Guest edited by Division M Director (Div. D) Teresa Redmond ACB ALB
On the shoulders of giants….
with Teresa Redmond
“WHY DIDN’T SOMEONE TELL ME ABOUT TOASTMASTERS 35 YEARS AGO?”
I discovered Toastmasters after a life-time in Science Education, accumulating all the evidence-based gems that the education world had to offer in furthering the art of teaching and learning for my students and their teachers. Imagine my surprise when, about three years ago, I discovered it all: the resources; the skills needed to build supportive learning environments; adult teaching and learning methods and programs vs ‘taught’ programs; the methodologies; the… everything needed to succour and develop the individual to be all, and do all that they can be and do?
You won’t be surprised when I tell you that at least one major focus of my Division Director goals for the year is, not only to spread the word of what Toastmasters is, does and can do for the individual, but also to attempt to further the education of us all. This applies both within the organisation to facilitate better servicing of the needs of our fellow club members and of course, in so doing, better ourselves, and… without! The pursuit of Excellence in our home clubs, area and division will be targeted, but of course those ‘on the ground’ doing the heavy lifting will be our wonderful team of Area Directors: Area 5 Mary Burnham ACG, ALS; Area 18 Bobby Buckley ACG, ALB; Area 26 Shalini Sinha CC; and Area 54 John P Kelly ACG, ALB.
Besides embracing Pathways this year, I hope to relentlessly promote Toastmaster Community Programs, such as Speechcraft and Youth Leadership, for their dual purpose in: education, but also giving value and purpose to our more experienced Toastmasters. Through their delivery of these programmes, they will continue to grow by sharing their expertise through Service in our communities. This measure in turn should feed into the challenge of retention of our experienced members and those who recognise that they have already attained their personal goals.
My personal goals for the Division Directorship will of course reach fruition through giving the best support I may to our Division M Area Directors. Respect and Integrity, I hope will be my constant companions and guiding values for the year.
As it is yet incredibly early in the Toastmaster year, our principal endeavour thus far has been the organisation and coordination of the Division based Club Officer Training 1 (Div. M COT1) which we ran on Sat 30th June from 8:30 hrs through to 13:00hrs.
Applying some of the principals of adult education, our COT structure, content and methodologies were based on
- analysis and reflection on practice (Moments of Truth (MOT) Workshop, carried out in home-club groupings);
- the pursuit of excellence through interrogation and analysis of best practice (breakout officer trainings facilitated by excellence practitioners);
- the sharing of mutual experience (very little ‘presentation from the top / death by PowerPoint’ but lots of time allocated to discussion & mutual problem-solving);
- analysis and reflection on our OWN practice to facilitate our learning (detailed evaluation sheets prepared and dedicated ‘fill-in’ time given at the end of the program will be used to inform our COT2 sessions and future Division based training).
To put science into practice we divided our session as shown in the agenda in Table 1
Table 1 Agenda for Div. M COT 1
|8:30 – 09:30||Sign -in and general room set-up||Mary Conlon, Jillian Gerraghty, Mary Burnham||
|08:30 – 09:30||Tech Help Desks: TMI Easyspeak and Basecamp||Patricia O’Reilly, Ciara Halloran, Gareth Coughlan.||
|09:30 – 09:45||Intro to Div. Dir and ADs (3 mins each) and Important dates||Teresa Redmond and ADs||
|09:45 – 11:00||MOT workshop (All participants seated with home clubs)||Teresa Redmond||
Intro and instructions
Personal filing of survey:
Collate scores ≤3
Club Discussion ≤ 3:
|11:00 – 11:15||GDPR Retention and membership||Patricia O’Reilly,||
|11:15- 11:30||Coffee and biscuits||T/C/Cookies||
|11:30 – 11:40||Intro to Trainers||Trainers||
|11:40 – 13:00||Officer training||Trainers||
|13:00 – 14:00||Lunch (own expense)|
|14:00 – 15:30||Div. M Council Meeting Div. Dir and ADs||ADs and Div. Dir|
Bobby Buckley, Div. M, Area 18 Director welcomes both John Doyle, Plainspeakers Naas and visitor from Div. D, Deirdre Walsh, Athy TM.
A busy President’s breakout training session facilitated by Ciara Halloran, outgoing DIV Director, and Bobby Buckley Div. M Area 18 Director
To give some ‘flavour’ to our Div. M COT1 endeavours, in addition to the photographs, We asked several of the team to give their impression of the day’s proceedings:
- Area M5 Director Mary Burnham “DIVISION M COT1 TRAINING”
- Pat Rooney “A First-Timer’s Encounter with Div. M COT1 and MOT”
- Karen O’Donnell “COT Vice President of Public Relations (VPPR) breakout group”
L to R: Declan Keane VPPR; Patrick Quigley Treasurer; Kevin Kinahan President; Michael McErlean VPE.
The Tech Help Desk: Anne Byrne VPE Bray Toastmasters getting expert advice from Gareth Coughlan VPE Tallaght Toastmasters and Pathways Guide on the Pathways and Basecamp helpdesk; Menchu Hernández, Cogito Toastmasters and Antrás Vargkas, Allianz Toastmasters, listening avidly to advice from Patricia O’Reilly D71 Director on the TI helpdesk;
And to set COT in the wider context of Division M success:
- Area M28 Director Shalini Sinha “Why Bother Achieving Presidents Distinguished? My Vision for the Year.”
- Immediate Past Division M director Ciara Halloran “From Greeter to Distinguished!”
– read on to their subsections.
But, first… of course we must recognise – all is possible because we stand on the shoulders of the giants who have gone before us along the Toastmaster path. Many of these wonderful Toastmasters, known to me, have already been ‘roped-into’ my ever-growing contingent of personal mentors! You know who you are, and I won’t even try to name you all, but… one stands out for her most recent and generous offers of help at our COT1. That is our very own District 71 Leader, Patricia O’Reilly. Patricia not only agreed to give her short presentation on GDPR, but also offered to (wo)man the TI aspect of our Tech Desk (8:30-9:30am), and to co-facilitate the Treasurer officer-training break-out group.
Thank you, Toastmasters, for this opportunity to pursue excellence through integrity. and respect for all, but above all these, in my book, thanks for the honour to be called on to serve. I will try to do my best.
Club-based MOT session: members of Clondalkin Toastmasters deep in discussion on how to improve their overall club performance using the MOT handout. Although with President’s Distinguished this year and last, they mustn’t be doing too much wrong! L to R: Aoife Cousins, new TM member; Pat Rooney VPM; Antoinette Doran, VPPR; Mary Conlon, Secretary; Ann Gordon, Treasurer; Marie Grange, member of Clondalkin and Tallaght Toastmasters.
1st Toastmasters training manual by Ralph Smedley.
Division M COT1 Training
with Mary Burnham ACG, ALS. Area M5 Director
The words ‘Officer Training’ used to fill me with dread in my early Toastmaster days as it meant giving up the best part of my Saturday, travelling to an unknown venue, and then facing the prospect of sitting in a stuffy hotel room having my head filled with ‘useful’ information!
Mary Burnham Area M5 Director, introducing herself to Division M COT1 attendees.
Many years later, in my new role as Area Director for Area 5, I’m delighted to report that officer training is a wonderful way to get to know other Toastmasters and to learn how best to fulfil each role on the committee. It was an early start, but the room was virtually full by 9.30am with committee members and quite a few extra Toastmasters who came along to join in the learning experience.
There was a good atmosphere in the room giving everyone a chance to meet and greet before getting down to business with introductions, a few short presentations, and then breaking out into individual training sessions for each committee post. My table was dedicated to the role of secretary where I summarised this crucial role as a way of recording each meeting, and of keeping members who are unable to attend informed and involved.
We requested qualitative and quantitative feedback (see below) from attendees which were mostly complimentary – particularly about our Div. D Teresa Redmond! – and gave us a good indication of how well the meeting fit their needs. There was also a high degree of satisfaction, marked out of 5, the overall rating being 4.5.
- “Immensely helpful, learned lots of little important things that I didn’t know”
- “Well organised with good engagement”
- “Terrific opportunity to meet other clubs”
- “The breakout group was great for swapping ideas”
- “Well structured, personable, kept to time”
- “Especially useful explanation of CC / CL versus Pathways”
- “Good to meet others and for my club to do MOT. A worthwhile session”
But as we all know there are always improvements that could be made to ensure we stay ahead of the game:
- “To limit the number of Toastmasters in any one group as it can occasionally be hard to hear or to get a word in edgeways”
- “Some handouts on GDPR would be helpful plus a plan for the year and a discussion about the new way of conducting the contests”
- “More information on Pathways would help”
- “Structure better to make sure that trainers don’t miss out when it comes to their own learning”
There was a great buzz in the room and, after a busy morning, members left armed with useful information to help them in the running of their clubs, safe in the knowledge that they each had an Area Director on call to answer queries and to help them attain all the points necessary for President’s Distinguished.
A First-Timer’s Encounter with Div. M COT1 and MOT
with Pat Rooney CC, Clondalkin Toastmasters.
I’ve been a member of Toastmasters since January 2018, aside from enjoying it hugely, I’m amazed at how quickly, and seamlessly TM has become a part of my life. So, naturally, when I was invited to give a little back by way of taking on the role of VPM for the coming year, I was more than happy to accept.
While my membership of Toastmasters stretches back all of 6 months, my experience of being involved in various boards, groups, committees, etc. goes back about 40 years. It was with a slightly jaded and experienced eye, therefore, that I attended the Div. M, COT1 event hosted recently by Division Director, Teresa Redmond, at our Clondalkin Toastmasters base, The Maldron Hotel, Newlands Cross, Dublin.
Happily, my jaded eye stayed firmly in its socket; while my experienced eye was thoroughly pleased with what it saw. The event was meticulously well organised and featured presentations of a uniformly high quality, all under Teresa’s guiding hand. The woman’s energy is matched only by her enthusiasm; both are inspiring.
Pathways featured as a frequent topic of conversation, with a powerful sense that we have quite a way to go before members become fully conversant with its finer points.
Moments of Truth (MOT)
Some of the most valuable learning of the morning centred on the ‘MOT Handout’ exercise, which involved individual scoring, discussion, and collation of group scores. The results generated from the exercise will prove extremely valuable for our club committee and membership during the coming Toastmaster year. However, I think there is also a lesson to be drawn from the fact that the completion of all three functions within the allotted time proved to be an overly ambitious goal.
The value of this workshop will, I believe, only become truly apparent when the results of the MOT questionnaire are brought back to individual clubs for analysis and as a developmental resource for their committees.
Another useful feature of the workshop was the use of dedicated evaluation sheets to generate qualitative feedback on the various sessions. The resulting overall rating of 4.5/5 for all sessions was, I feel, an accurate reflection of the quality of the work done on the day.
Overall, we owe a debt of gratitude to everyone involved in organising and presenting this workshop.
COT Vice President of Public Relations (VPPR) breakout group
with Karen O’Donnell, DTM.
At 1 o’clock and clockwise: Karen O’Donnell, VPPR training facilitator; Colm McGlade DD, Div. J; Colin Byford, Greystones TM; Winifred Ryan, Rathfarnham TM; Dana Diaconescu, Bray TM; Konrad Jacubowski Dublin Sth TM; Antoinette Doran Clondalkin TM.
I was delighted to be asked to facilitate the VPPR breakout group for Division M. I had 6 very enthusiastic VPPRs and even Division J Director, Colm McGlade sat in to pick up PR tips for his new Division.
It was fantastic to have 90 minutes for this officer session. I broke the session down into 3 distinct areas to maximise the learning for these awesome club officers.
As this is a Club Officer Training, it is vital that the officers require ‘training’ in the role they have agreed to take on.
- Role of VPPR
- Numerous ways of connecting with your target audience; and
- PR Resources available to our VPPRs.
2.Integration of information
I had prepared various scenarios and asked the participants to get into pairs and work through solutions to the various scenarios. With 5 minutes to chat through each PR challenge, each pair then shared their solutions openly with the other VPPRs and we got through quite a few different scenarios. By carrying it out this way, there was a wide variety of suggestions and the training was well and truly integrated. What a super group of officers!
3.Q and A
The concluding section of our breakout group involved questions and answers. Many related questions I had faced from officers when I was both Division M Director and District PR Manager. I provided my contact details in case any of the officers wanted further clarification. Enthusiastic VPPRs did contact me in relation to mixed messages they had received from other Toastmasters. When replying, I could draw on personal experience and as always, would also direct officers to ‘Policies and Protocols’ something I learned from a wonderful Toastmaster, Luanne Kent!
What I felt worked well was the amount of time allocated for this section of the training. It was super to see Teresa take on board the feedback from previous COTs. The group that I worked with had time to integrate the learning with the case studies.
What we could improve on:
PR is a huge subject that most Toastmasters do not encounter during their daily lives. A lot of support is required and with Daniel Sandars as our District PR Manager, I am sure he will provide this support to our Divisions and Club VPPRs. Wishing all club officers an amazing year!
Why Bother Achieving Presidents Distinguished?
My Vision for the Year as Area M26 Director by Shalini Sinha ACB
My vision for Area 26 this year is that each club achieves Presidents Distinguished. I am sure every Area Director wants to reach for this goal but let me explain my desire. Simply, I believe this is the only goal I can hold that allows me to best serve the average member in a Toastmasters club.
I, like many, joined Toastmasters for my own reasons, but at the time had no idea Toastmasters had such a structured Educational Program. I was surprised to receive manuals (then) and see projects to work through step-by-step.
I faced a choice: stay paralysed with fear or start acting. I chose action.
Our educational awards recognise the action we take. The more action we take, the more skilled and confident we become. That is why we joined Toastmasters! To grow in skill and confidence. Achieving an educational award is useless as a goal, but it is deeply meaningful as a recognition that we achieved something else – became a better communicator and leader than we had been last year.
I have another secret. Achieving big goals is possible without working too hard and while having lots of fun along the way. This is what I want for each club member in Area 26 – to improve greatly in our skills without too much stress and with lots of fun. This is how we do this:
Achieving a goal requires 3 things: vision, a set of structures that make action automatic, and support.
What vision will you set for yourself this year? I would love you to aim to complete at least one educational goal this year. That is the only way to be sure you will become more skilled this year than you were last year.
Think about what one simple action you can do consistently to help you progress on achieving your goal. This will be the structure that will get you to where you want to be.
Finally, and most importantly, avail of lots of support. The two most profound benefits of Toastmasters in my life – things I’ve gained that I didn’t expect – have been good friends and a place to stretch, take risks and make mistakes. I want us to build strong relationships across Area 26 and help each of us to go farther than we have before.
Now, you see how I could hold no other goal that would serve you better, but to aim for achieving Presidents Distinguished in each of our clubs this year. I am with you and we are doing this together.
From Greeter to Distinguished!
By Ciara Halloran DTM, Immediate Past Division M Director, VPM PowerTalk Toastmasters, and Rathfarnham Toastmasters member
Having just completed my term of office as Division M Director on June 30, I have recently been asked for that elusive one nugget of wisdom to pass on to incoming Clubs Leaders enabling them to have an extraordinarily successful year!
Reflecting on this and determined to offer a useful insight even though there is no one silver bullet when it comes to the Distinguished Club Programme, I thought about not just the previous year but my many years in toastmasters as both club member and officer including my experiences in Dublin, Paris and Vancouver. Here is my suggestion to incoming club leaders.
You never get a second chance to make a first impression so boost your Club’s opportunity to create a warm welcome and friendly environment for guests and members through the introduction of the role of Greeter at your toastmaster meetings! The role of Greeter while not an official meeting role has been used successfully by many clubs in District 71 and further afield to set the right tone and start meetings on professional note. Having a dedicated toastmaster member act as Greeter each meeting to welcome members and meet guests when they arrive strengthens the likelihood of guests having a positive first impression, experiencing a warm friendly welcome and increases the chance of them joining as a new club member! Similarly, the role of Greeter is not just beneficial for guests but equally supports club member retention as everyone likes to be warmly welcomed and greeted in a friendly manner!
Here are some recommendations for successfully carrying out the role in your Club:
- Rotate the role each meeting, it can be used to fulfil the task of Befriend a Guest in Project 7 Facilitation, Toastmasters Competent Leader Manual.
- Greeter should arrive 15-20 mins before the start of the meeting so that they can greet guests and members before the start of the meeting.
- Welcome everyone with a handshake and smile at the entrance to the meeting room.
- Have the guest sign-in or request to take their contact details so that the club can follow up with them after the meeting, follow Toastmasters General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR)
- If using name badges, make a name badge for guest
- Provide guest with agenda of the meeting and answer any questions they may have
- Offer them a guest pack or information on club membership as appropriate
- Introduce them to an existing member who can sit with them and explain the benefits of toastmaster including answering any questions they may have
- Let the guest know if they will be asked to introduce themselves (usually at start of meeting) or comment on their experience to provide feedback to club at the end of the meeting
- Make a note of all guests to pass on to Vice President of Membership (VPM) for follow-up at meeting break and after meeting
- If club meeting agenda allows, have Greeter carry out the introduction of guests to the club by stating the name of each guest and whether it is their first, second or third visit to the Club at start of the meeting. If the guest is a toastmaster member of another club or a district leader the Greeter should mention this as part of the introduction.
- Check-in with guests at break to see how they are doing.
- At end of the meeting, be sure to offer a polite goodbye to guests and ask if they would like to attend the next meeting? Remind them you will pass on their contact details to VPM (or another club leader in VPM’s absence) who will contact them to follow up and inform them of the details for the next meeting.
- If your club meets socially after the meeting be sure to invite your guests along and ideally escort or show them where to go to meet and socialise with your club members.
To complete the role:
- Have guest or Vice President of Education complete the task evaluation for Befriend a Guest, Project 7 in Competent Leader manual if needed.
- After meeting, remind VPM to follow up and pass on all contact details.
- If you see guests again at another toastmasters meeting make a point of saying hello, letting them know you remember them from the previous meeting and are glad to see them again.
In the hotel industry, one of the main differences between 4-star service and 5-star (or above) is the dedicated level of service provided which often starts at the point of entry for example complimentary shuttle service, a valet, doorman and porter. Make your Club’s first impression a top star rating by creating the Greeter role at your meetings or delegating the role responsibilities above to a member of your club. This will not only support your club officers in growing and sustaining membership but may even help your club achieve Distinguished Club status by June 30th, 2019!