Table Topics Thursday Topic 8

This Thursday’s Table Topics question is: What one goal do you hope to accomplish this year?

I’ve got several goals I would like to accomplish this year.  Surprise, surprise, they’re all Toastmasters-related.

I will list them in order of likelihood and then I’ll choose one.

  1. Achieve Competent Communicator by June 30
  2. Achieve Advanced Leader Bronze by June 30
  3. Lead my club to President’s Distinguished Club status by June 30
  4. Be chosen to serve as Area 13 Governor for the 2011-2012 Toastmaster year
  5. Increase attendance at my club meetings

To achieve Competent Communicator, I need to complete the ten speech projects from the Competent Communicator manual.  I’ve presented nine and have the tenth one scheduled for April 27.  Barring unforeseen calamity, I will achieve this goal.

To achieve Advanced Leader Bronze , I need to complete the following requirements:

  • Achieved the Competent Leader award
  • Achieved Competent Communicator award
  • Serve at least six months as a club officer (president, vice president education, vice president membership, vice president public relations, secretary, treasurer or sergeant at arms) and participate in the preparation of a Club Success Plan while serving in this office
  • While serving in the above office, participate in a district-sponsored club officer training program
  • Conducted any two presentations from The Successful Club Series and/or The Leadership Excellence Series

I achieved Competent Leader last year.  I’ve been President of my club since July 1 of last year and lead the preparation of the Club Success Plan.  I’ve attended both the Summer and Winter training sessions this year.  I conducted the Mentoring presentation earlier this year and completed the Moments of Truth presentation yesterday.  This leaves only the Competent Communicator left to complete, which I discussed above.

To achieved President’s Distinguished Club status, our club needs to earn nine out of ten points in the Distinguished Club Program.  As of today, we have six points and have our plan in place to earn the other three.

Being chosen Area 13 Governor is out of my hands but I’ve been asked twice if I’d be interested in serving.

The last goal is the one I’ve been struggling with the most.  The other club officers and I have been very concerned for a long time about dismally low meeting attendance.  We’ve been trying many different approaches to increase attendance and still we struggle.  Yesterday’s Moments of Truth presentation has given us a few more ideas to try and we’re also looking into whether moving the meetings to a different day might be helpful.

This last goal is the one I would most like to achieve because it’s been my biggest source of frustration this year.

So, what about you?  What one goal do you hope to accomplish this year?

The Tabley Award winner for the last table topics question is: Dave Folstad!  Congratulations Dave!

The question was: What are the redeeming qualities of the person you most dislike?

Dave’s answer was:

The redeeming qualities of the person I most dislike are actually many. She is very private and really the things that she does and don’t do are really not immense. My reaction to those things is really a over reaction. In the big or the small scheme of life; I should not be bothered so much by her.

Now’s your chance to win a Tabley!  Answer today’s question in comments.  Good luck!


Word of the Week Wednesday: Eldritch

This Wednesday’s word is: Eldritch.

The word means eerie, weird or spooky.  That alone is reason for me to like it.

Like many eerie, weird or spooky things, eldritch comes from Old English.  It’s made up of either el- meaning foreign or ælph meaning elf and rice meaning kingdom or realm.  So it would mean either foreign realm or elf realm; either one could be considered weird or eerie.

I’ve often also gotten the sense of mystical and old or hidden from the word, which would fit with an elf land.

Eldritch is often used in association with the works of H. P. Lovecraft, specifically his Cthulhu Mythos where we get the phrase: Eldritch Abomination.

Judging Contests, Moments of Truth and more…

My apologies for slacking off on my postings.  I really have no excuse.

As a result, and possibly on the bright side, I have a bunch of Toastmasters updates to share.

As I mentioned in an earlier post,  I served as a judge in our Club International Speech and Table Topics contest.  I also volunteered to judge at the Area 13 contest. While I at the Area Contest, our Division Governor asked if I would judge at the Division Contest as well.  The contest will be held on Saturday, April 9th at the Ella Fitzgerald Theater in Newport News (of course I said yes).  At the same time, he asked me if I would be interested in serving as Area Governor for Area 13 next year (July1 2011 – June 30 2012).  I immediately said I would be.  Serving as Area Governor is one more step towards achieving Distinguished Toastmaster.  I was both flattered and honored to be considered since I’ve been a Toastmaster for under two years.

The day after the Area Contest, our club had its second Area Governor visit of the year.  It went quite well, despite having low attendance, and our AG told us that she would recommend us to compete in the Club Meeting Contest, to be held after the Division Contest.  We’re going to need to make sure we have members who will commit to take part and fill the roles needed.  Before the meeting, the AG also asked me if I would be interested in being Area 13 Governor next year.  The decision for Area Governor is made at the District level, so it’s by no means a sure thing that I’ll be chosen, but I think my changes are probably good and I’m confident that I can do a good job at it.

I also just registered for the District 66 Spring Conference which will be held from April 29 through May 1.  It should be a lot more fun this year than when I went last year since I know a lot more Toastmasters in the District and several other members of my club will also be attending.

Lastly, this Wednesday I will finally be presenting the Moments of Truth program from the Successful Club Series.  After that, I’ll only need to do one more speech to complete my Competent Communicator and then I will have achieved my Advanced Leader Bronze award.  You’ll remember that I was originally scheduled to present this in late December of last year, but I was snowed in.  I waited until now because the program takes a full hour and I didn’t want to preempt an entire scheduled meeting.  This Wednesday is the first 5th Wednesday meeting since December.

Word of the Week Wednesday: Ombudsman

This Wednesday’s Word of the Week is: ombudsman.

An ombudsman is a type of public advocate who investigates complaints from private citizens against government entities.

The word comes from Swedish, which I suppose is what makes it such an interesting sounding word.

I remember hearing the word for the first time when I was a kid watching a rerun of Good Times.

As often happened when I was young (and still to some extent today), when I would hear an interesting word, I would assume it had an interesting meaning, even if I had to make one up.

Almost inevitably, I would end up disappointed when a fantastical sounding word ended up meaning something utterly prosaic.

Don’t get me wrong, public advocacy is an important thing, but I find it difficult to be excited or enchanted by bureaucratic functions.

Ombudsman sounds to me like an exotic superhero type person.

It’s a shame that it’s not.


CL Project 8: Motivating People

Project 8 in the Competent Leadership manual is: Motivating People.

The purpose of this project is to use the tasks involved to practice motivational skills.

The importance of motivation skills to leadership cannot be overstated.  If you’re not motivating, you’re not leading.

To complete this project, you need to act as Chairman of a Club Membership Campaign or a Club Public Relations Campaign and perform two of the following roles in separate meetings: Toastmaster, Speech Evaluator or General Evaluator.

For this project, I ran our club’s committee for the Talk Up Toastmasters contest last year.

For the meeting roles, I served as Speech Evaluator and General Evaluator.  For the goal of motivation, I focused on positive feedback with an emphasis on how much better the speaker and club is getting and will become in the future.


Distinguished Club Program Status Update (March 18)

Our club has gained its sixth (out of a possible ten) point in the Distinguished Club Program!

We gained this point for having four of our officers attend mid-year officers’ training.

As mentioned in the last update, we’ve earned Distinguished Club status for having more than five points.

The different Distinguished statuses and the points needed to be earned within a Toastmasters year (July 1-June 30) are:

  • Distinguished Club: 5 or 6 points.
  • Select Distinguished Club: 7 or 8 points.
  • President’s Distinguished Club: 9 or 10 points.

At six points, we are one point away from Select Distinguished and three points away from President’s Distinguished.  Our goal this year is President’s Distinguished.

To recap, we earned our first five points for:

The remaining four points in the Distinguished Club Program are awarded for completing Communication goals:

  • One point for two members completing the Competent Communication manual
  • One point for two more members completing the Competent Communication manual
  • One point for one member earning an Advanced Communicator award
  • One point for an additional member earning an Advanced Communicator award

Road Map

Both our Secretary and I are nearing our tenth speech and are scheduled to complete our Competent Communicator by the end of next month.

Our two Competent Communicators from last year (our Vice-President Membership and Vice-President Public Relations) have all of their speeches scheduled to complete their Advanced Communicator Bronze by the end of June.

If either of our potential ACBs fall through, we have two members close enough to completing their Competent Communicator to still earn the point we need for President’s Distinguished.

Table Topics Thursday: Topic 7

Today’s Table Topics Thursday question is: What are the redeeming qualities of the person you most dislike?

This is a tough question to answer, likely by design.  But I feel it is ultimately a worthwhile one.  It’s too easy to take a dislike to someone and not give them another thought.

That’s probably a mistake.  I think it’s a good idea to take a deeper look at someone who might rub you the wrong way.  It may not end up in a friendship, and you might not even end up liking the person, but at least you’ll have looked past what might have been a superficial judgment.

So, no more stalling and talking about the question; it’s time to answer.

While I don’t dislike many people, there have been a few.  I find one person at work particularly annoying.  She has no sense of personal space and tends to corner people to talk at them.  It’s to the point where, if I see she has someone cornered, I’ll arrange to have that person called so they can escape.

I would say her redeeming quality would be friendliness.  She does seem like a genuinely nice person.  She seems to be very interested in connecting with people and, for all her talking at people, she does also occasionally take an interest in what they have to say.

Now that I’ve tackled the question, I would encourage each of you to give it a shot as well, even if you don’t answer in the comments.

What are the redeeming qualities of the person you most dislike?

Give it a shot.  You might even win a Tabley award.

Word of the Week Wednesday: Gobsmacked

This Wednesday’s Word of the Week is: Gobsmacked

Gobsmacked, sometimes spelled gob-smacked, is a British slang word meaning astonished or astounded.  It’s taken from the act of clapping your hand to your mouth (gob) in surprise.

Even though is started in British slang, I’ve been seeing it making way across the pond to become more and more popular here in the Colonies.

The appeal of this word to me is that it just sounds inherently funny and I’ve always been a huge fan of British-isms.

It has a slapstick quality about it.  In fact, I always picture it not so much like clapping your own hand, but as if you’re taken aback so forcefully that it’s like you’ve been smacked in the gob by the shock.



Song Lyric Spotlight: Girl Least Likely To

Today’s Song Lyric Spotlight is: “Girl Least Likely To” (full lyrics) by Morrissey.

The song came out as a B-side on the single, “November Spawned a Monster” but I heard it first on the compilation album: My Early Burglary Years.

The song begins:

How many times have I been around?
Recycled papers paving the ground
Well she lives for the written word
And people come second, or possibly third

Besides that line, which I find particularly clever, the entire tone of the song combines both pity and scorn for the titular girl, an unsuccessful songwriter.

At Dave Folstad’s suggestion after my first Song Lyric Spotlight, I gave “Education”, by the Kinks a listen and was going to post about it but I realized he’d already covered it better than I could here: Education – In a deep dark jungle…..lived a lonesome caveman.

Club Meeting Contest Requirements and Criteria

As I promised you all yesterday, today I’m sharing the requirements for participating in the Eastern Division‘s first Club Meeting Contest and the criteria by which the meetings will be judged.

In order to take part in the contest, clubs must fulfill the following requirements:

  1. Club is willing to compete and is available to compete on April 9th.
  2. Club is in good standing with Toastmasters International.
  3. Club participates actively in the DCP program.
  4. Club will perform a 30 minute meeting for the contest.
  5. Club must have enough members to cover all meeting roles.

The three clubs chosen to compete will be rated on scale of one to ten in each of the following criteria:

  • The Meeting begins and ends on time
  • All meeting participants arrive on time and are prepared
  • Members and guests alike are greeted as they arrive and are made to feel welcome
  • The program is fast-paced, interesting and fun
  • Transitions between segments are smooth
  • All members present have an opportunity to participate
  • Evaluations are helpful, constructive and contribute to members’ personal growth and improvement
  • Member’s achievements are recognized
  • Members are enthusiastic and are enjoying themselves, and it shows
  • Total DCP Points as of March 25th

As I mentioned, our Area Governor will be deciding whether we will be competing during her club visit on March 23rd.


%d bloggers like this: