The Humorous Speech & Table Topics contest season is now in full swing. Winners at the club level will take part in Area contests whose winners will in turn represent their Areas at Division contests. Winners of the Division contests will then take part in the District final at the Ashford Conference in early May. All four District level finals will take place in Ashford, Table Topics, Humorous Speech, International Speech an Evalations.
While many clubs have already run their contests, some have not so here are some tips for you. Remember that all contest need the following functionaries in order to be valid:
– A minimum of five (5) anonymous voting judges
– One (1) tie-breaking judge appointed by the chief judge
– One (1) chief judge
– One (1) contest chair. You can also have one per contest
We are approaching the end of the first quarter of the Toastmasters year, which marks a number of key milestones. Probably the most significant is that we now have an approved District Budget.
You will be aware that Toastmasters International decided that there would no longer be a November conference, and one consequence is that the District Council meeting normally held during that conference, and where the District Budget is approved, now has to be a virtual meeting, and conducted before 30th September.
We held our first ever virtual District Council meeting on Saturday 15th September, and I think it is fair to say it was a mixed experience. The meeting itself ran very smoothly overall, and we received some very positive feedback from those attending, and constructive improvement points, in true Toastmasters style, for future virtual meetings.
However, attendance was poor, with only about 80 Council members out of a possible 374 taking part. We, therefore, failed to achieve a quorum so no decisions could be taken on the day. We subsequently conducted an email vote and I am delighted to say that the District Budget has been approved by 195 votes to 3.
We are reviewing the whole process to see what lessons we can learn. Perhaps the most important is that there appears to be insufficient awareness and engagement between us as District Leaders and the Club Officers and members. This is my third year on the DLT, having previously served as CGD and PQD, and I know I slip into the jargon of DEC, DSP, DOT and COT all too easily. Have I lost you in acronyms yet? And that is part of the problem.
We will be looking at how we can better explain our roles and how they relate to club Officers and members. One idea is to include a brief session in the Club Officer Training events. I also hope that these monthly updates help you understand a little better what we are doing on your behalf. If you have other suggestions please let me know.
Much of my focus this month has been on the District Success Plan (DSP) and the District Budget. The DSP sets our goals for the coming year, and in particular how together we will support the creation of new clubs and increase membership; how we will focus on serving current members to improve retention; and how we can support every club to deliver excellence to all our members. The budget provides the resources to support all that activity. Both the DSP and Budget will be submitted to the District Executive Council (DEC) and District Council in September. Details will be on our District website.
I did manage to get away from the PC for a little while, and travelled up to Worcester to join in the demo meeting run by Malvern Speakers, hosted by Worcester Mayor Jabba Riaz, a former Malvern member, and expertly managed by Steve Birch DTM. I also visited Sandwich Toastmasters in Kent on the very impressive Discovery Park. Thanks to President Simon Teague for the very warm welcome.
I am writing this in my hotel room in Chicago, where the District “Trio” are attending the International Convention. Ahead of the actual convention, we spent Sunday interviewing the 18 candidates for roles on the International Board so that we can be better informed when casting your clubs’ votes. Monday and Tuesday were spent receiving our training as District Officers. It is really valuable to share ideas and experiences with our peers from all over the world.
Recently I had the pleasure of seeing Nuala, of London Victorians, deliver her her first Club Officer Training (COT) session as Area Director. Also in attendance was our current club President Eleanor. Both joined at the same time in 2015. It was a true privilege to see both blossom into confident speakers and leaders through Toastmasters. Their club provided them with a safe space to undergo their Heroes journey into public speaking and leadership confidence. A safe and supporting environment made it happen, just like it also nudged them in pushing their comfort zone outwards month by month and year by year.
This Heroes Journey is one we would like each member to experience this year and in all coming years. This is why as a District, we set the 1 – 70 – 100 vision to enable everybody to do it!
You, our members are at the core of the vision!
Supporting each other in achieving more will inevitably leads to more members renewing their membership to continue their Toastmasters journey. It takes more than 3 years for someone to truly grasp the nettle of Toastmasters leadership opportunities. Which is why we would like you and your clubs to do whatever you can to retain at least 70% of your members every year.
We would like each and every one of you to achieve at least one educational goal every year. Sounds impossible? Not it’s not! It only takes 4 speeches to achieve Pathways level 1, just 4 speeches … Something that can be done in just 3 months. All of you can push yourself by setting yourself a goal and all of you can support a fellow member in achieving a goal.
Public speaking is at the core of Toastmasters but public speaking requires a supportive audience. Pushing oneself to achieve more requires a support network. Both things that successful clubs with 20+ members can provide. This is why we are encouraging every club to aim for Distinguished status or a membership strength of 20+ members. Successful clubs breed successful members.
Let’s all grow forward together by becoming heroes together this year!
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