Pedro Casillas – District Director (DD)
End of Toastmasters Year 2017-18
As you will know, 30 June marks the end of the current Toastmasters Year 2017-18, and what a year it has been! We started the year with the aim of building on the foundations for continued growth and excellence across our District. We reviewed and updated our processes on how we do things – including:
- District budgeting, the running of District Executive Committee meetings,
- the improvement in communications from the DLT to all our members via the excellent Newsletters which Nigel Oseland, D91 PR Manager,
- the sharing of documentation via our D91 website.
Through these updates, D91 has continued to grow and excel and this has been reflected in our success at DSP.
District Success Plan (DSP)
Each year, Toastmasters International, set each District a challenge to “build new clubs and support All clubs to achieve excellence”. We started the 2017-18 year with 154 clubs and thanks to the excellent work done by our many Toastmasters across our District and led by our Club Growth Director, Florian Bay, we end the year at 161 Paid Clubs, which is an exceptional performance!
Distinguished Clubs – over the past 4 years we have regularly surpassed the target of Distinguished Clubs. This year, D91 has passed 111 Distinguished Clubs. This is a measure of the success that not only are we building new clubs, more and more clubs are engaging in the Distinguished Club Plan and are providing excellent benefits for members.
I have recently had the pleasure to attend two Club 20-year anniversaries and have been informed about a club’s 11th anniversary. See my report of these on our website.
Andy Hammond – Program Quality Director (PQD)
A special mention for our first members to register Level 1 awards in Pathways – Nadine Regis of Grosvenor Square Speakers, and Lyndall Fernie, Wendy Gibson, Jeanette Oates and Krishna Singh, all of Purley Speakers. Great work Purley – our Pathways pioneers! Not forgetting the incredible Julie Kertesz who is now Proficient in Effective Coaching having completed that Learning Path.
In addition, 32 of our members have achieved the Triple Crown award for three or more education awards in one year. The criteria for the Triple Crown will change with Pathways and details can be found on our website.
Your individual success also contributes to your clubs’ success in the distinguished Club Program (DCP). So far 110 clubs have achieved Distinguished status, which is over 71% and makes us the 4th best District in the world! Of those, 26 clubs have achieved the highest level of President’s Distinguished.
Each club’s success then contributes to 24 of our 33 Areas being Distinguished, and 5 of our 7 Divisions being President’s Distinguished. That all adds up to another year of excellence, with our District being Distinguished every year since being formed in 2014. You can see all the details for your club on the performance dashboard.
Don’t forget to register your new Club Officers before 30th June so that you get credit towards next year’s DCP!
Even while we are working hard to finish this year on a high, planning is already well under way for the coming Toastmasters year. Your new District Leadership Team (DLT) had their first planning meeting over the weekend of 2nd and 3rd June and are busy preparing to train your new Division and Area Directors on 23rd and 24th June. Meet the new DLT on the D91 website.
In addition to drafting the District Success Plan and District Budget, we have set key dates for events for the coming year. Details will shortly be available on the website.
New membership form
If your club, like mine, holds a stock of Membership Application forms, you may not be aware that there is a new version of the form. Changes include a box on the first page to tick for people who use assistive technology (for sight-impaired members), gender can now be “other”, and consent to contact by mail, email, and phone in line with GDPR. You can find the form on the TI website.
In conclusion …
It has been a challenging and extremely rewarding year as Program Quality Director, and I would like to thank all our members for your great work in making it a successful year. I look forward to continuing to serve you next year as District Director and I have a great team to help me to help you. Together we are changing lives – one speech at a time.
Florian Bay – Club Growth Director (CGD)
Building the future
It is hard to believe that there is only a week left in the 2017/18 Toastmasters Year. Everything just flew by so fast; as I realise that some events that do not feel so distant in my memory actually happened back in 2017!
When I became Club Growth Director I made the decision that I would follow what I called a “broad front” strategy this year. That instead of focusing on a few specific things, I would instead try to focus on everything growth related to raise the standards all across the board in District 91. I am pleased to say that this strategy was a complete success! Thanks to it, all of you now have access to the following resources that were often created from scratch this year:
- A District Marketing plan focusing on growing our District in the next 3 to 5 years.
- Professional quality marketing materials that all clubs can access.
- Fun incentives that encouraged all of you to strive for excellence to attract and retain more members.
- A growing pool of trained Club Mentors to support our new clubs.
- A thorough manual on building and launching new clubs with a set of associated online tools. Launching a new club is no longer a mystery!
- A ‘Demo Box’ that countless clubs used to start on a high note or regain momentum!
Many of you asked for these resources and once they were available, many of you used them as much as you could! This is in spite of the fact that this year, District 91 faced many challenges. Pathways rollout absorbed a lot of leadership time and energy. The World HQ move from California to Colorado led to a temporary collapse of the Toastmasters supply system. GDPR legislation consumed leadership time and energies and raised new many questions.
Yet in spite of all of these challenges, here is what you have achieved this Toastmaster year:
- Launched 16 new clubs with 2 more due to charter by end of June.
- Laid the foundations for 10+ new clubs in new communities or in companies currently not hosting a club.
- A majority of your clubs have shown net membership growth this year. A first in many years!
- Hosted almost two dozen open-house meetings that attracted hundreds of guests.
- Together grew by 155 members so far this year (a number likely to exceed 200 soon!). Last year we only grew by 33 members!
The year is not over yet! Do not forget that you still have time to Beat the Clock by adding more members to your clubs.
If you are interested in building up our story of growth, further next year, contact me and let’s make it happen!
Nigel Oseland – PR Manager
Toastmasters is a communications organisation. I therefore believe that my role, as your 2017-18 PR (& Comms) Manager, underpins our vision, culture and philosophy. There is so much going on, so many success stories, across our district each month that my job was mostly distilling all that information down to something more easily disseminated and digested by our members.
As you know, my chosen approach has been to share morsels of information through the month on social media with a summary, a smorgasbord if you like, in an e-newsletter at the end of each month. This prevents us over-indulging in a 30-page article at one sitting. The response to the survey I conducted on the preferred communications routes, supported my approach.
The e-newsletter open-rate is gradually increasing and now reached 44%, an improvement on last year and a good open rate by industry standards. As well as the newsletter, I have improved our social media presence on Twitter, Facebook and, more recently, YouTube. Since my term in office, the number of Facebook page likes has increased by 630 to 2,970, and the number of Twitter followers has increased by 530 to 2,720. More importantly, the number of posts and interactions has significantly increased on both channels. For example, we have posted approximately 18 tweets per week since July! On YouTube we have added 25 new videos, with some receiving over 400 views.
Our members are also spreading the good word. I’ve noticed more tweets, blogs. membership drives and community events. I acknowledged the best of those efforts through the PR & Comms Awards at the Spring Conference.
As you may know, each month one of the members, in either D91 or D71, writes an article on speaking, communication and leadership skills for businesses. Our PR company, Panpathic, then places the article in newspapers, business magazines, websites and radio. We are still receiving good coverage with our articles being reproduced on average 12 times month since July.
I have found this year challenging, rewarding and enjoyable. Next year I am sponsoring and mentoring two new clubs and looking to host a show on local radio. I thank you all for your input and engagement and sharing of posts. I leave you in the capable hands of my successor Seema Menon.
Carry on Communicating!
Beauty Zindi – Finance Manager
It feels weird to be saying goodbye
I made it to the end of the year and my feelings about serving on the District Leadership Team (DLT) have been mixed. It has been a great learning opportunity, not so much on dealing with finances – as that is my day job but mostly on leadership and team dynamics.
There are three takeaways I would like to share:
- The importance of leading from the heart – There are two types of leaders – those who lead from the head and those who lead from the heart. In order to have genuine team cooperation, with all team members enjoying their roles, it is critical that we lead first from the heart. Heart-centred leadership requires courage, compassion and wisdom and it involves showing the way in an authentic and humble way.
- The importance of making people feel good – Most of my interactions were with leaders claiming reimbursements from the District for expenses incurred on District business. The processes I had to follow were tedious in the extreme and there were times I felt so frustrated with different individuals for making my job even more trying that it already was. During those times I had to remember to take deep breadths and then address the issues when I had calmed down. Maya Angelou said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
- The importance of listening – We are Toastmasters and we love talking. Evaluations teach us to listen. I am on the whole, a very good listener. However, recently I learnt that I have a lot to improve on in this area. We were in a team meeting and a member of the team was asked for his views on the topic we were discussing. He hesitated and I jumped in with my viewpoint. Fortunately the chair of the meeting stopped me, giving space for the other team member to gather his thoughts and share with the rest of us. That encounter will be with me for a long time.
So there we are. No money management lessons from me, although I am happy to discuss those on a one-one basis. It’s goodbye from me, weird though it feels. Toastmasters is in my veins and I will still be around. Thank you for the opportunity to serve you this year. I look forward to serving you, and with you, in different capacities in the future.
Till then – God bless!