HubSpot Toastmasters Blog

   

A Journey From Toastmasters To Joining Hubspot

Posted by Vu Long Tran

Oct 13, 2015, 10:43 AM

Vu Long Tran Dear ToastSpotters, and fellow readers,Having been a member of various Toastmasters clubs, beginning in Melbourne, Australia back in 2007, I’ve had quite a few experiences that have helped shape me into the person I am today. But to truly understand present day me, it’s important to understand how I first became involved in an organization that has had such a profound impact on me.


How did I become a part of Toastmasters?

I joined Toastmasters based on the advice of one of my university mentors who suggested that it would be a great learning environment to be in. I didn't know what to expect or how it would be structured – I only knew that it would be great for improving my communication, teamwork and leadership skills. Equally as important – I knew it would be a great opportunity to meet some great new people. 

During my Toastmasters experience, I learnt a lot about myself, about how to analyse a speech, and how to break a speech into many pieces. I played the role of webmaster, VP of Education where I helped people with their personal growth, and I even played the role of a judge for speaking competitions. I didn’t know how much I would grow as a person, and was surprised at how much fun was having doing it. Toastmasters has been an amazing experience. 

One of the great things about the Toastmasters program is being able to participate and visit Toastmaster clubs all around the world. I have had visitors from Europe visit the club in Melbourne, Australia. As a member, you have the ability to do the same, visiting other clubs around the world as a guest. (You can even do a speech if you like - just let the club President know in advance).

Where I am now post-Toastmasters?

Truth be told, it's actually been a while since I have officially been part of Toastmasters. However, the lessons I learned from my club in 2009 are still proving valuable today. I’m still on a path of continuous improvement. The skills and insights learned through the program are applicable in my everyday life, not just professionally at work. I have done speeches for my community clubs, including presenting a Young Citizens of Hobsons Bay local council award. It's given me the confidence and the skills to do this. It’s no secret that practice makes perfect. So I have practiced a lot both during and after Toastmasters. 

When I heard that HubSpot has its very own Toastmasters club called, "ToastSpot," I was immediately keen to check it out. I now live in Singapore, and am an active blogger. I actually have two blogs - one specifically on Singapore and another is a How To and Lifestyle blog, www.dejavuguides.com and www.vulongtran.com, respectively.

It's sure been an amazing journey. I hope your time with Toastmasters will be as enjoyable as mine has been.

Thanks for reading about my story. Feel free to reach out to me directly if you would like to find out more details.

Thanks,

Vu

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How to Avoid Being Monotone - Even With a Deep Voice

Posted by Mike Griffin

Jul 21, 2014, 2:48 PM

How to avoid being monotone - Charlie Brown teacherAnyone born before 1994 will probably remember Charlie Brown's elementary school teacher. She would drone on and on for what seemed like hours at a time without the pitch, inflection or emotion of her voice ever changing. She was the ultimate monotone. Dictionary.com defines monotone as “a vocal utterance or series of speech sounds in one unvaried tone… a single tone without harmony or variation in pitch.” Even the definition is boring! That's why I wanted to spend some time discussing how to avoid being monotone.  

While obviously hyperbolized to convey Charlie Brown's boredom, his teacher's monotone speaking can teach us all a valuable lesson. Specifically, it underscores the importance of vocal variety and other nonverbal communication skills. After all, a public speaker's worst nightmare is a disengaged audience. But even those of us with fine-tuned oral presentation skills may be at a natural disadvantage and more apt to fall into a monotone delivery if they have a deeper voice. And that's exactly what I've been working with for the vast majority of my life.


The Dreaded Monotone
Speaking in a monotone is a sure way to get the audience to tune you out. And make no mistake, despite everyone in the crowd genuinely wanting you to succeed, they WILL stop paying attention if they don't perceive you as being enthusiastic about your topic (and how could they, with such a flat delivery?). While some people may slip into a monotone due to nerves, others such as myself with deeper voices can inadvertently do it because it's difficult for us to vary our inflection. Knowing this is half the battle.

For one reason or another, we as humans often need someone else to help us realize when we're doing something a certain way. That's the beauty of having evaluators at each ToastMasters meeting. There was a span of time when I thought my vocal delivery was just "soothing" (thanks, Mom) and therefore I wasn't really trying to improve it. It wasn't until I received my first dose of professional criticism that I realized there was a chance for me to become a much more engaging speaker. That was a big deal because being able to actively engage with an audience is paramount to a successful speech.

Avoiding the Monotone

There are several techniques I've found useful for helping me avoid speaking in monotone despite my deeper voice:

1.) Study great acting professionals

Talented acting professionals have the ability to change not only the character they're playing, but their voice as well. Studying what words they implement vocal variety on can help you pick and choose the moments you'd like to do the same in your presentations.


2.) Mark your outline/manuscript

While I'm a much stronger proponent of trigger words, I know a lot of people prefer to have parts (if not all) of their speech written down. So why not use the outline/manuscript as more than a safety net in case you forget what you were saying? Highlight words or phrases according to what you want to do. For example, yellow may mean raise your inflection and green may mean drop it.

3) Practice reading poems/plays aloud

This is something that I find extremely helpful whether I'm working on my inflection or my plosives. Poetry is inherently expressive, and I always found it easier to use some vocal variety when reading something written with emotion. I could never image Hamlet, for example, up in front of the stage reciting his lines in a monotone. A slight change of perspective such as this can be just the thing you need to help formulate the habit of implementing vocal variety and avoiding the dreaded monotone.

To my fellow deep voiced speakers- have you ever tried similar exercises? Or, to those who don't necessarily have a deep voice but still find themselves battling against being a monotone, why do you think that is? Leaving a comment here is great, but becoming a ToastMasters member is even better!  Get a fresh perspective from a new HubSpot employee at The Invigorator blog and learn more about the benefits of public speaking.

Join ToastSpot Today!

 

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Announcing the New ToastSpot Officers for 2014-2015 Year!

Posted by Sarah Bedrick

Jun 27, 2014, 12:30 PM

 

The votes are in!  And congratulations are in order to the newly elected ToastSpot Officers of the 2014-2015 year!

Want to see who will be leading our group to continued success? Take a look at the new leaders below:

 

President: Tyler Richer

Connect on LinkedIn



VP of Education: Lindsay Thibeault

@LindsayRegina

VP of Membership: Jessica Webb
@jessicawebbica

 

VP of Marketing: Meghan Pelletier
Connect on LinkedIn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Secretary: Brad Mampe

@BradMampe

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Treasurer: Nurah Muhamad
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Sergeant at Arms: Isaac Moche
@IsaacMoche





Education Chair: Jillian Day
@JDAY4





Membership Chair: Angela Hicks
Connect on LinkedIn

ANGELA_HICKS

If you see them in the hall , you know what to do, give them a massive high-five and congratulate them on their new role.

Congrats again to the new officers!

 

Sarah Bedrick
Former ToastSpot President 2013 - 2014

 

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ToastSpot Elections Are Coming! Nominate Your Future Officers

Posted by Sarah Bedrick

May 22, 2014, 1:00 PM

The time has come....

Screen_Shot_2014-05-21_at_10.56.57_PM...to elect yourself (or another qualified individual) to take the reigns of the ToastSpot wheel! We have officially opened up nominations for our next ToastSpot year.

With more than 43 active ToastSpotters, we've all developed a lot of great momentum behind this program at HubSpot. And we'd love for you to step up to the plate as a leader in the coming year.

So if you are interested (or know someone who is) in leading our group to public speaking and leadership bliss, now is your chance. 

Nominate yourself or someone else anonymously here.

Not quite sure if you're interested or what role might be right for you? Email or HipChat one of the existing officers - we're all ears and would love to help you find the right role.

You can also learn more about the roles on this wiki page

Nominate yourself or another ToastSpotter by June 5. Nominees will be contacted and confirmed after this date, and official elections will be held on June 19.

Lastly, thank you to all of our existing members who are part of the amazing support group of ToastSpotters that make ToastSpot a safe place to fail and grow.

Note: officers must be ToastSpot members and full-time HubSpot employees.

Join ToastSpot Today!

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Jokes and Tips For the Toastmasters Humorist (steal this)

Posted by Steve Haase

Apr 23, 2014, 10:00 AM

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Need to find a good joke or funny story? If you're filling the humorist role at your next Toastmasters meeting, you might find yourself scrambling. To help you out, here are two of my favorite jokes I've heard (or told) at HubSpot's Toastmasters meetings, plus a tip for discovering your own humorous story.

My very first time presenting at Toastmasters was to deliver the following joke, which I first heard on Garrison Keillor's Prairie Home Companion, and it went over pretty darn well. It's also a good opportunity to use that Scottish accent I know you've been working on. :)

An American moves to a remote cabin on the Shetland Islands of Scotland. He hasn't seen anyone for three months until one day there's a knock at the door. He opens it to find a burly man with a scratchy sweater and a scratchier beard.

The visitors says, "I've come to invite you to a party."

Intrigued, the man replies, "A party sounds nice, what should I expect?"

"Well, there'll be drinkin'."

"Sounds good to me," replies the man, "I could use a drink."

"Then there'll be a fight. There's always a fight."

"Hmm, well, I boxed when I was in the army. I could hold my own in a fight."

"Then there'll be sex."

"Wow. Given that I haven't seen anyone in three months, sex certainly would be nice. I'm in! What should I wear?"

"Come as you are," says the burly visitor, "It's just going to be you and me."


Joke number two, ideal if you are as big a fan of puns as I am. I heard this from Thariq at our Toastmasters meeting last night.

A man walks into a nearly empty bar and orders a drink. After a few minutes he hears a voice say "Nice shirt." He looks around, sees no one near him, and goes back to his drink.

A short while later he hears the same voice saying, out of nowhere, "I like your hair."

Truly perplexed, he calls the bartender over and asks, "Where is that voice coming from?"

The bartender says, "It's the nuts."

"The nuts?" replies the man.

"Yes," says the bartender. "They're complimentary."


And now my tip for you, the humorist. A few weeks ago I was tasked with this role and decided that I would tell a funny story from my own life. After ruminating on it for a bit, I remembered the time when my family went to Las Vegas for a vacation. I know, it's funny already, but the actual story had even more comic potential than just that setup.

And so I told it, highlighting the points that truly were hilarious, speaking about the quirks, surprises, and lucky circumstances of my family on vacation in Vegas. It went over very well and also gave people an insight into my life and what has shaped me into the person I am today—a real win-win.

After telling my parents about their starring role in that evening's Toastmaster's meeting, they brought up other comical situations we've been in as a family over the years. Mind you, we're no comedians, and my life is not that different from many others. But when you've done things together, and you've suffered through less than ideal circumstances with people you love, you often find that, 5-10 years later, those stories are pretty much hilarious.

So take a quick inventory of your past. Any big mistakes or big adventures that would lend themselves to the soft humor of hindsight? Share those in your meeting for an even bigger, more satisfying laugh.

What are some of your favorite jokes or funny stories? Share them in the comments below!

Join ToastSpot Today!

Image credit: Wikipedia

 

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Announcing the Winners of this Year's ToastPoint Competition

Posted by Sarah Bedrick

Apr 10, 2014, 3:12 PM

 

And the winners are...

Congratulations to the winners!

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With a red carpet rolled out, a fun "step and repeat" photo banner, camera roll cut-outs and an all-star cast line-up for the evening, the "surprise theme" was easy for any attendee to guess - the movies

Every detail of the meeting was intricately woven into the theme, - no loose ends left untied here. There was an intricately crafted agenda including popcorn and drinks that sent every attendee straight to the comfy chairs of a movie theater. 

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(Thanks Loree for creating a well thought-out agenda.)

Then as the festivities started, folks began to grab their seats as our Toastmaster Expert, Tyler Richer, took the stage to kick off the meeting with an appropriately-themed movie quote:

"There is only one rule of ToastSpot - don't talk about ToastSpot."

He set the stage nicely for what to expect for the evening and passed it over to Steve Haase to deliver not only the word of the day (Jovial) but also tell a wonderful joke about his family. 

 

The ToastPoint competition started.

 

There were 9 brave contestants in all. They were sent outside of the room with the order in which they would speak with no idea of what question they would have to answer.

And when called into the room, they'd have 1-2 minutes to answer the following question off the cuff:

"What movie character do you embody, and why?

What would your answer be?

As the competition began, the participants took the stage to provide their answers:

  1. Marc Amigone 
  2. Angela Hicks
  3. Brad Mampe 
  4. Jessica Webb
  5. Loree McDonald
  6. Meghan Pelletier
  7. Shawn Segundo
  8. Niti Shah
  9. Maggie Georgieva

The six judges ballots, including one for the tie-breaker were collected, and the ballot counters exited the room with the Chief Judge (me) to determine who was voted the winner. 

 

And the rest of the meeting continued. 

 

Guru and Nurah gave their second and sixth speech respectively. 

We had some of our top evaluator talent provide them with feedback - Anum Hussain and Nick Sal. 

Then we took to the specific feedback including our timing with Brian Weiss and crutch words with first time ToastSpotter Daniel Piet. 

 

Lastly, we reconvened to announce the winners.

 

Anybody who was there would be able to tell you how close of a competition it was - everybody brought their "a game." However there could only be one winner - and it came down to the tie-breaking judge's vote. As the 45 person audience provided a drum roll, Contest Chair, Emily Morgan, and I were able to congratulate the top three contestants of the evening: Marc, Meghan and Brad. 

Watch Marc's winning extemporaneous speaking ToastPoint speech here:

 

Watch Meghan's second place ToastPoint speech here:

 Watch Brad's ToastPoint speech:

 

The next level of competition will be April 15th from 6-9pm at the Verizon Center in Waltham. While Marc is unable to attend (he's speaking on behalf of HubSpot at a User Group), Meghan will be stepping into his place.

If you're interested in cheering on fellow HubSpotter/ToastSpotter, Meghan, let any one of the officers know and we'll find a car for you to carpool in. 

One last major shout out to all of the unofficial judges who joined and were able to provide the participants with unbiased advice on how they can improve their extemporaneous speaking skills. Thank you to Andrew Quinn, Michael Redbord, Cait Downey, Hannah Fleishman, Erik Devaney, Moe Connor, Angela DeFranco and Paula Turow. 

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A Pre-Table Topics Competition Warmup

Posted by Ellie Mirman

Apr 4, 2014, 4:20 PM

As our fierce competitors waited to go present their Table Topics speeches, I threw the following warmup question their way:

If you could be any window, what kind of window would you be?

Absurd to say the least, but along with some power poses and shake-outs, this was just the thing to get them prepared.

The responses certainly impressed me; I could tell this would be quite the close and entertaining competition.

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"I would be a french window. Because I'm classy."

- Niti Shah

 

Niti Shah

"I would be a tinted window, so I could see out but no one could see me."

- Jessica Webb

 

 Jessica Webb

"I would be a broken window, because when people get close to me, they get hurt."

- Shawn Segundo

 

Shawn Segundo 
 

"I would be a bay window, so that people could get a broad view and see many perspectives."

- Angela Hicks

 

 
 

"95. Because it's a classic."

- Brad "I'm a PC" Mampe

 

 brad mampe
 

"I would be a round window. Because I like circles."

- Maggie Georgieva

 Maggie Georgieva

 

Note: Not all contestants participated in this oh-so-fantastic warmup. They still all proved to be pretty fantastic in the actual competition. Stay tuned for a separate post on the results of the competition! Photo courtesy of club President Sarah Bedrick.

Now it's your turn - What kind of window would you be? Quick - you only have a moment to answer!

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10 Tips for the First-Time Toastmaster

Posted by Ellie Mirman

Apr 2, 2014, 8:45 AM

mike-presentingAbout to take the role of Toastmaster for the first time? Congratulations! The Toastmaster plays a big role in the success of a meeting. This role presents a great opportunity to practice both your prepared and impromptu speaking skills as well as, of course, your leadership skills.

The Toastmaster is the host and conductor of the whole meeting - setting up all of the speakers, evaluators, and attendees to participate successfully. Not sure where to start to be a successful Toastmaster? Here are a few tips.

Before the Meeting:

1. Review the Meeting Agenda

At ToastSpot, the officer sponsor finalizes the agenda, including gathering the prepared speakers' speech titles. As the Toastmaster, you should check in with the officer sponsor and review the meeting lineup, particularly the speakers.

2. Help the Officer Sponsor Fill Meeting Roles

If there are any roles open as the meeting time approaches, help find members to step up and take those roles.

3. Familiarize Yourself with the Meeting Structure

There are often a few new faces at a meeting. That is why you need to understand the meeting structure and and communicate it to all, so members know what to expect in the next hour. Here's an overview of the Toastmasters meeting.

4.  Prepare Your Opening and Closing

Think about how you want to welcome participants and attendees, and how you want to close out the meeting. Add your own flavor to the meeting, perhaps pick a theme for the meeting or share a story of your own.

5. Prepare Your Introductions and Transitions

Part of your role as a Toastmaster is to keep the meeting running smoothly. That means having solid introductions for the speakers and transitioning smoothly between sections and speeches. For introductions, you can ask the speakers how they would like to be introduced, or simply share something you know about them or your relationship with them.

At the Meeting:

6. Arrive Early to Prepare

Arrive a few minutes early to set up with the officer sponsor. Confirm that all of your meeting participants are present before the start.

7. Introduce the Meeting Structure and Each Speaker

After you welcome all of the attendees, introduce the meeting structure so everyone knows what to expect. From there, introduce each participant and speaker before inviting them up to speak.

8. Keep Up The Energy, Including Applause

It may seem silly, but applause adds to the energy of the meeting and keeps the meeting moving on time. Lead the applause before and after each speaker.

9. Don't Leave the Presentation Area Empty

There should always be someone at the front of the meeting room. When you introduce a speaker, wait until they arrive at the front, shake their hand, and then leave the presentation area to turn it over to them. That way you never leave the front of the room awkwardly empty.

10. Make It Your Own!

Add your own flavor and have fun with your new role as Toastmaster!

Hopefully you'll have such a wonderful experience that you'll encourage your fellow ToastSpotters to sign up for the role of Toastmaster, and you too will sign up again!

Sign up for a role in the next meeting

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Toastmasters Evaluation on TEDxSomerville Event

Posted by Magdalena Georgieva

Mar 31, 2014, 9:21 AM

I attended TEDxSomerville over the weekend and couldn’t help but look at how and whether the talks adopted the techniques we learn at Toastmasters. The efficacy of the ideas shared varied based on the speakers’ deliveries.

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I watched for the things that the more effective speakers did and compared them to the things less effective speakers were missing. Here are the top patterns I would have shared with all of them, if I could have played the role of the evaluator:

Body language

Effective speakers embraced body language on stage. Aaron Cantor, for example, gave a powerful talk on movement that you can read about here. During his speech, he did a few handstands on stage and asked the audience to join him in a simple physical exercise. He was confident to move around the stage and also do crazy things that emphasized the points he made in his talk. This definitely grabbed the attention of the audience.

The less effective speakers didn’t move around much. They looked like they were frozen, and such body language weakens their content and leaves the audience bored.

Personal story

The effective speakers usually used some sort of a personal story to introduce an idea. Such a story doesn't have to be about the speaker personally, but can be about a friend, someone they know, or even someone they made up! The point is that it will add a human touch.

Matthew Dicks, for example, walked us through the life choices that led him to a career in writing and creativity. The path that he revealed was deeply personal and enabled the audience to empathize with him. 

The weakest talks didn’t incorporate any human stories. Remember that the human element draws the audience like a magnet and keeps people engaged.

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Humour

Whenever you have a chance to break the ice and make people laugh, embrace that moment. The best speakers got closer to the audience by leveraging the power of humour. George Proakis, for exampe, found ways to inject humour into his speech, even though the talk was somewhat technical - about zoning by design. The audience responded with laughter and radiated warmth, whenever Proakis used witty metaphors or made clever statements like “putting people before parking.”

Vocal variety

This won't come as a surprise, but the most effective talks followed the shape of a rollercoaster when it came to their vocality. Helen Adeosun was great at using vocal variety to keep the audience engaged. During her talk about nannies and childcare, she asked rhetorical questions, projected well, and used facial expression to support her vocal journey.

The speeches that were less effective were monotonous, seemed like were just memorized, and felt rushed.

Call-to-action & Actionable Steps

The best talks included a call-to-action at the end (or even throughout).

Some speeches were even structured as a series of steps to achieve something. Cortney Rowan, for example, talked about healthy habits and outlined a few next steps for those interested in building healthy habits: make it personal, make it a collective effort, and make it surround sound.

The talks that were less effective felt like lectures of bored high-school teachers - they were theoretical, didn't include any next steps, and didn't present any actionable lessons.

Do you agree with these? What would you add or remove? Let us know in the comments!

Join ToastSpot Today!

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How to pick a memorable speech topic

Posted by Loree McDonald

Mar 17, 2014, 2:30 PM

So it's the week of your Toastmasters speech - and the only reason you remembered is because your mentor ping-ed you on HipChat and asked if you wanted to rehearse and get some feedback... Great! You're excited, you've been waiting, and now you have no idea how to pull it all together...

You begin frantically searching YouTube and Googling "Toastmasters Speech" and hoping someone has posted something revolutionary that will blow your audience away.

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But that's not you - yes the interpretation on how the world would be if the black plague hadn't hit Europe is interesting, and sure you believe confidence and body language is important - but you're going to have to do hours of research to put this all together... and then memorizing those facts? Ugh. Skip that please.

Meanwhile... you've come onto some article on BuzzFeed about how Jennifer Lawrence is the most graceful clumsy celebrity. Have they already forgotten miss Bridget Jones? Well I guess she was a character.

 ....Anyway... I wish I could just present about BuzzFeed....

Wait - YOU CAN!

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That's the beauty of the Toastmasters program - you can literally speak about anything (use good judgment) and use the manual as a structure for planning out your speech and the objectives you want to hit.

The idea within Toastmasters is to deliver speeches that are passionate and informative and compelling. If you're passionate about BuzzFeed, tell us! If you know a ton about bioluminescent creatures - share what you know! If you have a compelling story about your gluten-free adventure, bring it on.

 

Be yourself. Be confident.And take some risks!
Some of the most memorable speeches come from a little risk taking. Why not share? 

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About the ToastSpot Blog

Welcome to the ToastSpot blog!

Here you can find articles on:

  • How to get the most out of Toastmasters
  • Examples of awesome speeches
  • Announcements about upcoming events
  • How to come up with ideas for your next speech
  • Highlights from recent meetings, including some of the entertaining and inspiring speeches from our members

Have requests? Reach out to us - we'd love to know what YOU want to read about. We also welcome guest bloggers - feel free to come to us with suggestions for your next article.

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