100th Post!

This is my 100th post on this blog.  From my first post to now, it’s been a lot of fun and a great outlet.

I started the blog posting updates about my Toastmasters club with occasional commentary about language in general.

Since then, I’ve added a bit more structure, running several series: The Competent Communicator Series, the Competent Leader Series, Word of the Week Wednesday, Table Topics Thursday and Song Lyric Spotlight.

Hopefully you’ve all had as much fun as I have.  And I hope you’ll stick around for the next hundred.

On a more “Toastmasters-related” note.  Our club held its elections today so I now know who my successor will be as I take it a little easier next year as Immediate Past President.

I was also presented with my certificates for Competent Communicator and Advanced Leader Bronze.

Thanks for reading and special thanks to those who leave comments.  I love them!


CL Project 10: Team Building

I plan to complete my Competent Communicator Manual this coming Wednesday.  It’s the final requirement for achieving my Advanced Leader Bronze.

That being the case, there’s no better time than now to wrap up the retrospective of my journey through the Competent Leadership by presenting the tenth project of the Competent Leadership Manual: Team Building.

The purpose of this project, as the last one in the manual, is to use all the leadership skills practiced in the previous projects to put together a well-functioning team.

To complete this project, you need to either serve as Toastmaster and General Evaluator (in two separate meeting) or serve as one of the following:

  • Club Membership Campaign or Contest Chairman
  • Club Public Relations Campaign Chairman
  • Club Speech Contest Chairman
  • Club Special Event Chairman
  • Club Newsletter Editor or Webmaster

I chose to do Toastmaster and General Evaluator.

For Toastmaster, I emceed the special meeting we held for our Talk-Up Toastmasters! event.  I coordinated every part of the meeting to fit the theme of: “What Toastmasters has done for me.”.  This entailed coordinating the speeches, Word of the Day and Table Topics to match the theme.

For General Evaluator, I worked with the evaluation team, including the Speech Evaluators, the Grammarian and the Timer to makes sure everyone understood their jobs and worked together as a team.

So, this wraps up my Competent Leadership Manual series of posts.  My Competent Communicator Manual series will also be coming to a close soon.  I then start sharing my journey towards Advanced Leader Bronze.

CL Project 9: Mentoring

The Ninth Project in the Competent Leadership Manual is: Mentoring.

To complete this project, you have to do one of the following:

The purpose (at least for the first two) is to practice your one-on-one leadership skills.

The Successful Club Series Presentation, Mentoring describes the process and benefits of mentoring in Toastmasters.

For this project, I mentored an existing member as she worked her way through the Competent Leadership Manual.

Working from my own experience and knowledge of the CL Manual, I laid out a plan for how to work through the manual by tracking her progress.  As a result, she became our club’s second Competent Leader.

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.

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.

CL Project 7: Developing Your Facilitation Skills

The seventh project in the Competent Leadership manual is: Developing Your Facilitation Skills.

The purpose of this project is to practice becoming a better facilitator; helping groups of people work better together.  This is obviously an important skill for a leader to master

In order to complete this project, you must perform two out of the following four tasks at separate meetings: Toastmaster, General Evaluator, Table Topics Master and Befriend a Guest at a Club Meeting.

To complete this project, I served as General Evaluator and Table Topics Master.

As General Evaluator, I worked with the evaluation team which consisted of the speech evaluators, the timer and the grammarian.  I ensured that they all understood the responsibilities of their respective meeting roles and had everything they needed to perform them successfully.

As Table Topics Master, I made sure everyone understood the purpose and format of Table Topics and took volunteers to answer the question: “If you could go back in time and talk to yourself at the age of ten, what advice would you give yourself?”

Completing this project brought me one step closer to becoming an effective leader.

Training and Distinguished Club Program Update

As I posted yesterday, today was the mid-year Officers Training.  I attended with our club’s Vice-President Education.  Our Vice-President Public Relations attended on February 5th.  That makes three officers trained in this session and our Treasurer is attended next week.  That will give us the four required for goal 9 of the Distinguished Club Program.

The session started with a few speeches in front of everyone to share information and psych up the crowd.  After that, we split up for training by office.

President‘s training wasn’t really about teaching us how to be club presidents, since we had all been serving in the office since last July.  What the facilitator did was to go around the room and ask each President what greatest difficulties were facing each club.  We then had an open discussion where we each shared our experiences and tried to brainstorm solutions to each other problems.  My club’s issue, as I mentioned a while ago, is sparse attendance.

After President’s training, I attended a session about the Distinguished Club Program.  The structure of the program was explained, which was a bit superfluous since I’ve been focused on it since before I became President.  More interesting and useful was the discussion of working with the membership to set goals and how the club goals and individual member goals support each other.

All in all, the training was very worthwhile.  I learned a bit but, more importantly, it was a great chance to network with other Toastmasters and recharge my enthusiasm for the club.  The difference may not be as pronounced as that I saw in our VP-PR, but that’s mainly because I was already at a high level of enthusiasm (hence the blog).

Speaking of the Distinguished Club Program, our club has completed one more goal!  Our Vice-President Education has completed her Competent Leader award.  This brings our club to five points which makes us officially a Distinguished Club!

CL Project 6: Organizing and Delegating

Project six in the Competent Leadership Manual is: Organizing and Delegating.

The purpose of this project is to practice general organization skills and the ability to delegate tasks, and not try to do everything one’s self.

What’s notable about this project is that it is the first project that cannot be completed entirely by performing meeting roles in the club.

The project entails completing one of the following tasks:

  • Help Organize a Club Special Event
  • Help Produce the Club Newsletter
  • Assist the Club Webmaster

For this project, I helped to organize our club’s combination International Speech and Table Topics contests.

I served as the Chief Judge for both contests.  This entailed: appointing and conducting a training session for the contest judges, appointing timers and ballot counters, and supervising the work of all three groups.

This was an extraordinary learning experience and was great practice.  I feel that I really grew as a leader after completing this project.

CL Project 5: Planning and Implementation

Project Five in the Competent Leadership Manual is: Planning and Implementation.

In this project, the goal is to develop and practice the skills needed to effectively put together a plan and bring it to fruition.

This is achieved by performing three of the following roles in three separate Toastmasters meetings: Speaker, General Evaluator, Toastmaster, Table Topics Master.

For Speaker, I presented my Ice Breaker speech, planning what I wanted to say and how.

For General Evaluator, I planned out the roles of the evaluation team (the Timer, Grammarian and individual speech evaluators).

For Table Topics Master, I planned out the topic I would present.  The topic was: Archeologists from the year 2525.  I brought in a bag filled with everyday objects and asked each volunteer to pick out an object at random and present their opinions about what purpose the object served.

Through these roles, I was able to practice thinking ahead and planning how to approach the execution of each.

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