*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.
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.
Due to my curiosity, I was interested in learning more about Antonio’s experience with visiting our club. Here’s what I found out!
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!!
When you attend a couple of Toastmasters 7 meetings, you will recognize how the meeting is divided into three main sections – Table Topics, Prepared Speeches, and Evaluations. A week ago, Salam Alchi, a seasoned Toastmaster who recently joined our club was the Table Topics Master (TT Master) and his explanation for the purpose of Table Topics was on point:
“The purpose of Table Topics is to help us sharpen our skills in impromptu speaking. Our goal is not just to simply speak for one minute and provide an answer to the question. Rather, it is to perform a miniature well-organized 1 to 2 minute speech addressing the question concisely and articulately.
The response should be given with purpose, whether to teach, inspire, confound, or amuse the audience. Tying the response to the theme is an added bonus.
The reason we are here is to hold space for each other to improve. The most crucial part of Table Topics is to do your best and have fun. Our inner critic is often the harshest one.
As the TT master, I believe it’s important to set up the participants for success by asking thought provoking and understandable questions. This provides participants a better opportunity to develop confidence and improve.”
Salam’s approach, which is a good example on how to conduct a Table Topics session, was to ask the question first then call on a member. This allows everyone to digest the question and start thinking about on how to answer it appropriately. Typically, the TT Master would call on a few members, then give an opportunity for guests to participate.
Here are some of the thought-provoking questions crafted by Salam surrounding the theme and Word of the Week: Satisfaction.
What does it mean to be satisfied?
What should be the goal of humanity?
Is suffering a necessary part of pleasure or satisfaction? Why?
How would you define genius?
If you’d like to take a stab at these questions and share it with us, write in the comment section below! And if this is something that you’re interested in participating, you’re welcome to attend our meetings as a guest. Check out our Meeting Info page for location and time.
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
When you lay your emotions out in the open, it becomes a cathartic experience. You feel a huge burden off your shoulders. It’s still a part of you but it’s easier to breathe because you shared it with others. The beauty of showing your vulnerability in a Toastmasters’s speech is that everyone is listening to you and is affected by your experience.
Tomo Osako presented a powerful speech for Project 4 – A Dramatic Talk, of the Advanced Communicator Series. Titled “What is your Legacy?”, Tomo revealed to us the story of her father in his deathbed, the events leading up to it and what he left as his legacy.
I was touched at her courage to take us to a vulnerable part of her life. This made me think about a book I’m currently reading, Rising Strong by Brene Brown when she talked about courage.
“Courage is contagious. Rising strong changes not just you, but also the people around you.”
Not many people are bold enough to be in a vulnerable state, particularly when you’re standing in front of a crowd, some of which are strangers. Yet Tomo stood firm – even in the midst of tears, she kept her composure. I couldn’t help but cry either. In fact, I observed many others in the audience who cried with me. All of us were touched by her story in one way or another. And possibly given us the chance to ease tender emotions we’ve kept far too long inside.
In the past year, I’ve witnessed many courageous acts from fellow members who allowed us to be a part of the darkest days of their lives. It allowed me reflect on my experiences and even made me consider to take a courageous leap in revealing my vulnerable side.
The end of every Toastmaster meeting is dedicated to recognizing the Best Table Topics Speaker, Best Evaluator and the Best Speaker saved for last. It wasn’t a surprise that Tomo Osako received Best Speaker. She truly deserved this recognition.
Our esteemed Christoph Kubitza concerted the meeting effortlessly with the theme of ‘Superstition’.
Running with this theme is Table Topics Mistress, Linda Hau who presented the audience with engaging questions. She is edging closer to her Competent Leader award!
Those who dared to answer were Sureal Sparx, Elaine Dusetzina, Gerald Eldred and Guests Jamie, Brennan, and Brandy.
Gerald distinguished himself with the best reply in the audience’s eyes.
Best Table Topics -Gerald Eldred
Gerald also passed his 1st Time General Evaluator baptism by fire with flying colors and took home a great evaluation team made up of Omar Ocampo, Elaine Dusetzina, Lou Weimann with functionaries, Ron Morrow, Shadi Abudayyeh, Antonio Garcia, and Joyce Persichilli. Our Sargent-at-Arms and humorous, Lou Weimann distinguished himself as the best evaluator.
Our Functionaries – Shadi, Ron, Antonio, Joyce
First time General Evaluator – Gerald Eldred
Best Evaluator – Lou Weimann
Last but not least, even when serious in filling in the media on a crisis at sea, Jon Berman could not stop making Matt Mounier laugh. Dave Zarella persuaded us why he is the best realtor in San Diego and why we should pick him to sell our home in his Project 9 Persuade with Power speech.
But it is the deep spiritual Ice breaker part II by Salam Alchi that swayed the audience to distinguish Salam Alchi as the best speaker of the night.
Best Speaker – Salam Alchi
Best of all, we welcomed two new members – Teresa Rocha and Jamie Deproso!
Don’t miss our next meeting – every Thursday night from 6:30pm to 8pm at Normal Heights Community Center. Any questions about the meeting, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This brief summary is written by Christoph Kubitza, DTM/Treasurer.