A Pleasure To Receive…Thank You!

On Friday, I had great pleasure in receiving my DTM (Distinguished Toastmaster) plaque from Toastmasters International.

As an earlier post indicated, I reached the DTM level in Toastmasters last month which is the highest level.

IMG_9412

Since 1924, more than 4 million people have benefitted from the Educational program.

As of 1 July 2020, the new Pathways Educational is now the only educational program in use. There are 11 Paths to choose from.

I joined Toastmasters back in March 2008 and by committing to the program and consistently striving to improve myself, taking on board the mentoring and points for improvement and putting them into practice, it changed my life in many positive ways.  It can do the same for you too.

There is still more I can learn and whilst doing that, I can help others along the way, just like I have been helped. I am so grateful for the opportunities.

For more information: https://www.toastmasters.org/

Written by David Johnson
5 July 2020

Stepping-Stones… A Journey to DTM and Beyond!

Last week it was exciting to have achieved the highest Education and Leadership level in Toastmasters International, that of DTM (Distinguished Toastmaster).

There is no set time to achieve DTM, You do it at your own pace and whilst some Toastmasters are members of multiple clubs, in my 12 1/4 years in Toastmasters, I’ve been in one club (at a time), mainly.

ToastmastersLogo-Color

So, what does that mean to a non-Toastmaster, i.e. what do you need to do to achieve it?

I have listed the requirements below that were needed to complete DTM (in the Traditional program):

Competent Communicator

10 speeches (mainly 5-7 minutes in length).

Competent Leader

10 Projects (containing multiple roles ranging from meeting roles to serving on a club executive committee).

Advanced Communicator Bronze

10 Advanced module speeches (mainly 5-7 mins but up to 40 mins). There were 15 Advanced manuals to choose from; plus 2 x 15 minute Educational presentations.

Advanced Leadership Bronze

Served at least 6 months as a Club Officer; participate in preparation of a Club Success Plan; attend Officer training; conduct 2 x15 minute Educational presentations.

Advanced Communicator Silver

10 Advanced module speeches & 2 x15 minute Educational presentations.

Advanced Communicator Gold

10 Advanced module speeches & 1 x 15 minute Educational presentation or lead a Youth Leadership (6 weeks long) Program & mentored a member for their first 3 speech projects.

Advanced Leadership Silver

Serve a 12 month term as a District Leader, Serve successfully as a Club Coach, Club Sponsor or Club Mentor & complete a High Performance Leadership program.

Along the way you finish up doing more as its fun and you want to learn more and obtain more experience etc:

  • I led 3 Youth Leadership courses and participated in several more.
  • Participated (as a leader) in Speechcraft courses (for adults)
  • Have served as a club officer 6 times including being President of two different clubs.
  • Together with Rhys Tague (co-Club Coach) we have successfully built a new Toastmasters Club in the Macarthur Region and the club has achieved 10/10 in the Distinguished Club Program  (achieving all Administration, Education and Membership goals) in it’s first year.

Toastmasters has been in ’transition-mode’ for the past few years and the Traditional Program stops at Midnight on 30 June 2020. The new Pathways Education Program has been in for a few years now and offers even more opportunities for learning and development in terms of communication and leadership.

I’m currently about to start Level 3 (out of 5) of the one of the 11 Paths called ‘Presentation Mastery.’

Being a committed member of Toastmasters has helped me have greater confidence (inward & outward) and I have learnt so much. There is still much more to learn though.

Why do I stay in Toastmasters?

  • Continuing professional development
  • A chance to pay it forward/give back to other members
  • I’ve made many friends

I’ve included a link to the Pathways Education program should you wish to investigate it more. https://www.toastmasters.org/pathways-overview

If you would like to find a club near you that you can visit, there is a ‘Find A Club’ link on the same page.

Where to from here? I see the achievement of DTM as another stepping-stone to further professional development.

The journey is far from over!

Written by David Johnson
27 June 2020

Go On…’Steal The Show!’

As some of you may know, I’m a member of Toastmasters International and have been for 12 years this month. It has been a wonderful journey of learning, practicing and I have made many friends along the way, plus I am now a much more confident person in many ways, too.

At the same time, whilst Toastmasters is a great organisation and I highly recommend it, I also recommend sourcing information about Speaking skills from outside of it.

For quite a few years now I have been reading books about Public Speaking, Presentation skills, Leadership and general communication skills.

One such book is ’Steal The Show’ from Speeches to Job Interviews to Deal-Closing Pitches.

I first found out about the book when I came across Michael Port’s podcast on iTunes called ’Steal The Show.’

I feel the book is a ‘Goldmine’ of inspiration and information. Part One is ’The Performer’s Mindset’; Part Two is ‘Powerful Performance Principles’ and Part Three is ‘A Master Class In Public Speaking’ plus it has 50 Public Speaking tips at the end of the book.

If you are at all interested in improving your communication and public speaking skills, I would highly recommend reading this book. I will be keeping it as a reference book for many years to come!

Written by David Johnson
March 2020

 

Opportunity Knocks!

Last month I had the opportunity to speak at my very First conference. It was held at the Pepper Manor House in the Southern Highlands of NSW. A beautiful, grand old house in quite a picturesque location.

I was invited to speak at ICCare (formerly known as Wollondilly Support and Community Care Inc) which is based in Picton, NSW but its coverage also extends to the Camden, NSW region.ICCARE LOGO

ICCare provide quality, professional service/support to people who are frail, aged, people with a disability and their carers.

My topic for the presentation was, “Public Speaking” and I was advised that I would be speaking for an hour and then there would be time for questions.

As with many of the general population, some of the staff have had challenges with public speaking and this is how the presentation came about.

Although my presentation was by PowerPoint, I was careful not to present too many slides with bullet points only, as this can be quiet boring for an audience.

Instead, (on some slides) I used images to represent ideas that I was talking about.

During the presentation, I gave tips on overcoming nerves, preparation, speech structure, public speaking techniques and also gave a demonstration of ‘Impromptu Speaking’ or “Thinking On Your Feet’ as it is sometimes known.

I then invited a member of the audience up and another member of the audience gave them a topic to speak on for one minute.

After that, I invited 4 members of the audience up to participate in a ‘Round Robin’ which is another Impromptu Speaking exercise but much more fun.

After a 20 minute question period we adjourned to lunch and shared a few stories.

Thank you to Lisa Smith, CEO of ICCare for this opportunity.

I found it to be a thoroughly enjoyable experience and can’t wait for the next public speaking opportunity!

Written by David Johnson
16 May 2019

For more information on the services provided by ICCare, please click on the following link: http://wsacci.org.au/

Journey Of A Lifetime!

Now that I have been a member of Toastmasters International for 10 years, it’s a goodToastmastersLogo-Color time to reflect on the experience.

It has been a life-changer for me.

As a born introvert I know only too well the ‘apparent fear’ one experiences when one stands up before a group of people to speak, whether it is in a work or business meeting, or if you are asked to give a speech somewhere.

After 10 years of ‘investing myself’ in the programme, here’s what I have learned:

* The old adage ‘you only get out what you put in’ is totally true.

Out here in Australia, Clubs meet twice a month and I’ve missed perhaps 15 – 20 meetings in those 10 years. I would say that I’ve been to at least 240 Toastmaster meetings if you count the other Toastmaster clubs that I have visited in that time.

* The benefits I have gained/positive impact on my life are immense.

I wrote an article back in 2015 for this blog and will post the link at the bottom for I identified 18 ways my life has benefitted from being involved in Toastmasters.

I’ve even managed to progress from Introvert to Ambivert as well!

* I sometimes get asked, ‘Why do you keep going?’

Simply put, Education, Motivation, Friendship & Fun!

I can’t remember how many times that I felt like just going home and vegetating because I had a hard day at work or whatever. Whenever I went to the Toastmasters meeting, I always came out at the end, revitalised and re-energised.

Every meeting you learning something new, either about yourself or about public speaking/leadership and with each time you do a role and/or speak you grow that little more in confidence.

I’ve made so many great friends who are so supportive, and we have loads of fun.

* It gives you a chance to have a positive impact on other people’s lives

I can easily relate to how other people (especially Introverts) feel and can help them through my experiences. The membership individually and as a whole want people to succeed. We support them through their mistakes, want them to progress and use their skills out in the World at large.

Toastmasters Clubs also run Youth Leadership courses in schools and Speechcraft courses for adults.

I’m really looking forward to the next 10 years and beyond in Toastmasters. Here in Australia, we’ve just taken delivery of the new PATHWAYS Education programme. 10 Paths to transverse. I’ve selected, ‘Presentation Mastery’ as the one I’d like to begin with.

There is another old saying that says, ‘It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey…’, well this journey is one that I am ever so grateful for!
David Johnson
17 March 2018

To find out the way 18 ways being involved in Toastmasters has helped me, click on
https://communicatingcreatively.wordpress.com/2015/07/21/why-toastmasters/

If you would like to find out more, click on https://www.toastmasters.org/

Inspiration Plus! – Lions Club International Youth of the Year!

Yesterday, I had the most marvellous experience of being a member of a panel of 5 Judges on the Lions Club International Youth of the Year District 210 N2 Final here is South-West Sydney, Australia.
Initially, there were supposed to be 6 contestants, all aged 15, however, the only boy withdrew from the contest prior to the day.
As a panel, we interviewed each of the 5 contestants on subjects such as Leadership, Sporting & Cultural activities, Citizenship & Community involvement, Academic and general knowledge of Local, State, National & International affairs for a period of 30 minutes.
We then had to judge each contestant on two Impromptu Speaking questions, one 5 minute speech and on Presentation and Personality.
It was a fascinating process. Seeing and hearing the students present themselves via three different formats, handling the nerves as they did was a credit to themselves, their parents and their schools.
IMG_1728
Congratulations to all the contestants and in particular the Public Speaking Winner and the Overall Winner. Best wishes in the forthcoming State Titles!
In all-in-all, it was a very inspiring day! It was such a pleasure to interview and hear the contestants. They were so inspirational!
It was also wonderful representing Toastmasters International on the Judging Panel.
Congratulations to Lions Club International for conducting such an event and a HUGE THANK YOU for the opportunity!
Thank you also to fellow Toastmaster, Anne O’Keefe who put me onto the opportunity.
If you ever get the chance to be part of the Judging Panel for this contest, I would highly recommend that you take it.
Written by David Johnson
11 March 2018

Opportunity Awaits!

Logo Website Tagline Lockup

Joining Toastmasters International has affected my life in many positive ways and opened up a lot of opportunities that would not have been there had I not taken that step, and continued the journey.

From my first speech at a Toastmasters Club meeting (where I could not sleep the night before and could hardly eat on the day) in front of 20 members to the amazing experience I had last Sunday is testament to the wealth of personal growth, in terms of confidence, communication and leadership that Toastmasters International provides.

Last Sunday, I was the ‘Test Speaker’ for the District 90 Toastmasters Evaluation Contest at the Annual Conference which was held at Rooty Hill RSL.

A ’Test Speaker’ in Toastmasters delivers a speech that is then evaluated by contestants, who are then judged to see who is the best evaluator by a panel of judges.

18405363_10209459931199732_1520567314_oGetting to deliver a 7 minute speech in front of over 100 people with many Distinguished guests including Mike Storkey, the current International President of Toastmasters International, is an experience that I will cherish for a long, long time.

Receiving speech evaluations from the Top 6 Evaluators in District 90 is something I am very, very grateful for. I learnt a great deal that day.

18426614_10209459931719745_1134015842_oIf you are looking for a way to gain confidence, grow personally and develop your communication and leadership skills, Toastmasters International is waiting for you…

Click on ‘Find a Club’ in the link http://www.toastmasters.org and start your journey today!

David Johnson
Camden Toastmasters
28 April 2017

Public Speaking In Your Pocket!

Back in 1986 I joined Campbelltown Camera Club (now known as Macarthur Photographic Society). After 4 years there I was asked if wanted to present a talk on ‘Close-Up & Still-Life’ Photography.
Apart from a basic Presentation Skills course, I had never done any Public Speaking courses. Over time, I did some other Camera Club presentations and the ‘passion for Photography got me through.’ 😃
In 1995, I took on the challenge of becoming a Photography Judge and visited Camera Clubs, evaluating images and judging at Exhibitions up to National level etc.
I didn’t like being up in front up people but again, the passion for photography saw me through.
As time went by I started to source out material that would help me be a better speaker in public.
Long before I joined Toastmasters International (in 2008), I started purchasing public speaking/communication books and now have a collection of nearly 100 books relating to communication.
One of the early books I purchased is a very handy little book that is packed with tips and it’s small enough to fit in a coat pocket. I often still take it with me, and when I am waiting in a queue or waiting for an appointment, I will flip through it and ingest another brilliant piece of advice.
Contents include:img_7486
  • Your Voice
  • How Your Voice Works
  • Being Heard
  • Variety in speech
  • Clarity in speech
  • Microphone technique
  • Voice Care & Development

112 pages of public speaking Gold!

Over time, I will highlight some of the other Communication books that I find valuable and still refer to from time-to-time.
Written by David Johnson
7 February 2017

Opportunity Knocks!

In July 2015, I was offered a speaking spot at Campbelltown Probus Club on 27 January 2016 by Nola who was on the Executive at the club, whilst we working at an Election Day Polling Booth.

A Probus Club is an organisation for retired or semi-retired business or professional people, and operates worldwide.

In Toastmasters International, we are taught that, ’if you are offered a speaking opportunity then you should take it’ whether that is inside or outside Toastmasters.

Remembering this, at the time, I had absolutely no hesitation in saying, yes! As Nola began to fill me in some more details, like the speaking time (40 minutes) and audience (up to 120 people), I started to realise the enormity of the experience, compared to what I had done previously…

It is amazing sometimes how fear and doubt can creep into the psyche.

The choice of the topic was left up to me and I decided to speak on the subject of ‘Communicating Creatively’ a subject that is very dear to my Heart. The one thing I didn’t want it to be though was ‘ok, this is what I do’ and that’s it. That would only be an information talk only and if the audience wasn’t particularly interested in photography, poetry, writing or painting then it could be quite dry for them.

What I needed to do was to involve the audience as it is they, the audience who are the most important people during the speech, not the speaker.

There were two main objectives that I had set for the speech:

  • To convey and obtain agreement that we are all creative to some extent
  • To show people ways that they can communicate creatively

One of the best ways to commence a speech is to involve the audience straight away via a question. There were 100 people attending that day and I asked for a ’show of hands’ of those who thought that they were creative in some way? 3 hands went up…

I explained to them that often the word creativity is often thought of only in terms of Arts & Crafts and went on to say that if we were to list all the previous occupations in the room, there would (I imagined) be quite a diverse range or White Collar, Blue Collar workers: Accountants, Engineers, Retail, Teachers, Public Service etc.

Engineers e.g. need to be creative to solve problems, don’t they? Henry Ford wanted 8 cylinders cast in one block. His engineers told him it could not be done. Henry Ford told them to find a way. They used their creativity to solve the problem.

Another show of hands was requested. This time about half the room put up their hands.

After opening their minds as to the fact that they were creative, I began to show them ways I communicate creatively, i.e. through Photography, Writing, Poetry & Painting and how they could too.

The presentation over, a number of people came up to me asking questions and stating that they intended on exploring photography, painting etc. This pleased me.

If I had said no to the opportunity I would have missed out on the following:

  • A chance to converse and connect with 100 people and hopefully inspire them
  • A chance to practice my presentation and public speaking skills
  • Presenting my longest presentation/longest PowerPoint to the largest number of people
  • The chance to present using a microphone
  • A chance at getting another speaking spot with another Not-4-Profit organisation

Was I nervous? Yes, definitely! In fact I was probably 10 times as nervous as when I competed at a Division Final International Speech Contest (a 5-7 minute speech in front of 100 Toastmaster members), probably because this presentation was outside the Toastmasters environment, i.e. the real world.

I said yes to the opportunity because of my involvement with Toastmasters, which has given me the confidence to step outside my comfort zone and take on new challenges.

It is only by practice, making mistakes, revision, more practice etc that we improve. I have a long way to go to get to where I want to be as a Public Speaker but am sure having fun on the journey!

 

David Johnson
March 2016

“Leave Them On The Desk” or “The Night My Invisible Umbilical Cord Was Cut”

It was late 2008 and I had been enjoying my Toastmasters experience for approx. 6-7 months and was looking forward to delivering Speech #5 from The Competent Communicator manual.

Upon delivering my speech I sat down and a Toastmaster of some 25+ years of experience said to me ‘next time you do a speech, I want to see you leave your speech notes here on the table.’ I remember looking at him a bit aghast, saying “you mean I have to try to do my speech without having notes to refer to?” He said “Yes.” Gulp!

This was something I had not contemplated doing at all, ever.

What if I forgot where I was up to? What if I had a ‘mental-blank’ up there?

He reminded me that Toastmasters was a ‘mutually-supportive environment’ i.e. every member sitting in the audience ‘wants you to succeed’ so that in the event of any hiccups they would understand. This is one of the great things about Toastmasters. It’s where we learn and practice so that we can take our skills ‘to the real World’, outside.

Preparation is but one of the successful keys to the success of the speech. Preparation in terms of not only writing a speech but preparing your mindset as well.

I had it in my mind that I could not do a speech without notes. This was true up to that point in time.

With the support of the members of my club, I delivered speech #6 without notes as challenged. Since that day I have only used notes on a small number of occasions, being my incoming and outgoing Club President Addresses at a Changeover Dinners and others being when using bullet points during PowerPoint demonstrations.

Accepting and delivering that challenge to use ‘no notes’ that night changed my mindset on what was possible for me in that regard and built my confidence a little more, which is one of the things being a member of Toastmasters International can do for you.

In my next article on Public Speaking, I’ll be talking about “A Speech Contest. Are You Crazy?”

Written by David Johnson
26 September 2015