Black Swan August 2012

Black Swan
August 2012

The Newsletter of Toastmasters District 17

Editor: Vicky Post

In this issue

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  • PPP
  • Ian Pickens



I have just had a whole week without Internet connection. I would get home after work and switch on my laptop with fingers crossed, only to be gravely disappointed with the outcome.

Today at work, while checking my emails via web mail, I received an email from McAfee telling me that one of their updates might have caused my Internet connection to malfunction. Well, at least now I had a possibly solution to my problem.

It did, however, raise an interesting question for me: are we so used to technology that we have created a society where we can’t function at all without it?

Here is a company telling me via email that my Internet connection might not work. If I don’t have Internet connection, how can I check my emails? Are we all expected to download emails via mobile phone or iPad these days?


I remember a time when we didn’t have mobile phones. (Yes, Gen-Y, there was such a time…) You called people at home after work or if urgent, called them at work on their landline. If you were a sales person, you carried a beeper that would display a few words on a scrolling read-out and you would find a telephone and call the office for the complete message.

Instant Connection Junkies

We have become a society of “Instant Connection Junkies”. We won’t talk to answering machines. We won’t leave messages with somebody else. We can’t wait 24 hours for a reply to an email. We want an answer now.

The strange thing is that I haven’t noticed anything being completed quicker as a result of this instant technology. On the contrary. I feel that often things aren’t getting done because people are too busy with their mobile phone and their emails. We are no longer running our technology devices. They are running us!

Face to Face

At least at Toastmaster meetings, we still use the age old way of communicating, by mouth. Verbal communication. We not only use it, we also continue to hone our skills in this strange skill. In the spoken word, you cannot hear if the speaker is abbreviating YOU to U and Are to R. It all sounds the same. And although it seems cumbersome to communicate this way, I believe the old way is still the best. You can iron out any misunderstanding straight away and get on with your life instead of keeping an acid-filled correspondence going via email for days. If you are not brave enough to say something to a person’s face, perhaps you should avoid writing it in an email? Email breeds cowards.

Rather than turning to technology for all the answers, let us continue our good work in Toastmasters and teach the age-old way of communicating. Let us become “Verbal Communication Junkies”.

Vicky Post, DTM

Black Swan Editor

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District Governor Report

What an incredibly busy month August is in the Toastmaster Year. The District Trio and the Immediate Past District Governor plus other District 17 members attended the Toastmasters International Convention in Orlando, Florida. My highlights of the convention were:

District 17 Select Distinguished in 2011-2012

It was an outstanding result for D17 to achieve Select Distinguished in 2011-2012 in it’s inaugural year. Our Immediate Past District Governor, Mark Richards accepted the award on behalf of D17. Ross Wilkinson as last year’s Lieutenant Governor of Education and Training was presented with the Toastmaster Excellence in Education and Training Award. Pascale Amberville-Colby as last year’s Lieutenant Governor Marketing was presented with Toastmasters Excellence in Marketing Award. These 3 awards were accepted on behalf of the membership of District 17 who have and are continuing to achieve their individual goals within Toastmasters. Well done District 17 members.

Mike Helm – International Director

Past D73 District Governor, Mike Helm was elected as Region 12’s International Director on the Board of Toastmasters International. Region 12 is made up of all the Australian Districts, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea. Mike is the first West Australian to be an International Director for Toastmasters. Congratulations to Mike and his campaign committee in achieving this result.

District Training

District 17’s Trio which is made up of the District Governor (Ross Wilkinson), the Lieutenant Governor of Education and Training (Pascale Amberville-Colby) and the Lieutenant Governor Marketing (Robyn Richards) participated in District Officer Training at the Convention. The training gave us numerous ideas and strategies to bring back to the District. Over the next few months the 3 of us will be sharing these ideas with our members.

Peter Law

This year Peter Law was the inaugural International Speech Contestant for District 17. Peter presented the speech which won him the District 17 International Speech Contest. The speech was warmly received. Numerous members of the audience that I spoke with after the competition made comment that his speech met the requirements of an International Speech and the content had truly “moved” them. Unfortunately Peter did not place in the competition. However he gained a huge amount of experience from the event and has said he is more than willing to share what he learned with any fellow Toastmaster to help them improve their contest performance.

District Success Plan and the District 5 Year Plan

During the training sessions the District Trio worked on how to achieve the District Success Plan with the goal of being Presidents Distinguished this year. We also worked on the District 5 Year Plan which will be finalised in the next few days. Once completed the 5 Year Plan will be posted on the District web site so everyone knows the vision that the leadership group has for District 17.

Mark Richards – District Governor Panel

Mark Richards was selected as one of only 3 panelists on the past District Governor’s Panel to take questions from all the incoming District Governors from around the world. Mark was a valuable contributor to the panel. He gave concise and informative answers to the questions from the floor. The incoming District Governors were extremely impressed with the results of District 17 in its first year under Mark’s leadership. Well done Mark.

I look forward to the District Executive sharing and implementing the many and varied ideas and strategies that we learned at the international convention.


Ross Wilkinson, DTM
District 17 Governor 2012/13

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DESperados Open House

DESperados members and 9 guests got into the ‘spirit’ of the Club’s Open House on Friday 13th July 2012 with the theme “The Dark Side”. The meeting room was suitably dressed – mostly in black – and the members dressed “darkly” as well. The Toastmaster – whoever it was – was threateningly masked and channelling Hannibal Lector through a Darth Vader mask and black cape. This apparition managed to strike down one of our newest members as he entered the room. Happily he rose again and was well enough to deliver a triumphant Icebreaker  speech entitled “When Did It Go So Wrong? Musings of a Public Servant and Spooky Man”. Yes, John Blahusiak is a Spooky Man as he told us and even demonstrated in song. The Spooky Men’s Chorale is a male voice choir.

Speaking on the theme as well was our Immediate Past President Richard Miles, who attained his CC Award with an inspirational speech in the form of a (hilarious but ultimately inspiring) eulogy for “Desmond Desperado”. Pascale Amberville-Colby detailed the dastardly history of the club with “The Dark Side of DESperados”.  Table topics speakers addressed the dark sides of love, song lyrics and tanning. Our visitors were presented with a bag of black sweets and an information pack about Toastmasters and the club which is based at the Department of Education Services (DES) in Osborne Park.


Meredith Wilkie

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Mike Helm – Our International Director

Toastmasters International Board of Directors is made up of 19 elected members from across the 14 Regions around the World.

Each member of Toastmasters International’s Board of Directors has accepted the mission of the organization and makes certain that the mission is reflected in the decisions that they make.

In carrying out its responsibilities, the Board of Directors functions in the following major areas:

  • Upholding the mission, vision and values of Toastmasters International
  • Setting strategic direction for the organization
  • Policy development
  • Hiring the Executive Director
  • Budget and financial oversight

Past D73 District Governor, Mike Helm was elected as Region 12’s International Director on the Board of Toastmasters International. Region 12 is made up of all the Australian Districts, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.

Mike is the first West Australian to be an International Director for Toastmasters.

To view the profile of Mike and his fellow board members please go to:

Congratulations to Mike and his campaign committee in achieving this superb result for not only yourself but also District 17.

Ross Wilkinson, DTM
District 17 Governor 2012/13

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Our Newest Club, Phoenix

HERE YE HERE YE, the sponsors and mentors of District 17’s newest Club in formation Phoenix  wish to advise that as of their second meeting on the 24th of August they have 9 members with a goal of chartering soon.  Phoenix is in Area S35 and meets on the second and fourth Friday of the month at the Seniors Centre located within the City of Cockburn administration complex in Spearwood. The City of Cockburn are supporting the club and encouraging staff to join. At this week’s meeting three of their members are rostered to give their ice breaker speeches. Not bad considering they only joined last week.

Phoenix TM has been set up by Gilly Street and Graham Macdonald. It came about from a conversation between Graham and Mayor Logan Hewlett.  Graham and Gilly were joined by John Palmer and Ling Morton and the four have worked collaboratively to start the club. The sponsors and mentors have supported each other to enable this project to get off the ground.

Graham McDonald
S35 Area Governor

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Stirling Toastmasters Club of the Year

All members at Stirling Toastmasters were thrilled to receive the significant award of Northern Division Club of the Year for 2011-2012.

Bronwen Jones, Northern Division Governor presented the award at the first club meeting in and both the club trophy and the perpetual trophy are now proudly on display!

Branko Andric (immediate past Stirling Club President) stated that “Stirling Toastmasters is a great club which offers opportunities for the development of new members and also for advanced members.”

Stirling Toastmasters pride themselves on supporting all members in achieving their individual goals and aspirations through the fantastic Toastmasters programme.  It is a great honour to have our club recognised for these attributes and a huge Thank You goes out to everyone involved!

Cheryl Marron

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Southern Division Toastmaster of the Year.

Trish Rice has been in Toastmasters for 7 years, and during this time has moved through the different officer roles with the Jetty Toastmasters’ committee. Last year Trish was appointed Area 34 Governor for the South West, looking after Jetty, Margaret River, Bunbury and Mandjar Toastmasters.

Trish executed her duties with diligence and promoted the organisation of Toastmasters at every opportunity. She worked closely with Liz Clark the Jetty president in a mentoring role. Liz  trekked with Trish to the area 34 clubs and deserves a commendation for her support to Trish during the year. In fact, they supported each other well during the year.

Trish Rice was awarded the 2011/2012 Southern Division Toastmasters of the Year Award at the District 17 Change Over Dinner in July.



Tony Critchley

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Meet Them Where They Are at

Murdoch Southsiders has undergone a renaissance with an increase in members with different aspirations. The club now has a 50-50 ratio of new and existing members.

This was achieved through spending time in shopping malls and going to the Melville fair. Although the gains from each outing were modest, it added up to several new members in the end. Existing members were encouraged to bring friends and family, which they did.

One member, Ben Foo, brought his sister Michelle, who joined because she wanted to get comfortable speaking in front of her peers. Michelle started with some of the small assignments and soon gained enough confidence to do her ice breaker.

Michelle is just one of our new members and the club is now building on these strengths.

Graham McDonald

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Positive Points Promotion (PPP) is an excellent tool for driving success and new members to your club. Points will be accumulated over the year for a range of activities either in the community, to members, or electronically.

A progress total will be visible on the D17 website and the club that has most points will be awarded a trophy at the Convention 24 – 26 May 2013.

To ensure your points are recorded send evidence to

Points will be awarded according to the table shown on the D17 website so organise your teams to promote your club,  and most importantly  send your evidence so your points are recorded.

Ian Pickens, DTM

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Talkabout is a warm and welcoming club. They are growing in strength and numbers. Behrooz Eslam, president for the past 2 years, has stood by the club when it through challenging times.  Peter McDonnell and Karen Tregenza stepped in and assisted with the development of the club.

They have a lovely mix of members, from brand new to members of more than twenty years.

They meet in the heart of Subiaco (Onslow Street).

I was waiting for the photo of him with the trophy – but I think he’s shy ?

Bronwen Jones

Northern Division Governor

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