August 2018

#WeAreToastmasters August 2018

#WeAreToastmasters in August –

A random pick from our hashtag

Sue Burnett‏ @Activeedge
Dive into public speaking #toastmasters

7:50 am – 14 Aug 2018

Natalie King BA(Hons) ACS ALS
Natalie King Coaching

This certificate is a little reminder, that if you want something bad enough and are willing to step out of your comfort zone, anything is possible! To achieve this goal, I really needed to step out of my comfort zone. Well worth it, especially when this certificate fell through the letter box. hashtag#wearetoastmasters

Bray Toastmasters‏ @BrayToastmaster
We are back on the 10th September with a packed program and lots of good, old and new things . Looking forward to seeing you at 20:15 pm !! #WeAreToastmasters

11:55 AM – 13 Aug 2018

Bishopstown TM‏ @BishopstownTM
Tomorrow August 11th marks a very special moment in #Toastmasters International’s history. On that day of August 11th 1947 our founder Dr. Ralph C. Smedley and board of Directors expanded it’s clubs…. #WeAreToastmasters

6:15 am – 10 Aug 2018

Krystal Long‏ @KrystalTraining
Thank you @BishopstownTM
#TripleCrown has arrived. now that’s achieved I have succeeded in achieving my own personal goals in Toastmasters. I will be retiring from the #Toastmasters at the end of my term as president. #WeAreToastmasters Thank you for everything.

2:25 pm – 9 Aug 2018

society toastmasters‏ @soctoastmaster
At our AGM last week the new club committee for 2018/19 was elected by club members. Outgoing President Vincent MacNally presents the chain of office to incoming President Michael Dolan Many thanks to Vincent for his leadership #wearetoastmasters

8:16 am – 31 Jul 2018

#TICON2018 87th Toastmasters International Convention Photos


87th Toastmasters International Convention Photos

It’s hard to believe, as I write this, that two weeks ago I was finishing my second day of district leader training in Chicago ahead of the International Convention. District leader training is where the trios (District Director, Program Quality Director and Club Growth Director) from every District are put through their paces. It also affords an opportunity for the trio to bond, to discover that other Districts face similar challenges to ours and to hear how other Districts overcome these challenges.

After training it was time to attend the opening ceremony for the convention. I was proud to be a part of the “Parade of Flags” and to carry the Irish flag. But who knew that it takes 2½ hours to be trained in how to carry a flag. The opening keynote speaker was Steve Gilliland who was slick and very humorous but who also gave us food for thought.

Deirdre Linehan performed very well in her semi-final and for the first time in Toastmasters history the winner of the World Championship of Public Speaking and the two runners-up were females!

Over the four nights, Past International President Ted Corcoran, hosted the “sing-along”. On the Saturday night newly installed International President, Lark Doley, donned her Texan outfit and serenaded us with some lip-syncing. The “sing-along” finished with everyone standing up holding hands and singing Danny Boy conducted by Ted.

I loved Chicago. Highlights were: – standing on the shore of Lake Michigan looking across at the Chicago skyline, visiting Navy Pier, the river architecture cruise learning about the history of the impressive skyscrapers and the large areas of parkland which gave the city an “open” feel.

What didn’t I like? – that the District didn’t make it onto the stage at the Hall of Fame. So it’s onwards and upwards to Denver, Colorado in August 2019 and if we all pull together standing on the stage at the Hall of Fame as a distinguished district.

Patricia O’Reilly, DTM

District Director 2018-19

Patricia O’ Reilley rehearses the flag ceremony

District 71 Members at the Chicago Convention

Patricia O’ Reilley receiving the Award of Excellence in Program Quality from International President Balraj Arunasalam

Patricia O’ Reilley presents a gift of thanks to outgoing Regional Advisor Aletta Rochat

Deidre Linehan, our International Speech semi-final contestant, put in a tremendous performance, but alas didn’t make it to the finals.

World Champion of Public Speaking Ramona J Smith and new International President Lark Doley

Our newly elected Region 10 International Director Tuire Vualasvirta

International Board of Director 2018-19

What does the Program Quality Director Do?

What does the Program Quality Director Do?

By John Cox

Gerard, Patricia and I at the District Officer Training in Chicago

Quality and excellence feature in all our roles!

But both are ill-defined and mean different things to different people.

As your Program Quality Director my main responsibilities are:

  • Club quality and member retention,
  • Division, area and club officer training,
  • District conference,
  • District-wide speech contests, and
  • Education programs and Toastmasters materials

Supported by Division and Area Directors, Club Officers and Conference Teams I am confident we will get the job done.

During my career I scoured the world to help me understand and promote to my clients’ excellence in business and commerce. Many countries hold annual awards for quality and excellence.

In Japan they have the Deming Prize, established in 1951 to honour W. Edwards Deming who contributed greatly to Japan’s proliferation of statistical quality control after World War II.

USA has the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. Malcolm Baldrige
served as 
United States Secretary of Commerce during the Reagan administration.

The European Foundation for Quality Management (EFQM) is a not-for-profit membership foundation established in Brussels to increase the competitiveness of the European economy.

I was fortunate to meet and speak to award winners of all three awards, helping me to author a guide for UK businesses entitled: “Towards World Class Performance.” I also regularly attended the annual Baldrige Quest for Excellence Conference in the USA.

So, what did I learn and how can that be used in Toastmasters?

Exceed Expectations (the Member Experience). Put Customers (members and guests) first, before profit (DCP goals). If you exceed their expectations profit/results will follow.

Measurement drives performance. Understand leading and lagging measures. Profit (DCP goals) is the result of getting everything else right – quality, employee, customer and supplier satisfaction. Moments of Truth is our best tool for measuring how well we deliver quality in our clubs to meet the needs of our members and visitors.

Leadership versus Management. One
of Toastmasters
strengths is the opportunity it gives to its members to practice leadership skills in selling a vision, agreeing targets, running meetings, giving feedback, managing performance, etc. However, it is also one of our greatest weaknesses, handing our clubs, areas, divisions and districts over to new leaders with little training to carry out their roles.

We now have less than a year left in our roles to make a difference.

We can help to “raise the bar” in our own and other people’s lives by:

  • Enhancing the member/guest experience at our meetings,
  • Getting feedback on our own and our clubs’ performance via Moments of Truth,
  • Sharing knowledge, experience and wisdom,
  • Encouraging fellow members to embrace Pathways, take on more roles and progress their speeches,
  • Recognising even the smallest improvement – it may have been a big step for them, and
  • Focusing on member retention – 68% of non-renewing members said that “something could have been done” to convince them to renew.

But above all enjoy the experience and have fun.

Special Educational Section: Public Relations

Special Educational Section: Public Relations

Guest Edited by Daniel Sandars DTM, District 71 PR Manager

Hearing what Public Relations are working for other clubs can be a wonderful way to pick up tips for your own. In this section:

  1. Avril delves into the success of websites,
  2. Tom gives insight on the success of Spa Speakers Social Media strategy which runs synergistically to their website/ blog
  3. I take a step back and look at navigating the maze of diverse social media channels.
  4. Beryl describes the Public Relations that went into an Open night which chartered Lee Valley Speakers, and
  5. Moira develops the messages that emerge from Beryl’s case study into a bigger picture on PR

Solving Problems with your website

By Avril Stringer, Division S Director

People have problems! Their toaster just blew up, they can’t cope with their 2-year-old or they hate their job. The miracle of the internet is that the solution to these problems is often just a click away.

As Toastmasters, we know what problems our clubs solve. We can help overcome nervousness, getting the message across and even getting that promotion at work. Our website goals are firstly to ensure people can find our website when they are looking to overcome these problems and secondly that the website convinces them that we are the answer to their problem.

Let’s look at the first goal – people will find our website if we include content which addresses their specific problems.

Search for “public speaking courses Linlithgow” and our website ( comes up in the first 3 non-advert spots. We’re not so good with “public speaking courses Scotland” – but the Division Website ( is in the Top 10. Note to self – “spend a couple of hours improving the rankings of both websites”.

To rank highly, each page or blog post needs a keyword or key-phrase (KW) which is aligned with the terms people are typing in. I use a paid for tool through my company but there are free tools through google to find the best KW.

Use the KW as the slug for the page (i.e. Use it in 2 – 5 places in your text, as the title of your page and as a heading. Set the “alt text” for pictures as your KW. Include it in a link, put it in the meta-description and title (this is what is listed in the search engine). If you use WordPress, get the Yoast plugin [] – it is easy to enter your meta-tags and it will tell you how to improve your SEO for each page.

To make your page even better, use other keywords like Toastmasters, Public Speaking, your local area. Include pictures to add interest and make sure your content is at least 300 words long, is relevant to the KW and is of a high quality. Add additional content regularly – a meeting report is a fantastic way to keep the website fresh. Get links into your website from other websites and social media.

Employ these techniques and soon you will be receiving lots of visitors. Use Google analytics [] to measure your success and spend some time every few months checking your website.

Great, now you have them on your website, what now? You need to convince visitors that your club will be the answer to their problems. Remember the mind-set of these visitors – often they are nervous so make them feel they will be welcomed into a friendly place.

How do we try to do this on the Linlithgow website? Right up front on the home page, we give them some basic information – Speak, Lead, Flourish, Brush up your speaking skills, gain confidence, every second Tuesday then hit them with a Call to Action, “Join us”. The picture is highly relevant, showing a speaker and a diverse group of smiling people.

Scroll down and we present visitors with 3 common problems they may have. We show “us” with a video and a photo of a friendly face. Visitors are shown how we will help and encouraged to visit the club. We display the date of the next meeting and provide contact details.

Can this website be improved? Hell Yeah! For starters, the educational programme is out of date. We need more posts about how you can develop skills and I’ll complete the Pathways project to address this.

The subject of websites is vast and changing all the time and I have only scratched the surface. Help may be at hand in the form of a series of online workshops – let us know of your interest so we can organise this. In the meantime, have a look at your website and see how you could tweak it.

How to grow your Toastmasters club using social media

By Tom Hebbert, VP Public Relations Spa Speakers

One of the key roles of the Vice President of Public Relations is letting as many people know about your club as possible. Whether you love it or loathe it (or are hopelessly addicted to it!) social media can be used to generate plenty of publicity. At Spa Speakers we received 162 enquiries about the club, regularly saw 10-12 visitors at our meetings, and recruited 37 members in TM year 2017-2018 and social media played a big part.

If you’d like more guests to visit your club, here are a few ideas on how to use the power of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to achieve your objective:

1    Think about what you want to post and why

At Spa Speakers, we posted out pictures of our regular meetings, information about our social events, links to our blog posts, and most importantly of all, directly invited interested parties to book a free meeting to see if the club could help them. The idea: show the club is a fun, friendly and supportive place to learn public speaking, and that you try it for yourself for free. Have in mind that the final goal of your efforts is getting more people to visit and that will help make your communications purposeful.

2.    Make your posts fun, visual and where possible humorous

Post to entertain. Having excellent quality photos and captions really helps to convey a professional vibe.

3.    Post regularly

The more you post, the greater the likelihood it will be seen. You can use free tools to schedule a limited number posts across several social media platforms, so your platforms don’t go “dead” when you haven’t the time to post. At Spa we use Buffer [].

4.    Measure whether it’s working

Without measuring performance, you don’t know whether your arduous work is paying off or whether you need to change tack. Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Instagram all provide data on what is working and what isn’t. The all-important litmus test, however is the number of enquiries your club receives. If that goes up, what you are doing is working!

Total Facebook and Twitter impressions charted against new enquirers per month in 2017/2018. The more you post, the more people see your posts and the more enquiries you get.

It’s challenging work posting on social media regularly. But it works! If you’d like to grow your club, the tools are there, and they are free. At Spa Speakers we spent no money on flyers or social media tools, but we did invest time. Do the same, and I’m sure you’ll see success too.

Look at our Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and website for inspiration!

Spa Speakers Committee 2018 (L to R President Joy Kurian, Secretary Marie Long, Treasurer David Cumming, VP Public Relations Tom Hebbert, and Social Secretary Diana Toma)


Navigating the Social Media maze

By Daniel Sandars DTM, District 71 Public Relations Manager & President Northampton Speakers






Social media is a fast-emerging phenomenon. No longer are the public, or prospective members, passive recipients of our Club’s Public Relations. People use social media to interact with our organisation, which creates new types of relationships. Social media has emerged as a relatively low-cost way for Clubs to gain new members and build relationships with them. Too often this can leave Clubs struggling by not knowing how to get started, how to keep going, and as important how to keep up.

Headquarters staff at Toastmasters International find that in addition to their website they get best results from five social media platforms: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram. These are all big platforms with Facebook having 2.2 billion active users, YouTube 1.9 billion, Instagram 1 billion, Twitter and LinkedIn 0.3 billion each.

Facebook is well known as the most popular social networking platform on the web with around 1 billion active users logging in daily. Facebook also owns WhatsApp (1.5 billion users) and Facebook Messenger (1.3 billion users) the two most popular messaging Apps that many clubs use for real-time discussions within their committees. LinkedIn focusses on Business to Business networking for professionals where ‘Motivated’ is the most overused word in the English language. Twitter is known as the real-time, public microblogging network where news breaks first. YouTube is a video sharing platform whereas Instagram is a platform for mobile sharing photographs and short videos.

These platforms all do different jobs. Kietzmann et al (2011) proposed a honeycomb model of seven key functional building blocks that make up Social Media. Most channels major on one element and adjacent elements are closely related.

In the diagram I’ve indicated the level of importance in coloured capital or lower case initial letters of each channel.

Content Sharing is a key feature for Twitter, YouTube and Instagram with Facebook and LinkedIn catching up.

All the platforms have the option for people to comment on the content in Conversations, but it is very much optional.

Identity; as in who, why, what, when, where, how and Brand, is a key feature of LinkedIn with some support in the others, especially Facebook and Instagram.

Facebook and to some extent LinkedIn and YouTube allow topical special interest Groups and communities to form and interact.

Mirroring the Sharing is Reputation. All platforms allow users to like content and thus infer quality, but it is a key feature of the content sharing platforms and less critical to the other two.

Relationships are key features of Facebook and LinkedIn in the form of followers, friends, friends of friends, or 1st, 2nd, and 3rd degree contacts. Network connectedness is not a feature of the content sharing platforms.

The final polygon of Presence is not a key feature of any platform. There is some support like checking in and signing up to events of Facebook. If we need to know where each of us is or will be then we must do it another way or not at all.

This structure indicates a strategy. We are complimenting websites by establishing brand Identity and then Sharing content and information. Our content will attract Conversations and build Reputation which we can leverage through Groups and
further develop networked Relationships. In this context part of Facebook’s popularity is providing support in all Areas and YouTube’s emphasizes the power of visual multi-media. Sharing is caring! The power of Social Media is to give guests a look behind the scenes at what we are really like and for us to form an interactive online community.

Understanding how to manage a strategy is also important. Parsons and Lepkowska-White (2018) have developed a very useful conceptual managerial framework for Social Media marketing. There are four activities to manage: putting content out there, monitoring what is happening on Social Media and what reactions there are, assessing that information and finally responding to it. They argue that a defensive or conservative organisation will use social media like traditional media and simply broadcast content (as in Identity and Sharing). Conversely an exploratory organisation will cover all of the social media building blocks and be interested in responding to context and reactions. This continuum will also be mirrored by risk averse Conservatism v open flexible Modernism cultures, Hierarchical control v. Networked collaboration, and Autocratic v. Anarchical governance.

The trick for clubs is to avoid the extremes. Social media is vast and ever changing. Don’t leave VP PR responsible for doing it all and kept on a tight uncreative leash as they will soon become overworked and undermotivated. It also leaves the club very prone to loss of skills and momentum at committee changeover. On the other hand, taking the line of everyone is responsible for PR can broaden the club’s skills base and resilience, but potentially loses focus as no one quite knows what to do or who should do it and they might also be afraid of dabbling. What I think works better is, yes do empower the club and committee to help as social media Admins, Moderators, and Editors, but to also provide Leadership as vision, guidelines, and support on: content sharing, conversations, networking, groups, and reputation building. Remember to add ample recognition and appreciation for those members getting involved.

In summary when organising a club’s social media channels think about the channels with big reach and growth, how they fit together into a complimentary ‘ecosystem’ or strategy, and final consider how best to lead and manage the team that work this suite off digital assets.

Lee Valley Speakers: ‘Not resting on their laurels’

By Beryl Cronin CC ALB, Lee Valley Speakers

Lee Valley Speakers had to exploit all channels of Public Relations this year as they embarked on a venture that would bring them over the line to become a Chartered Toastmasters Club.

Toastmasters groups are popular in Cork and County (D71 Division A). However, the rural town of Macroom, County Cork was without a club for over 4 years until 2015. At that time, local resident Moira O’Brien decided to set up a Toastmasters in Macroom called Lee Valley Speakers. From humble beginnings meeting in a local town hall the group expanded and were able to move location to the Castle Hotel in Macroom.

The group continued to meet for the next 3 years embracing the Toastmasters ethos and placing an emphasis on humour and an encouraging atmosphere.

In 2018 a decision was made by President Moira O’Brien and club officers that this great little group needed a big push to get more guests in the door and convert these guests to signed up members.

It was time that this club gained Charter Status.

A membership and public relations campaign were embarked on and the club chose a date that they would aim to charter by.

An Open Night would take place on March 8th, and to give time for follow up of guests the club would aim to charter within a month April 2018. Of course, this would depend on the success of the Open Night.

Preparation began in February:

We looked at our target market and decided on which PR channel we would use to target our audience.

This is what worked for us:

We wrote a press release which told ‘the story’ of Lee Valley speakers from its beginning in 2015 to the benefits to the members over the 3 years:

  • We included testimonials as we realized for our public relations to be more powerful you need credibility,
  • We supplied photographs of members and their progress was highlighted,
  • We asked the readers to support our open night as this community group needed support if it was to grow and flourish, and
  • Our press release was published by the local newspaper the Lee Valley Outlook and it certainly contributed to our success story.

From the printed media we moved to social media–

Facebook was our choice.

  • We created the event for our Open Night on Facebook and posted on average twice a day,
  • We timed our posts to lunchtimes and evenings, and
  • Members shared the event and shared as a message for friends to like our page.

Beryl Cronin who was our VPE and now our VPM and club mentor visited several clubs in the Division as a guest and used every opportunity to ask club officers to mention that Lee Valley were aiming to charter and encouraged the members of those clubs to share the event on Facebook with family and friends.

2 weeks to go:

  • We contacted the local radio station and put our message out there, and
  • We started to use flyer marketing.

There are so many cool ways to promote your event on social media, why did Lee Valley choose flier marketing? We considered our target audience and there were 2 reasons:

  1. The first is that people still often prefer something in their hands that they can touch, read, save on their desks and come back to and refer to when they are ready. They can save a flier and if they don’t use it right then, they may make use of it later, and
  2. The second reason flier marketing worked for us is because it is still practical.

We decided where the fliers were delivered, and we used it as a hand-out when we called on business in the town.

We visited the local library, chamber of commerce, shops and businesses.

Due to the rural location of the town, we had to consider outlying areas also, so neighbouring villages were also on our Public Relations radar. From putting notices in church newsletters to word of mouth we did a mass saturation in the days leading to our Open Meeting.

The Open Meeting was a resounding success. We had guests from all walks of life.

Ted Mellamphy, club mentor and a seasoned Toastmaster, was delighted with the feedback and comments from participants. “I believe this club has a bright future and on a personal level I enjoyed meeting the many fresh faces. While public speaking is at the core of Toastmasters, it is also a networking organization and a bit of craic!” he said.

Club member, Tom, joined to give himself the confidence to deliver the father of the bride speech at his daughter’s wedding. “The year I have been in Lee Valley Speakers has given me much needed confidence. Even though the wedding was last July, I am continuing with Toastmasters as I can see myself improving every week”

Many guests signed up as members after the Open Meeting. All guests got a follow up e-mail thanking them for their attendance and some of those have since joined.

The figures speak for themselves:

  • On 7th March 2017 Lee Valley Speakers had 12 members on the 20th March 2018 we had 22 members! and
  • We chartered in April 2018 we met our target and we realized our dream.

From a public relations point of view, we realized that we had to vary the channels we used to suit our target audience, the message we wanted to put out and consider our location.

Moira O’Brien who was President of the unchartered club for 3 years and who took on many roles at each meeting and drove the club from the beginning was delighted this year to hand over the chain of office to incoming president Claire O’Leary.

Claire has a formidable team of Club Officers now in place and having just attended their Club Officer Training this team are determined that the club will continue to grow. The club officers have started their succession plan by ensuring that deputies are appointed for every role and that they are being trained at an early stage.

Lee Valley Speakers are going from strength to strength, they are embracing Pathways while some members are continuing the traditional educational system.

It is very much a team effort at Lee Valley Speakers and they are proof that

‘From little acorns, mighty oak trees grow’.

The next open event is taking place on 18th September and the club already have plans in place for that. With many more members now and deputies in place for Officer roles the club has the resources to have a sub-committee for public relations. This sub-committee will be maintaining the website, updating the club blog, twitter and other social media channels.

Check out for further updates.

PR Tricks and Tips

Moira O’Brien ACS ALS

Club Vice Presidents for Public Relations often get the wrong idea about what Public Relations (PR) is. You see, publicity is something that touches every role in a Toastmasters club. But there is a difference between PR and advertising:

  • Advertising is the promotion of a specific event e.g. and open night, and
  • PR is the promotion of the “idea” of Toastmasters

The Club Leadership Handbook quotes from the Club Constitution ( as follows:

The Vice President Public Relations ………. Is responsible for developing and directing a publicity program that informs individual members and the general public about Toastmasters international.

The Handbook continues by giving examples of social media and club website information all of which is very useful and worth reading. The final part relates to the Toastmasters brand, Trademarks and Copyrights. This is an important section and one which every PR should be aware of as it is not difficult to fall foul of the rules regarding the use of the Toastmasters name and logo.

From our point of view as Club PR people, we are mainly concerned with publicising our own club to gain members. In a recent Club Officer Training session in Division A, the most common issue facing clubs today is membership – so PR is going to take a key role in helping to promote membership to keep our club healthy.

We have mentioned Social Media and a club Website, but there is a myriad of other ways to promote Toastmasters and our club. Here are a few suggestions to get the brain cells working:

  • Leave magazines in Doctors surgeries, Dentists & NCT [National Car Testing] Centres waiting rooms with your club details in the white box provided.
  • The handbook mentions (not free) which I have found to be great for gaining Meetup members and next to useless for getting new club members. Instead I have found that Eventbrite (free for free events) is slightly more productive. As it is free, it’s worth a punt.
  • Open meetings – probably the best way to gain members. Publicise the meeting with posters and leaflets. Lee Valley Speakers plastered the local area with posters and this produced six new members, enabling them to charter. A poster was put into every shop window that allowed it or leaflets left on counter tops.
  • Club Blog – if you use Easyspeak for your website your will find a blog under the home menu item. You can use this to post a report on each meeting which you can then share through Facebook, Twitter etc. This has the double effect of giving information and taking the reader to your website.
  • Put up a poster in your local GAA [Gaelic Athletic Association] club.
  • Get a mention in your local Parish Newsletter.
  • Contact your local newspaper and get an advertorial (often free), or even better an article, about an upcoming event or a report on a past event (e.g. an Open meeting).
  • Facebook Advertising – OK, you must pay for it, but it can be VERY targeted. Use this to promote an Open event or just to gain “Likes”, which expand your Facebook audience and thus your reach.

These are just a few ideas, but whatever you do, think outside the box and be creative with your publicity. Use your Area, Divisional and District PR people to help you with specific ideas and network with the clubs in your Division.

The September 22nd and 29th episodes of The Talk Show for Talkers dealt with PR:










Guest Division Section – G

Guest Editor Division G Director Alex Knibbs, ALB ACS

Alex Knibbs, Division G Director

It’s my privilege to assume Division Director responsibilities this year, a Division in which we have three Areas and 15 clubs. My own personal Toastmasters journey began in 2015, starting up a new Corporate Club with PPD LLC. Not long afterwards the opportunity to start up a new community club presented itself and, before too long Saffron Walden Speakers was born, a club that’s gone from strength to strength, realising President’s Distinguished status one year after Chartering. My vision this year is centred all around ‘support’. Supporting my ADs [Area Directors]; supporting the District Officers and continuing to support and mentor club members who are progressing via Pathways and non-Pathways educational routes.

One of the pleasantly reassuring things I learned at the outset of taking on the Division Director role is that it’s perfectly fine – in fact, recommended, to have an assistant Division Director. Fortunately, I knew the perfect candidate …. over to Natalie King to introduce herself …

Natalie King, Assistant Division G Director

OK so who am I? This is a question I often ask myself but seeing as this is a brief introduction to me as a Toastmaster, I will leave the deep thoughts for another time and provide you with a brief synopsis.

I joined this institution nearly four years ago, just to learn to speak to two or more people, as my self-confidence was at an all-time low. After six6 months of attending meetings, doing a few roles and the odd table topic, I gave my ice breaker speech. From there I just kept planning to do my speeches as I felt that I should commit to completing my CC [Competent Communicator] manual, that was all I wanted to do. I was slowly plodding my way through the CC manual, when over a year after joining toastmasters I did my fifth speech and realised that I liked and enjoyed giving speeches.

From there I was challenged by my mentor to get my DTM [Distinguished Toastmaster]. Needing my DTM meant that I had to do a leadership role, so I became an area director. This was a role that I very much enjoyed. Near the end of my term as area director I was asked if I would do Division Director, a role I did not feel ready for, but luckily, I knew someone who would suit the role and who needed the leadership role for his DTM. As you can perhaps imagine there was a big sigh of relief from me, that Alex took on the role. But I did not want to leave him hanging and knowing that this role would be a challenge for him, due to other commitments, running a club as well as being new to toastmasters. I offered to help him as his assistant Division G Director.

So far, I have enjoyed the role and Alex is a capable leader, so I look forward to the year ahead. Now all I must do is complete my Advanced Communication Gold [ACG] and I will have my DTM. Not bad for someone who panicked if they had to speak to more than two people!

And speaking of Area Directors(AD): here’s a glimpse of my stalwart AD companions in Division G ….And a few members from around the Division

Area 1 Director, Karen Bellerby

My name is Karen Bellerby and I joined TI just over seven years ago by accident and a very happy accident it has turned out to be!

Not equipped with a crystal ball but in 12 months I hope Area 1 will be once again boasting five clubs and, personally, I hope to be sporting my ALS [Advanced Leader Silver] and maybe an ACS [Advanced Communicator Silver] to go with it having decided to stay on the traditional route for the moment :- the 2020 deadline has certainly focused my mind!

I just want to learn and view everyday as school day, so I expect this year to gain far more knowledge than I could ever impart.

My vision is about firstly getting the area and its members comfortable with and fully embracing Pathways. It’s a great program that is fit for 21st Century purposes and not something to be scared about. I want to be a resource for the clubs to use to facilitate an easy pick-up and transition. A fifth club is also very high on my agenda/wish list too.

I’m really looking forward to it all and as Donald Rumsfeld said, “at the moment I don’t know what I don’t know” but it’s going to be one hell of a journey!

Area 25 Director, Ray Mitchell

Currently holding ALB and ACB, I am a former VPPR and have been a public speaker in varying guises for about 30 years.  I am in some ways a perpetual student (6 degrees), and once upon a time was a naval infantryman.

Area 41 Director, Martin Horner

I joined Toastmasters in 2009 and shortly afterwards worked with two other Toasties to keep Cambridge City Communicators alive after the sudden loss of two Founder Members. We decided that by running enjoyable Meetings, people would attend, join and stay with us and this has proved to be the case. I progressed through my CC, ACB [Advanced Communicator Bronze] and ACS and have now obtained my ACG as well as ALB. I was instrumental in helping regularly with last year’s Speechcraft sessions in Cambridge too. My pastimes include walking (in previous years around the coast of East Anglia and nearly half of the SW [South West] Coastal Path plus in the summer more than 80 miles of the Wales Coastal path along the Pembrokeshire Coast).

Are we having a laugh?

By Guy Doza, Cambridge Speakers, Area 41

I recently entered the Toastmasters District 71 Humorous speaking contest. The objective was simple: deliver a 5-7-minute humorous speech. Be funny. Make people laugh. Try not to embarrass yourself too much…. Sounds easy, right?

The main danger with giving a humorous speech is that if the audience is expecting a humorous speech it is much harder to be funny. The key to humour is surprise and it’s hard to surprise someone who is anticipating it. Spontaneity is key to making something funny. Is it a coincidence that people tend to laugh a lot more during table topics than they do during prepared speeches?

I knew that if I were to win this competition I would have to do something new, something daring and something utterly and totally random. So, that’s exactly what I did. I did push-ups on stage, I ripped off my shirt, and I attempted to flirt with an uncomfortable looking middle-aged woman on the front row.

One of the things that I did differently from a lot of the other speakers is that I reacted to the audience. I pointed out when they were laughing, and I commented when they looked sceptical. As a result, the speech felt a lot more spontaneous and my jokes got a better response. If you rehearse a speech too much it is no longer a speech and it becomes a performance. At Toastmasters we are not actors, we are speakers and it is important to remember that. To deliver an effective humorous speech (in my opinion) it’s crucial to keep it real, keep it friendly, and leave some space for spontaneity. And most importantly, enjoy it!

Turning my biggest weakness into my biggest strength.

By Vibesan Illampooranan VP Education at Cambridge Speakers

I have always struggled to communicate with other people due to my stammer therefore I avoid talking to people, which can be quite lonely. I couldn’t even introduce myself to them. University was a difficult period especially through fresher weeks. For example, I struggled to introduce myself to the cleaner in my accommodation halls. She asked me for my name and I said, “I don’t know”. She couldn’t stop laughing, from then on. I told myself I needed to change.

So, I joined Nottingham University public speaking group and finished a level four presentation skills diploma with my degree in biochemistry. I usually stammer on single words when I present or deliver a speech. At the end each speech, students told me that I was an inspiration and gave them motivation to join the public speaking group which increased in strength from 10 to 30.

After I graduated, I still wanted to carry on public speaking, so a friend introduced me to Toastmasters, I joined quite a few clubs. As I believe that the more speeches I do, the less anxious I am, so I don’t stammer as much. Usually making the audiences laugh a lot, really does help to relax me hence I don’t stammer as much.

I end up finishing 18 speeches with Toastmasters, but this doesn’t mean I am perfect at public speaking however I don’t feel afraid to speak in public or introduces myself. There’s still a lot I can do to improve public speaking, that’s why I still go Toastmasters.

Toastmasters is like a gym, you can only improve by doing roles and speeches, and that is how you put yourself out there. Yes, it’s very difficult and yes, you may feel completely naked when you’re on stage, but your own voice and opinion count too. Just give Toastmasters a go and it will change your life for ever.

Paige Skelton of Brandon Speakers and Crossroads Communicators

Going through school, I was always the quiet student in the back of the class. I never had the confidence to speak out in front of people. I didn’t want to draw any sort of attention to myself. I was even scared to pay for things in a store because I was shy, scared, and insecure. It wasn’t until University when I had to give a presentation that I realised I had never spoken in front of more than a couple of people in my entire life. That is when my father signed me up for Toastmasters. I cannot describe how welcomed I felt from the first meeting. The welcoming and supportive environment and members got me from not speaking during the meeting to volunteering to do a duty, then from a duty to a table topic, and one year after I joined, I did my Icebreaker speech. I have now done all duties, including being Toastmaster of the Evening, I completed my CC Manual in June 2018 and was awarded our club Toastmaster of the Year trophy in July of this year. Looking back on my progression throughout the couple of years that I have been a member, I am elated. I have seen myself grow from someone who was scared to talk to anyone and the words ‘public speaking’ made me want to faint, to someone who can stand up in front of a group of people and deliver a speech with confidence. And although sometimes I get nervous standing up in front of people to talk still, I know that the people looking back at me are so supportive and I could not have achieved what I have without the love and support of my fellow Toastmasters.

Charles Greensitt, VP Education, Saffron Walden Speakers.

I am Charles Greensitt, for those who know me I have the name Charles Grenoir Greensitt on Facebook. Why the name Grenoir? – it derived from school after having the sixth form art scholarship, scientifically as a formula, for those of you technically minded, Greensitt + Renoir = Grenoir. Grenoir is also the name for my website. Creativity is a large part of my life, in my engineering and my photography and artwork. When a poster came up in Saffron Walden for a speaker’s club, I jumped at the opportunity, having previously seen Bob Fergusson, a few years before, at an engineering conference. From the outset the Competent Communicator and Competent Leadership manuals were like a scholarly article to me, held close to my heart and guiding me on the Toastmasters International journey. The club offered a positive community and allowed opportunities in speaking and something more… if you want to be creative and experiment then here is a safe place. Table topics can be simple, from word association to objects. If you want to push the boundaries for independence and impromptu speaking, then push Table Topics to the limit. This allowed me to fully exploit my creative bent, first with an ‘Only Connect’ board, a BBC production converted into a plug and play board, easy to adapt. Then came the complexity of ‘Turnip of Fortune’, a real spinning Wheel of Fortune with a fantastic formula to entertain and prizes. The best table topics that I have seen include mystery and variety, with a personal approach. The Turnip of Fortune is a ‘spin to win’ concept – it’s been a well-received concept at a few different clubs now and episodes can be seen on YouTube.”

August 2018: Prize Crossword

August/September 2018: Prize Crossword

Guest edited by Elizabeth Jordan, DTM

Win Mini Notebook and Pen Set Item 6850K



  • All correct answers will be entered in a prize draw. Winners and Answers will be published in the September/October Edition


    • 1) xxxxx Toastmaster. Highest accolade.
    • 2) First speech delivered at Toastmasters
    • 2) TMI community program for adults
    • 4) Extemporaneous speaking
    • 5) TM promise to xxxx club meetings regularly


    • 6) One of Toastmasters values
    • 7) Specific projects in Pathways
    • 8) Number of Competent Communication speeches
    • 9) xxxx Mastery, one of 10 Pathways path.
    • 10) Provides word of the day at club meetings
    • 11) We learn best in moments of xxxxx

July/ August Crossword Results

The Luck Winner is Clare Crowther ACS, ALB, AS, Pathways Guide from Hull Speakers


3. Minimum number of DCP goals a club has to achieve to be recognised as President’s Distinguished (4) NINE

5. Birthday month of Toastmasters International (7) – OCTOBER

7. First name of the D71 PR Manager (6) DANIEL

10. Surname of the Toastmasters’ International President for 2017-2018 (10) ARUNASALAM

13. City where the D71 Spring conference will be held in 2019 (7) NORWICH

15. Full name (first and surname) of a presenter of the Toastmasters Podcast (4,8) RYAN LEVESQUE

16. Number of Paths available in the new Toastmasters Pathways learning experience (3) TEN

17. City where the D71 Spring conference (May 11th -13th ) was held (4) CORK


1. Number of levels in each Path of the new Toastmasters Pathways learning experience (4) FIVE

2. Nickname of the outgoing D71 District Director (3) RED

4. Host city of 2018 Toastmasters International convention (7) CHICAGO

6. Name of monthly magazine circulated by TMI at all its members ( 11) TOASTMASTER

8. Name of the gateway to Pathways Paths and Projects (4,4) BASE CAMP

9. Name of Toastmasters new education learning experience (8) PATHWAYS

11. The State where Toastmasters relocated its Headquarters in March 2018 (8) COLORADO

12. Middle name of the founder of Toastmasters International (8) CHESTNUT

14. Surname of current D71 District Director (7) OREILLY