Dun Laoghaire Conference Success

Dun Laoghaire… it’s only taken 5 months for me to be able to read and pronounce the name of the place and I can finally spell it!

Over 300 toastmasters from across the UK and Ireland gathered at the Royal Marine hotel by the sea in Dun Laoghaire. Toasties from Aberdeen and Edinburgh, Leeds, London and Cardiff and so many places in between. Of course, the most common accent I heard was the gentle lilt of the Irish accent.
Dun Laoghaire is right on the sea, although my room had a great view of the roof.. but it didn’t matter because I hardly spent any time there! My two aims for the conference were to go to everything and to sing at the craic on Saturday night. I achieved this and so much more..

On Friday afternoon I attended a workshop held by Jock Elliott, World Champion of Public Speaking 2011. He presented his winning speech and then broke it down line by line, showing us the detail and tricks he uses in his writing. The main point I learned was the importance of the audience. The speaker is merely the conduit between the message and the audience, so remember to make it about them, not you.

The Speech Semi-Finals were held after the workshop (more about that later) and the evening’s fun really began with a champagne reception at the yacht club with everyone in medieval or viking fancy dress. We then moved back to the hotel for the opening ceremony and a buffet dinner. I had a short two-minute speech on my mind so I found it hard to fully relax and enjoy the evening, although I still didn’t get to bed until after 1am..

The District Council meeting started at 8.30am on Saturday morning. I gave a 60-second report on our division, mentioning our achievement of President’s Distinguished Division, the Princes’ Trust work being done in Area 32, the educational achievements of Area 37, speechcraft courses, celebrations of our long-established clubs and the wonderful atmosphere of our H for Happy clubs.

After the tea break the Council separated into the two new districts for the election of district officers, realignment and other issues. The little two-minute speech I mentioned earlier was my pitch to be elected Lt. Gov. Marketing for the new District 91 and I’m very proud to let you know I was successful. I would like to thank Jacqui Hogan of Maidenhead Speakers for submitting her candidacy for the same position. She spurred me on to give my best for the position and I have huge respect for her. She will play an instrumental role in helping my plans for the new district come to fruition. I know I have her full support, as she has mine.

Chris Boden District 71 International Speech Contest Winner

Chris Boden with District Governor Luanne Kent and Contest Chair Eric Fitzpatrick

The International Speech Contest finals were held after lunch and what a thrilling contest it was. The speeches were of an incredible standard, as you would expect, but it’s hard to describe how exceptional they were. I hope you will consider buying the DVD of the conference, it will be well worth watching. I am again proud to tell you that Division H’s representative, Chris Boden of Maidenhead Speakers, made it through to the final and was eventually crowned the winner of the final District 71 (in it’s current form) International Speech Contest. He will go on to represent District 71 at the World Championship in Kuala Lumpur.


Vanessa and International Director Khaled Matlagaitu

There was a formal banquet in the evening and after a couple of dances at the disco I went in search of the craic. If you ever get a chance to go to one, craic is lots of fun. People get up and do their party pieces such as poetry, jokes, songs and stories. I sang Summertime with Hillary Briggs, incoming District 91 governor, on the cello, then I did Pokarekare Ana a cappella style. If you want to see me doing it again, you’ll just have to come to the next conference, won’t you! I hope that we will continue to have craics, even if we’re doing it without our Irish friends.

I finally found my bed at about 3am on Sunday morning, then up again at 8am for Jock Elliott’s second presentation of the conference, the story of how he became an overnight success in 35 years. Certainly a lesson in persistence, as Jock has been a finalist at the World Championships six times.

Simon Bucknall District 71 Evaluation Contest WinnerOur Division’s success continued in the Evaluation Contest, where Sylvia Lobo of Toasted Sandwich made it into the finals. The competition was very tough, as they had to evaluate a highly emotional speech about a visit to Auschwitz and unfortunately Sylvia didn’t place. However, her performance was excellent, with insightful analysis and specific points for improvement. I was really proud to be there and see her performance.

We then held a Celebration of Success session where members who had contributed to the growth of our organisation were recognised. These included club sponsors, club, area and division leaders who have achieved Presidents Distinguished club, area or division and it was really pleasing to see that there were probably more people being recognised on the stage than in the audience by the time it was all over.

The closing ceremony was full of joy and celebration as it had been a really successful conference. It will be a bit sad not to be joining with our Irish colleagues in Brighton in November, but one thing is certain – I’ll be there. You won’t want to miss it!

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Area 32 Working in the Community

Arun, Solent and Spinnaker Speakers Clubs have all been incredibly active in their local community, running 20 courses as part of The Princes Trust TEAM programme over the past three years. The courses make a real difference to the lives of young people, helping them develop their public speaking skills and grow in confidence. The Hampshire Independent recently featured an article on the wonderful work being done by Toastmasters. Thank you so much for getting out there and sharing your passion with young people.

Toastmasters in the Community

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Division H Selects Its Best

Saturday the 26th of April dawned bright and sunny. The Areas had selected their best and they were gathering in Capel for the showdown…

Well, it wasn’t quite like that, but it was an awesome day. The morning started with two truly inspirational workshops, the first on Leadership by Past Division Governor Chris Howell. We were guided through topics such as what good leadership looks like and reflecting on our own practice and personalities as leaders. I was particularly inspired when I was encouraged to think about what Toastmasters would be like if anything were possible. I see Toastmasters International as the ‘go-to’ organisation for communication and leadership training. There’s simply no better way to learn and improve by regular practice and positive feedback.

The second workshop was lead by Immediate Past District Governor Freddie Daniells. We felt what it was like to finally reach the World Championship of Public Speaking – such excitement and trepidation! We viewed two winning speeches and Freddie helped us break them down into sections not dissimilar to a Hollywood movie. All great speeches have a protagonist, a problem, rising action, a mentor (Yoda!), and the path to resolution of the problem. Of course, you need to include the lesson as well! If you haven’t seen Freddie’s workshop, I strongly recommend you do so. Lots of people were inspired to grasp the mettle and go for the top in 2015. One participant said Great day, and well organized! Glad I went as I’m inspired even more to raise the bar for my own speeches!I’m looking forward to seeing a Division H member announced the winner in 2015.

But of course, the contests were what the day was all about. The International Speech Contest had five fantastic representatives with speeches about T.E.A., the choice between self-help books and marriage, the value of mentors and the growth that comes when you give it a go. Chris Division H International Speech Contest WinnerBoden of Maidenhead Speakers won with his speech, The Throw, although it was a close-run race! When I sent an email asking for opportunities for Chris to practice his speech I was gratified with the number of responses. It’s great to see the support the Division is giving Chris on his journey to the District Finals, thank you all.

The Evaluation Contest was excellent as well. Lucinda Gray from Lewisham Speakers delivered the target speech and she entertained with her experience of a job interview gone wrong and how Toastmasters helped her. Our evaluators were challenged and again the contest was very close, but in the end the winner was Sylvia Lobo of Toasted Sandwich. Sylvia had practical suggestions delivered with sincerity and encouragment and a good summary as well. Sadly, only four of our areas were represented at the contest. Gavin Meikle had a fall aDivision H Best Evaluatornd couldn’t drive. We wish him a speedy recovery. Unfortunately none of the other placed contestants were available to take his place, so please, if you do participate in contests remember – even if you don’t win you might have the opportunity to compete anyway so do make yourself available.

Well done to both our representatives, we’ve selected talented Toastmasters who will do us proud as they stand with the best of the 12 other Divisions in the District. Next weekend I will be in Ireland, the last conference for District 71 in its current form. It’s bound to be a superb party!

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Qatar Radio Interview

Mark Emanuelson, Area 21 Governor, was approached by Qatar Radio a little while ago. They’d seen his publicity for the Area Contest held on the 5th of April and wanted to know more about what we do. Qatar Radio broadcasts to expats living in the United Arab Emirates and I was pleased to be interviewed about Toastmasters and put a few misconceptions to bed, starting with what we really do…

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Division H Achieves Presidents Distinguished Division

My fellow Toastmasters, I am so proud to announce that our Division is the first in the District to achieve Presidents Distinguished Division. The technical details are that we have had no net club loss, we have at least 50% of our club base achieving Distinguished Club and a net growth of one club.

What it really means is a lot more exciting that all that.

It means our clubs are providing environments where our members thrive and grow. People are achieving their leadership and communication goals, which means they are making tangible changes for the better in their personal and professional lives.

It means our clubs are fun and vibrant places where visitors are welcome and, more often than not, become members.

It means the Toastmasters Effect is spreading, providing more people than ever before with a proven method of self-improvement.

It’s very exciting to be part of this growth and to have such an impact on so many people’s lives. Congratulations to you all!

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Workshop details for Division Contest

The Division H International Speech and Evaluation Contest is just two weeks away. We are holding two workshops, the first of which will be presented by Past Division Governor Chris Howell.

Where leaders are made, together.

Toastmasters makes leaders, yet leaders do not achieve on their own.

When you have a team of people, how do you decide what you are working towards, and how do you keep the energy going until you achieve it? In Toastmasters particularly, how do you encourage everyone to be engaged and to continue to contribute to the end of the club year?

We will go through a simple, fun and engaging process to help find the common ground that can be the foundation of a strong motivated team.  You will be able to take this process and use it to create energy and help to align your Toastmasters Club Teams. The process can also be used within other small organisation teams.

About Chris:
Chris Howell has been a member of Toastmasters since 1991 in Grosvenor Square Club, and transferred to Bromley Toastmasters when that club was formed in 1992.  Chris was a founder of Lewisham Speakers Club in 2008 and Division H Governor 2009-2010.  He has a background in Psychology, Organisation Development and NLP. He works internationally as a systems coach, trainer and consultant, specialising in leadership and how to influence alignment on vision and values within organisations and teams.

The Division H International Speech and Evaluation Contest will be held on Saturday the 26th of April at Capel Village Memorial Hall, The Street, Capel RH5 5LB. Workshops begin at 10am, contests at 2pm and we expect proceedings to conclude at 4pm. Please register at EventBrite, and bring £10 to cover venue hire and refreshments.

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News from Spinnaker Speakers

Spinnaker Speakers Club is one of our newer clubs in Division H. They chartered in February this year and despite having to move venue twice in the last few months have gone from strength to strength. Their meetings are lively and fun and they have produced their first newsletter. To find out more about the great stuff going on down south, I invite you to have a read…

Spinnaker April 2014 Newsletter

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Celebrations Across the Division

Already two of our clubs have celebrated special milestones. On March 1st 25 years ago Arun Speakers chartered, and five years later on the same date, Guildford Speakers chartered as well. I was very proud to be able to attend both celebrations.

Arun Speakers held a very swish do at Chichester Yacht Club and I dusted off my posh frock. We were treated to a potted history of the club and it was wonderful to see so many people come together to celebrate such an achievement. There were also a number of founder members present, a very special treat. The clubs in Area 32 have a history of giving to the community and a raffle raised in excess of £200 for a local charity.

The following week Guildford Speakers held their celebration with a lovely dinner at a local pub, hosted by the inimitable Bob Nisbet. We held an all-in-fun contest with speakers required to include the line ‘to err is human, and it feels divine,’ which gave us the opportunity to share some rather amusing stories and perhaps share a little too much information. I feel that club meetings might benefit from being held after the pub get-together, rather than before…

Maidenhead Speakers will hold their 30th Anniversary dinner soon and I will report on that celebration too!

It’s not all about celebrating the past though. You might be interested to know that Division H is in equal first place for the number of clubs chartered this year, with three new clubs! It really is excellent, as the other divisions have only one or even none!! Onwards and upwards, as there are plans afoot for even more clubs!

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Contest News

Club and Area contests are in full swing in Division H.

Area 32, comprising Solent, Arun, County,Sue Windell 2 Area 32 Speech Contest 0314 Worthing and Spinnaker Speakers, held their contest on the 22nd of March. They are sending worthy winners on to the Division Contest in April, congratulation to all contestants and a big, mad clapping of hands and wild applause to the winners, Sue Windell and Gavin Miekle.

Gavin Meikle Area 32 Evaluation Contest 0314 Area 14 and Area 21 are holding back-to-back contests (I’m guessing you guys think your Division Governor doesn’t work hard enough!!) on the 5th of April, so here are the details:

Join Mark and his clubs Chiltern, Maidenhead, FM Global, Windsor and Wokingham at 9am for tea and coffee at the Burnham Park Hall, Windsor Lane, Burnham SL1 7HR – click here for a flier with all the details on it. You will need to register your attendance via Eventbrite. Proceedings should conclude in time for you to head over to Area 14….

…where you can join Christina and Woking, Farnham, Camberley, Guildford and Fluor for their contest, at All Saints Church Hall, Broadway Road, Lightwater GU18 5SJ. Doors open at 1:30pm and proceedings are expected to conclude at around 5:30pm.  I for one will definitely be heading down to the Red Lion for drinks afterwards!

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Division J Contest – request for judges

Our adjoining division, Division J, will be holding their contest on Sunday the 27th of April in Newbury. I will be attending, and they will need judges so if anyone would like to share a ride in my little black beetle, please let me know!

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