Archives for Case Studies

Mar 19 New Club Case Studies

Special Educational Section: New Club Case Studies

By Daniel Sandars Public Relations Manager

This month we have welcomed our ninth newly chartered club to the district in this program year (see map). This brings our number of active clubs to 204. Club Growth is a core function of a Toastmasters District embedded in our mission statement to “Build new Clubs and support all clubs in achieving excellence.” We all benefit by becoming a more dynamic and engaging community richer with opportunity and friendships. Congratulations to all involved.

We decided to write to the Toastmasters that are leading club growth to learn more about what they are doing and to pick up tips and best practice ideas. Case-studies give a holistic review including the bits that are not “in the manual” but were learnt the hard way!

Some background. Toastmasters’ clubs come in different types. Clubs can be open to all members in the community or have eligibility requirement restricted to an institution or restricted to members having completed a minimum number of Toastmasters speeches. Currently, in District 71, we have 174 community clubs, 26 Corporate clubs and four Advanced Clubs respectively. In addition, we have 18 prospect clubs who hold an application to organise and are working up to chartership status.

All these clubs are bricks and mortar clubs that, for part or all the time, meet face to face. Purely online clubs are possible, but they are not aligned to any District except for a notational global District U, Division O, Area 1. District U consists of 13 Community clubs, three Corporate clubs and six Advanced clubs in the world. Four of our members are building ‘Online Orators’ and we will hear from them shortly.

In contrast Gavel Clubs are a way of providing the Toastmasters experience for sectors of society that are ineligible for regular members. They are organised by a host institution and affiliated to Toastmasters International and adopt our procedure, program, materials and the services of Toastmasters international. “Gaveliers” have restricted access to awards and materials and cannot take part in Area and District speech contests. Regular members can gain invaluable experience of working with the community by helping. Gavel clubs don’t appear in District lists which makes them hard to find, but the Universities of Warwick and Birmingham both had/have recent examples.

In this section we hear from New Clubs:

  • Community Clubs – Listowel Toastmasters, Walsall Speakers, prospect Birmingham New Street Speakers, Liverpool City Toastmasters, and Stirling Speakers
  • Corporate Clubs – Irish Life Toastmasters,  prospect Cambridge Assessment/ Cambridge University Press Toastmasters, prospect AZ Darwin Speakers
  • Online Advance Club – prospect Online Operators

To conclude the section, we have a synthesis article from Angela on her key learning points

FAILTE LISTOWEL TOASTMASTERS

BY GERARD MANNIX, Club Growth Director

In July 2016 when I began the year as Area 36 Director I had some plans and dreams for the term of office. One of these was to establish a Toastmasters club in Listowel town in the southwest of Ireland. An intuitive sense was my driving force. This town and hinterland have a history of very talented literary people, and I assumed some of this gift could be tapped to form a new club. On the flip side statistics read that the town has a population of 4,820. Not an encouraging base as Toastmasters recommends a new club start up requires a population of 10,000. I spoke with some members of the Killarney, Tralee and West Limerick clubs as I realised having these on board would be an essential support to organise meetings. Also, I treated to lunch two very mature and wise Toastmasters, Celine Slattery and Sean Lyons to do a little brain searching to establish the viability of the venture. To my surprise they told me a club did not survive there about 20 years prior. Yet that did not scare me off!

The venue Listowel Arms Hotel was very easy to select as there is just one hotel in the town. The quotation was most attractive at 50 euros per meeting.

Then there was the marketing for the project. Posters were placed in shop windows, hair salons, pubs and public notice boards. Facebook was also used. A Kerry radio interview with the Presidents of the 3 clubs in the Area was included in the ‘happenings in Listowel’.

Having announced [prospect Listowel Toastmasters] to the three clubs it was decided to have the meetings on the second and fourth Thursdays of the month. This avoided a clash for meeting nights in the other clubs. The first meeting was in late September as there is an annual horse racing festival in mid-September.

The demo meeting was excellently supported by fellow Toastmasters in the Area. There were two guests……what a let-down. Was it doomed to fail? Meetings struggled on and in November we had an Open Night in John B Keane pub which was most successful.

A cover charge 5 euro per night and sign up to future membership was 110 euro. Progress was slow yet positive. As time went on it was word of mouth that was the greater marketing tool. There was also a great throughput of guests which provided finance to survive room rental.

The mechanics of Toastmasters was gradually introduced. Guests were invited and placed on next meeting to read a piece of prose or a poem. Time on, some who had joined worked out of the Competent Communicator and Leadership manuals. As numbers grew a basic committee was formed that is President, Secretary and Treasurer. They got to grips with the requirements excellently.

There have been very special people involved with use of word power. One lady who entertains us with her poetry. Superb storytelling in a natural tone. Michael Collins former District 71 Director on a visit to the fledgling club addressed the audience to say ‘this is the headquarters of literary Toastmasters’.

The club has been regarded by fellow Toastmasters as a very enjoyable evening and meeting. Many go to the bar afterwards

We reached in February 22 in membership. Charter has been sanctioned.

Now it’s time not to sit on the laurels. More marketing and public relations needed.

The club would need to look at an alliance with the annual Writer’s Week which is an annual International event. Wishing the capable mentors every intuitive success.

BASH TIME The Listowel Toastmasters Club are having a celebration night on the occasion of charter in the Listowel Arms Hotel on Friday 3rd May. Come for a Kerry weekend and partake in the evening.

I wish to pay tribute to the new members of Listowel Toastmaster and wish them a great future, also a thank you to the many, many, many fellow Toastmasters who helped in several ways, Billy and staff in John B Keane’s pub, those in supportive publicity, and the management and specially the great staff in Listowel Arms Hotel.

Crazy as the hobby of Toastmasters presents itself, there are great moments

Walsall Speakers and Birmingham New Street Speakers

By Asma Riaz, President Walsall Speakers; Tanya Barad Assistant Division E Director; and Mish Barad Area E42 Director

Walsall Speakers

We decided to start a club in Walsall (0.28 million population) as we noticed a big geographic gap for Toastmaster clubs. We had members in our home club who were travelling far from Walsall and felt that there was enough of a market there to hold a new club. We also saw it as a stepping stone to other areas e.g. Stoke (0.27 million population) which potential guests had enquired about. This is too far for us personally to travel from Solihull, but we have a vision that in the future other clubs will form off Walsall, eventually reaching these areas.

We had a core group of around 6 semi-experienced Toastmasters who helped us to form the club from the Demo meeting. This was necessary as it allowed the experience to be there for the new members to learn from but also allowed for the occasional evening we couldn’t attend, meaning the meetings could continue. What we found is that we often had to take on multiple roles and juggle roles around last minute and we saw inexperienced Toastmasters grow so fast into some of the strongest Toastmasters I know.

We provided our own capital and quickly found that we had to charge fees to be able to pay off our costs but also to have a pool of money to book the room for a decent number of meetings in advance. Because of this, we aimed for free Public Relations. Facebook and Eventbrite are our main platforms to advertise and a Toasthost website. Whilst there are some limitations to Toasthost, it is free and does the job, so I would always recommend it for new clubs. We tried putting posters up and emailing local companies but didn’t get much interest from this so did not continue. Towards the end, once we had more money, we used Meetup which has been good, but it is a balance of money. We also used local sites for example best of Walsall and sharing our Facebook posts on Walsall groups to spread the word. We are now using Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn in addition to Facebook, Meetup and EventBrite.

Pathways has not been much of an issue for Walsall speakers. As many of the members were new, they did not know any better. The only issue we had was that we were not an experienced club with years of refined processes, so it was harder to concentrate and implement Pathways as much as we would have as we had other things that needed focus such as member retention. Since then this has been improved and meetings are fuller, and everyone can take one role instead of two or three!

My tip would be to train up the new members quickly and allow them to take responsibility of the roles. You need a wide pool of people who can do all meeting roles, else it ends up the same people all the time and can be boring. New members can do an evaluation on their second meeting and then Table Topics Master on their 3rd. Let them have the opportunity, you will be surprised how well new members can do. You can also train members up with group evaluations or group general evaluations to train a large amount of people quickly.

We also put in a series of Educational speeches every second meeting to help the new speakers with the basics of effective evaluation, choosing speech topics etc.

Prospect Birmingham New Street Speakers

We set up New Street as we only had one community group and one corporate group in Birmingham. Birmingham has a very large population (1 million) and the community group was thriving, so we felt there was an opportunity to set up a different style group to offer a different learning environment. This was just before Pathways was implemented so we quickly found a couple of people who wanted to be involved as a club sponsor and mentor, providing the experience and motivation we needed.

It was hard to find a feasible venue in Birmingham due to the cost of being inner city. We were lucky to start off with a free venue but as the venue became more popular they were no longer able to host us, and we very quickly had to find another venue. My tip here would be to push the not-for-profit approach; it is amazing the discounts people will do for not for profit!

Being an inner-city club, we must really focus on the timing of the meeting as a lot of people have to leave on time for trains. This means that there is not as many people to help pack away the meeting and we don’t always get time to speak to guests who must leave quickly for public transport, so we put a lot of emphasis on timing and speaking to the guests in the break. Whilst we have a dedicated VP Membership, we all band together to talk to guests and try to convert them, as new members are crucial for pre-charter clubs. We felt hospitality requires a group effort, rather than all the work going onto one person during the meetings.

My top tip here would be to keep the meetings as close to a standard format as possible. We have had some meetings where we have only had 4 members but 5 guests. We kept to 2-3 speeches, evaluations and a table topics session and people have had to do speeches or pick up multiple roles. Regardless of how many people attend, I believe the paying members deserve to still learn the crucial meeting role skills and guests need to see a traditional meeting format to know if they want to join. It is hard and sometimes exhausting but you will find the members learn extremely quickly.

5 Steps to a Toastmasters Club: Liverpool City Toastmasters – est. January 1, 2019

By Angela Scott, President Liverpool City Toastmasters – Immediate Past Division E Director

Prior to 2019, many attempts had been made to start both community and corporate clubs in Liverpool (population 0.55 million). Each time, we learned from those who went before us, and made a concerted effort in 2018 to make things happen! In 2018 We finally found a winning formula:

  1. Have a Vision focused on Community and Member Benefits. A good vision makes it clear where others fit in and have room to join you. “I want to build a club,” is a compelling goal…to roughly less than 0.1% of the world’s population.
  2. Set your Budget. Whether your club is sponsored, or you put in initial funds yourself, take the time to work out an initial budget and ongoing cash flow for the first year. We used the new club budgeting tool designed by Steve Campion to develop a budget and set membership dues.
    1. Your Prospective Fee: Register immediately to start driving people from Toastmasters.org to your club, and to get an EasySpeak site.
    2. Marketing Materials: Website domains, printed flyers, timing lights – What will make your club feel like a professional group, up to Toastmaster standards?
    3. Banking: Keep your club expenses and cash flows separate from your personal accounts. Consider international payment fees and currency exchange rates.
    4. Operational funding: What happens if your free venue cancels on you? Will you have any social events? Which supplies will you order from HQ or source on your own?
  3. Help people find you. What’s most effective? C’mon. You already know.
    1. Face-to-Face: Your members and guests are the single best source of new guests. Between emails, phone calls, SMS, websites, post, flyers… Face-to-Face communication remains the least crowded communication channel and is boosted by personal trust. Lead by example; attend networking events and share your own story. Make sure guests walk away from meetings knowing exactly how to contact you and share information.
    2. EventBrite: This works extremely well to promote an Educational Workshop. These users are likely to attend if they’ve RSVP’d; they usually know what they’re looking for and are willing to commit. Set up automated reminder emails. You can link events to your Facebook page.
    3. Meetup: An inexpensive option when shared amongst clubs in an area. Meetup users are mainly looking for occasional or social pursuits; actual turnout is about 50% of the RSVP’s.
    4. Facebook: Best for keeping former guests and members engaged. Paid ads didn’t create any leads for us. More useful was sharing our information on OTHER clubs’ pages, to capture the interest of former members who are now local to us.
    5. Google AdWords: Only works to promote the domain it’s registered to. For example, we couldn’t promote EventBrite events because we don’t own the EventBrite domain. Could have a large scope if you get your own domain, and someone with the expertise to link them.
  4. Operate like a chartered club AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. Guests to your demo night should experience what they will get as members. That means:
    1. Have a regular meeting place and frequency. People respond to routines. The #1 question you need to be able to answer is “When can I come back?” Always be ready to answer this question!
    2. Don’t cancel. Be ready to adapt and shift, just like you would normally. Sometimes your members will have 2 or 3 roles, sometimes guests will get roles, sometimes you have only one speaker and turn the meeting into an evaluation workshop…
    3. Include regular Educational Speeches. While common in traditional meetings, an educational on Speech-Writing is especially relevant to new members. When publicized properly, it encourages guests to attend.
    4. YES, you should collect dues before you have the 20 members needed to charter and follow the standard refund policy.
    5. New members should receive information about the Icebreaker, and a glimpse into Level 1 projects. Yes, you can complete your first 3 speeches before the club charters and get credit for it!
  5. Let Leaders Emerge. Perhaps the hardest thing to do as an experienced member, is to delegate important tasks to total strangers. Nevertheless, the success of your club depends on it! Make it easy for people to help you:
    1. The world is smaller than you know; someone you know will have a surprising and serendipitous connection. Ask for advice and let everyone know what you need to get you through the next hurdle.
    2. Avoid dates that conflict with other nearby clubs.
    3. Members pursuing higher awards may want extra practice, and new audiences.
    4. Let lapsed members know that Toastmasters is coming to their town! Distance is a common reason for members to leave a club.
    5. Delegate roles and tasks; use John Cox’s toolkit for ready-made templates.
    6. Allow for people to make mistakes and recover from them.

Milton Keynes Confident Speakers

Binal Sawjani, Area H44 Director and Jenny Chalmers DTM

The idea for a lunchtime club came from a member in Area 44 and an exploratory meeting was held in May and meetings started in June to gauge if the idea had scope in the area. 7 September was our official demo meeting – where the Mayor was in attendance. The demo meeting attracted over 50 guests and we started taking memberships with gusto.

The club had no seed capital; the initial money to start was paid out of our own pockets and repaid later. Members paid dues to the club from the beginning, so we gradually built up enough money to pay for chartering. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to established Toastmasters in the area who gave us lots of support by taking on key roles and delivering speeches in the early stage meetings.

Finding a venue was a challenge; we wanted a city centre location with easy parking. We are very fortunate to have been offered a venue by the NatWest Accelerator Programme in Milton Keynes. It meets our criteria and has state of the art technology.

In the early stages, we found interested people by word of mouth and social media. We also put posters in libraries, supermarkets and local centres; issued local press releases; asked members to bring a friend; went on local radio to sing the praises of Toastmasters; started a Facebook page; used Meetup and Eventbrite and our own mailing list of people who had expressed an interest. After the demo meeting, we found Eventbrite the best channel; we also sent at least two email reminders between meetings.

Pathways has made chartering harder as you have no manual to give the keen new member. Each new member gets two booklets: Fundamentals of Public Speaking and A Toastmaster Wears Many Hats but these don’t really compare with giving new members the legacy CC and CL manuals. As members couldn’t choose their paths until they were officially members, we couldn’t use EasySpeak to help with meeting administration.

Tips for anyone planning to start a club include

  • Know that it will be hard, but keep the faith and encourage each other
  • Aim to have a chartering team whose skills complement each other
  • always Remember your Unique Selling Point (USP); ours is tight time management: we finish on the dot of 1.15pm
  • Don’t try to do everything yourself
  • Encourage new members to take on roles as soon as possible
  • Remember that we are all different: some people will disappoint, and others will be amazing

The reward at the end of the chartering process is seeing new members’ enthusiasm and growth. It makes up for the trials and tribulations along the way! The Club charted January 2019.

Stirling Speakers

By Nicholas Mockler, Stirling Speakers

When and why did the plan to start this club begin?

Short Story…

The main reason to start up a club was due to having a club closer to my own doorstep. I’d imagine that’s how a lot of clubs start when you have a wee bit of a ‘Chicken and Egg’ situation! However, there were a number of key events and chance encounters that led to making this a reality, which had included: 1) getting involved with a pre-charter club nearby; 2) a year’s committee experience in a club where all the committee members were pulling their weight and firing on all cylinders as a team, and 3) networking with people from other clubs, who may happen to have the same idea as you.

Long Story…

After a two-year period of admiring Toastmasters from afar, I finally made the decision to join Toastmasters after six months of living in Scotland. In November 2015, the first club I joined was Perth Toastmasters, which is about 40 minutes’ drive from where I was living in Stirling. I found it peculiar that Stirling had no club, despite being a town with a decent population size (~40,000), and a University to boot. The idea of starting a club was something that I had thought about from the first meeting attended in Perth but hadn’t a clue in how to go about it!

A chain of events led to the converting of an idea into a reality. Dunfermline Toastmasters started up in early 2016. I attended a meeting during Summer 2016, and I was inspired by how it had started; Sam Forsberg who founded the club attended only one meeting in Perth about two months before I joined the club. Because of being inspired by the meeting and the Toastmasters mission, she decided to try and start a club in Dunfermline, to have something closer to home on an evening that was more convenient. After Sam asked if I could attend meetings regularly to help, I went one step further and joined the club as one of the original 20 to eventually help the club charter. This experience allowed me to oversee the dynamics of chartering a club in terms of the ‘ups and downs’ that can happen, always with the idea of potential for a club in Stirling at the back of my mind.

I was a regular member in Dunfermline but was not involved behind the scenes. The reason for this was I had commitments to Perth as the Vice President of Membership (VPM). We had a fantastic year during 2016/17 in Perth Toastmasters, whereby we scored 10/10 DCP points, a remarkable achievement for a small community club outside of the cities.

Despite most of our committee having no previous experience, we led the club to its most successful year to date, and individually I was awarded a runner up District 71 VPM of the year plaque. The VPM role, provided you’re doing the job, allows for more in depth insight into the dynamics of guest attendance and engagement, whilst devising ways in how best to promote the club. In Perth, I was very fortunate to work alongside a terrific committee who were doing their jobs brilliantly and I learned a lot. The result of the whole experience instilled the belief and confidence to undergo the initiative to start a new club.

How easy was it to build the team to support this start-up?

From the start, we had five members; four of us were experienced and had a very reliable attendance record (90-95%). Having experience from clubs situated in towns with a similar population size, I could readily identify from the beginning that this was not going to be easy, and certainly not something I was going to do all by myself.

Luckily Avril Stinger had heard that I was interested in starting up a club in Stirling, something that she and various others have wanted to do for years. By chance, I had also met Anne Murray at a Division S contest a year before we kick started the club. With almost 10 years’ experience, Anne was formerly a member of Southside Speakers in Glasgow but had moved to Stirling in her retirement. I agreed with Anne that day should anything substantial in terms of starting a new club in Stirling takes off, she’d be one of the first to know. Iain Wesley (formerly Epsom Speakers in the previous century!) also lives in Stirling who we had as a contact, and his daughter Fiona was also keen to join. Everything else built up from there.

Was it easy to obtain the seed capital and find a good venue?

Although Stirling is very central and well connected to the rest of Scotland, it is not an easy town to get around in. In terms of accessibility, it’s a struggle to find a central venue that satisfies people who drive, and those who are within walking distance and/or use public transport. Cost is also a big issue. Invariably, it seems a lot of clubs I’ve come across in Scotland outside of Glasgow and Edinburgh choose out of town venues to keep costs down to something that’s reasonable. Whether this influences guests attending meetings is something I cannot gauge. We meet in a council run venue that’s just fine and very reasonably priced, and none of our members have expressed any disdain towards the venue.

What PR did you use and in hind sight what PR worked best to attract guests?

When promoting, you’re invariably going to face a lot of disappointment and empty promises. The following list elaborates on how things worked for us, although different clubs around the district will have different experiences. The key thing is to try everything!

  1. Paid Facebook Advertising – Worked best – we recruited 6 members this way. There’s no specific pattern to ‘how and ‘when’ you advertise, but I’d recommend New Year’s, as January-April always seem to be a peak period for recruiting new members, from my experience.
  2. Meetup – Largely useless – Ironically, we signed up two people just before we decided to cancel the subscription! You can spread the cost by subscribing along with two other clubs in your area.
  3. Eventbrite – Useless.
  4. Local Newspaper – Not a single guest, but free publicity.
  5. Twitter – Good for spreading the word and can be connected to Facebook page updates. We engaged with people who gave us a follow and seemed keen to visit, but we’re still waiting on that first visitor through Twitter!
  6. Local radio appearance – Didn’t work for attracting guests, although it was a show that’s broadcast on a Sunday afternoon.
  7. Club website – We seem to get a decent few enquiries, but no one has either attended or joined.
  8. Within the community – I got involved with several community events, which serve as a means for us to showcase our skills outside of TM to the public. I was master of ceremonies at a music event attended by 200 people, pitched at the Stirling Soup fundraiser event for groups and organisations doing positive things within the community, spoke to an evening class in the Forth Valley College who had people with a categorical interest in public speaking as they aspire to a career in teaching, and two of us performed at the Stirling Burn’s Club supper. I never go to these events with high hopes that we’ll attract guests or new members, but at least it gets the word out. Delighted to say at the time of writing that we recruited two new members because of the Forth Valley College and Burn’s Supper ventures!

Did the transition to Pathways create new opportunities or challenges to chartering a club?

We started the club before Pathways rollout and received the old charter pack that included the CC and CL manuals. The biggest challenge for us now as a chartered club is to get our members to enrol onto Pathways.

What would be your tip to anyone planning to start a new club?

Don’t go it alone. Assemble a team of at least five people by default that have some TM experience, are going to show up to almost every meeting, willing to participate on the club’s committee, willing to do multiple meeting roles, and fully engaged in the programme in terms of aiming for educational goals. The dynamic of most community TM clubs is that there’s several individuals who do a lot behind the scenes who are effectively the ”glue” that holds the club together through its ups and downs. In my opinion, you need this dynamic from the very beginning, at least in the case of smaller community clubs.

Be ready for lots of disappointments and let downs. The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that reliability is a virtue. If you simply show up all the time and keep your promise, you’re already well ahead in life professionally and personally.

If you get into this expecting instant gratification and quick results, you’re going to end up very disappointed. We’re a small community club in a country where Toastmasters is not a well-established brand, and clubs that have gone before us took a while to charter. Perth took a year, Dunfermline took 18 months, and Livingston took nearly 4 years! We took 15 months to charter, and I had known beforehand how long the other clubs mentioned took to charter.

Following on from the above, you’ll likely have your critics. From my experience they’re normally people who have no capacity for selflessness, and no substantial or proven experience as a club VP Education, VP Membership, or VP Public Relations. Ignore them, and revel in the satisfaction that comes from significant developments and achievements that proves these kinds of people wrong. For example, I was coming under fire due to a lack of initiative to engage with Stirling University. I knew on my Assistant Area 43 Director’s run that relying upon a student-based membership is haphazard and unsustainable, having sadly had first-hand experience of seeing the downfall of the St. Andrews University TM club that only had student membership during term time. Any students, who have come through our doors, have validated my intuition; not even one joined, due to being incapable of making a commitment.

Be ever present as the leader, and continuously maintain and articulate to all the member’s that they’re all making a very important contribution into a vision that’s geared towards chartering the club. You often hear the bigwigs in the organisation coin the phrase ”Remember the Member” which indeed is true. If you’re arrogant, obstinate, and completely ignorant of a member’s needs, give up the notion of chartering and running a successful club.

This has arguably been one of the most selfless endeavours I’ve ever undertaken in my life. Not only is it a selfless endeavour, but it’s also a terrific exercise in vindicating your approach to how you feel a club should be run, particularly if you’ve had bad meeting experiences and put up with nonsense on committees and higher up the political chain. Toastmasters exhibit a positive exterior but can have its ugly side too as the good old-fashioned human endeavours of jealousy and prejudice rear their ugly heads. This is your opportunity to rectify the ”ugly” by doing the right thing by abiding to Toastmasters core values of Respect, Integrity, Service, and Excellence. If you exhibit those principles on the stage and lead by example, the result will be very gratifying as your personality and approach will shine through the club’s culture.

Irish Life Toastmasters

Ronan Kearney, President Irish life Toastmasters

When and why did the plan to start this club begin?

Our new club here in Irish Life got off the ground in October 2018. I’ve been a member of Dublin South Toastmasters since 2015 and I had seen that a lot of members were encouraged to join by their employers. So, I thought it would be ideal to set up a club in Irish Life. It’s a large organisation with over 2000 staff so I was confident that there would be interest.

New Club Case Studies

How easy was it to build the team to support this start-up?

Fortunately, there was plenty of interest within Irish Life to begin with. Several members of Google Phonics Toastmasters club assisted us with a launch which boosted interest further. We also have a couple of experienced Toastmasters within Irish Life who, along with a core group of new members, were key in getting the new club up and running.

Was it easy to obtain the seed capital and find a good venue?

Yes, we have a supportive Sports & Social club in Irish Life who have been behind us from the beginning. We also have regular access to an ideal meeting room.

What PR did you use and in hind sight what PR worked best to attract guests?

We used a few different approaches. To begin with we placed posters around the Irish Life complex. We then set up a group on Facebook Workplace inviting those interested to join and a few weeks later held the launch. It was the combination of these approaches that was effective. In terms of raising awareness though, you still can’t beat an attention-grabbing poster in the coffee area!

Did the transition to Pathways create new opportunities or challenges to chartering a club?

Given that we have so many members that are new to Toastmasters, the transition to Pathways hasn’t been an issue. It’s probably been an ideal time to start a new club for this reason. We’ve already had 10 Ice Breaker speeches and our members are now just getting started on their individual Pathways so exciting times ahead.

What would be your tip to anyone planning to start a new club?

Give it a shot. You’re almost guaranteed to have plenty of interested people. Put the word out, arrange a launch event and see who turns up!

Exploring the Journey of setting up a new Toastmaster Corporate Club!!!

By Sultan Kus, Past President of Cambridge Speakers (Division G)

In my experience of finding a new club prospect, the first things to consider are having the right mind-set and commitment! Time, Time and Time! How much can someone give? The more you give, the more the subsequent returns.

Second, it’s very important to have a team that can support and complement the leader. As a leader you need another person to work very closely who is committed and who shares your vision but who brings different skills and experience and thinking to the mix.

In June 2018 Cambridge Assessment contacted us to get some information on how Toastmasters International works. They were also looking at scheduling some public speaking training and wondered whether Cambridge Speakers Club could provide that.

As the current club President, I gathered more information from them to ascertain exactly what they wanted to do. It seemed more sensible to meet them face-to-face to explore their requirements further and explain how we could help to cater for their needs. I knew that we were not going to deliver one- or two-days training, but rather to create a space for their employees to develop ongoing leadership and public speaking skills.

Collaboration is one of the things I really pay attention to and act on. This has afforded me the opportunity to develop my team work and support skills should these be needed during this journey. But initially, as having worked closely with our Vice-President of Education Luc Moreau (2017-2018), I asked him to join me on this journey. Fortunately, he enthusiastically accepted the offer! We both have experience working at Cambridge University and I am also a Cambridge alumnus. We were aware of how Cambridge Assessment and Cambridge University Press worked.

Fellow Toastmaster Luc Moreau comes from a different background. He used his well-organized, forward thinker, detailed-oriented and questioning mind-set skills. I used my creative and analytical skills ‘can do’ attitude and decision-making.

Some of the points below which led us on the path to success are outlined as follows:

  1. Having a transparent, cooperative and trustworthy person to work with together with strong communication channels and opportunities to discuss as the project progresses.
  2. Ensuring both parties (i.e. me and Luc) were aligned in our thinking to deliver one consistent message before reaching the company
  3. Always CC everyone in the email communication chain to ensure everyone is kept informed with the progress and processes involved
  4. Acquire all relevant information – get to know them – their mindset, values and policies, amongst the employees as well as the employer
  5. Adopt a flexible attitude, find out how best to work closely with them,
  6. Ideally a tailor-made approach is important. Aim to meet their needs rather than strive for what you think might be best. Let them lead meetings
  7. Listen carefully, be the responsible toastmaster and promote them
  8. Maintain an open mind-set and look after those who may be quieter than others
  9. Organise an open night to cater for everyone. At Cambridge Speakers Club we are proud of being a very diverse club. The way we organized our demo meeting, made sure speakers were based around identifying those who were introvert (in general the ‘softer’ speakers), extrovert (louder speakers), Female, Male, those who have English as their first language, those with English as their second language, and differing age groups. By identifying diverse speakers this way, we ensured everyone felt included and had some connection with the speakers.
    The ultimate demo meeting was attended by over 60 people, from which more than 20 subsequently applied to become members. In short, it was an extremely successful demo meeting!
  10. As a corporate club, membership fees were paid by the organization. This made it easier for the club to go ahead.
  11. Finally, I would recommend reach out to ask for support and address outstanding questions. Fellow Toastmasters are extremely generous with sharing their time and knowledge. Everyone wants you to succeed.

Prospect corporate AZ Darwin Speakers

Toyin Kasali ACB ALB coordinator

  1. When and why did the plan to start this club begin?

    The plan for the club started last year in 2018 because coming from an organisation with a corporate toastmaster’s club, it seemed right to initiate a club where there wasn’t one at AZ.

  2. How easy was it to build the team to support this start-up?

    It was not easy, and the team is not complete yet. However, we have a group of committed club officers and professionals who are keen to see the new club succeed. We also have support from some of our senior leaders but getting further manager/leadership support would be key to the successful running of the club and the team is working on this.

  3. Was it easy to obtain the seed capital and find a good venue?

    No seed capital was required, and company offices are sufficient for us to use, however, the team is still working on securing funds for the committee to use for other activities beyond membership.

  4. What PR did you use and in hind sight what PR worked best to attract guests?

    PR activities we’ve used include displaying fliers internally on announcement boards, promotional events held during lunchtimes, intranet site invitations and posts on intranet sites.

  5. Did the transition to Pathways create new opportunities or challenges to chartering a club?

    The club does not currently have access to pathways, however, some of our members are eager to get involved once we become chartered. It would be great if new clubs could have some access to Pathways when they start to encourage members and keep them engaged.

What would be your tip to anyone planning to start a new club?

A good tip would be to have committed club officers and supporters from the organisation. We are lucky to have wonderful club officers who are helping to drive engagement and grow the club.

Prospect Online Orators

By Binal Sawjani, Helen Tait, Sue McQueen, and Eddie O’Mahony

When you are having dinner with a group of friends – Toastmaster friends no less – isn’t it lovely to share an idea and have it come into fruition… that is exactly what happened with Online Orators, during the SafeHaven 2018 conference. We felt that in the online space there was plenty of room for a new club, especially when so many people use video-conferencing daily in both their work and personal lives. The online club makes things more accessible for people who struggle to make physical meetings whether for their own health reasons or because they’re carers or because they want to go to an Advanced club, but time is an issue to fit in another meeting. Online Orators is the answer as we have no geographic boundaries

From the outset, the four founders were on board immediately and were wildly enthusiastic about creating a new platform for toastmasters to experience a different type of meeting environment. Being with like-minded people that sharing the same vision is also a far more rewarding experience.

The club had no seed capital; the initial money to start was paid out of our own pockets and repaid later but we do not face the same issues as a “bricks and mortar” club as all we needed to do was to get organised with name, dates some information to promote and go online! The costs are for license and Toastmaster fee for Application to Organise form. While there are several technical solutions out there that would have facilitated the online club environment, Binal was already a super-user with Zoom and once she had walked the rest of us through the software and capabilities there was no doubt on anyone’s part that it was the best fit for us. One of the unique selling points for the club is the non-reliance on a physical venue to get together in – our members can dial in from wherever suits them – especially handy when someone travels for work!

So far, we have been reliant on word of mouth and Facebook to promote our presence. This allowed us to start slow and steady so that we became proficient with the tool before exposure to others!! In retrospect we could have been more aggressive in marketing to our current network and had a core number of Toastmasters then we would be further down the line on member recruitment. This also is everyone second or third club and with one pathways ambassador and one area director in the mix and there is not a lot of time left for this project. But we recently got set up on EasySpeak, so this will help getting our message out there. In the months leading up to the end of this T.M. year we hope to increase our presence on Social Media and hopefully get some of our fellow toastmasters across the district and the world to spread the word…

As this is technically an advanced as well as dual club, one of the issues we had to tackle early on was where to set the membership line with respect to people’s Pathways journeys. This would have possibly been easier if we were working in the legacy program or solely in with Pathways, but the hybrid/transition phase we are in now has made things a little tricky. Ultimately, it’s a learning experience for all of us.

Tips for anyone planning to start a club include:

  • Know your market niche and where you intend to get your members from before you do anything
  • Time – don’t underestimate the time it takes to devote to a project when starting a club
  • Find a Unique Selling Point (USP) and make sure everyone knows what the club stands for

As the founder members responsibilities reduce over the next few months this project is sure to succeed! Online Orators meets on 1st and 3rd Tuesday’s online at 7.30pm click https://zoom.us/meeting/register/9701ead29ad00e8dcde7dc3c8da9331e to register.

Three Things I didn’t know about Starting a Club

Angela Scott, President Liverpool Speakers – Immediate Past Division E Director

1)    MONEY

No one wants to talk about money! How much to charge, when to charge, how to handle refunds? I prepared for all this.

I didn’t anticipate:

  • That our free venue would cancel our December reservation to take a paying event.
  • That Charter Members pay a full 6-month membership, regardless of the time of year the club charters.

To be clear: Your first payment to TI will be at least $1300 USD, regardless of the timing of your paperwork. Fortunately, we were able to handle both hurdles, because had an operating surplus after our first 6 months as a Prospective Club. We had prepared for the unexpected.

2)    Flexibility

I’ve heard it said that one should focus on the Goal and be flexible on the method. Our goal is to provide a positive, fun, learning environment for our guests and members. We planned Educational Sessions, Guest Speakers, Extended Table Topics, Workshops… but sometimes,

Meetings got EXTRA-SPECIAL

  • Members taking on 2 or more roles in one meeting
  • Speakers evaluating one another
  • General Evaluator does all evaluations
  • Guests fill roles
  • Unpaid members give speeches
  • What’s this handout? I found 15 copies; now it’s a workshop!
  • Congratulations Single Speaker, Now you’re the Target Speaker! Impromptu Evaluation Workshop/ Contest.

Experienced Toastmasters agree – the audience wants to see you succeed. Just act like you know what you’re doing, and with a little humor, you’ll get through it.

3)    The world is small – ASK.

When an acquaintance from a networking group contacted me a year after we’d met, I set him an impossible task: Secure a venue in central Liverpool with audio visual capabilities, access to transport and parking, for a series of seven 2.5-hour Demo meetings, at £50 per meeting.

I reckoned there was an 85% chance I’d never hear from him again.

  • 7 days later, I had a venue, with
  • Complimentary tea and water
  • A podium
  • A flip chart
  • FREE, on the condition that
  • they can promote it to their clients.

Was that LUCK? I had shared my vision with hundreds of people by then; this was the last piece to come into place. Whatever your lynchpin is, be clear about what you need to succeed. Give others the chance to join you in creating a vibrant club. (Good thing I learned to network, by joining Toastmasters!)

Special Educational Section: Community Outreach Programs

Special Educational Section: Community Outreach Programs

Many of our members are actively taking their Toastmaster skills out into the community. Their endeavours raise Toastmasters International’s profile, attracting new members to our clubs whilst having fun and enriching their skills. Here a series of articles have been collated where they share their experiences and tips for best practice.

The articles are broken down into three main sub sections. One each for the two-main community-based programs of Toastmasters International 1) the Youth Leadership Program (for young adults with safeguarding arrangements) and 2) Speechcraft (for adults). The final subsection is devoted to diverse examples that go beyond this, such as judging outside speaking competitions and training or presenting to non-members

Toastmaster Isweri Pillay (Clonmel Toastmasters, Ireland) reviewed this section. Isweri was actively planning for a corporate Speechcraft that is now underway and summed it up better than I.

That is a wealth of experience in these pages. People have been so generous with their contributions. 3 take home messages for me. Be flexible, prepare well and network to get support from other Toastmasters.”

Due to the volume of submissions the Community Program section has been split into three separate print editions of the District Newsletter. This edition we start with the Youth Leadership Program. For the keen the other two outreach topics are available online now

But first some incentives to get you started

Outreach Programme Incentives

John Cox, Program Quality Director

 

Youth Leadership and Speechcraft programmes are a wonderful way to put all that Toastmasters experience into practice, helping youngsters and other members of our communities to gain the benefits of our Toastmasters programmes. It will also help to raise the profile of Toastmasters and gain new members and clubs. District can support clubs running brand new outreach programmes through the provision of advice and guidance, marketing and promotional materials, and Programme Kits worth over $30. Contact Program Quality Director John Cox for more information.

The Youth Leadership Program (YLP) – Case Studies

Speechcraft case studies

Diverse Community Outreach case studies

Diverse Community Outreach case studies

Diverse Community Outreach Activities

Outreach is an activity of providing services to any populations who might not otherwise have access to those services. A key component of outreach is that the groups providing it are not stationary, but mobile; in other words they are meeting those in need of outreach services at the locations where those in need are. In addition to delivering services, outreach has an educational role, raising the awareness of existing services

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Outreach

Community outreach extends beyond the Youth Leadership Program and Speechcraft. This is an embryonic section at present, but so far includes:

  1. Sam organizing two training days for the public based on the Better Speaker and Leadership Excellence series of educational speeches,
  2. Daniel describing how Area H44 have worked with redundancy re skill charity Careers Action to lay on educational demonstration meetings and a workshop, and
  3. Pat describes how Speakeasy Toastmasters Club (Mallow) spearheads an annual schools speaking competition.
  4. Unipart Rail threw down the challenge of organizing a Toastmasters Taster Session and Andy tells us how Doncaster Speakers took it up.
  5. Hertfordshire Speakers’ Elizabeth Jordan describes how Toastmasters’ members teamed up to help deliver a recent Rotary Youth Speaks Competition.

Read More

Speechcraft case studies

Speechcraft

Speechcraft

If you are an experienced member, Speechcraft is a great opportunity for you to present the fundamentals of public speaking to non-members. It can be offered as an integral part of your club meeting or as a seminar-style program presented outside of your club. The content can be delivered in four, six or eight sessions.

https://www.toastmasters.org/education/speechcraft

In this section we have assembled a diverse range of examples of Speechcraft programs from District 71 and even drawn in an example from New Zealand! The hard won experience behind these case studies will be invaluable to those planning Speechcraft and very fascinating reading for us all. We have so far:

  • Patricia describes the program at Dundalk Institute of Technology (DKIT) and provides a clear guide for the mechanics of the course and her passion for it
  • Danny uses experience from Leicester Leaders to provide much of the strategic thinking needed for planning Speechcraft
  • Sandra reports from the ‘coal face’ as her Speechcraft within the company of Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals Ireland completes to rave reviews from the participants. They were left wanting more!
  • Pat and Teresa describe the Speechcraft in Clondalkin Toastmasters that used an innovative WhatsApp group to keep participants in the loop and engaged – many remained members and two did very well in the contests.
  • Billy describes the Speechcraft inspired Boot Camps he organized to help coach Plain Speakers back to health by opportunistically utilizing the very scarce manpower and financial resources. Three participants became members going on to become committee members.
  • Daniel, Sultan and Luc describe how Cambridge Speakers opened the door to Cambridge University with a Speechcraft for six masters law students which lead to a further inquiry which lead to the application to organized a new corporate club
  • Bob reflects strategically on Speechcraft Camulodunum Speakers run with the University of Essex Public Speaking Society revealing the mechanisms, constraints and opportunities of Toastmastering within Academia.
  • Daniel, Alistair, and Mike  provide a very insightful description of the innovative New Zealand concept of community based Speechcraft Clubs to be found in most major population centres

Read More

The Youth Leadership Program (YLP) – Case Studies

The Youth Leadership Program (YLP) – Case Studies

The Youth Leadership Program is a workshop consisting of eight one- to two-hour sessions that enable young people under the age of 18 to develop their communication and leadership skills through practical experience. The program is presented during or after school, or on weekends. In the workshop, young people learn valuable skills including:

In the section we have two articles from first-time YLP coordinators and three from more seasoned coordinators. In among them there is one article where a mother joined Toastmasters because of the impact YLP had on her daughter at school presented as a mother daughter interview. These are fascinating stories of working with the young laden with golden nuggets of ideas.

A First for Area H20: Youth Leadership Program at Hertfordshire Secondary School

Elizabeth Jordan DTM (Hertfordshire Speakers) and Liz Burnett (East Herts Speakers)

The first YLP in Area H20 was led by Elizabeth Jordan from Hertfordshire Speakers and Liz Burnett from East Hertfordshire Speakers. It is hoped that following the success of this program, the YLP will become more wide-spread in clubs across Division H.

Over the eight-week period, each student delivered prepared speeches, Table Topics and participated in debates on topics chosen by the students. They enjoyed taking on the familiar roles of Evaluator, Grammarian, Ah-Counter, Joke-master, Toastmaster and Timer and Liz and I were constantly amazed by their enthusiasm and willingness to learn. Their speeches made us laugh, cry and smile.

We believe that three key factors contributed to the success of the program:

  • Staunch support from the Sponsor teacher at the school throughout the program. The sponsoring teacher was known to Liz through her work with the Rotary club which sponsors the ‘Rotary Youth Speaks’ program at Sir John Lawes School. We also benefited from the support of the Division Director, Steve Campion, who attended a YLP session.
  • Thorough preparation and planning before and during the 8-week session. Elizabeth and Liz benefited enormously from the support of experienced YLP leaders including Sam Warner and Brendan Haughton, and from Vicky Lester and Rose Marie Calder. Attendance at online YLP workshops and attending District conference workshops have also been invaluable.
  • Most importantly, having a cadre of young students who were willing to engage enthusiastically with the program and take a lead in the weekly planning and delivery of the sessions.
YLP Class of July 2018, Sir John Lawes School, Harpenden
at the Showcase Event in July

The Sponsoring teacher chose fourteen Y9 students (13 years old) to join the YLP program for varying reasons:

  1. Promising speakers who would benefit easily,
  2. Students with very little experience who would benefit significantly, and
  3. Some with specific needs e.g. a student with a stammer.

It’s a testament to her good judgment and the students’ enthusiasm that 12/14 (86%) remained for the duration of the program which culminated in the final Showcase event in July.

One parent showed her gratitude when she said: “I was amazed to see my son standing up and actually giving a speech. You have done an excellent job with him. Thank You.” In the words of the Sponsoring teacher, Ms Aikman: “Toastmasters was a fantastic opportunity for our students. There was a noticeable difference in both the confidence and presentation skills of the students that took part. In addition, the students had opportunities to clarify and challenge their own thinking in a supportive environment.”

Abbeyfield School, Northampton, Youth Leadership Programme (January – March 2018)

Vicky Lester, Cranfield Speakers Club (sponsoring club)

On Friday 12 January 2018, the YLP started with 19 students taking part, ending with session 8 on Friday 23 March 2018 with 16. This was a new journey, not only for the students at Abbeyfield, but for me with it being the first time being involved with this programme. I had a great mentor who helped me understand the full workings of the programme and support that would be needed to make it a success.

As a summary of the programme, I would say that it was a success, and some of the reasons why are that:

  • those that took part were made aware of Toastmasters as an organisation that can help them develop their communication and leadership skills.
  • they completed the programme knowing the basics of how to organise a good speech, and how to deliver it.
  • they took on different leadership roles and understood chairmanship.
  • they learnt what things to avoid, and that sometimes you DO need to prepare and practice!
  • those that engaged with the programme really improved in their speech structure and delivery during the programme, brilliant to see!

There are learning points that I will pass on and remember for next time, these include:

  • making sure the school does not force any students to participate; they must want to be there as otherwise it can (and did) have an impact on the other students.
  • have a fellow Toastmaster assist you, just to help share the preparation and distinct roles you take on as a coordinator within the meetings. I was the only coordinator with this programme and it was quite a challenge and steep learning curve.
  • be prepared for about half way through to feel like it’s not working, and you want to give up. For me it was that students were not preparing their speeches and doing any preparation for the sessions. However, I’m pleased to say it can turnaround if you 1) keep highlighting the benefits for them and 2) have regular debrief sessions with the Head Teacher (as I did) on the engagement in the room to bring any struggles you’re having to their attention.

And finally, a key thing to remember is that they are 16-18 year olds! They are going to forget to bring their manuals, and they won’t fully appreciate the importance and benefits of the YLP as you do, but, they will have their manuals to keep, and I like to think that the group of students I worked with now know where Toastmasters is when the penny drops and they realise the importance of communicating and leading effectively!

The Youth Leadership Program at Holy Family School for the Deaf

Maggie Owens, Athy Toastmasters Club

Have you ever felt awkward during conversations with colleagues, acquaintances, neighbours and even family members? How would you feel standing up before an audience? Many people feel uncomfortable when they are trying to make a connection during a verbal exchange. So, you can imagine for some Deaf people this awkwardness can be multiplied by ten!

As a fellow Toastmaster and a Teacher of the Deaf I am a great advocate of the Youth Leadership Programme (YLP) on helping our Deaf students to reduce the awkwardness, uncomfortableness, and the stress in communicating to a larger group of people and individuals. The YLP is a programme by Toastmasters that is designed to develop the speaking and leadership skills of young people.

In the past 4 years our school, the Holy Family School for the Deaf had an eight weeks YLP programme with our Transition Year students. Introducing the Youth Leadership Programme into Holy Family School for the Deaf was initially a challenge due to the variety of communication styles of the students. Some of the students communicate through Irish Sign Language (ISL), others with Total Communication and some with Speech only. But promoting language acquisition through effective communication epitomises the teaching styles of our school.

One thing that works very well is to get previous YLP students who had completed the programme to come to talk to the current YLP students and to share their experience. This is an excellent idea, as all the students engaged in a small group discussion about the programme and participated in some impromptu speeches. The collaboration inspired our students and they became very excited about the prospect of starting the Youth Leadership Programme. The meeting also gave our students an insight into the programme before they embarked on it.

I also feel having an experience Toastmaster to come into the school and to help you co-ordinate the YLP is very effective. We are very privileged and honoured to have an experience toastmaster Brendan Haughton who comes to our meeting every week. His input, feedback, and evaluations to all the students have been very valuable.

Observing the students, I witnessed each one of the students overcome their shyness, their habits – such as hands stuck inside pockets while speaking, lack of connection with audience by not using eye contact etc. I saw them creating and presenting very memorable and effective speeches on topics of their own choosing such as “Learning to sail a Boat”, “The day I got my Junior Cert Results” “My love for GAA” and many more. I felt privileged and proud to see the students enhance their eloquence, their interaction and leadership skills through their preferred mode of communication (ISL, Total Communication, Speech) within the friendly environment of the Youth Leadership Programme.

This programme proved to be a HUGE SUCCESS, so much so that the principal of our school Eimear O Rourke introduced it as a full time two period subject for the entire year. This is a fantastic initiative for our students and it gives us more opportunity to enhance all the skills they have acquired in the original 8 weeks programme.

Here are some tips on co-ordinating a successful Youth Leadership Programme.

  1. Invite students from previous years or from another school who have completed the YLP and to share their experience with the students.
  2. Look for a Toastmaster who is willing to come into the school and to help co – ordinate the programme with the students.
  3. Numbers – Our classes are small hence we have two Transition Year classes doing the programme. We have 12 students altogether. This is an ideal number for a great YLP class.
  4. Every month we would assigned the students with a typical toastmaster role for example; Toastmaster; Topic Master; Secretary; Sergeant at Arms, Listener; Grammarian … and so on. This gives all the students an opportunity to experience each role and to improve in their leadership skills. The teacher or Toastmaster would act as General Evaluator at the end of the meeting and give each student feedback on their roles.
  5. We have organised some of our classes is the same format as a Toastmaster meeting and the students love this! They learn how to chair a meeting, they love introducing unfamiliar words etc…
  6. We also organised a mock Table Topic contest – this was great fun! It really encourages the students especially those who tends to give short answers to extend their speeches just a bit longer.
  7. Have a Gavel and a mock president chain – this helps to make the YLP class more official and interesting.
  8. Have Fun! Be creative with your classes and plan the themes around the current seasons or topical subjects at that time.
  9. Look at some famous great speeches for example Martin Luther King “I have a dream……” and encourage a class discussion on why this speech is powerful.
  10. Use that famous line for students to create their own speeches. “I have a dream….”
  11. Invite a professional public speaker to come into your YLP to talk to your class. We have invited John Lonergan former governor from Mountjoy prison to come into our school to talk to the students in January. We are looking forward to hearing him share his experiences.
  12. Have a graduation ceremony at the end and invite their parents and all their teachers so that the students can showcase their newfound communication and leadership skills. Last year we had 8 students and all those students spoke for one full minute on all the brilliant programmes and opportunities they had in Transition year, for example;
  • Transition Year
  • School Trip
  • Young Social Innovator
  • Formula One
  • Challenge Cup
  • Get up and Go Mini Company
  • Gaisce Awards
  • School Shop

The students totally shone as they eloquently spoke/sign on their topic for one minute each.

I believe that all schools should try the Youth Leadership Programme. It gives the students a very valuable speaking/signing experience that will set them for life. One student shared this quote in the YLP class “If you can speak/sign, you can influence, if you can influence, you can change lives”. You never know maybe one day, one of the students will become an inspirational professional keynote speaker! – One thing for sure is that all are primed for success!

“Toastmasters changed my life.”

Debby Looney, Killarney Toastmasters

“Toastmasters changed my life.” How many of us have said that since joining? I certainly have, more than once. I also add, “if only that change had happened sooner…”, like twenty-odd years ago, when it would really have made a difference. And there you have my motivation for running the Youth Leadership Program. The positive impact this program has on teens is obvious to all who are in contact with them. Teachers are astounded by the difference it makes, especially when it comes to negotiations! Over the past few years I, along with fellow Toastmasters, have gone to several schools in our area, to the Transition Year class, which is the class after the Junior Cert, generally 15-16 year olds. This is a momentous year to catch them, especially as schools are often stuck for activities, and money. As the YLP is sponsored by the local Toastmaster club, it is free to the school, and as it is ideally run over eight two-hour sessions, it takes up quite a chunk of time!

Some tips: if the class is large, consider group speech writing and presenting rather than individual icebreakers. Incorporate some role playing, or one act plays, to improve body language, and to help kids to relax. Use emojis or random emotional words during topics to increase vocal variety, i.e. One person gives a topic while another chooses a random emotion to accompany it – so a topic such as ‘how was the summer holidays’ may need to be answered in a tearful voice…Impress upon all of them the importance of public speaking, e.g., family occasions, job interviews, giving presentations in college. Impress this upon adults such as teachers or sports coaches you may be talking to also.

The drawback is that it will take place during school hours, and so finding volunteers can be challenging. However, it is worth the effort, especially when you are stopped by a mum in a supermarket who thanks you for the difference you have made…

Leading on from this, I have given talks to local women’s, farmer’s, and sport’s groups, as I believe reaching out to the public is the best way to share what Toastmasters is about. All it takes is a phone call to a club President or Secretary, usually they welcome any kind of ‘entertainment’! I think most people recognise the importance of self-confidence, the ability to speak up for yourself, and the talent of selling yourself, which is what Ralph Smedley had in mind originally, isn’t it? I believe that with the economic collapse, and the subsequent jostling for jobs, the importance of doing a good interview was on everyone’s mind, especially the mothers of young people. However, Toastmasters can be such a positive and encouraging place, that self-esteem is also built. This is what I always explain to people, it’s personal growth on so many fronts.

Ladies from the kilcummin ICA

Does reaching out in a personal way help the club? I believe so. It may not have a direct impact – if it did, our club would be overrun with middle aged ladies! – but I do believe that it has a trickledown effect. I have certainly spoken to members who heard about us from a neighbour and so on. It’s all about familiarising people with the name, or the brand, of Toastmasters. Hearing someone speak about it leads to internet and Facebook searches, I have definitely always seen a spike in our Facebook ‘likes’ after a talk.

Selling Toastmasters, which is really what it is, is not for everyone. However, as I wrote at the start, Toastmasters has changed my life, and I firmly believe that it can do so for many people. If you have someone in your club who is outgoing and has the energy and time on their hands to go out there, support them! Remember – nobody is 100% altruistic, we all like a bit of recognition now and then.

I joined TOASTMASTERS because…

Isweri Pillay Clonmel Toastmasters

I joined TOASTMASTERS because my daughter, Lauren, participated in a YLP as part of her Transition Year at school. Denis Corcoran, a Clonmel Toastmaster for over 30 years, delivered her programme. Denis is a fantastic coach. In fact, he sat beside me and talked me through my first visits, as a guest, to Clonmel Toastmasters club. Now my club!

Lauren Igoe is 18 years old and at University in Cork now, in her first year. She put herself forward as Class Rep. YLP is partly responsible for that confidence to lead. I emailed her and asked her to answer a few questions about her experience.

Where did it take place?

It took place in Loreto secondary school in Clonmel, in one of the classrooms.

When did it take place?

During my fourth year in school. 2015/2016

How many sessions were there?

I’m not sure how many sessions there were. But I think maybe 10 weeks. 1 per week, I think on a Friday

How many took part?

The entire year did it, but we were split up into 3 groups by class and only did it for one term.

Was it compulsory?

Yes, it was compulsory.

What worked well in the programme?

Our class was so close already, so it was a safe space to give speeches and debate. That encouraged people to get out of their comfort zone.

What did you not like?

I thought the roles were distributed a little unevenly. (I asked her to explain this. She meant that if someone didn’t want to do a ‘hard’ role like a speech, they could choose to be an ah counter or something. This meant the rest of the group had to pick up the slack and take on ‘harder’ roles.)

What did you personally enjoy and why? Did you learn anything from doing it?

I really enjoyed giving speeches and the table topics. I learned how to give positive feedback and I became more confident at giving speeches.

Do you think other people wished they had joined the program once they understood what it was about?

Well we weren’t given a choice to do it or not. So, no.

If given a choice would you do it again?

Yes, because it improved my presentation skills and confidence in giving speeches in front of other people. It gave me confidence. The girls who didn’t give speeches and stuck to roles like the ah-counter didn’t get anything out of it. They stayed nervous when speaking in public right up to 6th year at school.

Outreach Programmes – Prepare to be Flexible

John Cox, Program Quality Director

Roma and I have run several Youth Leadership programmes and aspects of the Speechcraft programme for the last six years – our biggest learning has been that we must be flexible.

There has been no “one-size fits all.”

It all started when a local Rotary Club, who run their Youth Speaks Contest, contacted our club to provide some coaching to youngsters from an Independent Girls school. Four of us from our club went along for a couple of hours and low and behold, a few weeks later, several of the girls did exceptionally well in the contest.

So well in fact that their teacher invited us along to do some more coaching. The school was also entering the English-Speaking Union and Catenian Association Contests. Our first Youth Leadership Programme was born.

Trying to run a conventional programme when we had 24 girls aged from 11 to 18 for one hour a week was a challenge – particularly when their main goal was to win contests.

With the support of two other members we initially launched the programme in 2013. We had to tailor the programme to fill the one-hour lunchtime slots and to fit in with the number of weeks when students were available. On some days we split the group with the assistance of the 2 other Toastmasters as assistant co-ordinators.

The first programme was so successful that we have repeated it for six years. The programme has been modified and fine-tuned but essentially it follows the same YLP principles of prepared and impromptu speeches, evaluations, and educational sessions.

Some girls have continued to join the programme year after year resulting in many contest wins. Every Head Girl has also been a YLP attendee. Parents have also been impressed at the way in which their children have developed.

We have also supported many of the students with interviewing skills and preparing them. for University interviews.

Moat Community College in Leicester – it shows the diversity of students that the programme supports and the boys who were camera shy!

We recently ran another successful Youth Leadership programme for a local Community College whose 20 + students on the programme were predominantly from an Asian background. Again, we had to modify the content and timings to fit in with the one-hour sessions and the school curriculum.

Both programmes culminated with the students presenting their new-found skills to their families and teachers.

Other spinoffs have included some of our club members acting as judges for the Young Farmers Public Speaking Competition.

Applying the same principle of flexibility has allowed us to run variations of the Speechcraft programme. [Speechcraft is covered in more depth in the next print edition of the District 71 Newsletter or available online now]

Universities run a worldwide programme called Enactus where students take entrepreneurial action for others to create a better world.

Through this programme, Nottingham University has set up several mini businesses over the years including supporting ex-offenders and under-privileged youngsters.

Using the principles and practices of the Speechcraft Programme we have been able to integrate with their programmes and help their delegates to find their voices, increase their confidence to tell their stories effectively to an audience.

The ex-offenders wanted the confidence and skills to go into schools to talk to the children about the perils of falling into crime – drug taking, gangs and prostitution.

The other youngsters were to present to senior members of their housing association regarding the challenges of growing up on their estates, and their future community needs.

Raising our profile in the community has certainly paid off, gaining us several new members and University student members. We also took part in Nottingham’s Festival of Words where we ran a Table Topics session at Nottingham’s Speakers’ Corner.

There is no doubt that these outreach programmes achieve powerful outcomes for participants, gained us some new members and have certainly raised our profile in the community.