Infuse Your Club Meetings With Vitamin C…Creativity!

Spice Up Moribund Meetings With Periodic Changes of Pace

Over time, many clubs fall into the doldrums. It’s possible for meetings to become a bit
stale, for members to lapse into a routinized pattern each week. Sometimes it’s a result of
the sameness of the room, identical meeting formats, or the absence of enough new
members to infuse your club with new energy. Over the years I’ve watched clubs
succumb to lethargy. Yet the remedy is as easy as a little dose of Vitamin C…Creativity.
When you administer this vitamin to your club once every 4-6 weeks you’ll see its life
force return anew.

“Toastmasters is like a love-affair.
Everything is exciting at first and then,
if you’re not careful,
it can become dull and routine.
Changing your meetings helps
to keep it exciting.”
— Paula Tunison, DTM, past International Director
and currently District 55 Governor
(her third time in this role!)

Consider these as some of the many ways you can introduce freshness, fun and vitality
into your meetings:

1. Alter your room layout. Many times we accept the room layout as a given: the
placement of the lectern, chairs and tables. For a change of pace, try reversing the
location of the lectern before the next meeting. If possible, put it at the opposite end
and feel the difference. Other variations: if your lectern is at the narrow end of a
long table, try placing it opposite the wide side. Or consider removing the table and
holding the meeting in a circle or semi-circle, a chevron or other configuration.
Remember, environment informs experience. Add flowers, a scent or some fun
decorations for further effect. Create a new environment and the experience will
surely feel fresh and exciting.
2. Consider a Joint Meeting with another club that meets nearby and/or at the same
time. You host them one meeting and they can reciprocate another time. It’s
exciting to entertain new guests who already know the Toastmaster mores. The
extra people and energy from this joint meeting doubles your fun!

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Lead from Where you Sit, Stand or Speak

Each of us can lead, regardless of title

When I first joined my Toastmasters I look admiringly at the seven elected officers of our club for leadership. Over time I’ve come to see we all have the opportunity to lead, and not just when we are that week’s Toastmaster. Consider the many opportunities for you to demonstrate leadership within a typical Toastmaster meeting.

1. When Guests Arrive

Each of us can embrace leadership by reaching out to welcome guests to our club. The willingness to approach them, introduce yourself, extend a handshake and welcome them is what a leader does. Your warm smile, inviting personality and facility at introducing them to others and seating them accordingly is a marvelous application of leadership. You don’t have to be the club’s sergeant-at-arms or membership vice president to welcome guests. As a leader you do this naturally. Continue reading

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Teaming With Success in Toastmasters!

March 2006 edition of Toastmaster magazineIn our clubs, districts and world at large we are surrounded by examples of great (and not-so-great) teamwork.

Recently I flew to Los Angeles, visited relatives, took in a parade with floats, bands and street performers, saw a football game and attended an opera. Countless teams made it all possible, whether on stage or back stage, seen or unseen. As a Toastmaster you too are a part of a variety of teams. How well you work together tells me how successful you are.

Are you teaming with success?

True teamwork takes time and a willingness to contribute to the greater good of the team, as opposed to only looking out for number one. It begins with a desire to work on behalf of the group. Examine your motives. In successful teams, when the teams win their teammates too reap the rewards. Ineffective teams are often betrayed by selfish team members whose individual goals supersede their team’s goals.

Among the hallmarks of effective teams:

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You’ve Got Guests!

Turn Your Guests’ Fear into Fun
And Watch them Flourish as Club Members

Welcome guests to your clubDo you remember your first visit to a Toastmasters club and the nervousness you felt? Did it begin at the door — or even earlier, when you parked your car? Or did it start the week before when you told someone you would visit her club? My, we’ve all come a long way!

Karina Lawrence, is a native of Russia, who lives in Oakland, California. When one of her business school friends at San Francisco’s Golden Gate University raved about Toastmasters. Karina decided to visit a local club, She felt nervous and apprehensive.

Then she arrived at the meeting and her anxieties were put to rest. “People were so nice —to me, to each other — before, during and after the meeting.” Lawrence recalls. “They cared and made it fun. People were professional, yet warm.” Naturally, she joined the club!

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Creating Your Bucket List: What’s in yours?


Creating Your Bucket List Artwork
Write your Bucket List down!

How to Set Amazing Goals and Achieve Your Dreams
By Craig Harrison, DTM, Past District Governor

It’s Time to Set Goals In and Beyond Toastmasters
To Achieve In Your Lifetime’s Dreams

The Bucket List: A list of aspirations one wishes to achieve in one’s lifetime, before he or she “kicks the bucket” and passes away.

The Toastmasters Bucket List: A list of personal or professional goals within Toastmasters or resulting from involvement with Toastmasters clubs, contests, curricula, to be pursued in one’s lifetime.
In The Bucket List, a major motion picture starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, two men, facing incurable diseases, realize they have limited time left to achieve personal goals yet unattained. They construct lists of places to go and experiences to be had, and then set about achieving them, as the clock ticks. They each created their own Bucket List.

Why wait until you’re old or ill to pursue those goals you most yearn to achieve? In 2011 it’s time to be bold and make your list, announce your intentions to others and let the universe work with you to achieve your goals. Your Toastmasters club and worldwide network are poised to assist you in pursuit of goals on your Bucket List, whether within or beyond the Toastmasters environment.

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Two Minute Tales: Using Table Topics To Sharpen Your Storytelling Skills

Don’t look now but we’re surrounded…by stories. Everywhere we look and listen, stories are being told, retold and even created.

Our Storied Past

Growing up, we were told stories, by our parents, grandparents, favorite Uncle or Aunt. That’s how we learned about our rich family history and ethnic heritage. Whether around the dinner table or the kitchen table, the fireplace, front stoop or back porch.

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Finding Confidence


Finding Confidence (California)!

Just past Turnback Creek you will find…CONFIDENCE!

“Men die of fright and live of confidence.”

I heard there was a place called Confidence and I so wanted to find it. Others had been there and it showed. Yet I hadn’t found Confidence yet for myself.

I set out only knowing its general direction. Mine was to be an uphill journey.  I drove and drove with nary a clue. At first the road was long and flat with many cars going this way and that. Then it began to rise as I entered the foothills. The altitude reached 1000 feet. The road began to twist and turn.  Soon the sign said I’d reached 2000 feet.  The air was getting thinner. There were far fewer cars. I became short of breath. I passed the 3,000 foot sign. My pace slowed. Yet I pressed on.

I wanted to find Confidence.
I needed to find Confidence.

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Be A Creative Topic-Master: Induce Creativity in Table Topics!

If variety is the spice of life…then it is creativity that provides the flavor for Table Topics.

One way to induce creative responses to topics is to make the topics themselves creative. By setting a fun and festive tone as Topicmaster you will find that, even for members who claim to be devoid of creativity, the spirit becomes contagious.

Here are a baker’s dozen of ideas to stimulate creative participation in Table Topics when you’re the Topicmaster.

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The Wooden Way: Interview with Coach John Wooden on Leadership and More

The Wooden Way

A Legendary Coach Offers Lessons in Leadership

Success is the peace of mind
which is a direct result of
self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best
to become the best that you were capable of becoming.

— John R. Wooden,
Head Basketball Coach, Emeritus, UCLA

When the greatest college basketball coach of all time, John Robert Wooden speaks, everyone listens! Recently Toastmasters interviewed the 97-year old retired UCLA basketball coach and first inductee of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as both a player and a coach, on the topic of leadership. In a far-reaching discussion, Coach Wooden shared his wisdom on team-building, conflict resolution, recognition, adversity and the pursuit of excellence. His teachings are directly applicable to Toastmasters everywhere, be they officers or future officers (members).


Toastmasters International has tens of thousands of members who are building their leadership and team-building skills as club and district officers. How can our leaders motivate people to do good work, and how can they motivate teams of people — be they Toastmasters volunteers, employees or some other kind of group — to work together toward a common goal?

JW: In my opinion, one of the greatest motivating tools we have is a pat on a back. It doesn’t have to be a physical pat, it could be a smile, a nod. Everyone likes to be complimented in one way or another.

Another technique is listening. A leader must listen to those under their supervision. I believe that has been overlooked a lot. We don’t know a thing that we haven’t learned from somebody else in one way or another. And one of the ways we do that is by listening.

Toastmasters concurs. We use applause, pins, ribbons, certificates and achievement designations to figuratively pat members on the back. In terms of developing listening skills, we have a success-communication module on listening and actively focus on listening as part of our speech evaluation process.

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Crisis Leadership – The Sully Sullenberger Interview

Crisis Leadership: A Pilot’s Highest Duty
By Craig Harrison, DTM

Thoughts on teamwork from Captain Sullenberger,
pilot of US Airways Flight 1549.

Editor’s note: On January 15, 2009, pilot Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger III masterfully landed US Airways Flight 1549 on New York’s Hudson River just minutes after takeoff from New York’s LaGuardia Airport. The passenger plane’s twin engines were disabled after it struck a flock of Canada geese. In what has been dubbed “The Miracle on the Hudson,” Captain Sullenberger’s skillful leadership of his crew and expert piloting saved the lives of all 155 people onboard the jetliner.

A 59-year-old resident of Danville, California, Sullenberger retired in March after a 30-year aviation career with US Airways. His story may soon be on the big screen: Producers have optioned the movie rights to his memoir, Highest Duty: My Search for What Really Matters. Craig Harrison, DTM, interviewed Captain Sullenberger on an array of leadership topics, including crisis communication, teamwork and the need for continual improvement.

Toastmasters are students of leadership. What can you teach us about leadership in crisis situations?
I didn’t have time in those incredibly intense 208 seconds from when our airplane hit the birds until we landed in the Hudson River to learn what I needed to learn. I had to have already learned it. I had to have invested the preparation, put in the hard work and paid attention for decades – during thousands of hours of flying time. The same is true in many other areas of our lives, in cluding leadership. It’s a daily process.

Does leadership need to be demonstrative?
One of the key tenets of leadership is leading by example – live your life in such a way that your values are apparent. I don’t have to tell you what they are, wear a shirt with a
slogan on it or display posters on my walls. If you watch me long enough, if I am congruent enough and if my actions and words match enough, then it’s really apparent how I live and what I believe. I embody it.

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