We are approaching the end of the first quarter of the Toastmasters year, which marks a number of key milestones. Probably the most significant is that we now have an approved District Budget.
You will be aware that Toastmasters International decided that there would no longer be a November conference, and one consequence is that the District Council meeting normally held during that conference, and where the District Budget is approved, now has to be a virtual meeting, and conducted before 30th September.
We held our first ever virtual District Council meeting on Saturday 15th September, and I think it is fair to say it was a mixed experience. The meeting itself ran very smoothly overall, and we received some very positive feedback from those attending, and constructive improvement points, in true Toastmasters style, for future virtual meetings.
However, attendance was poor, with only about 80 Council members out of a possible 374 taking part. We, therefore, failed to achieve a quorum so no decisions could be taken on the day. We subsequently conducted an email vote and I am delighted to say that the District Budget has been approved by 195 votes to 3.
We are reviewing the whole process to see what lessons we can learn. Perhaps the most important is that there appears to be insufficient awareness and engagement between us as District Leaders and the Club Officers and members. This is my third year on the DLT, having previously served as CGD and PQD, and I know I slip into the jargon of DEC, DSP, DOT and COT all too easily. Have I lost you in acronyms yet? And that is part of the problem.
We will be looking at how we can better explain our roles and how they relate to club Officers and members. One idea is to include a brief session in the Club Officer Training events. I also hope that these monthly updates help you understand a little better what we are doing on your behalf. If you have other suggestions please let me know.
Contest season is now in full swing, and I have been Chief Judge at two Club contests so far. While many members do not enter contests, they do offer different opportunities to take on new challenges, whether as a Judge or Contest Chair for example. I would encourage all members to attend the Area and Division contests too. They provide excellent entertainment and education, and of course the chance to meet new Toastmasters friends. And no contest is complete without an enthusiastic audience.
It has certainly been a busy first three months, and I am grateful to the whole District Leadership Team for their support, great ideas and hard work in helping me to get to grips with my new role. I made three promises after I was elected as District Director at the May Council meeting:
- We will continue to innovate – and that means that sometimes we will make mistakes, which we will learn from.
- We will always make those decisions in the best interests of our members. If at any time that is not clear, please challenge us.
- We will have fun! We all wish to improve, and we are all volunteers. We owe it to ourselves to enjoy the experience.
Having now had several opportunities to work with the DLT, Division Directors and Area Directors I am immensely impressed with their enthusiasm, energy and commitment to serve you. Together we can look forward to another successful year for our District.
We have the opportunity to make a real difference – changing lives, one speech at a time.