News and Events - D91 Toastmasters UK South

Andy Hammond: Key Milestones

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.

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Andy Hammond: District Success Plan

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.

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Florian Bay: The Heroes Journey 1 – 70 – 100

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!

The Advantages of Advanced Clubs

After a few years in Toastmasters International, you may look at further ways of advancing your speaking skills. Challenging yourself to contests and attending conferences or a Toastmaster Leadership Institute (TLI) all helps, but have you considered joining an advanced club?

Having been a member of Cornerstone Communicators Advanced Toastmasters Club for one year, I have concluded there are three good reasons to join such clubs.

Firstly – I was first attracted to visiting Cornerstone Communicators due to their programme of useful workshops. Some workshops are facilitated by club members and fellow Toastmasters, but external experts are brought in occasionally (and workshops are often free to members). For example, I have attended valuable workshops on quite specific but relevant topics such as: rhetorical devices, “winning evaluations”, humorous speeches, stand-up comedy, presenting on the radio, being interviewed by journalists and so on. The workshops not only provide knowledge but stimulate and motivate further thoughts.

Secondly – Cornerstone Communicators (and other advanced clubs) just do things differently. For example, rather than a standard evaluation the club usually offers an open evaluation – where each member of the audience is invited to provide a commendation and recommendation. I have found this particularly useful for improving my own speeches, and the audience seem to enjoy it too. Table Topics are very different, and more akin to the impromptu speaking seen on TV. Quite often two or more members will perform together – perhaps one narrating and the other miming, or there may be an absurd dialogue or interview situation in which the two members verbally spar. These Table Topics are indeed challenging but also so much fun than the norm.

Thirdly – As might be expected the members of advanced clubs are experienced speakers, many are professional presenters and workshop facilitators. As with most Toastmasters, they are willing to provide expert advice, valuable within and outside of Toastmasters. They are also well connected and know of conference organisers looking for speakers etc. Unlike one-off courses, advanced clubs give you on-going access to these experts.

Most advanced clubs require their members to have completed six projects, but they also welcome guests at e their meetings and workshops. I recommend visiting your local advanced club as a guest as soon as you can, rather than wait until you are qualified to join – like with Toastmasters I wish I had joined sooner. Whilst the club is focused on advanced skills, all new members are made to feel welcome and encouraged to try our new techniques.

In Districts 71 and 91 the advanced clubs are: Advanced Orators (Manchester), Anglian Advanced Speakers, Cornerstone Communicators, Cashel Club, Cork Ireland Advanced Pros Club, Edinburgh Advanced ToastmastersExcalibur Advanced Speakers and PowerTalk (Dublin). If you are interested in trying Cornerstone Communicators (in Markyate) then email me for further details.

Go on, treat yourself and join one of the advanced clubs!

The Explorer’s Cup has arrived in London

The Explorer’s Cup, a Toastmaster award, arrived in London carried by PMI UK Toastmaster Club members a few weeks ago. The award was created by District 91 to encourage club members to take part in leadership tasks enabling them to improve skills faster.

The Explorer’s Cup journey started in Sandwich at Toasted Sandwich Club followed by Gatwick Speakers, Chichester and Worthing and is now at its 4th home at PMI UK TM Club.

In order to claim the trophy, Nadya Hamedi, Alexander Marcondes, Cleber Ferrareze and Ola Durojaiye travelled to Worthing and after a warm welcome by Worthing Club members (established in a beautiful seafront hotel) took on meeting roles at the host club as General Evaluator, Table Topics Evaluator and Timekeeper respectively.

As part of the programme, the PMI UK TM Club is eagerly waiting to welcome the next club which will visit its venue to claim the trophy. Remember, to claim the trophy, you need 3 members to take meeting roles at the host club.

The PMI UK TM Club holds meetings on Aldgate High Street London EC3N 1AB every 2nd and 4th Wednesday of the month at 7pm. See https://pmi.org.uk/index.php/prof-development/pmi-uk-toastmasters-club