How To Master the Art of Evaluation and Improve Your Public Speaking Skills

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.

Competent Communicator Shadi Abudayyeh, presenting an evaluation at a San Diego Toastmasters 7 meeting on March 16, 2019, at Normal Heights Community Center in San Diego, CA.

“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. 

Distinguished Toast Master Chris Hammel presenting a speech at an improv show in February 2019, at unknow location in San Diego, CA.

“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. 

Distinguished Toast Master Eric Linder, presenting an evaluation at a San Diego Toastmasters 7 meeting on June 13, 2019, at Normal Heights Community Center in San Diego, CA.

“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 ckoehler@toastmasters7.org for questions.

Club VP Education (Officer Blog Series)

*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.

Club Sergeant-at-Arms Role (Officer Blog Series)

*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! saa@toastmasters7.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.

Club VP Public Relations Role (Officer Blog Series)

*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.  
Member in the Spotlight with Sureal Sparx
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.

Club Treasurer Role (Officer Blog Series)

*This is a weekly blog series with our Club Officers writing about their personal experience in the role they serve.

Kubitza_SDTM7

My name is Christoph Kubitza. I am San Diego Toastmasters 7’s Club Treasurer and a Distinguished Toastmaster. This is my fifth term as our club’s financial manager.

My responsibilities include:
$ Keep the club’s financial records.
$ Inform the executive committee and club members of Toastmasters 7’s financial health by submitting statements on a monthly basis.
$ Facilitate the development of the club budget based on event programming and club officers input.

I am also assisted by Immediate Past Club President, Competent Communicator and Leader, Jose Barajas, in the capacity of book keeper.

As your Club Treasurer in the past several terms, I learned (sometimes the hard way!) that maintaining good traceable records is crucial to facilitating filing of fiscal returns while helping officers develop future budgets in a timely fashion.

What is most rewarding is to see our outstanding educational and recruiting performances translate into positive financial returns that enhances our member support towards achieving their Advanced Communication and Leadership goals.

Questions about the Treasurer Role – don’t hesitate to contact me. If you’re interested, I am here to guide you through the in’s and out’s of our club’s financial management.

SDTM7

About Christoph Kubitza:

A Distinguished Toastmaster and a longtime member, Christoph joined in April 2004 after he was laid off by Rain Bird International.   He wanted to become better at organizing and presenting his ideas in staff meetings and to prepare himself for job interviews.

Currently, he’s a Warehouse 1st Shift Supervisor of Kraft Heinz San Diego food processing plant,  home of the Delimex brand of Mexican frozen food.  He’s responsible for a team of 10 Material Operators that supplies 6 production lines.

Christoph has been instrumental in the growth of San Diego Toastmasters 7 serving as a mentor to various members of the club.  He is also helping to grow another club in San Diego, Creatively Speaking Toastmasters. Christoph served as a Treasurer in the past year 2018/2019.

His hobbies are reading, movies, archery, touch rugby, and travel.

Club Secretary’s Role (Officer Blog Series)

*This is a weekly blog series with our Club Officers writing about their personal experience in the role they serve..

My name is Salam Alchi, Club Secretary for San Diego Toastmasters 7. I rejoined Toastmasters in 2018 after a 9 year hiatus and immediately became immersed in the process of my growth as a speaker, leader, and most importantly, as an active listener.

After a few short months of membership, I was presented the opportunity to take the Secretary role for SDTM 7. I was nervous and reluctant to take the role, however after the helping hand of the previous secretary, Corinna Koehler, I found the courage to take the role.

The secretary role by nature is a supportive role. For Toastmasters, it allows club officers to communicate effectively and clearly while having faith the contents of discussion are captured. When I do my job of taking notes, updating sheets, welcoming members, and taking executive meeting minutes, the operations of the club can flow with ease. This role in a nutshell, is a functional record keeper which is a gateway teacher “behind the scenes” of our beloved organization. 

After 4 months of serving, I can say I am absolutely glad that I did for these three reasons:

1. Service:
Being one of 6 leaders in the club, it is a privilege and an honor to be of service to such an outstanding organization. 
2. Accountability:
Being a club officer deepened my responsibility to the club. Though attending is not a “requirement,” I no longer have an easy scapegoat to miss a meeting. Outside of the connections I built organically through participation, the leadership makes sure I have the tools necessary to be a positive contribution to the club. 
3. Attention: 
We are here to grow, evolve, learn, and execute those skills in an emotionally safe space. In order to do so, it is important to actively listen while participating in the meeting. Showing up is great, but the benefits are decimated when mentally checked out. In my role I must provide an accurate ledger for participants, guests, and attendees for each meeting. This includes last minute changes and cancellations. I have learned this process warms up my attentive skills to be a more attuned and active listener while participating in the meeting. 

I look forward to fulfilling the term through the end of the year. 🙂 

About Salam Alchi:

Salam was born in Baghdad in 1988 and immigrated to the US in 1993.  His passion in life is to study and understand the nature of our existence, both individually and collectively. When ready, he will apply what he has learned for the betterment of his family, peers, and environment.

“As above, so below, as within, so without, as the universe, so the soul…” – Hermes Trismegistus


Club President’s Role (Officer Blog Series)

This is the first post of the Officer Role Blog series.  Each week, an officer of our club will write about the specifics of their role.  We are starting with the Club President and let me warn you ahead of time that this post will entertain you as it is written by none other than one of our most humorous members!

My name is Shadi Abudayyeh and I’m the Club President of San Diego Toastmaster’s 7 (even though for the past few years being a president has gone a bit out of style).  

_DSF2396

You might be wondering what a president in a Toastmaster’s club actually does?  Well, according to the official Toastmaster’s job description:

“The club president is the chief executive officer of this club and is responsible for fulfilling the mission of this club. The president presides at meetings of this club and the club executive committee, appoints all committees, and has general supervision of the operation of this club. The president shall be an ex officio member of all committees of this club except the club nominating committee and shall serve as one of this club’s representatives on the area and district councils. The president shall transmit to this club for its approval or disapproval all ideas and plans proposed by the area and district councils which may affect this club or its individual members; and shall take no action binding upon this club without either specific prior authorization or subsequent ratification by this club.”

So that’s totally clear now, and you know exactly what a club President does, right???  If that above description doesn’t shed much light into what the role actually entails, don’t worry, you’re not the only one.  When it first came to my attention that my name had been mentioned as a possible president for the club, I read that above description trying to find out more information and didn’t get any real additional information.  So with that in mind, here are some basic information of what the club president actually does for a Toastmaster’s club:
  • THE PRESIDENT DOES EVERYTHING:  No, this is just a joke, the role of the president actually doesn’t have as much weekly responsibilities as some of the other executive committee roles.  What the president does have to do is a little bit of everything.  If I’m at a meeting and I notice that a member with an assigned role isn’t present, I look for a potential replacement, or I can put myself in the role.  If the agenda or guests’ names needed to be written on the whiteboard and no one else is writing it, well guess who writes it down with their sloppy penmanship?  And if someone has a question about a role, or needs a form, or just needs help with something, the president should be taking it upon themselves to help out wherever they can. Additionally, the president acts as a “Base Camp Manager” for the Pathways Program, and can help access and approve Pathway experiences. 
  • They represent the club outside of meetings:
    The president represents the club in a variety of circumstances, whether it’s receiving an award on behalf of the club, giving awards on behalf of member’s achievements, or receiving more awards on behalf of the club (what can I say, the club does well).  The president is also supposed to vote on the behalf of the club on various referendums, and schedules and chairs the club executive committee meetings.  I hope that paragraph was as exciting for you to read as it was for me to write.
  • They lead the club by example:
    It is the duty of the president to make sure that all the members in the club are happy and are achieving the goals they set for themselves, while realistically balancing the responsibilities for the club.  If there’s something that can be improved on in a meeting, it’s my undertaking to make sure those progressions happen.  If a member (or a guest) has an issue with something that is going on, I need to first listen to the issue, understand it’s significance, and then try to resolve where necessary.  If someone needs help, I reach out and make sure they get the help they need, whether it’s from me or someone else.  Even though talking to new people isn’t my favorite thing to do, I always try to greet and talk to every guest at our meetings.  
When I was first asked to consider being the club president, I wasn’t overly interested in the position, and didn’t understand why I should be selected when we have so many wonderful members of the club. I was told by Sam Hepburn, one of our past club Presidents, that being the president takes a special type of disposition; you have to constantly perform at a high level, understand what the club and its members need, and always help out even when no one is watching.  I’ve tried to take that to heart, and put the interest of our club’s members above my own.  Even though I joined Toastmasters to improve on my speaking, I haven’t given a speech since July of 2018.  I try to attend every meeting I can (even though there’s a few places I’d prefer to be on Thursday evening than on my couch watching football while drinking a beer).  And if after any meeting I don’t personally put away 30 chairs and three tables, I know I’ve been talking too much and not working enough.    
I would highly encourage anyone interested in learning more about the role of the club President (or any of the other executive committee roles) to please talk to me, and I’ll try to answer any questions you may have.  I wholeheartedly believe the old adage that our club is only as good as our members and if you would like to be a part of the executive committee, I would highly encourage you to do so! 
Pres SDTM7

About Shadi:
Shadi joined San Diego Toastmasters 7 in August 2015, and ever since then the rest of the club members have been trying to think of ways to get him to leave (unsuccessfully, to their detriment, so far). Shadi served as the President for two terms in 2018 – 2019.
In his occupation as a business analyst, he was recommended from his place of work (some stagecoach company called Wells Fargo) to join Toastmasters because he has a tendency to ramble and isn’t an accomplished speaker.  Both of those points are still true, but now he’s just a bit more loquacious (also to the rest of the club’s detriment).
When Shadi isn’t at Toastmasters he can mostly be found at home with his wonderful girlfriend and silly dog (separate entities of course), at a brewery debating his three favorite “B words” (burritos, baseball, beer) or planning his next vacation (maybe Portugal).  Shadi welcomes and encourages you to come visit San Diego Toastmasters 7 and see how it can help improve your life in ways you didn’t anticipate.

Your Toastmasters Journey will be enriched with Mentoring

Written by Sam Ollinger

I recently signed on to my Pathways account on toastmasters.org and found the original date I joined Toastmasters 7 was September 1, 2012! Almost-seven years seem like an entire lifetime ago. I was a different person when I joined Toastmasters. I just started a small non-profit organization with an ambitious mission and promptly got invited to speak in front of 500 people to articulate my philosophy and vision for all these 500 strangers. When I accepted the invitation graciously, I panicked! I was terrible speaking to more than a single person, 500 seemed like….a lot.
Frantically, I began googling toastmasters groups because I recalled reading about them in the numerous self help books I’d read over the years. I found a group – they were highly rated on Yelp, and even better – located a short bike ride away from my home – that group was Toastmasters 7!

That first meeting I walked in, I still remember my nervousness. I was a few minutes late. The meeting had already started.

The air was warm.

Sunlight was streaming through the windows.

Someone was talking.

The Sargent-at-Arms, Brian Austin, got up and came over and in a quiet voice welcomed me and quelled my nervousness. I found an empty seat in the back where I sat and observed the meeting.

The subsequent weeks, I kept going back. I didn’t fully understand how the meetings worked. However, there were all these elders… Longstanding members who walked me through my journey. They scheduled me for speeches and roles, encouraged and helped me improve my speeches. Yet, no person played a bigger role than my mentor, Harold “Magnum” Mangum, in terms of getting me to finish my communication manual. 

I am not sure how Magnum was assigned to be my mentor, but he was levels above anyone in his absolute mastery of his audience and message. We’d meet for coffee, and periodically check in – and he was nothing short of encouraging, motivating, and simply captivating. Thanks to Magnum, I have won too many of those blue ribbons to count and found my voice on stage.

Now I have the honor of mentoring a new member, Monica Feliz – a true Philadelphian woman – meaning she has all the spunk you’d expect from someone who is a native from the city of Brotherly Love. And I get the opportunity to mentor her through her unique Toastmasters journey. Monica is a millennial and I am learning a lot about this descriptor including the fact that none of the younger members will read this lengthy post and so I need to figure out how to make the message I want to convey a little more bite sized and interesting despite my absolute love for long form writing.
I ENCOURAGE YOU to join your local Toastmasters (like Toastmasters7!). You will find a group of committed, encouraging, captivating individuals, who will help in your journey to become a masterful communicator as well as a laudatory leader.
Mentorship works in any field, and it is especially helpful in a self-improvement journey that is Toastmasters.

Toastmasters Leadership: Officer Roles Blog Series

Are you looking to develop your leadership skills?  Do you want to make a difference?  If you answered YES to both, then consider serving as a Club Officer for the 2019/2020 term! 

All of us have the ability to become effective leaders.  In fact, one of the ways we can become better at leading is through practice.  To jump on various opportunities that will challenge you and get you outside your comfort zone.  I know that you’ve already taken that step by challenging yourself to speak in front of an audience.  However, being part of the Executive Committee takes that challenge to a higher level.

In the next several weeks, our Club Officers will share their experiences.  This will give you a broad perspective of their experience in the role they are serving.  Find out what type of leader you are by serving and contributing your unique skills and passions.  Ask yourself how can you best contribute?  Please reflect upon your special talents that would fit best in these roles and deeply consider in becoming a part of the 2019/2020 TM7 Executive Committee.
Start out small and make our club better for others and watch your contributions make you a better person.

Do you know your Club Officers?  Get to know your officers by visiting this link!

Written by Elaine Dusetzina, VP Public Relations

A Toastmaster’s Visit

Recently, we had the honor to host a guest from Italy – Antonio Blissett, the Immediate Past President of the Erzelli Toasters in Genoa and the current Area A5 Director.  His visit was a good reminder of how Toastmasters extend beyond our home club and a great way to make connections in new places!  Furthermore, by visiting other clubs, we can learn something new that we can take with us to make our club even better.  With clubs in over 140 countries, it’s almost a guarantee you will find one in every major city.

3/14 Meeting
Group photo of our members and guests

Due to my curiosity, I was interested in learning more about Antonio’s experience with visiting our club.  Here’s what I found out!

TM7:  How did you find our club?
I simply looked you up on the Toastmasters International website, and I didn’t realize at first what the “7” in your name stood for.
I was just lucky to find one of the most history-rich Clubs on the planet !
TM7:  What motivated you to visit?
Wherever I go, I try to see if a Toastmasters Club in the area has a meeting schedule compatible with mine. I did it once out of curiosity, and I liked the experience so much that it has become a habit.
It’s just so exciting to meet other Clubs: you can always learn new tricks and bring them home for the benefit of your fellow Toasties 🙂
TM7:  What was your best experience during your visit?
I was delighted by the team spirit you have shown while setting up the meeting and by the warm welcome you gave to me and to the other guests.
Also, Alberto’s workshop was top-notch.  Engaging, effective, entertaining.

Alberto Alvarado, soon to be Distinguished Toastmaster, presented The Art of Evaluation workshop.  He shared his knowledge and expertise on how to effectively give feedback when evaluating a speech.

TM7:  While it was a different format than our regular meeting, did you notice similarities and differences between your club and ours?
I liked a lot of the formal ceremonies you performed during the meeting – the Pledge to the flag, the induction of a new member with a secret vote. Small but important rites which add solemnity, and increase the feeling of belonging. Our Club is just 3 years old, and we should definitely learn from you.
TM7:  Additional feedback on the way we conducted our meeting?
Really enjoyable atmosphere! Professional, but with the right amount of humor !  

Thank you Antonio!  We look forward to your visit again next year.  And if we ever find ourselves in Genoa, we’ll make sure to connect with The Erzelli Toasters!!

erzelli toasters Antonio Blissett
Post-meeting drinks and eats at our favorite restaurant, DiMille’s. Antonio approves! (With our Treasurer, Christoph Kubitza)

Written by Elaine Dusetzina, VP Public Relations