After having read an article (not available anymore) in Saturday's NZZ about it, I attended a meeting of Toastmasters of Basel for the first time tonight. Toastmasters is not a cooking association vying for the best in French toast - it's a non profit organisation "devoted to making effective oral communication a worldwide reality." This happens in a very structured procedure with different formats, disciplined time keeping, formalised feedback and lots of improvising. All things that I am not good at.
The meeting was rather good fun and quite intense, although I wouldn't mind the feedback to be a bit more detailed. But possibly, it's ok as it is because one will not be able to correct for too many things at a time, so it's a matter of repeating the experience, which I guess I will do.
Interesting tidbit: They tried to start a club with German as business language, but there wasn't enough interest to keep it going. This is another instance of this horrible reluctance of ours to give form at least some credit relative to substance! That's not to say that the substance of every presentation held by a Swiss German is immaculate - quite au contraire. But you need to be aware that Swiss Germans do not trust politicians who speak well. Amazing, but true. There's several reasons for that: 1) envy, because most people are inarticulate, 2) an inferiority complex towards the Germans who are generally much more comfortable with what is in effect yet another foreign language for us, and 3) more than just a sneeking suspicion that a good speaker has to make up in form for his lack of substance. All of that is nonsense, as far as I am concerned.