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: