Monday, February 25, 2008

Toastmasters & Evaluations ....

One of the great parts of Toastmasters is the feedback you get on your speeches. Another is the encouraging atmosphere that makes it easy to try out and develop new skills.
As A.L.Williams once said, "Before you can be great, you have to be good. Before you can be good, you have to be bad. Before you can be bad, you have to try." It all begins with getting up there and trying and not being perfect and learning from the experience.

The cartoon to the right is an excerpt from the full Dilbert cartoon (click here)... and I thought it captured the spirit of helpful evaluations & suggestions that you get at Toastmasters. (The only part that is missing are the "motion marks" around Dogbert's tail to show that he is happy to give advice!)
On a more serious note... there have been some great posts at a blog called "Six Minutes"...

  • The Basic Sandwich Technique for Evaluations
  • Weaknesses of the Basic Sandwich Technique
  • A Modified Sandwich Technique
  • The Whitewash Evaluation
  • The False Praise Evaluation
  • The All-Criticism Evaluation
  • The Narrow Evaluation
  • The Layered Evaluation

  • Speech Evaluation Form
  • Why this speech evaluation tool may work for you…
  • An alternate speech evaluation template…
  • Critiquing a Speech: Advice from the Blogosphere and Beyond
  • How a Toastmasters Evaluation Contest Works
  • Why You Should Attend a Toastmasters Evaluation Contest
  • Why You Should be a Toastmasters Evaluation Contest Test Speaker
  • Why You Should Compete in a Toastmasters Evaluation Contest
  • How to Win a Toastmasters Evaluation Contest

Evaluations are an important part of the "Toastmasters experience" and the better each of us is at giving evaluation, the better evaluations we can give and more everyone will learn about public speaking !
Note: The Fall 2008 Contests in District 53 are Evaluations and Humorous ... so it is not too early to start developing your evaluation skills!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Possible Bus Trip from Div. A to Spring Conference !

Greetings A-Team !

Did you enjoy the Fall conference? Do you know of any members that heard about it but regretted not being able to attend?

What if there was a way that they didn't have to drive all the way to Holyoke, MA to attend the upcoming Spring conference on May 17th?

Mike LaFountain (over in Area A3) has offered to put together a bus trip to the Spring Conference (assuming we have enough interest).

The trip would include transportation from Div.A, an overnight stay at a hotel near the conference on Friday night and transportation back at the end of the conference (late Sat.night).

His initial investigation was that the hotels closest to the conference were rather expensive ($180/night?) so he is hoping to find something "close enough" ... but more reasonably priced. (If he has a whole bus load... we might be able to get a group discount!)

He estimates that the overall trip price (not including conference registration) would be around $150-200 and given the price of gas and hotels, that sounds like a pretty good deal.

Which brings me to my request ... Please send an email to your Division or Area Governor to let us know how many people from your club are definitely interested in participating in this bus trip?

Please leave your comments on this blog and we will total them up and give Mike a number to work with by March 15th.

If you have ever carpooled to a Toastmasters event, I'm sure you know that the ride can be as much fun as the event !

If there are any questions... please me know.


Dave Wheeler
Div.A Governor, 2006-8

On Fri, Feb 22, 2008 at 11:35 PM,
Michael LaFountain wrote:


Regarding the bus trip to Holyoke, can you please enquire of the other Division A clubs (I don't have all of the emails) and ask for ballpark numbers?

I'd like to have an idea by say March 15th at the latest. No one will need to commit until I get exact prices. I'm estimating that transportaion and lodging will run between $150 and $200. I was thinking maybe you could
ask the Area Governors to ask their Clubs and then get back to you, then you can get back to me.

I think we should make an effort to show them how good Division A is.


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Atrophy or "A Trophy" - Your choice!

Speaking skills are like muscles and speech contests are like barbells.

(I got this idea from a Toastmaster in Las Vegas, Steve Pavlina)
You are either getting stronger ... or you are getting weaker. When was the last time that you stretched your speaking muscles?

If a muscle is not used, it gets smaller and weaker. This is called "atrophy".

Based on the participation level in the Fall contests, there are some areas where all you have to do is stand on your feet and meet the time guidelines and you would get a trophy!
If you actually stretched your speaking skills (and maybe did a manual speech at the same time), you might even take home first place !

The choice is yours. Get Better or Worse. There is no "status quo"!

Club contests must be completed by March 21, 2008.
Area Contests must be completed by April 11, 2008.
Div.A contest will be held prior to April 24th (date TBD)
The Battle of the Border event in Ridgefield, CT will be held on April 24th.
District 53 conference and contests will be on May 17th at the Delaney House in Holyoke, MA.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Div.A Toastmasters In The News !

Nara Venditti, a member of DiversityUSA Advanced Toastmasters club, Barnum Square Toastmasters, Wooster Heights Toastmasters, was featured in an article titled, "Helping Fellow Immigrants Succeed" in the latest Toastmasters Magazine.

If you have not gotten your copy of the magazine yet, it should be in the mail and on it's way to all current Toastmasters members !

Congratulations Nara !

Div.A Toastmaster In The News!

The Danbury News Times ran an article on Monday Feb.11th, 2008 featuring Dave Wheeler along with quotes by WestConn Toastmasters club president, Croix Sather.

Click here to see the whole article.

Note: We have been told that the News-Times does not keep articles on the web forever... so if it does not show up, send an email to Dave at theshot [at] and he will figure out a way to send you a copy.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Speech of a Lifetime - Dr. Randy Pausch of CMU

Have you ever considered what speech you would give if you only had a limited amount of time left to live?

Carnegie Mellon University had a series that they called "Last Lectures" and recently Professor Randy Pausch gave a speech where he really did have a limited time to live. He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and was given only a few months to live... and his lecture (all 76 minutes) is an incredible glimpse into his life, his dreams and his philosophy for living.

The video below is the full 76 minute speech and, while he talks about many things, the greatest part of the speech is his humor. It would be very easy to get "deep" and melodramatic with this type of speech, but Randy does a great job of "introducing the elephant in the room" and then giving an excellent speech anyways!

It is well worth the time to watch! (I have also included the 10 minute version that was on Oprah... but it has much less impact.)

Click here if you have a problem with the above linked image.
10 minute version of the speech on Oprah:

The video below is a great speech by Coach Jimmy Valvano at the ESPY's awards. It is in the same theme ... Jimmy V had cancer at the time.
Editor's note: Dave Wheeler ran in the triathlon that benefitted the Jimmy V Foundation in North Carolina a number of times and that was where he first heard of the his motto... "Never give up. Never, ever give up." (which is a great motto for life... but even more so if you are running a triathlon in the July heat).

If you are wondering how Randy is doing now... click here for his medical update blog.

What if your club had a "Last Lecture" meeting where the speakers gave "the last speech of their life"? Or TableTopics questions focused on what lessons you have learned in your life?

Don't you think that it would be a great event and you would learn alot about life from your fellow Toastmasters?

Please leave a comment here or, if there is a problem leaving a comment, send your comments to theshot92 [at] and we will post them for you.

What is it like for a First Time Toastmasters Guest?

Wayne Botha, District 53 - Area B2 Governor, wrote an interesting blog post about the experience of a First Time visitor to a Toastmasters meeting. Click here to find out how a visitor is similar to the view of a hunter in tall grass.... and how that relates to the picture to the right (courtesy of Wikipedia).

When was the last time you remembered what if felt like to be a first time guest? How overwhelming it can seem... everyone seems to know what is supposed to happen at the meeting and everyone knows everyone else, but you.

If we don't make a real effort to 1) make the guest feel welcome (by using the interpersonal communication skills we developed at Toastmasters) and 2) explain the organization of the meeting and terms we use such as TableTopicsMaster or CC or DCP. A guest might think..."What the heck is that???" and if he or she does not have someone that they feel comfortable asking about it... they might not come back or join.

Toastmasters has so much to offer... don't let your guests down by not giving them the information and support they need to take the first step !

[d53toastmasters] Div B Sponsored Winter 2008 Officer Training

From: Roger H Brown
Date: Feb 8, 2008 8:21 AM
Subject: d53toastmasters Div B Sponsored Winter 2008 Officer Training

Please extend this invitation to all Toastmaster Club Officers and leaders. Officers from any Division are welcome to attend.

What: Division B Sponsored Winter 2008
Officer Training & Leadership Exchange.

When: Saturday, February 16, 2008
9:00 AM - Registration and Continental Breakfast
9:30-11:30 AM - Training Sessions and Forums

Where: Rensselaer At Hartford, Rooms 200 and 201
275 Windsor Street, Hartford CT

Fee: $2 for Continental Breakfast

Please RSVP with Name, Club Name and Number, and current club office to or MichaelA53 [at] by February 13th.
The agenda for the second round training events will go beyond the basic roles and responsibilities of seven Club Officers.

Significant time will be spent on the exchange* of ideas and experiences of Club
leadership* team (officers).

Do you have Questions?
Please contact Div B Governor Michael Aron, ACS, ALB at

* lead·er·ship
1. The position or office of a leader: ascended to the leadership of the Toastmasters club.
2. Capacity or ability to lead: showed strong leadership during her first 6 months as President.
3. A group of leaders: met with the leadership team of the Toasty Toastmasters Club.
4. Guidance; direction: The club membership prospered and met their educational goals under the leadership of the new VP Education.

* ex·change
1. To give in return for something received; trade:
exchange two Advanced Communicator manuals for
two Competent Communicator manuals; exchanging
Youth Leadership presentation visuals/slides for
Speechcraft visuals/slides.
2. To give and receive reciprocally; interchange:
exchange of meeting resources; exchange programming

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Q&A: Speech Credits and Educational Awards

Mike Aron, Div. B Governor, provides the following insights...

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Michael Aron
Date: Feb 5, 2008 12:07 AM
Subject: Speech Credits and Educational Awards

Fellow Toastmasters,

I know this was discussed on the D53Toastmasters Yahoo group before, but I have some definitive answers from Toastmasters.

At the Division B Mid Winter Leadership exchange the following questions came up.

1. When you give a speech, can you have the same speech evaluated for one of the usual speech manuals AND for either projects 4 or 5 of the Competent Leader manual or must these be done separately?

Answer from Toastmasters: If a member is working out of the Competent Leadership manual and wants to fulfill the role of Speaker, he/she may get credit for giving a manual speech. Under this circumstance only can a member receive double creditfor one speech. Remember, the speech must still be evaluated both orally and in writing.

2. I understand that you can't get multiple credits for the same "performance" of a speech, but can you give a single speech multiple times and each time use it for different manual projects, each time emphasizing different aspects of the speech? For example, when using it for CC Manual project #4 (How to Say It) one could concentrate on the wording of the speech. Then, at a different meeting, when using it for project #5 (YourBody Speaks) one would concentrate on the gestures of the speech.

Answer from Toastmasters: Giving the same speech to meet several manual projects is the choice of the member. We do not have any rule against it, however, it is recommended a new speech be written for each manual project. It helps both the speaker and audience learn from each presentation.

Michael Aron
Division B Governor


Monday, February 04, 2008

Officer Training # 2 is RESCHEDULED !!!

The officer training originally scheduled for tonight, Feb.4th, has been rescheduled to Feb. 20th at the same place and time by the organizer, Area A3 Governor, Ozgur Turkmen.

John Capen, President of Orange County Toastmasters, will be at the church in case someone shows up. Sorry for the short notice.

Dave Wheeler
Div.A Governor, 2006-8