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.
Clinical Communicators is one of two corporate Toastmasters Clubs in Area 32 – the other being County Communicators. The club operates within Fisher Clinical Services UK which is part of ThermoFisher Scientific. ThermoFisher Scientific is a global, American biotechnology product development company.
Corporate clubs have particular strengths and challenges, and Clinical Communicators is no different. On the very positive side, as a corporate club, members are offered a corporate subsidy towards cost of membership of Toastmasters Int. and also benefit from the use of free on-site venues and corporate communication channels – for example, the Club has developed a spreadsheet on their shared corporate drive for members to sign up for roles or indicate availability. This is linked to an email system to remind people to sign up for roles which has proved successful.
However, retaining members is often a challenge for corporate clubs, but, under the stewardship of Ned, club President, the club has offered innovative new ways to attract and retain members through quarterly Toastmasters events. These have included an Icebreaker Speech Contest, an outdoor session, a Dragons Den Table Topic Contest, a Halloween themed event in October and culminating in an end of calendar year, Christmas themed event. The up and coming Toastmasters Open Day early in the New Year is also something to look forward to.
Also, 2018 has been a great year for long-serving Toastmaster, Royce Heap, Club VP Ed, who received the Toastmasters International’s Triple Crown. This is a phenomenal achievement awarded on completion of any combination of Competent Communicator (CC), Competent Leader (CL), Advanced Communicator (AC), Advanced Leader (AL), or Distinguished Toastmaster (DTM) in a single programme year. Congratulations Royce – a great achievement!
In addition to strong leadership, the club has implemented a new Information Board which is on permanent display for members to track, DCP Progress, education awards progress and attendance at meetings, including guests.
With these strong foundations in place, Clinical Communicators is heading for a successful 2019.
Have you ever felt life takes you into something you weren’t expecting? Have you had to step up for something you weren’t prepared for? Have you wanted to be a participant and had to step up into leading?
I didn’t want to start a Toastmasters club. I just wanted Toastmasters to go into my kids’ school to teach them how to do public speaking. Then one fateful day a lady posted in our village community facebook group that she wanted Speaker Coaching. So many commented! Some people tagged had done Toastmasters. With the post getting such a buzz, I felt there had to be one in our village. So, I began the hunt to find someone else to lead it! I knew who to ask! Someone who attended Tunbridge Wells Speakers but lives here. She said she didn’t have the time. How would I find the time?
I contacted Toastmasters International and got an email from Arnaud Sartre soon after. He made it sound fun and easy and asked for a date to start. A date? So soon. I didn’t even know if I was doing it! Oh my! It began to feel real. My nerves triggered that luminous air around me, where the world starts to stand still. Why not just leap in? If it doesn’t work, I would have just lost an evening. The date was set for two weeks later. That meant a manic rush to get flyers, and leaflets created and printed, rooms booked, and people found to do a Demo meeting as I had never attended a Toastmasters meeting.
I dashed over to Gatwick Toastmasters, so I could least so I’d attended one meeting, and would vaguely know what I’m doing. Thankfully that weekend was a contest – so I got to meet Arnaud and speak to other speakers about their experience. I hadn’t ever been part of a club, so I was going in blind! I delved into reading, watching videos, and emailing anyone I could that would answer me.
Sylvia kindly created an agenda – we filled it with good souls from Kent, London Victoria, and Tunbridge Wells. I was amazed by the support and care. Toastmasters seems to create kind generous people: servant leaders! Two weeks after the call with Arnaud, I arrived to find Jon Parth from Kent Speakers already in the venue setting up. He’s been there every meeting without fail and checking in to see how I am each week. He and Sylvia have done zoom calls with me to help me to understand the roles, and pathways. They continue to offer outstanding support as our area manager and sponsor.
47 people came on the first night. I’m incredibly grateful to the Toastmasters who’ve come from other areas to support us. The room was tingling with excitement, the laughter flowed, and people were courageous in standing up for the first time. A VPE, Secretary and VPM stepped forward – and we welcomed guests open heartedly. None of us knowing what we were doing, but Toastmasters from out of area guided and lead us. The energy of the room sustained and enlivened us. I knew we’d have our charter number of 20 on the night. I could feel it!
While we got 22 membership forms filled in the first 48 hours, the bank hadn’t released our account details yet. So frustrating. People couldn’t transfer their money. Momentum was lost. I lamented: “If only the bank had been open. If only… We would have been able to charter on the first night!” Instead, we had a slow drip of people signing up. Jon signed up people and latches us onto Kent speakers. First 8 people. Then 4. Then 3… Until now we have 17. While not having a bank meant we didn’t charter on the first night, I have hope we will soon. I’m trusting that the members who have signed up are the perfect ones and hope the others will join when they’re ready! We only have 3 more to go to Charter! Soon Spirited Speakers will be a fully-fledged club.
I’m sure you reading this knows how powerful Toastmasters is. It’s like a non-stop train that picks you up and takes you to transformation city. I hadn’t even attended a meeting before October last year. That’s when I wanted others to teach my kids, while I got on with my work. When I saw the opportunity, I wanted to be a spectator, not a participant. When I saw the local interest, I wanted to be a participant in a vibrant club, not a leader. When I realised a local club would mean I didn’t have to drive and I’d get to hang out with the amazing people in our village, I became a leader and a public speaker. What a turn-around in less than 3 months!
I’m incredibly grateful. Thanks to the leadership in the area, to the Toastmasters who’ve come to support, to the members who’ve joined, to those that have taken up roles and the guests who’ve laughed and enjoyed their time with us.
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