So long, farewell…

So long, farewell…

By Patricia O’Reilly, District Director 2018-19

In “The Sound of Music”, the Von Trapp family sang, “So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, goodbye. I leave and heave a sigh and say goodbye”

It’s almost time for me to say “so long, farewell” as your District Director. I’ve served 5 years and 3 months on the District Leadership Team. It has been a huge commitment in terms of time and effort, but it has also been richly rewarding. A member of the DLT told me recently that “the amount of knowledge you have about how things are done is encyclopaedic and I for one would have had a much harder year if you hadn’t been there to advise me”. That DLT member was right. I do have an encyclopaedic knowledge of the district. But that knowledge has been learned from the District Directors I served under – Luanne Kent, Kevin Lee, Michael Collins and Red Skelton. For better or for worse they had a big influence on my development on the DLT.

Other members who influenced me are past District Governor, David Thompson, past Region Advisor Aletta Rochat, Past International Director Teresa Dukes and most especially Past International President, Ted Corcoran. I am grateful to each of them.

While it’s difficult to measure commitment and effort it’s important to recognise it. I would like to recognise the commitment and effort put in by the members of the DLT and the wider District Executive Committee in 2018-19.

  • John Cox, Program Quality Director was a great support to me and masterminded a very successful 8 semi-finals and 4 finals at the District Conference.
  • Gerard Mannix, Club Growth Director helped to add 14 new clubs to the District and was so committed to his role that he went in person to a corporate club and guided one of the members through the renewal process and followed up with Toastmasters International on a daily basis to get the club reinstated.
  • Daniel Sandars, PR Manager gave us informative, interesting and entertaining newsletters, ensured the district was visible on social media and resurrected the District YouTube channel.
  • Brenda Lannon, Administration Manager, whose attention to detail, willingness to learn and commitment to her role made my life easier and contributed to the smooth running of the District.
  • Martin Foran, Finance Manager was patient and dependable and understood the importance of accountability in his role. His strict adherence to accountability meant that he even had the temerity to challenge the District Director’s expense claims. I couldn’t have asked for a better finance manager.
  • Red Skelton, Immediate Past District Director was always available to take a call when I needed his advice.
  • The Division Directors all of whom are at least Distinguished – Phillip O’Brien, Larry Lyons, Barry Lane, Shaun Durkin, Andy Nichols, Pat Croke, Alex Knibbs, Steve Campion, Colm McGlade, John McFadzean and Avril Stringer.
  • The Area Directors – Mari Manning, Alun Rees, Charlie Corrigan, Darren Burnett, Donnacha Smyth, Helsa Giles, Rosario Walsh, Derry Butler, Michael Madigan, Marie McNamee, Chris McCabe, Laurence Kelly, Jim Keating, Loretto Kenny, Niamh Doherty, Ita Finnerty, Danny Banks, Jill Ming, Mish Barad, Ken MacKenzie, Thérèse Kinahan, Pat Coakley, Paul Gannon, Kevin McGill, Karen Bellerby, Ray Mitchell, Martin Harnor, Faye Ritchie, Wojciech Zujla, Martin Mansell, Binal Sawjani, Gareth Coghlan, Mairead Murphy, P.J. Claffey, Mary Burnham, Bobby Buckley, John Kelly, Lynn Gregory, Becky Pennington, Rumbi Chihoro, Shyamenda Purslow, Tina Norbury, Adrian Herbert, Helen Kelly, Phil Cooper and Neil Whitelaw.

Will I “heave a sigh” as I say goodbye? Of course, there will be a sigh of sadness that my year as District Director has ended. But it’s time to move on. I will step into the advisory role of Immediate Past District Director and will still be involved in various pursuits across the District. Outside of toastmasters I’m looking forward to spending more time with my 18 months old twin granddaughters and their 6 months old sister. I’m hoping my garden will be blooming beautifully by the end of the summer and in September I hope to go back to college.

Alfred Lord Tennyson said in Morte d’Arthur “the old order changeth, yielding place to new”. I wish the incoming team a very successful year and I look forward to working with them.

One of the current DLT members said to me recently “your year as District Director will play a big part in my activities in TM for years to come”. As I say, “so long, farewell”, I couldn’t ask for a better compliment.

Division and Area Director Training (DOT#1)

2019-2020 Division and Area Director Training (DOT#1)

Over the weekend 23-24th June District officers gathered for the first round of training. We currently have 210 active clubs arranged into 12 Division and 47 Areas. First to go were the Irish Divisions at the Carlton Airport Hotel on the Saturday followed by the Northern British Divisions at Manchester Hilton Airport Hotel on the Sunday

Divisions A, B, C, D, F, M, and J (blue in heart of Dublin)

Divisions E, G, H, N, and S from Northern Britain

Division and Area Director Training (DOT#1)A few take-outs

  • Remember the member -when members and guests flourish everything else follows
  • Excellence is build from the foundations up
  • Communicate clearly, concisely, and convivially
  • It is a hobby -keep it fun
  • Excellence is the next five minutes…the next conversation…the next email… or it is nothing at all (Tom Peters)

June ’19 New Clubs

Welcome New Clubs

Congratulations to all involved

JTI Ireland

JTI Ireland (14) is a corporate club that chartered in Dublin on the 4th of June 2019. It is the fifth new club to charter in the Dublin area and is aligned into Division M Area 26. The two sponsors who helped get it started are 2018-19 Area Directors Mary F. Burnham (Area 5) and Bobby Buckley (Area 18 )and the two Mentors to help establish the club over then next 6-12 months are 2018-19 District Director Patricia O’Reilly and Christopher Werner

Birmingham New Street Speakers

Birmingham New Street Speakers (13) is a community club that chartered on the 22nd of May 2019 and aligned into Division E Area 39. 2018-29 Division E Director Andy Nichols and 2018-29 Area 42 Director Mish Barad were the club Sponsors with Tanya Barad and 2019-20 Area 42 Director Sanatan Shelat coming in as the Mentors

June ’19 Public Relations

Public Relations

Daniel Sandars, DTM District 71 Public Relations Manager

This is my 11th and final District Newsletter. It has been an incredible year and a great pleasure. I wish my successor Brenda Lannon as much fun and good fortune as I enjoyed.

A cast of hundreds have helped deliver this year’s newsletter and I thank you all. I’d like to specifically thank my regular newsletter contributors Ted Corcoran, Elizabeth Jordan, Sudha Mani, John Kendall, Alex Knibbs, and the District Leadership Team. Special mention goes to all 12 of the Division Directors; Phillip, Larry, Barry, Shaun, Andy, Pat, Alex, Steve, Colm, Teresa, John and Avril and their teams who each brought in such informative news.

This year we aimed to deliver the District Newsletter in both email pdf hard copy and online as socially shareable articles. It is a bit more work, but it gives the articles written by hardworking members far more utility and durability.

One area where that durability may pay off well are the educational collections of best practice case studies that were introduced to ease the burdens of writing content on the Division teams. I really enjoyed collating these and we covered Pathways (twice), Club Coaching, Public Relations, Speechcraft, Youth Leadership Program, Community outreach, New Club Building, and Membership Building strategies.


Chantal Cooke is a PR agent retained by Districts 71 and 91 to promote an article a month to the national press. Last year the combined editorial value generated by this program was estimated at 0.55 million Euro (£0.5 million) with a combined readership of 40 million.

District 71 had a bumper year and put forward articles from nine members

September 2018 Sudha Mani
What to do when things go wrong with your presentation

October 2018 Richard Foster Fletcher
What to say to a staff member who’s done a terrible job

November 2018 Vinette Hoffman Jackson
Ten of the best, unusual and most effective props

December 2018 Karen O’Donnell 8 presentation pitfalls to avoid if you want to close more deals/make more sales

I’d like to thank all these splendid authors who have done such a magnificent job. Gordan Adam won the draw for a free #Norwich2019 conference ticket. Special grateful mention must go to Kit Cheng whose article How to build your confidence in public speaking proved a better fit in the District Newsletter.

February 2019 Gordan Adams How to create an attention-grabbing opening for your speech

May 2019 Jean Stewart How to add humour to your speech/presentation – even if you are not a comedian.

June 2019 Sam Warner Opening Doors – Top Ten Tips to Delegate Effectively.

Pending Rebecca Pepper How to use storytelling to ensure your message is remembered for a lifetime.

Pending Simon Day Empowering Others through Effective Feedback

#WowFactor Video

District 71 had one entry in this global initiative from Toastmasters International

Cranfield Speakers Club #WowFactor video. Based on the Moments of Truth club quality audit and part of International President Lark Dooley’s theme for 2019 at Toastmasters International #WeAreToastmasters

Cranfield’s Vice President of Public Relations Anita Devi accepts the District incentive Timing Lights

Timing Lights -Controls on the reverse

June ’19 Your Celebrations

Your Celebrations

Charter Reception “Stand up. Speak up. Shut up” – the Mayor of Milton Keynes offers up to the Milton Keynes Confident Speakers group

By Lisa Robinson, VP Public Relations MK Confident Speakers

Milton Keynes – 25 June 2019 – On 21 June the Mayor of Milton Keynes, Councillor Sam Crooks, attended an event to mark the newest public speaking group in Milton Keynes achieving its official status. During the meeting the Mayor quoted J. W. Lowthe, former Speaker of the House of Commons, who once said “There are three golden rules for Parliamentary Speakers: Stand up. Speak up. Shut up.”

The Mayor joined Binal Sawjani, President of Milton Keynes Confident Speakers, plus other club members and guests, to take part in the special meeting. The meeting was then followed by a drinks reception to mark the club being awarded its official status on 31 January 2019.

As part of the meeting guests are invited to do impromptu speaking and Councillor Crooks offered guidance to the group about how important it is to make speeches succinct. Before quoting J. W. Lowthe Councillor Crooks said “Sometimes my speeches are written for me, but they will always have the length written on them and will always have ‘be short’ underlined to remind me of the importance of making sure the key message is heard. Being able to get your message understood is important and Milton Keynes Confident Speakers is a fantastic way of learning the craft of public speaking”.

Club President Binal Sawjani said “I am delighted that we have achieved Charter status so quickly for Milton Keynes Confident Speakers. In the modern world being able to speak confidently is increasingly important, and we have seen great demand to learn these skills since we established the club. At each meeting members evaluate speeches by other members and there’s also impromptu speaking. Whether you are looking to improve your presentations at work or preparing to speak at a wedding, these opportunities provide a fun and safe environment in which to hone your public speaking skills and increase confidence”.

Uniquely in Milton Keynes, Milton Keynes Confident Speakers meets on Friday lunchtime for 1 hour 15 minutes in central Milton Keynes, so it is easy to get to and to fit into a lunch period. Based in the NatWest Accelerator Building, the club is delighted that NatWest is supporting the project by allowing use of their presentation space for meetings.

Area 20 A Year to Remember

By Elizabeth Jordan, DTM

Members and guests from Toastmasters’ clubs in Area 20 (Division H; District 71) and beyond gathered at The Sun hotel (Hitchin, Hertfordshire) on Wednesday 26th June to celebrate the end of the Toastmaster year (2018-2019 with a Gala Dinner and Awards ceremony. The event was hosted by Toastmaster of the Evening, Bradley Peters and Table Topics entertainment was provided by Elizabeth Jordan, DTM.

Area Director, Wojtek Zulja, reflected on the many successes of 2018-2019 during his term of office: All three clubs – Herts Speakers, East Herts and North Herts – achieved Presidents Distinguished status; members reached out to the community in a variety of ways including leading Youth Leadership Programs, Open evenings and attendance at Community Fairs and membership is strong.

In a speech filled with humour, history and hope, After Dinner speaker, Bob Ferguson, DTM, founder of Hertfordshire Speakers and veteran Toastmaster praised Wojtek for reinvigorating the Area 20 Celebration Dinner and hoped it will become an annual event.

The highlight of the evening was the presentation of awards to Area 20 club members in the following categories: Most Improved Club Member, Best Club Member and Best Club Officer.

The ‘Changing of The Guard’ ceremony saw the outgoing officers hand-over to the incoming officers, including Division H Director, Steve Campion, who handed over to John Kendall and Area 20 Director, Wojtek Zulja, who handed over to John Allsop, represented by Nina Morozova.

The Area 20 Gala Dinner was as fantastic way to end the Toastmaster year 2018-2019 and look forward to the New Year.

History #14 The 1990’s contd.

History #14 The 1990’s contd.

By Ted Corcoran DTM, Past International President

District Newsletter #14 (continued from edition #13) To recap at the 1990 Autumn District Council meeting the following three proposals were passed, almost unanimously.

  1. “That with effect from the District administrative year 1991/92, the position of Public Relations Officer be subject to election, by the District 71 District Council and, subject to satisfactory performance, be in line for progression through higher Executive offices.”
  2. “That the structure of the split District Executive be divided equally between England and Ireland in such a way as the District Governor and Lieutenant Governor Marketing be elected from the alternate country to the Educational/Training Lieutenant governor and Public Relations Officer, and that this will take effect from the District year 1991/92 as previously approved by the District 71 District Council in Spring 1987/88.”
  3. Where, for any reason, an elected District Officer is unable to continue his/her term of office, his/her replacement shall be a qualified member, selected from the same country as the officer retiring, and be subject to the ratification of the District 71 District Council.”

In the explanatory notes distributed with these motions, it is stated that about Proposal #1

“In consideration of the options, the 1990/91 District Executive believes a fourth elected District Executive position would facilitate the even distribution of elected officers between England and Ireland in executing its requirement to provide a “split” District Executive from 1st July 1991.”

About Proposal # 2, it is stated,

“In order to improve the quality of leadership, the 1987/88 District council approved a split District Executive to take effect from 1st July 1991. Until now a “gentleman’s agreement” has ensured that the elected District Officers were drawn from either England or Ireland on an annual basis. This ensured fairness for all members seeking the experience and leadership opportunities, in the face of weighted voting power whose bias is capable swinging drastically between the two countries (currently 66% Ireland 33% England). The 1990/91 District Executive are conscious of the need to retain this fairness of opportunities for all future members. The benefits of a “Split” Executive are evident: 1) Enhanced bonds between England and Ireland 2) Improved continuity between annual District Executives 3) Accelerated progress of members through leadership training at District level

Although the principle of the split executive membership was decided, the actual structure and distribution of officers was not. This is the question now addressed by this proposal to

  • Maintain fairness of opportunities
  • Improve continuity
  • Accelerate progress through the leadership ranks
  • Enhance the English/Irish bond.

The 1990/91 District Executive sought advice from WHQ, its Directors and from District 45 (NE USA/Canada) where such a system already exists. The system proposed has operated successfully for several years in D45 and in the Bahamas, the only other district with a similar situation.”

(This conference also passed the following motion, “That District 71 introduces Division Rounds of the International Speech Contest with effect from the District Administrative year 1990/91.”)

It was decided that in year 1 the District Governor (DG) and Lieutenant Governor Marketing (LGM) would be elected from country A and the Lieutenant Governor Education and Training (LGET) and Public Relations Officer (PRO) from country B. It was understood that these positions would alternate each year, so that in year 2, the DG and LGM would be from country B, while the LGET and PRO would come from country A. This arrangement has worked very satisfactorily since and has played an important part in our district’s success.

June ’91 Member Spotlight: Sudha Mani

Member Spotlight: Sudha Mani DTM

1. Why did you join Toastmasters?

In the year 2014-15, I was regularly going down south to practise my speech and had a speaker coach paying a few thousand. I wanted to improve my speech delivery for engagement and impact as I have been getting a few paid speaking gigs. Until this point, I didn’t know about Toastmasters International. One day a colleague of mine suggested why not find speaking clubs nearer home to practise my speeches instead of going down south.

Before this, another incident happened. I took part in a mobile app challenge to get investment in my app idea. On the day of presentation, technology failed me. Everyone’s presentations worked smoothly as a hot knife on butter. Mine would not work. We did everything we could. I did have some hand-outs, but it was not as effective as the presentation would have been. I was terrified, upset and lost without the presentation. I did complete my talk but lost my investment. That is when I realised that, I need to do something about speaking without notes or presentation if there arises a situation like this. So, I started working with a speaker coach to work on speech structure, delivery and storytelling. As many would agree with me, just learning something is useless unless you practise. That is why I joined Toastmasters as I wanted to practise my speeches in front of non-judging and helpful audience.

2. How has Toastmasters helped you?

However, after joining Toastmasters, I realised that I was a murderer as well. Because I was killing many with my presentation. I was killing my audience with terrible storytelling. I was robotic in my delivery.

So, I started joining a few other clubs to learn and practise the tools which I can use in my presentation and speeches. Today, I can speak to any kind of audience and make them understand what I am speaking about as I am a Technology Speaker.

  • Toastmasters have helped me deliver my speech with an impact.
  • Toastmasters have helped me in speaking with notes even if it is a 90-mins keynote. Toastmasters have enabled me to tell stories to get my message across effectively.
  • and many more…

3. What are you most proud of about your Toastmaster Club?

I have been a member of a few clubs during the year of 2017-18, I was a member of 9 brick & motor clubs and 3 online clubs. Now, I am a member of the Dunfermline Toastmasters Club. This club is not the closest to home, it is about 40 -50 mins drive. However, I love and am proud of this club because members are very active and every meeting, we have at least an average of 20 people in the meeting. You may think, “My club is the same”. Let me tell you a little bit about this club. This club chartered in 2018, they were President Distinguished in their first year. They don’t have dual members, 80% of the members are millennials, club officers have 95% attendance, they have a very active WhatsApp presence and many things which this club does is right. Above all, this club is not a CITY club to attract more walk-in visitors. This club is an urban club where VPPR must do some work to attract visitors. When you visit this club, you experience more laughter. You are invited.

Been pleasantly surprised by anything lately?

I was pleasantly surprised when I won, Area Director of the Year (2017-18) at the Norwich Conference. I was not that expecting at all. Thanks to all who made this possible. I am grateful and would like to mention following individuals who helped me in the process and in my opinion true embodiment of Toastmasters principles; Red Skelton, Daniel Sandars, Karen O’Donnell, Kevin Lee, Elizabeth Jordon, Julie Kertesz, Zaldy Co, Sam Forsberg, Lesley-Ann Hunter, Patricia Gray and many more.

How to build your confidence in public speaking

How to build your confidence in public speaking

By Kit Yee Cheng, Clyde Communicators, Toastmasters International

Glossophobia, the fear of public speaking, is often associated with the uncertainties that come from speaking in front of an audience; you’re uncertain if you’ll dry up, or forget your words, or trip as you walk on stage. You’re uncertain that the audience will listen and enjoy your speech, or that they’ll jeer at you and boo until you leave. You’re uncertain you can deliver what has been asked of you without breaking out in a sweat, vomiting or running out of the room. It is the uncertainties that create the fear – and therefore tackling the uncertainties is the key to breaking the fear and building your confidence as a public speaker.

Here are my thirteen tips to help you tackle the uncertainties and become a confident public speaker:

1.    Talk to strangers. Practice your communication skills with strangers. You will never see these people again so making mistakes does not decrease your confidence. When you can talk to strangers about anything, anytime and anywhere, you have mastered the art of impromptu speaking. Impromptu speaking is the key to all your communication.

2.    Laugh at yourself. Use self-deprecating humour. Seriousness attracts serious circumstances. Watch comedy movies or TV shows and laugh. This helps to lighten up your mood and brings more joy into your life. Happiness is one of the vital ingredients to building up your confidence.

3.    Gain experiences. The more experiences you gain, the tougher you become. This strengthens and builds up your confidence. Learn new skills, meet new people, do something new as often as possible. Set new goals, however small and work towards achieving them. Challenge yourself to step out of your comfort zone because nothing ever grows there.

4.    Exercise as often as you possible can. This is a timeless classic for tackling fears. Even a ten-minute walk can do wonders for your mood and lifts your energy. Exercise has been proven to release the feel-good chemical called endorphins throughout your body. This strengthens your self-esteem and reduces your anxiety.

5.    Practice yoga. The ancient art of yoga helps you to focus on the present moment which is essential to your mindfulness. You are anxious about public speaking because you are projecting yourself into the future. Yoga increases: body awareness, relieves stress, reduces muscle tension, strain and inflammation, sharpens attention and concentration, plus yoga calms and centres the nervous system. Yoga improves your mental health and wellbeing.

6.    Practice meditation. Like yoga, meditation improves your mental health. It helps you to: better handle your negative emotions, helping you to feel relaxed and calm, find your inner peace and helps you to feel comfortable with silence and stillness.

7.    Practice gratitude. Write in your gratitude journal each day. This is a sound tool to use to shift your focus onto the happy and good things in your life. Gratitude helps you to release envy, jealousy, anger, resentment and mild depression. You will attract more of what you want into your life when you practice daily gratitude.

8.    Have fun each day. Connect with your inner child. Be childlike. Having fun is one of the key ingredients to your health and wellbeing. People who have fun compared to those who don’t, are more positive minded. Smile, laugh, crack a joke, be silly and have fun. Connecting with your inner child helps you to face your fears because your inner child is the fearless one. She will help you through the tough times when you are connected to her.

9.    Have one day, or half a day a week switched off from social media and the internet. No Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram or the news. Connect with nature. Go for a walk in the park. Listen to the birds chirp and sing. Talk to dog walkers. Talk to babies and toddlers. Face to face interactions with strangers in the park is a tremendous way to get the human connections that you are going to benefit from. You could just sit in the park and watch people.

10.    Travel to a new place as often as possible. Get on the bus or train and go explore around your area. You have feet for this specific reason. The uncertainties in life become much easier to handle when you travel to new places. Being in a new place helps you to: expand your horizons, set your soul on fire, heighten all your senses and become alive. Whilst you are at home, you are by default living in your auto pilot. Getting out of your auto pilot system gives you opportunities to see the world from a different perspective. The world has an abundance of beauty so go and see it for yourself.

11.    Embrace the uncertainties. Life is full of uncertainties because life is unpredictable. Let go of having to have control in every aspect of your life. Become more spontaneous. Welcome the uncertainties and see where they take you. Cut the cord to the need to have control of your life twenty-four, seven.

12.    Join your local Toastmasters club. Toastmasters has clubs all over the world. Our clubs offer a supportive, encouraging and fun environment for our members to develop and master their public speaking skills. Speak to the President or Vice President of Education of the club and ask them to assign you to a mentor. A mentor is there to offer their guidance, support and knowledge of what they have learned from their own journey. They have been to where you are traveling to.

13.    Read books on public speaking. Knowledge of public speaking is your friend. You will gain more confidence from the knowledge of the do’s and don’ts. I have found gems in reading books on public speaking and applying the knowledge to my speeches has increased my confidence in public speaking.

Guest Division A

Guest Division A

Division A – Phillip O’Brien ACG ALB

Division A, along the beautiful Wild Atlantic Way on County Cork includes Areas 3, 11, 23 and 49.

The Division has 21 clubs from as far east as Garryvoe to the west in Bantry. We started the year with 20 clubs and McAfee Toastmasters chartered in October 2018.

I was approached to take over as Division Director from Maura Meaney back in October 2018 and having served as Area 11 Director the year before I was familiar with Division Council workings and accepted. I would like to acknowledge Maura’s assistance to me in the transition and since then as she is someone I could bounce a few ideas off.

I’ve been a Toastmaster for five years now and my service as Division Director has allowed me work within the Division towards wider goals and just at the time of writing Division A has become a President’s Distinguished Division.

The Division held two successful Club Officer Training days in August and in February which were very well attended by officers from most clubs in the Division and these days covered a wide variety of subject matter.

The Division held two Contests – Humorous Speech and Table Topics in November and the International Speech and Evaluation Contest on April. Our four winners – Laura Mehigan, Humourous Speech (Cork Douglas TM); Murt Ó Súillabháin, Table Topics (Bishopston TM); Paschal O’Leary, International Speech (Guardian TM) and Margaret O’Flynn, Evaluation (Talking Heads TM) – all competed in Norwich at the District 71 Conference and the Division, their clubs and themselves proud.

Division A Table Topics L-R Murt O Súilleabháin (Bishopstown) 1st; Division Director Phillip O’Brien; John Keating (Republic of Work) 2nd and Eric Downey (Cork East) 3rd

Division A Humorous Speech: L-R Laura Mehigan (Cork Douglas) 1st; Division Director Phillip O’Brien; Holly Blake (Carrigaline) 2nd and Paula Kelleher(Guardian) 3rd. 

Division A Evaluation L-R Deirdre O’Mahony (Carrigaline) 2nd; Division Director Phillip O’Brien; Margaret O’Flynn (Talking Heads) 1st and Neil O’Brien (Blarney) 3rd.

Division A International Speech L-R Holly Blake (Carrigaline) 2nd; Division Director Phillip O’Brien; Paschal O’Leary (Guardian) 1st and Eric Downey (Cork East) 3rd. 

#Norwich19 Division A contestants

Laura Mehigan, Cork Douglas, Humorous Speech

Paschal O’Leary, Guardian, International Speech

Murt O Súilleabháin, Bishopstown, Table Topics

Margaret O’Flynn, Talking Heads, Evaluation 

I am very pleased that we have had six new DTMs in Division A – Moira O’Brien (Lee Valley Speakers), John Colbert (Talking Heads) Joey O’Leary (Kinsale & District), Damien Lynch (Cork Douglas), Sean McCarthy (Cork Douglas) and Pat Duggan (Guardian) – congratulations to them all.

We had three notable club anniversaries in the Division – Bishopstown and Kinsale & District both celebrated ten years and Bandon Toastmasters celebrated thirty years.

One of our clubs, Kinsale & District, had a coach appointed and last week, for the first time in nine years that club has become Distinguished and Select Distinguished in its tenth anniversary year. Kinsale went from requiring a club coach to President’s Distinguished Club this year also

In all clubs I have visited I have been extended a warm and cordial welcome and I look forward to visiting again.

Bandon 30th celebrations L-R: Club President Colette O’Donovan; Immediate Past President Imelda Westcott; Area 11 Director Alun Rees; Division A Director Phillip O’Brien and District 71 Club Growth Director Gerard Mannix.

Bandon Toastmasters celebrated 30 years. Left of plaque is President Colette O’Donovan and right of plaque is immediate past President Imelda Westcott.

Kinsale 10th Anniversary L-R: Kinsale President Willie Grainger; Joey O’Leary receiving her DTM plaque and Club Coach/Division Director Phillip O’Brien. .

Finally, I want to thank the members of the Division Council – Mari Manning (A3), Alun Rees (A11), Charlie Corrigan (A23), Darren Burnett (A49) and Beryl Cronin (Asst A3) for working so hard for their Areas and the Division.

Outgoing Division Council 2018/2019 L-R: Charlie Corrigan, Area 23; Mari Manning, Area 3; Division Director, Phillip O’Brien; Alun Rees, Area 11 and Darren Burnett, Area 49.

Division A is President’s Distinguished for 2018/2019.

Division Council 2019/2020 L-R: David Ryan (Bandon) Area 11; Aidan Coakley (Cork Douglas) Area 23; Division Director, Phillip O’Brien; Paul O’Mahony (Blarney) Area 3 and Darren Burnett (Powdermills) Area 49.

Area 3 – Mari Manning

Area 3 – Division A encompasses six Toastmasters clubs; Cork East TM, Midleton TM, Talking Heads TM, Garryvoe, Blarney TM, Guardian TM and McAfee TM (Corporate).

Pathways: As an Area, we have embraced Pathways as the mechanisms have become clearer and EVPs/ mentors in the clubs have been encouraging members to ‘have a go’. It has proved to be a useful tool in recruiting new members too.

Contests: We have also had some considerable success in the recent contests with Margaret O’Flynn, Talking Heads Toastmasters, winning the Area 3 & Division A, Evaluation contests and taking second place in the finals at the Norwich Conference. Paschal O’Leary, President of Guardian TM won the Area 3 International Speech contest and ably represented his club in the finals at the Norwich Conference. Well done to both.

We would also like to highlight the winners of our Area 3 Final Evaluations contest, 2019, Niall O’Brien, Blarney, TM, 1st place and Eric Downey, President of Cork East Toastmasters, 2nd place.

Club visits are taking place now with excellent achievements by Toastmasters in each club. Sharon O’Neill (Blarney TM) has achieved a L2 in Pathways with several members in her club now motivated to reach that level. Dr. Shirley Gallagher (Cork East TM and our new club Pathways Co-Ordinator) has achieved L1 Pathways and is currently sailing through L2 which she hopes to complete shortly. Several members of Cork East are currently on track to achieve L1 Pathways, shortly under her guidance.

Congratulations to our newest Area 3 DTM, Pat Duggan from Guardian Toastmasters, a great achievement by a very experienced Toastmaster. Pat has been a great inspiration to many new Toastmasters over the years and we wish him all the best as he steps back from Toastmasters – for now!

As outgoing Area Director of Area 3, I would like to express my thanks to my assistant for the past year, Beryl Cronin, CC. CL. ALB, whose knowledge and support were invaluable. I’ve met some wonderful people along the way, who were always willing to step up and help when called upon, in the true spirit of Toastmasters.

I would like to welcome the incoming Area Director, Paul O’Mahony and wish him the best of luck in the coming year.

Area 11

By Alun Rees

Area 11 consists of 5 clubs, with Bantry in the west, Lee Valley in the north and Kinsale, Bandon and West Cork spread along the beautiful Wild Atlantic Way. The area enclosed is 673 square miles or 430,731 acres. This area is mostly rural, sparsely populated with an economy largely dependent on farming and tourism.

It has been a privilege to serve the Area over the past 12 months, to see consolidation in the growth of most clubs and to experience and reflect on the diverse characteristics, and characters, of each club.

One thing that I have learned is that Toastmasters come in all shapes, sizes, abilities, attitudes, motivations and mind-sets. The one thing that they all share is a desire to tell their stories, to find a way of expressing what is inside them and to experience the joy of effective communication with others.

The delight of listening to the 20 or more past presidents of Bandon Toastmasters sharing their experiences at the club’s 30th anniversary was very special. Equally exciting was that unique moment shared with a single individual who has made their icebreaker speech after years believing they could never speak up.

I have been impressed by the officers who work hard to ensure club meetings happen, who give up their spare time so that others can enjoy these moments of magic, of fellowship, of creativity and pleasure for all that Toastmasters can bring.

If you are in any doubt about taking on a role at a meeting, on your club’s executive or within Area, Division or District embrace the opportunity. You will be rewarded, and the time spent repaid several times over through the experiences you enjoy in the company of others and that you have helped to create.

Thank you everyone in Area 11.

Area 23

By Charlie Corrigan

Carrigaline Toastmasters Club

Carrigaline Toastmasters continues to go from strength to strength with membership further increasing this year.

Holly Blake represented the club and area 23 in the Division A Speech Contest. (see photo)

In December 2018 the club was successful in having an article on the benefits of Toastmasters published on “THECORK.IE, Cork’s very own online publication. This has increased the numbers of guests visiting the club.

See link:

Former President Colm Nestor was a guest at Cork Yarnspinners recently where he enthralled the audience. (see photo)

Carrigaline Toastmasters scored a double recently with Deirdre O’Mahony and Holly Blake representing Area 23 in the Division A Speech and Evaluation Contests. They performed very well and were placed runners up in each contest. Well done Deirdre and Holly. (see photo)

Cork Toastmasters Club

Cork Toastmasters has had a very successful year with membership growing strongly. During the year the club moved its base from the Ambassador Hotel to the Kingsley Hotel. This has proved a very successful step with excellent facilities at the hotel and its location making it very accessible.

Cork Toastmasters was Cork city’s first Toastmasters Club and is celebrating its 51st year in existence. The photo shows Martin Kerrigan as the 51st President of the club with the outgoing President Joan Fuller. (see photo)

Cork Douglas Toastmasters Club

Two DTMs in one go.

Cork Douglas Toastmasters are pleased to announce, that two of our members have achieved the highest of the many accreditations from Toastmasters International that of Distinguished Toastmaster or DTM. For any club to have a Distinguished Toastmaster or DTM as a member is a bonus but, to have two at the same time is somewhat unique, in that roughly one per-cent of Toastmasters worldwide get to achieve it.

The awards were presented (L-R) by Toastmaster Aidan Coakley (Club President) to Damien Lynch DTM and, by Toastmaster Charlie Corrigan (Area 23 Director) to Toastmaster Sean McCarthy DTM (see photo)

The success of Cork Douglas Toastmasters is showing in its recent achievements and, yes we do have a long way to go: –

  • Two DTM recipient’s in recent times.
  • Growth in membership.
  • An average of four Guests or visitors per meeting. (68 to date)

2019 saw our first member Laura Mehigan representing our Division (Division A) in the Humourous Speech Contest at the District 71 Conference in Norwich recently.

The photo shows Laura receiving her well-deserved first place award at our Club Humourous Speech. (see photo)

Crusaders Toastmasters Club

Crusaders Toastmasters Club has made the move from the SMA Community Hall in Wilton to the Kingsley Hotel, Carrigrohane Road. The move has gone smoothly, and the club is attracting more guests in its new setting.

Republic of Work Toastmasters

Republic of Work Toastmasters Club is unique in Cork in that it has weekly meetings on Monday evenings at 6.30pm in the Republic of Work building on the South Mall. The club is just over a year old and has a very young membership profile This has to augur well for the club’s future. The photos show members enjoying themselves at a recent meeting. (see photos)

Area 49

Darren Burnett

Area 49 consists of three corporate clubs (Apple, DellEMC and VMware) along with two community clubs (Powdermills and Bishopstown).   This gives a pleasant variety in skills and focus.  Having corporate clubs with an emphasis on technology has aided with the adoption of Pathways.  Although only being a relatively new member to Toastmasters, Alexandra Brandt (VMware) delivered multiple presentations on her experience with Pathways.  This included tips and tricks that she had picked up on her journey.  She conveyed this to her own club in VMware, and to the other clubs in the Area.  The delivery was facilitated by some club visits and through club officer training.  Technology is being effectively utilised by DellEMC who host their meetings across three sites using teleconference facilities.   This has proven very valuable and was also utilised in recent club officer training to make possible corporate club attendance during work hours   Our corporate and community clubs are looking at how they can collaborate more as we head into a new Toastmaster year.  This will potentially include for the first time in Area 49, a corporate club hosting an area competition.  In competitions, our excellent Murt Ó Súilleabháin represented Bishopstown Toastmasters in the Norwich District 71 Conference for Table Topics where the feedback from those that saw him was excellent.  Area 49 also saw some anniversaries.  VMware Toastmasters reached their 100th club meeting which received a lot of recognition.  While Bishopstown Toastmasters marked their 10th year milestone (since chartering in 2009) with a visit from the Lord Mayor of Cork.

Bishopstown members celebrate Speechcraft Graduates!

By Krystal Long.

On Saturday 13th April 2019, members of Bishopstown Toastmasters in Division A celebrate the success of their Speechcraft participants as they successfully completed 8 weeks of communication and leadership training.

The Journey began on Saturday 26th January with four members of Bishopstown Toastmasters club, led by Krystal Long (Coordinator) with the assistance of Carol O’ Donovan, Anita Howard and Murt Ó Súilleabháin. An amazing journey with eight fantastic participants who were dedicated to enhancing and developing their public speaking, communication, presentation and leadership skills to name but a few.

Each participant brought something different, wonderful, fun, educational, inspiring, to the heart felt personal stories of overcoming challenges and adversity. To also one participant travelling up and down to Cork in the south each week from Co. Galway in the west of Ireland.

All participants received the opportunity to experience the Toastmasters Club Experience. Each session was delivered the same as you would expect to see in a Toastmasters meeting. All roles were fulfilled and mastered by our participants such as: Timekeeper, Table Topics Masters, Ah counter, Grammarian and especially the all-important role of evaluators.

Some participants of the very successful Speechcraft program. Front Row L-R Coordinator Krystal Long (Cork TM), Division Director Phillip O’Brien and Team Member Anita Howard (Bishopstown)

Pictures by Philip O’ Byrne 2019 ©

Not only that but also they had the opportunity to give and master skills of organising and delivering a great speech, overcoming nervousness, thinking fast and mastering the art of impromptu speaking with Table Topics, speaking with conviction and becoming an effective listener, advancing their social skills, use of voice for maximum impact and improving work and life prospects and also they learned about the art of giving effective evaluations.

All these important elements of public speaking, and the structures of the Toastmaster’s club experience were delivered to a very high standard and the toastmaster members themselves and the participants have all enjoyed being a part of the experience.

On the final session, graduation day all participants shared what the programme meant for them in their lives and how much they have enjoyed the experience. It was a great moment for all to reflect on the journey, sharing great memories and as a reminder to us Toastmasters how much we too have benefited from our own individual journeys. Toastmasters and speechcraft changes lives, by empowering people to become their best selves! Also, a special thanks to our Division A Director Phillip O’ Brien who attended the celebration and shared some moments of his own wonderful experiences of Toastmasters with an invitation to the participants to join our Toastmaster community.

In the words of Toastmasters founder:

Dr Ralph C. Smedley “Let us share the benefits we have gained for ourselves with others!”

I would like to invite my fellow Toastmaster members and clubs to embark on this truly wonderful experience. It is a great way to further develop your skills outside and inside a Toastmaster’s club. Take the opportunity to share with others all you have gained and benefitted from Toastmasters and let’s pay it forward!!


Guest Division J (Central Dublin)

Guest Division J (Central Dublin)

My Leadership Journey

Colm Mc Glade ACG, Division J Director

This September I will be 25 years in Toastmasters. To celebrate, I hope to achieve my DTM award. To achieve this, I was required to take on a leadership role. This was new to me. The reason I joined Toastmasters was to improve my public speaking skills. I was President of Rathfarnham Toastmasters 20 years ago. However, since then, I avoided all leadership roles……until last July when I stepped into the role of Division J Director.

It has been a steep learning curve for me. To become a good leader, I would need good leaders. I chose Peter Kieran, DTM, as my Assistant Division Director. Peter has been Division C Director on two occasions and an Area Director on three occasions. He knows the ropes. I am very grateful for his advice and guidance during the year. I am also very appreciative of my three area directors: Area 2 Director Gareth Coghlan, Area 7 Director Mairead Murphy and Area 57 Director PJ Claffey, for their commitment, enthusiasm and hard work throughout the year.

Division J is a new Division in Dublin city centre, with 3 areas. We started the Toastmaster year with 12 clubs. However, 2 clubs have fallen by the wayside – Saudi and Digital Hub in Area 57, but we have also gained 2 new corporate clubs, Irish Life in Area 57 and Takeda in Area 7 (both chartered). There is a possibility of 2 more corporate clubs joining the Division soon, although probably not before 30th June. They are AIG and IDA.

The make-up of Division J is now as follows

  • Area 2: Dublin, Eblana, Society, Accentuators
  • Area 7: Cogito, Vox Populi, Uncensored, Takeda
  • Area 57: I.E.Templebar, PWC, IFSC, Irish Life

As my year as Division J Director comes to an end, I can now look back with pride at our achievements. The year’s highlights include:

COT1: This was held in Wynn’s Hotel on Saturday 14th July. There was a good turn out from all the clubs. Topics covered included Moments of Truth with Area 57 Director PJ Claffey, GDPR with Brenda Lannon, Administration Manager District Leadership Team and Pathways with our District Director Patricia O’ Reilly. Mop up training was held in the Hilton Garden Inn on Wednesday 22nd August. The feedback from COT1 indicated that members wanted more guidance on Pathways.

COT2: This was held in Chartered Accountants House on Pearse street on Friday 8th February. This included more training on Pathways with Patricia O’ Reilly and a session on attracting and retaining new members with former Division M Director Dermot Carey. Mop up training was held on 20th February.

DOT1+2: I attended District Officer training last June and again in January. This was a great experience and very informative, a coming together of all the Division and Area Directors in Ireland (and some from the U.K), along with members of the District Leadership Team.

Speech Contests: Having to organise speech contests was a new experience for me. I have been involved in many speech contests in the past as a contestant, but I had never organised one. I would prepare my speech, turn up on the day and participate. I didn’t really understand what was involved to run a successful contest. I selected this as my HPL project. The members of my guidance committee included my assistant Division Director, Peter Kieran, Area 2 Director Gareth Coghlan and the then President of IE Templebar Toastmasters Ritchie Prenderville. We worked together as a team to organise the contests to ensure they were a success.

The Humorous Speech and Table Topics contests were held in Wynns hotel on Sunday 11th November. There was a good turnout. Dermot Carey from the Uncensored club won the Humorous Speech contest and Elaine Gallagher from the Dublin club won the Table Topics.

Wynn’s hotel put up their prices after Christmas, so we had to search for another suitable venue for the spring contests. On Sunday 14th April, we held our International Speech and Evaluation contests in the Hilton Garden Inn in the IFSC. Phillip Khan Panni from Society Toastmasters won the International Speech contest while Elaine Gallagher was a winner again in the Evaluation contest.

Division J was the big winner at the District 71 conference in Norwich in May, as both Dermot and Phillip won their respective speech contests. Phillip will now go on to represent both Division J and District 71 in the European Regional Final, via a recording of his speech. If he is successful, he will then progress to the World Semi Final in the U.S. in August. This, of course, is not Phillip’s first time to win the District 71 International Speech Final. He has won it on 3 previous occasions and, in 1994, he came 2nd in the World Final. What an achievement! On behalf of all the members in Division J, I would like to wish Phillip continued success.

New Corporate Clubs

As mentioned above, two new corporate clubs chartered this year in Division J – Irish Life (see enclosed article) in the autumn and, more recently, Takeda. Both myself and Area 7 Director Mairead Murphy are sponsors for Takeda. The club was very fast in getting off the ground. The initial demonstration meeting was held on 8th March and the club chartered in May with 32 signed up members.

A demonstration meeting was also held for AIG last December and it is hoped that they might charter soon. The IDA has also expressed an interest in setting up a corporate club and we hope to organise a demonstration meeting for them quite soon.

While I am happy that my year as Division J Director is coming to an end, I’m also delighted that I took on the role. It gave me a whole new perspective on Toastmasters. I learned many leadership skills along the way, including the necessity to be organised, to have a vision and to set goals; the importance of teamwork and the need to delegate; the importance of listening skills, to be able to listen to others views and take advice. Above all, I gained a lot of satisfaction from my role. I believe Division J will continue to grow and prosper and I wish the incoming Division Director every success and happiness in the role.

Irish Life

Ronan Kearney, President Irish Life

The idea of Irish Life Toastmasters first came about towards the end of summer 2018. As a member of Dublin South Toastmasters, I had often seen how club members joined for professional reasons and were often encouraged and even sponsored by their employers to do so. Working for a relatively large organisation myself (Irish Life has approx. 2,500 employees based in its Dublin City Centre HQ) I could see the potential for a new corporate club. Initial marketing involved a poster campaign and word of mouth within the company. It wasn’t long before several interested and enthusiastic people came forward eager to be involved. A few us visited the Google Phonics club in Barrow Street (big thanks to Steven Scully for his hospitality) to get an idea of how a corporate club might work. Inspired by what we saw at Google we returned to Irish Life armed with plenty of good ideas. Soon after this we arranged a launch in Irish Life, open to all staff, and saw a great turnout of over 50 people. Again, we were assisted with the launch by Steven and some colleagues from Google which helped tremendously.

Following the launch interest continued to grow and we realised that chartering a new club was viable. Having secured a regular meeting location (‘The Hive’ meeting room in Irish Life HQ – see attached photos)  we scheduled our first meeting for October 2018 and saw an attendance of 35 people. In November we were honoured to welcome Toastmasters International CEO Dan Rex to our club as part of his visit to Ireland, and promptly included him in a lively and entertaining Table Topics session! We currently have 40 registered members and expect this to continue growing due to our regular participation in awareness-raising initiatives within Irish Life and positive feedback passed on via word of mouth.

A lot of work was involved to get the club up and running but we’re now really seeing the rewards with lots of highly entertaining meetings in The Hive and fantastic progression for our members.

Twenty-three years of membership

Peter J. Claffey, ATG, Area 57 Director

When it comes to Toastmasters, you could call me a lifer. I have been a member of TI since 1996, without parole. I joined Rathfarnham Toastmasters back then and in more recent times I am also a member of Powertalk Toastmasters.

At that very first meeting, I was taken by the confidence of the speakers who spoke that night in Rathfarnham, particularly those who gave the prepared speeches but also those who spoke on a topic they were just given. Yes, I wanted to be like those speakers and resolved there and then to work hard to be so. I even spoke for a mere 30 seconds, my lips trembling on a Topic and I felt very foolish doing so. I sounded a bit strange speaking. Do I sound like that? I was very self-conscious of my voice and it was a very strange feeling. On that first night I resolved to say something at every meeting thereafter, just to get over these strange feelings, hopefully build my confidence and be as good as the other members.

After a few meetings I joined up and got the CC Manual in the post a few weeks later. Ten speeches, which I planned to do in 2 years. I took to speech preparation and practice with great gusto. I lit up when I got a good evaluation from my Evaluator. I read the evaluation slips again and again, just to absorb the good feedback again. This feedback gave me greater confidence to move onto the next Toastmasters levels. In June 1998 I got my CC Award. This was followed by the CL in 2000, the ATM Bronze in 2002, the ATM Silver in 2006 and finally ATM Gold in 2009. While speech preparation, practice and speaking were my first love in Toastmasters, I did get great enjoyment and confidence by doing Sergeant at Arms, Vice President Education and President at Rathfarnham.

Speech contests too were a great favourite of mine including the Humorous and Tall Tale Contests, as well as the International Speech and Evaluation ones. Such was the standard in Rathfarnham I only won a few. Getting to an Area or a Division final was a major achievement. Whether it was giving speeches or entering contests my confidence has continued to develop and my speaking repertoire has expanded to include humorous, inspirational and motivational styles. Give me a stage now and I can speak on anything you want. This is what Toastmasters has done for me. If you continue to embrace public speaking through the Pathways programme you will become the speaker you want to be.

In 2018 I was asked to take on the Area 57 Director Role. I took it on with some trepidation as it was not one, I had done before. But now as I come to the end of my year, I am delighted I have done it. It gives me more confidence and experience on the Toastmasters Leadership track. I really enjoy going to the Clubs in Area 57 which are around Dublin City centre near where I work which are IE Temblebar, Irish Life, PWC and IFSC. I am also working with AIG Toastmasters Club who will hopefully charter shortly. Because these Clubs are mostly corporate ones, they often approach their meetings in a different way than I was used to in Rathfarnham. Nevertheless, they also have the Toastmasters friendly and light-hearted approach to public speaking and members learn by doing. I would now recommend you take on the Advanced Leadership track. It is another way to develop your confidence and it has helped me greatly in my professional career to date. Without Toastmasters I would never have taken on many roles and responsibilities at work. So, keep on speaking, get involved on your Club committee or take that leadership track. Your Area and Divisional teams need you. Happy Toast mastering and be the leader you wish to be.

My journey to the District 71 title

By Phillip Khan-Panni

The 2019 District 71 Conference at Norwich was an amazing event, with no less than 12 speaking contests. But my focus was on just one – the International Speech Contest, first the semi then the final. As you probably already know, I won the title against a talented field. It was my fourth victory at this level, and it followed an 18 -year gap since the last time. Let me tell you the story of my journey and what I have gained from it.

It all began in 1992, when a fellow-Round Tabler invited me to join him in setting up a new Toastmasters club in Bromley. It was the first I’d heard of Toastmasters, but the chance to make speeches appealed to me. At the time I was still traumatized by the recent tragic death of my first wife, and my memory was shot to pieces. For my Ice Breaker (all about myself, of course) I had to use notes! But when a fellow founder member, Giles Robinson, delivered his previous International speech, I decided to follow in his footsteps.

Twelve months after joining, I completed my CTM and reached the District 71 final for the first time. It was in Dublin’s Killiney Castle and my speech, “Where the honour lies”, was in support of the underdog. The loudest applause I got was when I applauded the Irish football team that Jack Charlton had taken to the World Cup Finals. With that victory under my belt, I was off to Toronto for the Inter-District contest against the best of the non-American world.

I was clearly under-prepared and came third. Australia’s Jock Elliott (World Champion in 2010) told me I’d started in the wrong key (too high), with nowhere to go when I got excited in the speech.

Two years later I won the District 71 title again, this time in Galway. Throwing Fortune Cookies into the audience, I established a great connection with them. Next stop was San Diego, and the Inter-District contest. At the last minute I inserted a Margaret Thatcher joke that got a big laugh, breaking my concentration. I blanked for four l-o-n-g seconds! Fortunately, I recovered and got the nod from the judges. I was in the World Championship Final!

People told me I was close to winning but had to settle for second place. I talk about that in my current championship speech. In the years that followed I built up a training business called Speaking & Presentation Skills and co-founded the Professional Speaking Association (PSA). It was only in 2001 that I was able again to win the District 71 title, travelling to Anaheim for the World Championship. But in the semi (i.e. Inter District) my microphone became dislodged, and I came third. I then took a break from Toastmastering.

Towards the end of 2016 I re-joined TM, having come to live in Ireland. After visiting perhaps, a dozen clubs I settled on Society in Dublin’s Pearse Street. What an amazingly supportive and friendly bunch they turned out be! My speech on being Forever Second found favour at Club, Area and Division levels, and brought me to the coveted District 71 title in Norwich for a record fourth time.

And what have I gained along the way? Top of my list is my wife. Evelyn and I met at a TM Conference in Crawley. I have had the chance to pit my speaking skills against a variety of talented speakers, developed a training business and become a professional speaker on the process of verbal communication. It enabled me to become a published author of 13 books and to find a set of like-minded people, both in Britain and in Ireland, some of whom I call my friends. Yes, it has been a worthwhile journey. I recommend it to you.

A Club That Broke All the Rules

By Elaine Gallagher, President of Dublin Toastmasters

Have you ever discovered a family secret, something that you would have never guessed? I discovered Toastmasters in 2012 and joined Dublin Toastmasters, the oldest Toastmasters club outside North America. Never for a single minute did I consider that Toastmasters had a family secret that would intrigue me, and that Dublin Toastmasters was determined to make an impression.

What is the intriguing Toastmasters family secret?: A constitution outlawing lady members. Members were to be composed “of male members at least 21 years of age.” Dublin Toastmasters was a club determined to right this wrong largely because the club’s first President Paddy Cunningham was ‘a woman’s man’, a man of vision, a man of foresight.

The Dublin club chartered, over 60 years ago, on 12th April 1958. The founding members included women, not a controversy by today’s standards but following the chartering of the club, this became a point of contention.

In a letter dated December 1965 form the Toastmasters International Territorial Council of the British Isles to the Secretary of the Interclub Committee stating:

“We are quite aware of the origin of lady members in Ireland in 1958. P.D. Cunningham Esq., seeking a method of keeping together a group of people (male and female – also former students of his own) turned to Toastmasters International for the answer and in so doing – inadvertently, or otherwise, included some of the fair sex.”

Women in a Toastmasters club was out of bounds contrary to the Toastmasters constitution at that time and “could not be permitted”. The alternative proposed to the existing “lady members’ was to join a separate “Toastmistress Club”. The powers that be stated “As to the fairer sex, God bless them…” Even if women were to be bestowed with heavenly blessings, these could not include membership of Toastmasters International. Bravely, this idea was flat out ignored and requests for permission to allow a visit from a Toastmistress was also flatly ignored on a few occasions. If Toastmasters International would not allow female membership, Dublin Toastmasters would pave the way for the new world and facilitate membership of both men and women. Registration with Toastmasters International would be by way of surname and initials. Until Toastmasters International changes its rules, Dublin Toastmasters at least had plausible deniability and the good people in California would have to deal with the consequences.

Sixty years later, Dublin Toastmasters is dealing with the consequences. Sixty years later Dublin Toastmasters has a serving President who is a woman. Sixty years later, the membership of Dublin includes some of the most inspirational women and men I know; women and men who serve side by side on the Committee; women and men who compete and succeed in Toastmaster International District Finals; women and men who encourage other women and men to serve with integrity respect and excellence.

It’s been an honour to serve as President of Toastmasters during its 60th year. I have nothing but gratitude to Dublin Toastmasters for sharing the Toastmaster experience with both women and men. This has allowed me to enhance my career, deepen my friendships and to meet my husband, also a Toastmaster, and a Past President of Dublin Toastmasters. I often wonder did Paddy Cunningham, the man who broke all the rules realise the power of his perseverance…

My road to winning the #Norwich19 District Humorous Speech

By Dermot Carey, Uncensored Speakers Club and Dublin Toastmasters Club.

I arrived back from lunch one afternoon in 2003. There was an email waiting for me. It read “A meeting of all staff will take place in the board room at 2.30pm. Everyone must attend”. That day became a turning point in my life. I found out that day that I was losing my job.

I wasn’t too upset as there were plenty of jobs out there, then my friends told me about a new trend requiring job applicants to make presentations to interview panels as part of the recruitment process. The idea of making a presentation to an audience filled me with terror. I had previously left a job when they decided to promote me and give me my own list of clients. I was the type of person who was quite happy to sit at my desk in the corner, just me and my spreadsheets.

Then a friend suggested that I try Toastmasters. I checked out the details of my local Toastmasters club and went along as a guest to their meeting. I was particularly Inspired by one member who told how they had overcome a speech impediment and now loved to speak in public. I decided to join the club while at the same time thinking to myself that perhaps in 6 months I might venture to stand up and speak. I found rather quickly with the help, support and encouragement of the club members that delivering a speech in public wasn’t so terrifying after all. I began to enjoy the experience of getting up and speaking in public.

In 2007 I entered my 1st humorous speech contest and I got to Division Final. I had never heard of a division final up to then because no one from the club had progressed that far during my time at the club. The division final was like a whole new world to me, but I realised that I needed to up my game if I was going to win. In the intervening years I had made several attempts to get in the District Final and taken time out to be a district officer, to help organise 2 district conferences and to help start Uncensored Speakers Club. In 2017 I came 2nd at the district humorous final in Sheffield and in 2019 I finally achieved my goal of winning the district humorous speech final in Norwich.

What have I learned by being in Toastmasters? I have learned that speaking in public is not such a huge insurmountable obstacle, that with time and practice it can be quite enjoyable. I have learned all the other things that are so important in our professional lives such as organising a speech, managing time and meetings, all the things we take for granted in Toastmasters. I also learned that feedback is important and when you take on board what others are telling you then you can really progress.

The most important thing that I have learned about humour is that you need to keep to a simple topic that you have experience of and that when you exaggerate a simple situation it can have comic effect. Whoever thought that being an “accountancy super-hero” would make people laugh? Well neither did I. I also found out how supportive your fellow contestants are at a contest.

I would encourage every member to take a chance and enter a contest. If you are not a member of Toastmasters, well just take a chance, I did, and it has had a profound and positive change in my life, giving me the confidence to try many new things outside of Toastmasters and it has led to a new career.

Go on have a go.