Black Swan December 2015

Black Swan December 2015

The Newsletter of Toastmasters District 17

Editor: Auriole D’Souza






As we start this New Year let us endeavour to make it a better year than the last one by sticking to our resolutions and thinking of new ones to improve our Toastmasters experience and the experience of those around us.

Keep sending in your articles, as sharing your knowledge and expertise with us greatly benefits all our readers.

Wishing you all a happy and healthy New Year 2016.

Kind regards




Auriole D’Souza
Black Swan Editor
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District Director’s Report

Many of you have heard me talk about toastmasters being all about ME.  Without too much calculation everyone knows toastmasters is all about members, members, members.  Without the members your club is nothing like it is today, nowhere near as enjoyable, nowhere near as informative, nowhere near as social.

Toastmasters is about Members Experience and at the beginning of every year there is an influx of members because of New Year resolutions to improve communication and leadership.

What about us who are already members and leaders in toastmasters.

When you set your New Year resolutions did you use S.M.A.R.T?




Result focussed

Time bound

Or did you, like I always seem to do, just pick an objective that I know must be achieved, improve fitness, lose weight, provide more effective toastmaster leadership.

How many of your goals or resolutions have been broken or you have decided to start in February?

When you set your New Year resolutions did you reassess your toastmaster goals?  Did you dream big?  Are you ready to attain, what not so long ago seemed the impossible?


Did you set goals to be the winner of a contest and represent your club at the district convention in May?

Did you set goals to ensure you hassle the VPE to give you enough speaking or leading opportunities to complete your manual before June 30?

Did you set a goal to attend every meeting until the end of December?

Did you set goals to pay fees at the beginning pf March?


Did you set goals to encourage participation in contests?

To run effective contests allowing members to learn from the experience of others?

Did you set goals to ensure your club’s membership was equal to or greater than the number of members at 01 July 2015?

Did you set goals to ensure all membership payments were made before 01 April?  Not just a minimum but every member in the club paid before renewal time?

Did you set goals to ensure your club website was updated every Sunday night?  Something new, something to encourage participation and attendance at your club?

There are so many goals that can be set and achieved if you Dream big, Team together, and Make it happen.

As your District Director I have set my district goal.

To lead District 17 be a Distinguished District or higher (Select or President’s Distinguished) before June 30 2016.

The goal requires between 85 and 90 paid clubs, membership payments between 3818  and 4003, and distinguished clubs between 33 and 41.  As a district we are aiming for the highest number and become President’s Distinguished District.

Building new clubs is a difficult process.  I am sure we will achieve that goal.

Membership payments is going to be our biggest challenge.  At the half way point of this year we need every member to renew their membership, plus add 443 new members in the next 6 months.

Many of you have heard me talk about toastmasters being all about ME.  Without too much calculation it is all about members members members.

Do any of your goals reflect a moment of truth and offer support to another member’s achievement and enjoyment at toastmasters.

In 2016, improve your experience by improving another member’s experience.  Mentor, guide, coach, encourage, support another member,  that in itself will will enhance your own experience.

Best wishes on obtaining your goals and dreams in 2016.

Aug-DD D17 Ian Pickens

Ian Pickens DTM
District 17 Director 2015-2016
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How To Hold A Reverse Meeting

Western Founders Toastmasters Club celebrated Christmas and their last meeting for 2015 with a reverse meeting on Saturday, 19 December 2015.  Most of our members had not participated in such an exercise before and everyone was very nervous about the reverse meeting.  However, under our supportive and dedicated club VPE (Vice President Education) – Mina Cho’s guidance and active participation from our club members, we managed to have a fun, special, memorable and successful reverse meeting.  We were honoured to have Southern Division Director Cathy Kunzel, Area E12 Area Director Sebastian Davies-Slate and Graham Watson from Southern River join our meeting.

Cathy's address


Southern Division Director Cathy Kunzel addresses the club.






President closes mtg




President Jon Teh and VPE Mina Cho are about to close the meeting.



So what is a Reverse Meeting and how do you hold a successful one?

A reverse meeting, as the name suggests is when everything happens in reverse.  The President’s close comes first (after the SAA opening for safety reasons), followed by the General Evaluation and the Timer’s report.  All the evaluations are carried out before the Speeches.  Even the Table Topics Evaluation takes place before the respondents had a chance to respond!

So how does it work in reality?  The Toastmaster has the easiest job; the role does not change much in a reverse meeting.  The Toastmaster simply introduces the next speaker on the agenda, albeit in reverse order.

The evaluations can be approached in two ways.  You could make the meeting fun by introducing an element of absurdity, such as commending someone for their over the top hand gestures, thus challenging the speaker to oblige with hand gestures during the speech.

The second way is more difficult, but more constructive.  It entails the evaluator to really get familiar with the speaker, focus on what the speaker could have done better in prior presentations and commend them for doing it well this time.  For example, at our last meeting, Chris Talenta when evaluating the evaluators commended one speech evaluator for not using filler words.  During their evaluation, the Speech Evaluator had to focus on avoiding their usual filler words.

The Timer’s role can also be constructive.  Our Timer, Janet Zheng commended a member who normally goes over time for being within the allocated time at this meeting.  Again, this challenged the speaker to look more closely at their timing.

The Table Topics is where you can have some fun.  The Table Topics Evaluator gets to pick the respondents and can offer them some challenges, like hinting at what the respondents may improve on such as their eye contact and body language.  Then the respondents have to come up with an answer which matches the commendations and recommendations provided by the Table Topics Evaluator provided earlier as the respondents get to evaluate first before they answer the question, which the Table Topics Master has to tease out from their response.

Reverse meetings can be fun as well as educational.  One thing I found was that all the participants had to communicate with each other before the meeting to organise their speeches and evaluations. As a learning experience, I recommend that each club give a ‘reverse meeting’ a go.

Lastly, I wish everyone a great break with enough time to rest, revive and re-energise!  Happy New Year 2016!


Hwee Li, Lee

Hwee Li, Lee
VP Public Relations
Western Founders Toastmasters

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The Premiership Going Strong

Congratulations to Judith Allen from Swan Toastmasters Club for organising a promotional stall at Centrepoint Midland’s community day, with the help of Gladys and Chris.  This has made Swan the December winner and places them in second place overall.

It is interesting to note that even amongst participating clubs, few report visitors and new members. The whole purpose of promoting your club is to get visitors into your meetings so they can see the benefit of Toastmasters International and turn them into new members.  This helps our clubs and district achieve Distinguished status, grow stronger, and ultimately improve the Member Experience to maximise benefit for every member.

So in 2016, get cracking and show your pride by reporting all the visitors and new members who have joined your club.

Tom Bielski

Tom Bielski, ACB, ALB
District 17 Public Relations Manager 2015-16

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