Simon Dannapfel, 7th speech: “Food Matters”


I have often been amazed by the quality of some of the speeches delivered during Toastmasters meetings and equally often sad that the most inspiring ones were not finding their way out of the meeting room. Simon’s “Food Matters” was one of these talks that reversed the traditional perspective we have on choosing our foods and it raised many questions we asked Simon after our meeting was over.

Here is a link to his speech on slideshare: Read his text or listen to it (podcast link here shortly) as if you were attending our meeting but above all, share your comments with him through this blog or slideshare: he is certainly the person to debate with when you want to make sense of health, food, exercise and ethics issues!

Simon Dannapfel

Simon Dannapfel

I am speaking about Simon and his speech for some time but I haven’t yet introduced him! Simon Dannapfel is a trained exercise physiologist, personal trainer and sport coach who, having completed his post-graduate education in New Zealand, moved to Finland to live and work. Simon is also a Toastmasters member and with this blog post, I would also like to showcase what Toastmasters is about to those who have not yet entered the exciting path of becoming a “competent communicator”: what we do and how we prepare for our “public speeches” at Toastmasters?

Here is his interview on how he prepared his 7thToastmasters’ speech – it could be you…

– Your 7th assignment on the path of becoming a competent communicator consisted in researching your topic. How and why did you pick up how to choose our foods as a topic?

Research your topic

Research your topic

I chose the topic of the importance of foods because it merges two broader topics that are of great interest to me: health and understanding the broader consequences of the choices I make. My professional background is in sport, exercise and nutritional science so from a research point of view I was already comfortable with the topic. There were also parts of the speech that required new information so the background work was a well-balanced effort.

– How much time did you spend researching your topic? Was the manual a good support in performing this task?

I didn´t keep track of the time I took to research my topic, however I did spend

Charlie Chaplin in "Modern Times"

Charlie Chaplin in "Modern Times"

several hours attempting to track down information more relevant to Finland. Unfortunately it led to a dead-end so I decided to simplify my efforts and get broader scope information.

The manual is always useful to focus my objectives with each speech…it is very easy to go off on tangents that are not important or best left for other speeches so I have found the manual very useful for avoiding this tendency and for providing tips to achieve objectives.

– Have you improved your ability to research a topic with this assignment?

Norwegian makrill with beetroot, should be OK...

Are steamed Norwegian mackerel and beetroot healthy?

I was already quite comfortable with researching based on my academic experience with my honours and masters theses, however it was a good exercise in distilling information for a concise speech as was required for this speech. I continue to learn with each speech how to focus on the essence of a topic rather than attempt to shower an audience with a lot of information. In researching and presenting an information-heavy topic it is easy to lose an audience by forgetting that they are not as familiar with the topic as the presenter…so I found that in the process of preparing for this speech I improved how I presented the information I had and indeed what I looked for to include.

– What have you gained with the presentation of your text to the TM audience last Monday?

With each speech I gain the invaluable practise of speaking in front of an

Addressing an audience at TM

Addressing an audience at TM

audience…the great thing is that you only know how you have improved when you go up for more speeches. With each speech comes more and more speaking confidence; I have really been enjoying my speeches as I have been applying the techniques taught in the manual. With this particular speech it as great to know that the message of my speech seemed to come across to the audience more clearly than in speeches I have made prior to being a toastmasters member. One of the main reasons I joined in the first place was to improve my ability to communicate ideas that I found were important… I am sure I am not the only one who has found misunderstanding or lack of clarity in speeches frustrating.

– What is your next assignment? How are you proceeding?

using a projector phone

using a projector phone

The goal of my next speech is to make use of visual aids…I am looking forward to this as I plan to make use of a presentation  visual aid tool that I have wanted experiment with for awhile as a variation to the standard powerpoint. I also want to talk about something entirely different from my previous topics in order to continue to improve my speaking variety. I have some background information gathered and will continue to prepare once I have a target date.

Now dear readers, I have a question to you: do you know why Simon joined Toastmasters in Finland? Surely speaking and good communication is a critical part of his work and guess what? “Toastmasters has been very useful in this regard” as well as for his personal projects says Simon.  What else could I say? If you want to improve your communication skills and have not yet attended a Toastmasters session, do it! We have plenty of meetings going around close to you! And you can make the difference by participating – as usual! to find about our next meetings.

Which brings one more detail about Simon to mind: he was one of the chartering members of Stadi Talkers and has been with the club since it was founded. Isn’t he… active!!!


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