Virtual Speakers (Espoo-Hyvinkää, Finland)


A club near you

Virtual Speakers (Espoo, Hyvinkää in Finland) is unique in Europe – and we believe in the rest of the world: it communicates by means of video conferencing between two KONE* sites creating a virtual interaction space for speakers and evaluators. It thus offers the ideal environment to experience and train with video presentations, an important aspect of today’s professional communications.

Virtual Speakers welcome you! Virtual Speakers welcome you on Kone’s sites in Espoo and Hyvinkää

I asked Luis Garcia, one of the founders of the club and current president, what were the main differences between his club and any other Toastmasters club:

Communicating with the support of video technology is generally new to our members and guests: they have to tame the camera first. This requires to have one’s gestures and voice steered to it and keep the eye contact with the beam.  Beginners always feel a little bit nervous about the presence of this tool. Speaking to the camera also implies a clear enunciation and pronunciation and, being direct, especially when…

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Generations of Toastmasters: oldies rock!

Three weeks ago, I was attending Division C conference in Dresden on behalf of our district (D59). At the end of my bilingual speech in German and English, the chief judge, a distinguished 60 yr old lady, came to me:
– “You know, you were fantastic!” (author’s note: for a change)
– “Thank you!”
– “When did you join Toastmasters?”
– “Six years ago”
– “And you are already in a district position! They pick you up young nowadays! I joined many, many years ago… it’s my mother who introduced me to Toastmasters!”
– “Really?” And I have to admit that I expected this conversation to turn very “Toastmasters” but then:
– “She is 92 yr old and competes for the Eurovision song contest selection in Switzerland! It would be so nice if Toastmasters could support her by voting for her!” I was looking in Marion’s eyes full of sparkles when evoking her mother who I later discovered (see link below) was a Hollywood star song writer among others for the crooner Dean Martin and Doris Day. I could share her emotion for Inge’s song, Inge whose appetite for competing showed an uncommon determination and inner force! I would like to keep my promise to this Toastmasters member and tell you about her fantastic mother and if you feel like voting for her song, here is the link 
Few days ago, I came across another “force de la nature” as we say in French (a person of incredible moral strength). As I could not attend our district autumn conference for professional reasons, I received lots of messages and pictures to compensate for my non-attendance – and some technical problems that prevented our OC and attendants to properly connect to the internet. Among them, a 79 yr old lady sent me a quite mysterious introduction:
“Hello! I have pictures of the Budapest conference. How would you like to get them by e-mail or do you prefer I upload them to flickr?” which sounded very much like a TM wikileaks attempt to my ears. It was signed Julie Kertesz, PhD, DTM – as if these two titles were equivalent – with numerous links under her name.  I thought Flickr would make the whole process easier to manage, I replied “Please send them by linking to Flickr” (logical to remain in the world of the essential)!
When I got her pictures, I went through them. They were very poetical, some of them poignant such as this installation by the Danube river: dozens of meters of old shoes aligned by the shore, symbolizing people who were forced into its cold winter waters in 1944. I could sense she was an artist of some kind, and I came across her image on our district’s FB group, but I did not know anything about her life. And then in the middle of this wealth of pictures (she has posted more than 50 000 for the last 9 yrs when she started to photograph),  there was a picture of herself on the plain page of a local newspaper with a big 77. I thought maybe she is 77 yr old – but what journalist would stripe a plain page with the age of a woman over 40 even opening her arms widely with such vitality and appetite for life???
I e-mailed her back “What is this article about you – I do not read Hungarian?” One day later, I got the full text in Hungarian with a note “Do you prefer this text translated into French or English?” (always this brevity!). Although my mother tongue is French, for obvious reasons I said “English please, much easier to share with the others”… and there I got my portrait of an old lady as an artist: Julie, now 80, became a comedian at age 77 and in 2012 she won the silver newcomer comedy title in the UK. Equally successful is her story with photography: at times, several thousands of people visit her pages daily! Tell me who else gets similar results?
Julie’s message about Toastmasters is very clear: “As to what Toastmasters, gave me, ‘most important’ the interviewer asked, I did answer: the most important was giving me confidence. (And a tribe everywhere I go.)”
I know that in every corner of Toastmasters, there are such gems, people with purpose, positive, daring… they might be of another generation but both Inge and Julie are amazing women communicating the joy of life and the unbeatable spirit of challenge! Thank you ladies, you rock!
Author: Ruxandra Balboa-Pöysti Reviewer: Cindy Piccolo

Better presentations with the help of a vitamin pill


4742089272_917060d23a_bWritten by: Henrik Häkkä

When I was a kid my mother used to give me multivitamins during the winter. The pills were white, about a centimeter wide and had the profile of an ellipse. I always found them a bit hard to swallow but with a gulp of orange juice they went down just fine.

As the pills had a slightly sweet taste a one morning decided to let one melt in my mouth. The sweet taste lasted for a while after which the bitter taste of the core pushed through, after which I quickly swallowed the pill.

Fast forward some 25 years to the corporate world. If you think about a typical Power Point presentation chances are your mind conjures images of slides full of graphs and charts. (The other possibility probably being slides crammed full with bullet points that the presenter reads out aloud.) You are being presented a long report with information you are hard pressed to understand the value of.

Assuming there is a reason for this bombardment of graphs and charts what is the point if you sleep through the presentation? Now matter how important the information is it does not matter if it is beyond your grasp. Maybe the problem is your concentration. Maybe you should have drank another cup of coffee or maybe you just have a short attention span. Or maybe there is a way to make presentations more interesting?

How do you make a report masked as a presentation interesting then? One way is to make them a better experience. How do you make them an experience? By sugarcoating the information with stories.

Storytelling, contradictory to traditional left brain thinking still common in corporate settings, is a very powerful way to convey information. As part of a suiting story information is put to context which helps the audience to see why the information might be of importance for themselves.

A story to support information needed be long, in fact shorter might be better. In his book The Leader’s Guide to Storytelling Steven Denning argues that in addition to a good story being true, positive in tone and contrasting the situation before and after the story also needs to be minimalistic in nature. A too detailed story may steal the focus from the information.

What inspired me to write this particular text however was another book, Nancy Duartes Resonate. In her superb book Nancy describes the value of stories in presentations like this:

Mixing report material with story material makes information more digestible. It’s the sugar that help the medicine go down.

As I read this description for the first time I had a big smile on my face. Not only did it take me back to my childhood but was also a great realisation as it nails the importance of stories that I long had known, but had had a hard time define.

For me storytelling was also one of the reasons i decided to join Toastmasters. Keeping regular presentations and receiving feedback is a great way to practise storytelling, something that is both a joy and that I am already seeing the benefit of professionally.

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Like a Roller Coaster


Written by: Nando Miranda


The first time I ever rode a real roller coaster was when I was 8 years old. My parents took my three older siblings and I to Disney World near Kissimmee, Florida, during a road trip from Charleston, South Carolina, to Montgomery, Alabama. We had spent the previous three years at the Panama Canal Zone where my father was stationed. We were oblivious to American television commercials and amusement parks.

Space Mountain was the name of this roller coaster. It still exists to this day. And yes, I was scared out of my shorts, no less. After the anticipation of waiting in line coupled with a great fear of the unknown, my white knuckles gripped the safety bars as the car slowly lurched clackety-clack up the hill, in total darkness!

Space, the Final Frontier.



No way to turn back now!


I’m going to die! I’m going to die!



Oh my gosh, all I saw was space around me! Stars, galaxies, meteors, comets smothered with a sudden moment of panic as I thought to myself, I can’t see the track!

Not knowing where this coaster was going, I squinted my eyes and focused ahead trying to catch a glimpse of a falling star illuminating any tiny part of the dark track. I tried to figure out how far this first drop was going to last and predict which direction the car would turn next. Not only did the designers of Space Mountain give me the fear of a fast, indoor coaster, but being virtually “blind” during the trip was a cruel, yet welcome, added bonus.

Whenever I prepare a speech for my Toastmasters Club in Helsinki, Finland, called Stadi Talkers, I think about Space Mountain. I have the same chills beforehand, the anticipation, the butterflies in the stomach, the preparation, the self-questioning stage, the point of no return, the out-of-body self-awareness of all eyes on me, including my own. Ridiculous, but true.

I just signed up for speech #7.

10 days out

I have time to prepare.

5 days out

What is my topic? What is my structure?

3 days out

I’m going to die! I’m going to die!

Prepare, practice, then deliver!

Do you know what is the best part of the speech writing process for me? I am the designer. I can map out how I want my audience to experience it. I can also build the introduction and the conclusion to have any effect. But most importantly, I am the creator of twists and turns and drops and hills and varying speeds, of which, the audience has no clue. Of course each audience member may try to figure out what would be said next, some of them perhaps more accurately than others, but they are all essentially — in the dark.

You have to ask yourself.  Which do you enjoy more? Being the roller coaster passenger? Listening to speeches without knowing what is to come? Or do you prefer to create your own roller coaster and let it unfold before the audience as they experience it?

I highly suggest you aim to become an expert in both roles. Learn to be a better listener and practice to become a better public speaker. With both, you’ll need to have your mind and eyes wide open facing your own fears. Regardless of what you try first, you will induce the same feelings of foreboding, anticipation, excitement, butterflies, a sense of relief that it is all over, but above all, you will obtain a sense of accomplishment.

You have survived, you are alive! Now go and build your own Space Mountain!

– Photo of Space Mountain by Nando Miranda. All rights reserved.



Last year I started googling words “presentation skills” and “fear public speaking” and that is how the Toastmasters first jumped in.
While abroad I also heard about Toastmasters through one friend who recommended it based on her very positive experience. That is how I finally discovered the Helsinki Toastmasters in my hometown Finland.

My reason to join was to overcome fear related to public speaking and presentations. Basically this means any situation where I am in
the spotlight. Especially the working life can include many situations like that. I believe that I have benefited starting from the first guest
experience, when I realized that performing skills are something that any of us develop at anytime in our lives. It’s never too late. During
the latest period I have already given two speeches and taken actively the other meeting roles. We also learn how to constructively
evaluate the presentations which is important. The mentoring program is also beneficial.

My goal is to become a confident performer including participating in the Toastmaster competitions… Speaking of which please join us on Saturday 20th October from 10.30-14 to enjoy the Finland area humorous speech competition, on this week! Place: Kasarmikatu 23, Helsinki (venue: Handelsgillet). The event is free of charge!

Looking forward seeing you all new faces too  = )

Cheers, Nadia Chaichee
Helsinki Toastmasters VP PR

Who inspires you in the Technology arena?


Written by: Oscar Santolalla

Last year I became particularly interested in public speaking, and as many of you, I work in the technology sector; so I started paying attention to who speaks well, who is inspiring, and who can explain complex things in easy and enjoyable words. I tried to find some article or “top ten” in Google, and I only found lists of keynote speakers, unknown guys that can come to a big IT company’s headquarters and supposedly motivate all the employees gathered during a special event. I was not looking for this, however. I wanted to know about the real experts in technology and business, those whose innovation spirit, experience and expertise, drive the industry and have the power to change our world and way of thinking and teach us in what direction the wind of change blows.
I then decided to write a list myself. What do the people on my list have in common? The unequivocal answer is Experience. All these personages have been around for many years. Surely the list covers only those who speak in English, and whose focus is mostly Information Technology and Clean Tech. My selection also emphasizes speakers who have been active and relevant in the past two years.
This Top 8 list is shown in alphabetical order.

1. Jeff Bezos (Amazon)

(Jeff Bezos delivers graduation speech at Princeton University)

Amazon’s CEO is a very mature speaker, unarguably one of the best on this list. His drive made the most prominent survivor of the 90s’ dot coms. The company has evolved, continuously transformed its business model and reached a privileged position today. Even in the hardest and most uncertain times, Bezos has managed to convince investors on how his ideas would become successful products and services. If you see him speaking, you will clearly understand why.  As a public speaker, Jeff has a special power and expressiveness that is rare to find and hard to ignore.

Strengths: Great body language and effective vocal variety while speaking.

2. Steve Blank (Independent author)

(Days of Future Past)

Do you think you know Silicon Valley’s history? No matter what you answered, you should hear it from Steve Blank’s mouth. His long experience as a technology entrepreneur makes him the best in the topic. Now retired, Blank is a very inspiring author and keynote speaker. When you listen to him, you can hear the voice of an extraordinary educator. And indeed he also spends his time teaching in Stanford and Berkeley, where students can learn his “scientific method” on how to manage a startup.

Strengths: Elegant, educational style of speaking. Use of stories.

3. Jack Dorsey (Square, Twitter)

(The Power of Curiosity and Inspiration)

Few tech entrepreneurs can count on their records having created two awesome and revolutionary products in few years. Jack is one of them. Now he is CEO of Square and executive chairman of Twitter. Not a small thing. In spite of his youth, his presentations and public appearances show both maturity and high confidence that inspire people. I find particularly remarkable his use of stories to present technical ideas and to show how they have a meaning for the society. Dorsey will have a lot to show us in the future.

Strengths: Use of stories. High confidence.

4. Bill Gross (Idealab)

(Learning From Failure. 20 Years of Entrepreneurial Lessons in 20 Minutes)

Idealab‘s CEO has been both an entrepreneur and inventor since he was in high school.  He is the only one of this list who is more focused on clean tech than on IT. Bill always explains to us with endless enthusiasm his proposals on how to face today’s energy challenges. His fluency is extraordinary; few people can impeccably speak technically complex topics at that pace. Good humor is another salient ingredient of any Gross’ speeches.

Strengths: Great sense of humor. Capacity of explaining hard concepts in an enjoyable way.

5. Mikko Hyppönen (F-Secure)

(Fighting viruses, defending the net)

Have you thought that a presentation about information security has to be boring? If you said yes it is because you have never seen and listened to Mikko Hyppönen, Chief Research Officer at F-Secure. He is a real showman who is up to date in all the aspects of this branch of technology. His always creative presentations combine well-designed slides with impressive demos, and make you realize how important security is in today’s life.

Strengths: Excellent use of visualizations in slides. Easiness of saying complex concepts in a clear way.

6. Steve Jobs (Apple)

(Launch of MacBook Air)

He is not with us anymore, but the former Apple’s CEO has been probably the most admired person of the most recent years. In every new product’s keynote presentation, he showed us not only a product but a dream. Do you remember when he unveiled MacBook Air from a manila envelope? Steve Jobs was a showman at the stage: minimalistic, calm, but extremely powerful. I particularly liked his inspirational campaigns such as his “Think different” series of videos, which made him a naturally inspiring person.

Strengths: Minimalistic slides. Spectacular style of showing new products. Inspirational way of speaking.

7. Guy Kawasaki (Garage Technology Ventures)

(The Art of Enchantment)

He started a technology career as Macintosh Chief Evangelist in the early 80s. Nowadays he leads Garage Technology Ventures, and he is also author of great books such as “The art of the start” and “Enchantment”. The latter is an excellent guide of how to convince people of your ideas by saying the right words and by shipping great products. When you see him before an audience you clearly realize how mature speaker he is, and how his humor makes any of his appearances enjoyable.

Strengths: Great sense of humor. Maturity in public speaking.

8. Mark Templeton (Citrix)

(XenClient announcements during Synergy 2011 keynote)

Citrix Systems is nowadays a company leader in virtualization and cloud computing, but not long ago it struggled to survive. One of the biggest orchestrators of this transformation has been Templeton’s leadership and vision. He is an example of how a mid-level manager can become a CEO thanks to his excellence in communication. His use of body language is also a characteristic hard to ignore from him. Mark is mentioned as a Case Study in the famous book “Slideology“, by Nancy Duarte. In any of his presentations, we can see his innate gift to think visually.

Strengths: Powerful body language. Use of minimalistic slides and other visual aids.

These speakers are fantastic paradigms for any technical pitch. I am positive that, regardless of your taste, you will find excellent models to follow on this Top 8 list. Observe every guy’s best skills, and learn from the Masters!