thanks to my brother Jaime just a couple of days before.

The speech talks about safety in general aviation, putting the emphasis on precautionary landings when the situation deteriorates. The idea of the speech comes from a safety note published by my flying instructor, Thierry, some time ago in the internal bulletin of the aeroclub. He referred then, and I do so in my speech, to a couple of studies from the French Bureau d’EnquĂŞtes et d’Analyses (BEA), principally one called “Objective: Destination” [PDF, 318 KB].

Finally, see below the video of the speech.

The recording starts about 30″ after the speech started and the quality is not very good. A good part of the image is taken by the table in which the camera rests and the light is not optimal. The sound is not great either, as neither is my vocalisation. In fact, that was one of the criticisms that I got, as part of a generally good feedback (7): I should vocalise more clearly. Nevertheless, I must say that I enjoyed delivering it.

(1) That is in Toastmasters language that we are an official club within the organization.

(2) From the version of 2009, as I have later learned that manual contents and organization have changed since then.

(3) By the way, for this speech: I had it written 4 days ahead of the meeting. I rehearsed it 8 times. Seven of them having Luca as an attentive mentor.

(4) At my speaking pace.

(5) The master of ceremonies in Toastmasters language.

(6) A NASA flight test pilot.

(7) Feel free to comment and provide feedback below :-).

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“A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush” (speech)

Thanks to the drive of some individuals (Sarah, Eduardo, Dominique) a new Toastmasters corporate club (1) is being created within Airbus in Toulouse, where I work.

I joined Toastmasters in 2007 when I lived in Madrid and I have written often about Toastmasters in this blog, however I had become inactive in the last couple of years. This new initiative is very convenient and thanks to it I am engaging myself again in the association.

Today, I gave again a prepared speech in Toastmasters (2). In this post I just wanted to share it. Find it here, “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”, and below:

A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush

The topic of the speech is known for the reader of this blog: impact of delays in aircraft development projects seen as investment projects, the time value of money, discounting cash flows, break even, etc.

The feedback that I got: It was well received, especially the introduction, the interaction with the audience, the structure and how the topic was introduced and the main points called back in the end. However, I lost some individuals with the last slide, which needed some more explanation. I should have simplified the graphic. Some demanded more pauses and better vocalization.

(1) Up to now it is a prospect Toastmasters club.

(2) Project #1 of the “Speeches by Management” advanced manual: “The briefing”.

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Summary of (my) 2012

Let me share with you a brief recap of my 2012. (1)

Seychelles

Finally engaged.

I defined 2010 as a learning year, 2011 as a year on the run… I would describe my 2012 as a year of change:

  • I proposed to Luca and we’ll getting married in May 2013.
  • Luca came to live in Toulouse together with me last September, 4 years after having left Madrid to become a lawyer in The Netherlands.
  • My boss at the beginning of the year, Werner, moved to Germany thus I started reporting to his boss. A colleague, Paula, moved to another department and I had to fill the gap for some months trying to learn a complete new field for me. Yet another colleague, Rosa, moved to another country, and I will partially take over her role… and this implies managing a small team of 3 from January 1st.

I guess that all these changes didn’t give me the stability needed to fulfil all the objectives I had set myself at the beginning of the year… but don’t think 2012 wasn’t rich of events and fun. Have a seat in the roller coaster and run with me:

Sports. I wanted to do plenty of sports… in the end I run some 1,500 kilometres. I competed in 9 races, including tonight’s San Silvestre and two marathons: Paris and Berlin. I set personal best times in marathon (Paris, 3h45′) and 10k. I was not able to do so in half marathon due to an injury in the summer. Injuries forced me to run some 300 kilometres less than in 2011.

The year 2012 caught me running in Toulouse, Paris, Berlin, Torrelodones, Madrid, Sevilla, Rijswick, Papendal, Huelva, Asturias, Gaillac… so in a way it was also a year on the run. I also played some paddle, swam some days (including at North Sea, latitude 58Âş…) and got started with golf!

Learning. This year was also heavy on the learning side. It could have been much heavier if I had reached all my objectives. On the job I had to learn a great deal about configuration management in Airbus and will have to continue to do so, about leading and managing teams, about A400M aircraft systems…

Off of the job:

  • I subscribed to 4 online courses from Coursera and other platforms at the beginning of the year. I kept up with Codecademy for some 2 months while could not finish any of those courses (on valuation, corporate finance, game theory and model thinking). However, at the end of the year I took on some other 3 courses from Venture Lab and this time I did complete all 3 of them!
  • Languages: I started studying Dutch at the beginning of the year and I kept up with it for some 2-3 months… 2013 will force me to re-take it. French…
  • Toastmasters: I almost didn’t attend to my club meetings. I took part in the contests, though. having good experiences in the Spring winning both speech and evaluation and not so good in Autumn, not winning any, though being able to compete also at the area level.

Reading. At the beginning of the year I wanted to read at least 15 books. I started well, but in the end I have finished just 10 while being half way through other 4. Check out “my 2012 reading list“, including just the finished ones.

Investing & helping others. I again set myself high objectives for saving and investing. This year however, the engagement changed the focus of the savings: from stock market to a preference for cash, at least until all the wedding expenses have been paid out. On the charities side: this year I directed 0.9% of my net income to different NGOs (soon I’ll make a similar contribution, check out which ones will I support this time).

Travelling. This year either with Luca, with friends or alone, I visited Monaco (flying aboard a helicopter again!), Seychelles (where I proposed to Luca!), Asturias (twice), Huelva, The Netherlands (Papendal, Rijswick), Berlin – NĂĽrnberg – Munich, Sevilla (twice), Madrid, Scotland, Corsica, Nancy, Geneva… those were the leisure trips; the job made me go to Madrid another 20-25 times (?), that made it tiresome and difficult to combine with other things.

Javi 2.0. For another year I kept it up with the blog. I recently reached 300 posts. I’m not sure whether I’ll always write about 100 posts per year, but if life keeps getting more interesting and I’ve got the time, count on it.

Change of plans due to the bad weather in the mountains, heading south to the coastline, re-calculating the route.

Flying back from Corsica.

Flying. Last year I took on flying lessons. I was slower in this front that had wished to, though it wasn’t always easy to find time slots to fly with so many trips on weekends. I recently surpassed 20 flight hours and started with go-arounds in the airport. Without any doubt, the trip to Corsica with a colleague was the best flying experience of the year. I’ll hopefully start with solo flights at the beginning of 2013 (beware!).

Other reasons for joy…

  • It goes without saying it: Luca came to Toulouse!
  • My sister, Beatriz, completed her masters in Political Sciences. My father spent some 5 months in Bolivia working for NGO teaching children a bit of maths and who-knows-what (he is doing similar work for NGOs now in Madrid), mom kept on giving massages and Jaime had roller coaster year with the A400M!
  • Some friends and relatives got married… Fernando, Diego, HĂ©ctor, Sergio, Ceci.
  • Newborns: Clara, Lenny…

Now it’s time to rest, celebrate and soon to update the objectives setting for 2013. I believe I’ll give myself a more relaxed set of personal goals to cope with job changes, personal changes and else. One thing I am sure of: 2013 will be, again, the best year of my life!

I wish you the same: the best for 2013, enjoy it!

(1) This post is becoming a classic of the blog (like those talking about aircraft discounts, best and worst posts, charities I support, etc). You can see my 2010 and 2011 recaps.

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My 2012 reading list

At the beginning of the year I set as a personal objective to read at least 15 books. This will be a low number for some of you and a high one for others. To me it looked challenging but achievable… though, I did not achieve it. I completed 10 books and started other 4 which I have not yet finished (they’ll be included in the next year reading list).

See below the list with a small comment for each one, the link to a post about the book in the blog (when applicable), links to Amazon (in case you want to get them) and sometimes to the authors. I have also included a small rating from one to three “+” depending on how much do I recommend its reading:

  1. This time is different” (by C. Reinhart and K. Rogoff) (++): very interesting book offering a comprehensive book to economic and financial crises since 8 centuries ago. The book is full of graphics, statistics, example, anecdotes… I already wrote three posts about it: “The Republic of Poyais“, “The march toward fiat money” and “ÂżCĂłmo le ha ido a España en esta crisis?“. 
  2. Le Petit Prince” (by Antoine de Saint-ExupĂ©ry) (++): even if narrated as a children’s book, it contains several idealistic messages, fine criticisms of how adults behave, etc. The teachings are mainly transmitted through conversations between a child and the prince and encounters with other characters… I wrote a post about it “Le Petit Prince“.
  3. The consequences of the peace” (by John M. Keynes) (+++): the book was written at the time of the Versailles Conference after the World War I, which he attended as a delegate from the British Treasury. In the book, Keynes explained how the disaster in the making was being produced, due to lack of communication between representatives from USA, UK, France and Italy, and the intention from Clemenceau of taking as much as possible from Germany. Keynes makes a series of estimates of Germany’s production capabilities and that of the regions being taken from it and comparing them with the pretensions that were being included in the negotiations of the treaty. In the book, he warns well in advance the economic and social disaster that the treaty is going to send Germany into. (I have not yet written a specific review of the book, but since I had underlined several passages I don’t discard writing it).
  4. Le bal des ambitions” (by VĂ©ronique Guillermard and Yann le Galès) (+): the book tells the story behind the creation of EADS and its first years. Very much like in a thriller, it gives account about the characters involved, the battles for power, etc. I wrote a post about it “Le Bal des ambitions“.
  5. DesolĂ©, nous avons ratĂ© la piste” (by Stephan Orth and Antje Blinda) (+): The book consists of a series of awkward situations in a flight described by passengers, pilots and cabin crew, mainly miscommunications between the crew and passengers or funny messages received from the cockpit. The book originated after a collection of the anecdotes posted by readers of the online version of Der Spiegel. . See the review I wrote about it “Sorry, I missed the runway“.
  6. Poor Charlie’s Almanack: The Wit and Wisdom of Charles T. Munger” (by Charlie Munger, compiled by Peter D. Kaufman) (+++): the book is a compilation of Munger’s speeches, quotes, interviews, articles, letters, etc. Some of his speeches are available in Youtube (e.g. this one given for the commencement of USC Law in 2007). One of the main takeaways is the use of several mental models to analyze situations we live in our lives (instead of being stalled in the few models which we are more comfortable with). Another recurring topic is the lack of training in psychology that we get (or even his criticism of how psychology is taught in faculties). I haven’t written a post about the book, but I think I should, if only to share more of his wit and wisdom with you.
  7. The Peter Principle: Why Things Go Wrong” (by Laurence J. Peter) (+++): the book is a hilarious account of situations that arise in companies and institutions of why and how people are promoted, cornered, etc., or in his words is a treatise on hierarchology. The name of the book comes from the Peter Principle which says: “In a hierarchy, every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence”. I already wrote about it here.
  8. 2010 Odyssey Two” (by Arthur C. Clarke) (++): the book is a sequel to the famous “2001: A Space Odyssey“, and there is a movie as about this book. The story starts with doctor Heywood Lloyd travelling in a combined Soviet-American mission to Jupiter in order to find the spaceship Discovery One from the previous mission and what went wrong with it… I won’t tell more of the plot to avoid spoiling it for someone. I would say that I liked more this book (and movie) than the first one.
  9. The Litigators” (by John Grisham) (++): this novel is very much like most of John Grisham. In this one the plot is about a star young lawyer graduated from Harvard Law School who cannot stand the pressure from a big firm and quits it to join a mediocre small firm with two partners who chase victims of small accidents to help them get some  compensation from insurance companies, with the hope of reaching the big class action which could make the rich.
  10. Soccernomics” (by Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski) (+++): the authors use economics’ techniques, plenty of data, statistics, citing several papers, studies, etc., in order to bring up uncovered issues about football (such as transfer market, what makes some nations more successful in football…) or refocus the attention about other ones. See the review I wrote about it.

I also completed two other partial objectives: to read at least 2 books in French and 2 about politics/economy. And as always, on the learning side from reading there is Twitter (a source of information or distraction?), the subscriptions delivered to home of the weekly The Economist and the two monthly magazines Scientific American and Toastmasters.

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Preparation vs. procrastination

I subscribed to the Humorous Speech competition of my Toastmasters club in Toulouse, Rosemasters, before the summer break. The contest was held last Saturday. I had competed in the previous round of contests of the club back in March, when I was lucky enough to win the speech contest. You may see the speech in this post.

I say “lucky” because, even if the message of the speech might have been valuable, and the delivery was OK, I did not prepare then as I should have. I procrastinated. I wrote the speech the week of the contest, read it some times along the week, but only practiced the morning of the contest. However, my procrastination was not punished…

For the speech contest of last Saturday I procrastinated a bit more. I thought about the topic during the week of the contest: self-deprecation about my integration in France, OK. But only got to write the speech the morning of the contest. I enjoyed the delivery of the speech, but I guess it was not as good as it should have been. What is worse, even if nobody but Luca and me noticed, I forgot a whole minute of speech with a couple of good lines… this is what happens when you don’t prepare. I came in last of the 3 contestants in terms of judges’ evaluation. Deservedly. Hopefully I will learn the lesson for the next time.

The winner, Dominique, on the other hand made a wonderful speech using an ukulele, which he had purchased for the speech about a month ago, learnt to play few notes to accompany the speech, thought of tens of uses for the ukulele within a speech, put up a great structure, used lots of body language, storytelling… I loved his speech. Congratulations to Dominique!

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Summary of (my) 2011

Let me share with you a brief recap of my 2011 (as I already did last year).

If I then characterized 2010 as a learning year, I would say 2011 was a year on the run.

At the beginning of the year I set out my objectives for 2011, of which I have achieved 71.4% (just above my 70% target!). One of them was only to “become again a frequent runner”, for which I set up some modest steps, e.g., buy new running shoes, run 3 days before mid-January, run a 10k popular race before November, lose some 10kg by June… If there was a yearly objective which I widely met, it was this one:

Ăšltimo kilĂłmetro de los 100km de Millau 2011.

Last kilometre at the ultramarathon "100km de Millau".

  • I ran over 170 days along the year, covering over 1,800 kilometres.
  • I took part in 11 popular races, including 6 of 10km, 2 half marathons, 1 marathon (42km) and 1 ultramarathon (100km). More races and more kilometres than ever before.
  • I found myself running in Granada, Villa del RĂ­o, Madrid, Torrelodones, Luarca, Rijswijk, Wijchen, Toulouse, Luz Saint Sauveur, Chicago, Washington DC, Des Moines, Montreal…

Learning. After taking some classes in Madrid, I continued studying French and now I feel more confident when facing shop attendants :-). I had to learn and continue to learn lots of new things every day at the new job where I landed about a year ago.

I still enjoy as learning moments the print weekly issues of The Economist or the monthly issues of Scientific American. I delivered the necessary speeches to become ACB within Toastmasters (though lately I’ve missed more meetings than I should). Finally, I read a dozen books along the year (a bit less than in previous years, though some in the new eReader!), being the ones I liked the most the following: first, second and third.

Investing & helping others. I set myself a high objective of saving and investing: I overachieved it by around 50%. I once mentioned it in Twitter: the best thing behind investing is the discipline of saving that is behind it. I not only dedicated a percentage of personal income to savings but as I announced in a post at the beginning of 2010, I directed a percentage to different charities. I initially set it out to be 0.7% of my income, but after raising some funds and contributing others to charities related to the races in which I am taking part, in the end this percentage has been well over 1% in 2011.

Travelling. We together visited Montreal, Ottawa, DC, Chicago, Omaha, and several places in the south of France and throughout Spain. The moment that I liked the most was attending the Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholders meeting, no doubt.

Javi 2.0. I continued to often write in this blog with some remarkable posts. I admit that my twitter account is one of my biggest sources of information / distraction.

Sports. Apart from the running, I recently re-started playing paddle with colleagues, became a kind of fan of the rugby local team, Stade Toulousain, had to subscribe to Canal + not to miss any of Real Madrid matches while living abroad.

Other reasons for joy have been:

  • our friends Teresa & Alberto, MarĂ­a & Ă“scar, Isa & Pedro got married,
  • we welcomed the newborns Mar, Hugo, Luis and Eneko, while another of our friends is pregnant today (that we know),
  • my sister Beatriz started working as an intern; my brother Jaime continued to enjoy his job in Airbus and moved to a new apartment; my mother Fidela continued to take several courses (and to give wonderful massages) and my father Juan Bautista finally and happily retired (after working for 43 years!).
  • Luca completed all the requirements to become a full-fledged lawyer, winning some court cases in the process.

To close the year, I started taking flight lessons, pursuing another childhood dream. This will allow me to continue learning and experiencing new things!

Now it’s time to update the objectives setting for 2012. This year the exercise will be easier as I already have the methodology and the habit. If the objectives are well chosen and challenging enough, next year’s account will be even shinier.

I wish you the same: a shinier 2012, enjoy it!

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Quantity leads to Quality in Toastmasters clubs (#TM59)

About 2 weeks ago I gave a speech at Rosemasters club about the performance of clubs and its relation with the amount of members they have. My assignment was to give a 5-7 minute fact-finding report and then handle a 2-3 minute Q&A period. You may find the video and the script of the speech below.

In this post I just wanted to share a couple of graphics I produced while preparing the speech (one of the graphics is used in the speech) which I find quite revealing for Toastmasters club and district officers.

I took the figures of Toastmasters District 59 clubs at the end of the period 2009-2010 (173 clubs) and checked goals achieved within the DCP program per club versus the members they had at the end of the period. Excluding the clubs chartered within that same year (for which it’s complex to achieve many of those goals in less than a year), I found a clear trend that the more members the club has, the more goals it achieves.

Average members in a club vs. DCP goals achieved (D59 2010).

This fact is so simple that no fact-finding was needed, but I wanted to check whether there was a real difference in membership between average clubs (those meeting 4, 5, 6 goals), good clubs (achieving 7, 8, 9) and the top ones (reaching 10). And the answer is yes. Top clubs have in average over 40 members. Good ones have around 30, while average ones have around 25.

Thus, I believe that clubs should not be content with reaching 20 (as DCP requires) or 25 members. Their goal should to reach around 40 members and ensure they have the highest quality. In that way they would also be on the safe side and resist any sudden loss in membership. Clubs having that many members may face issues of finding slots for members to take active roles in meetings, I guess that the preferable solution is to have extra meetings (meet weekly).

The other interesting graphic shows to what extent incentives shape reality. As Toastmasters officers know, clubs are distinguished when they reach 5, 7 or 9 goals out of 10. A club that achieves 6 goals gets the same recognition than a club reaching 5 (the same applies to a club reaching 8→7, or 10→9). So you can see how officers push members in order to achieve either 5, 7 or 9 goals and how most of the clubs reach exactly those numbers and just a few end up the year with an even number of goals.

Number of clubs with a given DCP performance (D59 2010).

Video of the speech:

Script of the speech:

What do you think this represents?

Mr TM, fellows,

I joined TM in 2007. At that time, there were 3 clubs in Madrid: Standing Ovation, Excelencia and TM Madrid, which is the club I joined. Why did I join? Because I saw a great atmosphere, listened to 3 different prepared speeches, good evaluations… I thought “this is a club I want to be part of”.

We can say that the Quality of the club was high.

In this speech I will try to show you that in Toastmasters Quantity leads to Quality. I will go through personal experience, a bit of history and some statistics.

6 months after joining the club I became an officer, I was the VP education. Then I started taking note of the number of members and guests that came to every meeting, I did this for 2 years… I can tell you that as this number grew, the meetings were getting better, etc.

Let me now tell you something about Toastmasters.

In Toastmasters there is a system for evaluating clubs. This system is called the Distinguished Club Program, the DCP. It measures several things: how many members achieve CC, AC, how many new members come into the club, etc… The DCP tries to measure the Quality of the club.

There are 10 goals in the DCP that clubs should try to achieve. If a club reaches 5 or 6, it is recognised as Distinguished Club. If a club reaches 7 or 8 goals it gets a higher recognition. If a club reaches 9 or 10 goals is awarded the maximum recognition: President Distinguished Club.

Now let’s see how Rosemasters was doing these years.

Rosemasters was founded in October 2008. That 1st  year ended with 22 members and achieved 3 DCP goals. The 2nd year it was already recognised as Distinguish Club, for having achieved 5 goals, and finished with 22 members. This year, in its 3rd year of existence, it has already achieved 7 goals and can achieve 9, with 20 members. For this it will be recognised as Select Distinguished Club or President.

What this club is doing is remarkable. Let me show you why:

I gathered statistics from all 173 clubs existing at last year end in Europe.

  • Best performing clubs, with 10 goals, had above 40 members.
  • Clubs with a result like Rosemasters this year (7, 8, 9) had on average have 30 members.
  • Clubs which achieved 4, 5 & 6 goals had ~25 members.
  • The weak clubs had ~15 members.

Let’s now look at clubs of the size of Rosemasters: between 18-22 members. They do not achieve as many goals as this club as achieved; this is why what this club has achieved is remarkable.

Why do I tell you this about Quality and Quantity of members?

As I said at the beginning: I believe that in Toastmasters Quantity leads to Quality. I believe that to make sure that this club continues to be healthy, that we continue to enjoy good meetings, we need more members.

I believe that finding members is a collective effort, it cannot be just an action for the VP Membership or the VP of Publicity; we all need to bring friends, family, colleagues from the work…

We should try to have at least 30 members, and then retain them. How to do that? We can discuss I in another speech. But remember in Toastmasters Quantity leads to Quality.

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