Archives for Quality

Spring 2019 Contest Season

Contest Season

By John Cox – Program Quality Director

Spring Contests 2019As we move into the contest season many of our members, some who will be new to roles such as chief judge or contest chair, will be meeting the challenge of running an entertaining, well organised, quality contest.

I believe that our contests are a real test of our leadership and how well we do in delivering quality and excellence.

I have already received several questions regarding eligibility, speech originality, test speakers, clubs not in good standing, whether one or two finalists go through to the next round, and a myriad of other questions.

In all circumstances your first port of call should be the Speech Contest Rulebook which can be downloaded from the Toastmasters International website at:

There is generally an answer to every question in there. Take note of any changes that are highlighted with a diamond in the left margin.

Some of the major changes include:

  • The video recording of the District International Speech contest, where the winner’s video will used for the Regional Quarterfinals.
  • The announcement of the first, second and third place winner in contests with three or more participants.
  • The announcement of the first and second place winner (if applicable) in contests with less than three participants.

If there is an issue of interpretation of any of the rules then raising the question with your District Program Quality Director can provide the District’s guidance, or in some situations it will be referred to the Speech Contests Team at Toastmasters International for a judgement.

Spring Contests 2019We recently had one such eligibility question regarding the “minimum of two levels in the Toastmasters Pathways learning experience.” Did this mean Level 1 and Level 2 of one Path, or maybe two Level 1’s of two different Paths? TI confirmed that they would be looking at this rule again next year but for this year both options were allowable.

As well as becoming familiar with the Contest Rulebook. I would always recommend that both the chief judge and the contest chair are familiar with all the documentation, the Judge’s Certification of Eligibility and Code of Ethics (Item 1170) and the Certification of Eligibility and Originality (Item 1183).

Talking of documentation, I have experienced the two extremes of speech contest organisation. On the one hand all the up to date documentation was at hand, divided up nicely into two envelopes one for the chief judge and one for the contest chair. There were then separate envelopes for each contestant and judge. There were the correct numbers of each document, including a few spares, and certificates had been pre-printed, where possible. Very professional.

On the other hand, I’ve seen out of date materials in insufficient quantities, with a scramble to get more copies at the last minute. And a lack of clarity on who is judging, and a mad panic prior to the contest to fill roles.

Be aware if using a previous contests’ materials – that some of the documents have been updated – particularly to add references to Pathways.

Please also be familiar with the eligibility rules regarding International Speech contestants, chief judges, voting judges or tiebreaking judges.

Toastmasters International’s Eligibility Assistant is there to help.

Spring Contests 2019As in many things in life preparation, preparation, preparation is paramount.

And remember the Toastmasters Promise – To prepare for and fulfil meeting assignments – and our Values – Integrity, Respect, Service and Excellence.

Quality briefings of the judges, counters and timers, and the contestants are critical – even if they have done the role before, things may have changed. Make sure you allow plenty of time for the briefing, covering all the key points and allowing questions, particularly from people new to the role. Remember we are an educational and learning organisation.

I know there has been some recent discussion regarding the training of contest officials and maybe this is something for the incoming Program Quality Director to consider

I wish you a very successful contest season and the very best of luck to all our contestants.

What does the Program Quality Director Do?

What does the Program Quality Director Do?

By John Cox

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

Quality and excellence feature in all our roles!

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

As your Program Quality Director my main responsibilities are:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But above all enjoy the experience and have fun.

Meet the Club Growth Director

Gerard Mannix, Club Growth Director – District 71Gerard Mannix

I live in the south-west of Ireland, 12 miles from Killarney. My journey in Toastmasters began nine years ago. Reflecting on this, there may have been some autonomic reason for my leadership roles in Toastmasters. My family background is three generations in Irish politics yet, I do not do politics. Another reason, I am the eldest of thirteen children, so I must have been the sergeant-at-arms in the homestead.

My introduction to Toastmasters happened by coincidence. As I was attending another function at the Toastmaster hotel I was approached by the Guest Greeter. I attended the next meeting and the rest is history. This goes to show the role a “good” guest greeter can share in marketing a Toastmasters club. Word of mouth can often be the most vital tool for growth.

What Is the Plan for Club Growth In 2018/19

Firstly, I need to recognise the entry for the first full year of the advent of the Pathways learning experience. This will invigorate the member experience at club level, I am certain. However, the challenge for the District Executive Committee is to leverage the refreshing that Pathways brings to our District, to build a relevant and accessible path to life for the member beyond the club.

The District has three vital goals in the Distinguished District Program.

  1. Increase in membership.
  2. Increase in clubs.
  3. Distinguished clubs.

Certainly, the District Leadership Team cannot achieve these goals alone. We seek the assistance and dedication of our members, our clubs, Area and Division Directors.

The foundation of marketing Toastmasters is quality club meetings. A gathering where the guest is made to feel welcome, good energy exchanged, engaging, fun and educational. Resulting from this clubs and membership will grow, educational awards will be achieved and members will be keen to renew their membership. When the club leadership team works well together energy abounds-new members join and there is outreaching to support and establish new clubs.

I invite any member who has a suggestion of a location or workplace with potential for a new club please contact me on Gerard Mannix

I will be suggesting the use of the “Blueprint for Club and membership growth” toolkit. I will be extremely focused to help struggling clubs, and clubs with less than 20 members, to grow membership. Club coaches shall be appointed where appropriate and effective guidelines given to these coaches. Incentives will be available to encourage membership payments, membership growth and club growth.

I, as District 71 Club Growth Director, and the District Leadership Team are here to support you to achieve your goals and make this a successful year for you.

[Always check the The Latest Information on District Incentives]

Smedley Award Time

1st August to 30th September 2018

The Smedley Award runs for a two-month duration ( If you or your club can actively work to enrol five new members during this period, you will achieve a Smedley Award!!! Do not miss out on an opportunity to add another ribbon to your club banner. A banner full of ribbons is always an amazing talking point for guests and members alike. More importantly, you will setup your club for success. That would mean one Distinguished Club Program goal for membership-building being achieved. This would mean more members at club meetings, taking on roles and making progress. Most of all, it would mean five new members having access to the life-changing benefits of Toastmasters.

Whether it’s for their career, improving self-confidence, enjoyment, to meet new people or to tackle a long-standing goal, there are a multitude of reasons why some might join YOUR club.

Growing your membership is easy, just make your guests feel welcome, follow-up with them and ensure that a mentor is available for them right after they join.

Hi! Hello!

We are heading into fees renewal period, remember to start chasing payment early on. This is also the perfect time to call members who have not attended meetings for some time. Invite them to come back to the club, set up a speech slot for them and reignite their interest and enthusiasm.

This is also the time also to register new clubs. Area Directors and Division Directors check on their clubs to ensure they are in good standing.

Remember there is no longer a grace period.