Updates & Posts

Bindu Cardoza: Take that step

Bindu is ACS, ALB and Area Director – Area 10, Division J

I joined Toastmasters because I was looking for a club where I did not have to sell anything. I was elated after achieving my MSc in Human Resource Management from Cardiff University and the prospect of returning to employment was exciting. Initially I thought a Toastmaster was the person who rings the bell in the city centre and delivers public announcements. However, after my first meeting I realised that this was something else and I was hooked. A Toastmasters club is a place where you can learn to speak better, to become a better leader and practise these skills in a fun, safe environment. People from all walks of life are Toastmasters. I was amazed at how eclectic the club was. Everyone was very friendly, and I was quickly introduced to a gentleman who was in charge of membership. He explained the benefits of joining. My mind was buzzing; what was “table topics”? It all felt very mysterious. Suddenly a gavel was heard banging on the lectern and the front of the room. Everyone became very silent. The meeting began.

Several years later, I was elected President of Cardiff Toastmasters. To be the first female president was an honour and by then the members knew that I was passionate about equality. I was determined to increase the membership and make the club available to anyone interested in becoming a better speaker and leader. At the start of every meeting, I imparted a few thoughts on Toastmasters and made a point of welcoming every guest. I always made sure that the atmosphere was positive, jovial and encouraging. We had a variety of speeches delivered along with educational presentations and evaluations. It was important to keep the energy levels up and our enthusiastic warm-ups were enjoyed by all. The table topics sessions were great fun and guests were invited to partake. Throughout my year as President I received great feedback and many members achieved educational awards. It was a good year.

Becoming Area Director this year has been a wonderful achievement. My aim is to make sure all the clubs in my area increase in membership as well as attracting guests at every meeting. There is a new club opening soon and I hope to encourage more to begin. Delivering the message of Toastmasters to everyone is key to the success of this non-profit organisation. Social media, word of mouth, newspaper articles such as this can only demystify the enigma that is Toastmasters. I would encourage you all to visit a club and see for yourself. Take that step. I did.

Luke Shaw: You really should join a Speaking Club

There are so many reasons NOT to join a Speaking Club, but are there any good reasons to join a Speaking Club?

Public speaking is a bonafide superpower

This is a superpower you can actually have.

I have been a member of Farnham Speakers for over three years. I have gone from timid, repressed, socially-awkward ‘wallflower’ to a confident leader of men, almost. I’m still socially-awkward and quite repressed but I definitely have a new confidence and an ability to speak clearly and confidently in so many scenarios which would have been impossible for me back in 2015 when I first visited the club.

I’d set a goal back then to improve my speaking skills after my presentational ineptness lost me business opportunities. I was terrified at the idea of public peaking. I love the way the Toastmasters gently educate and encourage new members to take baby steps towards getting more used to public speaking. I’m still losing business opportunities, but now I do so with panache, verve and aplomb.

Visiting a Speaking Club is a cheap fun night out
For guests, the evening’s meeting is completely free. Where else can you spend two hours hearing fascinating talks, participating in speaking exercises, while getting essential speaking practice, building your confidence, making new friends, and enjoying refreshments in the bar afterwards?

Joining a Speakers Club will change your life

You’ll learn so much. Each meeting is a rich and entertaining learning experience. I’ve learnt so much technically about how to conceive ideas, how to structure presentations, how to write captivating details, how to use my body and face and voice and props and slides.

I’ve seen others progress and improve through speech after speech, and are now being offered promotions and partnerships at work, are developing their own brands, are being invited as paid-speakers to perform before large audiences.

Toastmasters clubs have nothing to do with red coats, white gloves or speaking loudly to guests at a reception – and everything to do with slowly getting better at talking in public with a friendly and supportive group of fellow learners, sharing experiences, laughs and biscuits.

You really should join a Speaking Club.

Come along, visit Farnham Speakers Toastmasters Club at Farnham House Hotel, GU10 5ER). Visit https://www.facebook.com/farnhamspeakers/

Shaheen Jamshed Mufti: Superb Systemisation

A member of a team has been working hard at a company. The year has started off well. The team is driven, everyone knows what they’re doing and things look like they’re going great.

Suddenly, that team member feels unwell. They take a week off. When they’re fit and well, they return to work…only to find total chaos! Their team members are relieved to have them back and the team’s returning member soon help get things back on track again.

Is this you or someone you know? The moment you (or someone in your team) step out of the picture, do things fall apart? Could something like this happen in your Toastmaster club?!

If so, you need to introduce systems into your club! Having systems in place will help your leadership team members and club members run your club smoothly and efficiently, making sure that it continues to function without your (or any other member’s) regular personal intervention.

Think of running your club a bit like running a business. Most successful businesses have effective systems built in. Can you imagine a CEO of a Fortune 500 company going on holiday for a fortnight and their company then collapsing? I think not. Why? Because of teams making use of systems.

These companies work well because they factor in the possibility of company personnel changing, moving on, passing on as well as moving into different roles. And your club is no different.

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Nigel Oseland: Join an Advanced Club

Advanced Toastmasters demonstrating advanced body language exuberance!

After a few years in Toastmasters, what further ways are there of advancing your speaking skills? Consider joining an advanced club. Having been a member of Cornerstone Communicators Advanced Toastmasters Club for a year, I have concluded there are 3 good reasons to join such clubs.

Firstly, I was first attracted to visiting Cornerstone Communicators because of their workshops. Some are facilitated by club members and fellow Toastmasters but external experts are also brought in time to time. For example, I have attended workshops on specific, relevant topics such as rhetorical devices, “winning evaluations”, humorous speeches, stand-up comedy, presenting on the radio and being interviewed by journalists. The workshops not only provide knowledge but stimulate and motivate further thoughts.

Secondly, advanced clubs just do things differently. For example, the club usually offers an open evaluation, where each member of the audience is invited to provide a commendation and recommendation. I have found this particularly useful for improving my own speeches. Table Topics are very different, and more akin to the impromptu speaking seen on TV. Quite often two or more members will perform together, perhaps one narrating and the other miming, or there may be an absurd dialogue or interview situation in which the two members verbally spar. These Table Topics are also so much more fun.

Thirdly, many members are professional presenters or workshop facilitators, willing to provide exceptional advice, for within and outside of Toastmasters. They are well connected and know of conference organisers looking for speakers etc. Unlike one-off courses, advanced clubs give you on-going access to these experts.

Most advanced clubs require their members to have completed six speech projects, but they also welcome guests. I recommend visiting your local advanced club as a guest as soon as you can, rather than wait until you are qualified to join. Like with Toastmasters, I wish I had joined sooner. Whilst the club is focused on advanced skills, all new members are made to feel welcome and encouraged to try our new techniques.

In Districts 71 and 91 the advanced clubs include: Advanced Orators (Manchester), Anglian Advanced Speakers, Cornerstone Communicators, Cashel Club, Cork Ireland Advanced Pros Club, Dublin Advanced Toastmasters, Edinburgh Advanced Toastmasters and Excalibur Advanced Speakers. If you are interested in trying our Cornerstone Communicators (in Markyate) then email me for further details.

DLT Dispatches Jul2018

Andy Hammond, District Director 2018-19

A New Team:

The District Leadership Team (DLT) has been working hard since May, firstly to ensure a smooth handover, and then to put plans in place to support our members. Meet the new DLT team

We met at the start of June and were joined on the second day by the new Division Directors. We decided on key calendar dates. These will shortly be published on our website.

It was great to see so many of the new Division and Area Directors at the District Officer Training at the end of June. Thanks to Florian and Alison, and all presenters and attendees. One outcome is that we are compiling a comprehensive list of all Division and Area training events and contests for the year to share with members.

Program Quality Director Florian Bay, Club Growth Director Arnaud Sartre and I will be attending the International Convention in Chicago next month, where we will receive training. We will also be representing you at the Annual Business Meeting, so Presidents, please remember to assign your club’s proxy vote so that we can fully represent your members.

One personal ambition is to hear far more of your stories. You have achieved such amazing successes supported by your Toastmasters experience, and I want you to share them. Changing lives, one speech at a time.

Florian Bay, Program Quality Director 2018-19

Planning for Success:

The new Toastmaster year has started. I find myself moving to a new leadership role and to new challenges. One challenge was to organise our weekend District Officer Training event last month. Another challenge is to find out exactly what is preventing you, our clubs and members from achieving even more.

This is where I love to call “situational awareness” comes into play for us leaders. This mean getting to grips with your club situation, analysing it carefully with a dispassionate eye and then making conclusions. In District 91’s case, I analysed data stretching from 2012 onwards to see exactly where we could serve our members better. Within your clubs, this could involve looking at how many guests turned up last year, what your guest-to-member conversion rate is, how many members completed educational awards and what attendance at meetings is. Other tools include SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis and doing a members’ survey.

Use all the gathered data to draft your club success plan for the year ahead. This plan is strategic; it aims to answer these questions:-
• What is your vision as a club leadership team for the year ahead for the club? Why this vision?
• How can you inspire your members to embrace the Pathways Learning Experience?
• How can you ensure that members proactively sign up for speeches and roles?
• What actions can you take to drive more guests to meetings?How can you inspire more guests to join your club?
I am currently putting together a document that will answer similar questions for our entire District. New initiatives will likely result from it, so watch this space. I may not be done with giving away free pizzas yet 😉

Arnaud Sartre, Club Growth Director 2018-19


Toastmasters year and I am sure many of you are thinking about holidays but there has never been a better time to share your passion for Public Speaking.

As a member, enjoy the experience of the Club Meeting and invite a guest to the next one. If we all brought a guest, then meetings would have even greater variety. In the near future, I will be introducing a range of incentives and awards to claim, one of which rewards individuals sponsoring new members. Share your passion for Toastmasters today!

As a Club leader, you will have most certainly attended a Club Officer Training and helped devise a Club Success plan. How is your Club marketing itself? Do you have the resources needed? Last year, the District introduced a range of marketing materials you can all take advantage of.

Thinking about stepping outside your comfort zone? Living in a community where you believe a new Club could add value and transform lives? I will be happy to discuss your ideas, and share the range of District incentives and support available to make your project a success. Simply email me.

Ready for the next challenge, want to share ideas or willing to help our District? Please drop me a line.

Finally, the Smedley Award is upon us, named after our founder Dr Ralph Smedley. Stay tuned for the official launch on 1st August.

In this video, Dr Smedley himself explains why he started Toastmasters.

Happy holidays!

Pedro Casillas, Immediate Past District Director

District Success Plan Update:

District 91 2017-18 officially closed-we have finished 11th out of 105 Districts across the world. A fantastic achievement!! District 91 is a Select Distinguished District
D91 will be honoured at the Hall of Fame ceremony on Thurs 23 Aug 18 in Chicago!