A Message from SDTM7 Club President, Alberto Alvarado, as of 03/15/2020
To SDTM7 Members and Guests,
San Diego Toastmasters 7 is committed to provide a safe environment for all its members and guests.
With the current evolving issue that is happening with COVID-19/Coronavirus, we ask all members to review the information provided by District 5 and Toastmasters International. Each member has been sent and email notice. It has also been included in this posting below.
I feel it is safe to say, we have all received notices, on how to practice healthy life choices and personal hygiene during this time; as preventive measures, as well as collecting information from valid sources, like the CDC website. We encourage you to continue healthy practices and precautions.
As always, it is important we work together to ensure our mission as a club and organization is accomplished. As of Friday evening, we have received notification from our venue that we will be unable to host our club meetings for the next two weeks. Due to this, we are planning to reconvene our regular meetings on April 2nd, pending any further developments.
If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out.
A Message from District 5 Director, Lucille Shaw, as of 03/12/2020
Dear Member, The evolving issue with the coronavirus and its effect on Toastmaster Clubs continues to be a growing concern of members. The District 5 Leadership team will follow the guidance provide to us by Toastmasters International and we will post and send updates to our members as directed by Toastmasters International. Attached you will find the letter that was sent to all club officers on March 9, 2020 from Toastmasters International to share with their members. Letter to Club Officers. We encourage you to determine how to successfully facilitate online attendance at meetings if you club is impacted by venue restriction. You can learn more about online meetings here.
Lucille Shaw, DTM District Director District 5 Toastmasters
Message from Toastmasters International as of 03/09/2020
Dear Club Officers, Toastmasters International is monitoring the impact of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on clubs and members. We extend our empathy and compassion to those who are and may be affected. Around the world, the impact of the virus varies greatly. Some members and clubs have been significantly affected, while others have been impacted less.
We encourage you and your club’s members to continue monitoring the status of the virus near you to determine how it may affect your club’s meetings. Information is available from the World Health Organization (WHO) here, the United States Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) here and from your local government’s health and safety authorities.
If some of your club’s members have significant health and safety concerns, you may wish to allow online attendance for those members. If your club is impacted by government restrictions, please notify your District Director so an exception to allow online-only meetings can be granted for your District. We encourage you to communicate with all club members to determine how to successfully facilitate online attendance at meetings. You can learn more about online meetings here.
In recent weeks the Toastmasters Board of Directors has extended authorization to clubs in certain Districts in Asia (Districts 67, 76, 80, 85, 88, 89, 93, and 118), in Europe (District 59, 71, 91, 95, 107, 108, 109, and 110), and in the United States (District 2, 4, 9, 57, and 101) to conduct meetings that are exclusively online.
Constant evaluation is the key to long-term, personal and professional growth. Why? Because constructive feedback is essential to improvement. Even if it can feel a little awkward, the benefits you receive from gathering meaningful and tangible feedback far outweigh any short-term discomfort.
Toastmasters facilitates a constructive feedback loop as an essential part of its educational program. If you truly want to improve your speaking and leadership skills, you must learn how to give and receive helpful evaluations. Here are some valuable tips on how to give and receive effective evaluation from seasoned evaluators at San Diego Toastmasters 7:
TIPS FOR THE EVALUATOR
The main purpose of the Evaluator is to provide constructive and encouraging feedback that helps the speaker improve his/her speaking skills and gain confidence.
Toastmasters International promotes the “sandwich technique” as its model for evaluations. Here’s how it works:
State the positives of the speech
Suggest an area or two for improvement
Finish with another positive comment
Simple, encouraging, yet effective. This feedback style is also recommended for written audience feedback. If you find yourself acting as an Evaluator, remember to only evaluate areas the speaker has the power to change. Just because you personally don’t like a speech, doesn’t mean your opinion is warranted. Unless your criticism is productive, keep it to yourself.
Shadi Abudayyeh, seasoned member at San Diego Toastmasters 7, shared why Evaluator is his favorite role.
“By giving constant evaluations, I have become better at giving the most direct and straightforward advice. Being an Evaluator has helped me stay constantly focused during speeches, provide individualized feedback, and helped me become a better communicator,” Abudayyeh said.
It helps to remember the speaker you are evaluating likely spent hours (or even weeks!) preparing for a project. They deserve a meaningful and thoughtful evaluation. Here are some tips to help Evaluators provide the most value to the speaker:
Do your research. Chat with the speaker beforehand, find out which Pathways project he/she is presenting and look up the specific project objectives. Be sure to ask if there are any additional areas beyond the project evaluation form they want you to focus on.
Listen before you evaluate. DTM Chris Hammel, explains why he rarely takes notes during evaluations.
“Evaluation is effective if you hear the entire speech. Otherwise, you’re evaluating a speech the speaker didn’t give because you missed key parts while you were taking notes,” Hammel said.
Now, Hammel only takes notes on the key points the speaker lists in his/her introduction so he can monitor their chronology. That being said, evaluation is an art, not a science. Toastmasters International offers comprehensive resources to help guide speakers through the process, but don’t be afraid to try different strategies to find what works best for you.
Don’t tell someone what to do. When presenting constructive feedback, always preface your suggestion by saying, “In my opinion” or “I feel.” These statements will help the speaker feel less defensive because you’re allowing them to take your feedback with a grain of salt.
Customize your communication style. With experience, Abudayyeh has learned to tailor his evaluation style to each individual speaker to provide them with the most effective feedback for their development. In most clubs, it’s common for advanced speakers to prefer a direct approach while newer members generally respond better to an encouraging tone. However, if you’re unsure, don’t assume. A simple question posed to the speaker about his/her preferred evaluation style will help set you and the speaker up for success.
Speak with intention. Speakers can easily tell who took the time and effort to offer genuine and intentional feedback. They can also quickly tell who lacked attention and resorted to lazy observations. Remember, when Evaluators only share positive takeaways, they are usually doing more harm than good when it comes to the speaker’s long-term growth.
TIPS FOR THE EVALUATEE
Once a speaker finishes presenting, he/she has a moment to step back and relax. This is the waiting period when the audience members prepare written feedback and the evaluator presents a 2-3 minute evaluation. It can be an intimidating experience at first, but the club makes a concerted effort to ensure the speaker feels supported and encouraged. At San Diego Toastmasters 7, we take pride in creating a positive experience for all members and guests that walk through our doors.
Many new members, though nervous at the start, walk away with a strong feeling of encouragement and support after presenting their first personal speeches. Members at San Diego Toastmasters 7 have even been known to follow up via email after connecting with a story and go out of their way to acknowledge newcomers. San Diego Toastmasters 7 takes pride in itself as a place where members not only talk the talk, but walk the walk when it comes to valuing the experiences of others.
Speakers that practice humility and open themselves up to the evaluation process reap the rewards of the development and support the club offers.
Here are some tips to help speakers successfully navigate evaluations and utilize feedback for improvement:
Take it with a grain of salt. While it’s important to review all feedback, don’t feel obligated to absorb everything. Some nights you may walk away with 50+ slips of audience feedback, which can be overwhelming. It’s important to implement your own filtering process to identify the comments that are most valuable to you.
Pay attention to trends in audience feedback and suggestions from your mentor and other trusted speakers. If you receive the same piece of feedback on numerous occasions, this may be something worthy of greater exploration.
That said, do your best to avoid defensiveness if you disagree with your Evaluator’s feedback. Instead, ask for further clarification after the meeting. Hammel explained the evaluation process has helped him receive feedback in his personal life. Before Toastmasters, he would immediately react and become defensive when presented with constructive feedback. Now, he takes the time to assess the value of each point before responding.
“Evaluations have made me more approachable because people aren’t afraid of correcting me,” Hammel said.
Practice self-reflection. Most importantly, if you find yourself in the role of the speaker, be sure to take time to reflect on your speech. Some helpful questions to ask include:
How did I feel on stage?
Did I cover all the main points?
What parts of my speech went well?
What areas could have gone better?
This reflection process will help you identify the most valuable pieces of feedback that resonate with your own perspective. The more self-aware you become, the more effective you will be in your communication going forward.
Learn from others. Don’t wait until your next speech to make improvements. You can continue to learn by watching others! Gather inspiration from speeches you enjoy and take note of the feedback they receive when creating your next speech. Long-time member and DTM Eric Linder shared his take on evaluations.
“I learn how to improve my presentation skills at every meeting, whether or not I have a speaking role at one. During the evaluation section of the meeting, the Evaluators provide insightful suggestions to everyone on how to fine-tune and improve presentations,” Linder said.
As effective communicators and leaders, we need constructive feedback in order to enhance personal and professional growth. Without it, you run the risk of becoming complacent and stagnant. After all, a comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there. Embrace your Toastmasters journey and Pathways education with an open mind and willingness to improve, and you’ll reap all the benefits it has to give you.
For further information on evaluation, Toastmasters International offers various resources including a more in-depth version of “The Art of Effective Evaluation”. Or you can reach out to the VP of Education at email@example.com for questions.
*Our current VPE is taking on another term! Thanks Corinna. Here she shares with us her experience as the VP of Education. As you can see, this role has many responsibilities, so if you’re interested in becoming a part of her committee to give her a hand – it would be appreciated!
My name is Corinna Koehler and I am the Vice President of Education (VPE) of our amazing club, San Diego Toastmasters 7. I joined Toastmasters in November 2017 and I am currently starting my second term as VPE. From day one, I was pleasantly surprised by the support and the community that our club provides.
I want to say, it is about now that you might wonder what does this fancy title VPE actually entail…? Well, allow me to make a little more sense out of it.
The Vice President of Education is responsible for the whole educational progress of the club. I know, I know, that is still pretty vague. I’m working on it…
In more detail, I am responsible for scheduling every upcoming meeting throughout the year, that means whenever a name is on the schedule and there are no blank meetings coming up, I already fulfilled part of my job 😊 I also take care of the upcoming agenda and key in the role of toastmaster ahead of time to make sure everything works smoothly.
I also keep track of the educational progress of the members which includes both communication and leadership progress. That means every time a member takes on a speaking role, I keep track of their updates and make sure they progress along their project goals. Communication goals are speaking opportunities, where members present a speech. Leadership goals are roles like functionaries, Toastmaster of the evening, General Evaluator and so on. All of these roles help the members to develop leadership skills since they are responsible for the preparation and execution of a certain part of the meeting.
The next thing I do is when members complete educational goals, I update the trackers and submit them to Toastmasters International in order to receive official credit for their achievements.
Another part of my role is to schedule special events such as speech contests or open houses. For events such as speech contests I am responsible to find the chairing committee that helps put the contest together.
I know, it sounds a lot but once you get a hold of it, it is not as bad as it sounds 😉
From my personal experience I can say it has been very rewarding to serve such a great club since I have learned a lot about interacting with people, steering them into the right direction as well as delegating. The biggest thing that I have learned during this time is that I can always count on my fellow members in times I feel overwhelmed, busy, out of town or simply needed some support.
Being part of the executive committee has allowed me to gain a deeper insight on how a club works, how everything interacts and how much work and dedication it takes to make a club successful. At the end of the day, we always have each other’s back so there might be times when you step up and take on more responsibilities than your role actually entails but as soon as you walk into a meeting and look at all the smiling faces you know that it was well worth it.
About Corinna Koehler:
Corinna joined San Diego Toastmasters 7 in November 2017 because she felt the need to get rid of all her “so’s”,“uhm’s”, “ah’s” and all the other weird noises she makes when she is speaking. Plus, she is trying hard to properly speak her second language, English. All of that and the amazing members of San Diego Toastmasters 7, were the reasons she joined.
She is currently enrolled in an MBA program with a specialization in organizational leadership and international business, basically a perfect fit for toastmasters, wouldn’t you agree?!
In her free time, Corinna loves to spend as much time as possible with her friends but usually she is off traveling and exploring the world to see the many opportunities out there.
For Corinna, San Diego Toastmasters 7 is more than just a club. It is a place to laugh, learn, make new friends, experience the unexpected, develop skills you didn’t know you have and so much more. She highly recommends for you to visit San Diego Toastmasters 7 and experience what this amazing club can do for you!
Corinna has been awarded Competent Communicator, served as the Club Secretary and continuing on as the VP Education for a second term.
*This is a weekly blog series with our Club Officers writing about their personal experience in the role they serve.
Let me tell you the many great things about being SAA! My name is Lou Weimann and I’ve served in this role for the past year.
It’s great to be able to meet n greet all current members as well as guests. With guests, I briefly explain the meeting and how everything works prior to the start. It’s awesome to make the guests feel as comfortable as possible with a smile and warm welcome instructions so it’s not too overwhelming. As Sergeant-At-Arms, I looked forward to being one of the first people guests see as they try out our club. Anything I can do to help someone overcome that initial fear of joining, like past members did for me and be the person right at the front door to help guests with any questions and/or concerns.
Prior to the start of the meeting, the SAA has the responsibility of “setting up” the room to accommodate all members and guests. All SAAs take great pride in putting the time and work necessary to make the club look the best it can look with all the tables and seating arranged for everyone’s comfort. I felt empowered to be responsible for the set up/breakdown of the room and making sure we have enough supplies to run club meetings. It helped me build leadership skills in a way that if we run out of stuff, I’m accountable, therefore I try not let anyone down by staying on top of it.
Lastly, the SAA makes arrangement and runs our social event – Toast a Member night. This is such a great and fun responsibility because who doesn’t like celebrating the greatness of our members and organizing an event for the club to celebrate our successes.
For more information about SAA, check out this slideshow from Toastmasters International: SAA ROLE
If this is the role for you, please contact me! firstname.lastname@example.org
About Lou Weimann:
Louis… actually only his mom calls him Louis… you can call him Lou. Lou came to San Diego to join friends and family and ditch the brutal winters of New England in 2011 and never looked back.
Lou loves story telling, ask his friends… and he also talks a lot in his business life, working for Eastridge Workforce Solutions, as a staffing sales person. It was the desire to be a more concise, confident, and intelligent… well, at least sounding intelligent speaker, were the reasons Lou joined Toastmasters 7 in November 2017.
When not at Toastmasters, Lou likes to go to the latest Comic Book (mostly Marvel, but I guess DC, too) Super Hero Movies with his big brother, Jon. Lou is also an ex-hockey player / HUGE ice hockey fan. In fact, during the hockey season from November till about April, as a local professional hockey San Diego Gulls season ticket holder, you’ll find him at the Valley View Casino Center for every GULLS home game.
*This is a weekly blog series with our Club Officers writing about their personal experience in the role they serve.Club Officer election is coming up! If you’re interested in becoming a part of the Executive Committee, contact the Club President!
I decided to take the role as VP Public Relations a year ago to learn, grow and become more comfortable with promoting awareness about the Toastmasters 7 experience. Many of our members, including me, look forward to Thursday nights to cap off the week as many members show up with great enthusiasm and high energy. Even when you feel low, attending a Toastmasters meeting is a sure way to fire you up! Because of Toastmasters’ positive impact on me, one way I could give back to the club was to accept the role of VPPR. As I took on this role, my primary goal was to shine a light on the tremendous benefits Toastmasters bring to one’s personal and professional development.
You’re probably wondering what does a VPPR do? As defined by Toastmasters International, a VPPR’s main responsibility is to –
“Generate positive awareness of the Toastmasters brand for the purpose of attracting and retaining members. It requires keeping the public (external audience) and members (internal audience) informed about club or district activities through effective communication channels and media relations. Good public relations will build membership and gain public recognition.”
Generating positive awareness can be accomplished in multitude ways which requires knowledge of various platforms and tools available. Here’s a quick overview of what we have incorporated in our club:
Let’s start with one of the most popular in today’s society – SOCIAL MEDIA! Social media is a direct and easy tool to use to connect with the masses. As VPPR, I found Facebook as the most effective social media platform for SDTM7. The ‘secret’ is consistency! I’ve taken advantage of the various tools within the FB platform. From posts with photos and videos to Facebook lives, it has reached a wide range of audience knowing more about what we do as a club.
Keep in mind Facebook is not the only platform out there! This is why we try to keep our other social media channels active like LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter. Of course, it could get overwhelming for a VPPR to do all of the updates. It’s best to focus on one or two platforms that is the most effective. Or consider forming a committee to take care of the other channels.
EMAIL continues to be the main form of communication when keeping our members aware of the club’s activities. Mailchimp is also another excellent tool to get in touch with guests who visited our club about our upcoming activities.
Having a WEBSITE that represents the club is also important. This was one of my major tasks as VPPR – to have a website up and running with detailed information about our club along with beautiful photographs (many taken by our resident photographer Antonio Garcia) to attract members. As part of the website is a BLOG (which you’re currently reading this piece of writing!) with posts from a few of our members who volunteered to share their experiences at Toastmasters through writing.
It’s been a pleasure to serve as the VPPR for the past year! I know the next elected officer will do great and continue to build awareness for how AWESOME our club truly is!
If you are interested in becoming the next VPPR or take a part in a committee as you can tell this role can use the help of others, please let me know!
About Elaine Dusetzina: Elaine first stepped into a Toastmasters meeting at a San Diego Toastmaster 7’s Open House back in September 2017. Immediately, she was hooked after experiencing so much positive energy from everyone. Normally, she’s not the type of person to step outside of her box. However, she realized she needed to get out of her safe haven after an 11-yr stint with the Navy and becoming a stay-at-home mom for the past 8 years. Being a part of Toastmasters is exactly what she needed to hone her speaking and leadership skills. Elaine served as VPPR for two terms in 2018/2019. Elaine recently earned a second master’s degree this time with something she’s passionate about – Exercise Science and Health Promotion with a Wellness Coaching concentration as she aspires to start her own wellness coaching practice and empower others towards a sustainable healthy lifestyle. Her other passion is distance running and would love to run all of the World Marathon Majors (So far she’s ran Boston, NYC and Chicago with only 3 more to go! – Tokyo, London, and Berlin). When she’s not running, you can find her outdoors hanging out with her 2 daughters, husband and dog.