Black Swan November 2015

Black Swan November 2015

The Newsletter of Toastmasters District 17

Editor: Auriole D’Souza






I have been asked about the requirements for writing an article for the Black Swan Newsletter.

I think the article should have a general toastmaster appeal and be relevant to members.  It should contain approximately 500 words. The information you send in should be your own, which means it should be original.  Any quoted, paraphrased, or referenced content must be so identified in your article.   The use of offensive language or slang is not permitted.  Remember, the deadline for receiving your articles is the last working day of each month.

Wishing you and your families a very Happy Christmas and a wonderful New Year with good health and lots of fun.

Kind regards


Auriole merry Christmas


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

It seems like no time at all I was reviewing the first 100 days as District Director.  At the end of this month my term will be at the halfway point.

It is amazing how much has been achieved and how much our environment has changed.

I am so very proud of the Executive team who have been working so well with club leaders to deliver success to members.  To see members achieving, and developing in Toastmasters brings me great joy.  It is a tribute to your leadership and dedication that many of these successes are realised.

We are still a long way from finished – each club still has a lot of work to do, I look forward to being with you on the journey for the next six months.

I encourage everyone to take a well earned break over the Christmas period.   Many clubs will close down giving you a chance to catch your breath re-energise and come back in January ready for the start of a very busy time ahead.

Club officer training will be held on 5th December 13th, 18th and 21st February 2016.

Club, Area and Division International and Evaluation contests and the Convention in May.

The leadership teams of the district and I wish you a very happy and joyous Christmas and festive season.  Stay safe.  See you in January.

merry christmas

Aug-DD D17 Ian Pickens

Ian Pickens DTM
District 17 Director 2015-2016
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District Changes

Don’t tell anyone, but I was having nightmares because the Region Advisor Philip Bendeich DTM was visiting to put the district under the microscope.  I really do dislike being under the microscope especially when he was arriving at what was almost the busiest time in our local calendar.  One of the small changes which I can now report as very successful was to have a full weekend of Toastmasters just like a mini November convention.

District Officer training including Philip’s workshop on Saturday morning.  District Council meeting Saturday afternoon.  Emerging leaders workshop run by Philip in the same format as they run this workshop in district 69 on Sunday morning.

I am very relieved to report the weekend was a great success and Philip left with an understanding of why District 17 is the best in the region.  The club leaders, district officers and district executive were fantastic during this four day visit.

We trialled corporate club training and, where in the past corporate clubs have not found the value in club officer training (COT), the response to specific training was well received and well attended.  In fact one of the clubs who has traditionally only had one member attend training, has already put its hand up to host the next event.

In July, 13 clubs did not have four club officers trained, most of them were corporate clubs this is a fantastic initiative and leading our district to greater club officer involvement which means stronger membership engagement.

At District Council Meeting four small changes were approved to our operating procedures.

  1. District Trio will be less out of pocket when they attend District Leadership Training (DLT) and the International convention.
  2. To align our district closer to District Administrative Bylaws article V11 the Public Relations Manager (PRM) may now be appointed.
  3. The Logistics Manager (LM) is responsible for district supplies.
  4. The last was to ratify the alignment change of Karratha.

The leaders have said is that enough?  To which I reply   “Yes it is, provided

  1. there is not a way to be more efficient, and
  2. provide a better service,  and
  3. improve Member Experience, plus
  4. make the management easier on the leaders, then that is enough”.

“If there is a better way, then we challenge convention, and assess improvement, implementing the change that will deliver a stronger and more efficient district as we grow.

More members means more clubs, meaning more leaders, and training required.

As toastmasters internationally change leadership and education modules, so must we develop the structures to capitalise on the changes.”

Locally our environment changes frequently, good and bad social and economic uncertainty lies around us.  Our future lies with how we adapt and how we continue to service our member needs.

Think big, aim for personal success , toastmasters is all about Members Experience (ME).  I encourage you to ensure you ask for the opportunities that will fulfil the reason you are a toastmaster.  I value your membership and the time you put into toastmasters, make the most of the program.  Be the best you can be.

Aug-DD D17 Ian Pickens
Ian Pickens DTM
District 17 Director 2015-2016
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Options for Club Officer Training 2015-2016

February Club Officer Training 2016 TLI/COT

Training Leadership Institute (TLI) Club Officers Training (COT)

New and long-standing club officers are required to attend a four-hour TLI/COT Training organised by District 17. There are two options available for your convenience and maximum participation:



Attend one of the three four-hour sessions TLI/COT in February:

1.   13th February 2016, Saturday, The Innovation Centre, Technology Park, 9 De Laeter Way, Bentley.  1:00pm registration for 1:30 pm to 5:30 pm.                                                Click here to register online. Thanks.

2.    18th February 2016, Thursday, The Innovation Centre, Technology Park, 9 De Laeter Way, Bentley.  5:30 pm registration for 6:00 pm to 10:00 pm.                                             Click here to register online. Thanks.

3.    21st February 2016, Sunday, The Innovation Centre, Technology Park, 9 De Laeter Way, Bentley.  1:00pm registration for 1:30 pm to 5:30 pm.                                                   Click here to register online. Thanks.




  1. Any of the above TLI/COT first two hours from OPTION 1


  1. 2 Hour Workshop on Saturday, 30th January, 2016 (details as below)


Details of the January Workshop:

2 Hour Workshop on Saturday, 30th 2016
Venue:  Shenton Park Community Hall, 240 Onslow Rd, Shenton Park
Time:   1:15pm for a 1:30 pm start Topics:
1. Enhancing Evaluations (Compulsory to Prequalify for one hour COT training in February)

2. Building on Achievement for Continued Success  (Compulsory to Prequalify for one hour COT training in February)

3. Running effective meetings (Optional)Click here to register online. Thanks.

Leonor Ragan-Sept 15

Leonor Ragan DTM
District 17 Program Quality Director 2015-2016

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Blues, Boogie, Bolgart and Bec!

I just love the opportunities that Toastmasters gives you.  How else could I have got the opportunity to be a Master of Ceremonies (MC)at the WestOz Blues Fest, doing the boogie and hanging out with my new friend Bec in Bolgart.

3a-Janette n Bec

At short notice, the organiser of the WestOz Blues Feast – Carolyn, a former Toastmaster herself, contacted Mundaring and Swan Toastmasters to ask if any members could possibly help out with the Master of Ceremonies roles.  Four members from both clubs jumped at the opportunity to participate and develop new speaking skills in front of a VERY different audience.  The festival ran over three days with three stages running for the first two days and one on the last day with acts changing every 45 minutes to an hour.  We were able to hang out with the Musicians, learn about back stage management, and hone our skills by delivering sponsorship messages in entertaining ways, wrapping up each performance and introducing each act.

3b-Janette on StageWe all wore our club badges and set up our club banner at the venue.  This elicited a number of discussions with people about Toastmasters.  I also had the opportunity to promote Toastmasters on the main stage on the Sunday.  Over the weekend each member had a different learning experience and created their unique style of delivery.

One thing you discover when you do things like this, is that it’s amazing where you meet fellow Toastmasters.  Rebecca, the lead singer of Dreamboogie was ecstatic to have a fellow toastmaster as her MC.  She is a member of a Toastmasters club in NSW.  Rebecca is a wonderful performer in front of an audience, with a beautiful singing voice.  She speaks eloquently and tells stories as intros to her songs.  No ‘ums’ and ‘ahs’ for Rebecca.  However, Rebecca advised me she joined Toastmasters because she really needed help when she was asked to speak about her music and singing without the assistance of her band backing her up.

The feedback I received from the audience was extremely positive.  Carolyn asked me if we would help again if they ran another festival next year.  I found the experience was exhausting, rewarding and fun.  By the end of the festival the mic was my friend and I didn’t want to give it up.  Next year if there is another festival, I know I would be first in line!

If you had an opportunity like this – would you jump in?


Janette Edwards
VPE – Mundaring Toastmasters

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Learning From Toastmasters Abroad

Looking for ideas to vamp up meetings, encourage members or take on a High Performance Leadership (HPL) project?  Sometimes, you need look no further than another club in your Area or Division.  For those keen on travel, why not visit a Toastmasters Club on your trips out and experience another club culture and meeting?

I have once again made my annual pilgrimage back “home” to Singapore amidst choking haze from fires in Indonesia, muggy weather and interminable mosquito bites.  One of my routines is to visit a favourite Toastmasters Club there, the YMCA Toastmasters Club.  Isn’t it wonderful that after just three annual visits, members still remember me with little or no prompting?  In fact, it was as though I had never been away.

I always gain a new perspective while attending their meetings and now share with you my observations from this visit.

Specifically target your potential members

YMCA Club’s memberships, like many of ours, tend to be transient (as can be seen from many new faces at each of my visits).  The demographic profile features a noticeable proportion of non-native English speaking foreigners.  This is very similar to some of our clubs’ nationality make-up where individuals join Toastmasters to improve their proficiency in English.  As in the case of the YMCA Club, these members often bring along their friends as potential Toastmasters.  There were about four new members that night who were non-Singaporeans.  Perhaps we can consider also targeting nearby immigrant communities in our next membership drive.  All we need may just be a Toastmaster with an existing network or ability to seek out the lead.

Recognise outstanding performances at each meeting

Most clubs in WA leave the recognition of Best Speaker, Evaluation and Table Topics Speaker, to Club, Area, Division and District competitions.  While this sieves out the best-of-the-best, other promising participants often fall through the cracks.

This Singaporean club has taken on the initiative of recognising the best Speaker, Table Topics and Evaluations Speakers at each fortnightly meeting.  While members strive to be recognised, the downside of this appreciation however remains that the same proficient speakers could keep getting awarded.  However, a solution to bypass this disappointment is to include a “most improved” speaker award!

The award could be as simple as a printed certificate with the pomp of an announcement and photo opportunity in front of peers.  This event also provides content for regular Club website updates.  Additionally, clubs could go a step further and award trophies annually and make an event out of it PLUS another website write-up.


Icing on the cake when I was voted Best Speaker & Best Table Topics Speaker

Organise Speech Marathons

Many of the larger clubs already organise speech marathons within the club to enable more members to get their speeches in.  However, who has an appetite to organise such an event on an even grander scale across Areas or even Divisions?

As Singapore celebrates her Golden Jubilee (50th Anniversary of Independence) this year, YMCA Toastmasters have taken the lead to ride on the “50” theme in organising a 50-hour, 1200-speeches Marathon to raise SGD50k for community service projects.

I have heard of some very ambitious HPL projects by a few of our Toastmasters.  Here’s an idea for a brave-heart in pursuit of a challenging HPL project.  At the same time, it’s great publicity for Toastmasters and for a very worthwhile cause.

Clubs across the District and across the world operate differently.  If you are looking for new ideas and tips to tickle those grey cells, then surely one solution is to visit other clubs to get ideas.  For those lucky to travel out of WA, surely the world is your “Google” search for such creative ideas!

stepanie c

Stephanie Chan
Southern River Toastmasters Club

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Buck the Trend!

The magic of December conjures up images of family holidays, parties, rest and relaxation (R & R) and other winding down activities.  It’s that time of the year when Club Members and Officers take a year-end break from meetings to recharge and meet the New Year refreshed.

Truth be told however, December is in fact a trying time for club memberships.  After an R&R, the reality is that the spirit (to return to a Toastmasters meeting) is willing but the flesh is weak.  As a result, the greatest dropouts from Memberships probably occur in this period rather than during the September and March renewal periods.

It was in fact our Area Director’s visit that got me thinking about planning in order to succeed.  Having been an Area Governor (now known as Area Director) a few years back, I’m only too aware that the tediousness of scripting a club visit report can often lead to a superficial document that barely scratches the surface. However, the Area Director’s report should be a meticulously documented summary of their observations, well thought through views and recommendations (rather than an academic exercise to meet their role requirement).  So don’t let their efforts go to waste.

As Leaders, we need to be diligently reviewing and planning ahead to prevent and/or overcome such outcomes of lull.  With the new club leadership in place by December, what better opportunity to buck the trend and use this quiet season to reflect, analyse, strategise and plan ahead?  The same goes for Club Officers holding annual terms of office.

Your starting point can be the Area Director’s club visit report.  Club Presidents can work out with their teams to pinpoint the weaker areas and look for recommendations to gauge their applicability.  Concurrently, hold a workshop on Moments of Truth (see materials from in the New Year and get the whole club’s involvement.  You may brainstorm using the Area Director’s comments as a spring board.  Personally, I find that once the creative juices start flowing, one random thought usually leads to another and another.  Before you know it, you may even have your entire blueprint mapped out!  It is however important to note that it’s not solely up to the Club President to plan, it’s a team effort!

You may have already been doing that or may have thought of other creative and effective ways of planning. Very exemplary!  Be sure to share your ideas with the Toastmaster community through Black Swan!

In order to get your Clubs on the right track, I’d like to throw a challenge out to all Area Directors.  All too often, Area Directors only manage to get in five minutes with the Club President and/or VPE at the end of the meeting, to fill in the Awards and Club Officer training attendance data for their report.  Consider if your visit could be better leveraged by getting yourselves on the Agenda on the day of your visit.  Do a speech to explain the purpose of your visit, how to get maximum mileage out of your club visit reports, encourage your clubs to conduct a Moments of Truth exercise explaining why that can help them.  Remember, WIIFM (what’s in it for me) is a very powerful tool to get engagement, buy-in and participation / commitment.

While writing this article, it has dawned on me that planning to succeed should not be just for Club and District Officers.  It’s also for individual members.  We all have goals and aspirations in life, career and Toastmasters.  While we’re relaxing on the sundeck (or wherever) over the December break, let your mind drift to what you want for yourself in the New Year.  In that relaxed frame of mind, dream … build your air castles … and solidify them on paper with simple thought bubbles or more complex mind mapping.  Your best ideas can come in your sleep so why not use this “sleepy” month of December to be the spring of your plans?

stepanie c

Stephanie Chan, DTM
Southern River Toastmasters Club

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Toastmasters Online

It’s Coming – Online Toastmaster Clubs

At last Toastmasters is accepting reality – members are communicating face to face online as well as at standard meetings. Our Netmasters Club in WA was the first in the world to do this, back in 2008, though we make it part of a standard meeting, with members and visitors present online. By “approximately” mid 2016 clubs will be permitted to charter with 100% online membership.

What about Club Officer Training?

We have clubs in Bunbury, Busselton, Kalgoorlie and Karratha – with a new club about to Charter in Greenbushes.  How do they get the benefit of Club Officer Training? Sending trainers up to Karratha is an expensive business and we certainly can’t expect the Karratha Officers to come to Perth.  It has been very difficult.

Leonor Ragan is our District 17 Program Quality Director.  She is responsible for the training offered across District 17.  She had a bright idea and worked hard to implement it.

We are in Region 12 with 3 other Australian Clubs and one in New Zealand.  Region 12 Director Philip Bendeich visited Perth on the weekend of November 21.  Leonor was on Allen Hahn’s High Performance Leadership Committee and she proposed that he should take part in a trial Training session for Kalgoorlie Officers.

Leonor contacted Netmasters and made her proposal.  Netmasters uses Zoom technology for our online Netmasters meetings.  I acted as technical consultant for Allen to use Zoom to enable Philip to deliver a one hour training session for Kalgoorlie officers.

Morrie Goodz in Kalgoorlie made his facilities available and it worked very well.  Philip delivered his Workshop at Technology Park in Bentley.  Allen effected the Zoom connection and Morrie logged in.  Eleven Toastmasters in Kalgoorlie were able to see and hear Philip speaking.  Philip was able to see them on the screen in the pic below.

The Zoom session at work

That’s Allen observing over to the right and our Top 3 District Officers to the left of Philip – Philip is wearing the purple tie.  At times Philip asked for questions and feedback. The Kalgoorlie Officers were able to take part and they did so with great energy.

The Zoom Committee - Leonor, Allen & David

The Zoom Committee – Leonor, Allen & David

Is this approved for Club Officer Training?

No.  Not yet.  This was an experiment to show what can be done.  It will probably be a while before the Toastmaster Leadership group work out how to incorporate into official Training the communication facilities that evolving technology is now providing.  But it is coming.

Right now clubs are permitted to conduct online meetings providing that more than half of the attendees are physically present at the meeting.  That’s what we do at Netmasters meetings.

Our next meeting will be on Thursday evening, December 17.  If you would like to experience what happens at such an “online” meeting, using Zoom technology, email David for details and an invitation.





Is online communication of use to “ordinary” Toastmaster Clubs

Netmasters uses it but we are a specialist club and our Alan Smith has developed specialist equipment to make our online meetings effective.

But what about Club Executive Meetings? Getting all your Officers away from home for another meeting is often difficult. They can all be present from their homes. Zoom handles up to 9 separate window screens in the basic model we use. If you can limit the meeting to 40 minutes it is completely free.

David_151125AIf you would like to know more, contact me.
David Nicholas – 0401 011 212




District 17 Webmaster
VP Education Netmasters

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The Very First Club Officers Training For Corporate Clubs In District 17

COT for Corporate Clubs

On Thursday, 19 November, our Region 12 Advisor (RA), Philip Bendeich arrived very early in the morning from Sydney and by 11:45 am, everyone started to arrive to the venue.  We began the training at 12:00 pm with the workshop “Delegation for Team Success” followed by a Club Officer Breakout session.  We run a very a successful Club Officer Training for our strictly closed to the public corporate clubs.  The training material was developed for corporate clubs training.  The feedback that we received was very positive and our officers realised that other club officers experience similar concerns.  This time around, we could only offer this training to the closed clubs due the limited space available at the venue.  We hope that in the near future we can offer this training to all the corporate clubs.  The energy in the room was very upbeat and encouraging.  The networking, the learning, the sharing of best practices, the new ideas, and facilitated discussions were evident during the whole time.  Thanks to our club officers for being there and for your participation and special thanks to Philip Bendeich, Shell Australia for providing the venue and thanks to our District Officers.

Leonor Ragan-Sept 15

Leonor Ragan DTM
District 17 Program Quality Director 2015-2016

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November 2015 Distinguished Toastmaster



distinguished TM badgeKutty_1406

Kutty Veluthakkal Karunakaran

Congratulations on reaching the highest level of achievement possible to an individual toastmaster. The DTM recognizes a superior level of achievement in both communication and leadership.

Well-done!!! On behalf of District 17, I thank you for all your dedication, persistence, and hard work. Your achievements have inspired of all us. We are very proud of you!





Leonor Ragan-Sept 15
Leonor Ragan DTM
District 17 Program Quality Director 2015-2016

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