Saturday, March 25, 2006

Guest Blogger ... Ann Bloch, "What Makes a Club a Toastmasters Club?"

What Makes a Club a Toastmasters Club?
by Ann Bloch

At the District officers meeting a week ago, three Area Govs mentioned visiting clubs that were “doing their own thing” and not necessarily “doing it the TM way.”

Since then, I’ve pondered what that means: the TM way.

The steps to run a club and a meeting are proven -- they work. If your club is thriving, tell others via these messages what’s worked for you. If your club is not yet thriving, ask yourselves whether you’re using the tried methods.

Sometimes, motivation means just being honest among ourselves.

Following is a message from the president of a once-vibrant club in Division E that recently folded after 10 years. Poet's Seat is no more.

Thinking back, I am not certain just when things changed; however, I can speculate. For much of its history, Poet's Seat had at least a core groupof members who followed the club by-laws, thus maintaining the club as a trueToastmasters club. Gradually, these people left, leaving the club in the hands of people who did not care about rules, formalities, or rituals. I recall my first board meeting as club president. I decided to make membership (retention and building) the focus of my term. However, when I started the meeting by citing some of the by-laws re: membership, the other officers jumped down my throat.

They were not interested in being part of a club which was like a country club -- a private association where new members had to be voted in or existing members could be asked to leave. The others were for a casual, informal club with no rules, which anyone could join.

There were consequences to that approach. People joined who had no commitment to the Toastmasters program. Guests, of which we did have a fair number, rarely joined. Some guests expressed a desire for a more formal setting. In the end, a sizeable portion of our membership were people with little or no commitment to the educational program.

Without commitment,there was no desire to try to keep the club going. I feel sad about the demise of Poet's Seat. I am keeping the banner as a memento.

***Part of the response to him from the LT. Gov of Mktg:
Reports also indicate that only one officer was trained. We know from experience that there's a direct correlation between officers trained and club health.

Question to ask yourself: How do you feel about the president’s message? How does your club feel about “voting in” members? (I’ve never been in a club that did that or that really asked for a commitment. Maybe we should.)

Do your officers know their roles? If not, get your AG to review them. Poet’s Seat apparently had enough guests to flourish. Why didn’t they join? What a missed opportunity!

As we enter the final quarter of the TM year, ask your club members the one thing they can point out to change that would make a difference. Let me know what’s working so that it can be shared among clubs.

Ann Bloch,
Assistant to Club Coach Chair
Ann Bloch Communications
73 Birchwood Lane,
Lenox MA 01240 USA
413-637-0958 / Fax 413-637-4757 /

Friday, March 24, 2006

Failing With Toastmasters .... in a good way

Steve Pavlina is a Toastmaster in Las Vegas who has a blog (that I just found) and I think he brings up a key attribute of Toastmasters in this post.

He says that Toastmasters is a great place "for making mistakes and taking risks". In fact, he adds that "The supportive atmosphere of Toastmasters allows me to experiment well beyond the edges of what I’ve had the opportunity to do in front of other audiences."

Steve explains that he has learned that it is "actually less risky to to take risks" and that the "safe path" is often the boring path.

If we take some risks, we stretch our abilities and we also make for more interesting meetings (so everybody wins!). I hope everyone is stretching ... especially the members participating in the Spring Speech Contests!

Stretch ....


Wednesday, March 22, 2006

More Time For Toastmasters ....

I came across the blog post (see link below) and just had to pass it along ...

Steve Pavlina talks about "how to be an early riser" and, more inportantly, what it has done for him ....

Why get up early? I’d say the main reason is that you’ll have a lot more time to do things that are more interesting than sleeping.

Again, I’ve gained about 10-15 hours per week doing this. That extra time is very noticeable. By 6:30am, I’ve already exercised, showered, had breakfast, and I’m at my desk ready to go to work. I can put in a lot of hours each day of productive work, and I’m usually done with work by 5:00 pm (and that includes personal “work” like email, paying bills, picking up daughter from preschool, etc). This gives me 5-6 hours of discretionary time every evening for family, leisure activities, Toastmasters, reading, journaling, etc. And best of all, I still have energy during this time. Having time for everything that’s important to me makes me feel very balanced, relaxed, and optimistic.

Check out the whole post .... I think it will give you some ideas !

Wide AWAKE !
Dave Wheeler
Area A4 Governor, 2005-6

Monday, March 20, 2006

Silent Auction at Area Contest ... taking shape!

I have received the first donation for the silent auction to be held at the Area Contest March 29th, 2006 ....

From WestConn Toastmaster's own published author, Carmine Coco De Young:

"I'll happily donate two [items]. I still have to get the other items, but they should value $25.00 each. You can download a picture of the book for ages 8 to 12, titled A Letter to Mrs. Roosevelt, at (click here) , and the book for infants, titled Mealtime Prayers : Thoughts and Readings for Mealtimes (Board book) at (click here)
Thanks to Carmine for the donation !

Don't forget to bring their check books (or cash) to the Area Contest so you can bid on some of these items!

More info to follow soon !

Dave Wheeler
Area A4 Governor, 2005-6

Reward for Distinguished Clubs !!!!

This was discussed at the District 53 Executive Committee meeting last Saturday and it looks like we will have at least a couple clubs in the running for the REWARD !

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Tony Lombardi enjoys his TableTopic question on the life of a hobo !

Bala K. and Beth H. discuss their upcoming speeches at the Feb.1st meeting of WestConn Toastmasters in Danbury, CT. WestConn Toastmasters meets the first and third Wed. of each month in the Wooster School Library.

Carmine Coco de Young presents the TableTopics session at the Feb.1st meeting of WestConn Toastmasters in Danbury, CT. WestConn Toastmasters meets the first and third Wed. of each month in the Wooster School Library.

Croix Sather and Walt Rygielski talk about speech ideas Anne Swartout presents club business at the Feb.1st meeting of WestConn Toastmasters in Danbury, CT. WestConn Toastmasters meets the first and third Wed. of each month in the Wooster School Library.

Dave Wheeler shows WHAT NOT TO DO when giving a presentation using an overhead projector. Dave gave his speech at the Feb.1st meeting of WestConn Toastmasters in Danbury, CT. WestConn Toastmasters meets the first and third Wed. of each month in the Wooster School Library.

Anne Swartout presents club business at the Feb.1st meeting of WestConn Toastmasters in Danbury, CT. WestConn Toastmasters meets the first and third Wed. of each month in the Wooster School Library.

Jim Buzak presents his 1 to 2 minute TableTopic speech on the hobo lifestyle at the Feb.1st meeting of WestConn Toastmasters in Danbury, CT. WestConn Toastmasters meets the first and third Wed. of each month in the Wooster School Library.

Lee S. and Bala K. share a "dual" Tabletopic question on the theme of "hobo's" at the Feb.1st meeting of WestConn Toastmasters in Danbury, CT. WestConn Toastmasters meets the first and third Wed. of each month in the Wooster School Library.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Spring Club Contest Results coming in ....

From Barnum Square Toastmasters:
The winners of our speech contests are the following:
Tall Tales...Pat Wilson-Perkins and Liz Smith.
International...Marsha Scott and Linda Porto.

From WestConn Toastmasters:
The winners of our speech contests are the following:
Tall Tales... Anne Swartout and Croix Sather.
International... Rob Ferrucci and Croix Sather.

From Socially Speaking Toastmasters:
Tall Tales... Peter Lane and Tony Lombardi

Our newest club in Area A4, Cendant Toastmasters (a new name is being finalized):
International... Roberto Vale and Maureen Walsh

The deadline for club contests is March 19th and the Area Contest will be held on March 29th at the Wooster School Library in Danbury CT (hosted by WestConn Toastmasters). Contestants should arrive around 7pm for briefings.

Speak Up!

Dave Wheeler

re: Tele-Conference interview is with Willie Jolley

Attached below is an email from our District 53 Governor Paul Young (via our Division A Governor, Karin Von Kaenel) that offers a free tele-seminar for public speakers. Check out the emails below for more details and please pass it along to your members!

Dave Wheeler
Area A4 Governor, 2005-6


Dear Area Governors,

would you please forward ask the club Presidents in your areas to make sure their club members know about this event.

This is an email that was posted on the D53 mailing list, which anybody can subscribe to by going to and clicking on the purple Yahoo button.


Best regards,



"Paul Young" <>
Sent by:

03/10/2006 07:45 PM

Please respond to

"'Will Ryan'" <>, <>, "'Rich Couture,DTM'" <>, "Thibodeau, Normand " <>, "Sandra Van Hoesen" <>, "Hathaway, Shelly L" <>, Karin von Kaenel/Watson/IBM@IBMUS, "Sharon Willis" <>, "Susan Troupe" <>
[d53toastmasters] Doug Comstock Interviews Willie Jolley

Fellow Toastmasters,

Doug Comstock recently said, ?Wouldn't it be great to get a daily,
weekly or monthly infusion of high content ideas like we got
at the World Champions Night to help each of us with our speaking. ?

To that end...

He is beginning Tele-Seminar Secrets for Public Speakers.

His first Tele-Conference interview is with
Willie Jolley on Wednesday March 15, at 11:00 AM EST.

If you are not familiar with Mr. Jolley you can visit his
website at

Willie is considered by Toastmasters International as:
"One of the Top 5 Outstanding Speakers in The World".

This limited event will be "FREE" to all Toastmasters.

Not all that would like to attend will be able to. Here's Why.

The event is limited to the first 200 seats as the fee to
rent more lines than that is cost prohibitive and I am bearing
all costs for the event.

If you think you would like to attend or know someone
else that might benefit..

Just copy and paste (DO NOT FORWARD) again
copy and paste this link into a new email and
send it out.

If this link is not active when you receive it just
copy and paste it into your browser window.

Once you fill in your email address on the postcard
at the link above a Confirmation Email for Registration
will be emailed to you to tell you if you were are one
of the lucky 200.

Thank You Doug,

Paul Young DTM
District 53 Governor
w (860) 368-6716
h (860) 659-1409

Socially Speaking - upcoming activities !

Below are my notes from the Socially Speaking meeting on Wed. Feb.22nd including all the ideas we had for the "Communications Workshop" meeting. I think this meeting will be a good test of our ability to promote Socially Speaking and it won't be as difficult to organize as a full multi-session Speechcraft. (Plus we already assigned all the key roles!)

Let me know if I missed anything ....

Everyone is invited !! We have plenty of room !

March 22 - Socially Speaking meeting
Theme: All Things Green (since it is near St.Patrick's day)
Other business:
- Review printed Flyers for Communications Workshop (4/26)
- DW to send around electronic version prior to this meeting for everyone's review and ideas.
- Assign someone to send emails to former guests and past members to let them know about the Workshop meeting
- Followup on cable TV and newspaper contacts

March 29 - Area Contests (hosted by WestConn TM)

April 5 - WestConn TM meeting

April 12 - Socially Speaking TM meeting
Theme: "About Our Club...The history of Socially Speaking Toastmasters"
[This should give us lots of great material for the web site as well as help us better define the mission of the club for the future ... based on the great things that Socially Speaking has done in the past and can do again!)

April 19 - Division A Contests (Hosted by WestConn TM)

April 26 - Communications Workshop Meeting at Socially Speaking Toastmasters
Toastmaster: Anne Swartout
"Selecting Your Topic" by Don
"Know Your Audience" by Pete
"Sample Icebreaker" by Dave W.
"Workshop Session" to help everyone in attendence build a speech - Hosted by Anne S.
[Speechcraft books will be available to purchase if we have guests that want to participate. We should probably have a CTM manual and copies of the IceBreaker Speech available if any guests want to jump right into membership.]

This workshop will give us an opportunity to try out our Public Relations and Marketing ideas on a smaller scale than a Speechcraft. Some of the ideas discussed included:
- Flyers
- Public Relations with the local paper
- article on Socially Speaking? (who will contact?)
- Cable TV listing (what format do we need to submit our listing?)
- Emails (to past guests and former members)
- Web site (to tie it all together)

Let me know if I forgot anything!

Dave W.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Seth Godin's Presentation Idea ... Needs Toastmasters!

I have to start out by saying that I am a big fan of author, Seth Godin. His books on marketing, "The Idea Virus", "The Purple Cow" and "The Big Moo" have all helped me immensely in my "day job" as Marketing Manager for a Fortune 200 company.

But today... Seth really missed the mark!

Today, Seth put a post on his blog about his idea for a way for people to move away from giving BAD POWERPOINT PRESENTATIONS.
Ever since my early warning shot about Powerpoint, I've noticed an increasing tide of writing about:
a. how much people hate giving presentations
b. how bad they are at it

He offered the following from a book that he read:

Part of what Andy points out is that presentations to groups of 50 or more are usually done by people who aren't comfortable doing them, and they're not usually very well received.

Seth goes on to suggest a way to jump right to the Q&A section and bypass the whole presentation! This is not necessarily a bad idea, but it completely misses the BIG PICTURE!

If you want to impress your boss, your client or advance your career, you need to develop your presentation skills! Looking for tips that will get you OUT OF the presentation might work once in a while, but it won't work all the time!

This is why professionals everywhere should be busting down the doors to get into Toastmasters clubs ! Toastmasters is clearly the best kept secret in the personal development field! And the best value too !

I know Seth lives in Westchester County, NY so if he reads this maybe he will visit one of our clubs! Like all professionals looking to improve their presentation, communications and leadership skills, he is always welcome at a Toastmasters club!

Speak UP!

Dave Wheeler
Area A4 Governor, 2005-6

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

How To Tell A Great Story....

I came across this book and thought that it might help some of you who are entering the Tall Tales contests ....

"How To Tell A Great Story" ($29.95)

I have not purchased this book, but I would be interested to hear if someone else does !

Speak UP!

Dave Wheeler

Monday, March 06, 2006

Toastmasters Contestant on Google Video ...

Anne Swartout found the following videos and forwarded them to my attention:

[Mike Dooley gives a great contest speech.]

[Mike Dooley with another great contest speech!]

Another Mike Dooley Contest speech!

Great examples for your own contest efforts!

Dave Wheeler