News and Events - D91 Toastmasters UK South

Where Leaders are Made

The week after coming back from an International Convention is always a bit of a strange one. Between readjusting to normal routines, following-up with the dozens of people met overseas and tying-up loose ends. A mélange of emotions always goes through my mind in these moments. Every single one of the International Convention I’ve attended so far has been unique in its own ways. Denver was, as the responsibility of casting 269 votes on behalf of your club was mine to fulfil.

On Sunday 18th August we interviewed all candidates standing for International Directors or Officers roles. Later during, the week, we also had the opportunity to see them answering questions from members at the Candidates showcase. These two events formed our decisions on how to cast our votes on your behalf.

Some exciting news were announced by Toastmasters International CEO Dan Rex. Very soon, all projects within a Pathways path will be visible ahead, just like in the old manuals. A simplification of the interface is on the cards and judging from what I saw, it’s a very positive step forward. A visit of Toastmasters WHQ last Monday also provided me with more insights on what the staff works on. They are taking feedback onboard and are acting upon it. What’s more, many staff members in the IT department are members of a club hosted in WHQ offices.

As renewals season is upon us and I have a mission for you all. Win some free pizza or supplies from the District by renewing 20 members and retaining 80% of your members by September 30th. Renew, Retain, Win!

Our District 91 pizza is famous worldwide as evidence by some comments in Denver. Even the Italians of District 109 copied it!

Want to inspire some members with Toastmasters magic? Share your stories of why you’ve joined Toastmasters and what you’ve gained as a member. Here’s my own story below.

By the way next year’s Convention will be in Paris and tickets are already on sale!

The art of humorous speaking

Dan Macgill – 2019 District 91 Humorous Contest Winner

In August 2017 I signed the forms to become a member of Croydon Communicators and informed the Club President, Mike Majuru, that I wanted to give my first speech at the next meeting.

I’d never spoken in public before and was terrified beyond belief.

“Ah, that’s our Humorous Speech Contest night.” Mike said.

“Not to worry, I’ll wait until the meeting after that.” 

“Unless, you’d like to take part?”

Well, it didn’t really make much difference to me whether I gave my first speech in a contest or on a regular club night. Either way I was going to spend every waking (and sleeping) moment, dreading it.

So I agreed.

I wrote a speech and delivered it at the contest.

Looking back, it wasn’t all that funny, and my delivery wasn’t good at all, but somehow or other, I won.

In fairness, there were only three contestants that night. One went over time and was disqualified and the other was called Dan too, so I think there may have been some confusion with the judges’ voting.

I came back down to earth with a bump at the Area Contest though. We only had five contestants but I think I managed to finish around 8th. The other speakers seemed so funny and confident.

A few weeks later, I went to the Autumn Conference at Gatwick to watch the District Final of the Humorous Speaking Contest.

The standard was immense, but the eventual and fully-deserved winner, of the 2017 Humourous Speech contests really captured my attention. He was so funny and had put together such a clever speech.

I realised just how far away I was from the standard required to win one of these contests, but I resolved to spend the next year working as hard as I could on my speaking skills and then come back for another crack at the contest.

The following summer, a few weeks before contest season was due to start, I was at a loss for what I could speak about.

I had no material at all. Let alone funny material.

Then a message popped up in my Whatsapp feed…

…It was an invitation from the winner of the 2017 Humourous Speech contest winner – to join his humorous speaking workshop.

I didn’t think there was much point in me attending. I had no ideas. I wasn’t funny. And the guy was so funny. What chance did I ever have of beating him if he decided to compete again?

“Maybe if he has some sort of accident and can’t compete.” I thought.

“That’s my only chance.”

I laughed to myself at the thought of me trying to sabotage him so I could win.

And that’s when the idea came.

Two hours later I’d written a ridiculous speech which involved me undertaking a madcap caper across London, where I’d create an alibi by giving a general evaluation at another club, then sneak away and sabotage his workshop.

I wasn’t sure others would find it amusing – but every time I read it, it made me laugh.

So, I went with it.

8 months later, after winning at Club, Area, and Division levels, I found myself in the District Final with my speech … and I won. I couldn’t believe it.

Daniel Macgill winning at District Conference

It’s a cliché, but ahead of this year’s Autumn contests, my advice to everybody would be to just go for it.

Personally, I’ve found contests to be the place I have learnt and grown the most.

And, as lovely as it is to win, we always learn far more when we don’t win.

The biggest factor in me winning the 2019 Humorous Speech Contest was me comfortably losing at the previous year’s Area contest.

If you don’t think you have something funny to speak about, or you’re not a funny person, or you’re not competitive enough, or contests aren’t for you, then great – you’re the same as almost everybody competing – definitely including myself.

So, as September rolls around and contest season gets underway again, I am getting ready to have another crack at the Humorous Speech Contest and it tickles me to think there might be somebody out there planning on sabotaging me so that they can win.

I should be so lucky!

Good luck to everyone competing and let’s remember to thank all the contest functionaries and judges who give so much to help run the contests at this time of year.

Good day fellow Toastmasters!

Programme Quality Director – Arnaud Sartre

Already a month into the new Program Year!

The last few weeks as your new Program Quality Director 2019-20 has been exciting, starting in June with the training of a great group of Area and Division Directors. Do you know your leader? Find out who they are here!

If you are a Club Officer, many of you will have already attended either a Toastmasters Leadership Institute (TLI) or your local Club Officer Training (COT).

But remember, although the training is primarily targeted to all 7 of your Club Officers, all members are welcome to attend; especially if finding out what Club Leadership is all about!

There are a few sessions left to run to the end of August and you can find a complete list of training on this summary spreadsheet or on the District Calendar

Although we are in the middle of summer, it is time to think about our Autumn Contests (Humorous and Table Topics). As is the case every year, the rules have been updated, please take a read if you are thinking of entering a contest or holding a functionary role.

Many of you have already attended one of our District Webinars, look out for more information as I will be releasing a Webinar schedule towards the time of our next newsletter. If you are interesting to hear about particular topics or want to get involved, drop me a line!

Last but not least, I am looking to streamline the purchase and availability of Toastmasters branded materials from the Toastmasters store and find a way to bring a District 91 Marketplace to life for the benefits of all of you, our members. Interested? Drop me a line!


Personal goals for the year ahead

Club Growth Director – Helena Boden-Brewer

The new Toastmasters year provides all members with the opportunity to review their personal goals for the year ahead. Already there is interest in establishing new Toastmasters clubs across the District. With many members seeking to complete their Distinguished Toastmasters Award by June 2020, there is support for club sponsors, mentors and coaches and running speech craft, speaker to trainer and youth leadership workshops for High Performance Leadership (HPL) awards.  

A busy year ahead beckons.

To support all the activity, it’s all about teamwork. With the backing of the District Director, Florian Bay and Program Quality Director, Arnaud Sartre, this year, I will be assisted by Club Extension Chair, Bob Bowes and Member Retention Chair, Seema Menon. With the addition of each Division providing a nominated representative to service on the Club Extension Committee.

With this experienced team, members wishing to set up demonstration meeting to set up new clubs, help is available. Each division has expressed a projected level of new club activity, there may well be an opportunity to be involved, right on your doorstep. There are plenty of occasions for members to volunteer to serve to support and learn more about themselves along the way. Help is at hand. The District will provide you with a demonstration box to assist you in running the meeting. Along with volunteers to assist with the running of the meeting too.

Many clubs organise membership drives, during the year. Interest in hosting an Open House Meeting for this year has already began. You may find members wishing to manage this event as their HPL project. The District will support your club when you undertake this activity. There is an open house box of goodies too.

For your events, you are not alone. Established members are often seeking openings both inside and outside their own clubs. Their experience is invaluable; from running advanced club meetings, organising club, area and division events, Toastmaster specific training sessions and to cutting-edge and forward-thinking workshops on speech and leadership. The great gift of being a member of Toastmasters, is when you ask for help, it will be there. If you are hosting an event and seeking support, ask for help.

Member retention will be a key focus this year. Our District is ahead of the curve in putting in place provision for membership numbers, before this becomes an aspect of the Distinguished Club Program. To encourage our clubs this year, there is a new incentive is year of 10+. This award will be given to clubs that grow from their membership base number as of 1 July 2019, to 10+ members by 30 June 2020. The 10+ is in addition to the member retention element to the pizza challenge.

Helen Boden-Brewer – D91 Club Growth Director

I am looking forward to serving all our members and driving the Club Extension Committee. It’s going to be a fantastic year ahead.

Excellence in Action

Florian Bay District Director

I am genuinely excited to see what the 2019/20 Toastmasters will bring to all of you in District 91. So far, the year started with a bang with numerous excellent Club Officer Training (COT) sessions and our first-ever District 91 filming day. The videos you’ve seen in our latest newsletter are some of the many that were filmed that day. All of this is part of our ambitious plans to inspire more members like yourself, with the possibilities that Toastmasters has to offer.

A lot of you know my passion for achieving excellence at all levels of our organisation. But excellence doesn’t mean achieving goals and milestones. Excellence is far more than that! 

Excellence is when you’re encouraging a new member to step-up and do a role for the first time.

Excellence is when you’re pushing your club to do better than last year on any metric or aspect.

Excellence is when somebody delivers a quality evaluation that builds members up, and inspires to come back for more!

If you are a club leader this year, I would like to invite you to plan ahead to make your club the best it can be. Make full use of the Club Success Plan template that Toastmasters provides. Note that you can also create your own document like Canary Wharf Communicators or London Victorians did. The only limits on what you can include in this document are those of your imagination.

Excellence is also about stretching your comfort zone. What inspires me so much about Toastmasters, is that it’s a never-ending learning journey of personal growth. Whether you joined Toastmasters last month or 20 years ago, there’s still something new to learn and more confidence to be gained. Personally, the confidence I gained at Toastmasters carried through in all areas for my life. Whether you joined Toastmasters recently or a while ago, don’t hesitate to push yourself and to expand your boundaries. A good way to do so is by visiting clubs through our Club Ambassadors Programme.