Division J

Opportunities for Everyone

By Bindu Cardoza, Area J10 Director

It’s not easy standing in front of an audience. There may be reasons for feeling scared. The crowd maybe hostile. Plenty of images can swirl through your mind. The dizziness kicks in. Nausea envelops your body. Your breath is heavy. Weights are pulling at your feet. You know you have one chance, one opportunity, one go. You step forward into the light. You take a deep breath in. You smile. You begin.

Public speaking is not easy. It takes a lot of guts to stand up in front of an audience. There are numerous ways to help you, to educate you, to make you believe that you can do it. But if you don’t have belief in yourself, then there’s no point. Being authentic is the key to success.

Toastmasters International is a phenomenon. Becoming a member is easy. Accepting the advice is another story. You see, we all want to be famous. We all want to hear the applause. However, no-one wants to be evaluated. It takes a special type of person to accept that they can improve on the advice of others. Others who are also developing their skills. Guests. Toastmasters. Friends.

My personal view of a Toastmasters meeting is that egos should be left at the door. Anyone entering the room, whether they are a member or a guest, should be treated with dignity. Every nationality, every gender, every ability, should be made welcome. Guests below the age of 18 should be able to attend so that they can see for themselves what is going on. The decision to join should never be forced.

Bindu Cardoza

Once you become a Toastmaster, the sky’s the limit.

Learning from each other. Evolving into a better speaker. Growing into a respected leader. Making friends with people who are all enthusiastic to learn. Forging alliances with likeminded people on a global scale.

Toastmasters International gives you the opportunity to find your true self, to expand on what you already know, to open your eyes to the power of communication, to become the leader you are destined to be. It’s an incredible feeling to be empowered, to have self-belief, to have encouragement from others.

Toastmasters should also adhere to the values of the organisation. Integrity. Respect. Service. Excellence. You do not remain with an organisation if you do not believe in their values. Toastmasters International is non-profit, there’s no salary to receive, there’s no financial gain. However, what you do receive is the confidence to be whatever you want to be.

It’s that simple.

You really do get out of Toastmasters International what you put into Toastmasters International.

Enjoying what you do is the key to happiness.

Making friends with people who are all keen to improve their communication and leadership skills is uplifting. Listening to each other’s opinions on best practice within Toastmaster meetings is enlightening. The skills developed can then be taken into all areas of your life. You see, if you strip away the politics, the religions, the egos, then the value of being a Toastmaster is immense and lifechanging.

What are you waiting for? Visit a Toastmasters Club today. Opportunities await.

Great Team Work

By Helena Brewer, Division J Director

Great Team Work in Division J

Stepping up to take on a leadership role is something we all can benefit from. From the elections in May 2018, the work began. 

The year began with District Officer Training in June and July. This is where I met the members of my team of six Area Directors. Division J stretches from the Thames Valley to the rolling hills of South Wales, so it wasn’t surprising that we he’d not all met before.

The role of Division Director is pivotal, sitting between the District Leadership Team and the Area Directors.  In the early days, there were messages from the District Leadership Team to pass on to the Area Directors. I found myself checking, mainly for the wording and jargon, adding useful links on the resources required and translating experienced Toastmaster speak into newbie speak. It proved to be both a challenge and a knowledge sharing exercise, dealing with questions and queries from Area Directors on what things actually meant.

With six Area Directors, I asked each of them what else they would like to take to support the Division activity. Instantly they volunteered for additional responsibilities; stepping up to organise the Division Contests, the Toastmasters Leadership Institute, providing insight and information to District reports and training, delivering workshops and promotional activity on social media.

Within a matter of weeks, everything had settled down, with the Division targets and goals for the year ahead set. The Area Directors jumped straight into their roles, arranging Club Officer Training, agreeing dates for autumn contests and looking at educational workshops for the year ahead. The support and the respect each showed the other, established a trust that my team members would support each other. By September, with the Club Officer Training under their belts, it was on to club visit reports and contest season. 

Jumping forward to March, we are now over the halfway point of this Toastmasters year.  The second round of Club Officer Training and the Division’s first Toastmasters Leadership Institute has been delivered. The Area contests are complete and now it’s on to the Division Contests and workshops in Worcester on 7 April, https://www.eventbrite.com/e/district-91-division-j-international-speech-evaluation-contest-tickets-57096337683?fbclid=IwAR0BNqEoKpxF1AkmksTiAaIjpnu6fI2Qlz7g3egs1ffn7NnobwRdovmJtyY.  

As a team we do not get to meet face to face, all together very often. We have taken full advantage of the training and executive committee meetings to catch up as a team. The way we communicated as a group became important. There are many different support tools out there for quick messaging that have proved invaluable for regular contact with each other. It’s also allowed for the relationships between the team to develop. Sometimes it’s simply a witty retort from one of the team that makes you smile. One to one catch up phone calls have provided the opportunity to share candidly and express the good and any concerns. What began with war and peace emails from me in the beginning is now reduced to my Area Directors answering each other’s questions as they arise. 

When I mentioned to the team our Division was taking over the newsletter, the articles flowed in. A bounty of riches for the District PR Manager. As with everything in Toastmasters, it’s an opportunity to try something new in a safe environment.  

We’re not sitting back just yet, there’s plenty of work supporting our members to keep us busy in the coming months. The educational awards are flooding in from members in Division J in both the legacy and the Pathways programs, with DTMs, triple crowns and Pathways Level ones in most clubs. To all members, and especially those in Division J, keep up the hard work!

Youth Leadership

By John Christie, Voice of Wales Club

Youth Leadership is a program that allows toastmasters to work in the community to inspire and equip young people to learn and succeed through effective communication and leadership.

The program is tried and trusted in schools and youth organisations since the 1960s. Stunning improvements are evident in the students after only a couple of weeks. I didn’t know that the program existed but I’m very pleased that I do now. I was mentored by Andrew Bennet who was very helpful.

It is an eight-week program of two-hour sessions from Year Ten upward and it’s based on Toastmasters meetings.

Jean Gamester with John Christie

All the elements of Toastmaster’s meetings of prepared speeches, impromptu speaking (Table Topics) and leadership are all covered excellently. The students also carried out evaluations of the Table Topics and prepared speeches.

I was lucky enough to receive a lead to Westbourne School in Penarth and worked with their staff to present the program. Kim Boland from Voice of Wales Toastmasters Club also helped. Justin, a teacher, was also involved in presenting the program. However once the program had started, the students themselves led and organised the meetings.

We were able to give eight out of thirteen students leadership roles. We provided (on loan) regalia for the President, a gavel for the Sergeant at Arms and Timing Lights for the Vice President.

The whole group elected a President, a Vice President, a Secretary and a Sergeant at Arms for the first four meetings and then elected four others for the last four meetings and they organised the meetings together with the rest of the group. Jason, Kim and I alternated in giving short educationals at each meeting.

One element in the program which is encouraged and is not often used in ordinary Toastmasters meetings is to have debates. This went down very well with the students in the school. Subjects covered were ‘Should the Death Penalty be Reinstated in the UK’ and ‘Animal Experiments are Necessary’.

Half the group were boys and half the group were girls and because this was a pre‑International Baccalaureate Year Eleven Group, none of the students had English as a first language. There were Turkish, French, German, Russian and Chinese students and a whole host of other nationalities in the group.

The program was extremely cost-effective for the school and had the benefit of having external volunteers in to help to deliver the program.

On the ninth week just before Christmas, we had what Toastmasters call the Banquet Meeting which was the Showcase to show the students new skills to teachers, pupils in other year groups, parents and other invited guests.  There was food and drink supplied by the school and we had an extremely entertaining meeting, completely organised by the students.

I really enjoyed the opportunity to take Toastmasters out into the community to showcase what Toastmasters can do in terms of communication and leadership.

I would like to thank Virginie Gautran and Justin Pocknell from the School and Kim Boland from Voice of Wales Toastmasters who helped me to deliver the program. Ann Boland introduced me to the School.

Massive thanks also to Jean Gamester, Past District Director for District 91 (UK South) and to Tony Bennett Past President of Porthcawl Speakers Club who attended the Banquet meeting.

The Toastmasters manuals for the presenters and for the students are excellent and the Youth Leadership program is now also part of the new Pathways educational program.

I do urge you to take Toastmasters out into the community in this way. It’s hugely beneficial to schools and other groups involved and to the Toastmasters volunteers from the local club.

Aylesbury Speakers – Friday 18 November

Time to celebrate with the oldest club in the UK and Ireland, Aylesbury Speakers. Founded in 1956, it’s still going strong. At the recent District Conference Hall of Fame event, Aylesbury Speakers was one of eight clubs in our District to achieve the Highly Commended Club award based on education awards and retention of members. Aylesbury photo

With only days to go until Aylesbury Speakers 60th Anniversary Dinner on Friday 18 November, there are spaces available, come and celebrate with Aylesbury Speakers – 60-anniversary-invite

60th Anniversary for Aylesbury Speakers

ToaAylesbury photo 2stmasters International World Headquarters is quick off the mark and the first to acknowledge the sixtieth anniversary of the longest established club in our District, Aylesbury Speakers. This is an amazing achievement given the challenges that all clubs face.

A wonderful certificate has been received.

The club Treasurer and long standing member, Roger Lord DTM, proudly holds the certificate surrounded by an assembled throng of club members. Read More