Updates & Posts

Good day fellow Toastmasters!

Programme Quality Director – Arnaud Sartre

Already a month into the new Program Year!

The last few weeks as your new Program Quality Director 2019-20 has been exciting, starting in June with the training of a great group of Area and Division Directors. Do you know your leader? Find out who they are here!

If you are a Club Officer, many of you will have already attended either a Toastmasters Leadership Institute (TLI) or your local Club Officer Training (COT).

But remember, although the training is primarily targeted to all 7 of your Club Officers, all members are welcome to attend; especially if finding out what Club Leadership is all about!

There are a few sessions left to run to the end of August and you can find a complete list of training on this summary spreadsheet or on the District Calendar

Although we are in the middle of summer, it is time to think about our Autumn Contests (Humorous and Table Topics). As is the case every year, the rules have been updated, please take a read if you are thinking of entering a contest or holding a functionary role.

Many of you have already attended one of our District Webinars, look out for more information as I will be releasing a Webinar schedule towards the time of our next newsletter. If you are interesting to hear about particular topics or want to get involved, drop me a line!

Last but not least, I am looking to streamline the purchase and availability of Toastmasters branded materials from the Toastmasters store and find a way to bring a District 91 Marketplace to life for the benefits of all of you, our members. Interested? Drop me a line!


Personal goals for the year ahead

Club Growth Director – Helena Boden-Brewer

The new Toastmasters year provides all members with the opportunity to review their personal goals for the year ahead. Already there is interest in establishing new Toastmasters clubs across the District. With many members seeking to complete their Distinguished Toastmasters Award by June 2020, there is support for club sponsors, mentors and coaches and running speech craft, speaker to trainer and youth leadership workshops for High Performance Leadership (HPL) awards.  

A busy year ahead beckons.

To support all the activity, it’s all about teamwork. With the backing of the District Director, Florian Bay and Program Quality Director, Arnaud Sartre, this year, I will be assisted by Club Extension Chair, Bob Bowes and Member Retention Chair, Seema Menon. With the addition of each Division providing a nominated representative to service on the Club Extension Committee.

With this experienced team, members wishing to set up demonstration meeting to set up new clubs, help is available. Each division has expressed a projected level of new club activity, there may well be an opportunity to be involved, right on your doorstep. There are plenty of occasions for members to volunteer to serve to support and learn more about themselves along the way. Help is at hand. The District will provide you with a demonstration box to assist you in running the meeting. Along with volunteers to assist with the running of the meeting too.

Many clubs organise membership drives, during the year. Interest in hosting an Open House Meeting for this year has already began. You may find members wishing to manage this event as their HPL project. The District will support your club when you undertake this activity. There is an open house box of goodies too.

For your events, you are not alone. Established members are often seeking openings both inside and outside their own clubs. Their experience is invaluable; from running advanced club meetings, organising club, area and division events, Toastmaster specific training sessions and to cutting-edge and forward-thinking workshops on speech and leadership. The great gift of being a member of Toastmasters, is when you ask for help, it will be there. If you are hosting an event and seeking support, ask for help.

Member retention will be a key focus this year. Our District is ahead of the curve in putting in place provision for membership numbers, before this becomes an aspect of the Distinguished Club Program. To encourage our clubs this year, there is a new incentive is year of 10+. This award will be given to clubs that grow from their membership base number as of 1 July 2019, to 10+ members by 30 June 2020. The 10+ is in addition to the member retention element to the pizza challenge.

Helen Boden-Brewer – D91 Club Growth Director

I am looking forward to serving all our members and driving the Club Extension Committee. It’s going to be a fantastic year ahead.

Excellence in Action

Florian Bay District Director

I am genuinely excited to see what the 2019/20 Toastmasters will bring to all of you in District 91. So far, the year started with a bang with numerous excellent Club Officer Training (COT) sessions and our first-ever District 91 filming day. The videos you’ve seen in our latest newsletter are some of the many that were filmed that day. All of this is part of our ambitious plans to inspire more members like yourself, with the possibilities that Toastmasters has to offer.

A lot of you know my passion for achieving excellence at all levels of our organisation. But excellence doesn’t mean achieving goals and milestones. Excellence is far more than that! 

Excellence is when you’re encouraging a new member to step-up and do a role for the first time.

Excellence is when you’re pushing your club to do better than last year on any metric or aspect.

Excellence is when somebody delivers a quality evaluation that builds members up, and inspires to come back for more!

If you are a club leader this year, I would like to invite you to plan ahead to make your club the best it can be. Make full use of the Club Success Plan template that Toastmasters provides. Note that you can also create your own document like Canary Wharf Communicators or London Victorians did. The only limits on what you can include in this document are those of your imagination.

Excellence is also about stretching your comfort zone. What inspires me so much about Toastmasters, is that it’s a never-ending learning journey of personal growth. Whether you joined Toastmasters last month or 20 years ago, there’s still something new to learn and more confidence to be gained. Personally, the confidence I gained at Toastmasters carried through in all areas for my life. Whether you joined Toastmasters recently or a while ago, don’t hesitate to push yourself and to expand your boundaries. A good way to do so is by visiting clubs through our Club Ambassadors Programme.

Hurray for Hollywood! (In Croydon)

Dan Magill – President – Croydon Communicators

On Thursday 25th July, Croydon Communicators held its annual themed Movie Night.

This was our second Movie Night and came exactly 12 months after the first.

Why have themed Toastmaster meetings?

Toastmaster’s founder Ralph C. Smedley said,

“We learn best in moments of enjoyment.”

Having a meeting where everybody really gets behind a fun theme is a way of making the meeting more exciting and can really turn it into something of a local ‘event’.

How did Movie Night work?

Firstly, we invited everyone to come along in a movie-related costume and offered a Cr-Oscar (Croydon Communicators Oscar) to the best costume wearer.

Some of our members really embraced the challenge and we had everyone from, Gru and his Minion to T’Challa and Little Red Riding Hood.

Our fantastic VPPR, Florence Nakkozi really pushed the event on our social media channels and we even created some pre-event buzz which featured trailers and photos from last year’s Movie Night.

We had a dynamic duo as our Toastmasters of the evening, Caroline Rainford and Aseem Kapoor, who put so much thought and effort into how the evening would work and how almost everything we did could be related to the movies. They were the stars of a spectacular show.

We gave out free popcorn before the meeting started, rolled out a red carpet down the central aisle, dimmed the lights and played all of our favourite movie themes on the speakers before the meeting got started. It really did start to feel like a night at the Oscars!

Were there still speeches, evaluations and table topics?

We gave out free popcorn before the meeting started, rolled out a red carpet down the central aisle, dimmed the lights and played all of our favourite movie themes on the speakers before the meeting got started. It really did start to feel like a night at the Oscars!


We ran a normal meeting in terms of what happened.

Our three speeches were all ‘normal’ speeches from Pathways and advanced manuals. They were evaluated in the usual way. And we voted for Best Speaker and Best Evaluator in the usual way. The only difference was that instead of ribbons, we gave out Cr-Oscar statues.

After the intermission, we had a box-office table topics session run by our ‘Hollywood Movie Director’, Rob Wilkie. Participants were asked to audition for roles in upcoming big-budget-blockbusters.

What were the benefits?

There were so many obvious benefits to the evening and as is often the case at Toastmasters, it’s difficult to quantify just how much impact an evening like this can have.

There were so many obvious benefits to the evening and as is often the case at Toastmasters, it’s difficult to quantify just how much impact an evening like this can have.

  • The room was packed to the rafters. Standing room only by the time we started. We had more first-time guests than ever before, all of whom expressed how much they’d loved the evening and would definitely be back – one guest joined on the spot.
  • Our members got to do something new, have fun and challenge themselves.
  • We certainly raised the profile of the club and Toastmasters in the local community.
  • We got to recognise one of Croydon Communicators’ most distinguished and well-loved members, Paul Rhys-Taylor with a Lifetime Achievement Award.
  • We had a proper Oscar-style awards ceremony and the names of the winners were placed in golden envelopes. Instead of the president giving out all the awards, members and guests came up to present in each category. This was a fantastic learning experience for them.
  • Everyone at the club left feeling inspired and keen to do something like this again soon. It’s a huge boost for our hard-working committee to see everyone having so much fun and really appreciating the hard work they’re doing.
Will there be more?

For sure!

People say that sequels are never as good as the originals but that certainly wasn’t the case with our second Movie Night.

We’ll be going all out to complete the trilogy next summer.

And, from there…

To infinity and beyond!

Dan Magill – President – Croydon Communicators

We meet at 7pm every second, fourth and fifth Thursday or the month at MIND , Altyre Road, Croydon.

What the critics said…

I am going to steal this idea
Gru – Despicable Me

— What big eye contact they all had
Little Red Riding Hood

— Banana!

— The Force is strong at this club
Unidentified stranger, dressed in black and breathing heavily

Reflections on Pathways

By Bob Bowes DTM, Club President, Canary Wharf Communicators and Area K31 Director

Change is not easy. It’s frequently met with resistance and uncertainty. Nevertheless, change is inevitable.

Having completed 2 DTM’s and 14 of the 15 Advanced manuals in the traditional programme, you could ask me ‘anything’ about the old system. As incoming club president at Canary Wharf, the executive and I set an ambitious education target as part of the Club Success Plan. Subsequently, I attended a Pathways presentation (it wasn’t as enlightening as I’d hoped!) and off we went.

I completed my ‘Choose A Path’ questionnaire and enrolled in the Dynamic Leadership path but I soon discovered that learning the Pathways program is very much like driving a new car. Just as many drivers never explore all the feature on their display dashboard, many Toastmasters never visit the Toastmasters website or establish an online profile. In my club visits, I now stress how important it is to log into the website before starting Pathways, read the FAQ’s and carefully navigate the program.

Whilst working my way through Level 1 (Mastering the fundamentals), I had to make several phone-calls to Pathways experts to help guide me from one step to the next. How, for example, do you move from one project to the next within a path? Where is the printed evaluation sheet? When completed, where is it stored? What does the circle with the percentages mean?

Bob Bowes

By the time you progress to Level 2 (Learning your style), Pathways starts to get more interesting and different from the old programme. Prior to each project you receive guided information about your next project speech via short videos, learning notes and quick ‘tests’. The value in the Pathways learning program begins to emerge. At the completion of level 2, you are presented with an optional concurrentpath, the ‘Pathways Mentor Program’. I encourage all my club members to adopt this path too, as it now forms the competence and ‘backbone’ behind the club’s mentorship programme.

By Christmas, I noted that some club members were on speech 6 or 7 but had not submitted a level for completion! This didn’t make sense to me, as the level 1 requires just 4 speeches. It quickly became apparent that this was a consequence of members selecting a path and then never going to the ‘dashboard’ again or navigating the path as they needed to. By this point, because I was working through the programme myself, I could coach others through the process and clear the ‘log jam’.

This month I completed my Level 5 (Demonstrating Expertise), where one of my projects was a 360 evaluation with my club executive, and subsequently completed my whole Dynamic Leadership path. I’m now a strong advocate for Pathways. It may not be as simple to follow as the traditional programme, but it is a much more focussed, valuable and appropriate programme in today’s world. Participate in it, talk it up and your new members will quickly embrace it.

To date, 10 members of Canary Wharf have completed at least one level (16 levels completed in all), with another 17 members within one of two speeches of completing their level 1 as well.

Change is inevitable, but as a club officer, leading by example coupled with knowledge and enthusiasm makes all the difference. Pathways is here and it’s our new members future!

 I have of course signed up to my next path already.  ‘Engaging Humor’.