February was a particularly busy month for the extended District team with Area Directors and Division Directors leading numerous Club Officer Training (COT) and Toastmasters Leadership Institute (TLI) events across the District. A huge amount of time and energy goes into these events to offer leadership development opportunities to our Club Officers and all Members. Thank you to everyone involved.
My own efforts were focused on the District Executive Council meeting on 24th February. The bulk of the meeting is spent on hearing updates from each Area Director, Division Director and District Leadership Team (DLT) member on how we are meeting our own goals on your behalf. We also had an update on draft plans for realignment of clubs and Areas. All the reports are available to read on the D91 website by clicking on the link: District Executive Committee – 24 February 2019
finances have also taken up quite a bit of my time this past month. Not the
most enjoyable part of my role because of ongoing problems with information
from HQ, but nonetheless a very important area to ensure that we have the
resources needed to continue to support our members.
I can only be
District Director because I am a club member, and I try to stay grounded in
that experience. I am proud to be continuing my Toastmasters journey, and to be
the first member of my club to complete Level 1 in Pathways. I challenge each
of you to be the Pathways pioneer in your club.
With only a third of
the year remaining, we will inevitably be even more focussed on the District
Goals, and Club Officers will be striving to achieve the Distinguished Club
Program goals. It may at times seem that we are obsessed with the numbers.
Always remember that while the numbers matter, and we all want to achieve the
highest level of Distinguished that we can, what really matters is what those
numbers represent in terms of making a difference to more peoples’ lives – one
speech at a time.
The Club Ambassador Programme (CAP) is an initiative that
rewards those Toastmasters that are never satisfied with attending one club.
The CAP promotes the frequent flyer, the explorer – those keen on leaving their
comfort zone repeatedly in the pursuit of a new challenge in a new club.
Who can become a club ambassador?
Any Toastmaster in District 91 can! Every time you visit another club that you are not a member of, simply record your progress on the form below, and you will collect points on the programme.
What will I gain?
You will have a chance to visit new clubs, meet new people, learn from
others and share your skills with others. You might enjoy a newly invigorated
passion for Toastmasters after changing your surroundings, or perhaps push
yourself out of your comfort zone.
The further you venture, the more roles you give and speeches you
deliver, the more points you get. These go towards our three-tiered Club
Why stop at Gold? The Toastmaster with the most points in September 2019
will be crowned the District’s Club
Ambassador of the Year.
do I need to do?
1) Pick a club (the further you venture from your area,
division or country, the more points you’ll get)
2) Let a committee member know you’ll be attending (sign-up
for a role to earn more points)
Lewes Speakers Club’s community outreach programme is based on two principles. Firstly, the need to always find new members. Secondly, our intention to continue the principle set forth by Ralph Smedley to help people in the community.
Lewes Speakers Club is a strange club in that since forming in 2012 it’s had a good membership of 25 to 30 people. Yet relatively few of us are from Lewes itself. So we always need to get our name out in the local community.
As a committee member I have always know that what I DON’T want from my club is to be cliquey and inward looking. You know the kind of club: smug, always the same old faces, same old speeches, same old banter.
The long-term success of a club depends on being outward looking and always seeking out fresh talent.
And not just talent; problems too. As I always tell people when we meet them at business and networking events, this isn’t a club for people who like public speaking, but for those who need the skills but find it terrifying.
And when you start out with that attitude, you can develop quite a campaigning spirit. As it says on the Toastmasters’ website: “Smedley saw a need for the men in the community to learn how to speak, conduct meetings, plan programs and work on committees, and he wanted to help them.” So do we.
But calling what we do “the Lewes Speakers Club’s community outreach programme” perhaps sounds grander than it is. In fact, people ask us to help out and we always say yes.
That has included, in the past couple of years, helping the police with their public speaking. Our founder member Jeff Grace was giving an interview on the Lewes Bonfire radio station. It’s not a big radio station, but the police appear to listen in. The chief of the local police was so inspired by Jeff that he asked us to come and run a workshop for his officers. Apparently, when reading the local ne’er-do-wells their rights they weren’t using enough vocal variety or the full potential of the stage. Also they needed help when required to address public meetings. So three of us went along and trained 30 or so senior officers. And then they asked us back next year.
We also act as judges each year for Youth Speaks, a national competition held by the Rotary Club. It’s fascinating and inspiring to hear state school kids competing in public speaking, and they appreciate that a local speaking club takes the time to offer encouragement and advice.
Of course it’s not purely altruistic. For those of us who love to speak and tell our stories and experiences, speaking at a local club for the elderly is a wonderful opportunity. We get to hear a few amazing stories back too.
We think that the need continues, to be at the heart of the community.
An Interview with Flavia McDonald, Founding President of Liberty Speakers Club by Zainab Mohiuddin (VPPR AreaH15)
Flourishing. Thriving. Vibrant. These are all words that can describe Area H15 in 2018. So where to start when describing it all? Our electric Area Christmas Party and Speakers of Croydon’s 15thAnniversary? The spellbinding speeches? Awards, accolades and achievements?
Maybe another time! Today I want you to know about our new clubs. Because new clubs are a sign of fresh growth and excitement in the Area. And we have two new clubs! Legacy Speakers in Brixton and Liberty Speakers Club in Norbury. Both brilliant beacons of hope for public speaking and I was lucky enough to interview the inspiring President of Liberty Speakers – Flavia McDonald
What inspired you to create a club?
I had been thinking about putting on a Public Speaking workshop for a little while, when I was approached by a member of Liberty Christian Ministries and asked if I would help to start a Toastmaster club at their Church; word had got around that I was a seasoned Toastmaster. I remember first meeting Pearl Cadogan (who didn’t know at the time but was to become our VPE) as I sat in Costa Coffee excited and slightly daunted about this new Venture! Where would we start? How would the Demo Launch meeting turn out?
What makes Liberty Speakers special?
Liberty Speakers Club is special on many levels because an air of excellence permeates throughout the venue. The members of the committee are talented, tenacious and determined that the club will be a success. We all realise that we are on a learning curve so we are patient with each other as well as reaching out to the Toastmaster network to get the necessary knowledge and assistance to fill in the gaps.
The ambiance of the venue is welcoming and warm. The meeting is held in the main auditorium in the church and many guests comment that the room is ‘lovely’. During the networking break the guests are provided with drinks and snacks which are well presented; it has the feeling of “Afternoon tea at the Ritz”!
What have been the highlights so far of the club?
The highlight so far (even though daunting), has been going from zero to Demo Launch; what a learning curve! The Demo Launch was held on 15 November, an Eventbrite invitation had been sent out, so we were excited as to the potential number of guests that would be attending.
Name badges were in reception, greeters at the door and hospitality waiting in the wings. At 6.45pm it was cameras, lights and action – there was no turning back now! The guests started to filter through the doors, including Florian Bay, (ex Club Growth Director) Arnaud Satre (Club Grown Director) and Sandra Mighty (Area Director and Toastmaster for the evening) – all of whom had held my hand as founding President during the process of setting up the club.
It was an exciting evening of speeches and table topics and 56 guests attended! It was better than Pearl or I could ever have imagined when we sat in Costa Coffee over a couple of lattes back in July! I was also presented with a special recognition Toastmaster badge as Founding President which was definitely one of my highlights.
What message would you like to share as President
As a committed member of Liberty Speakers, your life will definitely change. Members will have the opportunity to Discover, Develop and Demonstrate their public speaking and leadership skills and developing these skills will help to enrich their career opportunities, their leadership skills in the community and communication skills within the family setting and to make new friends. Oftentimes I have heard that people would rather go to their own funerals than speak in public! I would like to encourage anyone who feels that they start to stutter with fear, have butterflies in their stomach or come out in a cold sweat – Feel the stutter but speak anyway because there is a whole new world waiting for you.
Fantastic words of wisdom there from Flavia, the Founding President of Liberty Speakers Club! Has that inspired you to create your own club, or create something you are passionate about? Good! Feel the fear and do it anyway.
Liberty Speakers Club meets every first and third Thursday of the Month at Liberty Christian Ministries, Norbury and is well worth a visit.
Arun Speakers Club was formed in late 1988. Its first demonstration meeting was held on October 19thwith Club Founder Stephen Quigley taking the helm and supported by experienced toastmasters from Maidenhead Speakers, Oxford Speakers and Thame Speakers clubs including two Past District Governors, Norman Rhodes and John Ernshaw. The meeting was a great success and Arun Speakers was officially launched with its inaugural meeting on December 5th. The agenda below includes Robin Chawner’s Ice Breaker speech. Robin has had a distinguished career in Toastmasters and was one of the first DTMs at Arun Speakers. He is our longest serving member making him the grandfather of the club. Arun Speakers achieved its Charter in March 1989.
As we approach the 30thAnniversary of our charter it is interesting to look back at the achievements of the club, both in terms of Toastmasters but also the wider impact that the club has had.
We have issued in excess of 150 education awards over the last 30 years. Including seeing 6 of our members attain Distinguished Toastmaster : Allison Turrell (1997), Robin Chawner (2004) Andy Hammond (2007), Lesley Wells (2009), Nicola Haden-Ford (2015), Sandra Rampton (2018)
The club is always active in the various speech contests with members enjoying participating at Club, Area and Division level. Some members are on our honours board for success at the District competitions :
Alison Turrell – District Evaluation Winner 1992
Peter Beeching – District Humorous Speech Finalist 1995
Andy Hammond – District Table Topics Finalist 2001 (Edinburgh)
Adam Broomfield-Strawn – District Humorous Speech Winner 2010 (Dublin)
John Webber – District Evaluation Winner (Torquay)
The Victory Conference
The club organised the May 2007 District Conference in Portsmouth – The Victory Conference – one of the District’s most successful events. The core team was Andy Hammond (Conference Director), Robin Chawner, Lesley Wells and Mandy Wallace, supported by many volunteers from Arun and neighbouring clubs.
In October 2010 a group of toastmasters from Arun Speakers and Solent Speakers began a relationship with the local Princes Trust programme in Portsmouth. The 12 week programme, provides an opportunity for 16 to 25 year olds out of work, training or education, to learn new skills, build confidence, and discover areas of employment or training that may be of interest to them in the future. Our role as toastmasters has been to provide two workshops each term since 2010, to help the students, build confidence with speaking skills and prepare a speech for their final graduation ceremony.
This community outreach, has enabled local toastmasters club members (which in more recent years has included Spinnaker Speakers) to enjoy offering support in a collaborative way to young people, who are searching for purpose, confidence, and an opportunity to find a voice and share their story. The Princes Trust are enthusiastic to receive the support. The student’s final presentation speeches share their life changing experience on the programme and are often humbling and always inspirational!
As a toastmaster it is a special time to offer back into the community some of the skills and confidence that our local clubs have offered us.
The McGuire Programme
People with a stammer have a greatly exaggerated fear of public speaking. But those of us fortunate enough to find the McGuire programme (or similar) have gained a new-found control of our speech, and Toastmasters provides the perfect opportunity to acquire new speaking skills. Many graduates of the McGuire programme have benefitted from belonging to Arun Speakers, indeed three of us have been honoured to serve as President, and we have won club and area contests. The McGuire programme and Toastmasters share many characteristics, including constructive encouragement and support, which help members to achieve what had previously been thought of as impossible.
Talking his way to the top!
Arun Speakers is proud to be the home club of the current District Director, Andy Hammond – the first Arun Member to fill the role.
Andy first visited Arun Speakers late in 2000 and joined early in 2001. He quickly became involved in the club committee after being persuaded to take on the role of VP Education in July 2001. His willingness to say “yes” whenever asked to serve saw him take on the roles of Area Governor in 2004 and then Division Governor in 2005. Having experienced the excitement of District Conferences, and always willing to take on new challenges, he volunteered to take on the role of Conference Director for the Victory Conference in Portsmouth in 2007.
During this time Andy was working at West Sussex County Council and was frustrated that he hadn’t managed to get any members from there to join Arun Speakers. His solution was to start a club at the Council and in 2009 founded County Communicators, with great support from Arun’s members.
After taking early retirement in 2014, Andy was ready for even more challenges, and became a Pathways Ambassador in 2015, and then Chief Ambassador in 2016. He joined the District Leadership Team as Club Growth Director the same year and was elected Program Quality Director in 2017.
Andy is still inspired by seeing how Toastmasters members develop and grow in confidence, and his maxim for his year as District Director is – “changing lives, one speech at a time”.
Arun Speakers – 30 years of success and hopefully many, many more
Our short retrospective shows how much can be achieved at a Toastmasters club. Not only creating that safe space for the personal development that comes from all those prepared speeches and meeting roles. But also the opportunity to take those skills back into our local communities and help each other find our voices.
Arun Speakers has been a great success long may it continue to thrive.
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