Toastmasters Year in Review (2011-2012)

The 2011-2012 Toastmasters year has just come to a close and now is the time for a retrospective review of this past year events and accomplishments.

I started the year with the challenge of serving four separate clubs as Area Governor while still helping to guide my own club as Immediate Past President and keeping on track with my personal educational goals.

Serving as Area Governor was challenging and very rewarding.  I was able to get to know many fellow Toastmasters and help the clubs in my area to define and achieve their goals.  As an Area Governor, I also served as part of the District Executive Committee.  There was a lot of traveling involved (up and down the entire State), but I’m glad I stepped up.  My area ended the year as a Distinguished Area.

In my club, I helped to advise the current President to lead our club to achieve Select Distinguished Club status and formed the Nominating Committee to propose nominees for this coming year’s Club Officers.

For my personal educational goals, I completed my Advanced Communicator Bronze and lead several committees as part of my High Performance Leadership project to increase participation and attendance at our club meetings.

In all, I would call this a very successful year.

My plans for the coming year are:

  • Serve as my club’s Vice-President Education, with a goal of having four members complete their Competent Communicator.
  • Finish off my High-Performance Leadership project, which will achieve Advanced Leader Silver.
  • Complete my Advanced Communicator Silver.





Special Occasion Speeches: The Roast

For the third speech project in the Special Occasion Speeches Advanced Communicator Manual, I was tasked to present a three to five minute roast.

The goal was to use humor and anecdotes to gently poke fun at the guest of honor of an occasion such as an anniversary banquet or farewell party.

For this project, I chose to roast a fellow member of my Toastmasters club and former work supervisor.

I picked one or two of her more salient characteristics and exaggerated the description of them for humorous effect.  I closed the speech on a positive note expressing how those very characteristics make her such a great asset to the club.

As a whole, the speech was very well-received and got a lot of laughs.  The one suggestion I received was to use more vocal variety to enhance the humor of the presentation.

District 66 Spring Conference Recap

This past weekend, April 21st and 22nd was our District 66 Spring Conference.

It was held in Staunton, VA, a three and a half hour drive from where I live, but well worth the trip.

We had two incredible guest speakers:

  • Ed Sykes who gave an incredible presentation about using Social Media and Blogging effectively.
  • Ed Tate, 2000 World Champion of Public Speaking who talked to us about mindset shifts and held a Train the Trainer session to prepare us all to conduct our officer training this coming year.

In addition to these and many other great educational sessions, we also had our District Table Topics and International Speech contests.  Fun Fact: It turns out the winner of our Table Topics contest is a haberdasher.

It was a great time and I was happy to have the opportunity to meet up again with Toastmasters from across the District.  Definitely worth the drive (especially since I won the 50/50 raffle).


Overdue Toastmasters Update

It’s been an awfully eventful few months for me with Toastmasters as Area Governor.

I’m planning on using that as my excuse for being so slack in my posting of late.

As a result of these two phenomenon, I have quite a few long overdue updates.

In my last Toastmasters-related post, I mentioned that we were in our Fall Contest Season.  We are holding Humorous Speech and Evaluation contests.

September was Area Contest Month and I helped out in eight separate Area contests, during three of which I gave the test speech that the Evaluation Contestants evaluated.

After seeing how just about every other Area in Hampton Roads did it, I finally held my own Area Contest on a dark and stormy night at the end of September.

The contest went very well, mostly because I had a lot of help.


Today was our Division Contest, where all the winners of the various Area Contests competed to see who would move on to the contests to be held at our Fall Convention.  I’m proud to announce that the Humorous Speech contestant from my home club placed third.


Also at today’s contest, the winners of the Division-wide “Battle of the VPs of Membership” were announced.  This was a membership renewal contest to see which clubs could get the highest percentage of members renewed as early as possible.

Of the 24 clubs in the Division, two clubs in my Area (more than any other Area) qualified and one of my clubs took First Place.


Note: Not Me

This coming Friday, my company will be holding its semi-Annual Tech Expo where all of the sizable IT Department gathers together and, after a plenary session where the CIO and the various VPs share status and planning updates, we break into groups and attend sessions presented by different sub-departments to find out what new technologies are being developed and used.

I mention this because I will be presenting a brief overview and introduction at the Expo explaining what we do in our Toastmasters club.  The purpose is to sell the benefits of Toastmasters for both individual skills development and contribution towards the company’s success.


My last update is about the District Conference.  Because I’m in IT and have been willing to help, I’ve been asked to act as the “AV Guy”.  I’ll be in charge of the setup and maintenance for the entire conference.

I’m a bit apprehensive about this because it’s a really big job and AV is not my exact bailiwick.  I’ve made this clear, so hopefully not too much is expected and I have reached out for assistance, with some success.

We’ll be holding a dry run next weekend at the facility to work out the details.  Wish me luck!

Word of the Week Wednesday: anecdote and antidote

This Wednesday’s Word of the Week is a twofer.  The words are anecdote and antidote.

These words are unrelated.  An anecdote is a short, usually amusing story and an antidote is a remedy for poison or, figuratively, for anything negative.

I’m presenting the two words together because I’ve noticed how often they’re used in place of each other in speech, or at least sound as if they are.

What I’ve noticed more often than someone saying “antidote” when they mean “anecdote” is that both words tend to sound identical when not fully pronounced.

Many people will not pronounce the c in anecdote and will also not pronounce the first t in antidote.  As a result, both words tend to come out sounding like an-uh-dote.

While this confusion occasionally manifests in the written word, I  suspect that that’s probably an outgrowth of hearing them as the same word.

So, that’s my weekly dose of pedantry.  Join me next Wednesday for more.


High Performance Leadership Part I: Learning About Leadership

As part of the requirements to achieve my Advanced Leader Silver, I am working through the High Performance Leadership program.

The program is broken out into five parts where I will develop my leadership skills by working to complete a project.  To do this, I have had to recruit a Guidance Committee to help me work through the project.  I meet with this committee at the end of each part.

I’ll describe my progress through the program one post at a time.

Part I of the program is Learning About Leadership.

In this part, I learned the six dimensions of servant leadership, performed a self-assessment of my current leadership skills, came up with a set of potential projects to work on and recruited my Guidance Committee.

After doing all that, I met with my committee to discuss my progress through part one and to solicit their feedback on which project to work on.

The project I chose was to improve meeting attendance and participation.

I chose this project because attendance at our club meetings has been low for quite some time.

I’ve seen this as a big problem in our club that I’ve been trying to improve for a while.  My hope is that, through this project, we’ll be able to reinvigorate our flagging attendance and help our members and club improve.

Word of the Week Wednesday: chagrin

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

Chagrin is not a very rarely used word, but I’ve always found it just uncommon enough to be interesting.  As both a noun and a verb, I also find it quite usefully.

As a noun, it refers to a feeling of humiliation or disappointment.  As a verb, it means to cause such feelings.

Used in a sentence for each part of speech:

Noun: “Much to my chagrin, they were completely sold out of Twinkies.”

Verb: “He was chagrined to discover that the appointment he had rushed to was scheduled for the previous day.”


The end of June means changes in Toastmasters.

The Toastmasters year ends June 30th.

Yesterday, our club held its second End of Year Celebration where we induct our new Club Officers.

I have handed over the reins of Club Presidency to a most able successor and have taken on the role of Immediate Past President.

In this role, I will serve as a mentor and adviser to the club and will be responsible for chairing the Nominating Committee for the officers for the year after next.

In addition to my role as Immediate Past President, on July 1st, I will begin my term as Area Governor (as I’ve mentioned before).

As Area Governor, I will be responsible for working with the four clubs in my area to help them achieve their goals.

Additionally, I will be working to help the area as a whole achieve the goals required to become a Distinguished Area.  To that end, I will be tracking those goals on my Distinguished Area Status Page in a similar way to how I’ve been tracking  my club’s progress in the Distinguished Club Program.

I will also be responsible for conducting two Area Governor Visits per club and organizing the Area Speech Contests.

Since all the clubs in my Area are corporate club, where facility access is strictly controlled, I have started coordinating another place to hold the contests.

Things are changing and it looks like it will be a challenging, but fun year ahead.  Stay tuned as I will surely have much to share in this space.

Summer Leadership Institute Tomorrow!

District 66 Toastmasters will hold its Summer Leadership Institute tomorrow!

This will be the first of two rounds of training offered by the District for incoming club officers, although all District 66 Toastmasters are invited and encouraged to attend.   The second round will be held on July 23.

For the first time, the training will be conducted simultaneously at three different Virginia locations: Salem, Glen Allen and  Virginia Beach.

The sessions will begin with a brief plenary session where all three locations will be connected via video conference.

After the plenary session, we will break out into separate training sessions.  These will include the standard officer training session plus new material.  This will be especially useful for members who may have already attended officer training in the past and would like to learn something new.

The offerings include:

  • Always Bring you’re A-Game – Part I (the Mechanics of a Great Meeting)
  • Always Bring you’re A-Game – Part II (planning and preparation are the key)
  • Evaluate to Motivate
  • Finding New Members for Your Club
  • Going Beyond Your Club (opportunities for Leadership growth)
  • Promoting Your Club with Websites and Social Media
  • Strategies for Coaching Clubs
  • The Distinguished Club Program
  • The Toastmasters Educational Program
  • When You Are the Secretary
  • When You Are the Sergeant at Arms
  • When You Are the Treasurer
  • When You Are the Vice-President Membership
  • When You Are the Vice-President Public Relations

As usual, each club which sends at least four of its new officers to this training will earn credit towards the Distinguished Club Program, but it’s really worthwhile for any Toastmaster to attend and participate.

As an incoming Area Governor, this will be an opportunity to meet the officers for the clubs in my Area in person, as well as to network with other Toastmasters.  Plus, I’ll be helping to supply the refreshments.

If you’re a Toastmaster in the area, I hope to see you there!

Word of the Week Wednesday: falderal

This Wednesday’s Word of the Week is: falderal

Falderal (also foderol or folderal) means useless nonsense, a worthless trinket or a waste of time.

This is another old-timey word that I particularly like.  It also sounds quite whimsical to my ear like something bright and shiny but ultimately worthless.

It began as a nonsense word in the refrain of a song, akin to “tra la la” or “obla di obla dah“.  It also reminds me of the Happy Wanderer song.

My knapsack on my back.





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