HubSpot Toastmasters Blog


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


VP of Membership: Jessica Webb


VP of Marketing: Meghan Pelletier
Connect on LinkedIn












Secretary: Brad Mampe



Treasurer: Nurah Muhamad
Connect on LinkedIn

Sergeant at Arms: Isaac Moche

Education Chair: Jillian Day

Membership Chair: Angela Hicks
Connect on LinkedIn


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



ToastSpot Elections Are Coming! Nominate Your Future Officers

Posted by Sarah Bedrick

May 22, 2014, 1:00 PM

The time has come.... 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!


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!


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. 


(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. 








5 Things All Great Speakers Know (and You Should Too)

Posted by Sarah Bedrick

Mar 4, 2014, 8:01 AM

Have you ever seen a speaker where everything seems to be going in their favor? The crowd is captivated and hanging on the speaker's every word. They bring you on a enjoyabale journey with their speech that is easy to digest. And afterward, you realize they've done one of the hardest feats of them all, moved you in some way. These are the end results of what makes great speakers so effective and powerful.


During our last ToastSpot meeting I had an epiphany. The veteran speakers of the group spoke with such ease, confidence and poise. Their stories were interesting and impactful. And this made me think, "how do they do that?" And that's when the differences that separated the good speakers from the became clear.  Here, I'd like to share some of those traits that great speakers exhibit.

And remember, the speakers who look effortless on stage are usually the ones who have spent the most time crafting this talent.  It's usually not a question of "when will this stuff become natural" but rather "how will this stuff become natural." Developing the plan to success is the first step toward action.

With that being said, let's talk about some of the qualities that expert speakers exhibit:


They have found their voice.


Have you ever witnessed a person that has great content, but when watching them something just doesn't seem right? Most people have. And that can be indicative that the presenter is still working to find their own voice. 

It's not uncommon for a presenter who is just getting started to emulate the speakers they admire. They copy their language, movement or storytelling style - and this why some presenters just don't seem natural, because it's someone elses and not their own. 

I fell victim to this in the beginning. Every time i would stand-up in front of others, I was visibly nervous. So much so, that I'm sure I made those who were watching me nervous as well (oops). But, as soon as I got less nervous (not quite "comfortable" yet) , I began trying to find and develop my "voice" or style. I wondered what would I look, sound and move like - and how would I build my own stories. After watching some incredible speakers like Susan Cain (former Toastmaster), Zig Ziglar and many TED speakers, I admired them so much, I began to emulate them. While this may have seemed like a great idea at the time, it resulted in many speeches feeling like patchwork quilts of expression. And not to mention, they was something just not completely right about them. After realizing something about this wasn't quite right, I was able to embrace who I am and my style of presenting.

While I may not be the epitome of quiet strength with poise and femininity, like Susan Cain - I did learn how to be true to myself when presenting, and that to me is priceless. 

Want to learn how to develop your own style? Check out BigFish Presentations' blog for more tips developing charisma on stage


They're fantastic storytellers.


Dale Carnegie once said, "When we are dealing with people, let us remember we are not dealing with creatures of logic. We are dealing with creatures of emotion, creatures bustling with prejudices and motivated by pride and vanity."

Seasoned speakers understand this and fill their presentation with passion, emotion and stories that are relatable and moving. 

Whether you follow the "why, how, what" framework from Simon Sinek or Nancy Duarte's "what it is now, and what it can be" - or maybe one you've developed yourself, you use words to paint a beautiful picture in HD that moves your audience.  


They have full control over their body, and use it as a tool to enhance the presentation.


We all know the basics of fantastic body language on stage. We should always make eye contact, stand tall, use the entire stage, project our voice, pause in the right spots and use our body to enhance our presentation.

body language in presentations

The truth is, no matter how much we hear these, they're still difficult to master. We won't get on stage one day with a new ability to be flawlessly natural while using our body as a tool. These come with practice. 

Most of the great speakers use their body so well that most people watching their delivery never even think about it. And truth be told, great speakers don't have to give too much thought to it like they once did in the beginning. When you learn to use your body as a tool - it becomes natural. The most advanced presenters work much more on the presentation story (slides, examples, quotes, statistics, story arc, etc.) than they focus on what to do with their hands or exactly how they'll make eye contact in the crowd. 

Protip: Your body language shapes who you are. Watch Amy Cuddy's TED talk on this topic to learn a great tip about power poses to help you prepare for your next speech. 


They're more comfortable and confident on stage. 


They've already found their voice and know how to use their body - two large elements that lead to being comfortable on stage. Beyond that, they're so comfortable and confident that they can roll with the punches. Things that would throw most beginners for a loop - they can easily manage. The microphone broke? No problem, they project their voice with poise until it's fixed. Now the slide presentation clicker breaks? No problem, they've memorized their presentation or have a quick anecdote to tell while it gets fixed. A member of the audience is distracting in some capacity - no problem, they can still maintain focus and command the stage. The point is - they're confident and comfortable to a point that they're cabable of overcoming any obstacle.

And to take this a step further, the best presenters are so comfortable and confident, that they don't mind getting a bit weird or doing something different. 

Ever heard of Marcus Sheridan? He is a business owner that regularly presents at tech conferences on the power of inbound marketing. While most presenters at conferences take the stage and may rock it - he gets off the stage and gets into the crowd. He even gets the crowd involved by asking them questions - this I have never seen done before. And Marcus - does it and does it well. 


They know when to stop.


A great speaker whether delivering  a prepared speech or an extemporaneous one will always leave on a high note.

In a prepared speech, it's all in the presentation's story arc. The speaker builds an easy-to-follow story and presents it in a delightful way. They build toward the climax, deliver it and then tie the nice bow on it and end.  For the off-the-cuff extemporaneous speeches, great speakers may take a minute to find the path they're about to lay out for their speech and some build it as they go, but once they deliver the highest note - where the crowd is laughing or thinking deeply - they'll tie the bow and end it there. 

Knowing when to end a presentation is a more advanced art.

Becoming an elite speaker takes hard work. And the elite speakers don't speak because they have to, they speak because they choose to. If you're looking to become a presentation master, join a local public speaking group to learn from others who are also practicing. Find a local Toastmaster club here



Why has the "I Have a Dream" speech been so successful?

Posted by Sarah Bedrick

Aug 28, 2013, 12:53 PM

Today marks the date of an important anniversary in the history of our nation - it's the 50th anniversary of when Dr. 220px-Martin_Luther_King_-_March_on_WashingtonMartin Luther King Jr. delivered his influential "I have a dream" speech during the March on Washington

Even 50 years later, many will agree that when they hear this famous speech - it evokes emotion or maybe gives them chills. But why is that? Why does this speech - a half century later - still have such a profound impact when heard? 

Of course there is the obvious - and that is the transformative message of the speech.

However, King was a leader of civil rights and it was known that his oratories focused on freedom and rights for black people in America. 

So why does this speech stand out among the rest. What about this speech has left such a commanding imprint in history. 

This speech had such power and finesse that many storytelling experts have analyzed it in depth to determine why it may have been such a success.

What many people don't realize is that the most-famous "I have a dream" passage - MLK had in fact deviated from the previously prepared speech - and was completely extemporaneous.  Many speculate the digression may have been caused by a listener, Mahalia Jackson, who shouted behind him, "Tell them about the dream!" And while he had previously talked about his dream in a similar fashion earlier that year on June 23rd at Cobo Hall during the Great March on Detroit, this was completely unscripted and improvised. Maybe it was this departure from script allowed his true emotions and uncensored passion to shine through - making it a succes.

Side note: Now there is a reason to participate in Toastmasters Tabletopics if I've ever seen one.

Storytelling expert Nancy Duarte states that a major factor of it's success is King's balance between stating "what is" and "what could be" which is said to be a great way to build an inspiring story.  See Nancy Duarte's full analysis of Dr. King's speech here

Another public speaking expert at Ginger Public Speaking cites the success of the speech was due to his confidence, cadence, the rhythm and repetition. Check out their analysis of the speech here

And maybe Malcolm Gladwell would propose that it was the perfect tipping point for his previous efforts finally coming to fruition - along with repetition.  Simon Sinek may possibly believe that MLK was able to identify the partners in the crowd that fed his energy allowing him to take his speech to the next level.

Or was it the symbolism of him speaking in front of the Lincoln Memorial.

What do you think led to this transformative speech? Was it King's cadence, vocal intonations, the content, the juxtaposition of "what is" and "what could be," all of them - or something completely different? Please feel free to share your own thoughts below.

Oh and if you haven't seen the famous "I Have a Dream" Speech? Watch the YouTube video below:




What to Expect from a HubSpot Toastmasters Meeting

Posted by Sarah Bedrick

Mar 18, 2013, 9:00 AM


Toastmasters is an International speaking group with over 4 million members globally. 

And while most of the reasons people join Toastmsaters is the same - to improve public speaking skills, improve leadership, or meet new people - there are no two chapters that are alike, especially when you throw HubSpot into the mix.

Here is a great video of what to expect when attending a HubSpot Toastmasters meeting:

A little logistics about the HubSpot Meeting:

  • They're 1 hour long
  • They're the first and third Thursday of every month
  • And all are welcome to join and just listen in - or participate

Before the meeting, club members sign up for a varying degree of roles (on our HubSpot Google Doc) - so that when the meeting commences, everybody is aware of the role they're contributing to make for an incredible meeting.

The roles that people can sign up for are below - and are in the order in which they appear in the meeting, as well:

  • Toastmaster: 
    The Toastmaster of the meeting is essentially the night's MC. They open up the evening by welcoming the attendees, announcing a meeting theme (if they so choose to have one) and are in charge of making sure the night runs smoothly. Once they've opened up the meeting, they begin working through the evenings agenda with the different roles. 
  • Thought of the Day/Humorist (2-3 minutes): 
    The first speaker of the evening, the purpose of this role is to start off the meeting with a profound thought, or a light-hearted joke whether it's a personal experience or something they've recently
  • Word of the Day (1-2 Minutes):
    One of the less dynamic roles, this person is in charge of bringing a word that can help encourage the members of the group to expand their vocabulary. Words that usually work well are verbs or adjectives as they're easier to work into a conversation.
  • Speeches (5- Minutes per piece, 3 total):
    The Toastmaster will then proceed into the speech section. The speeches usually come from the Competent Communicator handbook - and are introduced based on the introduction in which the
    speech giver has written.
  • Toast Points (1-2 Minutes):
    At HubSpot, we refer to this section as Toast Points. However, throughout the Toastmaster's organization, they're called Table Topics. This section is where members can focus on their extemporaneous speaking abilities, meaning, speaking off the cuff. We've done improv, asked questions, debates and even pretended to host our own episode of HubSpot TV before to help expand our impromptu speaking abilities.
  • General Evaluator:
    The General Evaluator is the MC for the evaluation portion. Part of Toastmasters is not just speaking, but learning form it and becoming a better presenter - and evaluator.

    This role also evaluates the meeting as a whole and how it has progressed thus far.
  • Evaluators (2-3 Minutes):
    The evaluators evaluate the main speakers, based on the Toastmaster's Member Guide.
  • Timer (1-3 Minutes):
    The job of the timer is to monitor the time for each speech and signal to the presenter how much time they have left. This role is a large part of each meeting - to keep us HubSpotters on track, but also to make sure people do not go over their allotted time - which can result in a disqualification in the case of a speech competition.
  • Ah/Um Counter (2-3 Minutes):
    Counts the number of times speakers use filler or crutch words.  
  • Grammarian (2-3 Minutes):
    The role of the Grammarian is to evaluate the word choice and use of improper grammar from the night's speakers.  



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.

Subscribe to Email Updates

Become a ToastSpot Member

Recent Posts