Appreciation & Gratitude

Appreciation & Gratitude

While Toastmasters is giving us a development platform to excel in our communication and leadership, we receive appreciation and gratitude by showing up for others.

I like to SHOUT OUT my appreciation and gratitude to my DUTCH mother, for not only giving me a VOICE to share but also for being so brave to adopt 3 children at the ages of 5, 7, and 9, my father left behind in Turkey from a previous marriage.

…and, yes, I was that little 5-year-old.

You can say I am lucky to have 2 mothers and 3 birthdays:-)

But it’s not that simple because:

1. My DUTCH mum passed away far too long ago and has missed seeing my beautiful girls grow up into ladies with their own unique VOICE…

2. and as to my TURKISH mum however beautiful she is, the lack of not being able to communicate in the same language, nor living in the same country, makes it hard to connect…

Why am I talking about this you may wonder…

Well, this month, 24 years ago I gave birth to my oldest daughter, and I am feeling sad not to be able to share this with my mothers.

It was my daughter who sparked this off last week by saying “Mum, I really like to celebrate my birthday with you” a question I have never been able to ask my mothers.

I feel blessed… that I can jump in the car to be with my daughter in London to celebrate….

I feel blessed…that I can jump in the car to be with my Toastmasters family to celebrate our Humorous and Table Topics winners to the next level, this month.

What are you most grateful for?

P.S. …as to the 3rd birthday, that’s a story for another day. 🙂

Appreciation & Gratitude 3

Crafting compelling content to promote your Toastmasters club

Division K Director - Nick Ronald - Crafting compelling content to promote your Toastmasters club

I am the Division K Director, a member of Toastmasters for nine years and a professional copywriter. Below are my tips to creating compelling content to promote your Toastmasters club, help attract potential members and engage your current members.

  1. Know your audience
    It is crucial to have a clear understanding of your target audience and tailor your content to them. Who are you trying to attract to your club? What are their needs, interests, and pain points? For example, if your club primarily targets professionals, focus on addressing their career-related concerns and aspirations in your content.
  2. Craft an engaging hook
    The headline and beginning of your content should grab the reader’s attention and build their curiosity. This could be a thought-provoking question, a surprising statistic, or a powerful quote. For instance, “Did you know that public speaking is the number one fear in the world? Imagine conquering that fear and becoming a confident speaker.”
  3. Highlight the benefits
    Clearly communicate specific benefits of joining your club. Potential members want to know what is in it for them. Will they gain valuable communication skills, boost their confidence, or expand their network?
  4. Showcase success stories
    Sharing success stories and testimonials from members can be incredibly persuasive. Real-life examples of how your club has positively impacted individuals can demonstrate the value of joining. For instance, “Meet Sarah, a former timid speaker who, with the support of our club, now confidently delivers presentations at work and has landed her dream job.”
  5. Provide a glimpse of your club activities
    Give potential members a sneak peek into what they can expect. Share photos and videos from meetings to help them visualize it. For example, “Our meetings feature impromptu speaking and also prepared speeches; check out this video clip from one of our recent meetings to see the learning and fun in action!”
  6. Include a call to action
    Always include a clear and compelling call to action (CTA). Tell your readers what you want them to do next. Make it easy for potential members to take the next step. For instance, “Ready to transform your communication skills? Join us at our next meeting this Thursday at 7 PM. RSVP now!”
Nick Ronald
Division K Director 2023-24

From Toastmasters to the Bar

Tom Bailey

Thanks Toastmasters, for giving me confidence in my public speaking!

Before joining Toastmasters, I had set my sights on becoming a solicitor, specialising in office work.

Whilst the Bar was mentioned as a potential route whilst I was at University, I never really felt it was for me. In fact, only one other person from my cohort had committed to this path.

I assume as most of my classmates thought, that Barristers were scary and intimidating individuals with unstoppable self-confidence. It was the advocacy element which mostly put me off, the feeling of talking for extended periods of time, trying to sound in control, and most importantly, trying to persuade the Judge and Jury of your client’s case. 

Tom Bailey

Around three years ago, I was given my first spoken law assessment. I had to speak for 15 minutes on criminal law and answer to Judicial intervention.

As a natural introvert, I could not recall speaking for more than 30 seconds at a time, never mind 15 minutes, not to mention in an assessed environment.

I was terrified. The palms of my hands already starting to sweat.

Naturally, my first step was to Google my symptoms.

A video on YouTube provided my medication. Dan Lok, a hugely successful entrepreneur, shared how he had utilised Toastmasters to overcome his severe anxiety while speaking in public. I would encourage you to watch it:

(427) How Toastmasters Inspired Me to Become a Professional Speaker – YouTube

I then Googled Toastmasters and came across a local club in my hometown of Farnham, and, in October 2020, joined Farnham Speakers’ Club.

I was a part of the ‘Zoom’ generation. Whilst seen as an unpopular necessity for most, conducting my first few speeches online, in hindsight, proved to be a blessing in disguise.

I was not walking into a large hall for the first time, delivering a speech. I was not having to project my voice so those at the back could hear.

I was in the comfort of my own home, behind my laptop screen. While still undeniably nerve-wracking at first, I found this to be a less intimidating way to start my public speaking journey. (For those new to public speaking, I would encourage you to join a hybrid or online-only club, at least for your first few speeches).

Gradually, and with the unwavering support of my Toastmasters mentor, Janet Alkema DTM, I worked my way through my first pathway – ‘Engaging Humour.’

Using humour was a great tool for me to break the ice, and my confidence gradually grew and grew.

By the time I had finished my undergraduate degree, less than a year into my Toastmasters journey, I made the decision that I would become a Barrister.

I was transformed, and in July 2023, I was called to the Bar of England and Wales!

Tom Bailey

The Dog Days of Summer

The Dog Days of Summer

The dog days of summer across Wales and the Thames Valley have been highly productive.  We have 23 of the best clubs in the district supported by five outstanding Area Directors – Debs (J4), Andra (J7), Helyn (J10), John (J11) and Hazel (J22) have all settled into their roles amazingly and thank you to Carolyn for covering for John while he was away.

For those who don’t know where we are, we cover most of the area to the north of the M4 and south of those places where they know “It’s grim up North”.  We cover South Bucks, South Oxfordshire, Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, Worcestershire, and South Wales.

We have had a terrific response from our clubs with the Club Officer Training over the last couple of months and have (at time of writing) around 60% of clubs with their DCP point.  Congratulations to Thame for getting all 7 officers trained!  Division J’s TLI with Division A was very well received – especially the DISC workshop from Liz Hobbs. Our final COT session was on the 30th August – an all-District COT to round off the training period.

It’s not just Club Officer Training that has been going on – Cardiff Toastmasters have just run a workshop with Andrew Bennet on how to use your voice in your speech and Berkhamsted have a Humorous Speech workshop with Bob Ferguson on 5th September.

Personally, I can’t wait for contest season to start here in the Division.  We have our area finals in the diary and all roads lead to our division contest on Saturday 4th November which is being held in the East of the Division – hopefully able to announce a venue in the next two weeks.

As well as the existing clubs, I am also working with Oxford International Speakers who are a pre-charter club.  They’re not just a normal club but are an Advanced Club for those who really want to stretch themselves.  If you are a seasoned Toastmaster then this could be the club for you – and as someone who has been in an Advanced Club, I can tell you they are so much fun!

Division J has an amazing history (and the UK’s oldest club) – and you will hear us roaring as fiercely as the Welsh Dragon flying over Cardiff Castle that we are by far the best Division in the District.

Andy Hessey
Division J Director, 2023-2024


The Winchmore Hill Speakers Success Story

Winchmore Hill Speakers' Website

I am more than happy to be able to talk about a success story in Division L. And who doesn’t like to hear a comeback story?

Winchmore Hill Speakers are located in Winchmore Hill, to the north of Central London, and meet at the Paulin Ground every first and third Monday of the month. Like a lot of clubs, they were hit hard by COVID and the transition from in-person to online meetings. This had taken its toll on the membership, which fell to just eight members.

It can be difficult to run a club, let alone club meetings with only eight members. Not only that, but most of the committee roles had to be filled by the then-president, Rishi Gautam. Rishi and his fellow members switched to holding hybrid club meetings. This allowed members and guests to join meetings either in person or online, which gave everyone the best chance to attend.

The club focused on how to make their meetings as welcoming, engaging, and positive as possible, to make sure everyone got something out of the meetings. They received countless bits of positive feedback from guests about the welcoming atmosphere. It is so crucial for us to provide an environment at meetings, which is a fun, learning experience, and ultimately, one in which guests feel like they would like to be part of, as a Toastmaster.

Soon new members were joining the club in droves. The club membership has now grown to 32! A huge achievement to quadruple the number of club members in about a year, which is an amazing transformation. The club is eligible for the Phoenix Award, for a chartered club that grows its membership from 12 or fewer to 20 within a Toastmasters year.

As the club membership has been growing for a year now, those new members, who joined a year ago, are now some of the more experienced members and have formed a core leadership group. These more experienced members have in turn passed on their knowledge and skills to newer members.

Committee positions have been filled by those members, meaning Rishi does not need to be doing quite so much! Succession planning is such an important aspect of Toastmasters and leadership in general. If we are unable to pass on our leadership positions and leave our fellow club members empowered and confident enough to step into those positions, then we have failed on that count, even if it can be very difficult at times.

Ralph Sfier is the new Vice President of Education and has pushed the club on further, brought to life the opportunities of participation at club meetings.

This could only be possible due to the perseverance and tenacity of Rishi Gautam and the other club members a year ago, who worked so hard to not only keep the club alive but turn around the club’s fortunes and grow it to its current, healthy level of membership. More members mean more leaders and helps to ensure the future of the club.

We can all learn from Winchmore Hill Speakers about what is possible and take inspiration from their journey.

Sean Dean
Division L Director, 2023-2024