Presidential Address

Presidential Address 2011-07-25 

Fellow Transformers Toastmasters,

It is an honour and a privilege to serve Transformers Toastmasters Club as the President for the next 11 and a bit months.

It is my aim to return to basics and to keep things simple in order to serve you, the members of this club, by allowing you to achieve your reasons for having joined.

Toastmasters is one of the most effective Adult Education Programmes around and has a long history of success. Part of it’s success is that the clubs are self managed and thereby everyone participates in their own success.

For this reason I am very pleased to have members serving on the committee for the first time. No one becomes a committee member of a Toastmasters club because they know the job, everyone joins the committee in order to learn the job. I’ve been the mentor of a new club, Wits Business School Toastmasters Club, since the beginning of this year and can attest that in a new club the committee is entirely made up of new members with no prior experience of Toastmasters. In a well established club such as ours there are mentors aplenty for each role and the opportunity for learning is only a question away.

Last year as the VPE I tried to help every member set goals for themselves. I think I started off making it all too complicated and I did not assist by facilitating what I had in mind through the meeting programmes. You may have noticed 2 changes on the meeting programme already. Firstly, formalising the swapping of manuals. This means that everyone who does anything at all on the programme will be evaluated and many more people will have the opportunity to evaluate. Secondly, I have asked that we allocate 5 minutes where mentors can speak with their protégés to set goals, plan the next speech and assess recent evaluations.

I must confess that I’m not a very goal oriented person. My maxim is that life is a journey, not a destination and therefore I’m happy moving in a particular direction without racing to gain a particular achievement.

However, I also realise that an Adult Education Programme is pointless without goals just as attending university would be worthless without graduating.

I recently joined a self-help support group and learned there the value a simplified goal statement and I would like to encourage each one of you to use the Educational Session later this evening to formulate your goals in as simple a statement as possible. My goals for this year are: As the club president that this club shall be a President’s Distinguished Club and my personal goals are to complete my CL and 5 advanced speaking projects. My desire is that everyone should be able to articulate their Toastmasters goals for this year and I have suggested to the committee that we find a way that every member speak his or her goals every time they take the floor.

Becoming a President’s Distinguished Club means achieving 9 or 10 points in the Distinguished Club Programme (or DCP). This programme is designed specifically to assist members of the club in achieving their own speaking goals and becoming better leaders. The DCP programme is reflective programme, i.e. it reflects on achievements. Our District Governor for this year, Erich Viege, has devised a metric that will assist us in keeping on track towards DCP goals.

This metric is very simple: have 20 people at each meeting, 3 prepared speeches and 1 new member a month. The twenty people can be members, visiting Toastmasters or guests, but it ensures a lively vibrant meeting with duties spread to as many people as possible. Three prepared speeches spread between Competent Communicator and Advanced projects means that with 24 possible meeting a year of which 5 are holidays, contests or events means 19 meetings of 3 prepared speeches or 57 speeches. For full DCP points for speaking the club must complete 4 CCs and 2 AC or 60 speeches. There is sufficient opportunity during 19 to 24 meetings to complete two CL, AL or DTM’s. The only area where we as a club keep falling down is on membership. It is expected that on average 8 members will fall away during any year for a variety of reasons. With 12 new members signing on during the year the club will achieve and then maintain charter strength. (A new club can only be chartered once it has 20 paid up members.)

Because we fail in the area of new members I have chosen as the theme for this year: the club is the newest member. If we all direct particular focus on bringing in guests and making their experience such that they want to become members. Everyone writes on their guest form a reason why they have attended as a visitor. Our aim should be to assist the new member in putting in place a plan to achieve this reason and then mentoring them through the plan. If we focus on doing everything right for the newest member it will soon become the way we do everything in the club, particularly because we will have a new member every month.

I’m looking forward to a productive year in a fun environment and I invite each one of you to reflect on why you are a member of this Adult Education Programme and take the steps to make the programme work for you.

John-Peter Gernaat