Guest Division N

By Division Director John McFadzean

Traveling Toastmaster September 2018, John McFadzean, CL, of Southport, Merseyside, England, balances on a paddleboard at Southport Marine Lake in Southport, England.

I can’t get to my Club; but I need my TM fix…

By Nik Lakhani CC, ALB, President of Warrington Toastmasters, Area 31, Division N, District 71

I faced a crisis a few weeks ago. The wife’s away visiting her elderly parents abroad, and I’m the dutiful husband who “volunteered” to give up all my evening activities for 3 weeks to ensure our teenage kids can roll their eyes at me when I ask them nicely to do their homework!

This meant no volleyball, golf, or a quiet pint with friends at the local. In addition, I couldn’t go to my club, Warrington Toastmasters, for 3 straight meetings. We are an energetic and lively bunch who meet every Monday night at the Village Hotel in Warrington. I was VPE at the time and desperate not to miss my TM fix.

What do I do?

I can do most of my VPE role offline: schedule speeches, assign roles, etc. What about my fix? You know, the feeling you get from showing up, learning something new and having fun?

Crisis led to doubt and then onto despair. I can’t do cold turkey. It’s just not fair!

A chance conversation with a sympathetic member ignited a spark in me. “Have you tried online attendance?”, asked Anne. I then understood something clearly at last: I can attend a meeting online. Not just that, a meeting whilst sitting, in my boxers, sipping a tall glass of ice cold cider – whilst sporting psychedelic gaming headphones belonging to Teenager Number One.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think of this as an alternative to my local club. I love walking through the door every Monday night and contribute to a unique event of fun and learning with laughter.

This was complementary to my TM fix. A blue pill for my speaking journey, an enhancer, an extension if you will. I was blown away with the world I found through my newly requisitioned headphones and hitherto unused webcam.

I found 3 clubs within 150 miles of me that had online attendance: White Rose Speakers, Leeds; Luton Speakers Club, Luton; and, Cornerstone Communicators Advanced Toastmasters, St. Albans. All 3 are in District 71 – check them out.

Due to my work schedule at the time (and homework duties), I found some other online attendance clubs more suited to my requirements. These are: Competitive Communicators; Online Presenters and Global Trainers Online. Always visit a club twice, see what it’s like. If you feel good about it, just join as a dual member.

So, what was it like?

Well, amazing: I joined 3 more clubs and now I have a bigger family in Toastmasters. I have given them the benefit of my experience e.g. helping one club specifically to set up a robust Mentoring programme. Also, I have learned many things that I have brought back to Warrington Toastmasters, for example, being creative with Table Topics and special events to help attract visitors, member retention, and just have more fun. One such event is going to be like “Snow White Kills Sneezy – The Murder Trial“.

Ultimately, being a member of more clubs helps you accelerate your learning, gives you different challenges and pushes you out of your comfort zone. I have already picked up the knack of looking at the camera directly often.

The biggest point I would say is that the members you see and meet online are more tech savvy, more motivated and more qualified than the ones I’ve met at our traditional “bricks and mortar” clubs. The result of this is means I have hundreds of years’ worth of experience to call up in terms of Toastmasters and, particularly, Pathways. Most of the people online seem to be multiple DTMs with 18 months’ experience of Pathways.

There must be many members who will benefit from this. We have some who have difficulty in attending due to being a carer for a loved one, being ill or incapacitated. Let them speak and lead too.

In summary, online attendance helps you show up, learn something new and have fun.

From Babbling to Brilliant to Public Speaking: The tale of a public speaker

By Clésia Mendes, Warrington Toastmasters Vice President Public Relations

We all have our own reasons to joining Toastmasters, whether is to become more confident when speaking in public, having a safe secure space to practice public speaking and leadership skills, or expand our social circle. Recently I have discovered, that we all have our own reasons to keep coming back.

My reason to join was to have a safe secure space to practice public speaking, my reason to stay engaged was the friends I’ve made in my club, my reason to keep returning was that as time went by, my leadership skills started to emerge and started to get invited to attend other Toastmasters clubs, first to give Evaluations, then Educational sessions, then Workshops from Toastmasters International “The Successful Club Series” such as “Evaluate to Motivate”. And recently have been invited to deliver a 3-hour workshop for the Storyhouse Theatre in Chester, at 2pm of Saturday, 26th January 2019. And by the way, I was given the main stage, which is an 800-person venue.

How is this relevant to you? How is this relevant to your club? While members have their own reasons to join Toastmasters, they will have their own reasons to stay engaged, and their own reasons to keep coming back. And these evolve over time. Gaining clarity may take time but is a worthwhile pursuit. And experience show, we gain clarity by going through the process of being engaged, delivering speeches, taking leadership roles, officer roles, etc.

Why is this important? It is important because when we know this, then we can take the time to create the best conditions for our own skills and abilities to emerge and flourish. We can be more patient with ourselves, our development, our members growth and consequently Toastmasters growth.

Imagine how would it be like, if everyone knew that becoming a Toastmaster is like embarking on a journey of transformation and there’s plenty of time, opportunities, and support, for them to become who they really want to become.

In conclusion, everyone has reasons to join Toastmasters, something they want to achieve, do, or become. As time goes by, everyone develops reasons to keep coming back, which may be different from the original reasons. As they keep returning, they will gain clarity regarding what to do next, and the relevant opportunities will start to reveal themselves at the right time for the right person.

Area Fabulous Fifteen is on Fire as it continues its quest to be the best.

By Jane Craggs

Our Area Director has been pulling out the stops and by the end of 2018 will have visited all the clubs three times: once to get to know them and the clubs to get to know her, once for “the visit” and another time for fun. She always takes on a role and is supportive and helpful. Lynn Gregory is the power3 par excellence (i.e. cubed; ؞ better than X3). Well done to Lynn who has thrown herself wholeheartedly into the role, not being afraid to ask for advice and assistance; takes in her stride that some Toastmasters are not always as responsive and polite as she might expect; when to go the extra mile; when to say “no” and to speak her mind. All the clubs love her and look forward to her visits.

The four Chartered clubs: (in alphabetical order) Leeds City Toastmasters, Strictly Speaking Harrogate, White Rose Speakers and York EbOrators are all going from strength to strength, attracting visitors and signing up new members. Area Fabulous 15 is now small enough in area to make it easy to visit other clubs which is encouraged so members get that extra stimulation of seeing different speakers in a different environment but within the familiar safe confines of the Toastmasters structure. We hope this initiative will encourage members to visit clubs when they are away on business or on holiday. I never tire of telling the story of when I went to a meeting in Jaipur, India which, (sad Toastmaster that I am you may say) was one of the main highlights of our holiday. What a way to spend your 60th birthday …

The other clubs are all special: Asselby Advanced is a wonderful forum open to anyone with CC or above to experience hard-core meetings without the frills. We meet once a month and as an advanced club, we do not use up meeting-time describing the organisation or the roles as we assume these are known values. We can try out innovative ideas and the time is spent on in-depth evaluations. Bradford Speaks continues to grow and is situated in an ideal area for business and education. It is a pity they do not use easySPEAK, which I feel is a great tool that makes life easy for organisers, members, and District Officers to interact. Headingley Speakers, the latest pre-charter club is run, (for now), and supported by The Area Fabulous Fifteen Female Famous Five (also in alphabetical order) Jane Craggs, Clare Crowther (was 15, now 21), Lynn Gregory, Tina Norbury and Jean Stewart (was 15, now 21); no border issues for us! The valiant crew launching this new club put in the hours, the knowledge, the experience, and the love and are trying to create an exemplary Toastmasters club, meeting in a lovely historic venue. We hope to charter soon, very soon.

Happy Christmas to all and Happy toastmastering for 2019.

Area 21’s Newsletter contribution

By Becky Pennington

Many thanks to Murali, Andy and Matt for their respective sections and photos

Andrew Hodge has been running educational sessions with a twist at Hull Speakers. His interactive and energising sessions take place at the beginning of meetings and get members up on their feet and applying new techniques throughout the evening. Andrew’s sessions have focussed on different areas of being an effective speaker including stage anchoring, gesture archetypes, emotional states, and vocal variety. Andrew says, “We’ve all sat through ‘educational sessions’ from ‘experts’ that were a very delivery of content that could have been read off a website – I wanted to offer something that everyone, especially new people, with various learning styles would benefit from.”

Doncaster Speakers organised a special Toastmasters meeting for the graduates at Unipart Rail (President Andy Howell’s workplace). Six members of Doncaster Speakers performed roles, three graduates delivered icebreakers and eight took on Table Topics. The November meeting was a massive success, with Unipart Rail already requesting a follow-up session and is offering to pay for Toastmaster membership for all who attended. Unipart Rail’s Human Resources director Lucy Weaver and first-time ah counter summed up the meeting as “You nailed it! All was fantastic. Thank you.”

The Lord Mayor of Sheffield Councillor Anne Murphy visited Sheffield Speakers in January, delivering a speech on her life and role as Lord Mayor, which one member had the (daunting) task of evaluating. The Lord Mayor’s Consort Mr Gavin Holliday won in an innovative Table Topics session, where speakers had to sell new and ridiculous inventions revealed to them from behind closed doors!

In November, Sheffield hosted an action-packed Toastmasters event to celebrate the formation of the new Division N. Toastmasters enjoyed participating in a Murder Mystery icebreaker, watching the Humorous Speech and Table Topics contests, attending interactive workshops, and celebrating together with a meal and games. We hope that Area 21 set the bar high and look forward to future Division N events.

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