Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Advanced TM meeting is ON for Thurs.12/27 at Ridgefield Library

Greetings Advanced Toastmasters & guests!

The Division A Advanced Toastmasters club WILL be meeting on Thursday Dec. 27th in the "History Room" at the Ridgefield Public Library starting at 7:15pm. Ridgefield library is located at 472 Main Street, Ridgefield, CT 06877 click here for a map showing the location. In the case of inclement weather, you can call the library at (203) 438-2282 to see if they will be open. My cell phone is also provided at the bottom of this email.

Directions are available on the library's web site:Â

At the December meeting we will have a quick review of our plans for "Guest Night" in January on 1/24 as well as the schedule/plans for the 2nd "Battle of the Border" event on April 24th in the BIG room!

Members: Please come prepared with 1) a speech you want to give (and get feedback on), 2) at least one "tip" for the rest of the members and 2) one "role play" setup. Depending on the number of speeches we have, we may get a chance to do more "role playing*".

* for the benefit of anyone who has not been to one of our meetings... "role playing" is our own form of interactive advanced tabletopics.

See you on Thursday!

Happy Holidays !!!!

Dave Wheeler

Division A Governor, 2006-8
860-309-0070 (cell)

UPcoming meeting dates: (4th Thurs. of each month)

Thursday Dec. 27th, 2007 (History Room, upstairs)

Thursday Jan. 24th, 2008 (History Room, upstairs) - Guest night

Thursday Feb. 28th, 2008 (History Room, upstairs)

Thursday Mar. 27th, 2008 (History Room, upstairs)

Thursday Apr. 24th, 2008 (BIG Dayton Room, main floor)
- Battle of the Border II - "The Return of District 46?"

Thursday May 22th, 2008 (History Room, upstairs)

Thursday Jun 26th, 2008 (History Room, upstairs)

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

3 T's of Business Presentations...

Here is an article about business presentations that was published on and also appeared in a recent email newsletter from ....
Transitional, Transactional, or Transformational Speeches
By Dan Coughlin

Mary, a vice-president of operations, had to give a 30-minute speech at her company's annual conference. She asked if I would discuss her presentation with her. I asked her the first question I always ask a professional about a speech, "Is this a transitional, transactional, or transformational speech?"

She said, "Why does it matter what type of speech it is? I've been given 30 minutes to talk. I thought I would give people an update on what we've been up to, and thank them for all of their hard work."

So, I countered, "In other words, you're going to give them a speech they've already heard about 300 times, and you're going to tell them stuff that has already happened that they already know about. Why not use your time more purposefully?"

Mary acquiesced, "Ok, fine. I see your point. So what do I do now?"

The Nuances of Different Types of Speeches

As I noted above, the first step when preparing a speech is to decide whether this is a transitional, transactional, or transformational speech. This will define the purpose of your speech and guide your outline.

The purpose of a transitional speech is to help the audience more effectively deal with a major change. But if your goal is to persuade the audience to buy into an idea that they might otherwise reject, you would be in transactional speech territory. Or, if you want to guide the group to behave in new ways, you'd use a transformational speech.

After explaining this to Mary, her first question was an obvious one, "How do I decide which one to go with, and why can't I do all three?"

She's right. You could use all three approaches in one speech, but you would dilute the impact of each of them.

When I probed Mary more about her work situation she stated, "Our competitors are slashing prices on products that are very similar to ours. We don't want to compete on low prices because we know that's a game that could put us out of business. Instead we need to enhance the value of our products by improving the value they deliver to our customers. So, my speech audience doesn't really have a choice. We either do it or we die."

With that last statement, Mary immediately eliminated one type of speech. Clearly this wasn't going to be a transactional speech because the audience didn't have a choice to make. They had to accept the change in the organization. But this change was tricky. It wasn't a change in policy or a change in initiatives, but instead required a completely new set of behaviors.

Consequently, it wasn't a transitional speech she needed to give because she's not asking the group to change its activities, but to change the way they think. Mary's group needed to move from selling commodities that were moderately priced to selling high quality items that were priced at higher levels. To accomplish such a change in thought, a transformational speech was in order.

The Guts of a Transformational Speech

An organizational transformation demands that a company start doing business in an altogether new fashion. Mary had to get that point across in 30 minutes. No small task.

She knew she had to convey the message that a radical change was needed in her company, so she'd have to deliver the message in a radical way. It had to spur the audience to see and believe that a new way of doing business absolutely had to replace the old way of doing business. The audience had to walk away with a transformed idea of what their business should be all about.

The Making of a Speech

Once we had her approach focused, it was time to assemble her speech. We laid out our parameters: time (30 minutes) and technology (video clips, PowerPoint slides, and a wireless lavaliere microphone).

We chose to start the speech with a 60 second video that showed a steady stream of faces morphing -- transforming -- into new faces. As the video ended, Mary opened by saying, "Our competition is radically slashing prices. We have three choices..."

Each of these choices was shown on a PowerPoint slide:
  • We can continue business as usual and keep our same products at their same prices, which is what our customers are used to from us.
  • We can keep the same products and lower our prices, which is what our customers are getting from our competition.
  • We can radically improve the value of our products and services, and raise our prices significantly.

She then noted that choice three was, in reality, the choice if the company was to remain in the market. Mary went on to explain that if the company were to get into a price war with their competition, they would end up eroding their profit margins, resulting in a quality and staff cut to achieve the same level of profit they had currently.

"Our only choice is to radically transform the face of our business and the way we do business. We must drastically increase the value our customers receive from our products and services. Then we must completely change the way we market the value our customers receive from our products and services. And we have to have the guts to charge for the value we will be delivering."

As you might imagine, this opening caught the audience completely by surprise, which is exactly what Mary was hoping for. She wanted to challenge the audience to think differently about their business.

"Look at our business today," she begged as she showed a slide of a customer interacting with the sales staff. "Now look at what our customer interactions could and should look like in the future." She showed a short video clip of an employee interacting with a customer and explaining a host of new products and services that were vastly more solution-oriented than the current way of doing business.

Mary then explained that other major companies had gone through the same sort of transformation. She showed a series of slides of Apple moving into the music and cell phone industry, GE selling commodities like light bulbs and appliances then moving into medical imaging, and finally IBM moving from mainframe computers into IBM's business consulting services.

She closed by asking, "Transformation or annihilation? Do we have the guts to grow our business in a new way, or will we stay stuck in the quicksand of same old, same old? I believe our greatness lies in our willingness to change."

And then she walked off.

The audience didn't know how to respond. So they sat and thought -- exactly what Mary wanted to have happen.

Over the next 24 months the company changed radically, although not to the total degree that Mary had described. They kept a foundation of products at reduced prices, and then added an array of new products and services at higher prices. Slowly but surely the company began to head in a different direction from its former competition.

Accelerate Your Career through Speeches

The ability to deliver purposeful speeches that improve results will affect your career as much as any other skill. It all starts by deciding if a given speech is a transitional, transactional, or transformational speech. Make that decision, build your speech, and deliver the goods.

About Dan Coughlin

Visit Dan Coughlin’s Free Resource Center on Business Acceleration at Dan Coughlin is a business keynote speaker, management consultant, and author of Accelerate: 20 Practical Lessons to Boost Business Momentum. He has been quoted in USA Today, the New York Times, and Investor’s Business Daily. Dan’s clients include Coca-Cola, Toyota, Boeing, Marriott, McDonald’s, AT&T, American Bar Association, and the St. Louis Cardinals. He speaks on entrepreneurial habits, quality, leadership, branding, sales, and innovation.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Happy Holidays from Div. A (and the D53 team) !

Since we have all been working like busy little elves getting things done for Toastmasters, it only makes sense that we "Elf yourself" (via a website sponsored by OfficeMax).

The link below will bring you to a short video with a holiday greeting featuring Dave Wheeler, Div.A Governor, as well as the whole D53 senior leadership team !

You will want to have the volume turned on for the audio portion of this video too !

Happy Holidays and ....

Best Wishes for even more Toastmasters FUN in 2008!

Dave Wheeler

Monday, December 17, 2007

Vocabulary Challenge ... for Charity!

Walter Beveridge brought the following website to our attention...
Would you like to help the United Nations World Food Program while improving your vocabulary?

This website,, will donate twenty grains of rice each each time you select the correct definition for a word. The correct definition will be provided if you answer incorrectly.

It's fun, it's educational, and it's for a good cause. It can also be rather addictive. (I managed to stop after 100 correct answers)..

Walter W. Beveridge, DTM
It is a great way to challenge your vocabulary... while also helping out a charity ! could also be a great source for the "Word-of-the-Day" for your next Toastmasters meeting!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Evaluations & their effect on guests...

Something to consider....

It was brought to my attention, by a reliable source, that a guest at a Toastmasters meeting in our division was turned off Toastmasters by a harsh evaluation given to one of the speakers at a meeting the guest attended.

I did not get all the details but I would like to make you aware that this can happen when a Toastmasters club either
1) doesn't explain to guests their method for evaluating a speaker (with both "good aspects" of the speech as well as "ideas for improvement") or 2) the club develops a habit of being
unnecessarily harsh with their feedback (perhaps for an advanced member who asked for a tougher evaluation).

Please know that I am not blaming anyone. I just would like to
pass on this story so the subject of evaluations can be brought up at the club level. The module "Evaluate to Motivate" is also an excellent training tool if a club has a number of Toastmasters who are inexperienced in giving evaluations.

This story may have a happy ending...

The person who relayed the story to me tells me that the guest is considering trying another Toastmasters club (also in our Division) and I'm sure the other club will do everything they can to make sure this guest understands Toastmasters methods as well as everything that Toastmasters can do for them !

Happy Holidays !

Dave Wheeler
Div.A Governor, 2006-8

Monday, December 10, 2007

The "baton" (or is it "snowball") is passed...

Baton passed to Spring Conference teamThe Fall 07 Conference team officially (but reluctantly) passes the "baton" to the Spring 08 team.

If we can offer one word of advice... keep smiling!

Leading a conference is alot of fun (alot of work too) but it will go by fast and you will miss it when you are done.

You may have seen some of the videos that we had for the Fall conference and I did not want the Spring Conference team to feel left out so I created the video (see below).

Before you click on the video below, here is the "backstory" to the video...

The Fall 07 conference was over and the weather was getting cold.

With the first snowfall, Bruce Cornwell and Colleen Yarter (Fall Co-chairs) had to find something to fill the 80 hours per week they had put into the conference so they were building the traditional post-conference snowman.

(You will see that Bruce even gave it a red scarf ... he felt it looked like a conference volunteer.)

Conference Emcee & resident EnergyMeister, Croix Sather, stopped by to say that he enjoyed being the Toastmaster for the
conference that he wanted to do it again in the Spring.

[Editor's note: this part, like most of the "backstory" is fiction. I did not ask Croix but it makes for a good story.]

Bruce and Colleen disagreed and told him that he should give someone else a chance for "Stage Time, Stage Time, Stage Time".

Croix went off in a "Hrumpff"....

... now you are ready to click on the link below to see what kind of trouble Croix started (and what trouble he gets into) !

Click here !!!

To the Spring 08 team...Enjoy the process and we wish everyone a happy holiday season !

Dave Wheeler
Div.A Governor, 2006-8
(self-appointed Conference SmileMaster)

P.S. You may ask... Where was Dave during all this tomfoolery??? He is usually right in the middle of it ... well, who do you think was filming it!?!

Sunday, December 09, 2007

For your next presentation...

From SixMinutes blog comes a great article on what presenters should do (and not do) to improve their speeches ... based on an actual audience survey.

Top 10 highlights from the survey (conducted by Chris Brogan via Twitter) include...

The results of this analysis are:
19 responses: Be engaging; Involve the audience; Conversation not presentation

14 responses: Do not read the slides

9: Focus on the message; avoid lengthy self-promotion

8: Better(more) visuals/diagrams/stats/other media

8: Show passion; Show enjoyment; Smile; Relax

8: Clear, simple, and useful messages and language

6: Do not use Powerpoint (or “bullets”) at all

6: Do not go over time

6: More time for Q&A / Answer questions thoughtfully

5: Use stories / metaphors

Click here for the whole article !

Saturday, December 08, 2007

LGE Karin von Kaenal brings us... J. A. Gamache - International Speech contestant

District 53's Lt.Governor of Education, Karin von Kaenel, brings an interesting article to our attention. It is featured on the blog, Six Minutes, which has videos and evaluations (analysis, actually) of each speech. Lots of great stuff to improve your next speech !

From: karin von kaenel, Lt.Gov. Educ & Training
Date: Dec 8, 2007 3:53 PM
Subject: J. A. Gamache - contestant on the International Stage

Fellow Toastmasters,
J.A. Gamache has competed several times on the International stage. If you've seen David Brooks' DVD Magic Moments, you've seen J.A. Gamache.
The video below shows another one of J.A.'s speeches, complete with an evaluation:



Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Have you done the Gratitude Dance yet?

The theme of the last meeting of WestConn Toastmasters was "Gratitude" and it was amazing how all the members were able to weave some gratitude into their (often unrelated) TableTopics questions.

Speaking of gratitude... one of the blogs I read featured the video below of the "Gratitude Dance". The Gratitude Dance is basically people jumping around and looking foolish... but it got me thinking about a couple things:

First, Don't we all need a little bit more foolishness in our life? When was the last time you "let loose" and just did something crazy? Didn't it feel good?? Or at least energizing?

Secondly, What would happen if we all did the "Gratitude Dance" instead of just saying "Thank You"? Certainly more people would smile!

Now, what if we all decided that December 26th, 2007 would be the first (annual?) Gratitude Day and we would all do the Gratitude Dance (instead of saying Thank You) !?! Maybe the Gratitude Dance could be for the bigger "Thank You" occasions... like someone donating a kidney for you or giving you their parking spot right next to the door of the mall.

The UK has "Boxing Day" on this day, so it makes sense that the rest of the world should have Gratitude Day ! (In addition to Thanksgiving, of course. There can't be enough gratitude in the world.)

Before you decide whether or not to participate ... Did you know that Gratitude can make you happier? David J. Pollay writes in his article, Increase Your Happiness. Build Gratitude Chains™ in Your Life.
in Positive Psychology News Daily that ...
Robert Emmons, psychology professor at the University of California, Davis, demonstrated in his research that grateful people are happier. In his new book, Thanks! How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier, Emmons wrote, “Our groundbreaking research has shown that grateful people
experience higher levels of positive emotions such as joy, enthusiasm, love, happiness, and optimism, and that the practice of gratitude as a discipline protects a person from the destructive impulses of envy, resentment, greed, and bitterness.”

Check out the video of the Gratitude dance and leave a comment below to let us know what you think about the idea of Gratitude Day on Dec.26!

Dare to Believe... and be Different !

Jack Welch, famed CEO of General Electric, in a recent book talked about how he got "out of the pile" early in his career. He set himself apart from the rest of the "normal" employees and that made all the difference.

(And for those that have not heard... he also blew up a manufacturing facility ... and his career survived.)

On the other hand, it might feel sometimes like you are the "Mole" in the "Whack-a-Mole" game (see photo, copied from this website)... every time you pop your head up with something new or different, there is someone there to WHACK you back down.

Sometimes you just have to play a different game ... and not settle for mediocrity!

A recent article titled "Avoiding Mediocrity: Do You Dare to Be Different?" from is deceptively easy to read... but, for some of us, incredibly difficult to put into action in your life. The author, Donald Latumahina, poses the following questions...
Do you dare to be different?
1. Do you have a dream?
2. Are you doing what you want or what you should?
3. Do you worry more about being loved than being what you love?
4. Do you choose what is safe rather than what is right?
5. If you had only six months left to live, would you do what
you are doing now?

Click here to read the whole article.

Then, ask yourself... "Are you the person you want to be?"

Can you Dare to Believe... in yourself?

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Throw Away the Crutch Words .... has provided another great article for Toastmasters....

Tips in the article include...

  • Don't fear the silence

  • Practice, practice, practice!

  • Breathe In, Not Out

  • Avoid them in Conversation

  • Get a Counter

  • Comma = 1 pause

  • Period = 2 pauses

  • Double Underline key words and phrases

  • If Your Lost, Don`t Panic!

  • Enthusiasm Cuts Crunch

  • Plan Tricky Parts

  • Quality over Quantity

I especially liked their BONUS TIP...
Bonus Tip - Join Toastmasters
I strongly suggest joining Toastmasters to anyone wanting to improve their speaking and get rid of nasty crutch words. I was able to go from a fountain of um`s and ah`s to near elimination with just a few months of weekly meetings. Toastmasters can also do more than just cut crutch words. They can also work with you on the finer points of presenting, such as gestures, tone of voice, body language and content. By working on these points you can master your craft and have the confidence to speak in front of any audience.

The author of this article, Scott Young is a university student who writes about productivity, habits and self-improvement.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

What can be accomplished in 5-7 minutes?

I found this on the blog, Presentation Zen, and thought it would be of interest to fellow Toastmasters.
Severn Cullis-Suzuki now in her late 20s, started the Environmental Children's Organization (ECO) when she was only 9-years-old. ECO was a small group of children committed to learning and teaching other kids about environmental issues. In 1992 they raised their own money and attended the UN's Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. A then 12-year-old Severn closed a Plenary Session with this amazing speech that received a standing ovation. She received a lot of praise for her talk then—even Al Gore called it "the best speech at Rio."
The video below shows Severin giving a speech that is under 7 minutes to an international environmental conference back in 1992. Take a look and you will see that age is not a restriction on public speaking.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Conquering Fear of Public Speaking...

In Steve Tobak's blog, Train Wreck: Steve Tobak's Views on Disfunctional Corporate Behaviour, he posts a short but very insightful article on Conquering Fear of Public Speaking.

Steve's article includes some good suggestions that could be used by Toastmasters ...
.... Well, there really is no wholesale cure [to fear of public speaking], so to speak. But in a way, that's good news. As big and bad as this fear is, it really only takes a small amount of time, understanding and practice to conquer it.

You see, fear is a natural response to a wide variety of stimuli. As I said before, it's an ancient survival mechanism. It's how you interpret it, however, that counts. Courage is recognizing your fear and doing the right thing anyway. You have to face your fear, and that's where the answer begins.

Steve's specific suggestions for conquering (or at least taming) feare are listed below (he has more explanation of each in his article)...

* Face your fear.
* Know your material cold.
* Take the pressure off yourself.
* Interact with your audience.
* Ask what's the worst that can happen?

He sums it up nicely...

... The point is you're not going to die or lose your loved ones. You'll always have another chance; there will always be other opportunities to shine. Don't think of your speech or presentation as an event; think of it as part of the process of life. Fear is part of it. Have courage and faith, you'll get
through it.

click here to read Steve's complete article !

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Sorry seems to be ....

visit Seth Godin's blogSeth Godin, author of "Purple Cow" and "The Big Moo" (both of which were raffled off as prizes at the D53 Fall conference last weekend), has a good blog article with some tips for Toastmasters.

I was at a gala a few weeks ago (featuring no less than ten speakers). At least 80% of them began their talk by saying,
"I know you're hungry, but..."
or "I know it's late, but..."
or "I know you want to go home, but..." and then apologized for giving a speech.

If your speech needs to be prefaced by an apology...
don't give it.

That's why they call it giving a speech. It's a
gift. If you have to apologize, it's no longer a gift, is it?

Special TM Opportunity... Helping with Global Messenger training

Greetings Fellow Toastmasters!

We have a special opportunity to use your Toastmasters skills outside of a regular Toastmasters meeting ...

The email below describes what Jim Parsons, Div.F Governor, did to help out the Special Olympics organization in the Albany, NY area and, through his contacts, they are now hoping to do something similar in our area!

Please read through Jim's brief email and let me know if you would be interested in participating in something similar in nearby parts of NY state (in a range of counties south of Albany to NYC). If you know of other Toastmasters who you think might be excited by this opportunity, please forward a link to this post to them too.

I am looking for a number of volunteers (4-8 to start) plus at least one person who would like to step up and take on the coordinator role for this event ... perhaps as a High Performance Leadership (HPL) project towards their TM advanced leadership award.

I hope to hear from you soon ! Please send me an email if there are any questions.

Dave Wheeler
Div.A Governor, 2006-8

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Jim Parsons
Date: Jul 24, 2007 12:21 PM
Subject: [d53toastmasters] Division F and Global Messengers
[NOTE: This is an OLD email that was sent back in July 2007. It is provided here for info only.]

Division F Toastmasters is joining with Special Olympics to train the Global Messengers who give speeches at various fundraisers for Special Olympics. The training will take place on Saturday, August 8 at the University of Albany from 10 to 4 and will involve 4-8 messengers and their mentors.

The messengers will already have been instructed to prepare a 2-minute speech. At the start of the workshop each messenger will be assigned a toastmaster to work with. This person will talk about what the messenger wants to say and will then evaluate the speech once it is given. After all the messengers give their first speech, I plan to give a short speech on giving speeches and I would like to get a volunteer from Toastmasters to give a short speech on writing a speech.

Once our educational speeches are done, the evaluators will meet with the messengers and discuss their speech and how they can improve. If we have time, I thought we could do some table topics as a group to help the messengers get some practice. I have asked the folks at Special Olympics to help us by submitting questions that the messengers may be asked when they are at an event.

We will conclude by having the messengers give their speech once again and incorporate the changes that we recommended.

Please let me know if you would like to participate. I am looking for 4-8 volunteers to help with this program. Your role would be to help evaluate the messenger's speeches for both content and presentation and help them improve. The goal is to have the messengers finish the day with a good speech that they can give in public. As I mentioned I am also looking for someone to give a speech on writing a speech or some other topic that you think will be helpful.

For those of you outside Division F who are interested in this project, I will write a summary of our day after we are done. There may be a Special Olympics Chapter in your area and you may wish to contact them.

Thanks you!

Jim Parsons

Monday, November 05, 2007

The Fall 2007 Leadership Summit & Conference ....

WOW !!!

What a fun time!

I hope everyone had as good a time (and learned as much) as I did at the District 53 conference last Saturday!

Highlights included...

Loads and Loads of Energy & Lots of prizes...

Special thanks to our MC for the day... Croix Sather.

The educational sessions were very good... some even said "OUTSTANDING"! (I'm not making that up!) Click here to download the Attendee Reference book and learn more about all the great sessions we had. It also includes "Where's Waldo at the Fall Conference?" and "One Last Thought..." from the host Div.A Governor.

The contests were INCREDIBLE !

It was an evening of many excellent speeches and Brian Cavanaugh won the Humorous contest (on the left in the picture to the right) while Nana Danso was the first runner-up. The person between them is the "Dare To Believe" guy from the District 2007-8 logo. (He was known as simply "Dare Guy" by the end of the night.)

In the Tabletopics contest, Marv Cross won (center in picture below) with Liz Trendowski (left) and Kate Zap (right) as 2nd and 1st runner up, respectively. (If my memory is correct.) The TableTopics question (to the best of my recollection) was something like..."Your autobiography is # 1 on the best seller list. What 3 themes were features in the book?"

Special Thanks to our ContestMasters...
TableTopicsMaster ...Glenn Harrison and Humor Contestmaster ... the well-dressed Bill Corbett.

Attendence at the Fall conference perfectly fit the facility. In terms of numbers, there were 50 more people at this event than there were the last time it was held in Division A. Granted, they were hindered by the weather in 2004 but the number of people was still good for a Fall conference!

Everyone enjoyed the two speeches by International Director, Kristin Nicholson ... especially her energy and contagious (positive) attitude! We also learned about DISC (ask an attendee who heard her speech what each letter stands for).

Here is what our District Governor had to say ....
I’m delighted with the conference and ecstatic about the superb job done by the conference team. A great time was had by all and I’m certain our financial results will be impressive. BTW, I’ve got the logo guy in my office and I thank the team for creating a giant version of our logo for this year. I was and am
thrilled by it.

I extend my thanks to all who attended and to those
who were not able to be there, you missed a truly memorable gathering of our members.

Will Ryan DTM
Overall.... A GREAT time was had by all and hopefully next time we will have even more people !

Please leave your comments below ! We would love to hear what you think about the conference !

Dave "The Wheel" Wheeler
Division A Governor, 2006-8

Good editing tips!

The folks over at have another great article for Toastmasters...

The more speeches I write, the more important an effective editing and refining / improvement process is to the quality of my speech. This is especially critical (or at least most noticable) in Toastmasters speech contests where, assuming you win, you get a chance to give the same speech multiple times and edit/improve it between each speaking opportunity. (That also highlights a drawback of just doing a different speech every time as you move through a Toastmasters manual... you don't get to develop your editing skills as much.)

Here is what they say over at

... if writing isn’t taught well enough or often enough these days, editing is hardly taught at all. This is too bad, since editing is where the real work of writing is at. More than just proofreading, good editing improves the clarity and forcefulness of a piece.

Here’s some tips and tricks to help you make your writing more effective:
  • Read out loud
  • Read in reverse
  • Sleep on it
  • Cut, don’t add
  • Justify yourself
  • Eliminate pretentious language
  • Throw out and get rid of unnecessary redundancies
    [blog editor's note: See the unnecessary redundancy in this tip?]
  • Kill unsightly adverbs
  • Avoid Passive sentences sums it up this way...

Good editing, like good writing (or, better, as part of good
writing), is an art. It takes time and practice to develop a real talent for editing, but the end result is worth it — your writing will be more alive, more effective, and ultimately more likely to be read. And that is, after all, what’s important: that your audience reads and, just as crucially, understands your
Click here for the complete article!

Good suggestions for anyone writing their next speech ... or an article for the Yankee Activator !!
... or even a blog !

Thursday, November 01, 2007

More about the District Council Meeting...

District Council Meeting Info

In November and May, our monthly district business meeting is a bit different from our other 10 monthly meetings. Instead of an Executive Committee meeting, which includes the 44 district officers, the November and May district meetings are District Council meetings.

The DC meetings include all 44 district officers, but also include the Presidents and VPEs from each of our clubs. We still do the Division and Sr Team reports, but we also conduct other district business that meeting representatives are entitled to vote on, as described below.

District officers are expected/encouraged to attend both annual DC meetings. However, you do not need to RSVP to the District Secretary, like we request for the other 10 monthly meetings. That is because your registration for the conference is also your RSVP for the business meeting. I do hope that you are planning to attend and have already registered.

A message was sent to all D53 Club Presidents and VPEs that we have e-mail addresses for. This is essentially an electronic copy of the call to meeting invitation that was sent in hard copy a few weeks ago. Please be advised of the following:

1. The District Council, which always holds its meetings in conjunction with the District Conference, is the voting body of the district. Any business activity that impacts the entire district, such as district officer elections and club alignment (conducted during the Spring DC meeting), and budget approval (conducted during the Fall DC meeting), must be voted on and approved by the DC. For this reason, it is critically important that we achieve a quorum at this meeting. We need YOUR help in encouraging each club to be represented at this meeting.

2. Each club gets 2 votes, one for the President and one for the VPE. Any club member in good standing can be identified to represent one or both of the club's eligible votes. If the club member attending is NOT the President or VPE, a PROXY form signed by the President or VPE is required to identify the attending club member as the official representative for the club. A single signed proxy can entitle any one member to represent one or both votes for the club. If the attending member is either the President or VPE of the club, then that person can represent one or both votes for the club, AND NO PROXY FORM IS NEEDED.

3. If no member of the club is able to attend, then that club will not be represented at the DC meeting. ONLY a member of the club can represent that club at the DC meetings. This is very different from the Regional and International meetings where the clubs can assign their proxies to the District Governor to vote on their behalf. Because of this significant difference, meeting proxy forms are always a source of confusion for club officers and even for district officers, such as yourselves.

4. NOTE that a district officer automatically has one vote at the DC meetings, and it is therefore important for you to attend as well. You can also represent one or both votes for a club or clubs that you belong to. If you happen to be the President or VPE of the club, then the above rule holds and you do not need a proxy form. If you are NOT the President or VPE of your club, you can still represent them but you, just like any other club member, require a proxy form signed by either the President or VPE.

5. As a district officer, you can represent a maximum of three votes, one for your district office and up to two from a club or clubs that you belong to. No matter how many clubs you belong to, you are still limited to a maximum of three votes. This can be your district office vote plus two votes from one of your clubs, or one vote each from two clubs that you belong to.

6. So the maximum number of votes that any representative can hold is three if the person is a district officer and two otherwise.

7. It is also very important to note that your proxy or your position is not your ballot to vote, it only makes you eligible. Every voting representative must pick up a Credentials Package at the Credentials Desk, near the registration table, prior to the DC meeting. The Credentials Table staff validates each person seeking to be a representative at the DC meeting, in accordance with the rules described above. Once validated, the member will be given a Credentials Package, which includes one voting ballot, and one or two additional ballots, if they request and qualify for them. The DC meeting begins at 4:00pm and the Credentials Table closes at 3:00pm so that the quorum report can be assembled in time for presentation at the start of the meeting.

8. Note that the district proxy form can be copied as needed by your club officers. The form presented does NOT have to be the original form sent to them a few weeks ago (another difference from the Regional and International proxy forms). They can use the original, a copy, a printed copy from the an electronic CTM kit, etc. A copy of the proxy form was also included in your CTM kit, which was sent to you as well as the club Presidents and VPEs a few weeks ago. The copy sent out is intended for you to provide to your clubs if they lose theirs. It is not needed by you for any other purpose. So district officers can feel free to distribute copies to any club that needs them. In addition to the copy included in the attached CTM kit, I there is also a PDF copy of just the proxy form, in case it is needed by one of your clubs.",

I know this all seems a bit complex, but it's the way we need to conduct business for our DC meetings. I do hope that this explanation helps to clarify this process for you a little, and that you will be able to share this clarification with your clubs. If you have any questions about any of this, let me know.

Dare to Believe!!

District 53 motto 2007-2008


Norm Thibodeau (DTM)
Toastmasters International District 53
Editor's Note: This was originally written and addressed to District officers and edited slightly for use by anyone attending the Council meeting (club officers as well as district officers). We tried to be 100% accurate in our edits, but you may want to contact your Area Gov. or Div.Gov. or Norm for clarification of any questions.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Proxies for District Council meeting at FALL CONFERENCE, 11/3/2007

Club Presidents and VPEs:

As club Presidents and VPEs, you are members of the Toastmasters District 53 District Council.

There are two meetings of the District Council each year and they are held during the Fall and Spring District Conference.

You are the representatives from your club at these important business meetings.

This message is an electronic copy of your meeting invitation to the Fall 2007 District Council meeting, to be held in Fishkill New York on November 3.

District Secretary, Norm Thibodeau, sent out a "Call To Meeting package" and as club officers, you should make plans for your club to be represented at this meeting. The hard copy (paper) version of this is in the mail and you should receive it soon.

In order to vote on behalf of your club, you need to visit the Credentials table at the conference to pick up your Credentials Package, which is your ticket to vote during the business meeting.

Note that, if you can not attend yourselves, any other club member can be authorized by you to represent either or both of you at the business meeting so that your votes will be counted. In order to do this, your designated representative (or representatives) must present a Proxy form signed by either of you to the Credentials table at the conference to pick up your credentials package(s) and therefore be allowed to vote at the meeting.

A proxy form is only required if a club member OTHER THAN the President or VPE will be representing one or both votes from your club.

Also note that the Credentials table closes one hour before the start of the business meeting. This is all explained in more detail in the Call To Meeting package.

Again - please review the package at your earliest convenience and make plans now for your club to be represented. If you have any questions about these materials or this process, feel free to contact me.

Hope to see you all at the conference and at the business meeting.

Dare to Believe!!
District 53 motto 2007-2008
Norm Thibodeau (DTM)
Toastmasters International
District 53 Secretary

Monday, October 29, 2007

What are your talking points?

Once again, provides an article of interest to Toastmasters titled, "What are your talking points?"

I was advised by a mentor to have three descriptions of my work ready to recite at a moment’s notice: a three-minute overview, a 12-minute presentation, and a half-hour discussion. ...

... Having a set of clear, easily-remembered, and well-supported talking points means you always have an outline to work from, so you don’t leave anything out — and so you can hang as much, or as little, as necessary from that outline to fill out whatever time is allotted.
Of course it does not hurt to reinforce the "Power of 3"...
... speechwriting coach Joan Detz suggests that you have three (no more, no less) talking points for any given project. Two is too thin and unsubstantial, and four and higher is more than anyone can easily grasp.
They also provide another key aspect of talking points....
The idea is not to add more talking points but to explain and expand the same talking points more depending on how much time you have.
In conclusion...
Staying focused on talking points gives your audience, whether one person or a hundred, an instant take-away, and prevents you from getting off-track. Each becomes a kind of mission statement, preventing you from dwelling on the trivial at the expense of the truly important.
click here to read the complete article !

Monday, October 22, 2007

Fall Conference Leadership Team ... In Action!

You Can Can sign up NOW for the Fall Conference!In a clear demonstration of their commitment to making the upcoming Fall conference one of the BEST EVER! ...

... some of the Fall conference leaders have put this video together to show the level of excitement and energy you can expect at the District 53 Fall Leadership Summit at the Holiday Inn in Fishkill, NY on Nov.3rd, 2007.

click the link below...

enjoy !

Hope to see you at the conference!
Sign up now at !

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Conference Co-chairs... Kickin' the show into action!

Sign Up NOW for the Fall Conference on Nov.3rd, 2007The conference co-chairs, Colleen Yarter and Bruce Cornwell, have been working tirelessly to make the Fall conference one of the BEST in recent history.

In an effort to give you a taste of the energy level at the upcoming conference, we have put together this video (click on link below) featuring the conference co-chairs.

Click this link to see the video ...

Be sure to email it to others who might enjoy it (and may need to sign up for the conference)!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Division C Results....

Niantic, CT - On October 15th the Division C Speech Contest was held at the Niantic Community Church. About 50 people attended to see who would represent our division at the District Speech Contest in Fishkill, NY on November 3rd.

The event was host by the Niantic Toastmaster Club. Club President and C3 Area Governor, Lynnea Mahlke and Treasurer and C6 Area Governor, Cate Steel, organized this event. Great job Lynnea and Cate!

We were extremely honored to have Past District Governors, Frank Kane and Joe Zafian and Lt. Governor of Marketing, Marsha Kiley, attend our contest.

The Table Topics Speech Contest was the first event of the evening. All six contestants were escorted out of the room, and then one by one each contestant was brought back in and asked to speak about their 15 minutes of fame. Answers ranged from running with goats and cows, to scooping dog poop from rescued dachshund dogs.

Next up was the Humorous Speech contest. Speakers spoke about The Lion King Movie, motivational myths about money, an infomercial describing public speaking gadgets that every speaker cannot be without, not having to wear a girdle, high school fun and childhood memories.

Let me tell you, the judges had their work count out for them this night. Everyone was FANTASTIC!

At last the results were in and the Contest Master and Chief Judge announced our winners.

Humorous Speech Winners: (left to right)
James Keeny (2nd place), Sreeni Voleti (3rd place), David Thackston (1st Place)

Table Topics winners: (left to right)
Joe Zafian (2nd place), Liz Trendowski (1st place), & Richard Dalkowski (3rd place)

The event ended with a few comments from the Division Governor, Sharon Mercado, and Lt. Governor of Marketing, Marsha Kiley.

It was an absolutely amazing evening! The speeches were phenomenal, the food was delicious and everyone in attendance had fun! What a night!!!!

Hope to see you all at the Fall District Conference in Fishkill, NY to support and cheer on our Division C winners, David Thackston (Humorous) and Liz Trendowski (Table Topics). For more information about the conference, click here.

Watch out NY, because Division C members are the Champions of the World!!!!!

Toastmasters "in action" !

Toastmasters is about developing skills... but what good are they if you don't get a chance to use them in "the real world"?

Put another way... If a bear speaks in the woods.... does anyone hear him?

For example, here are a few pictures of Dave Wheeler (member of WestConn Toastmasters, Socially Speaking Toastmasters and DiversityUSA/Advanced Toastmasters clubs) giving a presentation for his company, Trident Industrial Inkjet, at the recent Pack Expo tradeshow. Pack Expo was held from Oct.15th to 17th at the Las Vegas Convention Center and Dave gave 4 presentations at 3 different booths.

(He also built the stainless steel rolling demonstration station seen in the background. The Trident "demo" tool chest may be featured in an upcoming video spoof of the TV show, "Pimp My Ride" called "Pimp My Toolbox".)

Do you or someone from your club have any pictures showing how you used your Toastmasters skills in "the real world"?

Please send them along with the background story to us at and we will post them as an inspiration to others !

Speak UP !

Friday, October 12, 2007

Division A Contest Winners !!!!

On Wed. Oct. 10th, the Division A 2007 TableTopics and Humorous speech contests were held at the Wooster School Library in Danbury, CT.

Representatives from 4 areas were on hand for a lively evening of incredible displays of impromptu speaking as well as some truly entertaining humorous speeches.

The winners included...

Tabletopics Contest
1st Place Kate Zap,
2nd Place, Liz Smith
3rd Place, Pat Hendrickson
Humorous Speech Contest
1st Place, Nana Danso with his speech titled, "The Secret"

2nd Place, Pearl Golay with her speech titled, "A Permanent Crisis"

3rd Place, Adam Izzo with his speech titled, "Barbecue"
Shown in the pictures here are....

Top picture (from left to right).... Kate Zap, Nana Danso, Pat Hendrickson, Pearl Golay and Liz Smith.

Bottom picture (left to right)... Kate Zap and Nana Danso.

It was a great evening and a lot of fun for everyone who was able to attend. Special thanks go out to WestConn Toastmasters who hosted the event and provided refreshments!
See you at the Fall Conference on Nov.3rd! Let's Cheer on Kate & Nana !

Humorous Speech development....

Here is an article by John Kinde, "Humor specialist", that analyzes a real Toastmasters Humorous Contest speech (not in our District) and provides some very valuable insights into the tools that are available for Humorous speaking!

Check it out! (Especially if you are competing in any of the upcoming Division contests!!)

Plus John Kinde's article and Steve Pavlina (the speaker John interviews for the article) get "bonus points" for mentioning one of our favorite World Champions of Public Speaking, Darren LaCroix!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Another Toastmasters Testimonial....

Those of us who have been part of Toastmasters for a while understand what it can do for you ... but sometimes it may be hard to explain it to someone who has not experienced it ... or someone who is intensely afraid of public speaking...

I came across a Toastmasters-related post by a blogger from Las Vegas, Erin Pavlina, and thought I would share it (click here to read the whole article). Below are some excerpts ....
Are you terrified of public speaking? Do you go out of your way to avoid having to make a speech or presentation? Fear of death and fear of public speaking are reported to be the two things people fear the most. I can attest to the fear of public speaking part as I grew up being absolutely terrified of having to speak in front of a group of people. But that is changing for me.
Erin tells her story of fear-filled school presentations and how her career path led her to Toastmasters. Here is her description of her icebreaker speech...
In joining Toastmasters I was pushing my boundaries, cutting a swath through fear, and turning a blind eye to retreat. I went kicking and screaming but I went. I did my ice breaker speech (4-6 minutes, tell us all about yourself, go) and was surprised to find that half way through my speech I actually started to enjoy myself. I thought maybe I’d been replaced by a clone in the middle of my speech. But no, it was all me.
She sums it up this way...

I’m no expert yet, believe me. My butterflies aren’t flying in formation, but I can see that someday they will. I can see that someday I will be on stage speaking about something I’m passionate about and still be able to breath. I know that someday I’ll leave the stage while thunderous applause follows me and be glad I had joined Toastmasters before I had to give that speech.

Sometimes all it takes to conquer a fear is to be willing to take the first step. Even when you don’t feel capable or qualified. Even when you don’t want to but you know it’s the best thing for you. Even when you’d rather die than push through it. What is it they say? “Feel the fear and do it anyway.” That sums up my entire experience with speaking in public.

Everytime you face down a fear it holds less power over you. And it’s not just fear of public speaking I’m talking about. Are you avoiding something you know you should or want to do because of fear? Are you afraid to ask someone out on a date? Afraid to ask for a raise at work? Afraid to admit you’re addicted to something? Face the fear. There is nothing more empowering than facing down a fear. Go a few rounds with it and you’ll find it only holds as much power as you’re willing to give to it.

If you’re fearful of public speaking I highly recommend
Toastmasters. It doesn’t matter if you have to give presentations for your job or if you’re a teacher or if you’re someone who just wants to be more comfortable speaking, Toastmasters is the place to conquer your fear of public speaking.

... Don’t go to your grave avoiding anything you really want to do because you’re too afraid. Barrel right through the fear and fling it behind you. Step on it, bury it, shot-put it to the moon. Just don’t let it stop you. The power is all yours!

Erin is definitely "Setting a New Standard" for herself through Toastmasters. Are you?

The theme for the Fall Conference on Nov.3rd, 2007 in Fishkill, NY is "Set a New Standard" and it could be a perfect opportunity for you to, as Erin might say, "Barrel through some fear and fling it behind you" !

We hope to see you there !

Thursday, October 04, 2007

10 Tips for asking questions from the audience

There are good ways and bad ways to ask questions from the audience ...

There is a video making the rounds on the internet showing a guy who asked some questions at a John Kerry appearance and was dragged from the microphone by security. This video is usually referred to by the line the guy says..."Don't tazer me, bro!"

Clearly this is not the reaction you want when you ask a question as part of the audience.

On the other hand, there are also some GOOD things you can do to present yourself well when you ask a question as part of an audience.

Gretchen Rubin gives us "10 Tips for asking questions from the audience" from her blog, "The Happiness Project". ...
1. Wait for the microphone, if there is one.

2. Pause for silence – don’t talk over a chattering crowd.

3. Don’t make excuses for yourself. This is tiresome and unnecessary.

4. Don’t address speakers by their first names. Some people will disagree with me, I’m sure, but this always strikes me as affected and inappropriately familiar, unless the mood of the presentation is extremely casual.

5. Don’t be long-winded.

6. Plan it out. This will help you avoid being long-winded.

7. Don’t ask double question. Give other people a chance.

8. If appropriate, say a little about yourself. Just a little.

9. Speak up. Nothing’s more frustrating to the audience than not being able to hear a question.

10. Remember: you’ll be happy that you asked a question. I’m one of those people who rarely asks a question at such an
occasion. I never spoke in class in law school. But whenever I do participate, I feel more engaged and enjoy myself more. I’m working on speaking up.
Gretchen gives us some good ideas that we can try the next time we have the opportunity to ask a question as part of the audience!

Let us know in the comments if you have other ideas or suggestions !

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Beware the Garbage Trucks !!!!

I just came across an article by David J. Pollay that I really enjoyed reading and I hope you do too.

His story reminded me of a saying that my Dad used to tell me when I was playing basketball and would get upset by a bad call by a referee. He would say, "If someone offers you a big, smelly bag of hot, steaming, disgusting (you get the picture) ... it is up to you whether you accept it or not."

David Pollay's article takes that same line of thinking and adds his own New York story. I think you will find that his story will help you get through your day with less stress and allow you to focus more on the important things in life without being distracted by the "Garbage Trucks".

Check it out...

Friday, September 28, 2007

Area A2 & A4 Contest Winners !

On Sept.25th, Area A2 and Area A4 held their TableTopics and Humorous speech contest at the Stony Hill Fire Department in Bethel, CT.
In Area A4 Humorous Speech Contest, Pearl Golay took home 1st place for her speech titled, "A Permanent Crisis" while Shila Ray was the 1st RunnerUp with his speech titled, "Virtues". (Pearl and Shila are shown in the picture to the right ... Pearl is the one on the left.)
In the Area A2 Humorous Speech Contest, Nana Danso (far left in the picture to the right) won 1st place with his speech titled, "The Secret" and Jinghua Xu (far right in picture) was the 1st RunnerUp with her speech titled, "Love is Deaf".
TableTopics winners were Liz Smith (Area A4, 2nd from left in picture) and Kathleen Zap (Area A2, 3rd from left in picture).

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Darren LaCroix on ... the long term effect of "Setting a New Standard"

I wonder if Darren LaCroix was thinking about the theme of the District 53 Fall Leadership Summit / Conference when he wrote his recent blog post titled, "Do you take care of your future self?".

In his article, he talks about digging himself out of the debt he incurred as part of his Subway sandwich shop and how "the decision ... and the persistence to stick to it ... [to] find ways to never be late on payments of any kind, even when it meant many times I went “without.”'

Darren points out that it was not an easy decision and it involved moving back in with his parents to help "make ends meet" but by setting a new standard for himself ... not giving up and declaring bankruptcy... he was able to reap the rewards of an excellent credit rating and a good interest rate on the mortgage he just got for his new house in Las Vegas.

He ends his post with ...
The life we are living now is a direct result of decisions we made in the past. That being said, are you making decisions now that will make life better for your future self?
Have you decided to Set a New Standard for your life? Have you signed up for the Fall Conference on Nov.3rd in Fishkill, NY?

Your future self will thank you for it !

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Quick Reminder: Adv. TM meeting at Ridgefield Library Thurs.9/27

A Quick reminder ...

The Div.A Advanced Toastmasters Club will meet at the Ridgefield (CT) Library TONIGHT, Thursday, Sept. 27th at 7:15pm to 8:45pm.

Be sure to bring 4 things to the meeting ...
1) your speech (especially if you did not speak last month ... Dave, Richard & Anne?)
2) a speaking/communications/business tip,
3) a "role play"
and, most importantly, ...
4) Your CHECKBOOK ... for two reasons... We will need to pay dues by Oct.1st (not much time). I will also bring registration forms for the Fall Conference so you can get the early registration discount!

Also on the agenda... discussion of plans for the October meeting in the (BIG) Dyson Room (we have it reserved).

You are welcome to attend and see what an Advanced Toastmaster Club is all about (or at least the way we do it in Division A).

See you there!

Dave Wheeler
Div.A Governor, 2006-8

Monday, September 24, 2007

What is Leadership???

I found an interesting article on Leadership by Michael Hyatt and, in particular, the difference between "influence" and "control".

He provides "four ways you can become a person of influence, no matter where you are an organization":
1. Focus on yourself. Modeling is the most powerful form of teaching known to man. If you aren’t “walking your talk,” you dramatically lessen your influence.

2. Take the initiative. Whiners are passive. They sit back and complain. Real leaders don’t have time to play the blame-game. Instead, they look for opportunities to take initiative and take action. There is always something you could be doing to influence the outcome.

3. Cast the vision. Often people don’t do what we want, because we have not invested the time to paint the vision. In my experience, people want a challenge. They want to do something significant. But no one has given them a compelling vision of a new reality. If you consider yourself a leader, this is your job.

4. Appreciate the effort. At the end of the day, everyone is
a volunteer. Yes, even the people who report to you. They have more options than you think. If you don’t appreciate them, someone else will. People want to give their best effort to those who notice. Time and time again, I have witnessed the power of a simple “thank you.” If this is true for those who report to you, it is even more true of those who don’t.
He adds...
The truth is that control is an illusion. You can’t control anyone, even the people that report to you.
This is important to remember... and another reason that leading volunteers within Toastmasters is such a valuable experience.

The article ends with ...
If we are going to make a difference, we are going to have to sharpen our leadership skills and get better at wielding our influence. Everyday is an opportunity to get better at this important skill.
Sounds like a job for .... Toastmasters !

Michael Hyatt is the President & CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers in Nashville, TN. In addition to Leadership, he also blogs about his iPhone, Angry Emails, retailing and the book industry.

SET A NEW STANDARD for Leadership....
At the District 53 Fall Leadership Summit & Conference on Nov.3rd in Fishkill, NY.

Have you signed up yet?

Friday, September 21, 2007

From the d53toastmasters Yahoo group... Did you know?

From: karin vonkaenel,
D53 Lt.Gov. Education

Date: Sep 16, 2007 7:23 PM
Subject: [d53toastmasters] Did you know?
To: d53toastmasters@yahoogroups

Greetings Fellow Toastmasters!
Recently, somebody asked the following question:

An old-time member already has her old-CL. Can she:
(1) Qualify for another CL by going through the new CL manual
(2) Achieve the ALB, which is the same as the old-CL
(3) can any of these count for DCP points for the club? The answer I got from TI was:

Members only have to earn the CC/CTM award once during their Toastmasters career. We do not require a new CC/CTM award earned for each ACB or old CL award.

The new-CL award does not have a requirement that a member must first earn the CC/CTM award
ie: Members may have 20 old-CL awards and only 1 CC/CTM
ie: Members may have earned the new CL and not have earned any CC/CTM.Any CL (old or new), ALB, ALS does count towards the DCP.

This is very good news for all clubs as this makes it easier to achieve those Educational goals in the DCP.

Have a great week!

Best regards,

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Division A Fall Contest set ... Wed. Oct. 10th!

The Fall contest for Division A will be held on Wed. October 10th at the Wooster School Library, hosted by WestConn Toastmasters.

Contestants and Judges (at least one from each Area) should arrive by 6:45-7pm and we will start promptly at 7:30pm.

Because Toastmaster contests are an incredible opportunity for contestants to push the limits of their speaking skills and an even bigger opportunity for attendees to witness (and learn from) some of the best speakers we have in our Division. It is also a LOT OF FUN !

Hope to see you there !

Dave Wheeler, Div.A Governor, 2006-8

Area A1, A3 and A5 Fall Contest set for Sept.25th!

The Area 1, 3 and 5 contests (Humorous and TableTopics) will be held on Tuesday, September 25th from 6-9PM. Contestants should arrive at 6pm (or slightly sooner) for briefings.

The Contest will be located in the Ulrich Conference Room in the Dyson Center atMarist College. Directions to Marist are at

Contact your Area Governor if you need more information...
Area A1, Mike Ruppert,
Area A3, Ozgur Turkmen,
Area A5, Janice Parker,

Each club can send up to TWO contestants from their club to the area contest for each contest! That means up to 4 people total from each club could participate in the area contest !

Ute's Toastmasters banner

The graphic on the right shows the layout of a Toastmasters banner that was created by Ute Brinkmann. When it is printed and mounted, it stands about 6 feet tall and is a highly visible "mini-billboard".

The District 53 Executive Committee is considering purchasing some banners along with the banner stands (which can be updated with new or different banners for different occasions) to help promote Toastmasters in our District.

The idea is that banners like these are a very useful marketing tool at tradeshows, contests and other Toastmasters events to draw attention or highlight the location of a meeting.

Special Thanks to Ute for taking the initiative to design (and purchase with her own money) this banner so that we can see a real-life example. Look for Ute's banner at upcoming contests and meetings !
Tell us what you think ... leave a comment below or email Dave Wheeler, Div.A Governor, at

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Q&A ...Humorous contest question

Q: We only have 2 speakers who want to participate in humorous contest. Do you think we should hold a contest for just 2 people since they both will move on to the area contest ?

A: Since both contestants will advance (based on this year's rules), the results of a contest don't matter as much as the experience that the speakers gain by participating in the club contest.

I would suggest that you either run a contest or at least adapt the introductions to closely match a contest. You may want to have multiple evaluators instead of multiple judges so that each speaker can get more feedback.

I would also suggest at least a few evaluators to use the judging forms as the basis for their evaluation so that the changes / improvements to the contestants speech will (hopefully) be reflected in their scores at the area contest.
What would you suggest? Leave a comment for other readers to see !

Monday, September 17, 2007

Public Speaking won't kill you .... will it?

Pat Wilson-Perkins, Area A4 Governor, (no relation to the person shown in the picture on the right) forwarded an article from titled, "Pulling back the curtain on stage fright ... Does your mind go blank in the spotlight?" by Patrick Enright.

The article is an interesting discussion about the biology of stage fright...
What's really going on when we get sweaty-palmed and sick to our stomachs?
Mary Fensholt, a consultant and author of "The Francis Effect: The Real Reason You Hate Public Speaking and How to Get Over It," puts it succinctly: "The fear of public speaking or performing is more than anything a fear of being eaten." Building on the theories of sociobiologist Edward O. Wilson, Fensholt argues that historically, being intently scrutinized and singled out was a prelude to being eaten by a predator, so human ancestors evolved a strong fear response against setting themselves apart from the protection of the group.

Clearly public speaking can initiate the "Fight or Flight" biology ... even though the audience is unlikely to attack the speaker (at least in the Toastmasters clubs I've been to).

The article includes some ways to minimize or at least manage the effects of stage fright...

While you may not be able to shrug off stage fright entirely, you can minimize its effects. Breathing exercises, visualization, focusing on relaxing your muscles and drinking a glass of grapefruit juice to stimulate the salivary glands all can help with the physical symptoms of stage fright, and, as Somjee
says, "If you can relax your body, your mind simply follows."
The article ends with a great way to put stage fright into perspective...
If you make a mistake, you may be embarrassed, but there are no real predators in the audience.
Again, your results may vary. (Especially if you are asked to speak at the lunch meeting of Predator Toastmasters.)

Click here for a sidebar to the article listing celebrities who have battled stage fright including Rod Stewart, Carly Simon and Barbara Streisand.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Fall Conference FLYER FISH !

The Fall 2007 Leadership Summit / Conference will be held in FISHKILL, NY on Sat. Nov.3rd (click here for the D53 conference page)

.... and to help remind people where it will be held, we have created ....


They are a combination of a traditional "Toastmasters conference flyer" (on the inside) and an origami fish (on the visible side). You can download PDF files of the pages and create your very own FLYER FISH by clicking on the links below....

Fish (side one)

For the best effect, print out the PDF files in full color, two-sided, with different images on each side (the flyer is IN the fish)!

PRIZE NOTICE: Want to win a prize?
Send in your digital pictures of how you created "The best promotion using the "FISH FLYERs" at an Area or Division Contest (or within your club or workplace)" and you could win a "Fish-themed" prize to be awarded at the Fall Conference ... (The prize will probably a book, but we are working on other ideas too).
Send digital pictures of your entries to

P.S. Don't "Kill your Fish"... I heard that the "kill" in Fishkill comes from the Dutch word for "small running brook" so Fishkill is a river with fish (a good thing). I also found out that "the Dutch word for skimming stones is plimpplamppletteren"... now I just have to figure out a way to work it into a speech!