Archives for Seema

Reflections on Pathways

By Bob Bowes DTM, Club President, Canary Wharf Communicators and Area K31 Director

Change is not easy. It’s frequently met with resistance and uncertainty. Nevertheless, change is inevitable.

Having completed 2 DTM’s and 14 of the 15 Advanced manuals in the traditional programme, you could ask me ‘anything’ about the old system. As incoming club president at Canary Wharf, the executive and I set an ambitious education target as part of the Club Success Plan. Subsequently, I attended a Pathways presentation (it wasn’t as enlightening as I’d hoped!) and off we went.

I completed my ‘Choose A Path’ questionnaire and enrolled in the Dynamic Leadership path but I soon discovered that learning the Pathways program is very much like driving a new car. Just as many drivers never explore all the feature on their display dashboard, many Toastmasters never visit the Toastmasters website or establish an online profile. In my club visits, I now stress how important it is to log into the website before starting Pathways, read the FAQ’s and carefully navigate the program.

Whilst working my way through Level 1 (Mastering the fundamentals), I had to make several phone-calls to Pathways experts to help guide me from one step to the next. How, for example, do you move from one project to the next within a path? Where is the printed evaluation sheet? When completed, where is it stored? What does the circle with the percentages mean?

Bob Bowes

By the time you progress to Level 2 (Learning your style), Pathways starts to get more interesting and different from the old programme. Prior to each project you receive guided information about your next project speech via short videos, learning notes and quick ‘tests’. The value in the Pathways learning program begins to emerge. At the completion of level 2, you are presented with an optional concurrentpath, the ‘Pathways Mentor Program’. I encourage all my club members to adopt this path too, as it now forms the competence and ‘backbone’ behind the club’s mentorship programme.

By Christmas, I noted that some club members were on speech 6 or 7 but had not submitted a level for completion! This didn’t make sense to me, as the level 1 requires just 4 speeches. It quickly became apparent that this was a consequence of members selecting a path and then never going to the ‘dashboard’ again or navigating the path as they needed to. By this point, because I was working through the programme myself, I could coach others through the process and clear the ‘log jam’.

This month I completed my Level 5 (Demonstrating Expertise), where one of my projects was a 360 evaluation with my club executive, and subsequently completed my whole Dynamic Leadership path. I’m now a strong advocate for Pathways. It may not be as simple to follow as the traditional programme, but it is a much more focussed, valuable and appropriate programme in today’s world. Participate in it, talk it up and your new members will quickly embrace it.

To date, 10 members of Canary Wharf have completed at least one level (16 levels completed in all), with another 17 members within one of two speeches of completing their level 1 as well.

Change is inevitable, but as a club officer, leading by example coupled with knowledge and enthusiasm makes all the difference. Pathways is here and it’s our new members future!

 I have of course signed up to my next path already.  ‘Engaging Humor’.

I want the naughty kids, and the quiet kids!

By Sam Warner, Ludlow Speakers, Area J11 Director

The teacher was a little perplexed when I asked her for the naughty kids and the quiet kids to be invited to be participants in the Youth Leadership Program (YLP).  She felt that this special after-school club should be a reward for good behaviour to the children that were already achieving good grades. I explained that in Telford especially, (a factory and mining town) aspirations were not high and some children were destined to follow in their parent’s footsteps into benefits and crime without positive intervention.

Sam with the kids from YLP

YLP changes young lives forever, by giving a voice to young people who find it hard to express themselves in a constructive way, or at all!  Most children have been told to sit down, shut up, and do as they are told.  I ask them to stand up, speak up and tell me about something there are interested in. 

I’m just about to start my 7thYLP with 15 x fifteen year olds.  I have modified the program to better suit English culture and schooling whilst maintaining the structure and teachings of Toastmasters. We do three rounds of speeches, culminating in a showcase in front of teachers, parents and friends.  I conduct group evaluations after each speech and table topic and I have added the grammarian role to help the class learn about grammatical devices, new words and filler words.  Each session has a lesson and the participants all get to take turns at the committee roles. 

The teachers are always so grateful and so impressed with the both the quantity and the quality of the lessons.  The children evolve before your eyes.  They surprise you, delight you and impress you.  I have yet to encounter any actual naughty behaviour.  Most schools ask me to return once they have experienced the program and words gets round – I am very much in demand in Shropshire and Staffordshire. 

We do need more Toastmasters delivering more YLPs in schools.  The teachers want it, the kids need it, and it’s a great development opportunity for any member who wish to enhance their own skills.  I’m happy to advise and guide any Toastmaster that would like to give it a go.  I have met adults that received the YLP training at school  who have gone on to become Toastmasters and they say it changed their lives forever for the better.

If you want to know more, Sam has templates for all the agendas if you want to replicate her delivery of the YLP. You can email her

County Communicators celebrates 10th birthday!

By Catherine Cannon DTM, VP Membership 2018-19

Once upon a time, Arun Speakers, a community club in Chichester, had a member called Andy Hammond. Andy worked at West Sussex County Council (also in Chichester), and try as hard as he might, not a single member of staff ever visited Arun Speakers. To coin Andy, ‘If Mohammed won’t come to the mountain, the mountain must come to Mohammed’, and he set about building a club for County Council staff. With support from local Toastmaster clubs and importantly buy-in from senior officers (having decided he’d ‘better do it properly, rather than in secret’), County Communicators held its first official meeting in April 2009. Within weeks, regular weekly meetings were in place (with the agenda tightly managed to maximise time available) and new members were taking on roles. In October 2009 the club chartered, which is why we always have two birthday celebrations a year. Andy left the County Council 5 years ago, although retains membership, and is delighted that the club goes from strength to strength. 

Founding Members

As the only (we believe) Local Authority club in the country, we welcome members from West Sussex County Council and partners, for example Capita and neighbouring District Councils. We currently have 26 members, including an elected Councillor and a Director. 

I wonder if we could be described as the most open ‘closed’ club! There’s sometimes a feeling that ‘closed’ clubs (those with restricted membership, often in-house companies) don’t get involved beyond their club. Having been home to three Area Directors (and two Assistant Area Director posts), winning District 91 Club of the Year 2015/16, and having been Select or President’s Distinguished for the past seven years, County Communicators is definitely connected.  

Our birthday was marked with a celebratory themed meeting, featuring a speech from the Club’s Founder and District Director Andy, the launch of the 10thbirthday challenge, award presentations, and naturally birthday cake and (non-alcoholic) bubbly. 

Hannah Rawlings-Smith, Club President, 2018-19 said, ‘It was a fun and happy occasion, and we were delighted to be joined by three founder Members, visiting Toastmasters as well as guests considering joining. I was thrilled to present Daisy Alderson with her Advanced Communicator Bronze award, and Catrin Jones received her Triple Crown (our second in the club’s history)’.

Jo Bentley, H32 Area Director, 2018-19 said, ’I’ve been a member since 2012 and have seen many staff develop their skills in mentoring, giving feedback and chairing meetings effectively, and gain such confidence. Whether you’re using these skills in the workplace, in your community or in your personal life, our club offers our members such good value’. 

Meeting in the beautiful surroundings of a Grade One listed building, we warmly welcome visitors from other Toastmasters Clubs. Please do get in touch if you’d like to visit – we meet every Wednesday lunchtime, 12:30 – 1:30pm in Edes House, West Street, Chichester. Email us

Arnaud Sartre: The Year in Review

These are my last few words as Club Growth Director. So let’s review the year … 

At the time of writing this article, we have chartered 14 Clubs, and have just welcomed HCL UK Toastmasters Club in J21. Between now and the end of June, we may even have 1 additional Club, fingers crossed!

We also had to say goodbye to 6 Clubs throughout the year. This is never the outcome we wish for the members of these Clubs, but this is part of the lifecycle. 

We have an incredible pipeline of new Clubs coming up in the next few months, from Southern Wales to the South East and London. 

We have celebrated 2 rounds of the Pizza Challenge, and I can’t wait to see the launch of the new and improved award later on in the summer.

We had 3 membership campaigns and rewarded:

  • 18 Clubs with the Smedley Award
  • 35 Clubs with the Talk Up Toastmasters Award (if you haven’t yet received the pack of Pathways ribbons as promised, it will be with you soon)
  • And we are on course for 40+ Clubs being awarded the Beat The Clock Award!

We also recognised many members at conference for sponsoring and bringing new members to their Clubs with the Athena Award. 

Many success stories of Clubs going back to Charter strength after having a membership drop below 12, all recipient of the Phoenix Award (Barings Speaking Club, Ofgem Speakers Club and Connected Speakers Bromley)

Club Support

We have a multitude of new Club leads at various stages, and I am actively looking for sponsors/mentors willing to support a new Club break ground and thrive. If you are a trailblazer, get in touch! Mentors need to be able to commit to 6 months supporting a new Club from Charter. 

The reward is immense, and a successful applicant will also receive Club Building credit towards the Advanced Leader Silver on the Traditional Program. Fancy a different challenge? Becoming a Club Coach may just be the right opportunity. Clubs at or below 12 members qualify for a Coach. Successful Coaches will transform a Club with low membership back to charter strength and for a limited period also gain both Club Building credit andDistrict Officer credit (until 30 Jun 2020 only). This is a fantastic opportunity to make a difference and gain valuable skills. Interested? Get in touch!

Florian Bay: Growing Forward together in 2019/20

It is hard to believe that in a couple of days I’ll be District Director for District 91! I am immensely grateful for the trust that members and leaders from London to Ludlow and Cornwall to Millwall have placed in me to lead you to success in the coming year. Little did I know when I joined six years ago that my Toastmaster journey would be one of leadership in addition to public speaking.  

As a new year is beginning, my message to all leaders in the District is very simple, let’s grow forward together and fulfill our vision of 1 – 70 – 100. 

Why do we want every member in the District to achieve an award every year? Because it is a sign that each and every single of our members is supported to achieve excellence and personal growth.

Why do we want to achieve 70% retention each year? Because we want our members to stay with us for at least 3 years so that they can blossom anew.

Why do we want every club to have at least 20 members? Because we want our members to have an audience to cheer them up and a support network within their clubs.

A lot of planning already took place at the District level and all the initiatives for the year ahead are ready to go. Our incentives board has even morphed into a fun board game that I hope many of you will get to play in the coming months. 

Incentives Board

Do you want to collect them all? You can if you plan for it! This is why writing a club success plan is so important. By planning ahead, you can decide early on what you need to do to achieve excellence and help your members grow forward together.