Education Blog

A Moment of Recognition

Saturday, June 27th, 2015

Carlos Vby Carlos Velázquez, DTM


I would like to take a moment to recognize the contributions of our leadership team as we transition into another Toastmasters program year for 2015-2016.  Anirudh Raipure (Vice President of Education), Dan Roth (Vice President of Public Relations), Aziz Buranchiev (Treasurer), Misha Davies(Secretary), and Scott Marquiss (Sgt. of Arms), have all given of their time to execute another successful Toastmaster year.  Some of our highlights include:

  • Earning the President’s Distinguished Award for the second time in a row
  • Recruiting 21 new members which resulted in recognitions for the Smedley and Beat the Clock Awards
  • Supporting two new member orientations and coaching sessions
  • Hosting two speak-a-thons and five special events (picnics and happy hours)
  • Coordinating an Open House with an award winning motivational speaker
  • Having strong contest participation with an Evaluation Speech Contest Champion—Dan Roth and a humorous speech second place winner at the Division level—Misha Davies
  • Having Trupti Raipure and Dan Roth complete their Competent Communicator Awards
  • Having Michael Maloney finish his Competent Leader Award and his Advanced Leadership Bronze Award

I had my own successes by serving as the TLI instructor for the summer and winter sessions.  I earned my Triple Crown award by completing the Silver and Gold Communicator Awards and the Advanced Leadership Bronze Award.  I had the pleasure of working with a strong team from Que Pasa Toastmasters to facilitate a youth Toastmasters program and I competed in the Spring District International Speech Contest and took first at the Area Contest with a humorous speech.

I am looking forward to serving as the Area 14 Director and the TLI Instructor Chair in addition to serving as the Vice President of Education for Old Town Toastmasters.  It is hard to believe that in March of 2011 I joined Toastmasters with much trepidation.  Today I wear the Toastmasters pin with much pride and I have had the absolute honor of working with four mentees who are experiencing much growth as they assume leadership roles.

The friends we all make through Toastmasters makes the experience worthwhile and the growth we all go through in fostering our leadership and communication skills is what keeps us engaged in our club.

Thank you all for a great year!


Feedback is a Gift for the Whole Body

Tuesday, August 12th, 2014

Carlos Vby Carlos Velázquez, ACS, CLB

“Feedback is a gift,” I was reminded on many occasions by the leadership team of the American Red Cross.  For many years I was a volunteer with the national headquarters as part of the cadre of master trainers for the HIV/AIDS Latino prevention initiative.  The training was challenging.  Very few volunteers passed the course.  A key component of the curriculum was the evaluation session for each potential certified instructor.

During the course of the evaluation session we were coached on how to listen with the whole body.  We were to take in information as a gift.  We were not to respond or rebut to any feedback.  We had to listen and learn how to improve our skills and to understand the perspective of what our audience might perceive.  Audience perception is everything.

During our evaluation sessions at Toastmasters we are reminded that our speeches need to be audience-centered and that their perception on what we deliver is everything.   This is important from the way we engage an audience through eye contact, rhetorical questions, or even the word choice of our stories.   An evaluator for Toastmasters provides feedback through a critical lens that allows us to see how we are coming across non-verbally and the effectiveness of our words.

A gift should not be re-gifted.  That is poor taste.  A gift should not be returned.  It can teach.  A gift should not go without acknowledgement, even if you don’t like it.  A gift is an opportunity for speakers to learn about how they are being perceived by an audience; thus, feedback should be seen as an opportunity to learn, reflect, and grow.  We don’t have to agree with all the feedback but it is a good practice to return to comments within in 24 hours to see if a fresh read of our notes allows us to see things differently.  This is a part of hearing feedback with the whole body.

Good Advice to Build our Club

Friday, June 20th, 2014

Carlos VBy Carlos Velázquez
President, Crystal City Evening Toastmasters

Our District Governor, Ralph Jones, recently shared some insights with us that provide some good ideas for our officers as the transition takes place for Crystal City Evening Toastmasters for a new program year.  We should abide by some guidelines that we should encourage in all our members.  The first is to participate.  Members should:

  • Attend club meetings regularly. Regular attendance helps rapidly conquer fears, sharpen speaking skills, and bolster leadership proficiency.

  • Prepare speech projects carefully. Toastmasters’ educational program builds skills through assignments. An alternate, personal curriculum defeats the purpose of measuring progress against a proven method.

  • Prepare and fulfill meeting assignments. Ill-prepared members miss the opportunity to learn and cheat fellow members out of what they may learn from the member’s contribution.

The second recommendation is to foster interaction.  A welcoming climate and culture make all the difference for our guests and members:

  • Provide helpful, constructive evaluations. Every Toastmaster deserves supportive feedback with advice for improving speaking and leadership efforts.

  • Promote a positive, friendly environment by arriving early to mingle and get to know members. Greet everyone and introduce yourself to guests.

  • Serve as an officer. Club meetings require teamwork and planning. Without these things the club would suffer.

  • Be respectful and courteous to everyone. Everyone deserves encouragement, support, and acknowledgment regardless of membership status or achievement level.

The last piece of advice is about quality.  We should strive to make our club one that has the needs of the members in mind and follows the values of Toastmasters International.  As a club we should encourage members to:

  • Bring guests. Give more people the benefits of Toastmasters’ program and introduce new personalities and ideas to the club.

  • Follow guidelines and rules. Noncompliance diminishes the meaning and value of awards and achievements for yourself and others.

  • Observe ethical standards. Ethics – in word and action – are just as important a part of the Toastmasters learning program as is speaking and leadership training.