Thursday, November 15, 2012

Are You Going to Bonn?

The Toastmasters Distrct 59 Fall Conference is Bonn, Germany is about to begin. The conference officially kicks off tomorrow but there will be some activities tonight for people arriving today.  For many people in attendance the highlight will be watching Humorous speech contest and Table Topics (impromptu speeches) performed in English, French, and German. Toastmaster members have participated in club contests, area contests, and divsion contests in order to be able to compete in this Fall's contests. The contests are be no means all that is going on in Bonn this weekend, there will be a series of workshops, various leadership meetings, a lots of fellowship between Toastmasters old and new from accross Continental Europe (go here for a overview of all the activites). 

I joined Toastmasters in June, 2011 and this is the first time that I will attend the District 59 Conference, so I'm pretty excited about it.  As the District is growing rapidly it will be one a few opportunities to experience a conference for all of Continental Europe, in the future Distrct 59 will be split into more and more districts, so I'm excited about attending this truly international event. 

The speaking ability of all the contestants will be top notch.  The Humorous speeches should be very entertaining, I've certainly enjoyed the speeches that I've herd at my club, our area, and our division.  Impromtu speaking (speaking off the cutt as it is sometimes called) is an area that chalenges many of us.  The contestants in Bonn have mastered this and I'm curious to find out what the topics will be.

I'm looking forward to meeting other Toastmasters from all over Europe.  I hope to see you in Bonn.

Toastmasters’ Legacy of Learning Flourishes for 88 Years

Frankfurt, Germany, Oct. 26, 2012—“We learn in moments of enjoyment,” are the words of Dr. Ralph C. Smedley, who founded the first Toastmasters club at the YMCA in Santa Ana, Calif., 88 years ago today. Dr. Smedley, then-YMCA director, created the club in October 1924 for young men to practice their after-dinner speeches in a social environment. Today, nearly 300,000 men and women are improving their communication and leadership skills using the values and model that Dr. Smedley developed. In fact, there are more than 13,500 clubs in 116 countries throughout the world. Since the organization’s inception, more than four million people have found their voice and gained confidence through the proven Toastmasters program.

“Dr. Smedley laid the framework for the Toastmasters ‘learn-by-doing’ model,” says Daniel Rex, Executive Director of Toastmasters International. “The organization’s expansion in recent years is a tribute to the need for the timeless skills of effective communication and leadership. With 19 consecutive years of membership growth, our clubs continue to thrive globally.”

Longtime Toastmaster Morag Mathieson, says, "Toastmasters has benefited so many people over time because communication and leadership are universal skills that each individual needs. Better speaking skills are the most evident result of Toastmasters membership, but the leadership, listening and thinking skills associated with it are just as critical. " says Mathieson, the board leader of the organization in continental Europe and member of the Erlangen Toastmasters Club, Germany.

In Toastmasters, members meet weekly to learn and practice public speaking and leadership techniques. There is no instructor; instead, members evaluate each other’s presentations. Toastmasters clubs around the world will celebrate the anniversary with special meetings and events. The general public is invited to visit a meeting and learn more about the program’s benefits. To learn more about the Toastmasters club experience, view this video. You can join the ranks of famous Toastmasters who have benefited from the program, including Tom Monaghan, founder of Domino’s Pizza and many others.

View the Toastmasters timeline for a look at the organization’s history. Visit to find a club near you.

About Toastmasters International
Toastmasters International is a nonprofit educational organization that teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a worldwide network of clubs. Founded in October 1924, the organization currently has more than 280,000 members in 13,500-plus clubs in 116 countries. Each week, Toastmasters helps more than a quarter million people of every ethnicity, education level and profession build their competence in communication so they can gain the confidence to lead others. For information about local Toastmasters clubs, please visit or for the European district of Toastmasters. Follow Toastmasters International on Twitter @Toastmasters and @Toastmasters59.

Note:  The Toastmasters logo is property of Toastmasters International.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Blog Action Day 2012: The Power of We

Today is the Blog Action Day 2012 with the theme this year being "The Power of We".  I was pretty excited when I read that this would be this year's theme.  I know that when you look around today, you don't have to look very far to find problems and it can make you feel helpless and rather quickly, this is why I really believe that this theme is no less important than previous themes (in fact it may even be more important).  One person can make a difference and this is one of the core points behind the theme.  One person joined up with at least one more person becomes "we" and if there are enough people behind the "we" amazing things are possible!

I've been participating in Blog Action Day since the first one in 2007.  There were over 23,000 blog posts written about that first theme, this is a very big "we".  The Environment, Poverty, Climate Change, Water, Food, and now "The Power of We", pretty much every theme has been an excercise in "The Power of We".  Alone it might not seem that you can do anything to change the problems of the world but when we harness the power of "we" it is possible to change things that you might not have thought possible before.  People change the world all the time, you don't have to look far to see examples of this application in terms of good and bad. While the history books can't be written about the Arab Spring, there is little doubt that this is one example of how "The Power of We" that sticks out and that is very familar to many of us (if only be the name "Arab Spring")

In May of this year I attended Re:campaign in Berlin.  I had a chance to meet with lots of people from the NGO world including Duncan Green from Oxfam.  Duncan writes a blog called From Poverty to Power.  He is a strategic advisor with Oxfam in Great Britian. His book From Poverty to Power is about to go into second edition. I found his presentation "How Citizens Can Overcome Poverty Using ICT for Development" to be quite educational and inspiring. I was excited to see that Oxfam became one of the sponsors of these year's Blog Action Day. One of the campaigns that Oxfam is currently promoting is to get the Wolrd Bank to Stop Land Grabs.  Duncan wrote about it here.

Here is a short video explaining the situation...

 If the Stop Land Grabs campaign doesn't seem like your cup of tea, there are plenty of othe ways that you can take part in "The Power of We".

Find a cause or issue that you feel strongly about.

Find out what is being done about it

See how you can help the effort.

By spreading the word to people you know, you start to become of of the "we"

I do hope that you won't sit on the sidelines saying that you can do anything.  Alone you might be limited in what you can do, but when you and me become part of "The Power of We" amazing things are possible!

*If you don't see the video in this post please go here.