My Reflection on the 2018 International Convention in Chicago

By Ruth Ribeiro, President Riverside Communicators, Div B

In August 2018, to mark my year as President of Riverside Communicators, in Twickenham, I decided to attend the Toastmasters International Speech Convention in Chicago, Illinois, USA.

Ruth with Arnaud Sartre, Fabian Bay, Lark Doley (2018-2019 Intl President), Pedro Casillas and Andy Hammond

I felt privileged to attend Lark Doley’s  2018-2019 International President’s Inauguration and met with her and other Senior District 91 Leaders for a photoshoot.  I also enjoyed seeing Balraj Arunasalam’s outgoing Presidential Speeches on stage. These 2 events had even more impact when I received the September issue of the Toastmasters Magazine with Lark Doley’s Picture on the front page and then in the same envelope, I received my very own, Competent Communicators Certificate, signed for, by Balraj Arunasalam, International President and Daniel Rex, for having completed 10 Speeches in the Competent Communicators Manual, as I reflected, thinking, Oh Wow! I know those people.  I have met them. For me, alongwith the networking opportunities within this great family of Leaders and Communicators, 3 other things stood out.

1) The Toastmasters Opening Ceremony at the Convention, started with a Parade of Representatives bearing flags from 111 different countries.  It was such a colourful and moving Parade, rather like a Toastmasters version of United Nations.  We got to sing the American National Anthem, being the Host country, and the Sri-Lankan national Anthem, being the country of origin of the outgoing International President.

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Volunteering as an Area Director: My Why

By Gina Rocque-Drayton, Area B6 Director

I am often asked why I decided to stand as Area Director for Area B6 for the second time.  That’s a very good question.  I think it’s because I want to give something back to Toastmasters. I have found being an Area Director to be one of the greatest opportunities for personal development.  The role has been both challenging and rewarding. It feels easier the second time around in that you are much more aware of what you are doing, I have been able to harness my ability to forge good relationships with the follow Toastmasters and the clubs with whom I serve and support in my leadership role.

Lao Tzu said “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one single step”.  Since I took the first step in April 2014 when I visited my first Toastmasters club I knew immediately that Toastmasters could offer me so much.  I did not hesitate to join and became a member of Croydon Communicators.  Since that day I have never looked back.  I have grown so much.  I am more confident, have learnt how to organise meetings, club officer training and competitions. I have developed my management and leadership skills and after delivering more than 40 speeches I think I can say that this has definitely improved my communication skills.  I have taken on various leadership roles and have given full commitment to each role, striving to be the best that I can be.  I have been the Vice President of Public relations, Vice President of Education, President, Immediate Past President, Assistant Area Director and Area Director.  I am also club mentor for a pre-chartered club.  Phew, that’s a lot of leadership roles.

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Toastmasters improved my confidence

My friend asked me to be bridesmaid at her wedding in Dubrovnik. I was ecstatic. She then asked me to do a reading at the wedding. I immediately started worrying.

I have done readings at weddings before. They sounded fine but but my legs and lips would shake uncontrollably. However, this time, when I stood up, I didn’t feel nerves. I was actually looking forward to delivering the reading. What was wrong with me?

I gave the speech, projecting my voice across the Palace; The words came out controlled and clear and I used pause for effect. People laughed at the funny parts because I gave them a chance to. I got a big round of applause, which filled me with pride and emotion. As I sat back down, I reflected on where my new found confidence had come from. It was from Toastmasters. Every member of Trojans has helped me to improve my confidence, speaking and leadership in someway or another. Whether it be from spoken or written evaluations, mentoring, chats etc. Everything that I have learnt from these wonderful people, came flooding out when I needed it the most and for that, I will be forever grateful! May the journey continue!

Hannah Widdison, Trojan Speakers

Grand Expectations

When you first came to a Toastmaster club, you arrived with expectations. You also have expectations of your Area, Division and District. As a new year begins, this is the best time to renew those expectations, so that guests and members are aware of their responsibilities within the club and the wider Toastmaster community.

Have you ever had an enthusiastic guest come along and become a member only to be shocked that they are expected to serve as an officer in their club leadership team when called upon? Have you ever had a long standing club member who was taken aback when your VP Membership called them up to discuss their waning attendance? It all begins with what is expected of your fellow members and preparing them for their respective roles.

As the then new President of Early Bird Speakers, I introduced a questionnaire for prospective members. It included ‘What would you like to get out of Toastmasters and our club?’ and ‘How do you see yourself giving back to the club?’ A key question was ‘Which leadership role will you stand for in the next leadership team elections?’This keeps everyone mindful of leadership roles. Yes, we have the Toastmaster promise “To serve my club as an officer when called upon to do so”, but sometimes it takes a club to embed these points into their member induction for the message to be driven home.

One could argue that a new member comes just to learn public speaking and has no interest to serve as a leader. But as a leader, you must ask: in the short and long term environment of the club, how is the member serving and supporting your club and the Toastmasters community? By just embracing public speaking, are they really getting their money’s worth?

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Getting the Word Out! By Pauline Masters, Gloucester Speakers

The inauguration of a new Toastmasters Club requires commitment, leadership and public relations to help it become a successful club. Gloucester Speakers launched 14th October 2014 and chartered 1st March 2015. Public relations made a significant impact, letting people know about the club existence and accepting new members, all to facilitate development of their public speaking skills.

To spread the word, traditional PR was employed such as press releases, posters, business and networking. Then as now, we make full use of social media, Facebook and Twitter. We found that Meetup has helped move us forward.

Local radio love to have notice of local events and are supportive in developing awareness of how Toastmasters helps with public speaking. Our PR coup, air time on BBC local radio. Read More