Category Archives: Articles

(Italiano) Vent’anni di passione: intervista a Francesco Campironi

Sorry, this entry is only available in Italiano.

(Italiano) A Monza una palestra per migliorare la comunicazione, dal 12 settembre per quattro giovedì

On 21st February we had our first TAPED SPEECH CONTEST! Congratulations to all the contestants for their beautiful speeches: Susanna, Andy and Ivan. We loved all your speeches for the effort and passion you’ve put in it.

and the winner is…

Andy Barbiero!

What was it like returning after being absent for almost a year? Did you miss TM?

Honestly, I never felt like I left. I always follow the email corresponence, I read the Toastmasters magazine and I know the dates of all the meetings. I always plan on being at a meeting but, then I find myself in Turin or Rome for work. I do miss the meetings and dinners afterwards.

Why did you choose to return on the evening of a contest?

I was available to attend a meeting that day and I was intrigued with the idea that we could connect with outside clubs

Did the idea of a Taped contest intrigue you more that a regular contest?

The truth is, I thought “taped” ment video as well. It’s very difficult to express the emotions of a speech with only ones voice.

When you thought of this speech, did you think you could win?

Everything I say in my speech, I’ve already said in various workshops and presentations I’ve done for work. The trick was to organize it all into a 5-7 monute speech in a coherent and organized way. A “win” for me was when I was able to present it well and it was appreciated by the audience.

You’ve always been a speaker that looks at TM as a training ground and so you usually experiment. You were very relaxed in this speech. Did you try anything new in this speech or did you depend on past feedback to guide you.

Thanks to what I’ve learned from Toastmasters, I’m very conscious of how I use my body, vocal variety, how I organize my speech etc. I really think about all of these aspects when I prepare and deliver a speech. Then, it’s like Darren LaCroix, Toastmasters 2001 World Champion of Public Speaking said, “Stage time is what matters” The more times I deliver a speech, the more I can improve.  Another very important aspect neccessary for improvement is constructive feedback after the speech.  This is, in my opinion, something missing in TM speech contests. I think, at least, a short written evaluation should be provided to contestants by judges and/or audience members.

This was a speech with vivid descriptions describing how you remember your teachers. Did it help you to not  just talk about your work but also share your passion?

I think it’s the secret to a great speech: talking about something you know and are passionate about. It’s what makes a speaker able to relax when delivering the speech and helps the speaker really connect with the audience. Enthusiasm is infectious and sincerity is appreciated.

What do you think about the phrase: ”Education Is Not the Filling of a Pail, But the Lighting of a Fire”?

I absolutley agree. You can throw all of the information you want at a student but, he won’t learn anything until you’ve sparked an interest. Once he’s engaged, there’s no limit to what he can do.

What kind of teacher are you? “Certainly not someone dressed in a 1920s costume!”

I like to think that I’m a teacher that concentrates much more on how a student learns and less on how I teach. Making lessons personalized and memorable is the key to unlocking the true potential of a student. Helping that student find his “element” (defined as the point at which natural talent meets personal passion) should be the goal of all educators. As noted author and world-renowned eductor Sir Ken Robinson  says, “when people arrive at their element, they feel the most themselves, the most inspired and achieve at their highest levels.

A triumphant return..once again, congratulations for this victory. What’s next for you and TM?

I’ve scheduled myself as the evaluator for a speech at the March 20th meeting. I plan to be at as many meetings, do as many roles, and participate in as many contests as my work schedule will allow. I also want to visit the Torino club and our sister club, Milan easy as much as I can. I’d like to take this opportunity to encourage my fellow Toastmasters to do the same. Stage time is the key. The more you participate the more you grow. I’ve always had a passion for public speaking but, I was never able to perform to my potential. Toastmasters gives me the tools I need to improve and the venue to try out those tools to an audience of like-minded people that can give me important feedback to help me do better.

Thanks Andy for this great interview!

Andy Barbiero

(Italiano) Il silenzio e la voce


From the President, Cecilia Sartori

Image from ljcybergal on Flickr, some rights reserved

Dear The Xplorers Colleagues,

our third season has just started, yet it’s already time to pack our bags! “To go where” you might wonder!

Well, we have to pack our bags because this year we have a very interesting trip into the Toastmasters Universe ahead of us!

In the season that ended last July we experienced the effort and commitment needed in the challenge of starting a new Club, building the foundations needed in order to prepare the ship to leave port and venture at sea. This has been possible due to the contribution of each and everyone of us, with our enthusiasm and the skills we bring into the group; we have made an excellent work, allowing the newborn Club to reach the milestone of becoming a Distinguished Club in the very first year of existence, and this is no small feat! I would like to thank you all for believing in this new adventure and having made this possible. It is also for this reason that I am truly honored to be serving as President, a very important and stimulating role.

And now? Where do we want to go? What other objectives do we want to reach?

This is a question that goes in two different directions: the first relates to our own personal objectives that each of us sets individually as Club Member, the other is the one we should aim for as The Xplorers, that is, for our Club.

Our own personal objectives are known only to each and everyone of us: improve as speaker, acquire more competence as a leader, or maybe defeating fears such as being in front of an audience and deliver a speech. But if you think about it, our own personal objectives in the end become objectives shared with every other Club Member, because we are at Toastmasters also for this very reason: to embark on a path together with other Colleagues who share our same fears, ambition and motivation. And this is what makes Toastmasters such a unique place, where every individual, with their own baggage of experience and motivation, blends with other individuals with the same expectations and objectives!

For this season, as a Club, we would like to set sail, leaving port and challenging the open seas. And we have a big opportunity ahead of us to make this happen: join a larger family, more heterogeneous, where we can measure ourselves with other Toastmasters and create a bond which will help us reach both our personal objectives and those of the Club. This family is called District 59!

District 59, which is the district that includes all the clubs in Continental Europe, is a big opportunity for those among us who want to measure themselves with even bigger challenges, but it as also an opportunity for those who don’t have such ambitions, as it will make possible to meet with others who, like us, have the same willingness to “dare”!

How can we prepare for this new adventure? As a starter, we can make our meetings more “international”, by embracing the opportunity given us by our bilingual Club to speak english (or italian for the non-italians) more often, without fear nor shame, by simply trying! We are also already working to organize events who will broaden the reach of our Club outside the Club Membership, with italian and foreign guests, something that will be beneficial for all of us, both in terms of growth within the club and in terms of relationships. But what really gives new lymph to the Club is you, it’s us! And the more we are, the better we will be able to grow. And this is why I encourage you to reach out to your friends and acquaintances and convince them to come and see with their own eyes what happens during our meetings.

As President, I encourage you to keep nurturing this willingness to improve, and reach the personal goals you have set for yourself, sharing this growth path with your Colleagues, giving them feedback which can help them improve, accepting with humbleness every suggestion that you will receive, because only doing so we all will be able to sail in the open seas, remembering that a ship at port is safe, yet that is not the reason for which the ship was built!
President, The Xplorers Toastmasters Club

Toastmaster Magazine available online

It is now possible to read the monthly “Toastmaster” Magazine online in digital format, directly from the Toastmasters International website, by clicking the following link:

The interesting thing, which makes it easier to reference the magazine content, lies in the fact that every article is also available in text format on the Toastmasters International website. It is a simple matter of clicking on the title, and you will be forwarded to the page with the chosen article in text format.

For example, by moving the mouse on this article of the March 2011 issue, you will notice that the text changes color, and the “tooltip” on the mouse pointer appears:


Clicking on the title, you will then be taken directly to the link with the article in text format, which in this case is:

Being able to create link in such a rapid fashion allows a much simpler way to share an interesting article with friends and colleagues, so they can quickly go directly to the online version of the article.

The Toastmasters International policy for the availability of the magazine makes every issue freely available online, except for the latest issue, which is only available to Toastmasters members who must access the website with their username and password.

The magazine is always full of great tips and useful information. Happy reading!

Luca Bertagnolio
The Xplorers Toastmasters Club
Milan, Italy

My first six months in Toastmasters

A few days ago the new season of our “The Xplorers” Toastmasters Club began, and thinking back just six months, I am amazed to see how this new experience could have such a positive effect on me!

Picture by MarcelGermain from Flickr, some rights reserved

It all started after meeting a longtime friend whom I had not seen in a long while, and during our chat he told me about Toastmasters and how he got involved in such a useful and interesting activity. I had already heard about Toastmasters, and in the past I had even gotten in touch with a Club to gather information, but then I never went to a meeting.

Not so this time. I took part in the first possible meeting and I immediately found myself at ease in the environment, friendly yet professional, with meeting participants coming from all walks of life, with different age ranges, and an even split between men and women, it was definitely a stimulating environment.

And right there during the very first meeting I had my “baptism of fire”, as I was called to answer a question during the Table Topic session. I found myself very much at ease, given that I have always been used to speaking and debating in public.

And so began my trip in Toastmasters, being always present at every meeting, first as a simple guest, then taking active roles during a meeting (first as Grammarian, then as Ah-Counter, then again as Timer), until the time came for my “Ice Breaker”, the first speech to be held in front of the audience of Toastmasters friends. While I have a longtime experience of public speaking, having “only” 5 minutes and no PowerPoint slides to help was not that easy! Nonetheless everything went well, and the evaluations received from the speech Evaluator and other friends gave me indications on how to do better the following time.

This is the video of my “Ice Breaker”, speech I held in english:

Now I find myself almost at the mid-point of my path to becoming a “Competent Communicator”, the first step in the long career of a Toastmaster, but I have also started to progress on the “Competent Leadership” program, an equally important path to follow, maybe even more challenging than the communication one, at least for what concerns me.

Toastmasters is also this, pushing ourselves beyond our limits, in the direction of a personal growth, getting outside our “comfort zone” and doing things which are different from what we are used to doing. And my role as Secretary in the Executive Committee of my Club for this 2011-2012 season is exactly this for me, taking a commitment with myself and the other friends and colleagues and becoming more helpful to the group.

But Toastmasters is also about meeting new people, making friends and extending our “network”. And speaking of networks, it’s through another network, the Internet, that I was able to turn into reality something that I could hardly believe be possible, like having a great guest speaker such as David Allen, the inventor of the “GTD – Getting Things Done” methodology, a true guru of personal productivity and author of books read by millions of people. I have the pleasure of knowing David in person, and during his visit in Milan in June, his agenda allowed him to join us as a guest speaker during a Club meeting, telling us about GTD and how it can be so important and useful for all of us.

After all, writing this article is also a step towards a “Getting Things Done” mentality, with the aim of contributing to the growth of our Club. But in reality we all know that by contributing to the growth of our Club, we are simply contributing to our own personal growth.

Luca Bertagnolio
The Xplorers Toastmasters Club
Milan, Italy

David Allen, author of Getting Things Done, guest of The Xplorers Toastmasters

The 7th of June 2011 has been quite an important day in the history of our The Xplorers Toastmasters Club.

We had the honor and pleasure of having the world-famous David Allen as our guest. David is a personality in the world of personal productivity, he is the author of the book “Getting Things Done – The Art of Stress-Free Productivity” and the methodology which is famous for its acronym “GTD”.

David and his wife Kathryn were passing through Milan, and by pure luck they were available for a half hour before going to dinner. And David, being the great communicator that he is, gladly accepted the invitation to present in front of our Toastmasters members for a dozen minutes.

And we had to have David’s picture holding a copy of the Toastmaster Magazine!

Here is the video of David’s presentation, enjoy!

Luca Bertagnolio
Secretary, The Xplorers Toastmasters

Buon Compleanno The Xplorers Toastmasters Club!

Giusto un anno fa, il 26 luglio 2010 , il Toastmasters International mi comunicava che eravamo ufficialmente registrati come “Charter Club” con 21 Club Members. A fine stagione 2010/2011, al termine del mio mandato come President, siamo arrivati a quota 33 Club Members! Credo che questo sia un ottimo risultato per il primo anno di vita del nostro Club. Oggi, poi, ho avuto la conferma ufficiale che abbiamo completato con successo il Distinguished Club Program per la stagione 2010/2011: siamo Distinguished Club! Una bella soddisfazione, per un Club al suo primo anno di vita!

Nel giorno del primo compleanno del nostro Club, auguro a Laura Limitone – nostra nuova President – di raccogliere grandi successi e di portare il Club a raggiungere il livello di Selected Distinguished Club. Laura avrà tutto il mio supporto come Past President per fare sì che l’obiettivo venga centrato.

Nel frattempo, alzo idealmente i calici al nostro Club! 100 e più di questi anni!

Toastmasters e Leadership

Quando ho iniziato la mia avventura come Toastmasters nel 2008, mi sono concentrata anzitutto sul percorso di Competent Communication perchè volevo vincere il mio demone: la paura di parlare in pubblico. Solo in un secondo momento e grazie a Valentina, la nostra President di allora che aveva a cuore l’argomento ed è una grande motivatrice, ho cominciato a prendere in considerazione anche il manuale di Competent Leadership.

Ma – in concreto – in cosa consiste il manuale di Competent Leadership e cosa propone? Partendo dal presupposto che un buon Leader è anche un buon comunicatore, il Toastmasters International ha sviluppato il manuale in modo tale da far sì che ogni Toastmaster nel mondo possa focalizzarsi di volta in volta in un progetto relativo alle abilità di Leadership: ascolto attivo, pensiero critico, capacità di dare feedback, time management, pianificazione, organizzazione e delega, sviluppo delle capacità di facilitazione, motivazione e mentoring. A ciascuna di queste skill è collegato un progetto che coinvolge più ruoli attivi collegati alle serate o alle attività del Club.

Vi faccio un esempio concreto: se decido di affrontare il progetto sull’ascolto attivo, il manuale mi spiega cosa s’intende per ascolto attivo, mi propone un breve questionario di autovalutazione per misurare le mie capacità di ascolto e che posso ripetere una volta che ho terminato il progetto. Il punteggio del questionario che posso condividere – se voglio – col mio Mentor per lavorare insieme a lui anche su questo aspetto, mi fornisce un primo feedback sulle mie capacità di ascolto.

Ma cosa accade se scopro di avere delle lacune? Posso lavorare su quelle lacune seguendo i suggerimenti che il manuale di Competent Leadership fornisce e allenarmi all’ascolto attivo impegnandomi sui progetti ad esso collegati nel corso delle serate Toastmasters e poi nella vita di tutti i giorni.

Quando ho compreso quanto potesse essere utile far andare di pari passo i due percorsi, è stato piuttosto facile iniziare a lasciare il mio manuale al General Evaluator di turno e ad essere valutata di volta in volta come Speech Evaluator, come Grammarian, come General Evaluator o come Toastmaster.

Da quest’anno, nel mio ruolo di President, ho deciso di sottopormi alla valutazione di Competent Leadership ogni volta che ricopro un ruolo perché per me è importante avere un feedback concreto dai miei colleghi.

Per questo, sin dall’inizio della prima stagione di vita del nostro The Xplorers, ad ogni riunione, non manco di citare il percorso di Competent Leadership e invito i miei colleghi Toastmasters a cimentarsi col manuale: perché m’interessa che – oltre a diventare buoni comunicatori – possano incrementare le proprie capacità di Leadership per avere successo nella vita e come Toastmasters. Chissà, magari tra noi c’è un futuro Area Governor, oppure un District Governor o… – perché no? – President del Toastmasters International. Solo coltivando le abilità di Leadership o incrementando la leadership naturale, potremo scoprirlo…

Buon Anno a tutti!

(Italiano) Nel mezzo del cammin

Nel  mezzo del cammin di nostra annata
ci ritrovammo per libagion congiunta
a dimostrar quanto ci fosse amata
lo stare assiem e lo gioir per giunta.

Di tal serata si impone grande stelo
A ricordar il Matteo gran oratore
che ruppe senza indugio il proprio gelo
facendosi ascoltar per ore ed ore.

Da presso Ivan incalzò con sua veemenza
A ricordarci cosa l’arte sia
Senza peraltro indulgere in sapienza
Tanto era il genio e lunga la sua scia.

Da un solo limite ricevemmo reprimenda
Mentre da un seme raro uscì poesia
Li casti ci mostrarono grande senno
tutti vogliosi di migliorar la via.

Gioite o cari mirando a nuovo anno
Il Mastro Tosto ancor farà sfracelli
A tutti noi sol come i saggi fanno
Regalerà sue perle e tempi belli.