Archive for January, 2010

Six Ideas to Help Retain Toastmaster Members

Posted in toastmasters on January 27, 2010 by pastajon

1. Mentors follow up with members who are not attending. I did this recently and had a half dozen members come back simply because I refused to stop pestering them with phone calls and emails until they either said they had to leave because of other commitments or that they were coming back.2. Conduct two or three evening dinner parties a year. This has deepened relationships in our club and heightens the bond and desire to attend each week.

3. Schedule special meetings to allow more people to speak. Our club is large (40-50 members) and we schedule an ‘advanced’ meeting once-a-month and a speaking blitz every couple of months. This way more people have a chance to speak and are reaching the goals they joined the club to achieve.

4. Mentors continue to push mentees. I ask my mentees what their goals are and follow up with them on it. I created a monthly reminder on my computer to email all my mentees and challenge them.

5. Use Twitter to keep people in the loop. I manage a twitter account for our club and I have made the membership aware of the account and keep them abreast of breaking news or special activities.

6. Provide breakfast once-a-month. We charge $10 a month for club dues and this allows us to buy breakfast once-a-month for a meeting – an added incentive to show up.


Feeding the Analytical Beast Within You

Posted in contests, evaluations on January 12, 2010 by pastajon

I wanted to win the district contest, but I did not take for granted that I would win at every stage of the contest.  Anyone of my competitors could have beat me, but they failed to feed the analytical beast within them. An evaluation contest has the following four areas to be judged on: Analytical Quality – 40pts, Recommendations – 30pts, Technique – 15pts, and Summation – 15pts. From what I observed they put too much emphasis on technique and too little on recommendation and summary sacrificing up to 45 points – almost half of their points!

I fed my analytical beast and I’m going to tell you how to feed your analytical beast.  By feeding this beast, you could win an evaluation contest. But more importantly, you will liven up your own skills and breath new life into others.  These skills can carry over into your relationships, work, and volunteering.

So what is feeding the analytical beast? It is putting yourself into a rigorous (careful, attentive, accurate, meticulous) mindset that concentrates on keen (sharp, discerning, astute, perceptive) observations and on invigorating (fortify, rejuvenate, energize, liven up, breath new life into) the person being evaluated.

How and what do we feed the analytical beast?

A Rigorous Raspberry Mindset

  • Objectives – the speech assignment?  Read the manual questions.  What does the speaker want you to look for?  Remind yourself of the objective of an evaluation – to help and encourage.
  • Build a bank of suggestions.  E.g. Can you say it in one sentence?  Rehearse in front of a friend or family member.  Emphasize words – vocal variety.
  • Find ways to be better or different in your evaluations.  I have Googled “toastmaster evaluation” and found websites, blogs, etc. that have offered many good ideas.
  • Stretch your evaluation vocabulary – E.g. instead of ‘good’ use captivating.  Instead of ‘awesome’ (is it really awesome? Bill Cosby is awesome, but is this speaker Bill Cosby quality?) use very well prepared.  Instead of ‘great’ use ‘your dynamics were definitely better than you last speech’.

Keen Kiwi Observations

  • Be attentive.  Posture, listening, focus; don’t get sidetracked.
  • Understand their level. Are they a new speaker or a seasoned one?  How will that affect your evaluation?
  • Good & bad. This is the obvious thing to look for – what are they doing right and where can they improve?
  • Look for what is missing or un-obvious
  • Jot lots of notes in short phrases.  While listening I write a lot of short phrases or quotes that I can return to and refine later on.  I make it a point to make as many observations as I can.  I can sift through them later, getting rid of lesser ones and expanding on more important observations.

An Invigorating Icy Delivery

  • Be sincere: don’t grandstand, flatter, or whitewash.  Show that you care.
  • Don’t offend, attack, or discourage
    • Use “I” statements – these are your observations and not the groups.
    • Don’t use “should” and be careful with the word “you”.
  • Focus on the delivery and not the content; an evaluation is not a chance to share your opinion on the subject; it is pointless to paraphrase the speech.
  • Demonstrate when you can – vocal variety, gestures, etc.
  • Be positive, specific, and constructive
    • E.g. “your content was hard to believe” –vs- “quoting your source can add credibility to your message, like ‘I found this trivia on encyclopedia britanicca’s website’”
  • To invigorate you must use a sandwich
    • Good, Bad, Good – I used this one for years.
    • Good, Improve, Recommendation, Summary – tried this one during the competition and thought I would lose
    • Good, Improve, Recommendation, Positive Summary
  • Commendation (1 or 2 items + why), Recommendation (1 or 2 items + why + how), Commendation (item + why) [By Kim Chamberlain, 2002 District 72 Evaluation Champion…]
    • intro
    • 2nd best commendation
    • 3rd best commendation
    • recommendation #1
    • recommendation #2
    • 1st best commendation
    • summary

Be rigorous.  Be keen.  Be invigorating.  And let the analytical beast come out in you!


Posted in public speaking on January 12, 2010 by pastajon

Often times when we have to prepare something to speak on, whether it is a speech in Toastmasters, a report in a business meeting, or some opening words at an event, we fail to let our ideas percolate.  By letting our thoughts simmer we will give them a chance to improve and refine.  I offer several ideas to that affect:

  1. When you know you have a speaking opportunity ahead of you, take five minutes or less and brainstorm ideas on paper.  We are just looking to unsurface some topics at a minimum, but if you are particularly inspired, continue on and jot content ideas as well.
  2. Return to your initial ideas after a day or two and write down some content ideas that probably have come to mind since your initial brainstorming session.  Don’t limit yourself here.  If a content idea comes to mind, just get it on paper – we will refine later.  For now we just want to let the ideas flow.  Repeat this as ideas come to you.
  3. Look over your initial ideas and let yourself gravitate to the one that is getting you most excited.  Now schedule some time to do some research on the subject and flesh out some of the content ideas you have already jotted down.