Friday, May 25, 2007

It is not too early to start planning your next conference...

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Thursday, May 24, 2007

Reminder: Advanced Toastmaster Club meeting TONIGHT at Ridgefield Library, 7:15-8:45pm

Just a quick reminder...

After last month's successful "Battle of the Border" event, we will keep the momentum for the Div.A Advanced Club going with our meeting this evening!

Everyone is invited to attend and we will start the meeting at 7:15pm in the History room at the Ridgefield, CT Library. The library is located at 472 Main Street, Ridgefield, CT ( click here for a map of the location).

Current Advanced Members...
Please come with about 5-7 minutes worth of tips or general suggestions for improving your speaking skills to discuss with the group.

Also on the agenda...
- club business (dues, schedule, etc.)
- Possible assistance we might offer to Nana Danso, the winner of the District 53 International Speech Contest and a member of BI Toastmasters (in Div.A), as he moves on to the Regional contest in June.

If you have additional suggestions, please let us know !

See you tonight !

Dave Wheeler
Div.A Governor, 2006-8

Have you heard of "Pecha Kucha"?

I heard about a new "presentation form" called Pecha Kucha via Presentation Zen blog (click here). It started in Japan as an opportunity for architects to present their ideas. The key point, from a Toastmasters-point-of-view, is that they use timed slides, not green/yellow/red lights, to make sure their speakers stay on time. Here is how PK is described on their website...

Pecha Kucha Night, devised by Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham (Klein Dytham architecture), was conceived in 2003 as a place for young designers to meet, network, and show their work in public. (Admittedly, it was also a way to get more people to visit SuperDeluxe - their then newly opened multimedia event space in Tokyo).
But as we all know, give a mike to a designer (especially an architect) and you'll be trapped for hours. The key to Pecha Kucha Night is its patented system for avoiding this fate. Each presenter is allowed 20 images, each shown for 20 seconds each - giving 6 minutes 40 seconds of fame before the next presenter is up. This keeps presentations concise, the interest level up, and gives more people the chance to show.
Pecha Kucha (which is Japanese for the sound of conversation) has tapped into a demand for a forum in which creative work can be easily and informally shown, without having to rent a gallery or chat up a magazine editor.
This is a demand that seems to be global - as Pecha Kucha Night, without any pushing, has spread virally to over 80 cities across the world.
The closest PK to District 53 is probably New York (click here for their website).

Why is this interesting?

As many of you know, staying on time is a recurring challenge for this author... e.g. LGM election speech last weekend as well as multiple contest disqualifications in past years... so any time I see a way to get better at speech timing, I am definitely interested.

What bits of advice can you offer for people that have a habit of going over their allotted speech time?

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

"The Smartest Thing I ever did" by Thom Singer

Check out this article... click here!

If you can't wait... I'll give you the punchline....
One Of The Smartest Things I Ever Did was........
to join a Toastmasters club. It was about 15 years ago, and I was nervous. I did not like to speak in front of large groups, and I was always nervous that I was not prepared. I feared saying something stupid. I was terrified of what other people might think of me and the message I delivered.

Just a quick testimonial for Toastmasters !

When was the last time you mentioned Toastmasters to a non-member?

The Art of Criticism... or "What to do when an evaluation goes bad".

I just read a great article on titled, How to Handle Criticism and it got me thinking about how we TAKE feedback as a Toastmaster.

Have you ever had an evaluation that seemed to "touch a nerve"?

Maybe the evaluator did not present his suggestions in a constructive manner or, more likely, you took his suggestions as a personal insult to the quality of your speech.

We have all been though this ... although it seemed to be more common during my first 10 speeches on the way to my CTM (now called CC).

I did not really know the other people in the club and did not appreciate that they were trying to help me improve my speaking and communication skills. Now that I know them, their criticism is much less "stinging" and since I have more experience, I can recognize when I "miss the mark"... often before anyone has to tell me.

The new Toastmasters leadership manual has opportunities for you to be evaluated in every role... including as an evaluator. Hopefully this will speed up the process of becoming a competent evaluator as well as improve the quality of evaluations at the club level.

Have you ever been insulted by an evaluation? How did you handle it? Do you notice it more as you have given more speeches?

Leave a comment below and share with us your experiences and suggestions!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Region 7 Conference... Sign up NOW!

Please join us in Philadelphia June 22-23 when Nana Danso of Div.A's own BI Toastmasters will competing at the Region VII Toastmasters Conference in the International Speech Contest.

Get all of the info from the Region VII website:

Click here for the online version of the registration form!

Click here for a look at the Full Agenda including workshops and contests.

We look forward to seeing you in Philly to support our contestant, Nana Danso!

What makes a good speech?

Dan Pink, author of A Whole New Mind says the 3 keys to a good speech are ..."Brevity, Levity and Repetition."

Here is a video of Dan that also includes the quote above.

What do you think is the key to a great speech?

Leave us a comment and share your ideas !

The story of the Traveling Gavel

In a land that is not far, far away and in a time that was alot like "right now", there sprung forth an idea to bring together neighboring Toastmaster clubs and boost the FUN and inter-club connections in District 53.

This idea came to be known as "The Traveling Gavel" !

This is how Ute Brinkman tells the story (slightly edited for dramatic effect) ....

We received an email in early February. The idea of a traveling gavel came from district 31 (Boston and surroundings) via South Africa (District 74) to Region VII. It was named "George" after it's creator George Manoogian, area F6 governor in district 31.

[see picture to right]

We asked ourselves... Shall we join in? Should we make one gavel for the whole district? Or 6 gavels, one for each division? Who will make them? When and how should we release them?

It turned into a joint project for District 53's LGM (Karin von Kaenal) and PR Officer (Ute Brinkman).

[Ute is shown in the picture putting the finishing touches on the "Gavel-mobiles".]

And on Saturday, May 19, 2007 at the Leadership Summit in East Hartford we introduced 6 Traveling Gavels ... named Alex, Bo, Chris, Drew, Ennis and Francis for Div.A,B,C,D,E and F respectively ... to be placed in the home clubs of the current division governors.

Division A, B and D governors have their Traveling Gavels, the C gavel was taken by area C6 governor, the E and F Traveling Gavel still need to be mailed or handed out at the next district meeting in mid-June.

Division A's Traveling Gavel ("Alex") will be presented to WestConn Toastmasters, Club 599, on June 6th at their regular club meeting. WestConn Toastmasters meets on the first and third Wed. of every month at the Wooster School Library in Danbury, CT.

To complete the communication process, our District 53 web master is setting up a page on the district web site for the locations of the Traveling Gavels and Ute will ask John Osborne for an entry in the Yankee Activator.

Here is the web site draft by our webmaster:

The Objective:
  1. Encourage joint Toastmaster Club meetings
  2. Share talents and knowledge of communications and leadership.
  3. Extend the fellowship of Toastmasters.
The Plan:
  1. Three (or more) Toastmaster members, from the same club, visit the target Club who currently holds that Traveling Gavel. Please call ahead and announce your intent to visit.
  2. The visiting Toastmasters must participate in the target Club meeting in some way.
  3. The visiting Toastmasters "Capture" or take the Traveling Gavel at the end of the meeting; returning to display the captured Traveling Gavel at their next Toastmasters Club meeting.
  4. Once a Traveling Gavel is captured, the visiting Toastmasters must announce the new home for the Traveling Gavel. They must email the District 53 webmaster ( Email Webmaster to post. ) and declare the new location (Club Name, Area) so that other Toastmaster Clubs can plan to visit (raid) the Club and capture (take away) the coveted Traveling Gavel.

    Sample Email message:

    To: D53 Webmaster <
    From: Member or Club Name

    The Gavel Banger Toastmasters of Area X1 have captured the "Gavel Name" Traveling Gavel on July 1, 2007.

    The following members visited the Gavel Ghost Toastmasters of Area Y1: John Q. DePrez, Clare Chatter, and Sargeant Bob Bailey.

    The Gavel Bangers meet every 1st and 3rd Tuesday at Oratory Library, 123 Main Street,

    Yourtown, State. Contact phone: 860-555-5353

    With pride,
    Martha D. Hostenklub, CC, CL
I sincerely hope we can encourage inter club visits by introducing Alex, Bo, Chris, Drew, Ennis and Francis, the 6 Traveling Gavels in District 53. It will be fun.


Ute Brinkmann, D2 TM
Toastmasters International District 53 PRO
"Lead With Vision" 2006 - 2007
District Communication Chair
"Dare to Believe" 2007-2008

Monday, May 21, 2007

Feedback from a Toastmasters Guest...

As part of his communications class in college, Eric Johnson was required to attend a Toastmasters meeting and report on his experience. About a month ago, Eric visited Socially Speaking Toastmasters in Brookfield and was kind enough to send us a copy of his comments (see below) and allow us to publish them here.
Eric Johnson
Communications 105.81
Toastmaster's Report

I attended the Wednesday, April 25th meeting of the Socially Speaking Toastmasters club in Brookfield, Connecticut. It was a normal meeting with a turnout of six regulars, myself, and another gentleman who was attending a Toastmasters meeting for the first time. The overall experience was very much like our regular Comm 105 classes, which I found surprising. For some reason I had the notion that our college class was substantially different from a formal club meeting. It was the same relaxing environment that our class provides, with a few changes more suited to the two hour time allotment.
I started out by arriving at 7:30 PM for an 8 PM meeting due to a misprint on one of the websites listing the meeting times. Talking with people as they arrived helped me define them in my brain as not strangers, which helped relieve my anxiety a little later during table topics. The meeting was more formally structured than our classes, with a printed timeline handed out to the attendees before starting. The meeting proceeded with each member introducing themselves.
Table topics were two minutes long and everybody was invited to participate, including guests. Instead of having one rather open-ended topic for everyone, an appointed member posed a table topic to each speaker individually. After that came the main speeches prepared by members for this particular meeting. I was particularly impressed by the speech given by a member who has Down Syndrome even though I had some difficulty understanding her.
Then came the evaluation portion of the evening. The official timer reported on the lengths of the table topics and main speeches. Most speeches were evaluated by a particular evaluator designated earlier. One was evaluated 'round robin' style, which was a new experience for me. Everybody evaluated the speech, and it was interesting to hear the diverse opinions of the group. I was not expecting there to be such a wide variety of opinions on just two minutes of speaking.
In the end, the guests were invited to return to future meetings and/or join the club. I believe the other gentleman who was a guest will continue to attend. As for myself, I am not so sure, but it was definitely an experience everyone should have at least once.

Newly elected and appointed District Officers

Newly elected and appointed District 53 Officers:
The District 53 Council elected District officers at the Spring
Conference and Leadership Summit on Saturday, May 19th. The following
elected officers will serve from July 1, 2007 to June 30, 2008.

Top Three District Officers for 2007 - 2008
* District Governor: Will Ryan, DTM
* Lt Gov Education/Training: Karin Von Känel, ACB, ALS
* Lt Gov Marketing: Marsha Kiley, CTM

Division Governors for 2007 - 2008
* Division A Governor: David Wheeler, ATMS
* Division B Governor: Michael Aron, ACB, CL
* Division C Governor: Sharon Mercado, CTM, CL
* Division D Governor: Thomas Fitch, CTM, CL
* Division E Governor: Michael Finn, ATMS
* Division F Governor: Jim Parsons, ACS

District Governor-elect, Will Ryan, DTM announced the following
Officer Appointments. The following appointed officers will serve
from July 1, 2007 to June 30, 2008.

Appointed District Officers for 2007 - 2008
* Public Relations Officer: Deidre Boone, CC
* District Secretary: Norm Thibodeau, DTM
* District Treasurer: Sam Young, DTM

Revised: Monday, May 21, 2007

Division A still has openings for Area A2 and A4 Governors. This is an opportunity to learn more about Toastmasters and expand your leadership skills. Area Governor has been called "The Best Job in Toastmasters" by nearly every District officer who has held the title. Contact Dave Wheeler ( or Will Ryan ( if you are interested.
[Serving as Area Governor also fulfills one of the requirements for the Advanced Leader award!)

Spring Conference a HUGE Success !

Division A was well represented at the District 53 Spring conference / Leadership Summit. Croix Sather, of WestConn Toastmasters, took home the trophy for 2nd Runner-up in the Tall Tales contest and Nana Danso, of BI Toastmasters, took home FIRST PLACE in the International Speech contest!

We are very proud of both of them and we will wish Nana the best of luck at the Regional contest ! (More information on this will be posted in case you want to attend a regional conference and see Nana compete.)

We should also point out that this was Nana's first conference (as shown by the "First Timer Ribbon" that was next to his trophy ... or at least I assume that it was his). It just goes to show that while experience might help, it is not always the complete recipe for success !

This was Croix's second year on the District stage and I'm sure we will all agree that it will certainly not be his last!

Pictures below include Croix along with the other Tall Tales winners, Phil Shay and Joe Zafian as well as Croix's Tall Tale "interview" session prior to the announcement of the winners.

TLI 07 Training Catalog & Registration

As you will see from the email below the Toastmasters Leadership Institute (TLI), also known as "officer training" is MUCH EARLIER than last year. This will help us get off to a fast start (and have a better chance of having clubs meet their goals and get awards).

Also... TLI # 4 has just been added:
TLI # 4
July 28, 2007,
9:00 AM - 1:00 PM
Manchester Church of Christ
595 Tolland Turnpike, Manchester, CT

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Roger Brown
Date: May 14, 2007 11:39 PM
Subject: UPDATE: TLI07 Training Catalog & Registration

Check out

Toastmasters Leadership Institute (TLI)
for the June, July, and August 2007 Club Officer Training Period

TLI provides the essential training courses to help you understand the full responsibilities of your role as a club officer and will help you get started with effective methods and strategies.

    Plan Ahead - Mark Your Calendar Now

    TLI 1June 9, 2007
    9:00 AM - 1:00 PM
    Toastmasters Leadership Institute
    Space 360
    360 Warren Street, Hudson, NY
    TLI 2June 30, 2007
    9:00 AM - 1:00 PM
    Toastmasters Leadership Institute
    Marist College,
    3399 North Road (Route 9), Poughkeepsie, NY
    TLI 3July 14, 2007
    9:00 AM - 1:00 PM

    Toastmasters Leadership Institute
    MassMutual Learning & Conference Center,
    350 Memorial Ave, Chicopee, MA

    -- The very essence of leadership is that you have to have vision. You can't blow an uncertain trumpet. Lead With Vision.
    -- Roger H Brown, DTM < >
    -- District 53 Webmaster

    Sunday, May 20, 2007

    Fwd: New Web Sites

    Forwarded From: Roger Brown, District 53 Webmaster
    Date: May 14, 2007 12:19 PM
    Subject: New TM Web Sites

    Wednesday, May 09, 2007

    Mark Twain's rules for writing...

    I came across the following "Mark Twain rules for writing" and thought they might be of interest to Toastmasters writing speeches!

    Note ... If you are in the Tall Tale contest, be sure to read #6 (and disregard as needed).

    Mark Twain divides his rules into large rules and little rules:

    Large rules:
    1. A tale shall accomplish something and arrive somewhere.

    2. The episodes of a tale shall be necessary parts of the tale, and shall help develop it.

    3. The personages in a tale shall be alive, except in the case of corpses, and that always the reader shall be able to tell the corpses from the others.

    4. The personages in a tale, both dead and alive, shall exhibit a sufficient excuse for being there.

    5. When the personages of a tale deal in conversation, the talk shall sound like human talk, and be talk such as human beings would be likely to talk in the given circumstances, and have a discoverable meaning, also a discoverable purpose, and a show of relevancy, and remain in the neighborhood of the subject in hand, and be interesting to the reader, and help out the tale, and stop when the people cannot think of anything more to say.

    6. The personages of a tale shall confine themselves to possibilities and let miracles alone; or, if they venture a miracle, the author must so plausibly set it forth as to make it look possible and reasonable.

    Little rules:
    7. An author should say what he is proposing to say, not merely come near it.

    8. Use the right word, not its second cousin.

    9. Eschew surplusage.

    10. Not omit necessary details.

    Thanks for The Happiness Project blog for bringing this to our attention!

    Tuesday, May 08, 2007

    Fwd: Wanted: TLI (Toastmasters Leadership Institute) Instructors on 6/9, 6/30, 7/14, and 7/28

    From: Karin von Kaenel, D53 Lt.Gov.-Marketing
    Date: May 8, 2007 12:49 PM
    Wanted: TLI (Toastmasters Leadership Institute) Instructors on 6/9, 6/30, 7/14, and 7/28

    Fellow Toastmasters,

    Are you ready for another Leadership experience?

    Every year, on July 1, new people are taking office in every Toastmasters club. This offers a great opportunity for everybody to try something new!

    This is also an opportunity for you to get involved: We need volunteers for TLI: Toastmasters who'll apply their speaking and leadership skills and become TLI instructors, Toastmasters who'll run the registration table, Toastmasters who'll be facilities coordinators, food coordinators, ...

    This year, there will be 3 TLIs:
    6/9 in Hudson NY
    6/30 in Poughkeepsie NY
    7/14 in Chicopee MA
    There will also be a major Division B/C training event:
    7/28 in Manchester CT

    Would you please let me know:
    - whether you can volunteer for the above events (let me know which ones you can volunteer for)
    - what roles you're willing to volunteer for (presenter, registration desk, facilities coordinator, ...)

    I'd also appreciate if you'd forward this email to your clubs/areas so others who're interested can step up.

    I hope I'll hear from you soon!

    Thank you very much!

    Best regards,
    Karin von Kaenel

    P.S.: This is also an opportunity to do your HPL, e.g. on being a facilities coordinator for all TLIs.

    Thursday, May 03, 2007

    Club Officer Elections in May - Attend TLI in June/July

    From: Karin von Kaenel
    Date: May 3, 2007 7:10 AM

    Are your clubs ready for another leadership growth experience?
    Every year, on July 1, new people are taking office in every Toastmasters club.

    This offers a great opportunity for everybody to try something new: Club members can become club officers and club officers can take a different office or apply for a District assignment.

    This is also an opportunity for the current officers to apply their leadership in a new way: Find successors and show them the ropes, be a mentor to them, be a role model.

    By encouraging your clubs' members to try something new, to step outside of their comfort zone, and by supporting them when they take that challenge, you help them grow!

    Let's build leaders who want to get involved, have the courage to act, and care for others by running the clubs!

    The time to act is now:

    - Start immediately by encouraging you clubs to hold club elections in May.

    - Ask your clubs to submit the new club officers list online right after the elections at

    - Ensure that all of your clubs' members know about TLI (Toastmasters Leadership Institute), the best chance for every Toastmaster, but especially for officers, to learn about leadership. This year, TLI will take place on 3 different dates in 3 different places :

    6/9 Hudson NY

    6/30 Poughkeepsie NY

    7/14 Chicopee MA

    Further details will be published towards the end of the month at

    I hope to see all of your clubs' officers at TLI!

    If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask.

    Thank you for all you're doing for your clubs!


    Karin von Kaenel, CTM/AL
    Lt.Governor - Marketing, District 53