Black Swan September 2015

Black Swan September 2015

The Newsletter of Toastmasters District 17

Editor: Auriole D'Souza







The Humorous Speech and Table Topics Contests are upon us, and some of us will be involved as contestants.  Congratulations to all those who took part, in particular the winners.

Once again there are interesting personal articles in this issue of the Black Swan Newsletter.

If you are sending me an article for the newsletter please note that the deadline is the last day of each month.

Kind regards



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

The first 100 days of the TM year is fast approaching.  In planning, I was hoping that four simple routine objectives had been met by this stage of the district year.

  • There would be one or two new clubs. Not yet, but we have had a very successful demonstration meeting.  Some of the clubs in formation continue to gradually grow.  We may not have achieved the goal, but remain well on track.
  • Renewals would be at 100% if all clubs paid up with eight or more members. There has been a very good response to renewals, but I see a lot more to do as we aim for 100%.
  • In past years there have been many clubs with five or more distinguished club points, and this year Victoria Quay (9) and Canning Vale (8), Kwinana (7) and Fremantle Gateway (5) lead the charge.
  • Membership payments are well above the number of renewals, indicating percentage increase of membership pending renewal. Renewals always challenge our club base, often taking time before returning to the June numbers.  New members early in the year plus annual payments really aid club goals.

Our leadership teams, starting with club officers, continue to meet most of their objectives which is an excellent situation to be in.  I am so very proud of the commitment of so many leaders.   Together we will add value to the membership experience across the district.

Together we can meet 3 of the 4 objectives above and we will be on the way to ensuring your time at toastmasters is valuable.  In particular, membership payments being submitted for all clubs will really build on all the work already done.

Our International Director, Charlie Starratt DTM has spent some private time in Karratha but could not help but deliver some excellent workshops to the town.  I am sure it will leave a footprint of success for Karratha toastmasters and the local community.  Thank you Charlie.

19 -22 November is a big weekend for the district.

District Council meeting, district officer training and a visit from the Region advisor, Philip Bendeich DTM.

Prepare your calendar and clear this time so you can obtain the best possible use of the training and administration that will be undertaken on the weekend.

It is hard to believe the first 100 days have elapsed, the time has gone so fast, and so much has been done.  It is time to look closely at our personal goals in toastmasters to establish what it is you want to achieve, and what experience you want to have.

Make toastmasters all about ME (Member Experience). My experience, your experience, our experience.

Dream Big And Make Your Dreams Happen.


Aug-DD D17 Ian Pickens
Ian Pickens DTM
District 17 Director 2015-2016
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Toastmasters International Strategy Plan 2015

Future Envisioned

Would you like to know about the 2015 Strategic Plan, which will take Toastmasters International towards its centennial year?  I invite everyone to check this link:

Click here

Imagine what the environment in which we operate, will be like in the future, and how Toastmasters will serve our members in the year 2024.  Let us look into the crystal ball to imagine Toastmasters at its centennial.


Leonor Ragan-Sept 15

Leonor Ragan DTM
District 17 Program Quality Director 2015-2016

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Triple Crown


Triple Crown

Name                                      Count                           Award

Martin O’Connor                       3                               CC, ALB, ACS

Mike Palmer                              3                               CC, AS, DTM

Congratulations!!!  To Martin and Mike for achieving three educational awards in the month of September.  I am very delighted to acknowledge your educational achievements.  I am looking forward to presenting a “Triple Crown Pin” to each one of you in the coming few days.

Leonor Ragan-Sept 15

Leonor Ragan DTM
District 17 Program Quality Director 2015-2016

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Educational Awards

Many members have already achieved communication and leadership awards by the end of September. Well done to all of you! What will your next step in your Toastmasters journey be?

Click on the Triangle for the September figures

Leonor Ragan-Sept 15

Leonor Ragan DTM
District 17 Program Quality Director 2015-2016

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Karratha Toastmasters Club Wins Grant To Help Extend Skills In The Community

13-Sept-Karratha photo-DONE

At only 15 months, our new Karratha Toastmasters Club is becoming a vibrant force in the Karratha community. The club is steadily growing, with visitors attending regularly. Visitors are enthusiastic about joining the club, with more people becoming members all the time.

The latest highlight for this burgeoning club is receiving a grant of $2,200 from the City of Karratha and Woodside North West Shelf Venture.  This grant is going towards training for club members to run the Speech Craft program in the Karratha community.

In the photo (left to right) are the Mayor of City of Karratha Peter Long, Karratha Club Vice President Public Relations Esther Anderson, Karratha Club President Lizeth Baker, and Woodside representative Phillipa.

This exciting opportunity allows the club to host a senior Toastmasters trainer to come to Karratha in the North West and train our members to run the course.  This will enable club members to increase their skills and empower the club to pass on skills and knowledge to the community through the Speech Craft program.

One of the benefits of living in a regional area is that the club has the opportunity to apply for partnerships such as these.  Karratha Toastmasters is looking forward to hosting the training for members so we can partner with the community to deliver public speaking and leadership skills through the Speech Craft program and raise the profile of the up and coming club.

The club looks forward to working with the community to form further partnerships and identifying new opportunities to see the club grow.

Karratha Toastmasters would like to thank both the City of Karratha and Woodside for their generosity to a rising club in the town.

profile pic

Lisa Mayne
Karratha Toastmasters Club

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Take Every Opportunity

3-Sept-Robyn R-Nero receives his award-approved

We’ve all heard this saying many times, but do you actually do this?  My guess is that most of us don’t.  One of our young Area Directors does just that, and has won his way through to represent Australia in a worldwide competition to present his thesis presentation in Dublin, Ireland in October.

Nero began his Toastmasters journey soon after he arrived in Perth to study mining engineering. His first club was Canning Vale and then, when his study took him to the Western Australian School of Mines in Kalgoorlie, he joined Touch of Gold and was instrumental in building WASM Toastmasters Club soon after.

Now in his final year of study, as well as working part time with a local mining company and taking on the role of Area E14, Nero saw an advertisement for the IOM3 Young Persons’ World Lecture Competition where the Australian final was being held in Perth in August.  He applied, was accepted, and drove to Perth to make his presentation.  Competing against other young presenters, he was excited and nervous, but knew his Toastmasters skills would give him an advantage.  He was right, he won and now goes on to present again in Dublin.  He will compete against eight other young presenters who have various areas of expertise.

Here is a link to The Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining website where you can find more information about the competition, Nero’s story and the other contestants.   Nero has done his homework and checked out previous winners in preparation for Dublin.  He is honing his presentation and updating his slideshow to make it even better.

On behalf of all members of District 17, we wish you all the very best of luck as you travel to Ireland to compete, Nero, and we look forward to hearing your speech about the process on your return.  This is indeed a great achievement and we are enormously proud of you for taking every opportunity.


Robyn Richards DTM
Immediate Past District Governor
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Toastmaster Addiction

I have a confession to make.  Up until four years ago, I was a virgin.  I’d never done it.  But then one memorable lunchtime at work in front of 20 colleagues, I did it. I gave my Icebreaker speech.  I can still remember my opening, “Is there anyone in this room who knows the exact weight of the heaviest ever Polar Bear?  No?  Well neither do I but it broke the ice didn’t it?”  I’d got a laugh out of my very first public speech and I was buzzing. I wanted more.  Well you do, don’t you?  It becomes an addiction, like a drug.

Initially, I was rewarded with a CC, and then a CL.  After 18 months of giving speeches and progressing along quite nicely I felt a tap on the shoulder.  It turned out to be more like the icy grip of the Grim Reaper.  Would I like to become an Area Governor?  What? Little old me? Well old, maybe, but little?  Not so. I was puffed up like Mr Toad from Toad Hall.  Gerry Prewett, Competent Communicator, Competent Leader, Area Governor.  I had arrived … at the gates of hell.  How would I be able to support the clubs? Would my Division Governor approve of my performance?  I didn’t know much.  I didn’t realise at the time that in the land of the blind the one-eyed man is King. I took to it like a duck to water.  I threw myself in at the deep end and joined the other three clubs in my Area, and then joined three more for good luck.  I can see you are starting to understand how the Toastmasters drug was starting to drive me.

I became a President’s Distinguished Governor when all the clubs performed well, and I formed a new club, Victoria Park Toastmasters Club.  It was all about me!  I thought I was the mutt’s nuts.  I was invited to do it again the following year in a different Area.  I rose to the bait, like a trout to a fly, like a mouse to cheese, like a Toastmaster to an adoring audience. You see I’m a slow learner, I said yes!  I didn’t realise that the invite was driven by desperation not by confidence in my abilities.  As I completed my second stint in abject misery at my total failure I was hailed by a previous District Governor no less with, “Preparing for your second DTM I see”.  I hadn’t thought about the first Distinguished Toastmaster award let alone the second, but the seed was sown.  I was about to progress to the hard drug, mainlining on DTM.

The next step was a High Performance Leadership project or HPL to those of us in the know.  I was getting into the hard stuff now. But what could I do?  I was editing the District Newsletter which was more frustrating than trying to get a straight answer out of a politician.  I spent a vast amount of my life trying to format the thing, I spent so long in the study my wife was convinced I was watching several Bristol Rovers season highlights DVDs back to back.  That was preposterous; it would only have taken five minutes if that was the case.

My project was to turn the Newsletter to an on-line e-Newsletter.  It was going to be great, it was going to be easy to put together, and it was going to be read by everyone.  Dream on Gerry.  The Black Swan, as it was named was more of a mucky duck.  But most importantly I was going places, my DTM was almost within grasp, I could smell it!

The final piece of the jigsaw for the Holy Grail was to co-ordinate a Speechcraft course.  I suddenly started to get nervous, could I do it?  I had just enough very able helpers but would I mess up in front of my expectant students?  More importantly would they like the food I provided (you can see where my thoughts are here, can’t you?).  As the weeks progressed, the group gave their speeches and became more and more able but by the time we had reached the final week half of the class were one week short of their goal. Did we do it the sensible way?  Why would we do that?  No, our Speechcrafters gave 15 speeches that night, half of them giving two speeches.  They all graduated and most importantly we all went out to dinner together.

All my mucky ducks were now in a row, I’d completed everything for my DTM and sure enough it duly arrived.  I was a changed man. I now spent less time at home with my wife, I now woke up in the middle of the night with cold sweats, and I now spoke about Toastmasters all the time.  I am now officially a Toastmasters addict, mainlining on CCs, CLs, ACBs, ALSs, HPLs and finally DTMs!

2-Sept-Gerry Prewett-approved

Gerry Prewett DTM
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Spice Up Your Meetings

Psychologically, September’s membership dues renewals mark a turning point to rejuvenate our meetings following our recommitment to another 6 (or 12) months to Toastmasters.  We’ve also crossed the threshold of the 1st trimester of the Toastmaster year and some may begin to feel a little jaded from routine meetings.

I recall at one Club Officers Training Breakout session, a new club’s President had asked for ideas to make club meetings fun and meaningful.  I threw out some tried and tested examples like

  • a reversed-order Agenda
  • trying out Group Evaluations led by a Lead Evaluator
  • having an Open House
  • or a round-robin storytelling and soapbox whinge instead of table topics

Other possibilities which carry a multi-purpose role of educating; creative planning; fulfilment of Manual Projects & peer recognition may include

  • Debates – intra club Debates may be extended to Area and Division sparring. What other way to get to know members from other clubs than through friendly competition?  Debates provide an opportunity to test our ability to think quickly on our feet using statistics, facts and supporting arguments.  This is impromptu ad lib at its best.
  • Speaker Exchange Programs – we enlarge our exposure to different speaking styles from hearing guest speakers from other clubs. Why not organise a program with your Area Director to schedule a guest speaker / evaluator for each club periodically?
  • Awards Night – while the District organises its own Awards Night, you too can work that in as a Gala Event with pomp to recognise the achievements of your members. I give credit to Murdoch Southsiders which made it a magical banquet in June this year where tables were adorned with candle-light, fancy table cloth and floral bouquets.  Practically every member was recognised with a formal trophy or a certificate for quirky awards like the Prodigal Son Award, recognising a member who re-joined the club after an absence.  Have fun creating your own event.
  • Fundraising workshops – from time to time, your members may need to do a workshop exceeding one hour for their Advanced Communication Gold Award.  During off-peak seasons like school holidays where attendance temporarily dwindles, these members may be allocated a full meeting to present their workshop.  You can turn the event into a fund-raiser by inviting non-club Toastmasters or even members of the public to attend, for a nominal fee.  Here, Jack the Giant Killer slays 3 giant (issues) of presentation opportunity; raising funds and membership drive with one stone!
  • Mentoring as an Agenda item – your VP Education may routinely schedule 15 minutes into the Agenda for group Mentoring. This way everyone simultaneously benefits from the guidance while more members can participate as Mentors to fulfil their Leadership project requirements.
  • Themed meetings – don’t you just love a party? This is in fact an excuse for a themed party where the theme may be an event, a colour or even an era.  You can have speeches, décor, food or dressing to match the occasion.  Melbourne Cup is a great example.  Ladies, are you game to come dressed to the nines with fascinators and gents in top hats, tux and bow ties or cravats?  Where allowed, a round of champagne or bubblies will go down very smoothly indeed, only remember responsible drinking!  You can even turn that into your Open House like Southern River club did.
  • Marathon Speeches – If you are a big club or have members who want to fast track their Manuals progression, you can organise meetings with end-to-end speeches. Evaluations are not to be missed out and can be given as a group evaluation with a Lead Evaluator driving that segment.  You will also contribute to meeting your Distinguished Club Program (education-related) goals.
  • Draw lots for all Agenda roles - give your VP Education a rest with the Agenda and draw lots as to who plays which Agenda role during the meeting. Toastmasters teaches us to be prepared at every turn.  This option challenges us to sharpen our skills whenever called upon to speak or lead.  Besides, how different is this compared to the numerous occasions when we are called upon to fill a role at the last minute when the assigned member is absent?  The verdict – absolutely achievable!
  • Evaluate as though in contests – with club, area and division contests happening now, do our members know what to do when called upon as judges? If we turned club members into judges, evaluating as though in a competition with a proper marking system, the benefits are multi-fold: firstly, we get used to the judging form criteria, speakers get peer assessments in ranking and the club gets another fun variation in their meeting.

Club meetings do not have to be staid, routine and ordinary. Exercise and pump up your creative juices. The idea is to introduce variety and humour.  That relaxes speakers and audience and everyone has fun!

Stephanie Chan








Stephanie Chan
Southern River Toastmasters Club

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Canning Vale Competent Communicator Gets His Sailing Orders

In March 2014, Josh joined Canning Vale Toastmasters just before he was to attend extensive interviewing and testing for one of the very few places in the Australian Navy as a MWO (Maritime Warfare Officer), hoping it would give him the edge to be recommended to become a WMO.  At that time he practised hard at every meeting and was excited to share his news of the day of testing and indeed being recommended.  He then just had to wait to see if an invitation letter arrived.

4-Sept-Robyn R-IMG_8341

Josh continued his Toastmasters journey along with his Mum, Elena, who joined with him and eventually, sure enough, that letter arrived.  As he prepared to embark on his training, he also finished his Competent Communicator manual.  We were tremendously excited to see Josh’s dream come true, but sad to see him leave our club.  During his 18 months at our club, Josh became one of our most humorous and entertaining speakers and a much loved member.

4-Sept-Robyn R-IMG_2933

Before he left, we had a special “Farewell Josh” meeting at Canning Vale to send him off in true Navy style.  We decorated the room in a naval theme, some of us dressed in naval colours and we had a sensational anchor cake for Josh to cut.  We will miss him terribly, but we are so proud of his growth into a mature young man who will represent his family so proudly in his new career.  We are honoured to have been a part of your development Josh and hope your memories of Canning Vale Toastmasters will always be fond.

During July, Josh attended his swearing in ceremony at Defence Force Recruiting Perth and within a few days flew off to HMAS Creswell (in Jervis Bay, NSW) to begin his training. For the next eight weeks there would be no outside contact at all.  Not his family or his girlfriend or his friends, would he be able to contact during this time!  After an anxious wait, Mum Elena and Dad Rob, finally received a call to say he was having a wonderful time and learning so much.

4-Sept-Robyn R-Josh, Rob, Elle


The final chapter to this wonderful story is that last week, Elena and Rob flew over to see Josh and congratulate him on his progress.  We know they will have given Josh lots of good wishes from all his Toastmasters friends.






Robyn Richards DTM
Vice President Public Relations
Canningvale Toastmasters Club
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Semi Annual Payments / Smedley Award / Marvellous Membership

Hi to all of our members and a big thanks to the Club Treasurers of the majority of our clubs for paying the semi-annuals in a timely manner to ensure that your competing members can be Members of Good Standing in Clubs of Good Standing.

All clubs who achieved the status of a Club in Good Standing also gain half a point towards fulfilling one of your Distinguished Club Program targets.

I recently advertised two membership Contests – The Smedley Award which is awarded by Toastmasters International and the Marvellous Membership Award which is awarded from District 17. The winners of the Smedley Award are not yet available, however I can state that 14 Clubs have managed to pay a minimum amount of 20 member payments towards meeting part of the Marvellous Membership criteria.  Some of those clubs are also meeting the new member target as well so Well Done!

Please continue to monitor your member semi-annual payments and work towards finalising with Toastmasters International as soon as possible.


Sue Fallon
Club Growth Director

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Could You Be A Public Speaker If You Had Been Born Deaf

I had the privilege of being invited to judge at the Western Australian Power of Speech Awards at the Telethon Speech and Hearing Centre.  Eighteen primary school children from nine schools competed in two categories of speeches depending on experience and degree of disability.  All speeches were written by the students and were given a time of up to four minutes.  Several of these students had not heard another human voice until they were a few years old.

childrenI cannot imagine the struggles these kids endured in learning how to communicate without the ability to hear themselves speaking.

All the children used a PowerPoint presentation containing photos representing their speech.  I’m sure they had parental assistance as the photos were all clear, relevant and beautifully presented.  But what the parents could not have directly achieved for their children was the level of presentation skills that many of the speakers demonstrated.  They all had extensive notes, and a few of the presenters read their entire speech.  Even those that read their speech made significant eye contact with the audience that would have made senior toastmasters envious. And those that did not read had excellent eye contact and a great use of hand and arm gestures.  As they all were fitted with microphones and stood on a platform so they could see over the lectern stage, movement was severely restricted.

Possibly the most surprising skill demonstrated was vocal variety. Considering these children did not speak in their early years, they demonstrated significant vocal skills of pitch and volume fluctuation.    I left the award ceremony feeling privileged to be a part of the process and humbled at the amount of effort that was required on the part of the Telethon Speech and Hearing staff, teachers, parents and presenters.


John Palmer, DTM
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