What a year!

It’s the 30th of June, already! I look back on the year and marvel at how quickly the time has flown. When I began the year as Division Governor for you wonderful members, I’ll confess there was a giant elephant in front of me. I didn’t have any specific goals really, other than to serve you as best I could in the way I thought I could actually achieve. I sat down in the holidays last July, scouted venues and booked everything well in advance. I sent out messages to our wonderful team and asked for people to contribute to the workshop opportunities I was creating. I had no idea what people would come back with, but those of you who attended will agree that we had some incredibly skilled presenters and stimulating workshops that taught us a great deal and were fun as well!

I learned to check the pub actually served lunch on a Sunday, that if you have to make the decision to cancel an event making the decision sooner is infinitely more desirable than later. I developed great relationships with people I didn’t know all that well before, which is a great privilege. Also a joy and privilege was the opportunity to visit every club in the division at least once and to share my experiences in the General Evaluator role. Clubs really benefit from an outsider’s point of view and I encourage you to actively seek out members from other clubs – invite them to your meetings and ask them for their impressions.

Let me outline some of the success we have enjoyed this year…

We had three new clubs charter this year. Over 50 of our members achieved their Competent Communicator award, over 20 members achieved an Advanced Communicator award and nearly 40 members achieved a Leadership award. I’d like to make special mention of three clubs who achieved 10 DCP goals – Woking Speakers, Maidenhead Speakers and Canterbury Communicators. Canterbury achieved a whopping 9 leadership awards and added 17 members this year, not bad for a club with 29 members. County Communicators also did well with Advanced Communicator (3) and Competent Leader (4) awards, particularly as they have 22 members. It’s not always the bigger clubs that achieve the most!

There is a great deal of quality across the division, and I saw it in the Club Officer Training organised by our wonderful team of Area Governors. They all went to great lengths to ensure the training delivered to our club officers was interactive, useful and of course fun. I also saw it in the quality of contests during the year, topped off by our very own Chris Boden being named District Champion and heading off to Kuala Lumpur to represent District 71 in its current form.

I would like to thank my Division team: Meg Heyworth in Area 55, Richard Murray in Area 37, Tim Rampton in Area 32, Christina MacGuire in Area 14 and Mark Emanuelson in Area 21. Without the input and support of this amazing team, Division H would not have been the first to achieve President’s Distinguished Division. Their support has been fundamental to our success and I am very fortunate to have them on my team.

Your incoming Division Team will serve you equally well, I am sure. Under the leadership of Bob Nisbet, DTM, I’ve no doubt the Division will continue to perform well. After all, there’s a precedent to uphold! I personally welcome the following members who will serve as your Area Governors in the 2014-15 year: Johanna Murray (37), Gordon Piggott (55), Wendy Benson (37), Tania Grant (14) and Tracy Miranda (21). You have an exciting year coming up, with the first District 91 Conference being held in bubbly Brighton in November. You have an awesome conference team and you have already demonstrated your willingness to work together (remember my request for funding the conference?). I’ve no doubt Brighton 2014 will be an incredible conference!

Which brings me to the new District 91. I am so grateful for the honour of serving you all once again, this time as Lt. Gov. Marketing. It’s a rare opportunity to shape and influence the growth of any district, let alone a brand new one. As I reflect on the amazing year Division H has had, surveying the crumbs on the plate of the elephant I have consumed, bite by tiny bite, I am very much aware of the even bigger elephant awaiting consumption in front of me! However, Division H members, you have prepared me well to serve in this role and contribute. I know that as long as I keep the well-being and best interests of our members at the forefront of my mind, our new district will be incredibly successful. How can we not be, with members like you!

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Discover Essential Tools for Starting a Club

On Thursday 12th June a special event has been arranged where you will –

Discover The Essential Tools For Starting a New Toastmasters Club

Starting a new club can seem like a daunting experience. At this event you will learn from members who have previously started a club as they share the knowledge and know-how they’ve picked up on their journey.

You will also gain an understanding of the formal requirements for a club, what Chartering means, how to organise a demonstration meeting, plus details of the support that’s available to help you get started, develop and grow your club.

To book your ticket to this free event Click Here

Thursday 12th June
Speakers Trust
32-36 Loman Street, SE1 0EH

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World Champion In London

I had the chance to see the 2011 World Champion of Public Speaking, Jock Elliott, in Ireland on the weekend. Here’s your chance to see him in London. You won’t want to miss this!

Discover the essential tools for gettingJockElliott your message across to any audience with World Champion of Public Speaking (2011) Jock Elliott.

When: Friday 23rd May

At this amazing event you will have the opportunity to learn the techniques of world class speaking and presenting including:

What makes a world class speech?

  • Look ‘under the hood’ at Jock’s winning speech
  • Discover how careful crafting builds towards a powerful and compelling conclusion.
  • See how every word is selected for a reason and how reason plus emotion creates success.

You will learn how to:

  •  Identify your point
  •  Know your audience
  •  Make your message valuable
  •  Add impact to your presentation
  •  Touch your audience’s hearts and minds
  •  Master the mechanics of your speech
  •  Get the right competitive and performance attitude
  • Write a world-class speech

This is a great opportunity to have an evening of humour, insight, inspiration and learning.

There’s no one right way to do anything but there are always many ways of doing something better.

Tickets are just £7.50. Click Here To Book

Friday 23rd May 2014
Cass Business School
106 Bunhill Row, EC1Y 8TZ

Please arrive in time for the 6.45pm start of the evening presentations.

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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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