Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Best Gift ever ...

As a Toastmaster, you understand the value of personal development, improved communication and leadership skills along with the boost of confidence that you get from progressing through the Toastmasters program. Wouldn't those things make a good gift?

TM as a gift?
Have you ever considered giving Toastmasters as a Christmas or Chanukah gift? How about as a "Happy New Year's" gift? (Bet you would be remembered for that!) Plus, if someone started in January (which you could write in your gift card), the membership dues would be pro-rated !

Priced right!
Instead of $27 dollars per year, the TI dues for people starting in January would only be $13.50. On top of that is the $20 New Member fee (for C & L manuals) plus any club dues... but for around $33.50 plus club dues someone would gain access to "The Toastmasters Experience" !

Why not give the gift of Toastmasters instead of book or a tie? It is not much more and it could change someone's life !

How can I "wrap it"?
Of course you could think of many creative ways to present a Toastmasters membership as a gift ... but here are some ideas to help. It is probably best to start with a notecard or Christmas card so you can express your thanks to the person and explain a little about Toastmasters. For example,
"Toastmasters is a worldwide non-profit organization dedicated to developing communication and leadership skills through a supportive, learning environment."

(Yes, that's kind of boring ... I'm sure you can come up with something better.)
The Check:
Next, write out a check to "Toastmasters International" for $33.50 and insert it in your card along with the TI web address ( so they can go online and find a club that is convenient. It would be good to note that the gift may (or may not) include the club dues... and you want to make your recipient aware that some clubs have separate dues to cover their meeting facilities or other requirements.

Act Now!
The recipient should also know that some organizations (Toastmasters especially) won't take checks that are "too old". If a check is 60 or 90 days old (I forget what the exact cutoff is), they will be rejected. This means that the gift needs to be used NOW ! (And as we all know... personal development works best with a little bit of "urgency" behind it!)

As Staples says... That was easy !
Now... doesn't that make you feel good? You are helping someone have a better life ... and with the current economic situation, everyone needs to have good communication (i.e. interviewing) skills and Toastmasters is the perfect place to get them!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Happy Holidays !

District 53's own
"Kung Fu Panda"
wishes everyone

a Happy Holiday Season

and best wishes for an OUTSTANDING New Year !

We hope to see you at a District 53 event in 2009!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Interview with Jana Barnhill by HR Mgmt. Assoc.

When Toastmasters International President, Jana Barnhill, visited District 53 in October 2008, she was interviewed by Michael Stone, Board member of the HR Management Association of Western New England.

That interview is now available on the web:

(click here)

Happy Holidays!

(Special thanks to our District Governor, Karin von Kaenel, who sent out a notice to tell us that the audio file was available.)

Monday, December 15, 2008

Midwinter training starts NOW !

The start of Mid-Winter Officer Training 2008-09 is Dec. 1st and the first training event was held last Saturday afternoon at the Russell Library in Middletown, CT.

This training event was held in conjunction with the monthly D53 Executive Committee meeting and the training included sessions on "Building A Club", "Marketing on the Web", "SpeechCraft", "Getting TM on radio & TV" and much more. A "Case Study Exercise" was also included in the training and Springfield Toastmasters had 3 officers in attendence who volunteered to be the "featured club".

Case Study Approach:
The Case Study Exercise consisted of an interview with the featured club's officers so that all the other officers in attendence could learn about the history, challenges and practices used by the featured club.

After the opening interview, the audience was broken into two groups and given about 20 minutes to brainstorm 1) the challenge(s) / issue(s) / key problem that the featured club is facing and 2) come up with some suggestions.

After the 20 minutes working session, each group presented their "recommendations" in a 3-5 minute speech. This was followed with a final interview with the featured club's officers to get their reaction to the suggestions.

Here is a quote from one of the featured club's officers ...
"From my perspective, the exercise in which we participated was really valuable. It gave us some ideas and now we will implement those ideas. I am hopeful that we can infuse some enthusiasm into the club moving forward. ... Attending [training] provides an opportunity to meet other Toastmasters from around the region, the officers at all levels, and to gain information that otherwise might get missed. I can’t wait to go back to the club and share."
Pictures: (from top to bottom)
  • District Governor Karin von Kaenel served as Toastmaster for the EC meeting as well as the MidWinter Training session.
  • Dave Wheeler, Lt.Gov.-Marketing, explains the Case Study Exercise.
  • Case Study Presentation #2
  • Case Study Presentation #1
  • Featured club officers from Springfield Toastmasters
Did you know...
Midwinter training does not just apply to club officers. The Sr. Leadership team for District 53 spent most of last weekend in New Jersey for training alongside district officers from all the other districts in our region (Region 7).

Ideas the Sr. Team brought back....
  • How to better serve our members
  • What are Toastmaster protocols and how do they help improve your Toastmasters experience
  • Better transitions from year to year
  • Training ideas for Division Governors and Area Governors
  • Ways to involve more Toastmasters in leadership
  • MORE FUN ! (you will have to come to a district event to see what this means!)
When are you going to Midwinter Training? Check out the district 53 website ( for more details or contact your Division or Area Governor for training dates in your local area.

Be The Change You Want To See!

International Speech Contest Season starts soon!

Toastmasters International Speech Contest typically focuses on speeches that are especially inspirational or motivational... so to kick off the "Intl. Speech Contest Season", I've found a short (2 min.) video with clips from a bunch of movies that distills them down to the "best of the best" ...

Happy Speech Contest Season !
Dave Wheeler
D53 LGM, 2008-9

Monday, December 08, 2008

The next time you are Grammarian...

Brian Clark over at has an excellent blog post titled, "The Inigo Montoya Guide to 27 Commonly Misused Words".

Here is a brief excerpt...
It may be inconceivable for you to misuse a word, but a quick look around the web reveals plenty of people doing it. And it’s all too easy when we hear or see others use words incorrectly and parrot them without knowing it’s wrong.

We know by now that great copy and content often purposefully breaks the rules of grammar. It’s only when you break the rules by
mistake that you look dumb.

So let’s take a look at 27 commonly misused words. Some
are common mistakes that can cost you when trying to keep a reader’s attention. Others are more obscure and just interesting to know.

Adverse / Averse
Adverse means unfavorable. Averse means reluctant.

The next time you are the Grammarian at your club's meeting... think about whether or not speakers are using these commonly misused words correctly or incorrectly !

Toastmaster Timer for iPhone

A while back, we reviewed some online timing software to help you practice your Toastmaster speeches (click here) and just recently, I got the email below from a Toastmaster in California who is selling a timing application for an iPhone. Arash's application costs $1.99 via iTunes and while I don't have an iPhone (yet), I do like the feature where it "flashes when you are disqualified".

(Running over time is something I am working on correcting.)

What do you use to practice? Contest season is coming up!

From:Arash Shokouh
Subject: Toastmaster Timer for iPhone

I am a member of the Los Gatos Silver Tongued Cats club in Los Gatos, Ca. A classmate and I have designed a toastmaster speech assistant for the iPhone called SpeechMate. It's meant to help you practice your speeches on the iPhone using the green/yellow/red TM timing system with optional sound cues.

We're trying to get feedback about the app from fellow Toastmasters so I was wondering if you could possibly mention it to your club members. Here's the iTunes link, or you can search for SpeechMate on the App Store on the iPhone.

Hope to hear from you soon.

Arash Shokouh
Toastmasters Member
Los Gatos Silver Tongued Cats