Sunday, November 28, 2010

Toastmasters & Employment...

All members of Toastmasters understand the connection between good communication skills and performance at work, right?

Well, I found a business article that agrees with us too !

BusinessPundit blog had the following article about the "Top 8 Traits Employers Look For"...
1) Loyalty
2) Honesty
3) Punctuality
4) Determination
5) Flexibility
6) Smart Appearance
7) Positive Outlook
8) Communication Skills

The article goes on to say...
– Communication skills are key. Ensure your application and resume are
grammatically correct, ask a friend or family to look them over for you to help
catch any typos or errors. At interview think before you speak, choose your
words carefully and ensure they convey the message clearly. Don’t “um” and “ah”
– it is better to take a few seconds to compose an answer than to say something
It is good to see that others are recognizing the importance of the skills that are developed by Toastmasters !

Monday, November 15, 2010

Making your club more Join-able ...

I've been following Scott Ginsberg's blog for many years and he recently posted the video below. It was originally given to the Optimist International organization, but I think the topic of Join-ability is a good one for Toastmasters as well

Note: Scott's "claim to fame" is that he always wears a nametag and he has built a speaking & writing career out of the topic of "Approachability". In fact, his blog is called, "Hello, my name is.." blog.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Toastmasters leads to ... Happiness !

Below is Gretchen Rubin's video blog post about "Friends" which includes her recommendation to "Join or Start a Group". (Of course she must mean Toastmasters!)

Gretchen is the author of a blog called "The Happiness Project" along with a best selling book by the same name. It appears that the book is being adapted into a TV series starring Kristin Davis of "Sex And The City" fame.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Happy Birthday Toastmasters !

From (guest "blogger"):
Brian Cavanaugh
Area D-5 Governor
District 53 Toastmasters

Happy 86th Anniversary Toastmasters International!

On this date, October 22, in 1924, Smedley Club Number 1 became the first Toastmasters club. What started as one club meeting at the YMCA in Santa Ana, CA, has grown to over 12,500 clubs in 113 countries with nearly 260,000 members in only 86 years!

Thank you all for your dedication and service to all the Toastmasters of District 53.

Have Fun…And Get It Done!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A World Record "Toastmaster"

If there was ever a World Record that a Toastmaster should hold... check this out !
... 27-year-old museum curator turned a photo of her mother-in-law,
Sandra Whitfield, into the world's largest toast mosaic - comprising 9,852

Mrs Hadland roped in 40 friends to help her make the tribute, which she describes as 'a treat made with love and a sense of randomness'. ... The portrait, measuring 32ft 8in by 42ft 3in, set a new world record as the largest toast mosaic.

They used a battery of nine toasters to brown the slices of bread to varying degrees before arranging it to make the 32ft 8in by 42ft 3in picture at an arts venue in Mrs Whitfield's home town of Warrington, Cheshire.

After spending six hours painstakingly perfecting the image, Laura surprised her husband Mike's mother with the unusual portrait to celebrate her 50th birthday.

The enormous picture was confirmed yesterday as having set a new Guinness World Record as the largest toast mosaic.
(click here for the full story)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Can you find the Toastmasters reference ....?

In Marketing Guru, Seth Godin's recent blog post (click here) he talks about learning and two different "paths" or types of teachers. Check out his short post and see if you can find where Toastmasters fits !

Monday, May 17, 2010

Today is the last day for Toastmasters clubs to file with the IRS...

Has your club filed with the IRS as a non-profit organization yet?

The deadline is TODAY... May 17th.

Be sure to have your club file the IRS form 990-N for this year... if your club has not filed, it could severely impact your status with Toastmasters International. As a district officer, we are just now hearing the exact repercussions but they could be substantial for your club ... ranging from a re-application fee of $850 to a loss of the club's charter.

I don't know the final word... but I highly recommend getting your club filed NOW !

It's a simple form. Here are the instructions:

Please do let your area governor or Division Governor know when your club has filed it. Ideally, when you get your confirmation email from the IRS, just forward it to them (and feel free to copy me at theshot92 [at] (The email format was typed out to avoid spam.)


Dave Wheeler
D53 LGET, 2009-10

P.S. If you are reading this on, or after, May 18th, 2010 ... it may already be too late. In any case, here is a link which allows you to see which clubs have filed and which have not...

At that site you can search for "Toastmasters" and then by state and/or county. District 53 looks to be in pretty good shape (percentage-wise) since a club must have filed in the past 3 years ... but there are still some clubs that may not have filed.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Are you "Linked In"?

The Spring Conference is now on Linked IN !

Date: 5/03/2010
Subject: LinkedIn Event: District 53 Toastmasters Spring 2010 Conference
Roger H Brown found District 53 Toastmasters Spring 2010 Conference on LinkedIn Events and thought you might be interested in going!

District 53 Toastmasters Spring 2010 Conference
Sat, May 22
St. Thomas Seminary Conference Facility, Bloomfield, CT, US

Friday, April 30, 2010

Spring Conference 2010...

The Early Bird Deadline is May 1st... so get your registration sent in (or register online at

Check out the video by the conference team...

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Did you renew your membership in Toastmasters for 6 months? Or a year?

Membership dues were due to Toastmasters International by April 1st for at least the coming 6 months (April thru September).
Did you renew for 6 or 12 months?

During every dues cycle members evaluate what they want to accomplish in Toastmasters versus the cost of the dues. Some clubs have to pay to rent their meeting spaces which can increase the club dues but I have never heard of a Toastmasters club that cost even half of the expensive two or three day seminars that seem to be popping up everywhere.

Toastmasters continues to be an incredible value...
... for those that believe in developing their skills. The members that do not renew are often the ones that either used to being spoon-fed their education or just are not committed enough to their own progress.

Life is not easy.
And it won't get any easier if you don't try new things. It can become more boring by doing less, but that won't get you any more than what you have ... and it will probably end up costing you what you have since nothing is standing still. The competition is always getting better and either you are improving or you are getting (relatively) worse.

You NEED Toastmasters.
Not just for the social interaction with supportive members a few times a month but for a chance to push outside your comfort zone on a regular basis. Toastmasters is one of very few places where you are encouraged to try new things, learn by doing and where failure is only when you don't try.

Make the Most of Your Membership !
Make a plan for the coming 3 months. Take a role or give a speech at every meeting. Complete your CC and your CL. Don't worry about doing things perfect... do the best you can in the time that is available and LEARN from the experience. Next time will be better.

Don't be an April Fool...
If there is going to be a "next time"... I hope you paid your membership dues !

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Do you know someone who needs a PUSH?

I saw this online movie titled "Even Eagles Need a Push" and thought of Toastmasters...
(see it at

Do you know of someone that needs a push... towards Toastmasters?

Do you need a push?

There are a nearly limitless number of challenges (or "growth opportunities") within Toastmasters and if you need a PUSH, just ask a club or district officer what might available.

Do you want to soar on the stage of the District Conference?
Now is the time to enter your club's speech contests which progress through the Area and Division contests and culminate on the District stage in front of hundreds of fellow Toastmasters ! (I can tell you ... it is an incredible experience.)

Do you want to find your wings in Toastmasters Leadership?
Visit the newly improved District 53 Website at and check out the Leadership section (under the Main Menu on the left side of the page). All the current positions are listed there along with the people who are currently serving. Feel free to contact them and find out what they do in their role. Perhaps you will find something to PUSH you to new heights !

.... by Dave Wheeler, D53 LGET, 2009-10

Fitness Club or Successful Restaurant?

Is your Toastmasters club like a Fitness club or a Successful Restaurant?

Let me explain what I mean....
I was reading a recent blog article by Jonathon Fields where he talked about various business models and how they impacted the quality and the character of the business.

The business model for your average mainstream gym revolves around automated monthly billing. ... New members sign up, often pay an up front fee, then agree to have their credit cards hit every month in advance. Depending on the contract, they may also agree to a minimum commitment (classically, a year) or a simple monthly payment structure. To end the monthly billing, a member must (a) wait until their commitment, if any, has run, then (b) send notice of termination by the precise channels laid out in the contract.

The alleged beauty of this model is that it shifts the burden of reselling and re-earning the membership fee away from the club and, instead, places the burden of termination on the member. Put another way, instead of the club having to resell members every month, the billing only stops when the member proactively says, “no more.”

Sounds like a killer business model, right?

But, here’s where it gets a bit ugly.

This same model also fosters:
* Widespread lack of innovation,
* Declining emphasis on remarkability and delight
* Exceptionally poor differentiation that requires non-stop aggressive marketing
* Uninspired, disengaged staff working for unsatisfactory pay, and
* A 40% annual drop-out that keeps the sales burden exceptionally high

As Toastmasters approaches our next dues renewal period (in March), we should think about whether or not our club has become complacent and boring to our members.

Are the members getting what they want?
The "Moments of Truth" module from Toastmasters Intl. is available for free download (click here) and it addresses this important question. It is also part of the Successful Club Series which is one of the requirements for your Advanced Communicator - Silver (ALS)or Advanced Leader - Bronze (ALB) awards.

Jonathan Field's article goes on to part 2 and part 3 (not yet published) where I'm sure he will give his ideas for a better business model, but I think there is another alternative to the recurring payment / Fitness club analogy that could relate to Toastmasters... the Successful Restaurant.

What makes a Successful Restaurant?
There are a number of keys but, in my humble opinion, the top 3 are the "dining experience", the food and their visibility & reputation in the community. The dining experience includes the environment of the restaurant, the service by your waiter and many more things that either delight or annoy the patrons. What is the "Toastmasters Experience" in your club? Are guests greeted and introduced to Toastmasters? Are your meetings upbeat and enjoyable?

The other part of a successful restaurant is the food. For other businesses, this is their "product". What do you think is the product for Toastmasters? Many might guess the Speeches and manuals but Heath Suddleson, the TM Intl. Director who visited District 53 back in January, offered another answer ... Evaluations. Heath's thinking is that you could do a million speeches but without good evaluations, the odds are you would not get better... or certainly not as quickly as you would with good evaluations.

How good are the evaluations given in your club?
When was the last time that someone presented the TM Successful Club Series module, "Evaluate to Motivate", for the new people in your club? Do you hold your club's evaluators to a high standard so that they encourage speakers while still offering constructive ideas for improvement? (In many ways, I've found that "constructive criticism" is an oxymoron... at least the way I've seen it delivered by some people.)

What if there was a great restaurant that nobody knew existed?
Finally, restaurants that want to be successful must get the word out. They must market their product and help encourage "word of mouth" marketing. Toastmasters clubs are the same way. Who has not had the experience of mentioning Toastmasters in conversations at work or home and having someone say, "What's Toastmasters?". Unfortunately, Toastmasters is one of the best kept secrets in personal development ... and for your club to be successful, that needs to change !

Help is available...
District 53 has numerous resources available to aid in the marketing of your club. There are the membership building ideas from Heath Suddleson which can be requested from any Area Governor and will probably be posted on the district website in the near future.
Your club could have an open house and invite past winners of contests to speak or even a District officer (I know that I would love to speak at your club's open house if we can fit it on my schedule.)

In the end, it is up to you.

Do you want your club to be like a fitness club which loses members at renewal time or a successful restaurant where more and more people come to enjoy themselves in a great environment?

The choice is yours !

Monday, February 15, 2010

Heath Suddleson's Presentation

Heath Suddleson, Toastmasters International Director, visited District 53 in January 2010 and gave a well received presentation at a number of the Toastmasters Leadership Exchange (TLE) events around the District. The video below was recorded by Andre White, Div.A Governor, at the Div.A TLE event on January 15th, 2010 so that it could be shared with others within our district.

Part 1 of 3

Part 2 of 3

Part 3 of 3

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The CC season is here !

It is January and you know what that means....
Time to set goals for the year and plan for all the great Toastmasters events that are coming up in the next few months !
What types of goals?
How about finishing your CC? Now is the time to get signed up on your club's meeting schedule and let your VP-Education know that you want to finish your CC by the end of April (which could help your club win TM materials if they are distinguished by April 30th) or perhaps by the Spring Conference on May 22nd where we are hoping to celebrate meeting our District goal. If you miss either of these targets, there is still the goal of the end of the Toastmasters year, June 30th, 2010. If you get your CC done by then it could help your club become distinguished and earn a ribbon for your club's banner.

What if I've already finished my CC?
How about doing a second CC? You will be amazed by how much a second (or third) CC helps you improve your basic speaking skills. When was the last time you really focused on Vocal Variety? Or speaking to Inspire? Skills get rusty if they are not used regularly. Polish up your speaking skills and you will be glad you did. Send an email to your VPE right now to get on the speaking schedule ! Don't wait !
Did you know...
... that you can order just the evaluation guides from the CC
manual for only $1.95 !
Click here to order them from TI !
What about Contest and Conference (the "other CCs")?
Your work on your CC (manual) will also help you in your club contest (cc) which could even lead you to the finals at the District 53 Spring Conference in Bloomfield, CT on May 22nd, 2010 !

  • Club Contests should be held by March 19
  • Area Contests by April 9th and,
  • Division Contests by April 30th.
Did you know...
... that you can get credit towards a manual speech for any speech you do as part of the Tall Tales or International speech contests? It just needs to be evaluated in the manual by another Toastmaster !
Contests are a great way to "jumpstart" your progress toward your next award ... plus you get the added benefit of refining your speech as you progress to each level of the competiton.

The competition is really with yourself. If you do the best that you can (and learn from the experience)... YOU ARE A WINNER !

Move forward and Enjoy the CC season !

Dave Wheeler
D53 LGET, 2009-10

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Ode to our club officers...

We have approximately 3000 members in District 53 and over 140+ clubs.
With 7 officers per club, that is over 980 club officers!

These club officers are key to the success of our organization since clubs would not last very long without the people who step up to be officers.

We should not lose sight of why Toastmasters exists (in addition to having Fun)... to develop our members ... and enthusiastic, trained club officers are critical to this mission.

Ode to those who volunteer to be Toastmasters club officers ...
by Dave Wheeler

They arrange the meeting room ....
... so everything runs smoothly.

They greet us at the door with a smile ...
... and set the mood for the club.

They lead by example ...
... by focusing on their communication and leadership goals.

They find time to attend officer training ...
... so they can better support their club.

They serve their members ...
... and help each person grow and develop.

They communicate to their community ...
... so that the value of Toastmasters is not kept a secret.

They collect dues and handle the paperwork ...
... that keeps the club going.

They update the club website ...
... as a resource to existing and potential members.

They measure the progress of each member ...
... because they know that commitment + measurement = results.

They come up with new ideas for the club to try...
... and reach out to members for their ideas.

They are Toastmasters club officers and ...
... they make Toastmasters FUN !


Have you thanked your club officers recently?

The Future of the Library .... is Toastmasters!

Seth Godin had a very short blog post (so short I pasted the whole thing below) about the future of Libraries....

The future of the library
What should libraries do to become relevant in the digital age?

They can't survive as community-funded repositories for books that individuals don't want to own (or for reference books we can't afford to own.) More librarians are telling me (unhappily) that the number one thing they deliver to their patrons is free DVD rentals. That's not a long-term strategy, nor is it particularly an uplifting use of our tax dollars.

Here's my proposal: train people to take intellectual

Once again, the net turns things upside down. The information is free now. No need to pool tax money to buy reference books. What we need to spend the money on are leaders, sherpas and teachers who will push everyone from kids to seniors to get very aggressive in finding and using information and in
connecting with and leading others.

Sounds like "Toastmasters at Libraries" would be a great combination!

People who have better communication and leadership skills are better equiped to stretch their comfort zones in other ways... and "take intellectual initiative".
When you have the self-confidence to speak in public, you are able to try things in other areas of your life and your world expands.

What do you think?
Leave a comment below!