November 2016 District 57 Toast Post Newsletter

Every month, we will be putting out a newsletter with information about what is happening in District 57, tools for success, club member spotlights, and more. Look out for the Toast Post newsletter in your inbox!

We are enhancing the monthly district newsletter to include contributions from members of the district. Want to contribute? Click Here for the Newsletter Submission Form!

Scroll down to read this month’s submissions.


Engineering a Winning Presentation by Tyree Johnson, DTM

The time will come if it hasn’t already passed that you will be called on to present your case especially in the technical and business workplace. To engineer a winning presentation, use this guide in preparing your case:

Ask yourself why are you here?
Determine your purpose in presenting.
Develop your presentation with a goal in mind.

Cover the Basics
Recognize that not everyone is an expert.
Your audience came interested.
Everyone should be able to follow the first third of your presentation.

Use Simple Examples
Relate to a real world problem.
Refer back to your example that parallels to your topic.
If it takes more than 90 seconds to explain, then simplify.

Include Lots of Images
Use animations and pictures instead of equations.
Display the equation at the bottom of the slide to satisfy the curious.
Your audience will remember a picture after the equation is gone.

Explain your Data
Include a box with your key takeaway point at the bottom of graphs, maps, or charts.
Beware of information overload.
Legends and axes should be clearly labeled.

Give the Bottom Line
Conclude why your presentation is relevant.
Answer this question: What problem did you solve and why is it important to others?

Practice Timing
Practice out loud and time yourself.
Avoid the race to the end when time runs out.
Cut material if necessary; always be respectful of the organizers schedule.

Prepare for Questions
Practice answering probable questions.
Clarify your point.
Immediately correct wrong presumptions.
Rude or off-base questions should be handled in the “parking lot”. Avoid embarrassing arguments.

Get Excited
Show you’re enthusiastic about your work.
Share your pride in excellence.
Correct wrong assumptions tactfully.
Finally Execute
Utilizing these tips to yourself the best chance possible toward winning your audience. You will be confident that your audience is being rewarded with the valuable and credible information that important for them to absorb from you on this occasion.


shalini-suresh-kumarClub Member Spotlight: Shalini Suresh Kumar

Conquering stage fear, avoiding overuse of gestures, using pauses wisely-all hallmarks of a great speech! Alas, my speech was no were close to that. You see, I was aware of the problem and thus was halfway close to solving it, or so I thought. “Improve public speaking” made its home on my to-do for the longest time. When I started working at Bio-Rad after graduating from UC Berkeley with a Master’s in Chemical Engineering in May 2016, an opportunity to act on it arose.

My journey with Toastmasters has so far been about 8 meetings at Bioradical Toastmasters and the Fall District 57 Conference. When I nervously entered the Toastmasters meeting room at Bio-Rad, about 20 minutes late, I walked in on a prepared speech. I noticed a few things: people clapped an awful lot, badges were handed out to best speakers, and most importantly, immediate feedback was given on how to improve the speech. As I understood how Toastmasters was structured, I knew I had to be a part of it. At that moment though, I wasn’t aware how mammoth Toastmasters was.

This changed when I attended the conference with my fellow club toastmasters. I came with the intention of seeing what the best toastmasters looked like, hoping I could model their path. By the end of the conference, I was able to achieve more than just that. As I prepare my icebreaker speech, I know this is the first of what promises to be an exciting journey of toastmastering!

Shalini Suresh Kumar,
BioRadical Toastmasters


Starting Your Journey to an Advanced Leader Silver Award by Christopher Foster

Congratulations! You’ve just earned your Advanced Leader Bronze award! You’ve served many roles throughout your Toastmasters career, mentored new members, chaired club socials and speech contests and served your club as a Club Officer. These activities are vital to Toastmasters clubs. In addition to the recognition you’ve received as a leader in your club, I want to give you a hearty “Thank you” for leading your club and contributing to the success of the District! Now you’re looking ahead to the next step on your journey to hone your leadership skills. Perhaps you’ve perused the requirements for the Advanced Leader Silver award? If you’re like me, you might be daunted by what you’ve found.  Earning the Advanced Leader Silver award is challenging! It includes: Service as a District Officer, Coaching a struggling club or mentoring a new club; and completing the High Performance Leadership program. Wow! That certainly seems like a lot of work! Where do you even start?

You are absolutely correct: earning an Advanced Leader Silver award involves a great deal of hard work! It’s a daunting prospect, and many Toastmasters consider it the most difficult of awards to earn in either the Leadership or Communication track. Just getting started is a huge hurdle for many people. In order to earn this award, you have to step outside of your club and become involved with the entire District. But fear not, motivated member! I am here to help get you started. I’ll tell you how to express your interest and to apply for a District Office, how to become a Club Coach or Club Mentor and how to get your High Performance Leadership project started.

If you’re seeking your Advanced Leader Silver award, you are motivated to improve your leadership skills. That is convenient, because a successful District depends on its officer team for success. Motivated officers will help it succeed. There are a plethora of District Offices, but since this is your first time tackling the Advanced Leadership Silver program –yes, people do this more than once!- you’ve likely never served as one before. The most effective way for you to familiarize yourself with District Leadership is to seek a role as Area Director. The Area Director motivates a small team of clubs – normally 3 to 6 – to succeed. As an Area Director, you’ll visit the clubs in your Area, communicate with the officers that comprise your Area Council, coordinate Area Speech Contests and report the progress to the District leadership triad.  Along the way, you’ll meet Toastmasters throughout the District and  have the opportunity to assist with Toastmasters Leadership Institute and with District Conferences Serving as an Area Director is a challenging, yet rewarding experience. Obtaining a position as an Area Director is as easy as expressing your interest to the District Leadership, starting with the current Area Director. The District values volunteers and often does not have enough to fill the positions it needs. Area Directors understand the importance of finding successors to continue quality leadership of their Area when their term ends, and are happy to hear that someone is willing to make the commitment. After volunteering, you’ll fill out an application and interview briefly with the new year’s District Director. From there, you’re in for a wonderful journey which will test your leadership skills and take them to the next level.

While it’s true that the Advanced Leader Silver award encourages activity in the District, the basic building block of Toastmasters is the Club and its members. The introduction of a new Toastmasters club is a joyous occasion! It introduces a large group of people to the benefits of Toastmasters and it helps the District meet their growth goals. New clubs need guidance for success. The officers of the club may be new to Toastmasters and you are familiar with the learning curve that comes with being a Club Officer.  Members of a new club need someone to turn to when they have questions. Just as new members who join Toastmasters benefit from an experienced mentor, so do new clubs.

When a new club is formed, the District Leadership assigns mentors to that club. As a Club Mentor, you’ll be pretty busy. You’ll want to attend as many club meetings as you can to make sure members can lean on you when they need help for their roles. You’ll have to be available for questions between meetings and you’ll attend club officer meetings to make sure the club you’ve taken under your wing can best benefit from your guidance. Often, a club will suffer setbacks. Club membership can drop for many reasons. When that happens, the District might identify a club in need of some Coaching. As a Club Coach, you’ll work with a struggling club to help them become successful. You’ll give personal attention to the members and Officers, focusing on improving the quality of the club’s program and on building membership. Think of yourself like a doctor. You’ll have to diagnose those areas where the club needs improvements and think of inventive solutions. Sometimes, a new club or a struggling club will need you for more than the six month minimum time the District requires for you to get credit for your Advanced Leader Silver award. But that’s no problem, right? You know the importance of putting in more than the bare minimum to succeed! Club Mentorship and Coaching give you an opportunity to learn important leadership skills and to help make a lasting positive mark on a club. Good news! If you’re an Area Director, you’ll work closely with District leadership to grow new clubs and assist clubs who are facing challenges. Area Directors often have the opportunity to Mentor and Coach clubs in their areas, since they are already a source of support and information for those clubs.

The purpose of the Toastmasters Leadership education track is to help its members be the best leaders they can be. It should be no surprise that a critical component of the Advanced Leader Silver Award – the pinnacle of the Toastmasters Leadership track – is a project specifically designed to put all of the leadership skills you’ve learned up to this point to the test. I’m referring to the High Performance Leadership project, or HPL. I think of the HPL as a thesis for the Leadership track. You’ll use the High Performance Leadership Manual to guide you through several rigorous assignments centered on a single project and will recruit a team to help you achieve your goals. You’ll learn to use the Six Dimensions of Leadership – Vision and Values, Direction, Persuasion, Support, Development and Appreciation – to lead your team to success. You’ll recruit a committee of experienced Toastmasters who will serve as your Guidance Committee, who will evaluate your progress at each step. You have a lot of freedom with which to choose your HPL project, and it doesn’t even have to be related to Toastmasters. You could organize a soup kitchen or a major fundraiser. You could start a business. You could lead an effort to lobby for legislation in your community. The only limit is your imagination. Of course, if you are an Area Director, your endeavor for the year is certainly a leadership project, and you will wish to perform to a high level of performance. Do you see where I’m going with this? Your service as area director can count as the requirement for your High Performance Leadership project if you follow the assignments in the High Performance Leadership Manual. To get started, order the High Performance Leadership manual. It will tell you what you need to do to complete your HPL. If you’re looking for support in your HPL journey, you can join the Toastmasters Leadership  Club in Oakland, CA, a club dedicated to helping its members complete the High Performance Leadership project. Like mentoring a new club, the HPL gives you a chance to build and create something of substance and to become a better leader along the way.

The Advanced Leader Silver Award is an achievement that recognizes great dedication to improving leadership skills. You’ll find great challenges undertaking service as a District Officer, guiding members as a Club Coach or Mentor and completing your High Performance Leadership project. Your leadership skills will be tested and honed.  At the end, the sense of accomplishment you’ll feel at undertaking these tasks will be monumental. This guide can help get you started on your journey. I hope you take your first steps soon!