Special Educational Program with guest speaker Jesse Scinto, MS, DTM

On November 4, 2019, Online Presenters will host a special educational program featuring guest speaker Jesse Scinto, MS, DTM Founder & CEO at Public Sphere LLC and lecturer in Columbia University’s graduate Strategic Communication program. He is the author of the recent Toastmasters Magazine article, The Camera Never Lies, on understanding how you come across on video.

Guests are welcome: register here!

Guest Speaker’s Biography:

Jesse Scinto, DTM, is a Fulbright U.S. Scholar and lecturer in Columbia University’s graduate Strategic Communication program, where he teaches public speaking and persuasion. He also provides speaker training and presentation consulting through his firm, PUBLIC SPHERE. Jesse has appeared on Bloomberg TV, and his work has been featured in Fast Company, Forbes and the Stanford Social Innovation Review. He is a member of Greenspeakers Club in New York City.

Jesse’s Toastmaster Articles

The Feeling Is Virtual

Mastering Body Language

What Is Plagiarism and How Can You Avoid It?

What to Do When Your Audience Takes Offense

Speaking Up in Tough Situations

Email: jesse@publicsphere.llc

Twitter: @jessescinto

Strategies for Effective Evaluation

Have you ever been shy to sign up for that open evaluator role at next week’s meeting?

Have you ever given an evaluation and secretly wondered whether you were focusing on the right things?

Have you ever unintentionally made a speaker upset or self-conscious based on what you said during an evaluation?

If we’re being honest, most Toastmasters can probably answer “Yes” to each of these questions, even if the events occurred in unintentional or subconscious ways.

Being an evaluator is one of the most challenging and rewarding roles in Toastmasters. However, we must make a conscious effort to hone our skills and conduct ourselves according to the values of our organization. Members need highlights to recognize what a speaker did well, constructive criticism on what can be improved, and positive reinforcement to try again and again. Oh by the way, you have to accomplish all of that in two-to-three minutes with just a few minutes of preparation time.

The Purpose of the Evaluator

Fortunately, Toastmasters International provides us with a clear purpose statement for evaluators.

“Your purpose as an evaluator is to provide honest reaction in a constructive manner to the person’s efforts, using the evaluation guides provided. You are not a judge or an authority on speaking or leadership. When you evaluate, you are simply giving your own reaction to the person’s speaking or leadership efforts. An evaluation is an opinion, nothing more. This opinion should mention the effect on you, what the speaker or leader did well, areas where the speaker or leader could improve, and specific recommendations for improvement”

Toastmasters International, 2011, p. 3

Let’s build a giant vacuum to suck up all of the air pollution over the world’s major cities and spew it out into space!

Let’s fire people from cannons on the outskirts to major hot spots in the city to reduce car traffic during rush hour.

I bet you have an opinion about these last two statements. That’s right, an evaluation is merely an opinion. Since you have opinions about things, you too can be an evaluator. In fact, anybody can be an evaluator! The first problem is solved. You should never be afraid to sign up to be an evaluator.

The Components of Evaluation

One might look to the skies on a dark, clear night, place a fist under the chin, and ponder what goes into an evaluation. Thankfully, we once again have clear guidelines on what is to be included in a Toastmasters evaluation. An evaluation is a two-to-three-minute speech. Therefore, it should have a clear introduction, body, and conclusion. Within the body of the evaluation, you should always include these components (Toastmasters International, 2011).

  • What the speaker did well
  • Areas in which the speaker can improve
  • Specific recommendations for how the speaker can improve

What to Focus On

A more nuanced portion of evaluation comes in deciding what to focus on. With so many distractions in the world today (What should I wear? Which Disney Princess am I? LOLcats?), it is extremely important to focus on the right things during an evaluation. This article comes with a superb built-in table summarizing precisely what should be commented on and avoided during an evaluation.

Focus OnAvoid Commenting On
The stated project objectivesThe many other things that could be said
The personal goals of the speakerThe person themselves
Concrete, observable behaviorsYour assumptions about the person or behaviors

First, every Toastmasters project comes with a clear set of objectives. As the evaluator, your responsibility is to assess how well the speaker achieved these goals. These are well-documented, so you only have to take a glance at the evaluation sheet prior to the speech.

Second, it is a good idea to talk with the speaker beforehand. You can find out any specific goals the speaker has for improving their speech and then focus your evaluation on those. For example, the speaker may be trying primarily to work on a specific aspect, such as gestures, filler words, or vocal variety.

Third, make sure to focus only on what is observed, not your personal assumptions. For instance, “I noticed that you were rocking back and forth during the speech” (an observation) is acceptable, whereas “You were rocking around because you are a nervous ne’er-do-well” (an assumption) is not acceptable. You don’t really know why someone exhibited a certain behavior during a speech and should never make assumptions related to that. The person may have had to go to the bathroom really bad, but was holding it in while the previous speaker went over time by 10 minutes, causing them to rock back and forth while they earnestly tried not to spill on themselves during their own speech. Focus on what you see, not your assumptions about what you see. Now you know what to focus on and knowing has been said by a 1980s cartoon to be half the battle.

How to Be Kind

A yet more nuanced factor of evaluation is making sure to provide feedback for improvement, while maintaining good feelings and relationships with our peers. When we offend people during an evaluation, it’s often because we have made an assumption about them or their behaviors. It is essential to focus on the objectives of the speech and behaviors that can be observed. Never pass judgement on the speaker themselves or comment on any conclusions you personally make inside your own head about the speaker. Instead, focus on making constructive suggestions for future improvement. Remember that everyone is at a different point along their Toastmasters journey. Our purpose is to continually improve through practice. Being mindful about of your purpose as an evaluator and the feelings of others helps ensure that you will not offend a fellow Toastmaster or start World War III by accident.

How to Add Value

While it is important to be kind and considerate in your delivery, it is equally important to provide value in your evaluation. Take special note that evaluation even has the world “valua” in it, which is pretty darn close to the world “value.” The key to providing a high-value evaluation is not just observing areas for improvement, but providing specific, feasible recommendations for how speakers can improve in the future. Here are a couple examples.

  • “I noticed that you were rocking back and forth during your speech, which became a bit distracting for me. The next time you speak, try taking the stage with a firm, comfortable stance with your legs shoulder-width apart and your back up straight. This may help keep you centered as you make your introductory statement.”
  • “I noticed that you used a very similar tone of voice for your grandmother whether she was baking cookies or saving your life after the stove caught fire. I imagine that the fire would have been a stressful emergency. Therefore, the next time you tell this story, you might try to change your tone of voice to express the intensity of emotion that your grandmother felt during this moment.”

Do you see the bold text? That signifies the value-added portion of these example statements. Without specific suggestions like these, an evaluation may have “valua,” but it most certainly does not have value.

Bonus Strategies for Evaluation

In addition to the fundamentals of evaluation, it is often helpful to apply specific strategies in different situations. Many such strategies have been developed and they come with more acronyms than my editor would allow me to list in this article. Here are a few places where you can find helpful evaluation strategies.

  • Use the excellent Pathways evaluation resource format (Toastmasters International, 2016)
  • Generally, it is preferable to give bad news first, followed by good news (Legg & Sweeny, 2014)
  • Seek out one of the many alternative frameworks for structuring evaluations, which are well-documented (Denno, 2018)
  • Look back fondly on a summary of all the tips included in this article and share them with others (Quick, 2019)

The idea behind applying a strategy is that you go into your evaluator role with a clear understanding of what you are paying attention to. For instance, the Pathways format (you excelled at, you may want to work on, to challenge yourself), HSF (heard, saw, felt), and GLOVE (gestures, language, organization, voice, enthusiasm) will yield drastically different feedback, because they focus the evaluator on different aspects of a speech. Strategies like these help us focus our evaluations on the most important aspects for the current situation.

The Evaluation Audience

Lastly, let’s consider one more question. Who is the evaluation for?

If you said, “the ants crawling out of the crack in one corner of the wall and traversing the carpet to steal the donuts on the table in our meeting room,” you have not taken this question seriously and have instead opted to humor yourself.

On the other hand, if you said some combination of the speaker, the evaluator, or everyone present in the meeting, you have proven yourself a serious professional with regard to the posed question. Indeed, the evaluation is not just for the speaker, but for everyone! Therefore, it is recommended that you:

  • Prioritize items that will help all members learn and improve in your oral evaluation speech during the club meeting
  • Share personalized, detailed feedback in a private follow-up conversation with the speaker

Unleash Your Inner Evaluator

You see, it’s just like the sappy ending to a movie from a few decades ago. The tools you needed to be an effective evaluator were inside you all along. Don’t hesitate, go forth and evaluate!


How to Start Your Slides More Smoothly In Zoom

Uh … I have a few slides to show you … just a second, where is that share button … okay, here we go. Just a sec, oh right, show from beginning. Here we go ….

Have you attended an online meeting where the presenter said at least some of that out loud? Or have you been that person? Having a little trouble futzing with the technology is perfectly understandable when you’re just getting started, but eventually you want to grow beyond that.

One technique I am working to perfect is to just speak for a moment or two (with my face on screen, rather than my slides). As I speak a specific line of my introduction, I start the slides without fumbling.

Here is what I have learned by trial and error.

Share dialog ready to go
  1. Put your slides in “presentation mode” ahead of time, before you actually share them. In PowerPoint, you go to the row of buttons under Slide Show and click “From Beginning.”
  2. Leave the slides warmed up and ready to go as you enter the Zoom meeting and await your turn to speak.
  3. As the time in the meeting for you to speak approaches, find the green Share button at the bottom of the screen and click on it. For the speaking technique I discuss above (just talk first, then add slides), you do not actually want to start the screen share yet — that will not happen until you click the blue Share button within the dialog box.
  4. With the screen control dialog displayed, select the screen that you want to share. The presentation mode view of your slides will be one of the options you can select. Leaving the dialog box open will block part of the screen Zoom screen (as shown above), but you can move it around as necessary to see what you need to see. (More important, you’re getting ready for your own time on camera).
  5. Begin speaking when you are introduced. Hover your mouse over that blue Share button. At the exact right moment in your speech, click the button in the dialog box. Your slides will appear on screen, and you can begin advancing through them.

You can skip or modify steps, depending on the nature of your speech. If you prefer to have your slides displayed from the beginning of when you start speaking, it still helps to have everything queued up and ready to go before you start speaking.

With a little modification, you ought to be able to apply the same basic concepts to presenting in other online meeting environments such as GoToMeeting or Microsoft Teams.

Getting Fancy

Note that if you select a specific application, such as your PowerPoint, but then switch to showing a web page or other application, the audience will still be seeing your original selection. If you are going to be switching between applications, it is better to select the full screen view. Just leave your slides, or whatever application you want the audience to see first, as the last application displayed before you entered Zoom. When you start screen sharing, the Zoom screen disappears (expect for the thumbnails and controls in the margin of the page), leaving the last application viewed as the subject of your screen share.

Keeping it Simple

While this is advice I don’t always follow, the “keep it simple, stupid” (KISS) principle is probably best, when possible. If you just take it step-by-step, the plan I outline above will help you be a little more of a smooth operator online.

Meeting invitation at Convention

All of us are invited to an Online Club Get-Together, from 11am to noon, Saturday, August 24 on Level 2, Valley 3. Nothing else appears to be scheduled. Not only will this give us a chance to meet with other online club members, we have an opportunity to learn new ideas, excitement (or not), and our opportunities. Roger Fung asked one question: “What are some concerns or suggestions about our online community you would like to share with our leaders?” Hope you can join us.

How to Blog for Toastmasters (also, Where and Why) – Video Replay, Notes and Links

In this demonstration speech at Online Presenters, I encourage members of Online Presenters to take advantage of the fact that our website has a blog built into it — just waiting to help them with the Create a Compelling Blog project in Pathways.

I am David F. Carr, DTM, the original organizer, charter year President and current treasurer of Online Presenters. I’m also the founder of the WordPress for Toastmasters open source software project. As this year’s webmaster for District 47, I am also encouraging district leaders to blog about the district and all the great people and clubs within it. And I would love to see more of the clubs who have adopted WordPress taking full advantage of blogging as a way of celebrating the talent within their clubs.

David F. Carr, DTM, founder of the WordPress for Toastmasters project.

In the video, I show how to work as a contributor to a WordPress-powered blog run by your club or district. I also show a little about how to post blog articles on LinkedIn, which is a great outlet for sharing your professional interests outside of Toastmasters (and also a pretty good place to be talking up Toastmasters). I briefly discuss other options, such as the WordPress.com service where you can sign up for a free personal blog (and perhaps upgrade to a paid plan later if that makes sense for you).

Here are a few relevant blog posts about how to use blogs, websites and social media more effectively.

These two are for the webmaster wanting to know how to set up members as contributors, authors and administrators.

Also check out the Pathways blogging journey of Carole McCulloch, a friend of the club who was one of the club coaches for Online Presenters when we originally chartered. She explains more about the Create a Compelling Blog project and how to tackle it.

One More Blogging Tip

Blog Categories

One detail not covered in the blog is how to categorize blog posts. There is a Categories panel on the editor sidebar (under Document). Click the down arrow to reveal a list of checkboxes. Here is an example from the Online Presenters blog:

The categories you select will appear as links at the bottom of your post, and readers can click on to see other items that fall into the same category — for example, other posts containing Online Meeting Tips. Categories help make your blog better organized.

Members Only is a special category for posts that should only be displayed to logged in members. You might want to use that for meeting minutes, for example.

Notes for Webmasters

Home Page and Sidebar Widgets

The webmaster or other user with administrator rights can use the WordPress Customizer tool to add to customize the appearance of the website, including home page options, menus, and widgets that appear on the sidebar of the page.

  • Blog listing widgets:
    • Recent Posts — all the most recent posts
    • Categories — click to see all posts in the selected category
    • Club News – a Recent Posts listing that excludes “Members Only” posts.
    • Members Only – a listing of posts in the Members Only category.
  • Home Page Settings
    • Your latest posts – If you create a WordPress website outside of toastmost.org, this will be the default. Appropriate for websites that are primarily blogs or have active blogs.
    • A static page – I recommend club and business websites greet visitors with a welcome page and designate a separate page where blog listings will be displayed. Toastmost.org sites are preconfigured with this option, but you can change it if you prefer to have your blog out front.

Create Your Own WordPress Website / Blog

There are multiple ways of creating a WordPress website:

  • Create a free account at WordPress.com — good for personal blogs but does not support the WordPress for Toastmasters software for agenda management, etc.
  • Create an an account at Toastmost.org, which is part of the WordPress for Toastmasters project. Specifically for club blogs, with TI branding built into the site theme / templates and agenda management functions. Free for the first year, then $30 per year.
  • Create an independent website on any web hosting service that supports WordPress. Many affordable options exist. Allows you to use your own web domain and gives you more control, for example over what plugins to install. Preferred option for business websites. For club websites, you can install two plugins (RSVPMaker and RSVPMaker for Toastmasters) plus the Lectern theme to duplicate the functionality of a toastmost.org site. The Lectern theme can also be used on district websites.


While I talk a lot about the club and agenda management features of WordPress and am proud of the software, the best reason to choose WordPress for Toastmasters is the underlying WordPress blogging and web publishing system. I am always disappointed when I see a club has set up a website using the software but isn’t taking advantage of the opportunity to post timely and interesting information.

If you have a WordPress website for your club but haven’t changed the home page or added to the blog in many months, you are missing out on 90% of the value of this option. Make sure you’re showing off what makes your club special!

The Power of Google Slides

We have been used to using PowerPoint when giving presentations. I find that Google Slides is very convenient and easy to use for slides presentation. When I conducted the survey among Online Presenters members, I received a feedback that the biggest time waster when creating slides are:

  • Finding the right theme
  • Finding the right images
  • Making the slides presentation look professional
  • Need more practice so you will be sync of doing it.

Below is the video of my technical presentation project #5 to address the problems when creating slides presentation. I hope that you benefit from it to improve your slides presentation. 🙂

You can use Google Slides if you have gmail account. Here is the link to get Google slides, https://www.google.com/slides/about/

and you can get a variety of themes from Slides Carnival

Other resources for slides presentation online:

Microsoft PowerPoint Online

Prezi (premium/paid themes)

Video for Speakers and Presenters: Replay from a Workshop on Creating, Editing and Sharing Video

This is a replay of the Online Presenters workshop on Creating, Editing and Sharing video from February 4, 2019. The version below has been slightly edited (the full meeting replay, including Table Topics impromptu speaking practice, is here).

Below are some additional notes from Workshop Presenter David F. Carr.

Continue reading “Video for Speakers and Presenters: Replay from a Workshop on Creating, Editing and Sharing Video”

Video Editing with Apple’s iMovie for Mac (for Toastmasters Video Workshop)

Several people asked that I share tips for Mac users as part of my video workshop. Since I usually do my editing on a Windows PC, I found a tutorial someone else had created on Apple iMovie, which comes free with a Mac (there are also iMovie apps for iPhone and iPad). As my value add, below the video you’ll find an annotated index to the timestamps of the sections of this tutorial covering common tasks that would be relevant to a speech or presentation video.

A second video, at the bottom of this post, shows how to use iMovie to create animated GIFs.

iMovie is quite powerful, although there are some pro features that are reserved for Apple’s Final Cut Pro. There seems to be an iMovie counterpart for just about everything I do using a different program, Camtasia, which is available for both Windows and Mac PCs. iMovie might even do some things better. One Toastmasters friend who is a Mac user said her biggest frustration with iMovie is that it makes it difficult to move projects from one computer to another. However, the videos you produce with it are perfectly portable and ready to upload to social media or your website.

Start with a blank project, begin adding media

Cut and splice from the middle of a clip

Add and edit audio clips or music

Detach Audio from a video clip (separate the audio from the video so each can be edited independently)

Titles and Backgrounds


Adding and Cropping and Still Images + how you can use the “Ken Burns effect”

Changing Clip Speed

Adding a voice over narration

Create a video file, saved to your computer, or publish direct to YouTube or Facebook (the instructor suggests it’s better to save / export the file, and I agree)

To create an animated GIF using iMovie, try these directions:

Business Strategy For Your Company Or Organization

Want to improve your business decisions to increase revenue, reduce expenses and create happy customers and employees?
Dreaming about discovering untapped business opportunities?
Or maybe you are interested in team building?

Then we have some great news for you. Our member Carol Prahinski hosts a Business Strategy Webinar, December 26, 2018, 7 pm Eastern Time. Carol is an Assistant Professor of Supply Chain Management at Broad College of Business, Michigan State University.

What are you going to learn with her at the Business Strategy Webinar?

  • Overview and definition of strategy (corporate, business, functional strategies); includes Porter’s business strategy
  • Introduction and definitions of the eight competitive priorities (how companies compete in the marketplace)
  • An overview of Fisher’s article, “What is the right supply chain strategy for your product?”
  • The product-process matrix (how to organize the processes to match the products/services)
  • The product lifecycle and how our organization must change over time to remain aligned
  • How these tools align with each other and what it means for your organization

JOIN HERE: https://msu.zoom.us/j/804293313,
Dec 26, 2018, 7 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)