Black Swan July 2012

Black Swan
July 2012

The Newsletter of Toastmasters District 17

Editor: Vicky Post

In this issue

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Many changes have been introduced with the new Toastmaster year. We have a new District Governor with a new enthusiastic team of District Officers.

You also have a new editor and I’m excited about the new challenge. When you read this, most of you would have already heard from me at the recently conducted TLI – Toastmaster Leadership Institute. I was lucky enough to have a few minutes on the program to ask you, all our members and club officers, to help with articles and distribution of the newsletter in the next twelve months.

Reflection Time

With all these changes and a new Toastmaster year ahead, it is a great time to reflect on where your journey is taking you. Why did you join Toastmasters in the first place? To learn better speaking and presentation skills? To become more confident? To learn the ability of speaking off the cuff for challenges like job interviews?

Whatever your reasons, have you evaluated your own progress to see where you are at?

Often in life, we learn new skills and because they become a part of our new You, we forget to value this new skill. Look through your speech manuals and re-read your evaluations. Which recommendations did you get for your first speeches that you are no longer getting? In other words, which areas have you improved on during your journey?

Goals for the New Year

What are your goals for the coming TM year? Talk to your new VPE to make sure your club can meet those goals. If you want to take your speaking skills to the next level, think about joining one of our advanced clubs. They meet at different venues across the city and Fremantle and allow for longer speeches as well as a more in-depth evaluation. Check out the district 17 website for more information about advanced clubs.

Another advantage of advanced clubs is that you meet a bunch of other Toastmasters and you have the opportunity of speaking in front of a different audience. After all, whoever joined Toastmasters to become a better speaker at Toastmasters? We all have a goal to use this skill somewhere in the “real world”.

Set yourself a couple of goals and find a new challenge within Toastmasters. It is only when you take that single step outside of your comfort zone that you truly grow and develop as a speaker.

My Challenge

For me this year, the big step outside my comfort zone is taking on the newsletter. I’ll be learning new software, designing a look that I like and encouraging all of you to participate. It is a great challenge and one that I really look forward to.

I also look forward to working with all of you in creating a fabulous newsletter. It isn’t something I can do on my own and besides you, our members and readers, would want variety in the articles and stories you are presented with.

My opening and closing statement during my presentation at TLI was: “Black Swan is the most read online media in the Southern hemisphere!” By working together, I truly believe we can achieve this. I’ll keep an eye on the stats during the year and let you know how we are tracking. My goal is to get at least 75% of our members to receive and read Black Swan.

Please help me and get behind Black Swan and create a media we look forward to receiving in our mailbox.

Vicky Post, DTM

Black Swan Editor

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District Governor Report

What a fantastic start to the 2012-2013 Toastmaster year in District 17. There have already been some significant events that have occurred including:

District Officer Training

Our new Division and Area Governors have undergone successful training in their new roles. The District Officers are there to help all members in achieving their individual goals this year. Please contact them if you need their assistance. We are all here to help.

Toastmasters Leadership Institute

District 17 has had 275 Club Officers trained at the Toastmaster Leadership Institute which has resulted in 51 out of our 63 Clubs having the minimum of 4 Club Officer trained in the first round of training.

When a Toastmaster member steps up to take on the role of a Club Officer they commit to serve each of their club members effectively and enhance meeting quality. To achieve this goal it is vital that they attend Club Officer Training at the Toastmaster Leadership Institute to learn and understand role-specific responsibilities. The training is designed to expand their knowledge of Toastmasters and improve their individual Leadership development.

We have tried to enhance the TLI to give members an added benefit to their membership by including workshops they can learn and benefit from in their world outside Toastmasters.

Therefore all Club Officer should attend the Toastmaster Leadership Institute events to not only achieve the Distinguished Club Program point but to learn and improve themselves as individuals.

Educational Recognition

Congratulation to John Pawley and Patricia Rice who have achieved their Distinguished Toastmaster Award.

The Distinguished Toastmaster award is the highest award Toastmasters bestows on a member and it recognises both the communication and leadership skills that the member has completed.

Fewer than 12,000 of Toastmaster’s 4 million past and present members have achieved the elite Distinguished Toastmaster status.

The achievement of the Distinguished Toastmaster award is recognition of both individuals’ commitment to Toastmaster’s Communication and Leadership Streams.

Congratulations John and Patricia.

District 17 is on track to have a very successful and rewarding year for all its members.

Ross Wilkinson
District 17 Governor 2012/13

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Southern River Toastmasters celebrates their 100th meeting!

Two years ago, a group of dedicated Canning Vale Toastmasters, under the guidance of Mark Richards, established the Southern River Toastmasters Club. A week after a fine demonstration meeting we chartered the club with 17 new members and 4 dual members.

As a weekly club, we progressed our members through fairly quickly and within a short time had achieved most DCP goals. Although we turned over a few members during our first year, we ended as President’s Distinguished. Having Mark and Robyn Richards breathing down our necks we could hardly do otherwise!

Our second year had its ups and downs as well but with hard work from all members we were able to achieve the 10 DCP goals. With high turnover in members again, we only just made it back to charter strength, and once again finished the year as President’s Distinguished.

Here are Mark Richards, John & Mike Palmer and John Cecchi celebrating the 100th meeting in great form.


John Palmer, DTM

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Worried about an upcoming Presentation or Speech?

Do you have a competition speech or work presentation that you would like to improve? Delivering it to your club would be a start but there is a better avenue available to you. Fremantle Gourmet Toastmasters is a Club with a difference. We have dispensed with most of the ‘normal‘ segments you will find at a club meeting and just concentrate on speeches and in depth evaluations.

When I say in depth, the evaluations run for six minutes with most of that time spent on recommendations. Because the audience is predominantly experienced Toastmasters and comments are invited from everybody (not just one person’s opinion), you will be provided with a range of valuable ideas to improve your presentation.

Coupled with the fact that you can enjoy a reasonably priced meal, a drink and the fellowship of your peers, and you have a great night out. The club meets monthly and you can get in touch with John Palmer (VPE), if you want to secure a spot on the program. Further information is also available from Steve Barry or 0411 129 706.


Steve Barry, DTM

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Spice up your meetings with a theme

Do your Toastmasters meetings get a bit tired, follow the same old rigid structure?

Spice them up with a theme!

Try a silly hat meeting, or Show and tell. What about an International theme, Footy fever or Fashion, Magic or Dreams. Bring a friend is useful to introduce potential new members, and a P-party can present a plethora of possibilities to perform.

Use your imagination, mix it up a bit. If you always run table topics first then prepared speeches, and have evaluations in the second half, try having the evaluations immediately after the speeches. It helps to sharpen your skills. If you are adventurous, run a lucky dip meeting, nobody knows their role until they pull it out of a hat. That means you all need to have a prepared speech, and be ready to take on any role. For the really adventurous, why not run a backwards meeting.

There are lots of possibilities for you to refresh and revitalize your meetings so you can have more fun, whilst still progressing your Toastmasters journey. Give it a try, and send a report with photos to the Black Swan.

Martin Lindsay, DTM

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Back to the 80’s at Guildford Stars Toastmasters

Picture all your fellow club members. Now imagine what they looked like in the 80’s. This may be a scary thought considering what that decade brought us in terms of fashion: shoulder pads, mullets, over the top colours and just plain extravagance.

Well the Guildford Stars Toastmasters decided to go back to the 80’s on Monday 27th February. Pascale Amberville-Colby was scheduled as the Toastmaster weeks earlier and was allowed to choose his own theme. When he suggested “Back to the 80’s” my first thought was one of sheer terror. Did I really want to see my fellow club members dressed in 80’s outfits? Looking back the answer is YES! The reality brought vibrancy to the club that no theme could beat.

On the night, yours truly dressed as Indiana Jones, having left my custom to the last minute. Lynne Brighton was in a brightly coloured dress, Martin Lindsay was wearing a metal earring and Pascale Amberville-Colby with a Warwick Capper hair-piece and sunglasses. We had music from the era pumping out as well. The meeting agenda was covered with an assortment of photos Pascale had managed to pull together.

Pascale kept the theme alive throughout the meeting. We had project speeches about Ned Kelly (the 1880s, but still counts), how to keep track of money (the 80’s was about the money) and how to pull through the tough times (after all the 90s were hard to pull through). Our table topics session asked us to remember and comment on some of the defining 80’s events: the Chamberlain case, Star Wars, Haley’s Comet and Madonna.

We had a guest turn up, which. I at first thought was a mistake. After all she might think we were all nuts in our strange outfits, but she enjoyed the evening. Pascale closed the meeting by showing us his 80’s dance moves and getting the members to join in.

It was a fantastic evening. It is a perfect illustration of how you can create a ‘buzz’ in your club by having a theme. It makes table topic more fun and allows you to relive a part of your life you thought was locked away. So what are you waiting for? Perhaps it is time for your club to go back to 80’s, 70’s, 60’s or 50’s?

John Pawley

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We Owe it to the Kids.

How would your life have been different, had you had Toastmaster training in Primary or High School? And how would it be different now?

Our District is introducing Toastmasters into Western Australian Schools, and we need your help. Toastmasters have two programs for school kids; Gavel clubs and Youth Leadership. Youth Leadership is like Speechcraft; it runs over 8 weeks with 60 to 90 minute sessions. The Program Coordinator achieves a requirement towards the Advanced Communicator Gold award. But that is incidental to the greatest reward of all – seeing the young people gain confidence and skill in public speaking.

Setting up a Gavel club is like setting up a Toastmasters club, only easier. There is no requirement for 20 members. Your involvement as the leader would be to give a few workshops, speech preparation, evaluations, etc., and monitor the progress of the kids. Gavel clubs are most likely to be run just after school but they could also run on weekends depending on the demand. Gavel club members work through the Competent Communication manual just like us and then move on to advanced manuals. The photo above is Josh Scoles receiving his CC award. What a thrill for Josh, his parents, and for me.

I would like to compile a roster of Toastmasters who are interested in helping with Gavel Clubs and the Youth Leadership program. I am looking for a commitment of one or two hours a week to assist and perhaps run one of the programs. Please contact me on 0429-001-337 or

 John Palmer, DTM

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Make your club Website work for your club

How many guests do you get to your club at each meeting? How did they find you? The answers to these questions should be easy if your club website is working for you. Most clubs with clearly set out home pages that address the questions of prospective members will get at least one visitor to each meeting.

Why is this so? When you are setting up your site, put yourself in the mindset of someone who is a potential member. What are they looking for? Do they have to give a presentation at work? Do they have problems with their day to day communication (you know where your wife tells you that you don’t listen, or something like that.) are they going to give a wedding speech?

By focussing on the potential member’s needs you will be thinking about the words they will be using when conducting a search to find what they want. As they Google away you want your site to be found. How can you ensure this happens? Put the words they are likely to use on your front page.

Something along these lines should do the trick.

Do you:

  • Dread the thought of giving a speech at a wedding or function?
  • Get nervous giving presentations at work or attending meetings?
  • Avoid situations where you need to speak?
  • Struggle with confidence at job interviews?
  • Have time management problems?
  • Hold back in life because you are not a confident speaker?
  • Need development in your leadership skills?

If so, you need public speaking skills and poise. Does this come naturally to you?  If not, have a look at Toastmasters.

We offer members:

  • Better speaking.
  • Better listening.
  • Better leadership.

Do you notice those ‘key words’ are bolded? This is done for ‘Search Engine Optimisation” (SEO), something of a black art. Once you understand how it works, however, you can get your website working for you.

Search Engines (Google being the most preeminent) read text; they crawl through web pages all day long reading the content. They try to get a handle on what your website is about. Without those keywords the Search Engine will not know. Just think about all those sites laden with pictures, Search Engines can’t read pictures, unless there is an Alternative Text attached it means nothing.

When you were setting up your site you will also have been asked to set up Meta tags (don’t worry you can still go back and do it after completing your site), these are words ‘behind the scenes’ that are retrieved by the Search Engines. They are not seen by users. Remember to include your geographical location; this IS the World Wide Web. Someone in Toronto might think you are exactly what they need, pity they won’t be able to attend your club.

Let potential members know where and when you meet and that they can come along as a guest FOR FREE (those are two magic words). Ensure there is an invitation to come along to a meeting, put the dates of the next 3 meetings on your front page (sometimes they can’t get to the next meeting).

The advantage of putting your next three meeting dates on the front page is that you will have to change your front page after every meeting. That’s an advantage? Yes it is, because our friend the Search Engine comes back to your site to see if anything has changed. The more often it changes the more often it comes back, the more often it comes back the higher you rank.

See how highly your club ranks, run a search on Google using Public Speaking and your suburb, or Leadership or Confidence. See if your Club site makes the first page of hits.

Finally and importantly have two contacts on your front page. Preferably one male and one female, including phone numbers and e-mail addresses. Make it as easy as possible for your prospective member to speak to your designated contacts.

Do all this and there is no reason that guests won’t be queuing up at your door waiting to get into your meetings!

Gerry Prewett, DTM

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Southern River Toastmaster of the Year.

Gail Kilgour, our Vice-President Education, won the Toastmaster of the Year award for 2012.

John Palmer, the donor of the trophy, is presenting it to Gail Kilgour. She was over the moon! It was well deserved by Gail as she worked tirelessly all year as VPE, a very difficult and demanding role. Gail was one of our charter members two years ago and has now achieved her CC and CL awards. She is about to be awarded her ACB and ALB, both will count as goals for this year’s DCP.


John Palmer, DTM
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What’s in a name?

“What do you mean?  Netmasters?”

I have had that question many times since we started the club 4 years ago.  It has taken us quite a while to answer that in a simple way.  We knew what we had planned but until we had real success, it wasn’t easy for other people to understand us.  But last month, on Thursday July 26 to be exact, we had a club meeting – No.50 – which demonstrated it in action.

Meeting No.50 of Club 1204806 Netmasters

It was held at our house in Willagee.  Our meetings are held at member’s houses which have suitable reception and display equipment.  I have an iMac computer with a 27 inch screen which is connected to the net through iiNet, whose CEO is Toastmaster Michael Malone DTM.  We had 13 people at the meeting – 11 members, 2 visitors and 2 apologies.  So what you might say.  Big deal.  13 present!!  But …

Where were they?

8 of us were there in front of the iMac.  One was on Whitsunday Island off the coast of Queensland.  Two were in Gonubie South Africa.  And two were in Winnipeg, Canada –
they were the visitors.  We used technology called GoToMeeting to have us all present together, despite the geographical situation.  My iMac screen displayed 5 separate windows.  People on each window were visible to one another and could speak and be heard by one another.  We used different technologies like webcams and iPads to project our images and voices to be part of the meeting.  There were speeches and evaluations.  We had a business meeting to adopt our Club Success Plan.

Is this a big deal?

This is what Mike Storkey said in a comment on my blog story about the meeting.  Mike is the current Region 12 Toastmasters International Director.

Last night’s meeting was a true guide as to what the future holds. Distance and isolation will no longer be a barrier to Toastmasters around the world being able to communicate in real time face to face through the marvels of modern technology. With technical difficulties kept to a minimum the meeting was entertaining, professional and educational with three excellent speeches.

You can read the full meeting story and other comments on the District 17 website.  See the link below.

But that isn’t all we do.

Video Speeches

As well as developing this capacity to have fully functioning members outside Perth, we have also been developing our ability to prepare and present videoed speeches.  Only a few of our members are doing this just now but we see that this is going to be an important part of Toastmasters as well as the business world.  We use webcams, built in computer cameras and camcorders to lay down the basic speech content.  We use various editing facilities which can add titles, images and appropriate music to enhance the speech presentation.  We post it to YouTube, which is a free resource, and then display the link on the Netmasters website, so members can add their evaluations.

Are you interested in joining Netmasters?

We aren’t a big club, and we don’t aim to become one.  With present technology we can only display 6 separate windows on the screen.  I believe that will change in the near future as new technology is coming on stream right now.  In fact some new technology that has just been released by Apple will allow me to display the next meeting on our HD TV.   For now we can accept another two international members and about five Perth Metro members who can attend our monthly meetings, held on the 4th Thursday of each month. from 7-8.30pm.  If you are interested, email David or our Vice President Membership Greg

Some links to follow up

Have a look at the Full Story on the July 26 meeting

Go to the Netmasters website to look around.  There is some material only members can look at – you will have to join to see that.

David Nicholas

David Nicholas DTM
Netmasters VP Education & Webmaster
District 17 Webmaster
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