Welcome from the District DIRECTOR

            tuireOurs is the only organization I know dedicated to the individual, we work together to bring out the best in each of us and then we apply these skills to help others.

Ralph C. Smedley


Dear Toastmaster friends, I have the honor to serve as your District Director and to bring out the best in District 95.

For Toastmasters year 2015-2016 we will combine something new with something old: new countries, new Divisions and new titles while continuing successfully building and supporting the leadership in District 95.

Starting from July 1st, our district will welcome five new countries: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia and Ukraine. We are eager to share our experience with the members and the clubs in these new countries. I’m convinced that each member and club in these countries will apply theirs skills to help others which also will contribute to the success of District 95.

Due to extraordinary growth last year, we created two new Divisions with two new leaders. District 95 organized a first ever leadership boot camp for starting to work together with all the Division Directors to bring out the best in each of our leaders; who in turn are willing to apply their skills to help others.

District leaders has new titles as the Governors will be called Directors and we’ll have 70 District officers serving the members in 15 countries. Title might have changed but our mission remains unchanged: We build new clubs and support all clubs in achieving excellence.

District 95 started its first year very successfully and my mission is to continue on the built basis. We will focus on building and supporting the leaders at each level: club, area, division and district. The goal is that each club leaders and members work together to bring out the best in each member.

Each of us is able to contribute even a small thing; all 6356 small things put together will create something great.


Tuire Vuolasvirta

District Director 2015-2016

One for all and all for one!


Know more about District 95 International Speach Contest Winner

Timisoara, Romania, 14 May, 2016 — Laszlo Szucs of BudapestHungary outshined six local participants to win the district-level competition of the Toastmasters International Speech Contest, representing 15 countries of Central and Northern and Estern Europe.

Laszlo Szucs has qualified to advance to the semifinal rounds of the contest. Szucs is vying for one of 10 spots in the http://www.toastmasters.org/Events/World%20Championship%20of%20Public%20Speaking to be held at the Toastmasters International Convention Saturday, Aug. 20 in Washington, D.C.

Just to let District 95 Toastmasters representative better I asked Laszlo three questions about public speaking.

While thinking about public speaking people usually point first association: stage-fright. Tell us about stage fright. Did you feel it? During finals? During semifinals?

Of course I did (smile), but only before the speeches. However, I would rather call it excitement and I love it. If I don’t feel this excitement that scares me, it means I will not be that good. The excitement can be transformed into a good energy which helps me to focus on the audience and my message. Before semifinals and finals contestants were doing their warm up tricks, we all have our “talismans”. I have 3 tricks, mainly coming from my boxing background:

  • I pull my shoelaces very tight, which is good at the beginning where the speakers are most vulnerable. I feel my stable stance thanks to this trick which gives me strength.
  • I drink a lot before the speech. This makes me relaxed. Of course, I am talking about still water (smile)
  • I set the competition mode like athletes: If I am too excited I take deep breaths which calms me down, if I am sleepy then I massage my ears which rises my blood pressure and gives me energy.

One more thing, part time I am holding public speaking trainings and just before the conference I had 7 days of training in a row. Stage time is extremely important.

Asked “who invited bulb?” most people usually say “Edison”, without thinking he worked in team. Great inventors worked in team. Scientist make they dicoverys in team. And what about public speaking? Is it team work or individual work? You were alone on stage…

This journey was like walking a long distance along the beach with my mentors towards our destination. There were the footprints of many people in the sand, but looking back I noticed that at many times along the path especially at the very lowest and saddest times, one set of footprints was missing. And You know why? Because those moments they carried me on their back.

I love this poem and I like to use it as a metaphor for highlighting the importance of teamwork. Speaking is absolutely a teamwork. I had 4 mentors preparing me for this speech: some of them were focusing on the content, some of them on the delivery and one of them was next to me even in the last seconds before the speeches. If I could give you Fellow Toastmasters just one advice, I would say that go and get a mentor.

form left: 1st place Laszlo Szucs; 2nd place Vanya Eide; 3td place Ovidiu Oltean photo: Lukasz Koscinski

from left: 1st place Laszlo Szucs; 2nd place Vanya Eide; 3rd place Ovidiu Oltean
photo: Lukasz Koscinski

 You will represent District 95 on World Championship. How do you  prepare?

I was in national team of boxing in my country, but I admit this will be  the biggest competition in my life so far. It is hyper exciting. Therefore,  I  will recycle everything I learned about preparation and training  camps in  sport. I will do the preparation with daily practicing in  Toastmasters and  holding public speaking trainings.

Also, I will have some special preparation and “speaking tours”, I got  lots of invitations from Berlin to Moscow for which I am very thankful.  Regarding special preparation, I am going to a local high security prison  … to speak in front of inmates on a regular basis. I just got my striped prison uniform and who knows what else my mentors will figure out (smile). So after this preparation the World Championship will be a real relief (smile)


Just to help District 95 Toastmasters understand what you have achieved let me mention The Toastmasters International Speech Contest is the world’s largest speech contest, involving 30,000 participants from 135 countries.

It culminates with the popular World Championship of Public Speaking held annually at the organization’s http://www.toastmasters.org/Events/2016-International-Convention.

As you will compete against ninety-eight winners from districts around the world in the semifinal round we wish you fruitfull preparation process and a victory in the final contest.


Mariola Siorek was talking to Laszlo Szucs – District 95 International Speach Contest winner and representative World Championships of Public Speaking 2016. 


Beat the Clock Membership Campaign

Add 5 new, dual or reinstated members to your club roster between May 1 to June 30, 2016

Toastmasters International
Will reward your club with a special “Talk up Toastmasters” ribbon to display on your club’s banner. Qualifying clubs can also earn a special discount code for 10-percent off their next club order.

District 95
Will reward the 3 clubs adding the most new members each with a Standard Package Ticket to the District 95 Fall Conference in Warsaw.

Big applause for new District 95 Officers

During most recent District Council Meting in Timisoara 14th May 2016 we have elected new District 95 Officers. Please see the results below:

Michal Talaga District Director
Andrei Popescu Program Quality Director
Neal Greenspan Club Growth Director
Wendy Wallace Husser Public Relations Manager
Joanna Chmiel Administration Manager
Calin Gilea Finance Manager
Tuire Vuolasvirta Immediate Past District Director
Ulla Törnroos Division A Director
Piotr Chimko Division B Director
Julia Möser Division C Director
Bea Bincze Division D Director
Wiktoria Kowalska Division E Director
Mirja Iannuccelli Division F Director
Dhiraj Paryani Division G Director
Emilia Bradea Division H Director
Karla Viebahn Division I Director
Krzysztof Kopec Division J Director
Gabriela Roivainen Division K Director
Lukas Liebich Division L Director


They start they term on 1st July 2016.

Let’s congratulate new team members and let’s wish them a lot of satisfaction they may take from cooperation and an exceptionally fruitfull term.

Division L Spring Conference

It’s Saturday morning, April 23, 2016. 5:45. The sun will rise in ten minutes, the streets are deserted and the only other person awake at this inhuman time seems to be the tram driver.

But I know that in a little bit I’ll meet two more people who decided to get up early today, two people who will join me on my trip to the 2016 Toastmasters Division L International Speech Contest in Brno. Unlike me, who is going to compete and hopes to gain immortal fame, they have much more noble motivation. They’re coming to be there with me. And for me. Thank you, Milan and Vendula.

An hour later we are on the highway to Brno and Milan proves to be not only a good driver but also a great DJ. With songs from Czech fairy-tale movies and the soundtrack of Dirty Dancing, he keeps our spirits high. Much needed, much appreciated.

And then we arrive. I understand right away why the organizers chose #HeavyIndustryBrno for this event.


I didn’t pay much attention when I read that we were going to have the conference at a freezing plant. Now I can tell the organizers stick to the theme dutifully and even sport hard hats. I’m spared this particular fashion accessory but the freezing temperature outside AND inside feels more than pleasantly authentic.

But there’s hot tea and as more and more people arrive, everything starts to warm up. After just a few final adjustments, we are ready to start.

worker TMConf

And what a start it is! Joanna Chmiel delivers a keynote address that touches everybody’s heart. Because we all, just as herself, know about the ink and the needle and the joy and the pain one feels when we get “Toastmasters” tattooed on our hearts.


But I’m here not to listen, but to speak, and my Czech/Slovak contest starts the whole marathon. No time to waste, I gear up, dress up, warm up and am ready to deliver my speech. Seven minutes later, it’s over. The audience laughed and applauded, which is good, and now I can get my coffee, which is great. I mean, it’s great that I can finally get my coffee. And the coffee is great!

The sofa is comfy and the fireplace is near, my favourite place. I hear the audience applauding fellow Toastmasters for their German speeches and English evaluations, but the early wake-up takes its toll. I even almost miss the lunch! When I arrive, half of the sandwiches are gone, but according to the reports, they were a bit on the spicy side anyway – nothing for a speaker to relish. I’m more than happy with the fabulous lentil soup of which I get two extra servings.

IMG_20160423_090227162As the day rolls over into the afternoon, the program continues with workshops and Czech and German evaluation contest. I hang around, drop in here and there, chat with friends and feel content and relaxed. Then I realize this feeling is a double-edged sword.

Many people think that I’m one lucky person not suffering from stage fright. That’s not the whole truth though. The truth is that I like stage fright. When I feel nervous before speaking, I know I have energy that I can channel towards the audience – so that’s a good thing. However, now, one hour before my English contest, I feel accomplished and a bit lazy. Come on, bring back the stress, the tension, the excitement! Pump yourself up!IMG_20160423_150510766

For a while I practice my flamenco routine and do vocal warm-up and finally feel energized and much more ready to deliver my speech. Just in time, because I’m the first of six contestants. Then I hear the Contest Chair announcing my name and for the next seven minutes, the stage is mine. Here I come!

This moment is magical. I’m on the stage, facing the audience, ready as I can be. I had people laugh, and even cry, during my speeches, such is the power of words. Yet now, before I start, I can only hope. It may, or may not work this time.

Then I open my mouth, and my heart, and my audience smiles, and laughs, and thinks, and finds their own interpretation of what I’m saying. Good. That’s how it should be.

When my speech is over, I listen to the other contestants. There are six of us, and while I want the best to win, of course, I cross my fingers a bit tighter for my three fellow women warriors. Amidst the competition, we support each other, cheer each other, hug each other, we feel like competing for one team, not against each other. Stephanie, Petra, Irina – thank you, you are the best! (Martin and Hristo – you are great too, of course 😉 )

The contests are over, and Tony Achmat is probably the only one who can keep the attention of the audience before the awards ceremony. With his speech You get what you give, he provokes us and motivates us to dig even deeper into our Toastmaster-selves.

Then is the waiting finally over – Ewan Scattergood, our Division Director, calls back the Contest Chairs and hands over THE envelopes.

Starting with the evaluation contest, we cheer for the winners.

German Evaluations: 1. Linda Skrobucha, 2. Daniel Samol

Czech Evaluations: 1. Jaroslav Kováč, 2. Veronika Danevová

English Evaluations: 1. Věra Oráč, 2. Róbert Srnka, 3. Jaroslav Kováč


And then the International Speeches:

German: 1. Petra Pálfyová, 2. Jakub Kratochvíl

Czech: 1. Dagmar Vilémová, 2. Daniel Samol, 3. Petrana Martineková

English: 1. Stephanie Brush, 2. Lenka Dvořáková, 3. Petra Pálfyová


WOW! I don’t think it has ever happened in our Division, three women in the first three places! Girls, we rock!!!

The journey back to Prague is smooth and happy, but Gee, am I tired. Věra Oráč, my fellow passenger on the back seat and my Toastmasters role model and icon, suggests we do a tabletopics session. Obviously I am not a Toastmaster enough yet, as I politely decline. But that may change. We’ll see next year.


Thank you, Heavy Industry Brno team!

organizers TMConf

send by: Lenka Dvorakova

Division J Contest – Tram Stop Toastmasters

In the end of April (23-24.04), one of Warsaw’s universities hosted the Division Contest – Tram Stop Toastmasters.


On Saturday took place the international speech contest, evaluation contest in English and German speech contest. They were followed by a series of workshops in English and Polish.


The speakers coming from Toastmasters clubs from all over Poland taught us, for example, how to communicate in relationships, how to be more empathetic on the scene, or how to achieve a powerful voice pitch. One of the workshops included some physical exercises 😉3


The second day (Sunday) began with speech and evaluation contests in Polish. They were followed by a workshop organised by our special guest – Robert Trzebiński, who presented the topic: „The turning point: 5 important steps on the path towards success and balance in life”.








The final part of this conference was the award-giving ceremony for the best speakers and evaluators of the Division J. The winners of the first and the second prizes in Polish will represent Division J in the Polish Finals at the conference EFEKT TOASTMASTERS in Bydgoszcz. The winners of the first prize in speeches and evaluations in English will be competing for the title of the District Champion on the 13th May in Timisoara.


We congratulate all the winners and wish them victory in the further stages of the contest.



send by: Jakub Godlewski

Communications and leadership strike a balance at the Division G Conference

Copenhagen Toastmasters, is the first charted toastmasters club in Denmark and took pride in organizing the Division G Conference on 16 & 17 April 24, 2016. Copenhagen Toastmasters were not only hosting the event but was also celebrating their 20th anniversary this year! 12990927_1033849850041090_2435469476073354599_n

In conjunction of 20 years in Denmark, Copenhagen Toastmasters also hosted a Corporate Summit on the day before the Conference. The goal of the Corporate Summit was to introduce the concept of ‘Toastmasters’ to local businesses and together discuss how Toastmasters can help empower their employees to become more effective communicators and leaders.

Both the aspects of Toastmasters were taken into account at the summit and conference, participants got taste of good communication and the importance of leadership throughout three day event held at Kildeskovhallen, Copenhagen.


The conference started with Region 11 advisor Victoria Ferrer giving a inspirations key note speech about starting toastmasters clubs in the Middle East and starting her non-profit organization based in Jordan which conducts charitable projects for orphans, widows, abused women, and refugees. Victoria’s keynote set the perfect pace for the speech competitions.

The International speech competition was a combination of diverse topic ranging from following your dreams, prevention of diabetes and supporting a loved one who has addiction.  12994559_1033849863374422_3633001703194682194_n

Vanja Eibe from Götenborg Toastmasters, Simon Regnell from Ideon Toastmasters and Joachim Åfsted Göteborgs Talarklubb from Göterborg Talarklub,  placed first, second, third place respectively.

The evaluation competition was won by Elizabeth Nørsted Saturday Beakfast Speaker, Simon Regnell from Ideon Toastmasters and Peter Rogers from Stockholm Toastmasters took the 1nd, 2nd and 3rd place respectively.

The second day of the conference started with workshops and ended with the award ceremony right after lunch. Victoria Ferrer gave the first workshop which got all participants dancing to Pharell Wiliams song ‘Happy’. Victoria explained how we could use cultural intelligence as an advantage.

Andrei Popescu gave an entertaining workshop full of twist and surprises which gave valuable lessons about handling mistakes as a leader. Andreas Møgelhojb workshop about techniques of learning made participants stand on their feet and be interactive with one another on the floor.

13001029_1033849333374475_3401587798940913071_nDivision Director Svetlana Breum presented about the Revilised Education Progamme new education programme whereas, Maria Applekvist gave the last workshop about how to use energy when giving speeches.

The conference on Sunday afternoon with a tour by a new member Agnieska Paruzel and participants talking about reuniting in Timisoara.

Copenhagen Business School gets a taste of Toastmasters

We had a fantastic demo meeting at Copenhagen Business School (CBS) on 20 April at the vicinity of Frederiksberg, Copenhagen. President of Copenhagen Toastmaster Henrik Kammann and a few of his members made a demo meeting at the vicinity of CBS. The demo meeting was requested by 5 student organisation which included the debating society and leadership club of CBS.

The toastmaster of the evening Diantha Averil Nota started the meeting by telling the audience how toastmasters changed her life. The two speeches which followed were from Mary Consulate Cossy and Mette Marie Terp which were about the importance of education and entrepreneurship.

The participants who attended were interested in being better at public speaking, presentation skills, getting jobs and networking and leadership.


prepared by: Sajita Nair


The Rise and Shine Division K conference

The Rise and Shine Division K conference held in Riga for the first time ever turned out to be a complete success! Enlightening speeches, encouraging  evaluations and energetic workshops made it just unforgettable! As to results of both contests, three best speakers and three best evaluators were chosen in each. RiseAndShine2016 (74)

In the SPEECH contest it was Pekka Kanerva (Stadi Talkers) who placed first and who is going to represent his club in the LIGHTTT District conference in Timisoara on May 13th, Simonas Jakubauskas (First Toastmasters of Lithuania) who got second place and Adriana Vasilache (Tampere Toastmasters) who got to be third.

In the EVALUATION contest it was Greta Siauciunaite (First Toastmasters of Lithuania) who got the first place and who will represent her club in the LIGHTTT District conference in Timisoara on May 13th, Ekaterina Ignatyeva (Virtual Speakers) who placed second and Irina Gherman (Toastmasters Helsinki and Virtual Speakers) who got to be third.

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RiseAndShine2016 (292)

Congratulations to all the winners and a big shout-out to the organizers of the conference! Looking forward to having more of these well-planned super energetic Toastmasters events! Cheers!

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prepared by: Jekaterina Kezika

photos: Alexander Myasloedov

Joanna Chmiel: “Say yes – and see what happens”

Thanks Oleksandra Tadla for the picture!

Thanks Oleksandra Tadla for the picture!

District 95 Division Governor of the Year is not driven by awards and badges. She’s crazy about extending her limits.

By Lukas Liebich | 2nd January 2016

I met Joanna for the first time at the 2014 District Fall Conference in Frankfurt. From our conversation, I remember her saying: “I want things to be perfect.” One year later at the District conference in Prague, she was called up on the stage to receive an award for the Division Governor of the year 2014-2015. It looked like the “perfect” was not an empty word.


She says that Toastmasters changed her life, as it showed her what she truly wanted to do. Shortly after joining her first club, she changed the field of work from being an engineer in telco to public relations and crisis management.

In the interview, she speaks about what it feels like to be the Division Governor of the year, why is it important to be invisible and sums up her active approach to life in a simple and straightforward statement: “I say yes to opportunities – and then just wait to see what happens”

It’s Saturday morning. The interview takes place via Skype line Prague-Poznań. After Joanna makes an arrangement with her cat that for the upcoming hour or so, it would not parade itself in front of her laptop’s camera, she smiles and nods to signal she’s ready for my first question.

Imagine: You’re back in Prague at the District Conference.

Gala Interview Joanna Chmiel - Photo 4dinner. Someone is calling you to come up on the stage. You realize, that the reason why you’re called is that you won the Division Governor of the year award. How did that feel?

It was one of the most surprising moments I had in Prague. When I think of all the other Division Governors, the work they did, how they worked with their teams, I would never imagine myself winning that award. But if you ask me how it felt…

Yes, what was running through your head, in that moment?

Nothing. I was in the nothingness box. (laughs) I was so overwhelmed… When they called me, I didn’t even know what the award was. I looked at the trophy and couldn’t read a letter. Only a couple of minutes after leaving the stage, when I was able to take a few deep breaths, I realised the importance of the award and felt very grateful. Grateful to be working with people who appreciated my efforts, in an environment where I didn’t have to think of gathering accomplishments. For me, it developed in a natural way, because I was with those people who wanted me to succeed.

You said you would never imagine yourself winning the award. But now, looking back – why do you think it was you who was picked?

You will not believe me, but I haven’t even tried to think of it. The trophy says that it’s given to people in recognition of exceptional leadership and devoted service. So either the people who recognized me with it did it because they appreciated the way I worked as a Division Governor. How I was approaching my team: Trying to appreciate their success and always being thankful for the time they devoted to Toastmasters. Maybe it’s because I really wanted to make people in my Division more aware of all the opportunities they had within the organization’s structures.

But these are just my guesses. I didn’t have a plan to be the best in Education, the best in number of clubs, the best in something else, because, what does it actually mean? Every Division is different. Even every Area Governor was different. I was working with three of them – and they were so different from one another. The clubs they worked with… varied a lot. And I’m sure that this was not just the case in my Division, but in all of them. So how can you compare?

You’re right, we can’t compare that. So let me rephrase the question – if you take a look back at your Division Governor year, what is the one thing that you’re most proud of?

The one thing I was most proud of was the Toastmasters Leadership Institute we had in Toruń. For couple of reasons. The first – I felt that the organizing team wanted to give the best officers’ training they could. In my opinion, people develop best when they are given the opportunity to work on their leadership skills. The focus on this leadership part is still smaller than the one on communication.

Even though a couple of years back Toastmasters have re-branded with the “Where Leaders Are Made”, when you go to the level of clubs, you still don’t see that. So going back to the TLI and what I was proud of was – that the organizers saw that. We spent quite some hours talking about it, just discussing what the program should look like so that it would serve the purpose. And they created an agenda with different modules, where people could choose the topics they wanted. With focus on leadership.

The people on the team were given big responsibility and they managed it wonderfully. I was so proud of them. And it was one of the best highlights of the year for me.

I can imagine it was. Speaking people being given responsibility – I remember that in one of your speeches, you mentioned that as a Division Governor you learned to be invisible. I think it’s quite a brilliant thought – could you speak a bit more about that?

(smiles) Sure. People have different leadership styles. Looking at myself two years back, I was a person who loved to organize things, but also who had to have everything under control. I had to be the one who’s pulling all the strings.

Because you like things to be perfect, right?

Right. But then, when I was faced with bigger events – with more of them, and in the role of a Division Governor, it was not about me pulling all the strings. Then it was about letting other people do that. It’s a bit like running a company. Sometimes, when you hire people, you know what they are going to do. You can picture their workplace responsibilities in a very detailed way. But no matter how rich theír CV is, you never know exactly who you have in front of you.

You mean, how much the other person knows, what ideas that person has?

Exactly. Some of them will want to show you how good they are, just learn something and then look for other opportunities. But you’re looking for people who are truly engaged, who will give their heart into their work. And those are the people to whom you give a chance.

They might not be perfect on paper, but when they are thankful for being given a chance to show what’s in them, they will do it with more conviction and with more heart than those who brag on paper.

It’s the same with other projects, such as organizing Toastmasters conferences. When you work with people with potential, you just need to polish those diamonds a bit and give them an opportunity to shine. If you’re a policeman with all the checklists and you stick your nose into everything, no one will shine. Not even you.

Because the people get annoyed by that?

Not exactly. Look – you do things in a different way than I do them. One of the most difficult things I was faced with was just to acknowledge, appreciate and let it be. Just assigning the thing that needs to be done, but giving the freedom to think and act to others. And this way to be invisible, not necessarily steering the organization, event, or the project at hand.

You learned to do this as the Division Governor? You were not always like this, right?

Well, I actually still am a bit of a control freak. And as you mentioned – I like things to be perfect. And when I mean perfect, it’s the way I design them in my head. So I still have the temptation to ask people to do things – and then convince them to do them my way. Which makes no sense. Because if I want things to be done my way, I should do them myself.

You mentioned that being invisible works too in running a company. You’re a co-owner of a software company – you actually grew a lot over the past year, didn’t you?

Yes, we grew three times – from 4 in December 2014 to 13 this December. And we are still growing.

Wow, that’s quite impressive…

Thank you.

For me, it’s always interesting to see how we can use Toastmasters skills in real life. As some people say – “hey, this Toastmasters thing, you’re just playing there. But the real world is out there.” I was curious if you see any areas – or any skills – that you learned in Toastmasters that you use in running your business.

Let me start in the beginning. I have an engineering background. I worked with computers, lots of data, building mobile networks… When I joined Toastmasters, I realized that my mission was to communicate with people. More than I used to do in my engineering job

So basically, Toastmasters helped you find out what you wanted to do in your life.

That’s about right. Even though I came to Toastmasters just by accident, it helped me realize what I wanted to do. It made me not only change my job, but also the areas I worked on. Afterwards I started working in public relations and marketing in IT.

Really? That was quite a change from an engineering job!

Yes it was. But still, it was something that gave me joy. I had to write, talk, argue, use the communication skills I was developing. And the hunch I had was that I would not be able to develop them having an engineering background. At this point, I’m using my Toastmasters skills every day. I talk to clients, I’m looking for new clients, trying to sell our services… Everything I’m doing now circles around communication and leadership.

Tell me more…

Let’s take communication first. I write content for marketing materials.. As you can imagine, being able to write text in the right structure, with the right wording, that is persuasive – that’s something we learn within the CC manual.

As for leadership: I organize meetings for programmers. Those are people who are rather withdrawn from public speaking, but who are still willing to share their experience. Of course, sometimes I have to be quite persuasive to make them talk. Unlike some salespeople, they are definitely not stage animals.

But in fact – even programmers have to be good communicators.

Oh yes, I remember you wrote a post on this topic.

That’s right. They work in teams – they lead teams! For example, in my company, they are every day involved in Skype calls with the clients. They have to be communicative, they have to be nice – these are all skills you learn in Toastmasters.

Agree, communication skills are key in basically every area in life. So, Toastmasters gave you a chance to express yourself and this way you were able to find what you really wanted to do in life.

Yes. That’s it.

Now if we speak about leadership a bit. The skill to be invisible – or maybe something else. Is there something you learned in Toastmasters that you’re putting into practice?

There is one thing. Listening. When you really want to be invisible, you need to know what people want to achieve. Even though they might not be ready to do that.

You mean you need to find out what drives them?

Rather what they want to achieve. So that you’re able to say “You know, there is this project you would be a perfect match for, because this, this and that”. It’s very similar to when you talk to a client. When you want to qualify a client – to see whether your product or service could match their needs, first you need to know what their needs are. You have to ask about it. No one will tell you right away when you call them on the phone. You have to be enquiring enough, curious about their needs and about the ways you can fulfill them.

Sometimes it appears there is nothing you can do for them. And it’s fine. But when you don’t listen, you’ll never get the proper answer. So this way, this skill of listening – that can be developed and improved when you are a Toastmaster – is helping me in my daily job.

One more area I’d like to touch with you – your TEDx talk. I think for many people who come to Toastmasters, giving a speech at TED or TEDx is the ultimate goal. How different was it for you to prepare for a TEDx talk than preparing for a normal Toastmasters speech?

Interview Joanna Chmiel - Photo 3 TEDxWhen you mentioned the topic, I had to smile. The whole adventure of giving the TEDx talk was something I would never imagine possible. The previous year – I would have no courage to do that. I would think that there is nothing interesting in my life happening that I could share. You know, this “who am I to talk to two hundred people about things I’ve learned – and are these things more important than the things they have learned”.

But I think that on the wave of the whole last year – that was amazing for me for different reasons – I had the courage to ask for it. And even when I think of this, it’s different from what I know from Toastmasters speeches. In Toastmasters, there is always a VPE asking you to sign up for a speech. When you want to give a speech, it’s appreciated. But nobody asks you to give a TEDx talk. So that was a different thing. Just applying for it was a big step. Filling the form was like a job interview. A qualification process. I had to make the organizers believe that what I had to say would matter.

Photo credit: http://www.videotools.pl

Photo credit: http://www.videotools.pl

Another difference –  with Toastmasters speeches, because they are just shorter, I have no trouble figuring out what to say. But when it comes to a TEDx talk – I know that it has to be meaningful, it has to have value and it is 18 minutes long – in the beginning I had no idea what to say. And I think that this was something that distinguished the TEDx talk from all the – more than 40 – speeches I gave in Toastmasters.

For this one, I got to work with people from whom I know I could really learn. And giving the speech, I learned what kind of mentor I would like to be for other people. The support I was given, the trust… it was something I can not measure.

So definitely something different than a regular Toastmasters speech.

Definitely. And I recommend it to anyone. TEDx speech is something big, something to be proud of – but on the other hand, when we give speeches in Toastmasters, they are not less meaningful, just because they are given in a different environment. Some of them are really a wonderful material for a TEDx speech. It’s just a matter of saying yes to the opportunity.

You’re saying people should not be afraid to speak at TEDx, when they’re giving speeches at Toastmasters?


You’ve mentioned that it feels a bit uncomfortable to be in the position when you want to give a TEDx talk when nobody asked you for it. If I connect it to what you said about you being picked as the Division Governor of the year… I have this impression that you’re the person who does not like to put herself too much in the spotlight.

(laughs) I love to be in the spotlight…

Do you?

I love it, it’s just not my goal to be there.

I see a contradiction there.

Let me explain. It’s about the drive. I’m not driven to be in the spotlight. The moment itself is very important for me. But I don’t work to get there. Through the things I do and the way I behave, I believe I deserve to be in that place. It’s not that I just work so much to get a medal, a trophy or a cup. I don’t do it for those things and I don’t do it even for the recognition.

I am very much aware of how recognition works, how much confidence it can give and how people can grow because they like to be appreciated. And I like it too. But even though it’s something that makes me very grateful – I work to learn, not to get another badge on my vest.

When you speak about it this way, it seems to me that it’s really important for you to give the impression of being modest. Is that the case?

(takes a long time to think) That’s a tough question, because I never considered myself modest. I mean – I don’t think I have any image of myself I want to show to people. Through whatever I do I want to learn more about myself. And I want to become more understanding, more of a listener, more someone who can help other people become better.

Maybe modesty is one of the traits that may lead me there, but I don’t think I just see myself through a list of traits. So it’s difficult for me to answer if I would like other people to see me as modest.

Coming back a little to your TEDx talk – you gave it at TEDx Poznan, Poland. You are Polish. All the other speakers gave their speeches in Polish. But you chose to give yours in English. Why? Did you want to count it towards your Toastmasters manuals?

First of all – every speech I give, I try to make it a Toastmasters project. I was inspired to do that by your mentor, Silvana Wasitova. When Silvana was giving a speech at one of the TLIs in Krakow a couple of years back, she injected the thought that whenever you have the opportunity to speak, you should do it as a Toastmasters project. And I do that. But it was not the reason.

The reason why I did it was – I’m a member of an English speaking club. When I think of public speaking – English is the first language that comes to my mind. My friend told me recently: “I heard you speak English and I heard you speak Polish – and there is such a difference in the energy.”

So your public speaking in English is better than your public speaking in Polish?

Just different. But it made me realize that I might appear to be a different person when speaking in English than in Polish. The problem with speaking my mother tongue is that I feel the responsibility to use beautiful language, good wordings, metaphors…

You feel more constrained by the vast possibilities you have speaking in Polish, while in English you can focus more on being on the spot?

Exactly. In public speaking, I’m definitely way more confident when speaking in English. I didn’t want to add to the stress by having to speak in Polish. I still remember the stress doing the first rehearsal of my TEDx talk. You know – and I don’t know if I should be telling you this – never ever in Toastmasters did I have to have my speech prepared 3 weeks in advance. Usually I do most of the work the last week before the speech. And – I didn’t expect it to be different with the TEDx speech.

So when I had to have it prepared 3 weeks before, it was so lousy… I was so glad the rehearsal was over Skype… And even better, because of the bandwidth, we switched the camera off, so they did not see I was reading the whole thing from my notes. The most stressful talk that I ever had – it was this TEDx rehearsal.

Then it got only better. In the end, I was grateful that I had to have the draft this long before, so I had time to work on it. And in the last hours before the speech I was still able to come up with a couple of wits my audience appreciated.

In the end – you made it.

Yes I did.

The last thing I would like to talk about is related to your TEDx talk, but also to your life. Or at least to the impression you give. Your TEDx talk was about goals and how you can get others – via social media – to support you in achieving those goals. You said: “Pain is temporary, but pride and memories will stay forever.” I think that’s quite profound, and it shows that you’re someone who really cares about achieving her goals in your life. Where is this coming from?

It’s not exactly about achieving goals. I care about being able to stretch my limits. I have always felt running was not for me. But then I started with it this year. And now in December, I enrolled for a half marathon in March. It is a path towards achievement, but it’s not about the achievement itself, it’s about something that can make you better, that can make you learn about yourself, about your boundaries, limitations…

It’s about making yourself aware that in fact there are very few things that are truly impossible. That’s what drives me.

I believe this is true for all of us. There’s one person with whom I work a lot and whose opinion I truly value. One thing I remember from our conversations is when he said that “you never get what you don’t ask for”. You never know if you can achieve if you don’t try. So I try doing things. And sometimes I achieve something along the way.

That is, by being able to extend your limits, you are proving to yourself that when there’s something you want, you might be able to get it.

I’m building this type of confidence, that… If I want something I am able to get it. That I am worth getting it.

That you’re worth getting it.


Why is it important for you to know that?

I have different goals in my life. Some small, some huge. When I know I’m able to achieve the small ones, then I’m probably able to achieve also the bigger ones. If I’m able to achieve the ACG, then what could be the next step? Maybe a TEDx talk. If I’m able to give a TEDx talk, what could be the next step? This is the way I think.

Joanna, thank you for the interview! Last question: If you could give a single piece of advice to all the Toastmasters out there – and all the people who want to get more from their lives – what would it be?

Say “yes” more often. We meet so many opportunities, but too often we don’t think we’re good enough to seize them. But we are good enough. Otherwise those opportunities would not have come.

So it is: “Say yes?”

Say yes – and see what happens.


About Lukas

IT Project Manager in a global pharma company and blogger at lukasliebich.com .Toastmaster since 2012. In 2015 his Toastmastering got out of hand when he became the Area Director of Area L3 – Prague Downtown, got challenged to give 40 speeches in a single year and started using Britney Spears songs as background music in his workshops.
Since his first months in Toastmasters he had many unforgettable conversations with extraordinary people. One day he realized these conversations could be shared with the world – and started capturing them as interviews. Such as this one.


One of the largest Romanian cities, with a population of 319,279 inhabitants, Timișoara is considered the informal capital city of the historical region of Banat. The city is a candidate to become, in 2021, the European Capital of Culture.

During the Industrial Revolution, numerous modern innovations were introduced. It was the first city in the monarchy with street lighting, and the first city in mainland Europe illuminated by electric LIGHT

Keynote Speaker – Mohammed Qahtani

2015 World Champion of Public Speaking

Mohammed Qahtani rises above 30,000 participants to win world’s largest speech contest. With a humorous speech titled
“The Power of Words,” Mohammed Qahtani, a security engineer from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, won the Toastmasters World Championship of Public Speaking 2015. Qahtani, along with nine other final contestants, reached the championship level after several eliminating rounds that began six months ago with 30,000 participants from more than 100 countries.

Visit official website – www.d95conf.org

District 95 - 2016 Spring Conference flyer

The 4th best District in the World

25 July 2015,

Dear fellow toastmasters,

Word is out. Read all about it!
Officially D95 has been recognized as President’s Distinguished District.

Congratulations to all as in the spirit of “One mission, One team” to reach this recognition.

4 numerOn top of this, the figures are now final, as a cherry on the first year birthday cake; District 95 came in as the 4th best District in the World with 146 out of 173 clubs reaching distinguished status (84.39%), thanks to all your hard work and commitment.

No.1 D85 (87.85%), no.2 D85 (85.62%), no.3 D91 (85.47%)

But wait there is more District 95 no.1  of all districts in the world building new clubs. What a team on a mission!!!!!!!!! My fellow Toastmasters we did have a delicious year, experiencing everything Toastmasters has to offer.

It was an extraordinary experience to be your District Governor in 2014-2015. Thank you.
Keep enjoying the Toastmaster experience; keep pushing the boundaries of your club and yourself. What are your goals this year? What are your clubs goals this year?

Whatever your goals, may you reach them with lots of Happy Toastmastering in 2015-2016.

Kees Broos

Kees Broos - D95 DG_3.

Immediate Past District Governor 2015-2016
District 95

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