Ralph C. Smedley Award

Our club has been officially recognized for having earned the Ralph C. Smedley Award for Toastmasters year 2010-2011.  It is awarded annually to clubs which add five new members between August 1 and September 30.

We received congratulatory e-mails from the Lieutenant Governor Marketing for District 66 (Virginia), the Division Governor for the Eastern Division and our Area 13 Area Governor.

Ralph C. Smedley

The award is named in honor of Ralph C. Smedley, the Founder of Toastmasters International.

Some history of the founding of Toastmasters International:

Working as Educational Director at a YMCA in Illinois, Dr. Smedley began a program to teach public speaking and leadership skills to youths in a social setting.  As Dr. Smedley moved from facility to facility, he established new clubs but the clubs he left behind disbanded.

Eventually, in 1924, Dr. Smedley established a new, self-sustaining club in Santa Ana, California, which is still in existence today.

For a more complete time line, you can refer to this page on t he Toastmasters International site.

Thus ends our history lesson for today.


UPDATE: Congratulations go out to the Union City Toastmasters Club for also winning the Smedley Award!


Second Time’s a Charm

Today, I had a do-over for the Mentoring presentation at our club meeting.

This time, with better planning, I was able to get through the presentation.

Hopefully, our club is now ready to start our mentoring program in earnest to help all our new member to get quickly up to speed and start participating and learning.  Plus, I’m now one step closer to my Advanced Leader Bronze.

All I have to do for my ALB is one more presentation, which I’ll discuss below, and four more speeches to get my Competent Communicator.  You’ll remember that the CC is a requirement for the ALB.

I’m planning to give my next speech on November 10.  The project is Research Your Topic.  I will keep the topic a secret until after I give the speech.

My second presentation that I mentioned earlier will be: Moments of Truth

This presentation is much more interactive.  It explores key activities and procedures that make up best practices of good Toastmasters clubs.  The topic is broken up into six areas:

  1. First Impressions
  2. New Member Orientations
  3. Fellowship, Variety and Communication
  4. Program Planning and Meeting Organization
  5. Membership Strength
  6. Recognizing Accomplishments

After the presentation and explanation of each of these topics, the club breaks out into groups based on each topic which then evaluate how well the club meets the goals presented.

The goal of this exercise is to evaluate how well the club is performing and to offer ideas for improvement.

I might have mentioned before that our club meets on the second and fourth Wednesday of each month and, on months with five Wednesdays, we try to do something special.

December this year has five Wednesday.  So, on December 29th, I will be presenting Moments of Truth.  Because the goal is to commit to improvement of the club, we will be calling the meeting our Toastmasters New Year’s Resolution meeting.  I’m really looking forward to it.

In Support of Leadership

I mentioned in my last post that I plan to make Competent Communicator and Advanced Leader Bronze this year.

In fact, to make Advanced Leader Bronze, I need to make Competent Communicator first.  It’s Toastmasters requirement.

While I do understand that Toastmasters is primarily a public speaking organization and, as such, the Communication Track of the Educational Program is stressed more than the Leadership Track, the disparity seems excessive.  It’s to the point that the Leadership Track seems very much like an afterthought.

For example, every speech gets a written evaluation as well as a verbal evaluation which is a standard part of the club meeting, but leadership projects get only written evaluations and rarely get a mention during a typical meeting.

Additionally, in the Distinguished Club Program, six of the points are awarded for educational achievements.

Of these, four are for Communication, two are for leadership.  The first two are for two Competent Communicators each; the second two are for Advanced Communicators and the third two lump together any leadership award and the Distinguished Toastmaster, which is awarded for completing both Communication and Leadership tracks.

This means that each year, clubs are expected to have six members complete communication achievements versus only two leadership achievements.

This is not even considering that there are three speech competitions annually and one speech evaluation competition and nothing comparable for leadership.

As I said, I do understand that Toastmasters is very much about communication and I do agree that the Communication Track should get the majority of the stress.

However, if your going to have leadership as part of your educational system, such extreme lopsidedness seems like a disincentive to focusing on leadership.

I had intended this post to be about my Toastmasters educational plans for the year, but it seems to have gotten away from me and become something of a rant.  I suppose the plan discussion will need to wait a bit longer.


Distinguished Club Program Update

Finally, World Headquarters has processed my club’s October renewals and updated our Distinguished Club Program report!

We now have 3 out of a possible 10 points:

  • We’ve achieved goal 7 for having 4 new members since July 1.
  • We’ve achieved goal 8 for having 4 more new members since July 1; and
  • We’ve achieved goal 10 for having both our October Renewal our Officer List submitted on time

The goals are:

  1. Two Competent Communicators
  2. Two More Competent Communicators
  3. One Advanced Communicator
  4. One more Advanced Communicator
  5. One Competent or Advanced Leader
  6. One more Competent or Advanced Leader
  7. Four new members
  8. Four more new members
  9. At least four officers trained in both summer and winter
  10. Submit either the October or April renewals on time and submit the officer’s list on time

We have 7 officers trained in Summer and only need to have 4 trained in Winter.

The other goals are educational and our Vice President Education is coordinating those.

I, personally, plan to make Competent Communicator and Advanced Communicator Bronze this year.  I’ll detail my plan in another post.

Happy Day!

Happy Cat

Great News!


I’ve been following up with the renewals team at Toastmasters World Headquarters.  They have completed processing my club’s October membership renewals!

We have qualified for the Distinguished Club Plan Point for getting our renewals in before October 10th (even though that didn’t finish validating them until the 18th).

I’ve also checked on-line and we have gotten credit for winning the Smedley award for 5 new members between August 1 and September 30.  The ribbon should arrive in the mail in a week or two.

We will have to wait a few days for all the on-line reports at Toastmasters.org to be updated, but I know we had at least 8 new members since July 1st, so we will be getting a point for that as well.

CC Speech 3: Get to the Point

The third project in Competent Communicator is Get to the Point.

In this project, you decide on the general purpose of the speech: to inform, to entertain or to persuade.  Next you choose a topic and specific goal of the speech and, using the skills practiced in Project 2: Organize You Speech, create a speech where every part works towards the goal.

Special care is to be taken to avoid extraneous information so that the speech is focused on the topic and purpose.

In this speech, you are encouraged to control any nervousness and to avoid using notes as much as possible.

For my third speech, entitled “Full on Geek Out”, I chose the general purpose: to inform.  My topic was: Superhero Movies.  And my specific purpose was: “After hearing my presentation, the audience will be able to name the difficulties and positive aspects of Comic Book movies.”

Being that this was a topic very near and dear to me, I was able to organize my speech without having to worry about remembering new information.

In the introduction, I established my “Geek Cred” by giving my background as a comic book fan.

My two points were:

  1. Problems with comic book movies
  2. Good things about comic book movies

Because I knew the topic so well and chose a simple structure for the speech, I was able to present it with using notes and with no visible nervousness.

I feel this speech was a real turning point in my journey to become a better speaker.  My confidence increased and I was able to power through the fear of presenting without the safety net of notes.

Competent Communicator Speeches

Organize Your Speech

Get to the Point

How to Say It

Wishing and hoping and thinking and…




With apologies to Burt Bacharach and Dionne Warwick, I’m getting a bit impatient with Toastmasters World Headquarters.

We sent our October Membership Renewals out in the mail on September 28th.  According to the report on Toastmasters.org, they were received a week later on October 6th.  Whether this was because the Post Office was slow or because it took them a while to process that the renewals were received, I can’t say.

Regardless, the deadline was October 10th and, provided they were complete and could be processed, our club would get credit towards the Distinguished Club Program.

As of this morning, when the Month-End reports for September were published, our club still has a status of: “Arrived – not verified – 10/06/10”.

I realize that every club in the world is renewing now.  That doesn’t make it any easier to be waiting in Limbo to see if we’re getting our points.

I sent an e-mail to Headquarters this afternoon asking (very politely) if I could get an update on the status.  Hopefully, I’ll hear back soon.

Until then, I remain..

Wishing and hoping

Toastmasters: Have it your way (via Talk for Change Toastmasters)

Great post from Talk for Change Toastmasters talking about famous Toastmasters. How many people knew Leonard Nimoy (Mr. Spock) was a Toastmaster? How many were surprised by this?

Toastmasters: Have it your way We are in good company. Actually, we’re in GREAT company, but you probably already knew that. Besides being in Talk for Change Toastmasters with some incredible people, we’re part of Toastmasters International, and the club has some pretty interesting alumni. Did you know Tim Allen from Home Improvement was a Toastmaster? Apollo 13 astronaut James Lovell may have learned to speak under pressure when he was a member of Toastmasters. And Spock, als … Read More

via Talk for Change Toastmasters

Back in the Saddle

Today was our first club meeting in October.

It’s only been two weeks since our last meeting, but it felt like I had been away for a long time.  I can only guess that, having two weeks of extra-club contests in a row between the meetings has taken me out of the club meeting mindset.

This was also the first meeting after we had the table at the job fair and we had eight new guests join us!

Today’s speaker was our contestant in the Area Evaluation Contest.  She was performing project 7 from the Competent Communicator manual: Research Your Speech.

She was apparently so impressed with what she saw at the contest that she chose Evaluations as her topic and shared what she had learned at the contest.


the sixth blot of the Rorschach inkblot test

Image via Wikipedia


One of our new members ran table topics and gave each speaker a Rorschach ink blot and had them give a speech about their impressions.

As an update, World Headquarters is still processing our renewals, so I’m still waiting to see how the Distinguished Club Points fall out.

CC Speech 2: Organize Your Speech

Organize Your Speech

The second project in the Competent Communicator manual is: Organize Your Speech.  The goal of this project is to plan out the structure of the speech to support the speech topic.  Several suggested outlines are provided to help.  The basic structure is: Opening, Body, Conclusion.

The value of repetition is stressed.  You may already be familiar with the advice: “Tell them what you’re going to say.  Say it. Then tell them what you said.”

Since the speech is only five to seven minutes, the suggestion is to restrict it to three or four points at most.

My speech was titled: “Working the Competent Leadership Manual”. I discussed how to plan your path through the Competent Leadership Manual.

When I was earning my CL, I found the manual to be poorly organized (it had since been revised).  And I used this speech as an opportunity to share how I worked through it to help the rest of the club.

I was a lot less nervous for this speech for a few reasons:  It was my second speech and I had survived the first one.  This speech was a lot less personal.  And, this time, there wasn’t a rush of new people at the meeting.

I still relied too much on my notes and my eye contact was uneven.  But these are things I worked on for future speeches.

Competent Communicator Speeches

 The Ice Breaker

Organize Your Speech

Get to the Point

%d bloggers like this: