Black Swan Newsletter August 2022

A Word from the Editor

I am sitting in a warm, dark room, putting together this month’s Black Swan newsletter. It is cold and raining outside, dark, even though it is the middle of the day. I am thankful that I have a flexible (paid) job where I can work off-site, from home, when I need (want) to.

I guess I should be doing some actual paid work, and leave the newsletter until evening, but these are the benefits of a flexible working environment.

This got me thinking about Toastmasters. How flexible are we with our meetings? Toastmasters International provides a sample agenda which clubs can use for their meeting. My club has designed its own agenda templates, and we use them for every meeting. Which means most of our meetings have exactly the same structure.

Our VP education plans two meetings in advance and assigns members to roles based on experience and the role roster. This is the tried and tested method of Toastmasters, with members getting more experience in speaking, evaluating and leading during each meeting.

But sometimes, doing the same thing every time can get a little stifling. So our very flexible VP Education has scheduled a Soapbox Marathon for our following meeting. She is trying to entice all of our members to present a Soapbox.

What is a soapbox? According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, it is “an improvised platform used by a self-appointed, spontaneous, or informal orator. Broadly : something that provides an outlet for delivering opinions.”

That is fabulous; I always have lots of opinions, and some may agree that I am self-appointed in providing them as well.

Have you tried adding a Soapbox to your agenda? At our club, we have a two- to three- minute soapbox at every meeting, just after the break. If your meetings are becoming same-old, why not add some variety with a Soapbox to give your members a wider range of speaking experience.





District News

Into our second month and it still seems like a sprint.

We are well into August and it still seems like we are sprinting to catch up. It has been very busy for the District team with people getting used to their new roles and rolling out the training and planning that happens at the start of each year. Vacancies in some key roles in the District team are making some things harder than they may have been in the past but I am sure that we will eventually get there, though we still need to fill those spots. (read the story below for more details).


Successful Awards Night

The District recently held its Annual Awards Night to celebrate members' and clubs' achievements during the past Toastmasters Year. It was a great night and congratulations to all those who were recognised.

A special thanks to Tim Blackburn for organising and hosting the event.


Toastmasters International Convention

The Toastmasters International Convention starts this week. It is being held in a hybrid format, which does mean that the time difference might present some challenges but I would certainly recommend trying to see some of the World Championship of Public Speaking.

Check out the Toastmasters International website for more details.


Upcoming Events

We have a number of upcoming important District related events that I would encourage you to attend – to help recognise your fellow Toastmasters, to help raise funds for next years Conference and to meet new people, connect with old friends and have fun.



Gavin Hyslop
District Director 2022-2023
District 17 Toastmasters International

Club Growth Director Gavin Hyslop


Your District Needs You

Yes, your District needs you.

Members who volunteer for roles are what makes the District run - Speech Contests, Training, Conferences, helping struggling clubs. Without members stepping up to fill the various roles, some of these things might struggle to be delivered or delivered well.

So we your help to fill the roles BUT it is also an opportunity for you to try new things and to learn new skills, or practice skills you already have.

There are still a number of vacancies that we need to fill. These are opportunities for you to help you fellow members and the District, while gaining some great skills and experience that are transferrable into your professional and personal life.

  • Division Director
  • Area Director
  • Administration Manager
  • Public Relation Manager
  • Logistics Manager
  • Newsletter Editor
  • Events Coordinator

Training and support will be provided for ALL roles.

So come on, members. Your District needs you!

Any questions reach out to an experienced member in your club and if cannot help you directly then they will be able to point you in the right direction.


If you would like to volunteer, please contact



Games & Trivia Night – 2023 Conference Fundraiser

Gather five of your smartest (or at least funnest) friends and get yourself a table at the Games & Trivia Night!

Events Hub Toastmasters Club is hosting this night of fun, fellowship and friendly rivalry to bring people together and raise funds for the 2023 District 17 Conference at the same time.

The night will be filled with trivia, games, silent auction and more. Be sure to bring along extra gold coins for a chance to win at additional games throughout the night.

BYO food/nibbles. There will be a cash bar. No BYO drinks.

Tables are $90, for a table of six, or individual tickets at $15 per person.

Tickets available via Eventbrite only, see link below.

Donations of items and services for the silent auction are both very welcome and much appreciated. Please let Graham know if you can assist.

Feel free to bring along your families and friends. We hope to see you there!

Event Details

Date: Saturday 27 August 2022
Time: 6:00pm to 10:00pm for a 6:30pm start
Venue: Belmont Park Tennis Club, 351-353 Robinson Ave, Cloverdale.
Cost: $90 per table, tables of six. $15 per person for individual tickets.
RSVP: Friday 26 August 2022 via Evenbrite

Contact: For more information, Graham Watson

Poetry and Bush Ballad: A Poetry Competition

Poetry and Bush Ballad

Events Hub Toastmasters Club will be presenting a Poetry and Bush Ballad (Bush Poetry Competition)

Section 1: Poetry – rhyming verses.
Section 2: Bush Ballads ( Bush Poetry) – rhyming verses.
Present a published poem or something you have written yourself.

Join us as a competitor or as part of the audience.
More information will be shared closer to the date.

Event Date: Saturday 22nd October
Time: 6 pm to 10 pm
Location: To be Confirmed


Patricia King




Including educational segments in club meetings

You might have read the story in a previous edition of the Black Swan about the importance of including educational segments in meetings and St Georges Club are taking this on but in a different way.

St Georges will be including a 3 to 4 minute educational segment into future meetings, and the educational segments will cover a range of topics, related to presenting speeches, etc but also about Toastmasters outside of the club.

Maybe something for your club to consider - do your members know about the structure of Area, Divisions, Districts and Regions for example, or do they know the leadership learning opportunities that they can access?

Think about how you can include educational segments in your meetings and expand the knowledge of your members and the opportunities that they have.


Club News

Noranda Toastmasters celebrate 250th meeting

Noranda 250th meeting

"Remember to celebrate milestones as you prepare for the road ahead"

~ Nelson Mandela

And that’s exactly what members and guests of Noranda Toastmasters did on 6 July 2022 when we celebrated the club’s 250th milestone meeting, and the first meeting for the new Toastmaster year. 250 meetings equate to approximately 10 years of operation, so it was appropriate to reflect on how far we have come as we look forward and plan for the next 250 meetings.

Without prior communication with Mr Mandela, Grammarian Mark chose Milestone as Word of the Day which fitted the theme perfectly.

Our VP Education Liz designed a meeting to recognise the club’s significant achievements over the past 10 years, including quirkily titled but serious recognition awards for current members. For example, The Abacus Award went to Paula who can always be counted on; Mark won the Smashed Ice Award for smashing his Icebreaker speech; and Steve who hates clichés, won the Avoid it Like the Plague Award.

Also taking home awards were Dennis with the Growth Spurt Award for growth as an impromptu speaker, Frances, the Courageous Lion Award for stepping outside her comfort zone, and Christian, the Wise Owl Leadership Award for the wisdom and leadership he shows at every meeting. Of course, the Toastmaster Tragics Award had to go to Pascale and Graeme for their contribution to Toastmasters.

Dennis ran Table Topics with a Twist, expertly devising questions around the meeting theme – each response had must include and must not include words as directed by Dennis.

President Christian presented the most important award for the evening, Noranda Toastmaster of the Year 2021-22 to Liz Fisher for her significant contributions to the club throughout the year.

Christian and Liz respectively gave warm and sincere presentation and acceptance speeches.

After a splendid supper break, complete with a delicious black forest celebration cake, home-made spring rolls and other tasty treats, Frances conducted a round robin segment where she provided everyone with a surprise picture of a random object which had to be incorporated into the continuing story. That was so much fun that the allotted 5 minutes was definitely not long enough!

Thank you to all members and guests, particularly N22 Area Director, Desmond, and Banyandah Toastmaster Caroline for their attendance and contributions ensuring a fun and successful 250th meeting.


Dennis Chong

Ellenbrook Community Radio Supporting and Promoting Toastmasters

Ellenbrook Radio

For the past year, Perth radio station 88.5FM has given Speakeasy ( Ellenbrook) Toastmasters a platform to promote our club and an opportunity for our fellow Toastmasters to practice their speaking skills on community radio.

For 2 hours every Tuesday afternoon, you can find Elana Halvorson and any Toastmaster wanting to give speaking on the radio a shot, pumping out the tunes, promoting Toastmasters and reading community announcements.

The show was originally run by Toni Heaton but was soon handed over to Elana who also now hosts the breakfast show between 6-9 am Wednesday mornings.

As a club, we are so grateful for the opportunity that our community radio station has provided for us.


Elana Halvorson


Member Stories

Learning Mandarin

Mandarin letters

Recently, I started renewing my learning of a language – Mandarin. It was a language I “learned” as a kid for 2-3 years at primary school but never could read or speak enough to carry on a conversation.

I didn’t get the urge to take it up seriously until I visited Malaysia recently. People started saying things to me and I was tongue-tied. I was embarrassed that I couldn’t understand enough to reply. So as soon as I came back to Perth I decided in earnest to start learning Mandarin again.

My goal is to be able to converse when I next visit Malaysia towards the end of 2022. I also had a goal to stand up in front of my class and give my Icebreaker in Mandarin!!! I did that after just 9 weeks!

My Club, St George's Toastmasters Club also heard another version of my Icebreaker in Mandarin.

Without the training from Toastmasters, I would not have carried out such a frightening undertaking. Thank you Toastmasters for helping me on my journey of learning  to be courageous and learning to take a chance whenever I can.

It is imperative to get uncomfortable before you can get confident. Try it everyone! After you have done it once, you want to do it again and again… it’s exhilarating.


Juliana Kelly

There is no limit on improvement – and no end point for learning.

In 2017, I joined UWA Toastmasters because of my fear of public speaking. It was to help overcome my anxiety when delivering presentations at universities and improving my communication skills.

Last year, I had the opportunity to take on a new appointment at the district level as the W51 Area Director. It was an offer I was reluctant to take as it is a relatively high authority position. I also had some doubts about myself. I thought I was not ready, and I felt like an impostor. After all, I joined Toastmasters to be a better speaker and had no interest in leadership.

My role as President was more accidental. I primarily valued improving my communication, but as everyone was leaving during the pandemic, I stepped up for the role.

Reflecting in 2022, that initial fear and self-doubt I had is why I must share my stories, because that same fear enabled me to be a better version of myself. I am honoured to receive the District 17 Area Director of the Year award and appreciate everyone who sees the value of the role. I hope serving as an area director will encourage others to step up at the district level because Toastmasters need you.

Finally, I credit this award to the members, contest participants and helpers, mentors, my colleagues in the area and district, and my family who believed, supported, and pushed me to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. I am grateful to have you on my Toastmasters' journey, reminding me to think of others.

Thank you, UWA Toastmasters Club, where my journey began; being a Toastmaster is rewarding enough and to receive the 2021-22 area director of the year award is a bonus.


UWA Toastmasters meet every Friday in Room G28 at UWA Student Central. Our meetings are not restricted by the UWA semester timetable, and we do not run meetings on public holidays. For details on the location, please click HERE

We believe that regular practice is important to build the habit of working towards better communication and leadership skills, so our meeting pushes through every Friday, no matter what! Some days, you might not be able to attend but for days when you can, you can be sure that there will be a meeting.

Click on the photo above to see the video Presenting like a Pro at UWA.


Leonisa Manea
UWA Toastmasters Club
Vice President Public Relations




Education Awards: Recognising our Educational Award Recipients

Congratulations to Peter Darangwa from Canning Vale Toastmasters Club who completed the Innovative Planning path in July.

Member with the most awards this month: Ross Wilkinson, DTM: 3

Club with most awards this month: Canning Vale Toastmasters Club

Most popular path this month: Presentation Mastery


Here are all the awards for July 2022.


Name Club Path Level
Emma Jin Canning Vale Dynamic Leadership 1
Cassie Walraven Piara Waters Motivational Strategies 1
Christina Ng Canning Vale Persuasive Influence 1
Juliana Kelly St George's Persuasive Influence 1
Lei Liu Canning Vale Presentation Mastery 1
Yi Ren Leong Canning Vale Presentation Mastery 1
01989593 Mandjar Presentation Mastery 1
Nish Rajapakse Sunday Sundowners Presentation Mastery 1
Karen Rhodes Northern Lights Presentation Mastery 1
IGNATIUS MUNJODZI Butler Presentation Mastery 1
Lionel Grant Canning Vale Visionary Communication 1
Bert de Wit Cockburn Visionary Communication 1
Eloyise Braskic Canning Vale Visionary Communication 1
Navin Dias Maylands Dynamic Leadership 2
Ai Lin Goh Canning Vale Motivational Strategies 2
Josh Godage Piara Waters Motivational Strategies 2
Karunakaran Veluthakkal Melville Presentation Mastery 2
Zachary Anning Canning Vale Strategic Relationships 2
Ross Wilkinson Fremantle Gourmet Visionary Communication 2
Lalitha Ramakrishnan Piara Waters Dynamic Leadership 3
Stewart Martin bToasty Perth Dynamic Leadership 3
Khashayar Afshar Melville Dynamic Leadership 3
Leonor Ragan Aspiring Leaders Effective Coaching 3
Mark A. Richards Canning Vale Engaging Humor 3
Vijayakumar Vijayaratnam Melville Engaging Humor 3
James Veitch Southern River Engaging Humor 3
Rudson Al Barcoma Mandjar Presentation Mastery 3
Yohanna Tobing Murdoch Southsiders Presentation Mastery 3
Ben W. Woon UWA Team Collaboration 3
Ross Wilkinson Fremantle Gourmet Visionary Communication 3
Robyn Richards Piara Waters Engaging Humor 4
Mark A. Richards Canning Vale Engaging Humor 4
Lionel Grant Canning Vale Innovative Planning 4
Matthew Carniel Piara Waters Innovative Planning 4
Chandana Weerasekera Canning Vale Leadership Development 4
Allen Hahn Durack Motivational Strategies 4
Cassie Walraven Piara Waters Team Collaboration 4
Ross Wilkinson Fremantle Gourmet Visionary Communication 4
Peter Darangwa Canning Vale Innovative Planning 5

Submitting Articles to Black Swan

Want to submit an article next month? If you have any news, stories and tips that would like to share with your fellow Toastmasters within District 17, write to us by the end of the month!

You can now submit your article online! Click here to submit using Google Forms.

Or, complete the Black Swan Submission Form and email to

  • Articles must have a relevant news category
  • Articles must be relevant or of clear interest to Toastmaster members.
  • Articles must reflect the TI core values; Integrity, Respect, Service and Excellence.
  • Length must not exceed 400 words
  • Please supply images with the best picture quality available
  • Supply names of people shown in images.
  • Attach your profile picture

Gavin Hyslop, DTM
Tom Bielski, DTM
Stand In Black Swan Editors