Black Swan January 2013

Black Swan
January 2013

The Newsletter of Toastmasters District 17

Editor: Vicky Post

In this issue

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  • Mark Richards



We are in February now and the second month of the year. This is the time when we look back at the New Years resolutions and wonder why we decided to give ourselves a hard time this year. It is so much easier to just go with the flow.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who has used the hot weather as an excuse for not getting tasks done. Especially outside tasks.

Did you set yourself a bunch of goals or resolutions for the year that you haven’t quite started on yet? Perhaps February is a good time to get started.

I set myself three goals this year and I decided on one approach that would guarantee my success: to find reasons to proceed rather than excuses not to.

I have devised another method for improving my chances of success with my goals: I write with my brother once a week, usually on Sundays. We exchange news of the week just gone and any projects we are in the middle of. We have been doing this for years. My brother is in Denmark, Europe, so it is a great way to stay in touch and keep up with what is going on in each other’s lives.

This year we have returned to an original idea of setting ourselves tasks to achieve each week. We write them in our weekly message and then follow up the following week. WOW! That works. If you have to keep writing week after week that you did not get this task done or that task, you start feeling like a fake. As if you are not serious about what you are doing. In stead, you read through your assigned tasks in the middle of the week and get cracking. It is amazing how much more I achieve by being accountable for my actions during the week.

It is also about attitude, though. I still remember a speech at Hahndorf that made a great impression on me. Rather than thinking I have to pick up the kids from school, you get to pick up the kids. Suddenly it is a choice, which is empowering. It is a very small shift in attitude that make a huge difference in how you approach your daily tasks and your overall goals.

We are currently one month down and eleven to go. How far down the year are you going to get before you start doing something about your goals for the year?

Why not join me in weekly task setting and give yourself the challenge to find reasons to proceed rather than excuses not to. Please join me on the proactive side!



Vicky Post, DTM

Black Swan Editor

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District Governor Report

Happy New Year.

We are looking forward to having an outstanding year for Toastmasters in Western Australia.

Clubs will be experiencing the traditional influx of Toastmaster enquiries in January. Hopefully you have been inviting them along to attend a meeting and have been successful in converting these visitors into joining your clubs as new members.

Mid-year District Officer Training for our Division and Area Governors was also conducted this month. It was well attended and from the feedback we received from them, it was very beneficial to all.

The District is aiming to become President’s Distinguished in the Distinguished District Program

This month I had the privilege of attending the Madison Toastmasters Charter Dinner. We were approached by the Business and Professional Women’s Association to form this club. David Nicholas and I were the Club Sponsors with Sandra Morton and Greg Lynn as Club Mentors. Madison’s has its own unique personality, especially with the dynamic women who make up the club’s membership.

Congratulations to Martin Soh and Michele Naidu on taking on the critical role of being a Club Coach. Your dedication to Toastmasters is commendable. I hope you find the role of Club Coach a rewarding one and that you grow and develop both on a personal and professional level by performing this important role. If you are interested in becoming a Club Coach, please contact either myself or Robin Richards.

We have the “Jewel in the Crown” District 17 Convention at the Kings Hotel, Perth on the 24, 25 and 26 of May 2013 to look forward to.

I hope you will achieve everything you aim for in 2013, let us all excel.


Ross Wilkinson, DTM
District 17 Governor 2012/13

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FAQ for Contests

This series of questions and answers have been copied from the Toastmaster International website,

 “Contest, Frequently asked Questions”

I encourage you to become familiar with the contest rules. Become familiar not only as a contest official, club or district leader, but also as a Toastmaster.

Most rules are uniformly applied in District 17 but every now and then I hear of a breach.

The most common is announcement of winners.  The rule is simple, first and second must be announced.   Announcing third is an option (5 or more contestants).

There have been many clarifications in the 2013 rule book wording. This clarity helps remove ambiguity from past rulebooks.  I hope it removes a lot of “in the past we” type of actions

District Officers can be approached regarding the rules and if they do not know the answer will find out.

If a club holds a speech contest and all competitors are disqualified, can the club nominate a contestant to advance? No. In the event that a club contest is held and all contestants are disqualified, no member may represent that club at the area contest. A Toastmasters speech contest is meant to be conducted with integrity and adherence to the rulebook. Once a club holds a contest, it must uphold that decision no matter what the result.

If there is only one contestant does a speech contest still have to be held? Yes, for all contests above the club level. The contest still must adhere to all the rules. Every speech contest must follow the provisions of the rulebook, even if only one member is competing. If the single contestant is disqualified no one will represent that club/area/division/district at the next level of competition. ( Ian Pickens note: “ A club does not have to hold a contest and may nominate a competitor by whatever means they wish. Rule 3 A)

If there are only two contestants in a speech contest, and the first place winner is unable to attend the next level of competition and the other contestant was disqualified, can we nominate someone else to attend the next level of competition? No. You cannot nominate a new contestant to compete at the next level of competition, nor can you allow the disqualified contestant to compete.

A contest had five contestants. One was disqualified for time. What place winners should be announced? The first and second place contestants only have to be announced at any contests. If a chief judge feels announcing a third place winner would undermine the confidence of the remaining contestants the contest chair does not have to do so.

What are the requirements to be a judge? To be a judge at a Toastmasters speech contest, you must meet all eligibility requirements identified below.

  • All judges shall be members in good standing.
  • All judges at area, division, district, semifinal, and International speech contests shall have been a Toastmasters member in good standing for a minimum of six months and have completed at least six Competent Communication manual projects.
  • All judges at the semifinal and International contests shall be at least an Advanced Toastmaster Bronze or Advanced Communicator Bronze and have previously judged a Toastmasters speech contest at area, division, district, or semifinal level.

Should judges remain anonymous? Yes. Judges are not known to the contestants and no judges’ names or contact information are provided in any contest materials. Judges’ decisions are confidential. Their identities should be confidential as well. If judges were announced, it could lead to confrontations with contestants or audience members who do not agree with the contest results. Anonymity helps the judges be more effective. Since it is less likely they will be confronted by contestants after the contest, they are able to be more objective with their decisions. This is why judges are not known to the contestants and no judges’ names or contact information are provided in any contest materials.

(Ian Pickens note:  When you are in your Club contest there is a Contest Chair, 2 timers, 2 tally counters, and 4 contestants plus a group of people writing on pieces of paper they hand in at the end of the contest does not make them a judge. It does explain why you are encouraged to send members to the Area and Division contests to make things a little less obvious.)

 Ian Pickens new photo

Ian Pickens, DTM

District 17 PRO 2012/13

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District 17 Nominations

District 17 (Western Australia) District Executive Elections will take place on Saturday 25th May 2013 at the District Convention at the Kings Hotel in Perth CBD.

Nominations for candidates are being accepted for the following District Officer positions:

  • DIVISION GOVERNORS  (Central, Northern, Southern)

Expressions of interest are called for the positions of:


Note:  District Secretary and District Treasurer are appointed by the incoming District Governor.

To be nominated or elected, a person must be a member in good standing of a Toastmaster club in good standing, meet the qualifications of the position, consent to being nominated and must sign the Officer Agreement and Release Form.

If you would like to nominate for office or if you wish to nominate another member of District 17, please complete the attached District Leader Nominating Form and the Officer Agreement and Release Form.

You may submit more than one person’s name (including your own) for each position.  The Nominating Committee will consider all candidates received by the deadline, Saturday 30th March 2013

Mail or Email to:       

Mark Richards DTM
Chairman, Nominating Committee
47 Jilakin Loop
Canning Vale, WA 6155


Details of District Officer qualifications are available on


Mark Richards, DTM

Immediate Past District Governor 2012/13


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Linking Fantastic!

On a warm Tuesday evening in January Canning Vale held our first meeting for 2013 – in a park. This wasn’t out of the ordinary as the school in which we normally meet is still closed so every year we hold this first meeting in the park.

Park meeting CVTM 2013What was out of the ordinary was the Skype link we had with Nero, a member of our club, who is currently back home in a very cold China Winter preparing to start a Toastmasters club for the English Teachers in his school. Nero learned English at this school before travelling to Perth to study but he says that didn’t prepare him for the way we actually speak. His reason for starting the club is to give others the opportunity to practice their English more often. The link to our meeting was to show them how a meeting runs and to give others the chance to hear our Aussie accents.

Before the meeting commenced we made the link via an iPad and this sat at the front of the meeting. We had a view of the future members in China as they watched us on a big screen. All speakers for the evening, no matter what their role, came to the front to present so that Nero and the group in China could see and hear what was happening. Our Table Topics Master, Emma, even posed a Table Topic for Nero and he answered from China. I’ll wager that was the longest distance Table Topic question and answer ever. We had so much fun incorporating the people in China into our meeting by making reference to them, explaining procedures, then hearing them applaud when we did and laugh with us.

Before Nero left for China we discussed the possibility of him starting a club while he was home for his university break and the prospect of holding the link. I was able to connect Nero with Alex Cheng, my counterpart, the Lieutenant Governor Marketing, in District 85, China. Then, all the action took place once Nero returned to China. Perhaps we will always be linked and have a Sister club in China? What a wonderful way to spread the Toastmasters mission? We hope to repeat the link once we are back in our usual venue where I’m sure they will hear much more, as we won’t be competing with motorbikes, loud stereos of passing cars and screaming children in the playground like we did at this meeting. Isn’t it brilliant to be in the great outdoors?

After the meeting we had the chance to briefly speak with the Principal of the school and wish him luck as they begin their Toastmasters journey as the newest club, a progeny of Canning Vale Toastmasters.


Robyn Richards DTM

District 17 Lt Governor Marketing 2012-2013


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Social Media for Marketing Toastmasters

When it comes to marketing our Toastmasters life, we are generally quite passive; we might do a letter drop, or stick a sign out the front.  If we put a bit more effort, we might make the paper or get a mention on local radio.

Today we can reach thousands of people in the touch of the keyboard, through Social Media.

Why use Social Media?

Toastmasters Clubs traditionally lose approximately 40% of their members every year.  The deeper your members are connected, the less likely they are to leave your club.  Keeping in touch with past members is valuable, both in their potential to return as well as their potential to refer your club to their friends.

You don’t know who you don’t know.  The key here is to use your network to promote your club and Toastmasters in general.  If you post/ share or tweet one of your Toastmasters experiences then everyone in your network has the opportunity to see it. If they like/ re-post/ share or re-tweet then their whole network has the opportunity to see it.

Which Social Media site should our club use?

Just like preparing a speech, you should look at your clubs social media audience. There is no point spending hours and hours on a single social media site, if it’s not targeting your audience.

  • Is your club a; Professional club or Community club?
  • Outside of meetings, are your members more likely to; Form personal or professional relationships with each other?

This will determine what the best site for your club to use is.

Other things you need to consider are?

  • Who will be co-ordinating?
  • Who will be participating?
  • How much time are you willing to commit?

You can download my information sheet “Social Media that Hits Its Target! “.  In coming Black Swan editions, I’ll be going into more depth on the four main social media tools used in Australia; Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube.

District 17 will also be holding a Social Media & Web Tools workshop on Saturday 23rd February.  Keep your eyes peeled for more details.


Lynette Delane


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Chilly Chinese Training

CertificatesNot Hard at Worktoo long after our Christmas break and right in the middle of our 40 degree heatwave, Pascale & I ventured to chilly Beijing, China for our District Trio Mid Year Training. Each year Toastmasters runs training for the District trio and this year we got to share our training with the trios from Australia, New Zealand, India, Sri Lanka, China, Japan, Taiwan and Hong Kong, all the Districts in Regions 12 (ours) and Region 13.

We arrived to an icy blast of minus 13 degree wind that hit us like a freight train as we exited the airport. The outside temperature really felt to us like minus 100. Our hotel, luckily, was the training venue and so we didn’t need to venture outside for too long during the training. Nevertheless, we had come prepared with thermal underwear, gloves, coats and scarves. We needed these as we traversed the teeming street of cars, bicycles, motorcycles and people to get to the restaurant for dinner on the first night and, of course, for when we ventured to the markets for shopping.

The training was held over two days and it was enlightening, intensive and exhaustive. We learned from Toastmasters International Headquarters staff, Region 14 International Director, our own, and Region 13, Region Advisors, other District Trios and even, at times, from ourselves.

We participated in several sessions over the two days and they covered many aspects specific to our members. We have even learnt which type of leader each of us is and how we work together as a team. This included a lot of role play, which was fun and enjoyable.

LGM GroupAs this is the mid way point in theDinner with Dan Rex Toastmasters year, we then looked at how our District is travelling and made adjustments to our District Success Plan. We are very happy with our plan and it’s progress. Congratulations District 17 for living up to our expectations! The final session on day one was where we learned about the organizational updates from Toastmasters International. Did you know that the educational programme is undergoing a revitalisation and this will be rolled out in 2014? We enjoyed a meal all together that night at a restaurant “just across the road” and then most headed off to bed in preparation for the next day.

Day two dawned smoggy and cold but we weren’t daunted and headed into our breakout sessions for each officer. My Lieutenant Governor Marketing session was intense as we drilled right down to the nitty gritty of finding the competition in the market place as well as areas within our own district where clubs will be sustained and how to market them. We had a fun role play session where we “sold” Toastmasters to the CEO of a multi-national company and had to ask “the right questions in the right order”. We finished with an in depth look at Club Sponsors, Mentors and Coaches, their roles and responsibilities and how to find them.

I think we were the only group who were given homework and had 2 short assignments we had to finish and send back to our trainer after the training. District Finances was our next session where we examined our District Budget and made any necessary adjustments. It was getting more intense as the day went on as we then discussed the preparation we are making towards the transition to next year’s leadership team and looked at succession planning.

Our final training session was another role play where we looked at problems which might arise in a District and how to overcome them. In the conclusion we recalled the many things we had learnt over the two days and celebrated our accomplishments. Phew!


Robyn Richards, DTM

District 17 Lt Governor Marketing 2012-2013

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Vacant Especially for You

vacant-seatYour registration will fill one of these vacant chairs

Or any chair in a position to suit you in the Main Plenary

At Toastmasters District 17 Convention

Friday 24th through to Sunday 26th May 2013

Registration details and form available

Early bird prices still available

Ian Pickens new photo

Ian Pickens, DTM
District 17 PRO 2012/13


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Can We Beat Last Year’s Effort?

Each year in February and March Toastmasters International runs the Talk Up Toastmasters Membership Building Contest for all clubs. Last year in our District, only four clubs achieved this award. With the word getting out about just how good Toastmasters really is, I challenge your club to achieve this award in 2013.

Here is an opportunity for us to beat that and for you to create a “Buzz” in your club as you “get back into the swing” of Toastmasters in 2013. This is the second of the membership building contests Toastmasters International hold and it commences Friday, February 1st.

Over the next 2 months I encourage you to select a team to promote your club and build your membership. This not only gives you the ribbon to proudly display on your club banner but you also receive a 10% discount on your next order from the Toastmasters store. Use this to purchase advanced manuals, member record sheets, The Successful Club Series of manuals or another long desired product your club needs.

As always, your District Officers from your Area Governor to the District Trio are ever willing to help. We are only a phone call or an email away.

Talk Up Toastmasters Membership Building Contest begins next week.

Talk Up Toastmasters!

Program Dates: February 1 – March 31

Toastmasters love to talk, so take advantage of it. During the “Talk Up Toastmasters!” membership contest, you can encourage your members to invite guests to all your meetings during this period.

Add five new, dual or reinstated members to your roster between February 1 and March 31 to receive a special “Talk up Toastmasters!” ribbon to display on your club’s banner. Membership applications and payment for members who join between February 1 and March 31 must be received at World Headquarters or online no later than March 31. Each member’s join date as listed on the application must be in February or March. Transfer and charter members do not count for credit. In addition to the ribbon, qualifying clubs will also earn a special discount code for 10% off their next club order.

Kick 2013 off with 5 new members! Let’s make it a record number of clubs achieving in our District. Go for it!


Robyn Richards DTM

District 17 Lt Governor Marketing 2012-2013


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Position Vacant

The successful applicant:

  • Will show a desire to be successful
  • Will have the ability to lead a team
  • Will display organisational skills
  • Will present a memorable dinner dance
  • Will be available Saturday 25 May 2013

The successful applicant will have control of  Toastmasters  District 17 Royal Gala Dinner Dance .

This is not an opportunity to miss.

Full details available upon application.


Mob 0418 945 958








Ian Pickens new photo

Ian Pickens, DTM
District 17 PRO 2012/13


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Beijing Number 1

Beijing No 1After our training in Beijing I was lucky enough to stay a few extra days and had the absolute pleasure and honour to visit Beijing Number 1 Toastmasters Club.

Some members of clubs in District 17 may remember being visited by Peter Thong from Beijing Number 1 during December. I met Peter at Fremantle Gourmet Toastmasters Club and when I told him I was heading to China for our District Midyear Training, he assured me his club was the best club to visit. We swapped business cards and I contacted Peter before I left Perth. Peter organised with the VPE for me to not only attend the club but to also give a speech evaluation.

I was pleasantly surprised to see about forty people at the meeting in a small room with rows of desks. They were thrilled that a Distinguished Toastmaster (DTM) was visiting them and welcomed me with wonder. I was amazed at the high spirits in the room and the way every member is so enthusiastic, energetic and excited about Toastmasters. The room was literally buzzing so much there was almost an aura. You see, there is only one DTM in their club and very few in China so this was a very exciting night for them. I was accompanied by Anthony Murray, LGM from District 73. This made three DTMs in the room and it was electric.

The Toastmaster was Peter (another Peter); he was lively and had fabulous fun performing his role. The speeches were varied and interesting. The big surprise for me was that volunteers are called for in Table Topics and people are so enthusiastic they almost push each other out of the way to be the speaker. WOW! I remember when I first joined Toastmasters never being able to look the Table Topics Master in the eye in case they asked me a question. There’s none of that in Beijing Number 1. After the meeting many members lingered to talk and discuss their progress and ask how to develop faster. It was very late when we returned to our hotel that night but we couldn’t sleep because we were on such a high.

I learned so much in this visit and I hope the members of Beijing Number 1 did as well. I firmly believe that we are all volunteers in the most welcoming organisation in the world and know I will always have friends in China. I encourage you all to visit a club wherever you travel to experience what I did. I know they would love to have more visitors at Beijing Number 1. In return, I have issued an invitation to all Toastmasters in Beijing to visit any club in District 17 if they are ever in Western Australia. I know you will welcome them.



Robyn Richards, DTM
District 17 Lt Governor Marketing 2012-2013


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