More questions. More help. Introducing Mastering Table Topics Second Edition.

Give the gift of encouragement

The following is a speech that I gave at my Toastmasters club today.

There are plenty of gifts that we can give this holiday season, but one of the most important is the gift of encouragement. When someone is down, when someone has suffered a great loss, or when someone has just lost faith, the support you can give that person can be the greatest gift they can receive. A few words can turn around a person’s entire life.

Words of encouragement must have three attributes. Read more »

Feel the fear and videotape yourself anyway

I had a difficult task at work the other day: Asking my coworkers if they would be willing to appear in a department video. Most of them said no. The one person who agreed did so reluctantly. One person gave me a “if no one else would do it,” but then offered me a plate of brownies to get out of doing it. Read more »

Orange Sky

We have been without the sky for four days now. Instead, the air has been orange. Read more »

Are ahs and ums OK?

Ahs and ums have long been considered the bane of public speakers. In Toastmasters, we have a person at each meeting who is in charge of counting such verbal fillers so we can learn how to reduce them. But according to an article in the Daily Mail, experts at Stirling and Edinburgh Universities say that such sounds (which they call “disfluencies”) may actually make speeches more memorable and easier to recall.

Before you get too excited and start using ahs and ums like you’re an NFL linebacker being interviewed on ESPN, Read more »

The toughest (and most fun) job in Little League

Picture this: It’s a hot September afternoon in southern California. Field temperature is probably around 90°F (32° C). You strap on a pair of shin guards, put on a metal face mask, and slip your left arm into a protective pad, just as the Spartan warriors held their shields. You grip a plastic device with wheels that count balls, strikes, outs, and innings, and you hope you didn’t lose track. And if that isn’t challenging enough, your son is playing, but you still have to be impartial.

That’s what it’s like to be a Little League umpire. Read more »