On the twelfth day of Christmas

‘On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love……’ OK, OK: I will save you the Christmas songs, but I did warn you in my video message of last month that I do love a bit of Christmas and at the time of writing I am but days away from getting my Christmas cushions out of the cupboard and my finger hovering over my Christmas play list on Spotify.


We have now seen the conclusion of our Division level contests throughout the District and so we now the finalists who will compete to become District champions at our conference in May next year. I want to take this opportunity to thank all those members who played an important part in the success of all the contests from the club, area, and Division level. Special thanks are due to the Division Directors who worked collaboratively together to ensure the best possible events. They certainly showcased some high standard of speakers – well done everyone.

Club Officer Training

The next round of club officer training has started so committee members will soon start to see the district calendar fill up with lots of opportunity to be trained. Remember that not only does training offer a fantastic chance to be supported and learn in your role, attendance of 4 or more offices contributes to a point in the distinguished club program if this is the second time clubs have sent four officers along.

Don’t forget that the 7×7 incentive is still very much active! If 7 officers (must be a minimum of 6 individuals) attend for the first time the club receives a set of Toastmasters club officer pins. If clubs have already done this in the first round, then they will be eligible to claim £60 for their clubs.

Between the 13th and 24th November, we ran our second round of Corporate Club officer training where no less than 104 officers qualified for their credit. I would like to thank all those that played a part in either providing training or for offering their services as Zoom masters.

2024 conference

I know our Conference Director, Amy Jones DTM is very keen to provide an update for you, so instead I will just refer to the event by thanking Amy and her team for all the amazing efforts so far.

Educational Awards

Many congratulations to those members who have worked to achieve more than 400 educational awards since the start of this year. We look forward to sharing with you more information about the changes to the Pathways LMS system when it becomes available in the new year.

I hope that you all get to enjoy some rest over the Christmas period, and may I wish you a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Steve Vear
Program Quality Director 2023-24


Stroll (Back) To Smedley 2023-2024

In December 2022 we created a predictive model of where clubs would finish in the Distinguished Club Programme in June 2023. This became “Stroll to Smedley”, emphasising that steady progress throughout the year is preferable to a last minute dash. The model proved right to within 1 DCP point for 65% of clubs, 43% exceeded their prediction and 29% fell short. However, as a District, the overall improvement enabled us to achieve Smedley Distinguished status for distinguished clubs. Well done and thanks to everyone who took part in the “stroll” and got us over the line.

We’re repeating the stroll this year, starting a month earlier, and the table below shows our first prediction. We have seven months in which to pick up our strolling pace and do better! The principle is simple: every club is compared to its DCP position on the same date the year before and is either the same, ahead, or behind. If the trend is maintained, the club will attain the same DCP outcome, do better or poorer accordingly. Each of the ten DCP metrics is tracked, although it is the club membership strength that confers or denies eligibility. This is a team sport! 

In the table below, clubs that are in the left column are currently on target to improve on last year, and those in bold may become distinguished this year with a modest increase in strolling pace. Clubs that are in the right column are currently expected to fall short of their attainment last year, and those in italics would be advised to pick up their pace to retain their distinguished club status.

You’re invited to join us for the stroll. Please help us make our prediction turn out to be unduly pessimistic! We can do this!

Early Bird SpeakersLondon Public SpeakersWorthing Speakers Club
Lewisham Speakers ClubThe Speakers of Croydon ClubShilling Speakers
London CardinalsMicrosoft Speakers ClubCasterbridge Speakers
London ToastmastersPMI UK Toastmasters ClubWorcester Speakers
Moody’s Europe ToastmastersBristol Central SpeakersLondon Athenian Speakers Toastmasters Club
Google UK SpeakersCity Limits SpeakersData Science Speakers Club
Lloyds Banking Group ToastmastersPolish Your PolishKent Speakers Club
Oxford Orators ClubGuildford Speakers ClubVoice of Wales Speakers Club
Society Speakers1st London ToastmastersCardiff Toastmasters
Melting Pot ToastmastersWye Knot SpeakersBerkeley Square Speakers Toastmasters Club
db Toastmasters – Canary WharfWitney Speakers ClubHamwic Speakers
Reading Speakers ClubOxford Speakers ClubWindsor Speakers Club
Aylesbury SpeakersDidcot Speakers Toastmasters ClubCity of London Toastmasters Club
Paddington ToastmastersHOD Speakers ClubLondon Victorians
Zig-Zag ToastmastersBerkhamsted Speakers ClubPurley Speakers
Northavon Speakers Toastmasters ClubBrighton & Hove Speakers ClubSutton Speakeasy
Bank SpeakersHolborn SpeakersExperience French
Arun SpeakersWoking Speakers Toastmasters ClubCity Women Speakers
Meridian Speakers ClubSURBITON SPEAKERSThame Speakers
Clapham ConnectorsCroydon Communicators ClubReading Verizon Toastmasters
Solent Speakers ClubWharf SpeakersNorth Oxford Speakers
Wessex Speakers ClubRiverside CommunicatorsTube Talk Toastmasters
Maidenhead Speakers ClubNorthern Lights Speakers ClubHarrovian Speakers Toastmasters
Bayes ToastmastersArmada SpeakersNewbury Speakers Club
The Reigate RhetoricSussex Online SpeakersChiltern Speakers Club
Bloomsbury SpeakersExcalibur SpeakersCentral London Toastmasters
Connected Speakers BromleyAscot & Bracknell SpeakersGatwick Communicators
Infineum Milton Hill SpeakersLondon Business School Public Speaking ClubTrojan Speakers Club
Bicester Achievers Toastmasters ClubSalisbury SpeakersSouth West Speakers
Hallmark SpeakersEpsom Speakers ClubBasingstoke Speakers
Lewes Speakers ClubCanterbury Communicators ClubKings Speakers
FM Global CommunicatorsWokingham SpeakersEastbourne Speakers Club
Abingdon Speakers ClubBeckenham CommunicatorsMalvern Speakers
Tunbridge Wells Speakers ClubCounty CommunicatorsLondon Corinthians Toastmasters
JPMC London-Glasgow Toastmasters ClubMLP London Bridge SpeakersLiberty Speakers Club
Romford SpeakersValleys and Vale SpeakersBMS Uxbridge Toastmasters Club
MS OratorsKings Cross SpeakersFarnham Speakers Club
Winchmore Hill SpeakersToasted Sandwich Toastmasters ClubGloucester Speakers
GSK House Toastmasters ClubBroadgate SpeakersTJXpressions
Thamesdown Speakers ClubGrosvenor Square SpeakersWoodford Green Speakers
GS London Toastmasters ClubBromley Speakers104 London Debaters
Master SpeakersBloomberg London ToastmastersAccenture Speakers (London)
West London Speakers ClubCanary Wharf Communicators Club
Legacy Speakers BrixtonSpinnaker Speakers
Barking ToastmastersTPR Speakers Club
Bath Spa ToastmastersAmazon UKIR Toastmasters
Godalming SpeakersDeutsche Bank Toastmasters London
London Olympians Speakers Toastmasters ClubStratford London Toastmasters
Chaseside Speakers Toastmasters Club – J.P.Morgan Chase emplTottenham Speakers Club
PA Consulting LondonHonourable Artillery Company Orators
Camberley SpeakersSpeakeasy@Credit Suisse
St Pauls SpeakersKBR Toastmasters
Manor House SpeakersLong Ditton Speakers
Ferndown Speakers
Burnham Speakers
Acuris London Toastmasters
Watford Speakers
Speakers Corner
Battle Speakers Club
Centurion Toastmasters
Connected Speakers London
Wealth CDIO Toastmasters Club
Cheltenham Speakers
KPMG Kommunicators
LHH Toastmasters Club
Verizon EMEA Online Toastmasters Club
Sustainable Speakers
OpenText Speakers Club
Angel Speakers
BlackRock Speaks
FTI Consulting UK
London Communicators Club
Toast Titans
LSBU Business School Toastmasters Club
Dr. Martens Toastmasters Club
Medidata EMEA

Christmas is Coming

Christmas is Coming - Steve Vear

Time has this amazing thing of just escaping without you even realising it. I love Christmas and cannot wait for the end of December to be here when we’re celebrating with our friends and family.

Steve Vear, DTM
Program Quality Director 2023-24

PS – We have started the process of separating our external and internal communications on YouTube to enable us to benefit from YouTube’s algorithms to promote our external content and enable potential members to find us. You may find our channels here.

Program Quality Newsletter – October 2023

By the time you will be reading this article, we will be well into contest season as clubs around our District are taking part in the Humorous Speech and Table Topics Contests. Contests offer us an important variation to our club agenda – one of the runners up in the International Speech Contest recently reflected that the only way to really improve is to compete and to stand alongside other contestants to learn from them and to strive to do better.

It is true that this is one of the ways that we can improve – but the truth is that Toastmasters is a personal journey. Some people join to develop public speaking skills, some join to develop leadership skills, some join to try and win contests, and sometimes people just join for a new social network.

I want to tell you about my personal trainer Joe. Joe is a really capable and confident guy in the gym environment. He is at home around the gym, he knows how every machine and bit of equipment works. He works with clients like me all the time and helps them achieve their goals. But Joe decided that he wanted to become a better speaker. Not just because he had listened to me ‘talk up Toastmasters’ in many of my sessions with him, and not just because he was getting married soon but because he wanted to improve.

When Joe visited the club, he would soon join, he was met with warmth, encouragement and soon saw for himself what the Toastmasters program could offer him. We recently had a conversation about how the Pathways program has supported him and how it feels genuine excitement about planning his next speech. Joe is also competitive and does not mind the odd bit of recognition and has said he wants to achieve a Triple Crown.

Why did I tell you about Joe?

It is because just using one member as an example, he visited because a Toastmaster member encouraged him to try it. He joined because of the quality of experience that his club offered him, and he enrolled on Pathways and discovered what a fantastic journey it really can be.

Have a think about who you can encourage to visit your club, how you can contribute to the quality of your club – and do check whether you or members of your club has correctly enrolled on Pathways – 800 of our members are still missing out!

For those club or district officers that are responsible for putting on contests this time of year, first of all thank you for your efforts in this important area, but please don’t forget to check the latest edition of the speech contest rulebook to ensure we don’t have any problems along the way.

If you do have any questions about contests – please do not hesitate to get into contact!

Best of luck to all contestants and I look forward to seeing the Area winners at a Division contest soon!

Steve Vear DTM

Program Quality Director

Program Quality Newsletter – September 2023

“Time is the fire in which we burn”.

How is it possible that we are now in the third month of this programme year? I don’t mind admitting that I have been a lifelong Star Trek fan and the speed of everything in the district at the moment reminds me now of a quote that I often use when I am doing the timekeeper role at my club:

“Time is the fire in which we burn”.

The thing with time is that it can be both a healer and stealer.

It might be a good time to consider what were your Toastmasters goals when the year started? What were your professional goals and what were your life goals? Where are you and what course correction might you need to make to ensure you can achieve what you want to achieve? Don’t ever underestimate the progress you can make with your goals just by breaking them down step by step and taking time to celebrate the small wins.

I am writing this newsletter article while sitting in Nassau at my first ever Toastmasters International Convention. It has been an unbelievable reminder about the sheer size of our organisation and how many people across the world enjoy the benefits of membership. Our board of directors confirmed that next year Pathways will be transitioning to a new LMS (Learning Management System) and at the same time we will take the opportunity to reduce the number of paths transitioning over and focus on the ones that prove most popular to members across the world.

We have recently completed the first round of Club Officer training, and I want to thank the hundreds of you who came to one of the training sessions provided by either your area or division director – or even another district. Whether you were being inducted into a new role or receiving some useful reminders about the duties of your office, well done for giving up a few hours of your time for the good of the members in your club.

Speech contest season is now here, and I wish all participants in the Humorous and Table Topics contests the very best of luck. The final of all our District level speech contests will be taking place at the district conference in May 2024!

Talking of conference: we need your help! At the time of writing, we don’t have any nominations for Conference Chair.

Do you have an interest in running events? Do you think you could build and inspire a team to run a weekend where we will celebrate 10 years as a district? If anyone is even thinking of stepping forward, please do not hesitate to contact me – or even if you would like to nominate someone I should ring and present this amazing opportunity: please do let me know.

Finally, I want to finish with some well-deserved recognition. This month, Debbie Williams, Immediate Past Club Growth Director has been awarded her Distinguished Toastmaster (DTM) award. This is the highest award that Toastmasters International can give in the educational program. It represents not only humourous speeches but also proof that the member has gone well ‘beyond the club’ and has made a significant contribution for the good of our organisation.

Many, many congratulations, Debbie Williams DTM.

I will see you in October (well at least through the newsletter).

Steve Vear MBE DTM
Program Quality Director, 2023-2024