My Pathways Journey

I am a firm believer that if we do not evolve and progress, we become stale and irrelevant. I have witnessed this in my business world, spiritual world, and other areas of my life.

When Pathways was introduced, my soul jumped with excitement. What was this new curriculum going to look like? How will it be an advantage over what is the current curriculum that many have used successfully to change their lives? Why were we going to be the last region to get it? Finding out I had to wait until May 15th made me feel like a kid waiting for my birthday to come around. As soon as the 15th of May came, I took the survey to discover what path was best suited for me. Of the three that were given to me, Dynamic Leadership spoke loudly. I jumped right in, took the webinars, and loved how easy everything was to navigate.

I am currently shadowing under my Pastor at Life Church to grow in leadership and what the Dynamic Leadership curriculum offers is exactly the skills I need to work on to grow not only at my church, but also at work. I quickly signed up to do the Ice Breaker speech, and am working on my research project speech. Having to redo my Ice Breaker was not a discouragement because there are new people in my club, and my first Ice Breaker did not explain everything there is to know about Kevin. I look forward to hearing other established members deliver their Ice Breakers for the same reason.

Toastmasters is fantastic because it helps everyone learn from one another.
If anyone is unsure of how to move forward with the Pathways program, my advice is to just jump in! Talk with you club officers for assistance if you need it. Toastmasters has always been an organization that ignites a person’s soul to grow and be the best they can be. We are all one big family in Toastmasters and celebrate with each other. Now Pathways offers an additional reason to celebrate.

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2017-2018 Club Newsletter Contest


Does your club have a newsletter? If so, consider entering District 83’s Newsletter Contest! If not, consider creating one. While providing club information, the newsletter team may earn credit towards goals in the Competent Leader manual. We have provided the opportunity for as many clubs as possible to enter and participate.

Contest Criteria:

  • Must use current Toastmasters International logo.
  • Must include correct Toastmasters International branding standards (i.e. colors, use of logo, fonts, images, design devices, etc.).
  • May use Toastmasters International templates or your own layout.
  • Minimum of two pages; no maximum number of pages.
  • Your club must be in good standing.
  • Maximum of one entry per club.
  • Eligible issue must be dated between July 1, 2017 and June 30, 2018.
  • Deadline for submission: July 15, 2018.
  • Submit a PDF to: District 83 Newsletter Contest

Results will be announced in the fall. There is a perpetual Club Newsletter of the Year award, a 27″ trophy with the winning club and year engraved on one of the smaller plates. The winning club will take possession of the trophy in the fall of 2018 and will return it to the District 2019 Spring Conference.

If you have any questions, please contact Janice Buffalow, DTM, District 83 Director, 2017-2018; be sure to use the subject line of: District 83 Newsletter Contest.

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District 83’s Speakers Bureau Under Development

Are you looking for an opportunity to deliver longer speeches in front of a new audience? Do you want to wiggle your toes in the sea of Professional Speaking without dipping your entire foot? We have a solution for you – the District 83 Speakers Bureau!

The purpose of the District 83 Speakers Bureau is to promote, grow, and market the skills and services of club members within our district. Our mission is to connect speakers with engagements that add value to the communities we serve. Membership to a club within District 83 is required. We value integrity, excellence, accountability, customer service, customer satisfaction, community and member service. Can you fulfill these values? We need you!

Membership to the speakers bureau is by audition and there is a $25 application fee. The audition speech is 18-20 minutes long on any subject that the candidate wishes to present. We expect to have our first run of auditions after the Spring Conference. Candidates will be notified within 3 days of their status in the bureau.

Before we can go public, we need to engage speakers to advertise! Speaking engagements booked through the bureau are complimentary; however, any engagements you book through your contacts with others are not under the Bureau’s control.

The Member Handbook and application are available. We have a date and location scheduled for the auditions in July. Please send a request for all information to the Speakers Bureau mailbox.

Remember, you must be a member of a club in District 83 in order to receive an application. Hurry before it is too late!

If you have any additional questions, please send them to the Speakers Bureau mailbox.

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Brand Photo Contest

Are you and your club members up for a creative challenge? While searching through the Toastmasters Branding on the Toastmasters website, I came across a contest open to all clubs! Good luck!

Brand Photo Contest
Your efforts to incorporate Toastmasters branded-materials into your meeting and promotion materials is greatly appreciated! However, if your club doesn’t have the funds to purchase branded materials, help is on the way! Enter the Toastmasters monthly photo contest and give your club a chance to win a branded banner, lectern or marketing materials. The contest runs now through December 31, 2018.

Winning Clubs
Each month, the top 10 club photos will be entered into a drawing. One club will be selected to win branded materials (e.g., banner, lectern) valued at $100, plus shipping. The winning club will be featured on Toastmasters social media platforms and website.

How to Enter
Take a photo of your club members showing their excitement for the Toastmasters brand! (e.g. wearing Toastmasters branded items, participating in a club meeting, etc.) Please email a picture of your club’s photo to

Presented by Toastmasters International

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Pathways Learning Experience: Get Ready

District 83 expects to launch the Pathways Learning Experience to our members on May 15, 2018.

In order to access the online Base Camp, where you will begin your Assessment to select one of the ten learning paths to pursue, and choose print or online materials, you must have an account with Toastmasters International. It is a single sign-on that you would use to access anything on the Toastmasters site, including Pathways.

If you have not done so already, please visit to get started.

At the top of the menu bar, select “Login” and fill in your Username, which is your email address.

If you have not set up an account yet, leave the Password field blank, and select “Forgot password?”

You will be prompted to select a password.

Use this combination of Username and Password to Login to the Toastmasters International website once Pathways launches in order to access Base Camp and begin your journey. There is a plethora of great information on the website including club DCP progress, resources and the Toastmasters magazine.

Get your account set up today so when Pathways launches, you will be ready to get started.

Thank you to the following contributors of this article: Su Brooks, Elizabeth Mancuso, Lynda Starr, Michelle Tropper

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Embrace Change

Let me tell you about my day. I woke up this morning and used the percolator to make coffee. I went to the office and sat down at my manual typewriter and used a rotary phone to make some calls. When I came back from lunch, my secretary handed me a pile of pink slips with phone messages and two faxes. I love the modern world.

Obviously change is a big part of our world and impacts our daily lives. No matter how happy we are with how things are, life will change. Change can be expected or unexpected, and in either case, attitude is everything and how we react to change is what counts. The Serenity Prayer directs us to ask that we be granted me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and wisdom to know the difference.

Here are some tips for having a good attitude when it comes to change.

  • Accept that change can be good and can be a chance to challenge one’s self to try new things.
  • Understand why change is occurring. If your company changes its hours, vacation policy or bonus structure, you cannot view this as a personal affront and it may be a sign of things to come.
  • View change as a new beginning. We celebrate new years, weddings, commencements, new jobs for the opportunities they will bring.
  • Change is new and takes you away from the same old, same old.
  • Be curious. Ask questions about the change, its impact and what is expected by you.
  • Short term does not equal long term. While in the short term, change may require new ways of foing things and the need to adapt. Over time, the “new” becomes familiar and less scary.
  • Ask yourself, how can I make this change work for me? How will you benefit?

Tomorrow morning, when you’re making Keurig coffee, having breakfast, get to work and check email on your smartphone and laptop and receive a text about a change in meeting time, think about which changes are coming and list the positives of these changes, and you’ll realize that change can be good.

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Welcome Visitors

Who remembers their first visit to a Toastmasters club meeting? Were you “shopping” for a club? Were you nervous? Did you feel welcome? Had you visited other clubs? Did you join the first club that you visited?

My informal survey indicates that most people stick with the first club they visit. They would probably never return if they didn’t feel welcomed.

Keep up the good work!

New members are the lifeblood of thriving Toastmaster Clubs:

  • They provide new ideas.
  • They expand our vision and network.
  • They bring new enthusiasm.
  • They keep us on our toes.
  • They see things that we have become blind to.
  • They give us opportunities to mentor.
  • They replace people who leave.

How do we convert visitors to members? Greet them with a smile; make them feel welcome and “at home”. Make an effort to talk with them after the meeting. Go low-key on the selling of your club; people like to buy, not to be overwhelmed with the sale. Jot down their names to introduce them at the beginning of the meeting. Assign a member to “befriend” each visitor and sit with them during the meeting.

You probably already know everything written here; even so, a gentle reminder is always helpful.

Keep up the good work! Who knows? You may be the reason they join your club.

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District 83 – Youth Leadership Program

The Youth Leadership Program (YLP) is a workshop consisting of eight one- to two-hour sessions that enable young people under the age of 18 to develop their communication and leadership skills through practical experience.

In the workshop, young people learn valuable communication and leadership skills including but not limited to preparing and giving speeches, giving constructive feedback (Evaluation), giving impromptu talks (Table Topics), understanding and controlling various speech features like their voice, vocabulary, gestures, use of speaking area and more.

The YLP workshops are structured for small group learning and are limited to 25 students. A coordinator who attends each meeting facilitates them. Meetings generally follow a format similar to that of a Toastmasters club meeting, with an announced agenda that includes practice in parliamentary procedure, prepared and impromptu speeches and the selection of presiding officers.

If you want to be an YLP Coordinator or want to know more about the program, please contact District 83 YLP Coordinator.

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Why would someone stay in Toastmasters for 15 years?

I never thought I’d be involved for 15 years! I have always had high goals and being a fantastic speaker is one of my top goals in life.

I was so afraid of public speaking, I would drop a class while going for my Bachelor’s, once I found out giving a speech was a requirement. That sounds crazy to me now. What I wouldn’t give to speak to an audience of 500! My record is 250 and I know someday I’ll break 1000.

If you’ve been counting, that’s 2 reasons I’ve stayed. Though I have my DTM, I’m not the best speaker I can be.

Getting over the fear of public speaking is not easy. It is arguably the hardest fear you’ll conqueror in your life. According to Lominger, Presentation Skills have a development difficulty level of “Moderate” (Political Savvy and Conflict Management are examples of “Hardest”), which means it takes years to be proficient. How quickly you get better depends on many variables, about yours skills, your fear level and your dedication to self learning. I set 2 goals for myself:

    1. Speak at every meeting. Grab a role if I can and ask my mentor how to do it (or look it up). In the “old days,” there was a cute booklet called “A Toastmaster Wears Many Hats” that I could quickly skim in the meeting if I role like I wasn’t comfortable yet. I also volunteered to speak in Table Topics, even if I didn’t know what I was going to say. To me, “winning” was not yet what I said and how I did it, it was just getting up in front of everyone and saying something.
    2. Schedule a speech a month. This ensured I kept working on my skillset by giving a speech a month. Side Benefit: I advanced a Communication Track Award level every year. (Yes, that means now I have more CC’s, ACB, ACS and ACG’s than I can count!).I found myself surprised at the other skills I developed without realizing it!

  1. Listening
    – A 360 peer review assessment about 2 years into joining Toastmasters revealed that my top skill was now listening! I was shocked! It took me a few weeks to figure out that it was because of Toastmasters and trying to listen to speeches while at the same time being Timer, Evaluator, etc. that built this skill.

Leadership – A year after that, about 3 years in, I found myself as a manager of first one person, and then, as a result of people moving out of my area after a re-organization, a manager of 9. With no management experience, just my Toastmaster Officer training and my intuition, I lead that team to have the one of the company’s highest Gallup Engagement scores and the Top Supply Department US Engagement Score for 2 sessions in a row! My team and I were famous for a brief time in our careers, doing interviews with real reporters for our company’s, (Mars Wrigley Confectionary) internal home page. I also was nominated by a direct report for the “Make the Difference Award” and made it to the Regional Competition. All this I attribute to Toastmasters. Being an officer and networking with great leaders like Irene and Arnold Card and Paula & Willy Markert at Conferences gave me a foundation for being a Visionary, Motivational Speaker, and the ability to handle conflict.

I started 2 clubs. I co-started “Skylands Community Club” with Jen O’Hagen when BASF left the International Trade Zone. When my job moved over to the “chocolate-side” of the business in Hackettstown, I started a new company club called “Mars Sweet Talkers”. While Skylands disbanded due to a re-organization at the Mount Olive location where the entire leadership team left the business, “Sweet Talkers” still exists with 35-40 people strong. Mars Wrigley Confectionary strongly supports the group, which has been a key to it’s success. It’s given our Leadership Team valuable visibility to President’s and Vice President’s, that still exists today.

Mars Sweet Talkers is currently working on building-out their mentor program. We’re going from assigning everyone a mentor to giving mentors and mentee guidance and gathering feedback to assess areas of opportunities.

Our biggest challenge has been getting volunteers to take on the President’s role. This year, we were able to successfully transition to a new President and we’ve gone a lot stronger because of it! Our fearless leader, Patti Snyder, focuses on attendance while the club benefits from her passions as a Trainer and Education Leader.

I still can’t do “humor”. It alludes me. I won’t give up, even if it takes me another 15 years!

Mary Verrone, DTM
· 2007 Toastmaster of the Year
· 2011 Area Humorous Speech Contest, 2nd Place
· 2011 Area Speech Contest, 2nd Place
· 2012 Area International Speech Contest, 1st Place
· 2012 Area Evaluation Contest, 2nd Place
· 2014 Area Evaluation Contest, 2nd Place
· 2015-2016 District Administrative Manager

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Expand Your Circle

As time passes we either expand our circle of interests or let it contract. Contracting our circle is easy and safe; expanding it takes effort. Toastmasters is a safe way to step out of our comfort zone.

One reason that Toastmasters is safe is that your are part of a team. I felt the support the members had for each other from the get-go. Safe is not the same as no competition. If competition motivates you, you can join contests. If the thought of losing demotivates you, there is no pressure to compete. The informal competition at club meetings is what you make of it.  All competition and Toastmaster titles aim for improvement.

Toastmasters allows you to face the fear of public speaking at your own pace. Start by listening to other people’s speeches and watching them grow. Listen to evaluations and see that everyone has room for growth. Speak at every meeting. Socialize. Encourage others. Take on a small role such as “Report of the Timer.” Introduce yourself with a joke as the Jokemaster and follow up with your Ice Breaker speech. Try to speak at every meeting. The Word of the Day and Grammarian are other opportunities to speak in front of people. When my career involved frequent speaking I kept my fear well under control and settled down after the first minute; when there were gaps between speaking engagements the tension rose.

Listening is another important life-skill. Volunteer for the role of Grammarian;  it develops listening and speaking skills. The Grammarian listens closely to all the speeches, synthesizes the results and quickly develops a readout. A minute of advance preparation and jotting down notes is much more effective than giving an ad-hoc readout. When you aren’t the Grammarian listen to other people’s speeches with a new ear.  Other speeches often provide a mirror in that I hear things that I either like or dislike in my own speeches.  I am encouraged by hearing how others rebound from errors. Listening to evaluations provides insights into what others think are important in speeches. Performing quiet shadow evaluations sharpens listening skills and helps internalize improvement ideas.

Grow with Toastmasters. Stretch yourself at every meeting. Share your experience on the Toastmasters District 83 Blog.

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