Keep on running!

Thanks to the hard work and efforts of members, Club Officers, and DEC members as a District we are close to becoming a distinguished district. Why is this important and what does it have to do with me you might ask? Running a Distinguished club clearly demonstrates to the rest of the Toastmasters Community that we have quality clubs who are meeting members needs and so it is with districts. For this reason, I am going to ask you to “keep on running”!

Keep on running!

Many sports coaches and athletes talk about running or competing beyond the finish line. If they are running 100 meters, they will talk about running 101 meters. This is because they want to finish a race as strongly as possible not only for an advantageous position this race, but also to set them up for good start for next race.

They want to ensure they achieve the best result they can and not be overtaken in the last few years. So, it is with District 91, we are in touching distance of becoming a Distinguished district for the first time since 2020. Some of you may ask why does this matter? It matters because becoming a Distinguished District shows the rest of the Toastmasters world how hard you, as DEC, Club leaders and members have worked to have a successful year yar.

As I mentioned during the Hall of Fame, we have over 1,100 pathways level awards this year and many more to follow in the last six weeks of the year. Where we most need your help is with clubs seven or fewer members to return them to good standing and help to convert some pre charter clubs into chartered clubs. If you can help, please contact either Mo our Club Growth Director or myself.

Hall of Fame

Many congratulations to this year’s Hall of Fame recipients. It was a great to see Debbie Williams and Amy Jones both acknowledged for achieving their DTMs, with Amy receiving her medallion on Saturday. Winchmore Hill Speakers won PR Club of the Year for their great website and social media activity which helped them launch a Gavel Club during the past year.

Diane Richardson, District Director 2023/24 with Gala Dinner and Hall of Fame MCs Serena Salvatore and PDG Hilary Briggs, DTM

Our Youth Leadership Co-ordinator (and District Admin Manager) presented the Youth Leadership Facilitator award to Gillian Myers of Hamwic Speakers. The first Phoenix Award of the Year for clubs who start the year with less than 12 members and then have 20 or more by the end of the year, went to FTI Consulting who started the year with only three members and now have 25.

Club Sponsor of the Year was Kavita Dukai for her work chartering Sustainable Speakers and Olga Galaiko won Club Mentor of the Year for her work supporting L&C Toastmasters Club and sponsoring a second London Stock exchange club.

City of London Toastmasters won the Club Growth Award for recruiting thirty-seven new members and growing the club to seventy-three members. Celia Edwards won Club Coach of the Year for her work with Battle Speakers who thanks to her hard work and that of the club committee in growing the club to its largest size since 2019/20.

The Corporate Club of the Year is Moody’s Europe Toastmasters, they were the first corporate club this year to become Presidents Distinguished with a perfect 10 DCP points after being a select distinguished Club last year and distinguished in 2021/22.

Hamwic Speakers, are this year’s Club of the Year. This club has a long record of having over 40 members and of becoming a conformed Presidents’ Distinguished club in early April for the past several years. To meet demand the club, hold weekly meeting to ensure that there are sufficient speaking slots available for members to progress through Pathways.

Helyn Ashford (J10) is this year’s Area Director of the Year. Last year Helyn stepped up and became an Area Director midway through the year. This year she is helping to Charter a new online club in her area, has helped all five of her clubs be the best they can be with two already distinguished and two more very close to becoming distinguished and her enthusiasm has helped raise the energy level in any room which she enters.

The Division Director of the Year is Division H Director, Guler Cortis, for her work in starting a new club at her workplace and the support she has given to clubs and Area Directors in her Division this year.

The Toastmaster of the Year is Juli Chapman, for her work as a Pathways Champion and Club Coach. The District Directors award went for the second time to Janet Alkema. Janet first helped me when she was Division D Director in 20/21. She went on to became Youth Leadership Co-ordinator the following year and continues to hold this role. In 2022/23 she stepped in to become Division D Director mid-year and this year she stepped in as Administration Manager when her predecessor stepped away in October.

Conference Team

This month’s newsletter has been put together by the conference team. If you did not attend, you missed a magnificent event as I am sure you will read and see below. Many thanks to Amy Jones, DTM and her team who put on a fantastic conference in Bristol.

If you want to develop your event management skills then Steve is looking for next year’s conference director, please contact him.

Part Two

Happy New Year

I would like to wish all members a very happy, healthy, and prosperous 2024.

We are now about to start the second half of our Toastmasters year and if you have not already done so, I would urge you to revisit the personal and Toastmaster goals you set out at the start of the Toastmaster year back in July, and to measure your progress against those goals. Some of you will be behind where you thought you would be at this time of the year, others will be on track to achieve the goals and others of you will he’s so far ahead of your goals, perhaps you need to set new targets for the second half of this Toastmasters year.

100 years, building stronger for the next 100.

As many of you are aware 2024 is the centenary of Toastmasters international. Since Toastmasters was founded in 1924 by Dr Smedley, many generations have benefited as we are today. Together we can help Toastmasters start its second century strongly by helping to build new clubs and encourage guests to become members, by offering energetic club meetings and demonstrating the benefits of membership to others.

We need your stories – Thanks Toastmasters

Many thanks to Tom Baily and Remko Timmermans for their “Thanks Toastmasters” articles in October and November last year. We are looking for more related articles. We all have remarkable stories to tell and the share with both members and non-members. Thanks to the back-end development work by the D91 Public Relations Manager, Nikita Parks, we can now tell which articles are read most and, in both October, and November these real-life stories were the most read articles in the newsletters. They were also widely read on the internet and on our Social Media pages. Both members and potential members can relate to these stories and help clubs attract new members and retain existing members, which is why I would like anyone with a wonderful experience of Toastmasters to share their story with the rest of us and more widely on our social media pages. Please share your story by emailing Nikita at , you article should be under 500 words long, less than a 5-to-7-minute speech.

Club Growth and Membership building

Analysis has shown that every year since D91 was formed 10 years agon, that January and February are the time when most new members join Toastmasters. I would encourage clubs to promote meetings on Social Media channels including Facebook, LinkedIn, and Eventbrite and in the local newspapers. In February we will be starting the Talk Up Toastmasters campaign, where clubs receive a ribbon from Toastmasters International to attach to your club banner if they recruit five or more new members in February and March.

Pathways update information.

During the first part of the year a new user interface will be launched for six of the current Pathways. The changes should make the recording of Pathways completions and level awards much simpler for club officers and members alike. Mo and I who are attending District Officer training in the next two weeks, togther with Steve who will receive updates from Toastmasters head quarters, will report back with more information regarding the changes and the dates the new Learning Management System (Basecamp) is introduced. Those members who are currently doing one of the five pathways which are not being updated will still be able to continue with the current version of their path but will not necessarily see all the changes that the other paths do. More information can be found here and here.

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone who’s a member of District 91 Toastmasters. I also extend these greetings to members of your family, and friends. We’re fast approaching the halfway point of our Toastmasters year. It seems incredible how quickly it has gone. Experience tells me that the second half of our year seems to pass even more quickly than the first half. It is now time to consider what progress you have made towards meeting your personal goals for this Toastmasters year, and what changes you may need to achieve them. This applies to everyone: our individual members, our clubs, areas, divisions and indeed our district, as we all “Stroll to Smedley”.

Pathways updates

Those of you following the Pathways listed below:

  • Effective Coaching
  • Innovative Planning
  • Leadership Development
  • Strategic Relationships
  • Team Collaboration

should have received an e-mail from Toastmasters International HQ earlier this week about important changes to Pathways and specifically these paths. With the new system the paths listed will no longer be available for purchase and will not be fully updated to match the rest of the pathways education programme.

You will still be able to access these paths and they will remain on your personal profile and education record if you have completed them. The remaining paths will benefit from having many new features including a new improved digital evaluation tool an updated experience giving and receiving feedback and for some club officers it will mean that they no longer need to approve your pathway level completions in both Base Camp and Club Central, helping to reduce their workload. Full details can be found about the new version of Base Camp which is being introduced next year by the Pathways Update page or the Education Programme FAQ page.

District Executive Committee (DEC) updates

Last week the District Executive Committee met for the second time this toastmaster year. At the DEC our District Alignment Chair Barbara Saph outlined the criteria she must follow together with the rest of the committee when deciding how many Clubs each Area should have, how many Areas each Division should have and how many Divisions there are in District 91. Barbara has already started to work on report for next year and will give her first report during a February committee meeting. No final decisions are made until a District Council meeting in May 2024, when all clubs in good standing have an opportunity to vote.

The other main business of the meeting was Rupa announcing that she had formed the District Leadership Committee and is now looking for candidates for leadership positions next year 2024 to 2025. If you are interested in becoming a member of the DLT or division director next year, please get in touch with Rupa as soon as possible. Rupa will be issuing further information later this month.

Club growth

We’re always looking out for new opportunities to start new corporate or community clubs in District 91. If you have any ideas where we could start a new corporate or community club, then please let either Club Growth Director Mo or I know. A quick reminder for those interested in gaining a Distinguished Toastmaster award that starting a new club is one of the key stepping stones to earning the award.

Once again, I’d like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and remind everyone that Happiness Brings Success.

Diane Richardson
District Director 2023-24

Slicing the Cake

Insights from the October renewals

Thanks to the work done by the District Leadership Team (DLT) to improve our communications and send you, our fellow members, information that is relevant to you, we have gained some new insights on members’ Pathways journeys when they leave Toastmasters. It also allows us to connect better with each member rather than sending out a mass email to everyone. Just as with a cake to eat a whole cake is probably too much yet everyone would like a slice that satisfies their needs at the time.

Of the 1,265 members who left District 91 at the end of September, 871 of them had enrolled in Pathways, however, more than 1,000 members left without gaining a single Pathways award. This shows that members are not engaging with Pathways even though they have signed up. I would encourage new members to start their Pathways journey soon after they join a club. Experience has shown that members who enrol and are active in Pathways are the members who gain most from their membership. Whilst seeing other members speak or give an evaluation can be helpful, the best way to get better at anything, public speaking, cricket, home baking etc. is to take part in a safe club meeting environment. Think of your club as a training ground before you go “onto the pitch” giving a speech or presentation at work or at a friend’s wedding.

In a related issue. To help build a picture worldwide across Toastmasters International, long standing Aylesbury Speakers member Selina Griffin is conducting research that is trying to build a predictive model looking at using Pathways data to find Toastmasters that appear at risk of leaving so we gain a better understanding of why members leave. This is part of her PhD research with the Open University. She is working with Dr John Lurquin a member of staff at Toastmasters HQ. All information will be anonymised, and John will be selecting potential interviewees. 

Thanks Toastmasters Campaign – goes real!

You have hopefully seen the Thanks Toastmasters campaign ads in past couple of years, which clubs can download and use for their own publicity. In this month’s newsletter we have another real-life example of Thanks Toastmasters, a video from Remko Timmermans, a member of Didcot Speakers on how Toastmasters has helped him in his career in rocket science. Last month’s newsletter article on how Toastmasters has helped Tom Bailey become a Barrister, was the most read article. Nikita is looking for further examples of current or past members who are willing to make a short video or draft a short article explaining how Toastmasters has helped them achieve their career or life goals. If you know of anyone then please ask them to contact Nikita. The articles will be shared in the D91 Website, newsletter, and other social media channels.

Happy Anniversary – Campaign

A benefit of introducing the new CRM programme is that we can now more easily find members who have a membership anniversary. In the last few weeks with the help of the D91 Public Relations Manage, Nikita Parks, we have sent out congratulatory emails to members who are celebrating their 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th or even their 10th or 30th membership anniversary. It is a way for the DLT to thank members for their continued membership and support of Toastmasters International and D91 and their local club.

New Administration Manager

Unfortunately, Aayushi Jain DTM has had to step-down as our District Administration Manager. However, I am delighted to announce that Janet Alkema DTM has agreed to become our new Administration Manager with Immediate effect. Janet is a very experienced Toastmaster and has been a Division Director twice, the first time for Division A in 2019-20 and last year as Division D Director. I am sure you join me in wishing Janet all the best in her new role.

Diane Richardson
District Director 2023-24