It is awesome to witness a spectacular speaker that engages the audience with a thought-provoking message, supported with colorful stories, and leaves you wanting more. We all want to become great speakers.  There is no feeling that compares to when the audience is completely connected to you and your message.  However, we often focus on the visual and vocal portions of our speech, often to the detriment of the written portion.

I believe that great speaking begins with great writing.  No great speaker became great by ‘winging it’ on stage.  To become great, you should pay the same or more attention to your speech writing as you give to your speech delivery.  It doesn’t matter if you are giving an ice-breaker speech, delivering a keynote address, or competing in a speech contest, I highly recommend that you write out your entire speech.  With a written draft of your speech, you have the ability to craft your message.

Anyone can write a speech; however, it takes practice and patience to craft a message.  While it may take a day or less to write a quick draft of a decent speech, the magic is in the crafting process.  It is that pains-taking process of reviewing, revising, and re-writing that simplifies and clarifies your message and the supporting points.  This process, which separates good writers from the great writers, can take weeks or years.  If you want to connect with your audience, your message must be well-crafted to attract and maintain their attention and address their specific needs.

About the Author:

Mario Lewis, DTM, is an award-winning, energetic speaker, and presentation coach, who provides audiences and individuals with motivational messages and strategies to become powerful and dynamic communicators. He delivers high-powered talks at leadership conferences, and corporate events that teach people how to CONNECT with their audiences to make their message unforgettable.  As a finalist in the Toastmasters’ 2012 World Championship of Public Speaking (and a semi-finalist in 2017 and 2018), the largest public speaking contest in the world, Mario has demonstrated the unique ability to engage audiences of all sizes and backgrounds.




Which Type of Goal Setter Are You? Circle, Zig-Zag or Straight Line

When it comes to goal setting, there are three different types of cycles people can get caught in: Circles, Zig Zags, and Straight Lines. Do you know which one you are? 

Circle Goal Setters

Have you ever got caught in a perpetual cycle trying to achieve the same goal over and over again thinking, “this time it will be different,” but it rarely is? If you’ve ever felt this way, you have been in the loop of a circle goal setter. Circle goal-setters start with a wildly optimistic goal but lack clear objectives for obtaining it. They might start strong and see progress, but they are eventually thrown off their path to success. After a while, all hope for obtaining the goal is completely gone. Has this ever happened to you?

Zig-Zag Goal Setters

Have you ever set a goal, but it took you two to four times longer to achieve that goal than originally intended? If so, you could have been a victim of zig-zag goal setting. This is when you set a goal, get off track, distractions creep in, and you have to reset and get back on track. This pattern continues off and on until the goal is eventually reached. Have you ever taken a zig and then a zag when trying to reach your goals?

Straight-Line Goal Setters

The straight-line goal-setter is the person who sets a goal and accomplishes it without any setbacks. They get from point A to point B without getting off course. Although, the straight-line goal-setter might deal with obstacles as well; however, they have systems in place to keep them on track. Do you have a history of achieving your goals on time every time?

Develop S.M.A.R.T. Goals

If you have been stuck in the cycle of a circle or zig-zag goal setter, then you could reap large benefits from utilizing the S.M.A.R.T. acronym. This is a tool that will help you develop a definite plan for achieving your goals. Here is the breakdown. The S stands for specific. If you want to achieve any goal, you have to know exactly what the goal is and how to accomplish it. If you set unclear or vague goals, you are setting yourself up for failure. Therefore, make your goal as specific as possible.

The M stands for measurable. Are you setting your goals in increments to measure progress? If not, it’s a good time to start. By making your goals measurable, you can celebrate the small wins along the way. This will help boost your confidence as you make progress. The A stands for achievable. Instead of setting wildly optimistic goals, it’s better to set smaller goals and build momentum as you achieve each one. The more success you have overtime, the more likely you will stick with the goal and see it through to its entirety.

The R stands for relevance. Is your goal relevant to where you currently are in life? If not, it will be easy to put that goal on the backburner when you know it isn’t helping you. Set goals you know that can help you get where you want to go. Lastly, the T stands for timely. What is the deadline or timeline for accomplishing your goal? Setting a clear time frame to achieving your goal is crucial for being able to measure your progress and know if you are falling behind or seeing success.

If you want to achieve your goals faster with less delay, utilize the S.M.A.R.T. acronym as your winning roadmap. To also help you achieve your goals, it helps having an accountability partner. You might also want to make your goals public. The more social pressure you apply, the more likely you will follow through. Lastly, find a coach, trainer, or mentor who has achieved the desired outcome you want! Having an expert helping you can expedite the results and get you to your goal even quicker. If you truly want to reach your goals, you must create a plan, put in the time, find the right resources, and push through the difficult times. Just know you can do it. Never give up!

About the Author:

 Jeremy Yencer

Certified Coach, Speaker & Trainer

Jeremy is a leadership enthusiast whose “WHY” is to inspire others to find their purpose so that they can elevate their lives and make a greater impact for themselves and their community. He once was destined to be a high school dropout but shifted his life around by having mentors who helped him discover a path to success. Jeremy knows how valuable mentorship can be and wants to give back to as many people as possible. He serves as a mentor, coach, and speaker helping others discover their “aha” moments.




Storytelling: Is It A Dying Art?

Recently, I was a participant in a very powerful workshop where I presented a short session on storytelling. After my presentation, the response was overwhelming. The participants said that it was informative, entertaining, helpful and very well delivered. However, what surprised me most was that more than one person said to me that storytelling is a dying art.

To me, it was strange because I grew up in a culture and family that was very rich in storytelling. That is how I knew my parents and grandparents and on top of it all, it was simply great entertainment. I assure you that a good story could compete with TV anytime.

Storytelling is as old as the world itself. Humans started telling stories as soon as they could speak. How could they not?! The spoken word came much earlier than the written one, and people had to preserve and pass along information, knowledge, wisdom and entertainment.

Do stories have a place in a business environment? In my opinion, it is a definite YES. Our stories can inspire, educate, entertain, inform, sell and transform our audience members.

Storytelling is a powerful business tool. It is a skill that every business and brand should master. When done well, storytelling can do wonders for a business, such as turn a brand into a legacy, influence the mind share and market share, generate profit and win the loyalty of the intended audience.

A good story makes us think and feel. It helps us to emotionally connect people to a brand.

Keep telling your stories, because only you can!


About the Author:

Isaak Gelbinovich

Isaak Gelbinovich, is a Professional Speaker, Author, Presentation Coach, Workshop leader, International Speaker.

Isaak Gelbinovich, a Distinguished Toastmaster (DTM) Awardee, is a member of No Limits Toastmasters, located in Staten Island, NY. He is also part of the OMNI-PRO Speakers Bureau, sponsored by District 83, Toastmasters.

Specialties:  Business and Personal Communication; Humor; Inspiration; Networking; Storytelling in business.


Meet the Winner of the District 83 Banner Design Contest, Luis Leiva

Luis Leiva, District 83’s 2019 banner design                                             winner

Prior to the 2019 Toastmasters International Convention, the members of District 83 got to work designing a banner that would be entered in a contest. The grand prize? Your work featured in the Parade of Distinguished Districts at the 2019 International Convention, $50 in TI bucks, and recognition across District 83. You can’t forget bragging rights.

If you’re new to Toastmasters or didn’t catch the contest this time around, you can read more about it in our previous blog post. Taking home a win is Speakability Club member, Luis Leiva. District 83 Public Relations Manager, Jenna Barone, recently interviewed Luis so we can learn more about the creative mind behind the winning banner design. 

Luis Leiva’s winning banner design.

JB: What club are you in and for how long? 

LL: I belong to the Speakability Club out of Scotch Plains. I first attended Toastmasters Dec 19th 2018 

JB: Why did you join toastmasters? 

LL: I joined Toastmasters to improve my public speaking skills. I aspire to be a keynote speaker and travel the world helping others and changing lives. I know if I want to get there I have to surround myself with people who are like minded and take speaking / presenting seriously. I researched on Youtube, “How to become a better speaker” and Toastmasters kept coming up, I then looked for a local chapter and found Speakability. I am grateful that there is an organization that helps people come together to improve not only speaking skills but communication in general. 

JB: What inspired your design? 

LL: To be honest with you, when I opened the email I saw that the designs were due the next day, I had 30 mins to kill before my next appointment so I decided to through my design in. My design came as a result of having to always create artwork for my company “Culture Estate”. As an entrepreneur you have to wear many hats and graphic designer has to be one of them if you want your vision to become a reality. I like simple and clean so the design had to reflect that. 

JB: Where do you see yourself 5 years from now, and how will Toastmasters play a role toward that end? 

LL: Like I mentioned, one of my goals is to take my public speaking to the highest level. I will be a sought after keynote speaker who travels to all parts of the world to help people get out of mediocrity and start living the life they want. I was recently asked why I go to Toastmasters if I am already a good speaker. My response is that I will always be a member because there are always people you can learn from and If you think you’re too good to learn then that’s when you stop growing. 

JB: What do you value most? 

LL: I value the organization and structure that Toastmaster offers. I would compare it to trying to learn music on your own or actually learning from a composer the notes, tempo and rhythm. It is a fast track to learning how to give an effective speech, lead, motivate, and communicate with others. I deeply value the science, and nuances behind speaking which help create a talk that can move the audience. 

The Value of a DTM Mentor

Your (Distinguished Toastmaster) DTM mentor will support you with your goals whether you have decided to pursue a traditional or a Pathways DTM.

Your DTM mentor can be a member of your club or a member of another club. You and your mentor can discuss how often to meet to talk about your progress and next steps.

A mentor will help you define the timetable for your goal. Requirements for a traditional DTM must be completed by June 2020. A Pathways DTM does not have a deadline specified by Toastmasters International. You and your mentor should discuss the overall timing, then break your goal into manageable segments with short, medium and long-term goals for success.Perhaps you are looking for additional speaking opportunities. I mentored a few Toastmasters who were able to serve as a model speaker for evaluation contests at other clubs, areas, and divisions outside their own.

Your DTM mentor can also let you know about clubs who might have fewer members than your club and frequently look for Toastmasters outside of their club to fill a speaking role on their agenda. It’s a good idea to have your next speech ready to go in case a prepared speaker has to cancel at the last minute and you can readily fill in.

You and your DTM mentor can meet Toastmasters outside of your club(s) at training sessions, contests and conferences. Meeting new people helps generate different ideas to help you reach your goals.

At a conference planning meeting, my DTM mentor informed me about two people seeking their DTM. I learned that they scheduled two educational workshops at a library on a weekend and invited everyone in the district to attend. This way they were able to reach a large audience and could present their training sessions without having to take time away from their regularly scheduled club meeting time.

You might be seeking a leadership role and need advice and connections for serving as a district officer or a sponsor, mentor, or coach. Your DTM mentor can help you with that information to get an appointment. Contact the District Director for more information.

For more information about DTM mentors, please contact the District 83 Destination DTM Chair.

Blog contributed by Su Brooks, DTM 2                                                                          District 83 Training Coordinator and Social Media Strategist

Su has been a Toastmaster since July 2000 and has earned two DTM awards in the Traditional program. In Pathways, she is working on three paths: Leadership Development, Presentation Mastery, and Engaging Humor. In addition, she recently began the Pathways Mentoring Program.

For 2018-2019, she serves as the Sergeant at Arms for Talk of Monmouth, an advanced club in Tinton Falls, New Jersey, and as the District Training Coordinator and a Social Media Strategist.

She is a member of No Limits Toastmasters in Staten Island, New York, where she serves as the audio technician on the production crew for Toastmasters in the Community, a cable TV show.

For 2019-2020, Su will take on the role of Destination DTM Chair for District 83.

Introducing Shelby L. Holliman, D83 blogger as of December 1, 2018

Toastmaster Shelby L. Holliman, member of Talk of Monmouth, (she currently serves as their VP of Membership) and Shore Speakers Toastmasters, honors District 83 by answering the call to serve as District 83 Toastmasters blogger effective Friday, December 1, 2018.  Shelby has earned her Competent Communicator and Competent Leader awards. 

Margarita Estrada, D83 Public Relations Manager, conducted an interview with Shelby.  Also present at that interview were:  Manny Reyes, DTM, District Director, Lynda Starr, DTM, Program Quality Director, and Begonia Reyes, Division I Director.

Shelby, when did you become a Toastmaster?

I became a Toastmaster on July 1, 2016.

What is your profession?  Why did you become a Toastmaster?

I am a lecturer on Public Speaking at Rutgers University.  I felt that it was important to strengthen my craft as a public speaker so that I could be the best leader, advisor, and coach on the subject matter.  My professional development is very important to me.  By constantly working and developing my craft, I can be a living example to my students.

What is your new goal?

I am always striving to improve.  This year, my goal is to challenge myself by honing my skills on the Pathways Learning experience.

What are your future goals?

My future goals are 1) to mentor a club and 2) to become part of the prison ministry at Rahway Prison, a project spearheaded by George Phillips, member of Princeton Toastmasters.

Shelby, we are looking forward to your contributions to our blog.  One last question.  What is your favorite quote?

Life is forward and understood backwards, by Soren Kierkegaard

About Toastmasters District 83:

District 83 includes 155 clubs, with close to 4,000 members, in Metropolitan New Jersey, Staten Island, and Rockland County, New York. For more information, please visit the District 83 website,

About Toastmasters International:

Toastmasters International is a nonprofit educational organization that teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a worldwide network of clubs. Founded in October 1924, the organization currently has more than 300,000 members in 16,500 clubs in 141countries. Each week, Toastmasters helps more than a quarter million people of every ethnicity, education and profession build their competence in communication so they can gain the confidence to lead others. For information about local Toastmasters clubs, please visit

For more information about Talk of Monmouth Toastmasters, visit:

For more information about Shore Speakers Toastmasters, visit:








Introducing Pres Vasiliev – Keynote Speaker for D83 Fall Celebration: Recognizing Success!

Pres (Presiyan) Vasiliev, 2013 World Champion of Public Speaking (WCPS),  Keynote Speaker for the District 83 Fall Celebration:  Recognizing Success! (for individual members and clubs) on Saturday, November 17th, at the APA Woodbridge Hotel, 120 South Wood Avenue, in Iselin, NJ.  (Go to to register!)

On Saturday, October 20th, 2018, Margarita Estrada, District 83 Public Relations Manager, had a conversation with Pres Vasiliev, where he shared his feelings about winning the WCPS in 2013 for his speech, Changed By a Tire, as well as his enthusiasm about his visit to District 83.   

What are your thoughts about coming to the District 83 Fall Awards and Recognition Celebration?

I look forward to meeting the members of District 83!  I can’t wait to help them become better storytellers and give them the tools they need to share their message more effectively and convey their vision more memorably. 

What does Proactive Empowerment mean to you in terms of Leadership?

I see it as a great strategy for building a better club and a better organization.  Why?  Because when you proactively help your team members – with your time, with your advice, with your encouragement – you trigger in them the desire to return the favor.  The more you help your team members, the more they will help you.  Such a team effort can achieve astonishing results.

What can we expect in your keynote address?

You will witness the defeats and triumphs, the decisions and discoveries, the mentors and helpers that shaped my journey to World Champion of Public Speaking.  You will also pick up powerful public speaking tools, tactics and techniques that you can apply right away to improve your communication and leadership skills. 

Tell us about your experience winning the World Championship of Public Speaking.  What have you learned?  What surprised you?

The biggest lesson for me was this: Believe in yourself, your story, and your message.  During my journey, there were moments of self-doubt – moments when I wondered, “Will the audience connect with me and my message?”  But the hard work and the help of fellow Toastmasters gave me the confidence I needed to succeed.  My preparation included speaking in more than 50 clubs.  What surprised me was that I learned something new from each club.  You never know where a good idea will come from, and as long as you stay open to feedback and help from others, you will gain tremendous insight.

How has Toastmasters impacted your life?

Toastmasters changed my life.  It built my confidence, sharpened my communication skills, and helped me launch my dream career as a professional speaker and executive speech coach.  Today I do what I love – speaking, teaching, and coaching give great meaning to my life.

Storytelling seems to be the ‘buzz’ word in the media.  What role does storytelling play in your presentations and why is it so important?

Stories help my audience experience my message.  If you give your audience a laundry list of lessons, chances are they won’t remember more than one or two.  But if you weave these lessons into a carefully crafted story, then your lessons will be much more memorable.  Moreover, when you use personal stories to get your message across, your audience will not only learn from you but also connect with you.

What advice do you have for fellow Toastmasters?

Always reach out to others for help and advice.  Seek feedback, take notes, and never stop asking questions.  With the help of others, you can achieve your goals and dreams.  During my journey, I found great mentors and coaches who helped me achieve my goal.  And if I can do it, so can you. 

If you were to define your life in one word, what would it be?

Persistence.  When I look back at my life, I see the willingness to keep going no matter what comes my way.  For me, the key to success is setting high goals and then persistently working towards their achievement. 

This event will truly be a celebration!  We will recognize Toastmasters 25+ years as Club Members!  These are Toastmasters who have been active in our organization for 25+ years.  In addition, we will recognize Pathways Guides and Ambassadors, as well as clubs who have attained the following as of September 30th.

  • Distinguished as of September 30th
  • Smedley Awards 
  • 20 Member Club & Club Strength
  • Friendly Neighbor
  • Traveling Gavel
  • Club Anniversaries (5-yr intervals)
  • New Clubs
  • Area & Div Directors Submission of Success Plan
  • Attendance at Summer TLI

The District 83 Toastmasters Fall Celebration:  Recognizing Success! will be held on Saturday, November 17th, at the APA Woodbridge Hotel, 120 South Wood Avenue, in Iselin, NJ.  Bring your friends!  Bring your family!  Bring your work colleagues!  You don’t want to miss it!  To register go to:!  If you have any questions, please email Co-Chair Emilia Volyand at


Interview with Stacey Greene

How long have you been a Toastmaster and which is your home club?

I have been a member of Toastmasters since 2009. I began first in District 38 (Philadelphia) but joined District 83 after I received new employment in New Jersey. Currently, my home club is Gateway 2 Toastmasters of Newark, New Jersey.

Why did you join Toastmasters?

I have always valued feedback that would allow me to grow. I was initially attracted to join Toastmasters because of the instantaneous and constructive feedback program. I hadn’t realized prior to joining Toastmasters how much of an art there is in providing meaningful opinion. Will it be memorable, relatable and applicable? Much of the growth that I can attest to in Toastmasters can be directly linked to the feedback I have received and shared. For example, one Toastmaster once shared with me at the onset of my Toastmasters journey that I often end normal sentences with my voice going up (as if to ask a question). This is not the kind of feedback that one usually receives in one’s personal or professional life. That one feedback helped me to be purposeful when I speak, to end with an exclamation mark instead a question mark. Furthermore, I joined after witnessing how other Toastmasters artfully delivered masterful evaluations.

Is this spring’s set of contests the first you have competed in (club level upward)? If not, in how many other years did you compete?

International Speech – I first competed in 2010/2011; however, my journey at that time ended at the Area level. At that time I felt I had told my story and had nothing else to share. As we can see now, that was not the case. Evaluations – I competed in 2011/2012 and came in second at the club level. The winner was not available to compete at Area so I competed and won. In preparations for the Division level I immersed myself with YouTube videos of past winners. The winners I saw were boisterous, loud and animated. In so doing, I devised a plan to mimic their style and delivery as this I thought was the winning formula. In that contest, I placed second. The lesson learned at that point was that it is okay to learn from others but it is important that I remain true to myself. This lesson took me to competing for the first time this year in District 83 in both Evaluations and International Speech and the rest is in the history books.

Did you use the same speech for all 2017 competitions (club through district)?

The word “same” is subjective in this regard. Throughout the levels, I utilized one core message of living a life that is authentic to you. However, the stories, lines and delivery evolved and changed with each level. With that said, the speech I delivered at the district level was completely different than the one I gave at the club level but the core message has remained unchanged.

[Editor’s Note: Stacey Greene was the first-place winner of both the 2017 District International Speech Contest and the 2017 Evaluation Contest. She represented District 83 at the 2017 International Speech Contest in Vancouver, BC, Canada this August and won third-place honors among a field of nine Round 1 semifinal contestants.]


Continue reading “Interview with Stacey Greene”

Toastmasters Leadership Institute kicks off Summer Officer Training (Part 1)

TLI took place on Saturday, June 24, 2017 in Cedar Knolls, NJ. Our District Trio comprised of District Director Janice Buffalow, DTM; Program Quality Director Manny Reyes, ACG, ALB; and Club Growth Director Lynda Starr, DTM, welcomed us. Our leaders provided a series of presentations with general information of interest to Club Officers in the morning prior to the breakout sessions for each of the seven club officer positions.

District Director Janice Buffalow

Janice discussed the importance of Club Success Plans and the Moments of Truth educational module.

Manny informed us that the contests at the District

conference are Tall Tales and Table Topics this fall. He encouraged participation in the contests.

“We need to communicate better and start now. It’s about you being better than you were before,” he remarked. “If you want something you have to work for it.”

Perpetual Progress is the theme for the conference, which will take place November 18 at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Somerset, NJ, the location of the District’s previous two conferences.

Program Quality Director Manny Reyes

Manny introduced Emilia Volyand, DTM, who will serve as District Chief Judge for 2017-2018. Emilia stated, “It starts with serving as an evaluator at the club level. If you pick the right judges, they will pick the right winners.” She will train people to be judges in August. “It is challenging to judge without judges’ training,” she concluded.

Continue reading “Toastmasters Leadership Institute kicks off Summer Officer Training (Part 1)”