Saturday, December 26, 2009

Setting Toastmasters Goals for 2010

Yes, it’s that time again – time to promise yourself you’ll shed a few pounds, restart your exercise program and finally finish reading that Tolstoy novel you’ve been working on for the past few years. As a Toastmaster, you’re probably thinking about setting a few New Year’s resolutions for yourself or your club. While we heartily encourage you to do so (Finish that CC! Encourage everyone to help your club earn that DCP award!), we’d like to offer some advice on how to make your 2010 resolutions stick:

  • Write them down. The simple act of committing your New Year’s resolutions to paper (or to an electronic document, if you prefer) will help you remember them and act upon them later. Ideas that stay trapped in your mind don’t have the staying power of ideas that pass through your hands onto a document of some sort. The idea here is really just to perform the act of writing down your goals more than to create a reminder for future reading, though if you happen to write it down in a place where you’ll retrieve it and read it later, so much the better.
  • Pace yourself. Divide your goals into smaller, easily achievable steps, then spread these sub-goals as evenly as possible throughout the year. For example, if you want to complete your CC by the end of 2010, and you’ve only completed four projects, you’ll find it easier if you set yourself the goal of completing one of your remaining speeches every two months.
  • Schedule them. Once you’ve decided on a pace you can live with (one manual speech per month? one new member every other meeting?), mark your specific goal dates on a calendar, and do your best to achieve those goals.
  • Share your goals with others. If you tell your family, friends and fellow Toastmasters about your goals and aspirations for the year, you will create your own personal team of well-wishers who will provide you with the encouragement and motivation to get the job done on time.
  • Set attainable goals. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Before you set yourself up for disappointment, make sure you’re being realistic about what you can comfortably achieve in a year’s time. It’s much better to set yourself an attainable goal and surpass it than to set the bar too high and become discouraged.

Whatever your New Year’s goals may be, remember that you don’t have to do it alone. Your fellow Toastmasters are there to help, and many of them have already walked the path you’re walking now. So don’t be shy – ask for help if you need it, and before you know it, you’ll have the courage to conquer the next year’s resolutions.

(Article courtesy of Toastmasters International)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Congratulations Town & Gown

The Stoneroad Toastmasters send a sincere "well done" to the Town & Gown Toastmasters Club this week. Their representatives won both the Table Topics and Humorous Speech Contests at the Oct. 16th, Area 62 Competition.

Danve Castroverde, the defending Table Topics champion, reclaimed his title with his eloquent response on the theme "A Sound Investment". He spoke of the important he places on his formal education and how it has been an investment into his future success.

Hakeem Shittu, last year's international speech winner, tickled the audience with is tale of learning English as a second language. With the use of a minimal prop he transformed into a cruel instructor from his childhood, and he clearly illustrated how ridiculous the rules of English are.

Best wishes to Danve and Hakeem as they represent Guelph at the Division Contest on Friday, October 23. The contest will be held in the Davis Centre at the University of Waterloo. Six competetors will be entered in each event. The evening begins at 6 pm and will cost $10. Everyone is encouraged to attend.

Saturday, October 10, 2009


On Monday, October 5, the Stoneroad Toastmasters held their annual contest for Humorous Speeches and Table Topics.

Five people competed in the Table Topics portion of the event. They each gave an impromptu speech for 1 to 2 minutes on the subject of "What does the Fall season mean to you?" Congratulations are extended to Marion Reidel, who was selected to represent the club at the area contest.

In the Humorous speech section of the contest, the topics included the nature of laughter, reminiscences of childhood and the frustration of getting lost. The club is proud to have Linda Neff represent us at the area contest with her speech "Where Am I?"

The area contest will be held on Friday, October 16. The location is expected to be announced this week.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


The Civic Leadership Prayer Breakfast of Guelph is honoured to present inspirational speaker Kim Phuc, "The Girl In The Picture." Kim was 9 years old, living in South Vietnam when on June 8, 1972 she was severely burned with napalm bombs. Naked and terrified, Kim's image was caught in the Pulitizer Prize winning photo shown here. With over half of her body burned, it was not expected that Kim would survive. The photographer, Nick Ut, took Phuc to an American hospital is Saigon. Two years later she returned to her village and was used as a proganda symbol for the Communist Government.
While studying in C uba in 1986 Kim met Bui Huy Toan, whom she married. They honeymooned in Moscow and during their flight back defected while in a stop-over in Gander, Newfoundland. Kim now lives in Ajax and speaks worldwide about forgiveness. She raises money for the Kim Foundation, which is a not-for-profit organization committed to funding programs that "heal".
This event will also feature music from Juno Award winner Deborah Klassen.

Friday, October 23, 2009
Delta Hotel & Conference Centre
Stone Road at Gordon St., Guelph
6:45 Hot Buffet, 7:00-8:45 Program
Cost $20 each, table seat 10, parking included
This event is sold out except fora handful of tickets that Stone Road club member, Blake, is holding in reserve. Email the club if you're interested.

Monday, June 15, 2009


Education session by Terri Millar, based on an article in "Toastmaster" magazine, Sept. 2006.

When you are asked to speak at a meeting it is a valuable opportunity to influence others. You are in a position to gain the respect of colleagues, and it is a chance to learn as well as teach. The following are five important points to consider.

1. Be Prepared
If you have advance notice of the presentation take time to plan out your comments. Do some research to gather statistics and other relevant information. Find out who the audience will be and the time allotted, so you can meet expectations. Review the notes from previous meetings on the subject, so you can build on past work.
If it is a spontaneous opportunity don't panic. Pause and gather your thoughts. Pick one big point that you want to make and make it clearly. Frame your comments logically. Speak with authority and you will appear confident and thus be more influential.

2. Listening Is Just As Important As Talking
Check the pulse of the group by listening to their comments. Assess whether they prefer interaction. Listen to the previous speakers and build on their comments to make your remarks more powerful. This linking of ideas also gives the meeting continuity. You may need to revise your planned input in light of prior comments.

3. Lead With Questions
This is a mens of checking the pulse of your audience. When you clarify their needs it connects you to your audience, and also ensures their focus.

4. Don't Marry Your Ideas
Finding solutions is a process and is usually the result of group input. It is important not to be emotionally attached to your ideas. Be prepared to adapt, don't get defensive, and don't worry if someone else gets the credit for an idea you initiated. On the other hand, don't brush off a compliment. Be humble, but accept credit when appropriately given. Share credit with others when they've contributed, acknowledge their input graciously.

5. Know When NOT To Talk
Watch for opportunities to hear feedback, it's a powerful learning experience. Know the power of group contributions and listen to questions. This is especially important if you're new to the group. Listening can help you understand the meeting culture and group dynamics.

Monday, June 1, 2009


At our June 1 meeting, Linda Neff reported on a two day training session she attended which was presented by International Toastmaster Champions Darren LaCroix and Craig Valentine. The program titled, "Get Coached to Speak! Champ Camp", offered four people the opportunity to be coached on a speech presentation, while the remainder of the participants were able to learn by observing the experience and participating in the feedback sessions.
On day one the four focus speakers each gave a 5 to 7 minute prepared speech. Linda indicated that the learning experience was to hear, and participate in the the one hour feedback session following each speech. LaCroix and Valentine gave specific guidance on how the speaker could improve both the writing and delivery of the speech. Then, on the second day, the speakers presented the revised version of their speech. Linda said it was impressive to see the amount of progress they had made in this short period of time. Following the revised presentation the group offered further feedback and small sections of the speech were tweaked again.
The participants included a wide range of experience. All four speakers focused on topics of great personal importance and by the end of the sessions had a highly polished product that could be developed into a keynote speech for any number of occasions
The inspirational report to the Stone Road Toastmasters ended with Linda offering a few quotes by LaCroix and Valentine, from the notes she had taken at the training session.
"Sometimes we want validation, instead of education."
"The audience does not want you to be perfect, they want you to be present."
"When yo are getting feedback, look for patterns, not isolated comments."
"Techniques need to become automatic, so they are invisible."
"No technique can beat heart."
"Great speeches are not written, they are rewritten."
"A message is a mess...with age."

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


The sign of a healthy organization is when a significant portion of the leadership wants to remain in service taking on new challenges, while a component of new faces join them at the helm. That's exactly what happened as the Stone Road Toastmasters conducted the election for new executive officers on May 25. The new executive will be;

President - Terri Millar, previously VP Education
VP Eucation - Bani Arora, previously VP Public Relations
VP Membership - Michelle Munroe, previously Sergeant at Arms
VP Public Relations - Marg Stewart, previously Secretary
Treasurer - Theresa Dietrich, new member
Secretary - Anca Preda, new member
Sergeant at Arms - Adnan Cheema, established member

Mina McCluskey moves to the role of Past President. She encouraged the new executive to participate in the training programs that will be forthcoming through the Toastmaster's Organization. She indicated that their roles can be as expansive, or focused as their personal schedules permit. Stone Road Toastmasters has a history of group support for all activities and Mina assured the new executive that they will not be working in isolation.

Monday, May 4, 2009


The term of office for the Stone Road Toastmasters Club runs from July 1st to June 30th each year. The elections for the next group of executive members will be held on Monday, May 25th.
Anyone interested in taking on an executive role may put forth their name for nomination, or if a club members feels that a colleague would serve the organization well they may choose to nominate them. If you are nominated by someone else, you can "pass" if you wish to try for a role other that the one you're nominated for, or you can decline altogether.
No special qualifications are required, as the TM District Council will provide all necessary training. It does help if you are organized, enthusiastic and have the time to take on this responsibility. Members should be aware that holding an executive role acquires credits in the Competent Leadership manual.
The Executive Roles, in order of responsibility are as follows:

7th - Sergeant At Arm, sets up the room for meetings, maintains the supply of meeting documents, awards and general supplies

6th - Treasurer, implements a budget based on the previous year's data, submits dues to the bank, works with membership VP to track data, keeps the club ledger, is one of four signing officers, two needed for any payment

5th - Secretary, takes minutes at executive and regular meetings, manages the club copies of any manuals or videos

4th - Vice President Public Relations, promote club events, oversees the production of the newsletter, oversees the website, runs any newspaper ads

3rd - Vice President Membership, track membership data, work with treasurer, coordinate communication

2nd - Vice President Education, assigns agenda roles, assigns mentors, tracks member progress, coordinates education sessions * considering splitting this role in two

1st - President, chief executive officer, provides leadership for the club, represents the club at area meetings

Think about whether you'd like to serve in one of these roles and speak to Terri if you have questions or an interest.

Thursday, April 23, 2009


This is the time of year for membership renewals and a turn over in the assignment of executive roles. On April 20, Vice President ofMembership, Margaret Virani, used the Educational Session to explain her role. Margaret reminded the members that part of the goal for Toastmasters is to build leadership skills. It was to develop her confidence that Margaret took on the role of Membership Vice President. She reported that she was able to attend several district training workshops that equipped her with the skills to fulfill this role. Those present were encouraged to consider their personal schedules and determine whether they will be interested in seeking and Executive position when the turn-over occurs later this spring.
Margaret reported that our club has 25 active members. She indicated that she has been to other Toastmasters groups, and although there is a commonality of agenda, each organization has a unique personality that is reflective of the members.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Youth Leadership Program Feedback

Joshua, a nine year old grade 4 student who attended a Youth Leadership Program sponsored by the Stoneroad Toastmasters, recently competed in his school's public speaking contest. He competed against 10 others in a category for grade 4 to 6 students. Although he didn't place against these older schoolmates, his speech earned him high praise. He incorporated many of the techniques he learned at YLP and was commended for  his confidence of delivery and ability to engage the audience.

Aaron, a 12 year old grade 7 student and YLP participant, has represented his class at the school public speaking contest for the past three years. This year he won first place in the Intermediate Division and went on the the District competition. Despite struggling with the flu, Aaron faced 14 students from schools across the city. Although, he did not place (he is at the bottom of the age category) all three judges complimented him on his speaking skills. It seems that he lost points for not officially addressing the judges ("Judges and fellow competitors"), but Aaron retorted that he was speaking in the persona of the Norse God Thor who would never begin his address with, "Dwarves, giants, humans and all creatures of Middle Earth."

This information was provided by a parent of one of the YLP participants as evidence of her appreciation for the program. There has been a request for the Stoneroad Toastmasters to offer a another session for elementary school students and the group is currently seeking volunteers to run the program.

How To Tell A Joke

Humour is an important tool in public speaking and we've had two Education Sessions on the theme of "How To Tell A Joke". The following is a summary of the information covered at those sessions.


1. Know Your Intent - Why are you speaking and why do you want to say something funny? Be sure the occasion is appropriate and your comments are relevant. Never tell a joke just for the sake of getting a laugh. Consider it from the audience's point of view; it must make sense.

2. Personal Stories Are The Funniest - Before you go to the internet to find a joke, think about your life and whether you've experienced a funny situation that is related to your topic. It will make a more sincere connection with the audience and you don't have to memorize something you've experienced. If you must resort to a canned story consider making it sound personal by presenting the characters as you and your pals.

3. Know The Joke - Stopping halfway through to correct details or forgetting the punch line will lead to disaster. 

4. Forget the Introduction, Just Tell the Joke - Never tell the audience, "This is the funniest story..." or "You're going to laugh at this one..."  You're just setting yourself up for trouble.  Also, don't distract them by starting with irrelevant comments like, "I found this on Google."

5. The Only Person You Can Make Fun Of Is...You - Not matter what you say, you have risk the potential for offending someone. No racial jokes, no sexist put downs, no religious humour.


6. Take Your Time - Sometimes the most important part of a funny story is the pauses. Give your audience time to digest each step of the story. Never interrupt yourself in the middle of a funny story with sidebar comments, as it ruins the flow.

7. Make Eye Contact, With Everyone - Eye contact suggests sincerity and engages your audience, but don't focus on ONE person as that will make them feel uncomfortable and the others will feel left out.

8. Choose Your Voice Wisely - Unless you can do an accent perfectly, don't try. If the joke requires an accent, check it for ethnic suitability. Funny voices need to be used with caution.

9. Don't Laugh At Your Own Joke - A deadpan presentation often adds to the humour, while laughing will detract.

10. Believe in Yourself - Once you have screened the joke for the criteria above, have confidence in the humour and your ability to communicate it. Tell it with confidence.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


On Monday, February 2, the Stoneroad Toastmasters gathered to celebrate their club members' abilities and select their representatives to move on the to Area Speech Contest.

In the "Evaluation Contest" Andrew Isaak was selected to represent the club. In this category the contestants heard a speech from a visitor to the organization. Each in turn then gave a detailed and supportive evaluation of the speech. Contestants were not allowed to hear their predecessor's comments, but were able to listen to the evaluations that came after them.

Marion Reidel was selected to represent the club in the International Speech contest. This involved giving a 5 to 7 minute speech on any topic, which could be humorous, but needed to have a purposeful message as well. Marion spoke on her experience as a member of the "Sandwich Generation" stuck between raising adult children and assisting aging parents.

Andrew and Marion will represent the Stoneroad Toastmasters on Friday, March 13th in the Guelph city wide competition. Watch for location and time details to be posted soon.

Sunday, January 18, 2009


(excerpts from District 26 Toastmasters, serving Colorado, Wyoming, and W. Nebraska)

The benefits to club members:
1. Forces members to step beyond their comfort zone.
2. Offers a forum to speak outside of the club.
3. Provides members with an opportunity to test their skill against others.
4. Injects a large dose of pride and confidence in contestants.
5. Illustrates that there's more to Toastmasters than the weekly meeting.

The benefits to the club:
1. Creates an opportunity to invite outside guests.
2. Increases membership when guests enjoy the event.
3. Helps current members set goals and rejuvenate their enthusiasm.
4. Providers a unique leadership opportunity to run the contest.
5. Contributes to attaining "Distinguished Club" status.

How to Conduct Better Evaluations

The trademark of an Toastmasters meeting is that each speech is formally evaluated by another member of the club. The scheduled evaluator typically has only 10 minutes or so to prepare an effective evaluation, and that is a 3 minute mini-speech in itself. In terms of speaking, the evaluation is the step between Table Topics and a prepared speech.

With the Evaluation Contest coming up, here are some tips from District 26 Toastmasters,  in Colorado, on how to make your evaluation more fluent and inspiring.

1. Contact the presenter and review your manual prior to the meeting so that you are familiar with the objective of the speech.

2. Have the philosophy that every speech can be improved, no matter how good it is. It does not help advanced speakers to hear, "that was great". Challenge yourself to come up with at least one suggestion.

3. Plan to make 3 to 5 positive comments to balance each suggestion for improvement.

4. Don't overwhelm novice speakers with advice. Limit your suggestions to 3 things or less, and focus on the biggest problems.

5. It's good to use concrete examples form the speech, but don't recap the whole thing. You too must work within your time limit.

6. Always preface your comments with "in my opinion" or "I suggest that" to acknowledge that others might not share your viewpoint.

7. Don't read from the Toastmasters manual. You are going to hand them the checklist in the book, so reading it to them is not the best use of your time.

8. Conclude your evaluation with a summary of your suggestions, and then follow with the positive comments. A humourous statement, or insight to end is fun.

Evaluations give you an exciting opportunity to help shape the future skill of an associate speaker. Don't take this task lightly.