Word of the Week Wednesday: chrestomathy

This Wednesday’s Word of the Week is: chrestomathy.

A chrestomathy is a selection of literary passages usually by the same author and often from a foreign language.

The word comes ultimately from the Greek chresto meaning useful and math meaning learning.  Chrestomathies are generally used as a tool for studying foreign languages.

The term is also used in the world of computer science where it refers to a collection of similar programs written in various programming languages used to demonstrate syntax differences.

This is one of the more esoteric words I’ve featured in a while and I think I just enjoy the strangeness of it.


Humorously Speaking: Leave Them With A Smile

The second project in the Humorously Speaking Advanced Communicator Manual is: Leave Them With A Smile.

The goal of this project is to present a speech on a serious topic that begins and ends with a humorous story.

For this project, I presented a speech at my company’s annual Technology Expo promoting the benefits of Toastmasters.

In order to show what Toastmasters had done for me, I told the story of giving my Ice Breaker speech and how nervous I was.  The punchline was the written feedback I had gotten that said: “For God’s sake man, breathe!”

From there, I showed what an improvement Toastmasters had helped me to achieve, by continuing to breathe throughout my presentation.

I discussed the many opportunities for advancement in Leadership and Public Speaking skills.

To close, I mentioned that there have been many famous Toastmasters.

Since my audience was all technology workers, I focused on Leonard Nimoy.

I said that there was no guarantee that being in Toastmasters would get you the job of Science Officer of a starship, but that you never could tell.



Word of the Week Wednesday: emblazon

This Wednesday’s Word of the Week is: emblazon.

Emblazon means to inscribe, decorate or celebrate.

It’s used extensively in heraldry, as is an image emblazoned on an escutcheon.

The sense of being inscribed is used in the Morrissey song: “Break Up The Family“: “The strange logic in your clumsiest line it stayed emblazoned on my mind

Humorously Speaking: Warm Up Your Audience

For the first project in the Humorously Speaking Advanced Communicator manual is Warn Up Your Audience.

The goal of this project is to present a speech that begins with a humorous story.

My speech for the project was entitled: I Could Be Wrong.

I began the speech with a story of the time I saw a spider in the shower and washed it down the drain.  As I was rinsing out my hair, I saw something out of the corner of my eye that I was sure was the spider come back for revenge.  I must have jumped fifty feet before I took a closer look and realized that it was just a razor.

I used the story to make the point that, however certain you are that you are right.   It never hurts to take a minute and make sure.

The speech was quite well-received and I feel the funny, self-deprecating story went a long way to making a speech which could easily have been taken as preachy much more effective.

Word of the Week Wednesday: martinet

This Wednesday’s Word of the Week is: martinet.

A martinet is a strict disciplinarian, someone who rigidly follows rules or procedures.

The word comes from Jean Martinet, the developer of a system of drill (as in Drill Sergeant).

It reminds me of the word marionette, although that has a completely different feel to it.

High Performance Leadership Part IV: Working the Plan

Part IV of the High Performance Leadership is by far the meatiest part of the project.

In this stage, I met several times with my action team, reviewing the progress in each separate Key Results area.  This was also the time for more intensive support and encouragement.

We reviewed the Action Plan and Timetables, making adjustments as necessary.  We also shifted responsibility from one party to another when the first was unable to continue with the project.

Towards the end of this stage, I met again with my Guidance Committee to evaluate the progress so far and make note of any changes to original plan were needed as well as to re-evaluate the entire Vision, Mission and Core Values of the project to ensure they were still valid.  I also shared the feedback for my Action Team on my leadership skills.

What I discovered was that the original timelines and milestones set were a touch too optimistic and needed to be adjusted.

The next, and final step of the project is to analyze the results and present them to the club in a 5-7 minute speech covering the project as a whole and what I learned about leadership through the experience.


Word of the Week Wednesday: prerogative

This Wednesday’s Word of the Week is: prerogative.

In honor of Independence Day, I’ve chosen a freedom-related word for this week.

A prerogative is an exclusive right or privilege usually arising from position or authority.  Often, it is used in reference to royal privilege.

When the Declaration of Independence was signed, the royal prerogative was taken away from the royalty and imparted it to the American people.

The word comes from Middle English describing the right to vote first.

Happy Fourth of July!

Toastmasters Year in Review (2011-2012)

The 2011-2012 Toastmasters year has just come to a close and now is the time for a retrospective review of this past year events and accomplishments.

I started the year with the challenge of serving four separate clubs as Area Governor while still helping to guide my own club as Immediate Past President and keeping on track with my personal educational goals.

Serving as Area Governor was challenging and very rewarding.  I was able to get to know many fellow Toastmasters and help the clubs in my area to define and achieve their goals.  As an Area Governor, I also served as part of the District Executive Committee.  There was a lot of traveling involved (up and down the entire State), but I’m glad I stepped up.  My area ended the year as a Distinguished Area.

In my club, I helped to advise the current President to lead our club to achieve Select Distinguished Club status and formed the Nominating Committee to propose nominees for this coming year’s Club Officers.

For my personal educational goals, I completed my Advanced Communicator Bronze and lead several committees as part of my High Performance Leadership project to increase participation and attendance at our club meetings.

In all, I would call this a very successful year.

My plans for the coming year are:

  • Serve as my club’s Vice-President Education, with a goal of having four members complete their Competent Communicator.
  • Finish off my High-Performance Leadership project, which will achieve Advanced Leader Silver.
  • Complete my Advanced Communicator Silver.




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