Are you bored?

“My first recommendation is to look at the camera. I would like to have more eye contact as if you are engaged with me.”

I’m not sure about you, but in the past few weeks, these words have become a cliché in giving an evaluation to any speech. The repertoire of the same evaluation would leave me wondering if this suggestion adds much value to the speaker and audience? I kept wondering what if I couldn’t afford all those high-end technologies, what if I had to rely on low bandwidth? what if I lived in a small space and couldn’t make do? What then?

One of the reasons I joined Toastmasters is because it is a safe place to practice. For me, that meant my external conditions may not be perfect but I had a place to still practice and not feel ashamed that I couldn’t afford the best technology. I also wondered, what qualities do I need at this moment to empower myself to get the job interview or be asked to facilitate a workshop? Is it the best technology or a fertile mindset?

I didn’t want the fear of not having things perfect to stand in my way, instead, I saw this moment as an opportunity to build my muscle of resilience and shift my perspective. I realized if in my professional life:

1. If I was faced in crises management, can I tune my mindset to observe with what tools is available right now instead of thinking what “I should be having” or I don’t have the right tools yet. As a facilitator in emotional management,  I could strengthen my resilient mindset by saying yes to giving more online general evaluations to overcome my itch if perfectionism.

2. If the video was not accessible to others? My past ten years of teaching online shared with me, don’t let the participant feel insecure when they can’t be seen. I adopted a DJ voice or imagined myself having a conversation with a long lost friend on the phone as a way to interact with the audience. As you may have guessed, I used tonal variety as my to-go-to rescue tool and create a safe environment for participants to express themselves.

3. If I had to give a speech to an audience that was visually impaired and realized that I could not rely on their sight or my facial expression or hand gestures, how could I amplify my speech?  I started to re-examine my approach to the kinds of words I used and structured content appropriately.

In the chaos of COVID 19, I was reminded:

1. Always work with what you have and relax the grip from perfectionism.

2. As General Evaluator Junkie, I’m given the opportunity to share with clubs how to upscale what they think are imperfections and turn it into an advantage.  Let go of the idea you need the best equipment to deliver a good speech.

3. Last but not least, COVID 19 revalidated the value of emotional intelligence, especially in our social competence.  I want to communicate and interact successfully with an audience and it’s vital for me to build a trusting relationship. As an evaluator, I must practice the awareness that I don’t know what circumstances the speaker is facing privately, picking on his or her technology may not be the most sensitive or wisest recommendation.

I want to invite you, the next time you take on a role as an evaluator, notice your delivery and content. Practice empathy in the way you will deliver the commendations and recommendations. If want to take it one step further, join us on The D91 24 hour toastmaster event, where I will briefly share some tips on evaluating with video. You will find the link below. If you have any question, you can reach out on social media @kirti168

It runs from 4-6 pm the Theme is “Obstacles | Opportunity | Optimism” Please register here:

Kirti Daryanani

104 London Debaters club

For more #befriendurmind @kirti168

Meet a Leader- Alison Morris

Alison Morris, District 91 Admin Manager 2018/2019 inspires us with her story

1. What has been your journey with Toastmasters?

I joined Thame Speakers in 1998 and have helped out at 2 District Competitions held by Thame Speakers. In 2015 I became a charter member of  Stand and Deliver. To complete my DTM, I became Area Director and was asked to stand as Division Director the next year, which was ably contested but I managed to win through. This year, I have taken on the role of Administration Manager, excluding the IT role as this is something where my skills need further honing.

Alison Morris, District91 Admin Manager

2. What prompted you to take up the responsibility in the District Leadership team?

I was asked and have not yet learned to say no.

3. What are the goals and challenges that you have set for yourself this year? How are they progressing?

To get things organised in advance, due to family pressure I have not been as good at this as I could have been but there are still a good few months to go to redeem myself.

4. Do share something about you outside the toastmaster world.

I have been a youth worker for over 30 years and am a first aid trainer, Education and training tutor.

5. How have you been able to transfer the skills acquired in Toastmasters to your career or business?

Very much so, I do a lot of presenting and having to deal with high brow people. Toastmasters has given me the confidence to do this and to even enter into small talk with people I have not met before, something I could never have done. Besides this, taking on District roles has helped me further.

6. Please share a takeaway message for toastmaster members who are not sure about taking up leadership roles.

If you are thinking of taking on a District role and are not sure if you could do it, as long as you do your best you cannot go wrong and the support you get from the District is amazing. If there is an opportunity, take it, you wont regret it and you will grow from it.

Meet a Leader- Pedro Casillas

Pedro Casillas, District 91 District Director 2017/2018 inspires us with his story

1. What has been your journey with Toastmasters? 

I joined Grosvenor Square Speakers, (the first TI club to be set up in London), TI in 2002. During my time with TI, I have taken on many roles, (some more than once), from VPM, VPE, Treasurer, President, through to Area and Division Directors, through to being District Director last year. This year I am supporting the District in my role as Immediate Past District Director as well as helping my home club as Treasurer.
Over the years, as one would expect, I have learned to speak well in public; lead various teams; lead workshops and mentor many members.

2. Congratulations on the awards that District 91 were presented in Chicago. Tell us something more about it. 

Each year, TI challenges every Club, Area, Division and District to be the best they can be and to deliver exceptional benefits for ALL members. One way to measure this is the District Success programme, which measures how well the District is doing (the programme is broken down from District to Division to Area and Club level). Districts are judged on the number of new clubs created, the number of payments received and number of Distinguished clubs. Last TI year, 2017-18, D91 achieved the second highest award, ‘Select Distinguished District’ award. D91 finished 11th in the world out of 118 District, which is a fantastic achievement. In addition, D91 finished second in the world, with 80% + of our clubs having more than 20 members. What makes me most proud, is looking back on how well EVERYONE across the District contributed to our success and have helped to lay the foundations for continuing success.

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Why Leadership? What’s in it for you as a District Leader?- Morag Mathieson

If I were to ask you to describe yourself as a leader today, what would you say?
Are you a happy leader? An experienced leader? A reluctant leader? or maybe a terrified leader?

One question I am often asked in Toastmasters is why leadership? Why do you put yourself through it?

5 Cs to help remember what’s in it for us when we take up the mantle of leadership.

1. Contribution
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs – when we get to the top of the pyramid and reach level of self actualization there is a desire to give back and taking a leadership role allows us to do that.

  • Make a contribution to the district mission (We build new clubs and support all clubs in achieving excellence), helping bring the advantages of Toastmasters to a wider audience and helping members be fulfilled in quality clubs
  • Make a contribution to the Toastmasters International Mission (We empower individuals to become more effective communicators and leaders). You support clubs to become centres of excellence for the member experience and so enable members to reach goals and achieve greater levels of competence and confidence
  • Make a contribution to your district – encouraging excellence in education wherever you are
  • Make a contribution to your peer group in the District Council meetings – sharing perspectives, encouraging each other.

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Meet a Leader – Arnaud Sartre

Arnaud Sartre is not only our incoming Club Growth Director (CGD), he is also area Director of the Year. I was keen to catch up with Arnaud.

Arnaud, I remember you telling me about your home town, tell me more?
I was raised in Lyon, which is the third biggest city in France. Lyon is beautiful, it is just two hours from the sea, two hours from the Alps and two hours from Paris. Lyon probably has the best food in the world because of its traditional “bouchons” and many Michelin star chefs, probably the most famous being L’Auberge of Paul Bocuse.

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