Rising to the Toastmaster Challenge

Basically as challenging as serving as Toastmaster

We’re a couple of months into Fiscal Year 2020 and already our VPE’s efforts have borne fruit. As most members can tell you, serving as Toastmaster for a given meeting can be challenging. In addition to being the Master of Ceremonies for the first half of the meeting — opening the meeting, helping to introduce various other roles, calling upon each evaluator to introduce his or her speaker — a good Toastmaster often makes an effort to ensure a successful meeting even before it begins, emailing members ahead of time to fill roles, to send reminders, and even to choose a theme around which the meeting can be planned.

It’s no wonder then that many newer members shy away from filling this role, often resulting in the same handful of more experienced individuals having to act as Toastmaster week after week. In an effort to ameliorate this problem, VPE Sally instead created a weekly schedule specifically for this role, ensuring that — while the newest members are spared — the more veteran among us get a little push to try something that we might have otherwise avoided.

Spirited Speech Masters has benefited greatly from this new policy, as we have enjoyed hearing differing and unique perspectives. Perhaps the greatest benefit is that — when a person doesn’t have to serve in this role on a regular basis — they have more energy to fulfill the role when they eventually do. Over the past couple of months, I have witnessed some really unique themes, not to mention some great introductions that, in many cases, could serve as standalone speeches!

Along these lines, I wanted to give a shout out to the Toastmasters from our two most recent meetings, Usamah and Karl:

  • Usamah chose the theme “power” for our meeting two weeks ago and surprised us all by helping us see not only the dangers inherent in the pursuit of power but also the power in acknowledging one’s own weakness.
  • Karl chose the theme “pain,” striking because the concept so often carries such a negative connotation. He helped us re-evaluate our view of pain as providing a barometer of bodily injury and a sense of appreciation for our good health.

Thank you to everyone who has stepped up in recent weeks to serve as Toastmaster. I look forward hopefully to a continued diversity of perspective and experience!

Sonya receiving a Best Table Topics certificate from Joann on October 3rd

Update Your Profile, Earn a Cupcake!

If you’ve been planning to update your profile, now is a fabulous time to do so! If just four members update their profiles before October 31st, I will make homemade pumpkin cupcakes to share at our Halloween meeting!

But I don’t know what to write…

Understandable! The goal of our roster is to give prospective members an idea of the diversity of reasons that people join Toastmasters. With any luck, they will read about your reasons for joining and find something familiar! Here are a few ideas to consider:

  • Where did you first hear about Toastmasters?
  • Why did you decide to attend your first meeting?
  • What is one thing that surprised you about Toastmasters?
  • How has Toastmasters helped you grow?
  • What are your current goals and how do you think Toastmasters will help you achieve them?

NOM NOM NOM! I can’t wait!

Fabulous! You can update your profile by visiting the Profile Page. To update your picture, use the gray field at the top of the page. To edit your profile, scroll down to the Biographical Info field. Once you’ve finished editing, scroll to the bottom of the page to click the Update Profile button.

Finally, if you simply prefer to email me your profile and/or photo for me to update for you — just let me know!

2019: A Year in Review

Spirited Speech Masters is delighted to announce that we successfully achieved President’s Distinguished for fiscal year 2019. The requirements for this achievement include:

  • On-time payment of membership dues accompanied by the names of eight members (at least three of whom must be renewing members) for one period and on-time submission of one club officer list
  • A minimum of four club officers trained during each of the two training periods. (We actually had a clean sweep with all 7 officers having been trained twice!)
  • At least eight new members (we had 13!)
  • Educational achievements, traditional program:
    • Two Competent Communicators: Joann and Usamah
    • One Advanced Communicator: Dawn, ACB
    • Two Leadership Awards: Sally, ALS and DTM
  • Educational achievements, pathways:
    • Two Level 2 completions: Rachel (IP2) and Sally (PM2)
    • One Level 5 completion: Jo (VC5)
Joann being awarded third-place at Area Contest

Congratulations once again to Joann who placed third at Area speech contest for her speech entitled, “The Clouds are Not the Moon.” Dawn, Joann, and Sally all chose to expand their Toastmaster horizons by attending District 56 conference. (We’re hoping for an even greater turnout next Spring!)

In terms of special events planning, Spirited Speech Masters hosted Toastmasters CEO Dan Rex in presenting the Toastmasters Corporate Award to Shibu Varghese, the Senior Vice President of People & Business Operations and Chief Human Resources Officer at MD Anderson. We also hosted an Open House event that helped us reach the required number of new and renewing members necessary to achieve President’s Distinguished. Thanks to all the members who helped make these two events so engaging and successful!

In terms of our online footprint, we successfully transitioned from our previous web host, FreeToastHost, to private web hosting and a custom domain name. A special thanks to David Carr, author of the RSVPMaker for Toastmasters plugin that made this transition possible.

A special thank you to the outgoing officers, many of whom will continue serving in the same or different capacities this next year:

  • Sally: outgoing President, incoming VPE
  • Joann: outgoing VPE, incoming President
  • Karl: outgoing VPM
  • Jonathan: previous VPPR
  • Maxine: outgoing Secretary and author of the Weekly Window newsletter that inspired the recurrent blog post by the same name
  • Dawn: outgoing and incoming Treasurer
  • Naureen: outgoing and incoming Sergeant of Arms

And finally, thanks to all members — both new and renewing — for helping to maintain a positive and supportive environment in which we all have the potential for learning and growth!

President’s Update

Spirited Speech Masters is having a “Jumping June” this last month of the Toastmasters year! On June 10th, we had our officer elections, and I’m pleased to say that we have all of our Officer Positions filled!  Our 2019-2020 Officers will be:

  • President: Joann
  • Vice President Education (VPE): Sally
  • Vice President Membership (VPM): Twana
  • Vice President Public Relations (VPPR): Loni
  • Treasurer: Dawn
  • Secretary: Allison
  • Sergeant-at-Arms (SAA): Naureen
  • Immediate Past President (IPP): Sally

I am really excited to see some of our newer members step up into officer positions.  Good luck to all of our new officers!  Our officer installation will be July 11th.  We will be installed by our new Area Director, Patricia Koch!  There will also be speeches by our outgoing and incoming Presidents.

Open House!

Our open house was so much fun!  We had a great crowd!  Dawn gave a great speech on packing a backpack, and Loni did a wonderful job as her evaluator!  Thanks to Joann for an interesting Word-of-the-Day, and we introduced the practice of snapping our fingers when someone uses the WotD!  Karl had the Table Topics theme of “Vacations,” and several of our guests gave great presentations.  We hope to see some new members coming in soon!  Finally, both Allison and Naureen gave their “#MyWhy” speeches, telling why they joined Toastmasters!  Overall, it was a great meeting.  Thanks to all of the members who pitched in to help!

Upcoming Officer Elections

The June 6th meeting will include voting for the slate of 2019-2020 officers. We have a full slate of officer nominations:

  • Sergeant at Arms: Naureen
  • Treasurer: Dawn
  • Secretary: Allison
  • VP Public Relations: Loni
  • VP Membership: Twana
  • VP Education: Sally
  • President: Joann

Additional nominations will be requested from the floor (but the person nominated must accept the nomination).  You may also nominate yourself. Please attend, if at all possible, even if you are unable to be present for the entire meeting, as voting will take place during the first ten to fifteen minutes.

The June 13th meeting will be our annual Open House and will feature a slightly revised format. In an effort to promote recruitment, we are holding a Membership Contest! Prizes will be awarded to the member who brings the greatest number of guests and to the member who has the greatest number of people join our chapter (the latter of which will be determined on July 25). In addition, a special prize will be given to the first five visitors who join within the month of June!

If you haven’t already, please sign up to bring one or more food items or beverages to the Open House event! And if you haven’t picked up your red-envelope invitations to hand out to friends and colleagues, you can pick them up from Sally.

The June 27th meeting will feature officer installation with speeches by the outgoing and incoming Presidents.  Come and celebrate our Toastmasters Year in Review and hear our great plans for next year!