Workshop Replay: Gestures for Connection – a New Look with Achim Nowak

Guest speaker Achim Nowak gave this presentation at Online Presenters on Feb. 24, 2020. The full meeting replay (including Table Topics impromptu speaking practices) is at but the version shared here includes Achim’s presentation and the Q&A discussion with members and guests.

Workshop abstract: As a speaker, leader, communicator, how much do you know about your “gestural vocabulary?” Desire deepening your capacity to connect with an individual, audience, work team, or group in front of you?

There are key things to know and discover about gesturing and your energetic presence — some of which may be new to you as a Toastmaster.

Achim Nowak has been featured in the New York Times, Forbes, NPR, the Miami Herald, NBC, USA Today, the Wall Street Journal, Entrepreneur, Fast Company and as a TedX presenter. He’s the author of Power Speaking-The Art of the Exceptional Public Speaker, Infectious-How to Connect Deeply and Unleash the Energetic Leader Within, and The Moment-A Practical Guide to Creating a Mindful Life in a Distracted World.

Achim offers his presentation, executive coaching and mentoring services through

Explore your Gestural Vocabulary on February 24th: Special Workshop with Achim Nowak

RSVP/register NOW for this free Online Presenters’ event.

How much attention do you bring to your body language and gestures when preparing for a talk, speech or presentation? No doubt you pay some advance attention, preparing for a Toastmaster project presentation. You know the speech evaluator will be taking this in and might give you related feedback of importance.

Our guest presenter for February 24th, Achim Nowak, will help us deep-dive into Gestures for Connection: A New Look,” in an interactive workshop-meeting. What does research tell us about “amount of gesturing” related to effectiveness and connection? Have you explored your own “gestural vocabulary”, rhythms, tempos, intentional versus natural, unconscious, spontaneous gesturing? Let’s get into this, together!

This will be a fun evening, not just for members of Online Presenters, but valuable for Toastmasters from any clubs, brick and mortar or online, corporate and community, and anyone interested in effective connection and presentation.

New and former visitors plus former members are invited to RSVP/register for this free workshop.

Achim Nowak has been featured the New York Times, Forbes, NPR, the Miami Herald, NBC, USA Today, the Wall Street Journal, Entrepreneur, Fast Company.

He’s the author of Power Speaking-The Art of the Exceptional Public Speaker, Infectious-How to Connect Deeply and Unleash the Energetic Leader Within, and The Moment-A Practical Guide to Creating a Mindful Life in a Distracted World.

Achim offers his presentation, executive coaching, mentoring services and retreats through

Achim will be taking questions during the workshop. What would you like to know, to be an impactful presence with natural and conscious gesturing? In in-person meetings… in online or video presentation?

If you like, review this blog and 3-minute video in advance to prime your pump for this online workshop.

Online Presenters members are encouraged to invite guests. Share this link.

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


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.

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,

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: