Friday, September 26, 2008

Division E Contest Pix !

Division E contestants from both the Evaluation Contest and the Humorous Speech Contest on Sept. 25th, 2008.

Front row (l-r):
Suzanna Opper
Allura Adelson

Back row (l-r):
Martha LaCroix
Tom Southard

Michelle DeDominicis
Robert Ribist
Mike Finn

ContestMaster Richard Peck, presents the first place trophy to Robert Ribist!

Division B Evaluation and Humorous Contest Results

The results of the 2008 Division B Evaluation and Humorous Speech Contest !

Congratulation to the participants:

Evaluation Contestants
B1 Bob Kirkendall
B2 Stacey Bridgewater
B3 Joe Soucie
B4 Wadia Cowell
B5 Arnold S. Grot

Humorous Contestants
B1 Bob Kirkendall
B2 Steve Barrett
B4 Matt Weston
B5 Michael Aron

Especially to our winners!!!!

Division B Evaluation Speech Contest:
Winner: Bob Kirkendall
1st runner-up: Stacey Bridgewater
2nd runner-up:
Arnie Grot

Division B Humorous Speech Contest:
Winner: Mike Aron
1st runner-up: Steve Barrett

A special thanks to:
Aetna, Life & Casualty #3610 for hosting the Division B contest
To Lorie McGee SAA and Sharon Ofori President for all their hard work
To the best Contest Master- Norm Thibodeau!
An excellent target speech by Alyssa "Minervini" Brown
All the contestants for making this an exciting and fun contest!
All the volunteers who helped judge, time, and count; Peggy, Bonnie, Bette, Sid, Bonnie, Calvin, Yvonne, Kevin Finn, Michael O'Brien. And to and Bill Sweeney for your assistance
My fellow district officers - Karin, Marsha, Paul, Rich, Ray, Norm, Doug and Ute for your support and energy.
And to all the members and guests who support the event!

Hope to see everyone at the District 53 Humorous and Evaluation Contests on October 11th, 2008 @ the District 53 Conference in Trumbull, CT. For information on the district 53 conference, visit the
District 53 Website.

Thank you so much for making this a successful event!

Judith M. Chambers

Division B Governor, 2008 - 09
District 53, Toastmasters International

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Div.D Contest Pix !

Division D Evaluation contest ...
(l-r) RoZanne Ho, Geoff Thomas, David Moore, Caryn Vincent.

Division D Humorous Speech contest ...
(l-r) Marda Gutierrez, Ankit Thakkar, Bill Miranda, Ro-Zanne Ho, Brett Middleton

Brian Cavanaugh performs his "Fall Conference Sing-along" for the Division D contestants and audience.

Division A Contest winners !

Names for these pictures will be added soon... We just wanted to get them on the blog as soon as possible !

Monday, September 22, 2008

Introduce the Elephant !

At the beginning of his "Last Lecture", Randy Pausch said, "If there is an elephant in the room, introduce him!"

The "elephant" in Randy's case was that most of the audience knew that he was dying of pancreatic cancer and was given only 3-6 months to live by his doctors. (He went on to live 18 months.)

The "Elephant" in many Toastmasters clubs right now is the unsettling state of the economy and the potential impact it could have on the finances of members.

As the October 1st dues renewal deadline is fast approaching, many members are probably asking themselves...
"Should I renew my Toastmasters membership?"
Well, let's say HI ! to the elephant and see what he has to say ....
First, do you remember the last time there was a recession in the US economy? Did it last forever? No. It turned around. The economy goes in cycles and while there is plenty of "gloom & doom" in the news right now, things will improve.
[Elephants are renowned for having a very long memory.]
Given the current conditions, when is the best time to improve your skills and become more competitive in the job market? Does it make sense to wait until a layoff to improve your communication and leadership skills?

Now is the time to re-dedicate yourself to achieving your CC, AC, CL or AL. Set some goals for the coming year and you will be in a stronger position no matter what happens to the economy !
[Elephants are all about strength.]
Toastmasters is the perfect place to develop new abilities ... if you are not limited by your thinking. Henry Ford once said, "If you think you can or you think you can't, you are right." Don't fall into the trap of thinking, "I can't do a speech this month... it has been too long...I'll just do a few table topics and hang out at the meetings." Push yourself and learn by doing !
[Did you know that elephants in the circus are kept in one place by a tiny rope tied to a small stake in the ground. The elephant could easily pull out the stake but they are trained from a young age to accept the idea that they cannot escape. Learn from an elephant and don't let your thinking tie you down!]
We all know that Toastmasters is incredibly cost effective when compared to other forms of schooling or training. Many people probably spend more on coffee than they do on personal development ... are you one of those people?

[Elephants are also very frugal with their money.
I'll bet you did not know that.]
Congratulations... you now have been introduced to the elephant in the room.

Don't let your goals (or your fellow members) be trampled by an elephant when it becomes time to send in their dues!

We all need to be a part of Toastmasters ... now more than ever!

Posted by your friendly neighborhood D53 pachyderm expert!

Multiple World Champions at Adv.TM meeting Thurs.9/25 at Ridgefield (CT) Library, 7:30pm

Attention Advanced Toastmasters !

When you read the headline above, I'm sure you said to yourself, "There must be a catch. Multiple World Champions don't just show up at a Toastmasters club's meeting."

There WILL be World Champions of Public Speaking at the meeting this Thursday ....

.... on DVD.

Now, before you dismiss this opportunity, let me tell you what we are going to do . . .

As a club, we will be watching the winning speeches by multiple world champions of public speaking and evaluating them using the methods we use for our own Advanced members.

Do you think that the world champions did nothing wrong and that was how they became champions? Not necessarily. Do you think they did some things EXTREMELY well and that helped them to become world champions? Probably. In either case, their performances have something to teach us !

FREE SAMPLE !!! Click here to see a small sample of Ed Tate, World Champion of Public Speaking. What do you think he did well? What could he have done better?

Join us on Thursday, 9/25 at DiversityUSA Advanced Toastmasters in the "History Room" at the Ridgefield Public Library starting at 7:30pm. Guests are welcome !

Ridgefield library is located at 472 Main Street, Ridgefield, CT 06877
click here for a map showing the location. Directions are available on the library's web site:Â

Please pass this invitation along to any Toastmaster who has achieved their CC or Advanced Communicator awards. We would love to have them attend a meeting and learn about opportunities for growth through DiversityUSA Advanced Toastmasters Club.

Posted by Dave Wheeler
President, DiversityUSA Advanced Toastmasters, 2008-9
District 53 LGM, 2008-9
860-309-0070 (cell)

UPcoming meeting dates: 4th Thurs. of each month

Photo of Darren courtesy of

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

We have a new survey >>>>>>

In anticipation of the upcoming Fall Conference, we have created a new survey.

Check it out ... over there in the right margin....>>>>>>>>>

Please submit your votes by filling in the "check boxes" in the table on the right and hitting the "Submit" link at the bottom!

Sales Communication Skills ...for Toastmasters

In a previous post, the concept of a Sales Communication Skills (SCS) Workshop was presented.
(click here to read more about it).

Below is an overview / agenda of the SCS workshop.

Intro (2-3 min.)
- basic housekeeping
- agenda / goals
- introduce trainers

The importance of Sales (3-5 min., motivational)
- Role of Sales in business and other organizations
- Personal selling & persuasion
- Motivation (Why are you doing this?)

Product Knowledge (Why is it worth selling?) (8-10 min., Exercise / Presentations 30 min.)
- Features vs. Benefits
- Exercise... what are you selling about Toastmasters? Develop 1 min. Elevator Speech (in pairs)
- Present TM Elevator Speech

Lead Generation / Keeping the pipeline full (8-10 min., Exercise 30 min.)
- Advertising / Web marketing
- PR
- Networking
- Research
- Exercise... Research companies in D53 that are good candidates for TM.
- Review results of exercise

[ Break ] 10 min.

Questioning / Listening (8-10 min., Exercise 30 min.)
- Uncovering needs
- Exercise... (Role play sales calls to companies re: TM), handouts with predetermined "needs"
- Group feedback from exercise

Gaining Customer Commitment and Follow-Through
(Speaker 10-15 min., Exercise 40 min.)
- "Closing" questions (3 best)- Overcoming objections
- Persistent follow up
- Exercise... (Actual sales calls to companies re: TM)
- Group feedback & follow-up action steps

Wrap-up. Group Feedback on overall program. (15 min.)

Total Time: 2:34 - 2:48... realistically around 3 hours.
The larger the group, the longer it will take to get through all the exercises, participant presentations and feedback sessions. Current estimates based on a group of approximately 10-20 people.

Networking Opportunities:

Since the whole workshop is targeted to be done by lunchtime, it is theoretically possible (assuming the instructors are in a good mood) that they could take attendees out to lunch ! How about McDonald's if at least one demo meeting is scheduled ... or a nice sit-down restaurant if they schedule 4 or more demo meetings?

We are still trying to find a location where the workshop could be held. It would be ideal if we had computer / internet access. We assume we will have telephone access since most people have cell phones (if there is cell coverage). Since many of the exercises involve calling actual companies, the workshop would need to be on a weekday, probably 9-12.

We are also looking for experienced Sales people (or Sales trainers) that might want to 1) serve as "Sales Advisors" to the whole process of developing the workshop or 2) Present a segment as part of the workshop.

If you are interested in attending or presenting or just have suggestions, please contact District 53's Lt.Gov.-Marketing, Dave Wheeler at theshot92 [at]

Monday, September 15, 2008

What's your club's "rituals"?

A recent article by Jackie Huba (click here) about the importance of rituals for die-hard Pittsburgh Steelers fans in cities outside of Pittsburgh got me thinking about whether or not there were any rituals within Toastmasters that added to the experience of a meeting.

Jackie points out...
Rituals are the code of ceremonies observed by an organization. They are the shared experiences of a group. They create emotional glue. To an outsider, a ritual can be weird, wacky or just plain stupid. To people inside the organization, they may be metaphors for life, death, or renewal. For never-say-die Steelers fans, rituals can symbolize all of the above.
She also provides some fun examples ...
... at the Chicago Steelers bar (and others I've visited), the rituals were abundant:
Does your Toastmasters club have any rituals?

Perhaps all the club officers make it a point to talk to guests and ask them what brought them to Toastmasters.
Then if the Toastmaster introduces the guests during the meeting and asks them "what brought them to Toastmasters" it gives the guest a chance to speak in front of the club (after having practiced their response before the meeting when all the club officers asked the same question).

In one of my clubs, we always ask if anyone has had a "public speaking success outside of the club". We feel that this is important because Toastmasters is about developing skills in a supportive environment, but the acid test is when you apply your skills in the "real world" !

What rituals could your club develop to boost the excitement of each meeting?
Have you heard about a new ritual that will be started at the Fall 2008 District 53 conference?

It is being called "The Parade of Banners" and if you saw the opening ceremonies of the Olympics... well, you have not seen anything until you have seen the D53 Parade of Banners !

Clubs are encouraged to bring their (full size) club banner and nominate someone (who will be at the conference) to carry your club banner in the Parade. Don't worry if your club does not have a full size banner... contact Mike Aron, Chairperson for the Parade of Banners, for alternative ideas.

Will this become a ritual for District 53?
Come to the Fall conference and find out.

As Jackie's article summarizes...

... it's repetition of rituals combined with emotional subtext that creates meaning. People will tell their friends and family about the rituals they experience when the context is right. That just leaves it up to an organization being open and brave enough to establish and follow rituals that's difficult...

As the District theme says ... Be The Change You Want To See !
... and build the rituals that will take your club to a new level !

Friday, September 12, 2008

Announcement: Division A Contest

From: Alison Easton
Date: Sep 12, 2008 4:12 PM
Announcement: Division A Contest

Dear Fellow Toastmasters!

The Division A district officer team and West Conn Toastmasters cordially invites you to the Division A Humorous and Evaluation Contest!

When: Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Time: 7:30pm – 10:00pm
Where: Wooster School library
91 Miry Brook Road
Danbury, CT 06810
All contestants please RSVP by Monday, September 22nd to Alison Easton

Google Location Link:,-73.495992&spn=0.005507,0.013486&z=17

Contestants & participants (judges, timers, counters, etc) should arrive by 7:00pm for briefings.
Light refreshments will be served and there will be a silent auction of TM goodies to help defray the cost of the room.

Please contact Alison Easton, Division A Governor or Anne Swartout, President of WestConn Toastmasters if you would like to be a judge, timer, counter for the contest.

Humorous Speech Contestants:

A1 Winner -- Derek McGee, Poughkeepsie Area Chamber Toastmasters, club 4396
A1 1st runner-up -- Maureen Creagan, The Bureaucrats Toastmasters, club 790849

A2 Winner -- Jose Hernandez, IBM Poughkeepsie Speechmakers Toastmasters, club 315
A2 1st runner-up -- Patrick Meaney, IBM Poughkeepsie Speechmakers Toastmasters, club 315

A3 Winner -- Louis Ruidisch, Henry Hudson Club #4507
A3 1st runner-up --
Louise Messina, Henry Hudson Club #4507

A4 Winner -- Dan Rapley, Wooster Heights Toastmasters club 9685
A4 1st runner-up -- Pete Lane, Socially Speaking Toastmasters club 4720

Evaluation Speech Contestants:

A1 Winner -- Richard Basener, Poughkeepsie Area Chamber Toastmasters, club 4396

A2 Winner -- Bob Cohn, Putnam Speaks Toastmasters, club 4839
A2 1st runner-up -- Patrick Meaney, IBM Poughkeepsie Speechmakers Toastmasters, club 315

A3 Winner -- Patricia Hendrickson, Catskill Club #9542
A3 1st runner-up --
Carole Hurst, Orange County Club #9315

A4 Winner -- Kevin Wortman, WestConn Toastmasters club 599
A4 1st runner-up -- John Tepedino, Barnum Square Toastmasters club 1701

Thank you! Any questions, please let me know.

Alison Easton
Division A Governor - District 53

Sales Communication Skills ...for Toastmasters

"Sales is like TableTopics ...
... just more challenging!"
- D53 Public Relations Officer, Angela Lussier

Have you ever thought that your business would improve if you developed Sales Communication Skills?
Would your career get a boost if you could sell your ideas inside or outside your company?

Sales4TM Workshop
District 53 is developing an "Introduction to Sales Skills for Toastmasters" and we are hoping to schedule it in October (or November) at the latest. It will be scheduled on a weekday for about 3 hours, probably in the morning.

The Basics
This workshop starts out by covering the basic building blocks of Selling & Persuasive Communication and will take your existing Toastmasters knowledge and speaking skills to a whole new level.

Why Sales?
We will address why [the function of] Sales is necessary for a successful organization as well as the preconceptions and myths surrounding Sales.

Hands-On Training
Attendees will participate in a series of exercises where you will do actual research (lead generation), develop a sales script and make actual calls to actual prospects (for corporate TM clubs). Each exercise will include feedback plus ideas to help overcome future challenges (e.g. mindset, systems,etc.)

If you are interested in learning more about this event, please send an email to Dave Wheeler, D53 LGM.
Dave's email address is theshot92 [at] If you would like to take a larger role in the workshop (organizer, presenter, coordinator), please let Dave know as well.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

A Gavel that fits in an envelope....

I found this neat "gavel" via a post by Neatorama blog and while they call it a "mallet", it looks alot like something that Toastmasters could put to good use !

The cost (on the website) is $40 and they have a bunch of other very interesting products as well..

I wonder how many people would be able to make it into a mallet / gavel if they did not have directions? Sounds like a neat puzzle for the Toastmaster on your Gift List!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Taking on [Tabletopic] Questions

Two recent articles (1) (2)by Scott Ginsberg, "The Name Tag Guy" or "Mr.Approachability", provided some great hints that you could use in your next meeting during Table Topics.

Here are his 10 ideas for responding to questions ...

1. “Well, there are a couple of answers to that question.”

2. “Well, that depends on how you define the word ‘x.’”

3. Word distinction ... between two commonly confused or misused words.

4. Pause.

5. “Well, let’s take that in pieces...”

6. Reverse the question.

7. “You know, I’d really have to think about that.”

8. "It doesn’t matter.”

9. “OK, well, that’s really THREE questions…”

10. I don’t know.

Since there is probably a TableTopic question in your near future, you might want to check out Scott's articles !

Article 1 (items 1-5)
Article 2 (items 6-10)