Opportunity Knocks, Deck the Halls

Diane pic1Date: November 19th, 2018
Author: Diane Gordon, DTM, District 86 Club Extension Chair 2018-2019

With the holiday season fast approaching, most clubs will be celebrating with a Festive Event. This is a time for team building and comradery as well as to recognize Club successes and celebrate their Club Member’s achievements. It is a perfect occasion to invite guests to share in your celebration and offer a “Taste of Toastmasters”.

January is resolution time. After your guests have had a taste of Toastmasters, I am sure they will be anticipating the main course. This would be a perfect opportunity to follow up with the guests who attended the holiday event, and invite them to your Open House in the New Year.

Open House sessions focus on educating and entertaining interested guests. We demonstrate all levels of skills and achievement that can be obtained through the Toastmasters program.

Diane pic2An open house is fun and informative, while presenting the benefits of the Toastmasters Program in a condensed easy to follow, entertaining meeting format. Featuring a speaker(s) and evaluator(s), along with a strong focus on Table Topics. There are approximately 10 to 13 roles to be filled by fellow Toastmaster Members. The Toastmasters program is a lot to process, don’t overwhelm the guest.

So, let’s plan your Open House!

  1. Set a Date
  2. Choose a centrally located venue with ample parking
  3. Engage your entire Club by organizing a Committee, assigning roles & speakers
  4. Promote the Event - Market heavily through print, websites, social media and word of mouth
  5. Allow for visitation before and after the meeting
  6. Send out thank you notes (guests, Toastmaster volunteers and guest speaker)

Be sure to ask the guests to join or invite them to your next Toastmasters meeting. Thank them with a hand-written note to show your appreciation for their interest in the Toastmasters program.

Open houses are critical to the retention of Club Members and attracting new Club Members. It is optimum to plan for two open houses per year. Remember to keep it fun and entertaining!

Resource Links:


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Fortunate Failure

“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means” ~ Inago Montoye in The Princess Bride

The word referred to in this quote is “Inconceivable” but another word to which this quote could be applied is “failure”. Over the many years I have been a part of the Toastmasters organization, I have seen many people take on the role of Club Officers. Some did amazing jobs and others . . . . not so much. The point of taking on the role isn’t that your Toastmaster club will rise or fall based on your performance. The point is to grow as a leader, a communicator and a person.

As human beings, we have a tendency to compare ourselves to others. If you are taking the role of (as an example) President of your club this year, you may compare how well you do to past Presidents. If, in previous years, the President has led the club to be a President’s Distinguished club and you do not see that happen during your year, this does not make you a failure. If you then quit Toastmasters because of that experience, that might qualify as failure.

The only failure in life is really the failure to learn something.

When I had been a member of my first Toastmaster club for only 2 years, I was asked to be the Vice President of Membership. At the time, my club had 34 members and the literature suggested that a healthy club should have at least 20 members. I thought, “Cool! I could do a terrible job and still will be very likely to wind up with more than 20 members.” I did almost nothing in my role as VP of Membership that year. I was unaware of the statistic in Toastmasters that suggests that an average club will lose about 1/3 of it’s membership at each renewal due to moves, changes in situation, and just plain losing interest. When the end of that Toastmaster year came around, my club had only 16 members. I hadn’t just blown it. I had blown it spectacularly!

But I had learned something! I learned that in order to survive, a Toastmasters club needs to constantly be growing. I learned that, even when a whole year of ignoring that fact, had decimated my club, we could come back to being a strong club again. Most of all, I learned that the point of being a club officer is not just to help the club. It is to learn lessons about leadership.

We learn by taking Club Officer Training. We learn by watching and learning from other officers both at the training and in our own clubs. Mostly, we learn by making mistakes, seeing the results of those mistakes and adjusting our course.

When I was a little boy, I conceived the idea that I could sneak out of my second storey bedroom to go and play by climbing out of the bedroom window, edging along a 5 inch wide ledge below the window and shinnying down the downspout from the roof. I had a harrowing experience which saw me dangling out of the window terrified for my life and being hauled back in by my mother. When I was safely back in the house I fervently asserted, “I’ll never do THAT again!”

Sometimes, that may be the lesson we learn: that the position we took on, was not a good fit for us. Perhaps, instead of “I’ll never do that again” we can say “I won’t do that again until I am ready for it” but it is still a lesson learned. It is a lesson learned without costing us anything but a little pride.

Did you join Toastmasters to get a club officer pin? or did you join to become more effective in business and in personal life? Don’t miss the opportunity to grow. Try something new in Toastmasters today.

By Bud Brown DTM

Members Making a Difference Award

 mmad awards

The MMAD (Member Making A Difference) Award goes to members of District 86 who volunteer their communication and leadership skills learned at their clubs to better their communities and lives around them in a significant and notable way outside of their Toastmasters regular duties.

If you or somebody you know is deserving of the prestigious MMAD Award, please submit the name and a brief bio to clubgrowthdirector@toastmasters86.org

President’s Distinguished - Already?

Confidently SpeakingThe Toastmasters Distinguished Club Program is a great barometer to measure if your club is focusing on the right things to ensure a healthy club. It includes 'easy' points for administrative tasks like registering your club officers and getting them trained; and then a series of points for member achievement and new members. It clearly recognizes that without a focus on the members no club can enjoy lasting success.

Club officer training ensures that each officer understands their role - and how they can help the club be successful. The points for membership recognize that there is always attrition in the membership and that success is fleeting if you do not regularly sign up new members. The points for educational awards recognize when members are meeting their goals and enriching their lives. After all - members are only going to stay with the club if they are meeting the life goals they signed up to achieve!

I am very pleased to share that Confidently Speaking Toastmasters has just achieved the 9 points required to become President’s Distinguished for the 2018-2019 Toastmasters year!
Our Area Director, Iona Rodricks asked me to share how we were able to achieve this milestone so quickly. We are happy to share and hope that these thoughts help every club in District 86 to set their sights on President’s Distinguished this year!

Here are some key points that worked for us:

  • Club officers who want to do a great job and help the members succeed
  • Challenging ourselves in our club success plan. Like most clubs, our plan was written at the beginning of the year. As part of our plan we deliberately challenged ourselves to be President's Distinguished by December (and did it by October)!
  • Challenging every member to set goals. A member without a goal is someone that has not found their focus and direction. Members without goals are far more likely to leave the club - because they chose not to challenge themselves. Many who do not set goals will not get the full value out of Toastmasters and will leave.
  • Empowering members to step up for leadership roles even when fairly new, we give room to failing and learning as that is what develops a sense of collective ownership.
  • Setting a theme for the year. Our theme for the year is "Find your Greatness" based on the inspiration of Roger Caesar. We hope that every member takes that concept to heart!
  • Knowing our club’s identity and using that to attract new members. Confidently Speaking has used the slogan "A Culture of Fun and Excellence" on an ongoing basis to preserve and grow the fun supportive atmosphere that we have had for many years. We recognize someone every week for helping to preserve that culture. Guests seem to love the atmosphere and many want to sign up after their first meeting.
  • Recognizing member achievement (yes - I know that's obvious)
  • Committing to pathways. As several have said Pathways is the future of Toastmasters. The clubs that ask members to commit to pathways now are the clubs that will have ongoing success

We are off to a great start -- with lots of energy, new members and many existing members who have set their goals and want our help to achieve those goals.

We are looking forward and hoping that every member will set some kind of goal this year and that Confidently Speaking will help them to find their greatness!

Thanks to our club executive Maher Gamal, Naresh Gurpersaud, Ashok Mistry, Sylvette Mahoney, Amruta Joshi, Aravind Iyengar, Olga Paddubotskaya, Urmil Wadhwa, Tara Sani, Kevin Webb and Hamza Ahmad for all your dedication in reaching our goals so far! And thank you to Iona Rodricks for all your support!

Brian Patton
President - Confidently Speaking Toastmasters

What is Your Intent When Conducting a Speechcraft Program?

You probably had it. Maybe there are some fellow Toastmasters that still experience the symptoms of this condition. It’s not contagious…just a nuisance. However, you took steps to address this condition and now look at you!

Do you know what this condition is? It is called Glossophobia – the fear of public speaking.

To me, the word “public” alone is fearful – speaking in front of a crowd, a large gathering. One definition for the word ‘public’ is “done in open view”. When I hear the word “public”, I envision more than 50 faces before me.

As Toastmasters, we practice speaking to a small audience. We gain confidence in our ability to speak in front of an audience, whether it’s at work as part of a team; a community group; a church committee or at an association meeting.

The number of attendees at these gatherings range from maybe 5 to 10 to 20. A small audience. Speechcraft sessions and club meetings consist of a small audience.

What does this have to do with Speechcraft? It’s all in the intent to ATTRACT non-Toastmasters to this program.

Generally speaking, Toastmasters International is an unknown entity. By telling the public to join Toastmasters to improve their public speaking skills probably won’t get them even interested in exploring what Toastmasters is all about, let alone sign up for a Speechcraft program or join a Toastmasters club.

Solution? – In your promotional fliers and announcements on social media, why not ask the public some questions about their “fear of public speaking”. Then position the benefits of Speechcraft as the answer to those questions. Your INTENT is to offer a solution to their fear by offering a workshop! For example –

  • Does the fear of speaking in front of a group evoke fear, make you sweat and get your heart pounding?
  • Do you find it difficult to find the words to express your ideas in a clear and concise manner?
  • Do you find it challenging to give effective feedback to fellow co-workers, friends and family?
  • Would you like to learn some techniques on how to make your presentations interesting, informative and interactive?
  • (Here’s the solution): “Consider participating in a 6-8 week Speechcraft Program, where you will present short, effective speeches to a small group while improving your presentation skills with the help from an experienced Toastmaster advisor. All sessions are conducted in a friendly environment, no judgment is made and encouragement is abundant.”

The fear of speaking in front of an audience is all about the non-Toastmaster, not about joining a club to increase your membership strength – that’s a bonus. With the guidance from experienced Toastmasters, you can help them improve their speaking skills.

Sure, as a program host, you want these participants to join your Toastmasters Club...boost membership roster, add more variety to regular meetings, etc. Wait until the last session to make a pitch to join your club. Frequent mentioning of joining Toastmasters could disenchant the participant with the whole concept of Toastmasters and the benefits gained from Speechcraft.

If the program is conducted like an abridged Toastmaster meeting, the participant will feel more comfortable when they attend a regular club meeting…that’s a bonus!

Remember at the last Speechcraft session to INVITE all the participants to your club meeting and assure them they will receive a warm welcome and will be made to feel at home.

I believe as Toastmasters, we want to share our learning experiences; we want to encourage others to gain the benefits that you have gained; and, we want others to experience personal growth and development as they proceed through Pathways.

By marketing Speechcraft as a program to address “What’s in It for Me” (WIIFM) concerns, there is the potential to increase membership numbers, subtly. Continue to be mindful of who is attracted to Speechcraft and focus the benefits of Speechcraft as a solution to their “fears”.

Speechcraft plants the seeds to help grow the Toastmasters exposure to the community. With nurturing, mindfulness and persistence on the INTENT, your Toastmasters club will grow and who knows, maybe it will be responsible for the launching of a new club! That’s a bonus!

Margaret Waechter, ACG, ALB
Speechcraft Chair
District 86

D86 Toastmasters Speakers Bureau 2018-2019

Introducing The Speakers Bureau Team:

We have Roger Caesar as Chair, Jennifer Jones McConnell as the Speakers Bureau Coordinator and Hilgay Beckles as the Engagement Coordinator.

We're absolutely thrilled to be a part of District 86 Speakers Bureau. The Speakers Bureau provides an opportunity for Toastmasters wanting to hone their skills and speak outside of Toastmasters. We are working together with the District Leaders to provide you, the members, with an avenue to speak within the Community, Provincially and Internationally. We are looking for dynamic speakers who have achieved their ACB or higher, or equivalent designation in Pathways. For those who would like to apply to be a speaker with the Bureau please email speakersbureau@toastmasters86.org

If you know anyone who requires a Speaker for events, conferences, workshops, seminars, Keynote speaker etc, If you do please direct them to the Speakers Bureau and we will happily work with them to pair them with an appropriate speaker for their event.
Please email speakersbureau@toastmasters86.org

Does the Speakers Bureau sound like something you would like to be involved in?
Please contact us if your interested in helping and being part of the team.

Speakers Bureau Team3

D86 Speakers Bureau Team: Roger, Jennifer and Hilgay 

Toastmasters International Values:  Respect • Integrity • Service • Excellence
Our Principles:  Lead By Example • Work / Play as a Team 

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