Thursday, March 29, 2007

Fundraising ... for Toastmasters

Some of the comments from the previous post suggested that we should look into the guidelines for fundraising as part of Toastmasters....

I found this PDF document on the TI website (click here) which explains why it is important to follow certain guidelines so that Toastmasters can maintain their non-profit status.

It also talks about how we can spend the money we collect...

Good to know.

Comments? Ideas?

A Toastmaster idea for your consideration & feedback...

Greetings fellow Toastmasters,

I was thinking about what to give my niece in Wisconsin as a high school graduation present recently. I wanted the gift to be something that would give her a real added advantage for the rest of her life ...

I decided that I will give her a check for an amount [at least] equal to a Toastmaster membership ... with the option to triple the amount if she completes her CC before she enters college.

If she takes the "summer challenge", it will put her far ahead of the rest of the freshmen entering college and, I suspect, it will improve her ability to make friends and improve her overall college experience. It will also show that she is the type of person who can tackle challenges and learn new skills. To me, that is a great advantage for a young person to have !

Now.. this is where I need your thoughts. The graduation idea got me thinking ... why can't we do something similar (or slightly different) for our local Toastmasters clubs or areas?

What if we had a "Toastmaster Scholarship" for a graduating (18 y.o.) senior where we would pay their Toastmaster dues (initiation fee and dues) and, if they agreed to complete their CC manual, we gave them the same amount (or more?) in cash at the end of the summer? Assuming my memory is correct, that would cost us $ 20 (new member fee) plus $ 18 (dues) if it was awarded in June and an additional $40 (rounding up) if we gave the fee back to the winner in August. Total Cost: $80.

What do you think?

What would we need to do to test it out?

You can post your comments below for us all to see.

Hope to hear from you soon !

Dave Wheeler
Division A Governor, 2006-7

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Extra Incentive for Spring Conference....

This just in .... An EXTRA Incentive ....
The 1st 100 people who register for the Spring Conference will be entered in a drawing for a Box Set of David Brooks CD's!

David Brooks was the 1990 World Champion of Public Speaking and has been a featured speaker at the "Night of Champions" events that have been held in District 53 !

Check out his website ... click here! He also has "Free Resources for Toastmasters"... check them out here!

Click here to register for the Spring Conference !
The early-bird registration price must be postmarked by April 1st !!!!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Area A2 and A4 Contest Winners !!!!!

We had a PACKED room at the Wooster School Library last night and we saw an incredible display of contest speeches! The caliber of speeches is definitely high this year !

Area A2 Results:
Tall Tales
1st place: Jinghua Xu

International Speech Contest:
1st place: NaNa Danso
1st Runner-up: David Alexander

Area A4 Results:
Tall Tales
1st place: Croix Sather, "Fish Tale", Socially Speaking Toastmasters
1st Runner-up: Tracy Buskirk (WestConn)
3rd Place: Richard Smith (Barnum)

International Speech Contest:
1st place: Rob Ferrucci, "What do you want to be", WestConn Toastmasters
1st Runner-up: Liz Smith (Barnum)
3rd Place: Raiza Arnone (Cartus Magnus)

We forgot our digital camera but there were about a million video cameras set up at the contest (actually maybe 3-4) so hopefully someone can send us some pix from the videos !

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Register now for 2007 Spring Summit

You are cordially invited to the District 53 Spring 2007
Leadership Summit: Leveraging Your Speaking Advantage
May 19, 2007
Sheraton Hartford Hotel

East Hartford, Connecticut

Join us for a jam-packed day of inspiration, networking, and knowledge infusion that will invigorate your passion, your direction and give you renewed vision you can begin using the following Monday morning.

We've designed the conference to provide real value in your personal lives by showing you how to leverage the advantage you have gained as a Toastmaster and applying it to your home, job and community.

Read the list of educational sessions to see what an uplifting and entertaining day it will be.

Then use the registration form to reserve your space in this limited event. Register before April 1st and get your 10% discount. Submit your registration today - this event is expected to sell out.

Due to the Sheraton's size, session rooms have limited seating and the hotel has a maximum attendance limit. Seating in each educational session is limited. Please rank your first and second choice. If we receive your registration after your first choice class is full, we will enroll you in your second choice.


Rick Kominowski
Joyce Petteway Co Chairs - "District 53, Spring 2007, Leadership Summit"

March meeting of the Div.A Advanced TM Club

Here are all the details ... place, time and directions... for the upcoming meeting of the Div.A ADVANCED Toastmaster club ....

Ridgefield Public Library, in the "History Room"
472 Main Street, Ridgefield, CT 06877
click here for a map showing the location.
Directions are also available on the library's web site:

Thursday, March 22nd, 2007
7:15 to 8:45pm (please try to arrive at 7pm so we can start on time)

Please forward this email to any Advanced Toastmaster (ATM-B or AC-B or above) who might be interested ...

If you miss this meeting... Don't miss the BIG EVENT on April 19th! Local Division Contest winners (A&D) from District 53 will go "head to head" against the best of Div.G from District 46 (NY/NJ). We are calling it "The Battle of the Border" ! 7pm in the Dayton Room at the Ridgefield Library.

If you or anyone in the clubs in your area are not able to make this meeting, please send me an email expressing your interest. This information will also be posted on the Div.A blog, so check there occasionally for updates.

Please pass this email along and let me know if there are any questions.


Dave Wheeler
Division A Governor, 2006-7

Another contest ... outside of Toastmasters!

This post by Guy Kawasaki (one of my favorite authors & bloggers) tells about a Presentation Contest. While this contest is in no way related to the Spring Contests being conducted by Toastmaster, it could be a good opportunity for a Toastmaster to leverage the skills you learned in your club ! If you decide to enter, please let us know how it goes (in our comment section below). Better yet... send us a copy of your presentation so we can give you feedback !

On a related (Contest) topic.... The new Advanced Club in Division A is hosting a [completely un-sanctioned] inter-District speech contest on Thursday April 19th at the Ridgefield Library at 7:15pm. The contest will feature the winners of the International Speech Contest from Div.A and Div.D (if they elect to participate) and Div. G from District 46 (NY/NJ). Everyone is invited and there is no charge. Please let us know if you will be attending by sending an email to (Dave)!

Hope to see you at the "Battle of The Border" contest event !

Monday, March 19, 2007

More Club Contest Winners ... BI Toastmasters

On 3/16/07, Steve Rock wrote:

As the Vice President – Education for BI Toastmasters (#7386) it is my pleasure to inform you of the result of our Tall Tales Speech Contest, conducted 3/15, and International Speech Contest, conducted 3/8.

Tall Tale winners....

1st Place – Jaime Navarro

2nd Place – Jinghua Xu

3rd Place – Nana Danso

International Speech Contest winners ...

1st Place – Nana Danso

2nd Place – Andre White

3rd Place – Zhanna Yuabova

We look forward to seeing the winners at the Area A2 / A4 Contest on Wed. March 21st at the Wooster School Library. Contestants should arrive at 7pm for briefings so the contest can start at 7:30pm.

Note: if the first place winner cannot compete, the next place winner can take his / her place. Please encourage all contestants to come prepared to speak ... you never know when someone's schedule will change and you will have an unexpected opportunity to compete !

Friday, March 16, 2007

Another Toastmaster blog ..

Croix Sather, VP-Education for WestConn Toastmasters and new member of Socially Speaking Toastmasters, forwarded the following link to a Toastmaster-related blog.... check it out !

Tom Antion

Some good ideas. BUT, he is ferociously peddling his products.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Self Regulation & Good Constraints

This post is a followup to the earlier post on Fixed vs. Growth Mindset (click here in case you missed it).

************* The Next Step to a Growth Mindset *****************

Just understanding what it means to have a Growth Mindset will do you no good if you don't actually stretch outside your comfort zone to the point of encountering obstacles (or "learning experiences"). Of course, stretching outside your comfort zone is, by definition, not comfortable but this article will give you some ideas that might help.

Clearly Toastmasters is a big part of extending our comfort zone for most of us and I have found some articles that might help you overcome some things that might have been holding you back.

Senia Maymim, editor of Positive Psychology News Daily (, has written a series of articles that will help you build your "Mental Muscle", develop positive habits and improve your life.

This article by Senia Maymim (part 1 in the series) talks about self-regulation ...

Self-regulation is your personality process to exert control over your thoughts, feelings, and actions. .... if you do ANYTHING that requires self-regulation, then that makes it EASIER for you to have self-regulation in EVERYTHING.

This is very true ... as long as you don't get hit with the "Whiplash effect". For example, if you restrain yourself from eating a piece of candy offered by your co-worker you will feel good about yourself. This, as Senia points out, will reinforce your good feelings about yourself.

The "Whiplash effect" comes in when you don't eat the candy.... and you don't eat anything else...(thinking you are "being good")... until you get home and then you "treat yourself " to a whole bag of chips or a tub of ice cream! It is important, especially with food, to substitute healthy habits for poor ones while, at the same time, you build your personal self-regulation power! In our candy example, this means eating a salad and perhaps a snack of celery so that you would not be as hungry when you got home (and less likely to make a bad choice).

This article by Senia is part 2 in the series and it talks about using "Good Constraints" to improve your life. The article talks about making the right decisions and not constantly re-visiting them every time the situation comes up. This improves your focus while freeing up mental energy that can be better applied to other things.

Again, returning to our candy example... if you had made the "Good Constraint" decision that you NEVER eat candy, then you would be less likely to "reward yourself" later in the day!

I hope these two articles about Self Regulation and Good Constraints will help you think of ways to stretch and Grow your Mindset and create a new (much larger) comfort zone !

Let us know how you applied it to Toastmasters in the comments section !

Advanced Toastmasters club - Conference call "meeting"

Greetings Advanced Toastmasters !

We had a conference call meeting tonight at 8pm (if you missed it, send Dave Wheeler an email at and he can send you more info.)

Even though there was a potential "technical difficulty", it never materialized and the call went off without a hitch!

Here is the agenda for we used for the conference call ....
  • Meeting time(s) / location(s)
  • Eligibility (Advanced TM, others?)
  • Charter membership fee ($75/yr)
  • April 19th kickoff event ("Battle of the Border")
  • Goals for the club - what do we want to get out of it?

If you missed the conference call, we will also be having a club meeting at the Ridgefield Library in the History Room next Thursday at 7:15pm. Unless we decide otherwise on the conference call, the next meeting will have at least one target speech that we can all view and then we will discuss "Advanced Evaluations".

Dave Wheeler
Division A Governor, 2006-7

Where is your mind(set)?

Is your mind set in concrete ... or is it a well oiled machine?
Are you as smart as you will ever get ... or do you get better every day?

These questions reveal more about your chances for success than you might imagine.

This article about psychology professor Carol Dweck explains the impact of mindset and, in particular, the "Fixed mindset" and the "Growth mindset".

In a nutshell, a person with a fixed mindset feels that talents are a given so you will either succeed or fail based on your inate abilities. If someone with a fixed mindset encounters an obstacle or a failure, they are most likely to give up since "it is obvious that they don't have the ability".

On the other hand, someone with a growth mindset sees everything as a learning experience. If they fail, it only means that they have not yet learned the skills required to succeed. It is not about inate ability... it is about where you are on the road to success.

The article about Dweck has a bunch of excellent examples and you will see that many of them related to child development (but aren't we all children on the inside?). For a graphical diagram that explains the difference between Fixed vs. Growth mindset, click here.

How does this apply to Toastmasters?
Did you join Toastmasters because you were already an excellent speaker (fixed mindset) or because you wanted to improve your speaking skills (growth mindset)?

Have you hit a plateau in your speaking... perhaps after achieving your CC or CTM? Are you starting to think you are as good as you are going to get (fixed mindset)? Or are you still finding ways to improve (growth mindset)?

What if you are really bad at something?
What if you are currently really bad at something?

See the difference in mindset between those two sentences?

How do you change your mindset?

First, read the article on Dweck. For "extra credit", check out Carol Dweck's new book, "Mindset, The New Psychology of Success". (see link in the right margin).

Second, tune into this blog for the next post which will help you develop your Mindset Muscle by making small changes you can leverage into larger changes.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

2500+ ideas for Speeches ...

I came across this website, called "Speech Topics, Help and Ideas", when I was searching for other things ... and I just had to pass it along.

If you are looking for an idea for a speech or even some interesting TableTopics... this is the place ! Check it out... there are alot of great ideas !

Here are just the main sections of the Table of Contents ...

- Persuasive Speech Topics
- Informative Speech Topics
- 100 Process Speech Topics
- Good Speech Topics
- School Speech Topics
- Speech Class Topics
- Graduation Speech Topics
- 40 Narrative Speech Topics
- Interesting Speech Topics
- Special Occasion Topics
- Ceremonial Speech Topics
- Funny Speech Topics
- Entertaining Speech Topic Tutorial
- Commemorative Speech Topics
- 7 Guidelines for Funeral Speeches
- Wedding Speech Topics
- A Public Speaking Topic Fast
- Speech Writing Tip Top 10
- Speech Outline Examples - How To Outline Your Speech Topics
- Business Topics

The site is run by Jim A. Peterson, Staff Editor, and I would be very surprised if he has not been a Toastmaster at some point in his life !

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Where exactly are the clubs in District 53???

I stumbled upon this site that includes markers on a Google Map for nearly all the clubs in District 53. I think it is missing a few clubs (which is probably why they named it an "unofficial" map), but it is kind of interesting to see where everyone is coming from... geographically!

Check it out ! click here

If you think we have alot of clubs, check out District 46, our Toastmasters to the Southwest in NewYork/New Jersey metro area.... click here. You will have to zoom in (and re-center on the cluster a few times) to get close enough so that the markers are not right on top of each other!

If you know who created these web page, please leave a note in the comments so that we can give them credit !

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Honor Roll for Div. A ....

Did you know that there is an "Honor Roll" that lists the member achievements for this Toastmaster year?

There is... and it is located on the Div. A section of the District 53 website (click here to see it).

How are they being recognized by their club? Their Area? Their Division?
Any ideas? Please leave a comment on this blog!

Dilbert cartoon humor ... that a Toastmaster would appreciate!

I saw this Dilbert cartoon and thought other Toastmasters would enjoy it ...

I wonder if this is the first in a series of speaking-related Dilbert cartoons ???

Friday, March 09, 2007

Winners of Local Putnam speaks Contest

Susan Schefflein sends along the results for Putnam Speaks Toastmasters recent club contests...

Subject: Winners of local Putnam Speaks Contest
We had our local ontest last night.

The winner of the International Speech Contest was David Alexander ATMS. Runner up was Walter Beveridge DTM.

The winner of the Tall Tales was Nicholas Valhos, a new member to Toastmasters.

fyi: The area contest will be March 21:

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Nominations for District Officers... by March 30th, 2007

If you or someone you know would be interested in running for a District Officer position for the coming Toastmaster year (2007-8), the form is available on the District 53 home page or by clicking here (Word Version).

The Chair of the Nominating Committee, Immediate Past District Governor (IPDG) Paul Young, DTM is asking that nominations for the 2007 - 2008 slate of District 53 Officers be submitted to the committee by March 30, 2007. Paul's email address is

The District 53 Council will elect the District officers (DG, LGET, LGM, Division Governors) at the Spring Conference in May 2007. The 2007-08 Area Governors, District Secretary, District Treasurer, Public Relations Officer, and additional committee chairs are appointed by the 2007-08 District Governor, and if you are interested in any of these positions you should speak up now !

If you would like to learn more about District offices... talk to your current Area Governor or Division Governor. I'm sure they would be happy to tell you what is involved and everything that they learned in their year of service. You can see the current officers in Division A on the District web site as well as their email addresses in case you would like to contact any of them. (Click here for the Div. A page on the District web site).

There are also a couple District Executive Team meetings between now and the Spring Conference and you are welcome to attend as the guest of one of the current officers to see what goes on and to meet some of the great people that help run District 53.

Serving as a District officer is an incredible learning experience as well as an opportunity to grow your leadership skills in a safe and supportive environment.

I highly encourage you to consider running for office !

Dave Wheeler
Division A Governor, 2006-7
Area A4 Governor, 2005-6

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Conference Call for Advanced Club.... Thursday, 3/15 at 8pm

Since it may be difficult for some people to make the recent meetings of the Advanced Toastmaster Club we have organized (at the Ridgefield, CT Library), we are going to have an informational conference call for anyone who might be interested in becoming a CHARTER MEMBER of the Div. A Advanced Toastmasters Club.

The conference call service is free but the call-in number is long distance (South Dakota). I'm hoping that many people have either a cell phone or home phone that has free long distance so hopefully this won't be a big problem. We can cover the basics quickly right up front for those that don't want to run up their long distance bill.

If you would like to join in the conference call, please send us an email and we will send you the access code and telephone number !

Dave Wheeler,

NOTE: Our next meeting will be at the Ridgefield Library in the History Room on Thursday, March 22, 2007 at 7:15 - 8:45pm. We hope you can join us! The theme of this meeting will be "Developing Advanced Evaluation Techniques" and we may even have some target speeches on video.

Tips for Tall Tales Contestants (or anyone writing a speech)...

The YouTube videos by Ira Glass (see links below) were featured on Presentation Zen (another blog) today and they have some great ideas for anyone building a speech ... especially those of you who are entering the Tall Tales contest.

Check them out...

Video # 1 (Click here)

Video # 2 (Click here)

Video # 3 (Click here)

Video #4 (Click here)

Let us know what you think ... leave a comment below !

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

BIG EVENT in Division A ... April 19th !

The Toastmasters "Battle of the Border !" has been scheduled !

Thursday, April 19th, 2007, 7:15-8:45pm
in the Dayton Room at the Ridgefield Library, 472 Main St., Ridgefield, CT,

Two divisions on the border between District 53 and District 46 will go "head to head" in an [unofficial] International Speech Contest for bragging rights on the CT/NY border.

This event will also kick off our Div. A Advanced Club by featuring contest winners from Div.A (D53) and Div.G (D46) as well as other award winning speakers. Div.D (D53) winners have also been invited to compete if they are interested since they also border District 46 (in Southern Fairfield County).

The Dayton room at the Ridgefield Libary holds 60 people, has audio/visual equipment and a raised stage so it will be excellent preparation for our Division contestants before they compete in the District contest in May.

If you will attend, please send us an email (it is a big room, but we hope fill it up !):
Div.A Governor, Dave Wheeler at or
Area A4 Governor, Anne Swartout at

Friday, March 02, 2007

Other Toastmaster blogs ...

It seems that other Toastmasters are blogging too ! Here are a few that you might find interesting:
Sara M, from Fitchburg, MA (USA). I especially love the name of the blog!
This club uses a blog as their website and has a section for Podcasts or, as they call them, "Toastcasts". Cool!
Bill Bishop, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
In his own words, Bill "is a former public speaking phobic who has recovered largely because of Toastmasters".
Steve Pavlina is a professional blogger (and business owner) who lives in Las Vegas, Nevada USA. He blogs about all aspects of Personal Development and I often enjoy his posts. His wife, Erin Pavlina, is also a blogger (and psychic/medium) and both of them occasionally mention the impact that Toastmasters has on their lives.
Rich Hopkins, 3rd place last year at the World Championship of Public Speaking (in other words, he can still compete... watch out!)
Location: Spokane, Washington, US

Toastmaster evaluates the Oscar Acceptance Speeches...

USA Today featured an article where Lance Miller, the 2005 Toastmasters International World Champion of Public Speaking, talked about the highlights of the speeches made at the Oscars.

Check it out -------> Click here !

Barnum Square Toastmasters - Speech Contest Results !

Speech Contest Season is underway ... and we have some results & pictures!
-----Original Message-----
From: Mark.Frohlinger
Subject: Barnum Square Toastmasters - Speech Contest Update

Our last meeting featured our local Speech Contest in preparation for the coming Spring 2007 Speech Contests for all Toastmaster Clubs and Areas in District 53.
All the contestants who participated performed exceptionally and their speeches were thoroughly enjoyable as well as motivating. Those who will present at the next level will proudly represent Barnum Square.
The following is a listing of who presented, the titles of their speech as well as in which realm they spoke. Also included, thanks to Gail and Phil Palermo are pictures taken during the meeting.

In the future, please consider participating in such a wonderful experience and enter a future contest. Thank you and enjoy your day and weekend to come.

Barnum Square Speech Contest Summary-

Tall Tales
Richard Smith KILLER - First Place

Pat Wilson-Perkins TRAUMA ROOM 2



Liz Smith FA BAFF - First Place


Thursday, March 01, 2007

Dilbert on Toastmasters ....

Ever wonder how Dilbert, the famed comic hero (?) with the corporate lifestyle, would handle Toastmasters?

Well, check out how Scott Adams, the creator and writer of Dilbert, handles some of the unexpected events that occur during his appearances as a world-famous author !

click here to visit Scott's blog post

It looks like Scott would be a GREAT Tabletopics speaker !

Fwd: Talk up Toastmasters! with an Open House

From: Roger Brown, D53 Webmaster
Date: Feb 23, 2007 12:16 AM
Subject: Talk up Toastmasters! with an Open House

During the months of February and March we are asked to
Talk up Toastmasters!

"Talk Up Toastmasters!" is an annual membership contest and marketing event that encourages Toastmaster members to invite as many guests as possible to their club meetings. We want to help our guests discover the benefits of Toastmasters and at the same time, increase our club's membership.

As club leaders, we are asked to consider conducting an Open House (guest meeting) as a means to increase Club membership. Let's explore the concepts or activities that are part of successful Open House.

An Open House meeting is a regular Toastmaster meeting where:

  • the meeting theme is the communication and leadership benefits of Toastmasters;
  • the prepared speakers "Talk Up Toastmasters!" and demonstrate the objectives and benefits of manual speeches (from Ice Breaker to any Advanced speech project);
  • the evaluators demonstrate the values of verbal evaluation and written feedback;
  • the Toastmaster and Table Topic Master specifically discuss the benefits Toastmasters members receive as they participate in the prepared or impromptu program (as timer, grammarian, wordmaster, invocator, quizmaster, etc); and
  • the General Evaluator (or the Club President) leads a brief Q&A session at the end of the meeting to handle any questions from the guests.

An Open House meeting doesn't "just happen." An Open House meeting requires planning and preparations before the doors are opened. Encourage every member to get involved in the Open House in some way, perhaps you can ask each member to join at least one committee (for this special Club event).

The Educational Program Committee , chaired by the VP Education, plans the Open House or "show case" meeting program. The committee focuses on the content of the meeting, what is going to happen from gavel to gavel. For example:

  • select the speakers (balance your speaker selection from basic to advanced speakers);
  • select experienced evaluators;
  • select the Table Topic Master and select TT questions that fit the theme and lend to the demonstration or testimony of the value of the Toastmasters program;
  • select Toastmaster and General Evaluator;
  • set and print the "timed" agenda, promote the theme; and
  • discuss the motivation and theme of the Open House meeting with all participants.

The Membership or Public Relations Committee , co-chaired by the VP Membership and VP Public Relations, fills the room with guests. The committee focuses on pre-event advertising or promotion of the Club's Open House event. Some possible tasks include:

  • create bulletin board flyers or announcemnts;
  • update club web page with event information;
  • prepare and distribute press releases, public service or calendar event;
    Use the
    Sample Press Release for Club Open House [
    word.doc acrobat.pdf ]
  • encourage all to invite their colleagues, friends, and neighbors; and
  • send a written invitation to guests who have visited in the past, yet have not joined.

The Social and Reception Committee , chaired by the Sgt. At Arms, assures that all guests feel welcomed and comfortable with the Toastmasters Club meeting environment. Tasks include:

  • create guest information packets, something the guest can take home;
  • provide name tags for guests (members should wear their CC, AC or DTM recognition badge or plain name tag);
  • display guestbook and collect contact information from each attending guest;
  • pair each guest with a Toastmaster member (Assist Sgt. At Arms);
  • provide refreshments; and
  • smile.

New members are the lifeblood of every club and without sufficient members your club has difficulty fulfilling its mission ... "to provide a mutually positive and supportive learning environment in which every member has the opportunity to pursue communication and leadership skills, which in turn foster self confidence and personal growth."

Membership building is a challenging yet rewarding task. By adding new members to your club you add new perspectives, personalities, and potential club officers/leaders. Can you use free resources for a membership building program? Check out the D53 On-line File Cabinet.