Archives for Susan Rayner

Summer is over but the most exciting is yet to come!

Arnaud Satre Arnaud Sartre, Program Quality Director

Returning from the International Convention made me reflect on several point:

  • Our organisation is now present in 143 countries which means wherever we may travel, we will have friendly Clubs welcoming us
  • Many Districts look up to our own District 91, testament to all our amazing members and the great work we achieve together
  • There is wealth of knowledge and experience right on our doorstep and across other European Districts, and I am sure they would love to visit your Club given the chance

The Summer window for Club Officer training is now closed, but rest assured the winter season is already in the planning. You may have heard the recent announcement, we will start the Winter Club officer training on 1st November, a month early! An opportunity not to be missed whether an aspiring Club officer or already elected.

I look forward to visiting many of your Autumn contests, and witness the best we have to offer for Humorous and Table Topics speeches. Fancy a new challenge? Why not say Yes to your Club and become a participant in your Club contests, with a chance to represent your Club in May for our London 2020 conference.

Talking of London 2020, why not be part of history and volunteer to help? If you want to know more and get involved, drop me a line.

And don’t forget, you have until the end of September to renew your membership and continue to benefit from our Pathways learning Programme.

Reaching New Heights

Deborah Goodman,Bromley Speakers – Sharing her journey

After nearly 20 years away from the corporate world, Deborah Goodham Toastmaster at Bromley Speakers embraces the role of Vice President Public Relations.

Deborah Goodman, worked in the Telecoms industry for 23 years before leaving the corporate world behind her in 2000 to pursue her passion in holistic therapy.

“I really thought I’d left this kind of work behind me,” Deborah said, “but I am finding that this new role has ignited a spark in me and I’m eager to get my teeth into it.”

Deborah left her London job after suffering stress and depression and experiencing her first massage and energy healing whilst on holiday in Costa Rica.

After losing 4 family members to a hereditary neurological condition, she started to raise money and awareness for the Huntington’s Disease Association. Deborah trekked on the Great Wall of China, the Inca Trial to Machu Picchu in Peru and even summited the world’s tallest mountain – Mount Kilimanjaro.

Standing at 5,895 metres Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa and the tallest free-standing mountain in the World.

After raising over £20,000 she took on another colossal challenge, writing and publishing her autobiography, Hummingbird.

After the publication of the book, Deborah was invited to give talks at Bromley College and Park Langley Girls School.

“I think I did an OK job, but I’d never done anything like that before and I realised that I definitely needed some help with public speaking,” Deborah said. “So I joined Bromley Speakers and I haven’t looked back.

 “I was instantly struck by how friendly the club is,” she said. “It’s a safe environment to practise and it’s OK to mess up. The meetings are structured in a way that is really informative and I learn something useful each time I go. My confidence has soared and I even filmed for Channel 4’s First Dates programme! I would not have had the confidence to do that, were it not for Bromley Speakers. Unfortunately they didn’t show my date but I got through all the interviews and auditions and went on to film a date with them. The whole experience was exciting and incredible. ”

In March this year Deborah was a key speaker at the Amazing Women Awards, held in London by Roz Thornton of Amazing Women Global.

“I am sure that being a member of Toastmasters was instrumental in securing that speaking slot,” Deborah said. “It was one of those ‘pinch me’ experiences that I will never forget.”

Deborah also took part in a video for C5 News, in relation to the Assisted Dying Bill which was being debated in Parliament as well as filming a documentary with David George of Utility Films about her experiences of living in a family with Huntington’s disease, which is currently being finalised.

Deborah says of Toastmasters, “It is a place where you can overcome your fear of speaking in public, and it provides positive leadership at work or in your business. It enables you to develop skills related to timekeeping, grammar and helps with overall communication skills. Bromley Speakers is a multi-award winning club, but it’s not just for business people. It’s also open to those who just want to increase their confidence in life.

“The club is friendly, very welcoming and hugely supportive. I really look forward to the meetings where I get an opportunity to practise my speaking skills and receive constructive feedback and recommendations on how to improve. And, as an extra bonus, I have made some wonderful new friends.

“Members represent a wide cross-section of the community, including students, educators, business people, professionals, authors and retired people. Anyone can go along as a guest, without any charge, to three meetings to get a feel for it before actually joining.  I promise we will give all our guests a friendly welcome.

“As Vice President Public Relations, I am happy to speak to organisations about what we do.”

Bromley Speakers meets at Ripley Arts Centre, Bromley on the 1st, 3rd and 5th Thursdays of the month, at 7.15 pm for a 7:30 prompt start.

Is 30 the new 20?

Club Growth Director, Helena Boden-Brewer

The month of August for many is a time for a holiday. Each one of us will have a different idea of what holiday is best for them from relaxing on a beach, hiking through the mountains or attending the Toastmasters International Convention in Denver. What do all these have in common? The stories we can share from our summer break experiences.

As members come back to their club meetings over the next couple of weeks, I’m sure there will be plenty of opportunity to reflect on the memories of our activities during the summer.  There’s bound to be something of fun that has happened with a sun lounger.

2013 World Champion of Public Speaking,
Pres Vasilev

For my part, I headed to Denver for the Toastmasters International Convention. What a fantastic learning and networking experience this was. It’s an event where we have past champions of public speaking milling around, freely available for a chat!

As are the Toastmasters Board of Directors, who are all approachable to the members attending.

First Vice President, Margaret Page, DTM
2015 World Champion of Public Speaking, Mohammed Qahtani

One thing I picked up from the Convention about healthy clubs, is that “30 is the new 20”. Clubs are much more viable when they have 30 members. Think about that for a moment. For clubs that teeter around the 20 members mark, attracting new members throughout the year and retaining established members is key. Consider adding the goal of “30 is the new 20” to your club success plan.

August and September is the time of the Smedley membership drive, when clubs seek to attract 5 new members. This is a fantastic opportunity to promote your club meetings and events that you’re hosting to encourage guests to attend. Share you activities on social media and include the District’s social media links – on Facebook and Twitter that’s @ToastmastersUKI

For our members, this is the renewal period and behind the scenes all club committees are busy, particularly the club Treasurers. They are working hard to collect members’ dues and submit them to Toastmasters International World Headquarters. Why not make their lives easier and make your dues payment today?

The incentive on renewals this year is the 20:80 campaign. That means renewing at least 20 members and retaining 80% of your membership base. Pizza is the prize on offer for clubs that achieve this, so renew, retain and win!

The hard work in our District has continued through the summer. There are now three newly chartered clubs – Moodys, Zig Zag and Legacy Speakers Brixton. I am sure you will join me in welcoming these clubs to the Toastmaster family.

Where Leaders are Made

The week after coming back from an International Convention is always a bit of a strange one. Between readjusting to normal routines, following-up with the dozens of people met overseas and tying-up loose ends. A mélange of emotions always goes through my mind in these moments. Every single one of the International Convention I’ve attended so far has been unique in its own ways. Denver was, as the responsibility of casting 269 votes on behalf of your club was mine to fulfil.

On Sunday 18th August we interviewed all candidates standing for International Directors or Officers roles. Later during, the week, we also had the opportunity to see them answering questions from members at the Candidates showcase. These two events formed our decisions on how to cast our votes on your behalf.

Some exciting news were announced by Toastmasters International CEO Dan Rex. Very soon, all projects within a Pathways path will be visible ahead, just like in the old manuals. A simplification of the interface is on the cards and judging from what I saw, it’s a very positive step forward. A visit of Toastmasters WHQ last Monday also provided me with more insights on what the staff works on. They are taking feedback onboard and are acting upon it. What’s more, many staff members in the IT department are members of a club hosted in WHQ offices.

As renewals season is upon us and I have a mission for you all. Win some free pizza or supplies from the District by renewing 20 members and retaining 80% of your members by September 30th. Renew, Retain, Win!

Our District 91 pizza is famous worldwide as evidence by some comments in Denver. Even the Italians of District 109 copied it!

Want to inspire some members with Toastmasters magic? Share your stories of why you’ve joined Toastmasters and what you’ve gained as a member. Here’s my own story below.

By the way next year’s Convention will be in Paris and tickets are already on sale!

The art of humorous speaking

Dan Macgill – 2019 District 91 Humorous Contest Winner

In August 2017 I signed the forms to become a member of Croydon Communicators and informed the Club President, Mike Majuru, that I wanted to give my first speech at the next meeting.

I’d never spoken in public before and was terrified beyond belief.

“Ah, that’s our Humorous Speech Contest night.” Mike said.

“Not to worry, I’ll wait until the meeting after that.” 

“Unless, you’d like to take part?”

Well, it didn’t really make much difference to me whether I gave my first speech in a contest or on a regular club night. Either way I was going to spend every waking (and sleeping) moment, dreading it.

So I agreed.

I wrote a speech and delivered it at the contest.

Looking back, it wasn’t all that funny, and my delivery wasn’t good at all, but somehow or other, I won.

In fairness, there were only three contestants that night. One went over time and was disqualified and the other was called Dan too, so I think there may have been some confusion with the judges’ voting.

I came back down to earth with a bump at the Area Contest though. We only had five contestants but I think I managed to finish around 8th. The other speakers seemed so funny and confident.

A few weeks later, I went to the Autumn Conference at Gatwick to watch the District Final of the Humorous Speaking Contest.

The standard was immense, but the eventual and fully-deserved winner, of the 2017 Humourous Speech contests really captured my attention. He was so funny and had put together such a clever speech.

I realised just how far away I was from the standard required to win one of these contests, but I resolved to spend the next year working as hard as I could on my speaking skills and then come back for another crack at the contest.

The following summer, a few weeks before contest season was due to start, I was at a loss for what I could speak about.

I had no material at all. Let alone funny material.

Then a message popped up in my Whatsapp feed…

…It was an invitation from the winner of the 2017 Humourous Speech contest winner – to join his humorous speaking workshop.

I didn’t think there was much point in me attending. I had no ideas. I wasn’t funny. And the guy was so funny. What chance did I ever have of beating him if he decided to compete again?

“Maybe if he has some sort of accident and can’t compete.” I thought.

“That’s my only chance.”

I laughed to myself at the thought of me trying to sabotage him so I could win.

And that’s when the idea came.

Two hours later I’d written a ridiculous speech which involved me undertaking a madcap caper across London, where I’d create an alibi by giving a general evaluation at another club, then sneak away and sabotage his workshop.

I wasn’t sure others would find it amusing – but every time I read it, it made me laugh.

So, I went with it.

8 months later, after winning at Club, Area, and Division levels, I found myself in the District Final with my speech … and I won. I couldn’t believe it.

Daniel Macgill winning at District Conference

It’s a cliché, but ahead of this year’s Autumn contests, my advice to everybody would be to just go for it.

Personally, I’ve found contests to be the place I have learnt and grown the most.

And, as lovely as it is to win, we always learn far more when we don’t win.

The biggest factor in me winning the 2019 Humorous Speech Contest was me comfortably losing at the previous year’s Area contest.

If you don’t think you have something funny to speak about, or you’re not a funny person, or you’re not competitive enough, or contests aren’t for you, then great – you’re the same as almost everybody competing – definitely including myself.

So, as September rolls around and contest season gets underway again, I am getting ready to have another crack at the Humorous Speech Contest and it tickles me to think there might be somebody out there planning on sabotaging me so that they can win.

I should be so lucky!

Good luck to everyone competing and let’s remember to thank all the contest functionaries and judges who give so much to help run the contests at this time of year.