Michael Varma

Michael Varma

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Wednesday, 04 September 2013 20:50

Varma Honored for Funny and Serious Sides

Funny-man and sometimes serious-guy Michael Varma, DTM, was honored by Toastmasters at the recent Founder’s District Executive Council ceremony: “Best Male Actor in a Comedy” for his appearance in a video promoting the communication organization’s Humorous Speech Contest, and the more serious 2013 Toastmasters Distinguished Service Award, for his contributions to the international non-profit that helps people hone their communication and leadership skills.

Thursday, 24 January 2013 00:38

Turn Your Life Around with One Question

DrFrannieStein“I don’t know what to talk about,” is one of the most common excuses for not giving a speech. Fortunately for you Frances Jordan Stein, Ph.D., DTM, can turn your (speaking) life around with one question.


Every person you meet wants to know, but is afraid to ask, “Who has been a light in your life?” Answer the following questions and fill in the blanks and you’ll have “something to talk about.”


Today I will talk about who has been a light and made a difference in my life.


Body of speech:
Describe the main character and tell how and what that person has said and done to make a difference in your life.


[There might be many events, but select only three main points to explain.]


1. _______________

2. _______________

3. _______________


Closing: Tell what makes the story important to you and what you hope others understand are key “take-aways.”


Take a bow. You’re all done. That was easy…but why was it so easy?


It’s a technique called “Speech Starters”. Speech Starters are questions that give rise to meaningful material that you can use in a conversation with others, organize a speech and deliver it with passion.


Here are three additional speech starters that you can “pop into” the above template and have a winning, passionate presentation every time. 

 1.   Who do you admire and how would you benefit having him/her as your mentor?  

2.   What has made you a better human being?
      Share how others will benefit knowing this information.

3.   Excluding your computer and smart phone, what one item couldn't you live without?
      Talk about why it is important, what it does for you and how it simplifies your life.


To ensure your speech has a strong closing and your audience has tangible “take-aways,” ask these questions:

  • So what?
  • Who cares?
  • Why bother?
  • What difference will it make?

Speaker’s Tip (and favorite mantra):
Never make a point without a story.

Never tell a story without a point.



Friday, 28 February 2014 08:21

The Queen of Content Gives Again

International award-winning trainer and Distinguished Toastmaster Sheryl Roush, crowned the "Queen of Content" by the Founder's District, shares how to get paid for your presentations when you learn how to Speak And Market Like a Pro!

All levels of speakers will discover valuable skills that can be used immediately. This fast-paced two-hour program provides more than 36 tips and 3 solid gold templates to help you design your marketing materials with greater know-how, confidence, and professionalism.

Learn how to…
--- Identify your true target market
--- Understand what your audience needs
--- Build tailored and engaging presentations
--- Leverage the three vital stages of communication
--- Create effective speaker marketing materials that get you hired

Sheryl's insider's point-of-view as a marketing and graphic designer of 35 years and more than 25 successful years as a paid speaker can jump-start your speaking business. So when she gives away time saving secrets on what-goes-where and why on the speaker's one-sheet template, you know it's solid gold marketing.

The Founder's District and Speakers Bureau are thrilled to have Sheryl Roush return to give, and give again, to help you succeed and achieve your presentation dreams. Best of all, this workshop of "Speak And Market Like a Pro!" held at National University in Costa Mesa on March 12, 2014, is free. Register here and if full, click on "Add to Waitlist".

Wednesday, 18 September 2013 22:37

TEDx Teams-Up with Toastmasters

TEDxYBC-2013-10-19TEDx YBC members believe in the possibility to change the world one positive word, gesture, or action at a time. Carpe diem! More than ten seasoned Toastmasters, led by Jack Nichols, have been selected to coach these young innovative thinkers in the new TED presentation style.

“That’s great,” I hear you say, “but what’s TED, TEDxYBC and TED presentation style?”

TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out in 1984 as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design.

TEDx was created in the spirit of TED's mission, "ideas worth spreading." The program is designed to give communities, organizations and individuals the opportunity to stimulate dialogue through TED-like experiences at the local level.

TEDxYBC (Youth Bommer Canyon) are all ages and races sharing ideas and building community – Orange County’s finest doers, thinkers and change agents. Instagram #tedxybc

TED presentation style challenges the world's most fascinating thinkers and doers to give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes or less. Shorter talks are not lesser talks. It may only take 5 minutes to make your point unforgettably. Like this one: Joe Smith: How to use a paper towel.

Come watch and participate in the Third annual TEDxYouthBommerCanyon conference:

Theme: Mind the Gap – stories of disruption, innovation, and crossing the chasm

Saturday, October 19, 2013
5:00 PM to 11:30 PM (PDT)

Orange Coast College's RBM Theater
2701 Fairview Rd
Costa Mesa, CA 92626

For more information: www.tedxyouthbommercanyon.com

Founder’s District leadership team tips their hat to these magnificent mentors:

    Iris Adam
  1. Victor Broski
  2. Norman Cook
  3. Margaret Connery
  4. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  5. Dan Cossack
  6. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  7. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  8. Lee Pound
  9. Michael Varma
  10. Jeffrey Wolfe
Sunday, 01 September 2013 21:40

Students Seek Justice

Walter-Clark-Students-Visit-BergenMeistersProfessor Walter Clark and more than a dozen of his student from West Wood College descended upon the BergenMeisters Toastmasters club on Thursday, August 22, during their lunchtime meeting to take their first steps in making a positive impact and rewarding career in the field of criminal justice.

In addition to giving a well-planned presentation, Clark believes being able to think on your feet and answer coherently in a clear and concise manner is a vital skill set. Several students participated in Table Topics, stood at the lectern at the front of the room and answered impromptu questions.

When polled the results were split in half – 50% felt it was hard and 50% felt it was easy to talk to a group of strangers. But all agreed practicing answering random questions would be beneficial.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010 02:54

Speaker's Bureau

The Speakers Bureau serves as a forum for developing, emerging and experienced speakers seeking to take their message beyond the club.

We meet monthly in Orange County as speakers hone their message and refine their material… taking the speaker from ‘club-level performance’ to ‘ready for prime time.’

We feature Qualified Speakers that have proven their message worthy of paid engagements.

If you’re a speaker seeking to improve your presentation, we encourage you to schedule a presentation – we promise to help you improve your presentation, so that you can get paid to speak.

If you’re seeking a local speaker for your organization, we feature some of best speakers in southern California. Each speaker has a unique message and has been vetted by FDSB to ensure that your audience experiences a high-quality, professional presentation.

If you’re seeking to network with other aspirational speakers, join us for compelling presentations and fun feedback sessions… and get connected to other speakers that aspire to be paid speakers.

If you’re a Toastmasters member, be sure to mention FDSB at your next club meeting… as we don’t want your fellow members to miss out on all the fun.

Toastmasters… where leaders are made.

FDSB… where professional speakers are made.
Founder’s District Speakers Bureau (FDSB) is a part of Toastmasters International’s Founder’s District in Orange County, CA.

Learn more at www.FDSpeakersBureau.com

Tuesday, 09 July 2013 21:41

Seasoned Speakers Satisfy Spectators

4th of July 2013 - 3Distinguished Toastmasters Michael Varma, Peter Albini and Kevin Graham added color commentary for more than 100 entries in the 22nd annual Lake Forest Fourth of July parade.

This hometown star spangled salute filled with entertainers, sports teams, church groups, hot rods and city officials were watched by more than 6,000 residents sitting on the sidewalks, including a pretty pink poodle named Margarita.

The red, white and blue entries started the mile long parade route at 10 a.m. at El Toro High School and concluded near Heritage Hill Historical Park. Varma and his talented talkers kept the crowd engaged with good family humor, Independence Day trivia, and Lake Forest fun facts.

City leaders believe the annual Independence Day parade signifies the importance of embracing the city’s rich, historical past so that future generations may enjoy the same hometown spirit. The city's motto, "Remember the past, challenge the future," is the Lake Forest way of life.

4th of July 2013 - 2

Michael Varma, Peter Albini and Kevin Graham announce the 22nd annual Lake Forest Fourth of July Parade

4th of July 2013 - 4

Wednesday, 24 February 2010 02:51


Most newspaper and media outlets will cover your Toastmasters event when you follow the basic rules of effective written communication for a news release. Today's organizations prefer articles, photos and story ideas via email. Below are key elements to include in your pitches.

Subject line

  • Begin with the date if your event is upcoming.
  • Be specific, i.e. “Feb. 6 free family fair” tells much more than “Press Release.”
  • Tell your story ideas i.e. “Disabled people learn to surf” peaks more interest in a moment than “Story idea.”

Lead time

  • Know each publication’s lead time.
  • Newspapers may need 1 to 2 weeks.
  • Magazines may need 4 to 6 weeks.

Message content

  • Be succinct.
  • Stay focused.
  • Write straight forward as if you were talking to a friend about your story.
  • Write for your audience: the editor and readers.
  • What would they want to know?
  • Why would this be important to them?
  • What would you say if you only had 100 words to tell us about your subject?

Contact information

  • Provide it!
  • Read your email often in case the editor has a question for you - they have tight deadlines.
  • Make sure your website works.


  • Submit articles or photos of an event that has happened shortly after it takes place.
  • A Toys for Tots Christmas event is more appropriately published in December than in March.
  • Send via email whenever possible.
  • Send in high resolution.
  • Most photos copied from websites are too small and will not publish well.
  • Include captions that tell editors in a nutshell what is happening in the photo and who the people are.


  • If you pay for a sign to say, “Circus Coming to the Fairgrounds Saturday,” that's ADVERTISING
  • If you put the sign on the side of an elephant and walk him around town that's PROMOTION.
  • If the elephant walks through the mayor's garden and the media reports on it, that's PUBLICITY.
  • If you can get the mayor to laugh about it, that's PUBLIC RELATIONS.

Initial content above compiled and documented updated 09-06-2013 by Michael Varma, DTM, Founder's District Public Relations Office 2009-2010

District Updates

IG: @founders_district_toastmasters/

FB: @/FoundersToastmasters

LI: @foundersdistricttoastmasters

YT: @FoundersDistrict

Opt In for Texts:  Text founders to 8444317575


Saturday, 27 February 2010 01:39

Public Relations Officer

Mission Statement:

Publicize Toastmasters to increase, maintain, and reward the membership by highlighting the personal and professional benefits gained through active participation in the various Toastmasters programs and events.


Recruit and work with a top notch PR Team to fulfill our mission statement through press releases, websites, videos, and social media. Increase the visibility of the Toastmasters program by shining a spotlight on member achievements, District conferences, training workshops, and other District events.

Job Description:

The public relations manager is responsible for coordinating publicity efforts in the District. By establishing and maintaining lines of communication between the district and its members, as well as between the District and the public, the public relations manager works to increase awareness of Toastmasters through all available media.

This officer serves in a staff position under the direction of the district director. He or she may be elected or appointed by the district director subject to approval of the executive committee and confirmation by the district council.

This position is not considered a fourth top officer and is not in logical progression to the office of district director. The public relations officer is eligible for re-election or reappointment for one succeeding term only.


  1. Serve as a member of the District Executive Committee under the direction of the district director.
  2. Uphold the bylaws and policies of Toastmasters International and the district administrative bylaws, following them to the best of his or her ability.
  3. Work in support of the district director, program quality directors and club growth directors in an effort to publicize events to the members and the outside community.
  4. Support the quality program directors to achieve the district’s educational goals.
  5. Support of the club growth directors to achieve the district’s membership growth goals, club building and club rescue goals.
  6. Serve as a resource to division directors and area directors to help publicize events and make them aware of the Toastmasters branding guidelines and resources.
  7. Work in cooperation with the district newsletter editor, webmaster, Founder’s TV team, speakers’ bureau, judges’ bureau and social media chairs in an effort to achieve public relations goals.


  1. Prepare a comprehensive public relations plan to keep both members and non-members aware of the District Toastmasters programs, news and events.
  2. Submit a public relations plan to the district director for approval. The plan should incorporate public relation strategies to promote:
    • Membership building and retention in conjunction with the club growth directors.
    • Building new clubs in conjunction with the club growth directors.
    • Training for club officers in coordination with program quality directors.
    • Promote achievement of Toastmasters educational awards in coordination with program quality directors.
  3. Working in coordination with the program quality directors, participate in leadership and training conferences and other special events within the district and help to publicize and promote them.
  4. Keep members informed about district activities, events, goals, achievements and educational programs using the district newsletter, website, and social media.
  5. Assist the public relations committee to implement the district’s public relations strategy.
  6. Develop publicity through the use of the press, television, radio and other media aimed at enhancing the public’s awareness of Toastmasters and its members.
  7. In consultation with the district director, serve as media representative for the district.
  8. Review and recommend to the district director all advertising and publicity material dealing with district programs and activities.
  9. Publicize the speakers’ bureau at the district, division and area levels, giving individual members the opportunity to promote the organization through seminars, workshops and speeches to local groups.
  10. Serve as a public relations resource to district clubs.
  11. Prepare his or her successor to assume office by completing the steps necessary for an orderly transfer of office by June 30.

Initial content above compiled, documented and updated 07-29-2016 by Michelle Bender, DTM, Founder's District Public Relations Manager 2016-2017.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011 13:41

Public Relations Achievement Award

Be an inspirational leader as Vice President of Public Relations and win the Public Relations Achievement Award by completing all four qualifying criteria and as many optional activities as you can accomplish until the deadline. Copies of all materials must be submitted by March 1.

The VPPR with the most points wins a prize valued at more than $100.00, at the District Conference.

Download the Pulblic Relations Achievement Award contest guidelines (pdf)

Download the Public Relations Achievement Award Checklist (pdf)

Download the Pulblic Relations Achievement Award contest checklist  (pdf)

  • All entries that complete the qualifying criteria will receive a prize.
  • All VPPRs in the Founder's District are eligible to participate.
  • VPPR or club representative must be present at the Spring District Conference to win.
Category Qualifying Criteria Points
Information List your club’s current meeting time, location, web site, etc. on the Toastmasters International site. 10
Planning Submit an action plan with target dates for your accomplishments. 10
Training Attend Vice President of Public Relations Officer Training. 10
Visitors Number of guests that visit your club – triple points if they join a club.

2 each


Category Optional Activities Points
Calendar Have your club’s activities and meetings listed on community calendars either online or in printed publications. 5 each
Magazines Distribute Toastmaster magazine to doctor and dentist waiting rooms, repair shops, hair and nail salons, etc – include your club’s current contact information. 5 each
Meeting Attend an Area or Division Council meeting. 10 each
Newsletter Have an article printed in a company newsletter – double points if VP of PR produces a club newsletter. 5 each
Orientation Create a “New Member Packet” for visitors to your club. 5 each
Orientation Have your company’s Human Resources department include Toastmasters information in new employee hire paperwork. 5 each
Press Submit a press release to local media (i.e. newspaper, e-zine, etc.) 5 each
PSA Submit a Public Service Announcement (PSA) to TV or radio. 5
Publicity Display Toastmasters bumper sticker or license plate frame. 5
Publicity Create club/officer business cards. 5
Publicity Place a Toastmasters sign in front of your meeting place. 5
Publicity Speak about the benefits of Toastmasters to local colleges and businesses. 15 each
Publicity Help coordinate a community event and publicize Toastmasters. 25 each
Publicity Have a local, state, or federal politician honor a specific club event or anniversary with a proclamation – triple points if they attend or you have local media cover and report on the event. 25 each
Training Conduct a Speech Craft – points per number of project weeks. 10 each
Web Create or maintain a club web site. 15 each
Web Enter your club web site into the Diamond Web Award. 25
Web Enter the Founders Film Award. 50 each




Send your achievements to:

Public Relations Manager

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Include the following:

Club Name and Number

VP of PR Name, Number, & Email

Supporting documentation


Contact Public Relations at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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