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!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Club Contestant Criteria... who goes to Area Contest?

Steve Rock writes...

Hi Dave,
It is my understanding that a club can send any two of its club members to compete in either or both of the contests, regardless of how that club determines which two people it will be. Is that true?

One club in A4 wants to send someone to compete, despite the fact that they did not have a contest. A club in A2 had a contest with only two contestants, one of which cannot attend the Area contest, so they would like to send someone else.

Is there anything other than a person not being a member (of TM and the source club) in good standing that would prevent a person from competing in an Area contest? If so, could you please clarify the pre-requisites?

Thanks, Dave!


Steve Rock
BI Toastmasters
"Editor-elect", Yankee Activator



The club "decides" who will represent them at the area contest.

If they have more than two contestants for a particular contest, they should have a contest to determine which two will go to the next level. A club does not have to run a contest if they have less than the number of contestants they can send to the area contest... although a club contest is a good idea since it gives the contestant a chance to practice their speech and get feedback that will help them at the next level.

Please keep in mind that at the Area level, two contestants from each club are permitted for each contest. That means they can send as many as 4 contestants to the area contests (2 Humorous, 2 TableTopics).

I hope this helps clear things up!

Let me know if there is anything else I can do to help.

Dave Wheeler
Div.A Governor, 2006-8

P.S. We welcome suggestions or clarifications via the comments section of this blog... so if you have a similar problem or something else, please let us know!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

What is your favorite excuse?

Since the theme of this year's Fall conference is "Set a New Standard", I have been thinking alot about what it means.

One area that we would benefit from"Setting A New Standard" is in the area of "excuses". We all have them and some of them even revolve around Toastmasters.

Who hasn't said...
"I can't give a speech tonight... I'm not prepared."

"I can't be a district officer/club officer / general evaluator / timer."

"I can't get my [fill in Toastmaster award here]. I don't have enough time."

"I can't go to the Fall conference. It is a long drive. It sounds like fun, but I don't know what I will get out of it. I don't know a lot of other Toastmasters and it is outside my comfort zone.

Wow, that's alot of CAN'T !

Now, how about this idea .... The York (PA) Daily Record reported recently about how the Emory H. Markle Intermediate School students held a mock funeral service Friday for the phrase “I can't.”
“We all have our 'I can'ts,'” sixth-grade teacher Carol Myers said to her class. “I have them, you have them.”

She shared a few of hers with the class: “I can't see without my glasses, I can't stop eating candy and I can't get my children to stop arguing about the computer.”

The class took a few moments and scribbled on note cards what they say they cannot do. One boy chewed pensively on his pencil eraser as he considered his shortcomings. Another tapped his fingers, finally jotting down a few sentences.

“I want you to think about this for yourself, because you are going to take ownership of your 'I can'ts,'” Myers said.

After all the "Can'ts" were written down, they were collected and dropped into a "casket" which was carried in a solemn procession to a spot outside the school and buried.

Principal Kevin Duckworth gave the eulogy.
“We are gathered here today to bid farewell to a dear friend,” Duckworth said. “Someone we've all known and grown to love whose companionship we will miss.” He acknowledged their
lives will never be the same without “I can't” to fall back on.

What a great concept! What if we all took a long hard look at our "Can'ts", the excuses that we use so often to add comfort to our daily lives, and simply threw away the ones that are holding us back.

You joined Toastmasters for a reason didn't you?
... to improve your speaking skills?
... to meet new people?
... to explore your leadership traits?

Have you gotten everything out of Toastmasters that you hoped you would when you joined? Have you let your favorite "can't" hold you back or stall your progress?

This Fall is time to "Set a New Standard". It is time to throw away and bury our favorite "Can'ts" and replace them with new ideas, new habits and new exciting opportunities.

Sign up now for the Fall Conference. Registration forms are available at www.district53toastmasters/conferences

"Excuses are totally fine if you want things to stay the way they are. However, excuses have no place on a journey to greatness."
- from Inspired: The Movie blog

Fwd: Toastmasters Fall 2007 Leadership Summit

Toastmasters Fall 2007
Leadership Summit

Greetings Toastmasters !

The Fall 2007 Leadership Summit on Nov.3rd, 2007 in Fishkill, NY is taking shape. We have a super facility. We have dedicated conference co-chairs and an enthusiastic leadership team.

Now we need .... YOU !

More specifically, we are looking for volunteers (go to more info.) as well as presenters / speakers for the educational sessions (go to info and application). The conference theme is "Set a New Standard" and we are looking for people who are willing to "take their game to a new level" in terms of enthusiasm, energy and increased value for all participants.

Don't let this opportunity slip by! Take action now!

To learn more, please contact the conference team via the email addresses on either the volunteer or presenter forms (links above) or via the District 53 conference webpage at

Of course, we're also looking for participants! For a conference flyer and registration form are available at

We look forward to seeing you at the Fall conference !

Colleen Yarter and Bruce Cornwell
Conference Co-Chairs

Conference Leadership Team:
Croix Sather
Facilities Chair and Acting Education Chair

Janice Parker
Registration Chair

Walter Beveridge
Volunteer Coordinator

Karin von Kaenel
Lt. Gov. - Educ.& Training

Dave Wheeler
Div.A Governor, 2006-8
Host Division
Div.A blog:

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Clear and to the Point ... Presentations!

The Fall Conference Committee has started to receive donations for raffle prizes ... (there are going be to LOTS of prizes at the Fall conference on Nov.3rd in Fishkill, NY) and I would like to give you a preview of one of the raffle prizes ....

Stephen M. Kosslyn, chair of the Department of Psychology and John Lindsley Professor at Harvard University, has written a book to elucidate the process [of making Powerpoint presentations].

Clear and to the Point: 8 Psychological Principles for Creating Compelling PowerPoint Presentations, Kosslyn presents eight simple principles, based on modern science about perception, memory, and cognition, that will make any presentation work.
More information about the book can be found at the publisher's blog...

Concepts from the book include ...

The Goldilocks Rule: Don’t give people too little or too much – give them just the right amount for the message you want to convey.

The Rule of 4: Don’t expect the audience to keep in mind more than four groups on a slide.

The Rudolph-the-Red-Nosed-Reindeer Rule: As Rudolph knew all too well, what’s different stands out, be it a red nose, a large graphic, or words in bold. Make what’s important stand out by being different from the surrounds. It can be larger, bolder, or a more striking color.

A word of thanks to another blog, Presentation Zen where I first heard about the book and, of course, the publisher, Oxford University Press USA, who provided the District 53 Fall Conference with two copies as raffle prizes !

It is a great book ... well suited to Toastmasters... so be sure to get in on the raffle by signing up for the conference TODAY ! Registration forms are available (click here) ... or visit the D53 conference page for more information.

Submitted by Dave Wheeler, Div.A Governor, 2006-8

Monday, September 10, 2007

Area A2 & A4 Fall Contest Schedule

On Tuesday, September 25th, 2007, Areas A2 and A4 will hold their combined Fall Area Speech Contests. The speech themes are HUMOROUS and TABLE TOPICS for the Fall contest.

It will be held at the STONY HILL FIRE HOUSE, 59 Stony Hill Road, Bethel, CT 06801. The contest will begin at 6:30 PM all participants are to arrive by 6:00. You can download a flyer in PDF format by clicking here.

A few volunteers are needed to serve as the JUDGES that evening. If you are interested in volunteering as a Judge, please contact your Area Governor (Pat Wilson-Perkins in Area A4 or Dan Legg in Area A2).

Reminder.... Clubs can send TWO Contestants for each contest (4 total participants) to the Area contests this year ! Don't miss out on this great opportunity !

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Connections around the world....

The world is becoming more and more interconnected through the internet. Your ideas can spread across the globe in a matter of minutes and your suggestions have the power to help people in every corner or the world.

For example, I found "a short guide to effective public speaking" on a blog by someone in India. This post has lots of ideas ranging from basic to subtle to more advanced. The writer also has a number of good quotes mixed into his article such as...
... I might end a speech on becoming a better speaker with “As Cicero said
centuries ago, 'The skill to do comes with the doing.'”A more modern guide to
effective public speaking was penned by some unknown sage: "Know your stuff.
Know whom you are stuffing. Know when they are stuffed."

It always surprises me how common the English language is in countries outside of the USA. Each time I travel to new places I find that it is becoming easier and easier to find people who communicate in English and this is also reflected in the content of the internet.

This "common language" exposes people to new and different points of view and while you may not agree with everything, it stretches your mind. And, to paraphrase Oliver Wendall Holmes, "a mind that is stretched by a new concept or experience can never return to its original size". The world is becoming smaller and more intimate. Your next new friend could be next door or across the globe.

We live in interesting times !

Saturday, September 08, 2007

An Interview with David Brooks, 1990 World Champion of Public Speaking

Steve Pavlina, a professional blogger and Toastmaster living in Las Vegas, recently interviewed David Brooks, the 1990 World Champion of Public Speaking. The first question is sampled below. Click here for the whole interview.
1. What overall strategy did you use to become the 1990 World Champion of Public Speaking? How did you do it?
The day I made the commitment to attempt a run for the Toastmasters’ title I told myself, “I may encounter competitors who can ‘out-speak’ me, but no one will ‘out-prepare’ me.” I then made the commitment to spend as much time as it took to be absolutely ready the moment I took the stage in the International finals. I promised myself I would not take the stage with the thought “If only I had a little more time” in my head. That was the most important strategy–Do whatever it takes to be the best prepared. Thereafter, it was merely a matter of choosing the right message, writing it well, and practicing it more than anyone else.