Archives for toastmasters

How to create a great environment in a new club

Creating a new Toastmaster Club is not without its challenges, but executed correctly, can be an incredibly rewarding endeavour.

I would like to share with you my experience of starting a new Club, what I learnt and what I believe are the three key ingredients to success.

wokinghamWokingham Speakers chartered 3 years ago. It is now a thriving Club with 34 Members, having recently obtained 10 DCPs for the first time in its history. However, its ability to enjoy this kind of success is a tribute to its early days and the firm plan put in place by its founders, which leads me aptly onto my first piece of advice; Read More

Toastmasters Come to Tech Data – Concept to Charter in 5 months!



Steve Vear – President,  Natalie Wesson – VP Membership, Lauren Cooke – Treasurer and Secretary, Sandie Jackson – VP Education, Nikki Whyte – VP Public Relations

Tech Data is a multinational IT distribution. company operating in many European countries, North American, Latin America and Canada. It is no stranger to Toastmasters International with a corporate club in the Worldwide headquarters in Clearwater Florida and also in our Canadian business. However, until March this year when local Toastmasters from around the District held a demonstration meeting, members of the UK headquarters in Basingstoke had never heard of Toastmasters. Read More

Life on the District Leadership Team …

… reflections on my first three months

After taking on the role of Club Growth Director at the end of July, it was only two weeksandy-hammond later that I found myself at the District Officer training in Washington D.C.

I know that sounds glamorous, but it was certainly no holiday. I arrived on the Saturday evening to be given the schedule of interviews on Sunday for the candidates for the International Board roles. With Vanessa and Pedro we completed 23 separate 15 minute interviews that day. A fascinating, if tiring, experience. That left us free to concentrate on the two training days, Monday and Tuesday, with each running from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. We kicked off in one large group of some 400 Toastmasters from all over the World. We then split into various groups over the two days, coming back together for the closing on Tuesday evening. It was awesome to be able to share ideas and experiences with enthusiastic colleagues from such varied backgrounds. I had to return home on Wednesday so missed the convention itself, but nonetheless it was a wonderful experience. Read More

Message from our International President

August 8, 2016Dear Toastmasters Leader,

On behalf of your Board of Directors I offer greetings and I thank you. We appreciate your tireless efforts to support club excellence and member achievement and to engage so many others in the benefits of Toastmasters.

The International Convention is fast approaching and with it the Annual Business Meeting and elections on August 20. At this meeting, clubs via their proxyholders, and delegates at large will elect new members to the Board of Directors and vote on important proposals. We encourage you to stay informed and vote using your best judgment in the best interests of our members, clubs and our growing organization. As you vote to select people to the next Board please consider each candidate’s experiences, skills, and ability to contribute to the board as we execute our strategy focused on members, clubs and broader engagement. You can learn more about the candidates and proposals here:

The people you elect to the board of directors are members first and take very seriously the responsibility you have entrusted us with. Recently, you may have received communication that questions the trustworthiness and validity of the Board’s decisions as they relate to financial responsibility.

As you’re aware, earlier this year the Board announced an increase in membership dues. This decision was not taken lightly or without significant discussion and analysis. The Board continues to believe this decision was the right one in order to ensure continuity and significant improvements in services and programs for members, clubs and volunteer leaders at all levels of the organization. Membership dues fund day-to-day service, operations and program development. Reserves and investment income are set aside to support long-term infrastructure, development needs and unforeseen factors that could affect service and continuity. You can learn more about the dues increase here:

There also has been discussion and critique of the salary paid to our Chief Executive Officer and senior staff. Your Board considers compensation following specific methods and processes, including legal requirements, to ensure that pay is fair, reasonable and comparable to other organizations of similar size and type in Southern California. We engage outside consultants to study compensation norms and trends and provide the Board with ranges that ensure that our staff members are reasonably and appropriately compensated. Our pay scales range from the 65th to 75th percentiles for each role. No staff member exceeds the 75th percentile. Our staff, by these measures and in our collective judgement and organizational responsibilities, are reasonably compensated.

Many of you will recall that Nobel Prize recipient Mohammed Yunus received the Golden Gavel award at last year’s International Convention and spoke to us about Toastmasters and other ‘social businesses.’ In his book Building Social Business, he wrote this regarding staffing and compensation:

‘many people assume that employees of a social business don’t get paid well…’

‘that’s a very wrong idea’

‘a social business has to attract talent from the same labour market that for-profit companies plumb. That means offering competitive salaries and benefits.’

Commenting as a member, I’m disappointed to see questions related to individual salaries discussed publicly. Commenting as International President I want you to have confidence in the work your board performs to see that our capable staff members are treated fairly and that our finances are managed well to enable service to our members, clubs and volunteer leaders around the world.

Toastmasters is an amazing organization that has changed the lives of so many. Your life and my life have been positively impacted by Toastmasters. I’m proud of our past and excited for our future. I look forward to seeing many of you in Washington, D.C.

Jim Kokocki, DTM
International President 2015-2016
Toastmasters International
www.toastmasters.orgPlease feel free to share this message with Division, Area and Club leaders and individual members.

This message has been sent to current Club Presidents, District Directors, Program Quality Directors, Club Growth Directors, Administration Managers, Public Relations Managers, Finance Managers and all Past District Directors/Governors, as well as Region Advisors, Past International Presidents, Past International Directors, Past Region Advisors and International Officer/Director Candidates.

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One More Toastmasters Day

Well here we are, the final day of the Toastmasters year, and the final day for all of us in our 2015-16 roles.    As the dog walked me this morning, I reflected on the boundless effort and enthusiasm I could see all across the district this year and especially this last month as we got closer to the end.

It is extraordinary to me that we have so many people doing so much for the sake of our members and not one of us is paid.    Not paid in money anyway.  But of course we all know that everything we give we get back in the satisfaction we get from seeing others grow, and from growing ourselves as we stretch ourselves in our roles.  What is it from this year that will give you the greatest satisfaction when you look back on this last Toastmasters year?  Who have you helped? what have you learned?

For me, it has been being part of a team that gave me permission way up front at the beginning of the Toastmasters year to switch my leadership style towards the end to being a Pacesetting Leader.  If you read up on Daniel Goleman, the emotional intelligence guru, he will say that the ideal leadership style is Authoritative – set the outcome and let your people find their own approach to getting there.  But he says that there are times to switch into being a pacesetter, to drive the action and I think coming up to the end of the Toastmasters year is one of them.  I would never have felt comfortable doing it without the permission and encouragement of our team and I have learned loads from driving the pace in a thoughtful way this last month.

So, as your pacesetting leader, let me say – “One More Day!”

  • One More Day to register the members and educational awards you know you have, but were holding back to make next year a little bit easier.  Be brave!  Believe you can do even better next year.
  • One More Day to register your club officer lists on TI
  • One More Day to submit Nominations for Recognition for members, clubs, area directors and division directors
  • One More Day to thank the people who helped you achieve your goals, and those of your members, clubs, areas and divisions while you are still in post.

I know that all over the district there are stories of great achievement and personal success and behind every number on the dashboard, there is a tale to tell.  Here’s where we are right now;

  • 10% of our clubs are Presidents Distinguished this morning
  • 85% of our clubs are Distinguished or higher
  • We have 12% club growth with a 17 new clubs this year
  • We have 10% more members than we did this day last year – an additional 409 people
  • 33 people achieved Triple Crowns – that is 3 or more different educational awards
  • 635 educational awards were achieved by our members.

We are 54 member payments away from being a Presidents Distinguished District with one and maybe two clubs to complete chartering today.  That means that we need between 34 and 10 additional member payments across the district today.  So the pace is set for this final day – please do what you can to help us achieve this goal together.

I will be back in touch with you in Mid July when the dust settles to let you know how we got on and to celebrate all we have achieved this Toastmasters Year.  Thank you for your amazing service so far.  Best of luck for this one more day, and for your roles in 2016 17!



Your soon to be on holiday,

District 91 Director,

Jean Gamester,

Toastmasters UK South