Spirited Speech Masters and guests honor Dr. Farzana Chohan

08.08.2019 Weekly Window

During this week’s meeting Jonathan delivered a speech entitled “Flustered” in which he spoke about dealing with life when things don’t go according to plan. Asad spoke about how to achieve happiness, emphasizing the importance of developing human connections through active listening and “tell me more.”

Maxine served as Table Topics Master this week, prompting volunteers to finish the story beginning with “I have bats in my attic…” Karl convincingly constructed an entire ecosystem of interdependent organisms that must also be living in his attic to sustain an apex predator like the common bat, while Joann gave a dramatic performance in response to her terror that the bats in her attic might be the kind that feast upon blood.

  • Best Speaker: Asad
  • Best Table Topic: Joann
  • Best Evaluator: Loni
  • Word of the Day: alacrity

Pathways: Completing Projects and Levels

VPE Corner written on a chalkboard

We have started a new Toastmasters year (July-June) with new officers and a new set of goals for the year.  This year, I am serving as the Vice President of Education, and we have all of our members working with Pathways.  My personal goal is to help everyone understand Pathways better and to enable everyone to get around in the system.  Many people, including myself, have challenges with the Base Camp system.  Today, I want to share the “process” for completing a project in a Pathways “Level.”

Process for Completing a Project

  1. Launch your project in Base Camp by clicking the Launch button.
  2. Read every page in the project.
    1. Review the Project Checklist and read Your Assignment.
    2. Complete the Self-Evaluation at the beginning.
  3. Every project has one or more speeches associated with it.
  4. Select a date and sign up for your speech on our chapter’s web site! Be sure to fill in the Path and Project information.
  5. Print your project-specific evaluation form and bring it to the meeting.
  6. I would recommend that you also download and save the Print My Project and any other documentation from the project for future reference.
  7. After your speech:  SAVE YOUR EVALUATION FORM!
    You may scan and upload documents into the My Feedback section.
  8. Complete your Self-Evaluation at the end and submit to complete your project.

Process for Completing a Level

  1. Once you have completed all the projects in a level, click on the Level Completion project to send a request to the VPE to approve.
  2. In addition, please fill out the Pathways Level Completion Verification (PDF), (also downloadable from the Downloads section of this website).
  3. Print, fill out, and scan this document along with copies of all your evaluations.
  4. Send to the VPE to validate your approval.

Starting in September, I hope to do a series of speeches on “Getting Started” in Toastmasters as well as Pathways.  Look forward to more information in the VPE Corner, hopefully monthly at a minimum!

Fall 2019 Toastmasters Leadership Institute

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to attend my first TLI — Toastmasters Leadership Institute — a three-hour workshop to orient chapter officers within their specific roles. The facilities at MD Anderson were spacious and comfortable, and I was grateful for the coffee and assortment of breakfast options that were provided by TLI. District 56 Director Kathy Kest provided a superb example of acknowledgement versus recognition during her opening statement, wherein she recognized two gentlemen who had gone above and beyond to help resolve an unanticipated issue with parking.

The TLI leadership team ran individual breakout sessions for each role, exemplifying servant leadership by generously sharing their expertise. They each helped attendees understand how we can help our chapters grow by fulfilling our individual officer roles. As the VP of Public Relations for Spirited Speech Masters, I attended the VPPR session lead by Rhonda Reeves, Director of Division M and the VPPR for Exxon-Mobile’s Innovators chapter. She presented a clever acronym she uses to represent the aims of a VPPR:

  • Promote
  • Raise Awareness
  • Attract Members
  • Increase Membership
  • Sustain the Brand
  • Engage the Community

The room of VPPRs was then divided into groups of four, and each group was charged with determining the How, When, Who, and What of our assigned aim. This style of self-generated content and learning was extremely effective, not only because it helped us to think through what we already knew (or could figure out together) but because we were getting to know one another better. I know I made a couple of connections I hope to have the opportunity to develop further.

Overall, I felt like I learned a lot, both about my role as VPPR and about Toastmasters in general (as a new-ish member, I was particularly grateful for the temporary embargo on Toastmasters acronyms). I would recommend TLI to any new officer, and hope to have the opportunity to attend the TLI in the Spring with even more of my fellow Spirited Speech Masters!

Area Q54 Council meeting, immediately following Saturday’s TLI
L to R: Sally Boyd, Joann Hester, Patricia Koch, and Diane Nino

2019.08.01 Weekly Window

Despite being a light week in terms of turnout, members were treated with not one but two full-length speeches given today, including Tina’s first Icebreaker! Tina employed a unique method to teach us all more about herself by telling a story that illustrated several personal characteristics: the desire to plan ahead, the determination to be adventurous, and the ability to adapt when her carefully laid plans went awry. Fabulous job, Tina!

Asad spoke today, championing the importance of Risk Management. While we are all mostly fortunate to generally not have to think about risk probabilities and likely impact, Asad gave us all pause to think about the risks we regularly face and how we might be able to mitigate them.

  • Best Speaker: Tina
  • Best Evaluator: Joann
  • Best Table Topic: Allison
  • Word of the Day: fraught
Tina receiving her Icebreaker ribbon from Joann

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!