Updates & Posts

Relaunched and Chartered

By Ken Essien, Area C5 Director

Area 5 in Division C had the pleasure of two fresh clubs during the first half of the year.

First, JPMorgan 1st Class club, another corporate baby was relaunched on 18thJanuary 2019 at their impressive office.   The meeting was well attended by members and guests, some attending a Toastmasters meeting for the first time.  Elizabeth Nostedt, Region 10 Advisor was on hand to lead the relaunch as Toastmaster of the day.  A prepared speech, evaluation (and open feedback), and generous table topics gave the falour of a well planned meeting to savour.

Big kudos to the leadership team at the club for making this happen.  We wish them a an enjoyable Toastmasters journey, with plenty fun, learning and growth.  Thank you to all the District Leaders and guest Toastmasters who supported the event

Next, Gartmore London Toastmasterschartered in record time on 5thApril 2019.  The District noted this was a record charter for a club in recent times.   From the cosy office location in the Holborn area in London, the club brings some swag to the Toastmasters ‘corporate’ family.

Five star salute to the hard working leadership team for their attention to details, hard work and dedication to launch a special club.

Again, special thanks to the District leaders and guest Toastmasters for the tireless support accorded JP Morgan and Gartmore clubs.

The club welcomes all guest Toastmasters to their meetings as Club Ambassadors fulfilling speech, Evaluation and Generator Evaluator roles…..

My First Division Contest

By Kash Hussain, St Pauls Speakers, Division C

On Saturday 13th April, I found myself waking up earlier than usual, catching the same train I get into the city every day for work. However, instead of going into the office, I walked into the familiar grounds of St Botolph’s for the Toastmasters Division C International Speech and Evaluation Contest!  I was attending as an observer (although I took on a couple of functionary roles to support my home club). I took along a special guest – someone who had never before been to a Toastmasters event – my wife. This was primarily to prove to my wife that Toastmasters was indeed a real club, and not something I’d made up to get away from household chores for a few hours every couple of weeks!  I also felt that my wife would benefit and be inspired by the workshops and quality of speakers on the programme.

My wife made two main observations based on first impressions. Firstly, how formal and organised the event was. Despite being a voluntary organisation it was clear this was a group of people brought together by a strong purpose. From the introduction at the beginning, to a clear agenda, to clear instructions and explanations of the day’s programme, to a timekeeper ensuring everything ran smoothly and to time, there was a shared enthusiasm and drive throughout the day to run it as efficiently as possible. Secondly, my wife was impressed with how warm, friendly and encouraging everyone at the club was. From the meet and greet on entrance, to meeting numerous friendly people throughout the day and to seeing how every Toastmasters member encouraged others during the speeches, my wife felt there was a raw warmth and sense of community. 

My own reason for attendance at the Contest was to learn and be inspired. Having been a member of Toastmasters for a few years now, partaking in a couple of club level speaking contests myself, I was interested to see how speech contests developed – from club to area to division – and to observe contest winning speeches. And it was indeed inspirational! The workshops gave great tips on how to structure and tell stories, and the speeches were fantastic illustrations of how to bring it all together and deliver a great speech in practice. There was one key feature that made each of these speeches stand out for me, and this was – the message. Not just the inclusion of a strong message in the speech. But the intertwining of every element of the speech, from structure, content, delivery, examples and conclusion, in a cohesive package, to reinforce that key message and make as big an impact as possible. This is certainly something I shall be thinking about when drafting my next speech.

Overall, a wonderful day. So much to learn and draw inspiration from, whether you’ve never attended a Toastmasters event before or have been a member for years. I shall definitely be going again and would encourage anyone – who is either interested to gain a better understanding of how their club operates in the wider area and division, or to simply draw inspiration from great speakers, to go along.

Compete!

By Mark Hanly, Finalist D91 Table Topics Contest 3rd May 2019, District Table Topics Winner 2017, member of Early Bid Speakers Club

It was a thrill and an honour to participate in the D91 District Final in Table Topics for the second year running.

It was the culmination of a very enjoyable series of contests and events starting at Club level at my own club Early Bird Speakers. Club contests are great. In our club, there is great anticipation and buzz around contests. Participation is high, the audience supportively noisy and and everyone brings their A-game. Thus, while you may think you know a lot about your mates in the club, you learn a surprising amount more at the Contest. It should be illegal to unleash that amount of energy in a room before most people start work! Seriously though, whatever your level of experience in Toastmasters, I would encourage everyone to take part in their club contests. It’s a real fast track to improving your skills and fantastic fun.

Mark Hanly

Moving onto the area and division contests bring new challenges and fun. It’s delightful to get a chance to play with members from other clubs and to see what new perspectives and approaches they bring. Being less familiar with the participants in these contests than those in your own club keeps the adrenaline and the keenness flowing. It is competitive, good-natured, supportive, and again enormously enjoyable.

This was the first year in which, for totally reasonable and understandable reasons, the Table Topics District Final was held in May rather than being the culmination of a rapid series of Club through Division contests which were still held in autumn. I think for me this presented perhaps the greatest challenge adapting to the lull between the Division and District finals. I’m a great fan of go-go-go! But hey, challenges only make us grow and learn, the very ethos of Toastmasters.

Overall, the entire series of contests is a great experience. If you have never entered a contest, dive on in. The water’s warm, as the old saying goes. See y’all in September for the next round!

A Welcome Challenge

By Alex McKee, President of Tube Talk Toastmasters Club

Years before joining toastmasters a Google search on how to become a more confident person led me to an article which listed joining toastmasters as one of its  recommendations. At that time I had never heard of toastmasters and thereafter read only a little about it.

When the time came several years later to make the effort to become a better public speaker Toastmasters was the natural choice. At Tube Talk Toastmasters Club there was ample opportunity to get involved and to help the club members grow and develop. Soon I was Sergeant, VPE, President and while fulfilling all these roles my public speaking skills grew as did my leadership skills and interest in toastmasters.

The public speaking skills I have developed have made it easier for me to share my life experiences and to inspire others with those experiences. The toastmasters experience have made me more comfortable in front of a large crowd – especially in that moment when all eyes go on me. I can much more easily stand in front of a crowd – and deliver. What’s more in a professional capacity I can more adeptly lead meetings and engage in a more poised manner in discussions with senior stakeholders. I am a more effective leader, listening better to colleagues and more enabled to give feedback in a more skillful way. 

And so my involvement in toastmasters has indeed made me a more confident person, confident speaker, confident leader! And I am hoping it will be the same way for many others. That is why as Area Director I will be working hard to inspire clubs and influencing them to enhance their ways of working so as to build confident speakers and leaders. To enable clubs to grow in numbers and to help ensure they are committed to providing top notch education programmes for their members. This will also be an opportunity for me to apply strategic thinking and test my communication skills out. I am up for the challenge and looking forward to it all!

By No Means A Cult

By James Cross, Kings Cross Speakers Club, Division C

I often hear Toastmasters referred to as being like a cult. When I first heard it described this way, I didn’t know whether that was a wholly positive thing.

When I hear the word cult, it springs to mind all of the ‘so bad they’re good’ movies which have sustained a cult following, such as The Room by Tommy Wiseau or Mega Shark Versus Giant Octopus (if you haven’t watched either, you really should.)

James Cross

I then wondered why Toastmasters is spoken about in a similar light; are we a group of people intensely devoted to something which, from the outside, is hard to understand why?

The answer to that question is no. We’re certainly devoted to something, but it’s not hard to understand why.

Having been a Kings Cross Speakers member for a year I’ve been part of a community dedicated to bettering not only ourselves but every other member too. The devotion isn’t to a cheesy film but to being the best person we can be – not only at public speaking but also in building the confidence and self-worth that we all deserve.

Being part of a whooping, clapping, cheering and intensely supportive group has been one of the best decisions I’ve made. Thanks to this devotion I’ve experienced a year of enormous growth personally and professionally, and it’s easy to understand why. 

“By turning up, by putting yourself into the arena is when you are courageous because you are allowing yourself to be judged and are putting yourself into the fight…”

For more of James’ post competition interview click here