The New Retirement Project

my new life image

Contributed by Michael Worsfold

When I joined Toastmasters in 2014, I was a retired management consultant, still doing coaching, mostly with business people. My motivation for joining was to expand my local community, and grow my ability to speak about my coaching work in in public. I used my speeches to clarify my thinking and practice communicating parts of what I was doing. I also learned to get out my comfort zone by doing humorous speeches and learning to tell stories.

I never expected that five years later Toastmasters would be the incubator for an new venture I call The New Retirement Project.

The New Retirement Project and the New Retirement blog are about exploring new perspectives and new strategies for well-being in retirement; finding order, meaning, purpose and adventure.

Read more about the project in an eight part series beginning here. 


District 96? Division H? What Does That Mean?

Agenda_May3_MyKindOfTown_Elections“Welcome to MorningSTARS Toastmasters Club 1248 of Area 73, Division H, District 96, Region 1 of Toastmasters International.”

The above is the welcome and intro for many meeting chairs and it appears across the top of our agendas. But what does it mean?

Here is the breakdown:

Club 1248
1248 is the number assigned to our club when the organization was chartered through Toastmasters International. Club 1248 is located in . . .

Club 1248 is located in . . .

Area 73
Toastmasters clubs are grouped into AREAS consisting of 4 to 6 clubs max. Area 73 encompasses the three (soon to be 4) clubs on the lower Sunshine Coast: Morningstars, Sunshine, Beachcombers and Coastmasters (soon!).

Area 73 is part of

Division H
AREAS are organized into DIVISIONS. There are four areas in Division H (69, 72, 72 & 76). Division H includes the Sunshine Coast, Squamish, Whistler and North Vancouver.

Division H is grouped into . . .

District 96
DIVISIONS are grouped together to form DISTRICTS.  There are 9 Divisions (B, D, H, J, L, M, N, S & T) in District 96, and there are two Districts in BC (96 & 21).

District 96 is in . . .

Region 1
DISTRICTS are organized into groups called REGIONS, the largest administrative grouping. There are seven districts in Region 1 (2, 9, 15, 21, 26, & 96) which stretches from “Nebraska to Alaska.”


Region 1 of District 96 of Toastmasters International

Ask a Morningstar: Going Off Notes?

“Do you rehearse?”
“How do you memorize your speech?”

I have had a few conversations (and overheard a few others) lately regarding the process in which one stops using notes while delivery their speeches.

In this edition of “Ask a Toastmaster,” I posed the question to the Morningstars Toastmaster to learn their secret awesome sauce for executing a 5 – 7 minute speech without notes!

Here are their responses:

An Unrehearsed Speech is More of a Road Map
It’s said that the best speech is the unrehearsed, the one where we are not confined to memorizing word for word. When you memorize you are a slave to a script. When you have a unrehearsed speech, you have a road map, of points that you want to make. And if something happens on the day, you can come of the road map and speak to it. If the audience needs a lift – you can come of the road map. It doesn’t matter if you forget something.

I have been a stickler for learning speeches word for word, and one of the things I want to get from Toastmasters is doing the unrehearsed speech. I did my first ever unrehearsed speech with my ice breaker. The gain was – that I felt so much more relaxed, and I didn’t have a stressful week leading up to it. The loss was that I didn’t mention everything I wanted to mention. But so what!
Doing an unrehearsed speech means we must know our stuff, we must know the topic inside out, otherwise we will be stumbling in the dark. So an ice breaker is a great one to begin with. Because we know our life story inside out, upside down and around the merry go round. — Vimalasara M.

Memorization is Key for Writer
I am a writer, and I am aspiring to be able to speak about my writing. So I write first. I write the whole thing. I read it aloud and change it several times. And when I think it is ready, then I start memorizing it. Pretty much word-for-word. When I practise it in a speech format, I find that there are words that need some tweaking, so I re-memorize it.

At first I thought that memorizing would be impossible. But I was inspired by watching three women over several months as they were rehearsing for their leading parts in a stage play. I realized that if they could memorize someone else’s writing word-for-word, then I could probably learn to memorize my own writing. When I asked a fellow Toastmaster how it was that he looked so natural when speaking, he suggested that I try telling a story. We know our stories and, therefore, we don’t really need to rely on writing them down first. So for my next speech, I told a story. Of course, I already had the story written so I worked on memorizing it. It was a breakthrough speech for me.

I need a lot of time to memorize a speech. A full week is good. Due to a lack of time, I challenged myself to go off-script for parts of a few recent speeches. I found myself running back to my notes (written speech) to get back on track rather than winging it. It will take a while before I can deliver an un-memorized speech with ease, but I see it as the next stage in my development as a speaker. — Sheila C.

I’ve Used Little Notes Forever
I’m one of those who have used notes forever – sometimes a detailed script; sometimes only a few words on a small slip. When I use the former it invariably becomes a bit stilted. With a few or no notes, I do find myself in the risk of forgetting something but like an extended Table Topics, there is more of ‘me’ in the speech.

I never have been able to memorize so I do rely on my method subject to my shortcomings. I think it’s a matter of listening to examples for what you can adopt but finally finding what works for you until it’s time to try something new and change. That’s when you wade into the alligators and take another risk.

On the day, I do a little zen like relaxation breathing just before being called and then. …. I stole this. …… I “reach around and flick the switch on my back to ON”. — Frank C.

Practice Rehearsal and Imaging
Excellent question. I always write the speech out in full and initially try to memorize it word for word but then crystallize it into bullet notes which I then use to refresh my memory. Certain words or phrases are vital to remembering the next section of a speech. I’ve found that if I don’t have a good grasp of the flow of the speech and have an image in my mind of where the key phrases are, I can’t give the speech naturally and become nervous and therefore uncomfortable. The audience can sense this. Practice, rehearsal and imaging are what I rely on. — William B.

Crafting a Speech
When crafting a speech, the first thing I do is give it to an audience of one (my cat). This is unwritten, unrehearsed. It’s just me walking around the room, saying what comes to mind. I give myself time to rephrase things, back track and try again. If something was good, I make a mental note to put that in the “keep it” file.

When I have the general gist or the logical flow of my speech, I write it down. It also helps with timing. For my 5-7 minute speeches, I keep the word count around 800. If it is a speech with high emotional content or visual aids, I aim for 550 words.

I then print out the speech. I read through it a couple of times, fold the paper in half and put it in my Toastmaster manual. I don’t look at it again. I go back to my audience of one (that darn cat!) and practice my thoughts this time with a timer, trying to get them narrowed down to the 5 to 7 minute range.

Every time I practice the speech, it changes a bit. I’m okay with that. It’s not perfect. I’m okay with that. It’s Weegee. And I’m okay with that. — Weegee S.

10 Behaviours of an Effective Evaluator

Earlier this month, Morningstars Toastmasters were gifted a special workshop that focused on the art of evaluation. As we approach the International Speech and Evaluation Contest (March 23), I wanted to share some of the highlights from the workshop with you:

Why Do We Evaluate?
The purpose of evaluation is to help another person become a better speaker and leader.  Everyone has different reasons for wanting to learn to speak and lead more effectively. Perhaps you are shy. Maybe you are looking to further your personal interactions. Or it could be your dream to have that corner office one day. Whatever the reasons are, you want two things:

  1. You want to improve your speaking skills
  2. You want to know how to improve.

Cue evaluations.

Evaluations help to highlight the what we are doing right and areas where we can grow to take our speech to new heights. Evaluations are a source of information. The information gets processed by the speaker and we test our strengths again in the next speech. It is how we improve.

10 Behaviours of an Effective Evaluator (taken from the Success Communication Series Workbook):
1) Show that you care. Let the speaker know that your opinions are coming from a positive place meant to lift them.

2) Suit your evaluation to the speaker. Where in the Toastmasters program are they? How is their confidence level?Toastmasters Tips for Evaluation

3) Learn the speaker’s objectives. What is it they are working on? Working towards? Focus on their needs for growth and not just your preferences.

4) Listen actively. Nod. Smile. Make eye contact. This is hard for many of us are trying to scribble down notes, ideas and key take aways. It’s hard to capture all you want and hear the speech at the same time. However, the speaker needs to engage with us. Give them that opportunity.

5) Personalize your language.  Use their name and specifics from their speech. Don’t just give a report, flush it out with details from their speech.

6) Give positive reinforcement. What did they do right? What are their strengths? What “wowed” you?

7) Help the speaker become motivated. The easiest way to motivate is to fuel the speaker’s desire for improvement.

8) Evaluate the speech, not the speaker. Focus on how they delivered their speech and not what they were wearing or their political beliefs.

9) Nourish self-esteem. It’s how we feel about ourselves and it is vital to personal growth. Recognize their strengths in an authentic way. Give them opportunities to learn by explaining why each and every positive (and negative) point matters. This helps them learn. Learning helps us to understand.

10) Show the speaker how to improve. Go deep and wide. Think outside the box. To do this, you must get into the speaker’s head and task and out of your momentarily. We all notice the “uhs, ahhs and ums” but dig deeper to get to the true nuggets. It isn’t a matter of looking for what the speaker did wrong, but rather what they can do to take it up a notch. How they can make it more engaging.

Remember The Order: (i) Focus on WATCHING and LISTENING actively as the speech is being delivered, (ii) focus on THINKING when you are preparing your evaluation, (iii) focus on SPEAKING after you have processed your thoughts and come up with the top points you will cover in your evaluation.

Happy Evaluating!


The Great "So" Debate: Filler or Transition?

Speech Transitions So Debate

How do you transition between points in your speech? Do you consider “so” a filler or a necessary transitional element?

Here’s what some of our members had to say:

Both a Filler & a Transition
“We sometimes pick on the word ‘so’ in our evaluations, so this is a great question to ask all of us. (Use of ‘so’ intended!)


In my mind it’s both a filler word and a useful transition depending on how we use it.


An easy way to determine which it is, is to ask whether it could be replaced with the word ‘therefore’.


“We sometimes pick on the word ‘so’ in our evaluations, therefore this is a great question to ask all of us.”


Its best usage is when it refers to a situation of cause and effect.”  — Kat

Comes Down to How Much It Is Used
I say one way to catetorize is depended on how many times “so” is used. Same applied to Ah. Or any anomalous action/gesture can be used once to make some memorable point.– Ben R.

Perhaps It Comes Down to Usage
I think… that I swing from one part of a speech to the next on a concept or phrase. By that I mean I’ll mention a word or idea or concept, such as “Distinguished Club,” and then say, “So, how do we become a Distinguished Club?”


I guess it’s about developing the concept or examining it from a different angle. I might say: Let’s look at this another way. Or, What does that mean? Or, Is that true? Or, Secondly, or, Thirdly, or Finally, or In Conclusion.


I definitely use “So…” But I’ve been critiqued for using it too much. Perhaps it’s the unconscious use of ‘So…’ that listeners find irksome. Just as any habitual trait is distracting. — PJ R.

Lessons from Writing Carry Over to Speaking
I find that I overuse “so” just in as much in my writing as I do in my speaking. When I proofread an email before hitting send I find that many sentences which I thought required a transitional “so” actually read much better if I just dropped the transition altogether. A sentence actually becomes more powerful if it stands on it’s own than merely a continuation of the previous sentence. I’m trying to take the lessons I’ve learned from my writing an apply them to my speaking.


One place where I use “so” often in my speaking isn’t as a transitional word where “therefore” would work just as well, nor as a filler word, but as a moving on word. When a conversation or presentation has gotten off track I feel a need to announce we are coming back to the original topic. This is where I often find myself starting a sentence with “so.” I think occasional use of “so” in this context is OK, as long as it doesn’t become too habitual. — Michael S.

What Do You Do When You Blank?

What Do You Do When You Blank During SpeechesYou’ve practiced your speech in front of the mirror. In the car. In front of the dog. The dog has it memorized. You know it.

You’re sailing along smoothly. Then, all of a sudden, your mind goes blank. You look at the audience with the “deer-in-the-headlights” stare for what seems like an eternity as your mind frantically gropes for the next phrase.

Has that ever happened to you? What do you do when your blank? Morningstars Toastmasters weighs in:

No One Except You Knows What You Left Out
Over the years I’ve found that the more you attempt to memorize a speech word for word the greater the chances are you’ll forget something. Those instances tend to bring on acute panic. My suggestion is to learn your material well. If you’re doing a speech where every word is crucial use notes and stay behind the lectern. Otherwise if your mind goes blank take a deep breath and resume with what you remember. And always realize that no one except you will know exactly what you’ve left out. — Cathie R.

Use Lectern For a Sense of Grounding
If you are talking about speeches, I still use notes a lot.  They may consist of only a few words but they can re-establish my location of subject if I stumble.


I remember a surprise situation when I was introduced and invited to the stage for some kind of presentation.  After I had left the stage; the chair, in thanking me, compared his 10 pages of notes to the audience with my torn corner of the program on which I had made some hastily penned words but had left behind on the lectern.  That was ‘preparation’ and Table Topics at its best.  Also, it saved me by having some sense of quick organization and security.


I also come from what maybe an ‘old school’ use/reliance on a lectern for a sense of grounding; if and when those moments occur.  Also, I’ve used the simple pause, albeit ‘rather extended’ occasionally, to regain what has escaped my mind.  With or without apology, listeners will stay with you.


A blank mind can be a minor terror but practice and experience, especially in the safe Toastmaster environment, will prepare one for almost every memory falter.  I certainly have experienced it all. — Frank C.

Calmly Walk Back to the Lectern
I’ve seen pros just calmly walk back to the lectern where their script lies waiting for just such a glitch. I don’t think that having notes handy is such a bad thing. The key is “calmly,” I guess. — PJ R.

Use the Time to Pause
When I blank – I begin to desperately try to connect with what I am saying, eyes rolling up or closing to shut out the fact that there is a listener out there. My idea is to use that time to pause, smile warmly at my audience, hold my own hand metaphorically speaking, do-dropping surreptitiously to disconnect emotionally from all the other times it has happened and miraculously say something totally brilliant – much better than what I was trying to remember. — Sandy W.

Shift Topic, Keep Talking
Oh, I would love that kind of opportunity to talk about my philosophical thought on life and getting up(very big deal in my life so far).   So yeah I completely go into what I originally intended and talk as “emergency news!”   Or can talk about other things I like such as what I like to eat, and what combination of food I like to eat, or how much I like to eat.  I used to dream of swimming in a sweet whipcream and drink as much as I want.

In other words I would shift the topic of what I like and keep talking.  Then probably the original topic would come back then its a choice to continue talking about the new side topic or old original topic. — Ben R.

A Matter of Feeling Capable
I have no techniques. My mind goes blank the instant a Table Topics question is posed. It can be a simple question or a deep thinker. Doesn’t matter. I’m blank. Frozen. It’s not so much a matter of forgetting as it is a matter of feeling capable of remembering that I have a lot of knowledge, that I used to have stronger opinions, that my ideas are valid. And believing that I won’t be laughed at, ignored, invalidated, or interrupted. All things to work on. Looking forward to reading about the techniques of others–I could use a few!!! — Sheila C.

Ask the Toastmasters: Why Did You Join Toastmasters?

Toastmasters is more than just public speaking.  Many of us aren’t looking to be the next big thing on TedTalks or take center stage in front of thousands. In fact, most of us are just trying to fine tune every day social skills like small talk, holding organization meetings or contributing to work projects.

Here are just a few reasons why Morningstars Toastmasters joined:

Meet New People, Create New Relationships
I do management coaching, mostly on the phone. I’d like to have more local clients for face to face work. Most of my day I am alone in my office at home on the phone or on the computer. I enjoy it but I miss contact with people. My reason for joining toastmasters was to get out of my box and regenerate my speaking and presentations skills to put language to some of the new coaching tools I’m learning and to meet new people and create new relationships. Be a part of their growth. — Michael Worsfold

Make a Difference to Others
I joined Toastmasters because I wanted to be able to stand up in front of an audience, deliver a meaningful message and make a difference to others lives.  That and the fact I was a shy child and was so nervous I’d shake at the thought of speaking to an audience.  Toastmasters taught me to control nervousness, craft a meaningful speech and deliver it with enthusiasm.  In turn this increased my confidence and helped me become more effective in my business.  The interesting thing is…there are thousands of stories like that in Toastmasters.  Simply put…it works. — William B.

Authors Need a Good Speaking Voice
I sought out Toastmasters in Gibsons because I wanted to be an author. The best authors are often also very good speakers and I was afraid of failing in that aspect of my future career. I guess that fear was bigger than the fear I had of actually speaking in public. But for why I actually joined–that was because of the warm welcome I received from Morningstars on my first visit and during a follow up meeting with the VP of Membership who signed me up. — Sheila C.

Speak with Confidence
I joined Toast Masters because I want to be able to speak in front of large groups of people with confidence and be able to engage them effectively, be heard and understood.  — Andrea K.

Express Myself Viewpoint Eloquently
I joined because I wanted to feel more confident about speaking to small groups of people even my friends. I want to be able to express my viewpoint /position in a more eloquent relaxed way, so that others can really hear me without interrupting. This of course leads to being more comfortable speaking to larger groups and even asking questions of a speaker in a large conference hall. Since I used to stutter/stammer in my early life, this is a huge accomplishment.
It did not occur to me that there would be so much opportunity to research speech topics of great personal interest to me; plus the delightful bonus of hearing such fascinating speeches, table topics and tall tales. –Sarah L.

Best Values in the Area of Self-Development
My simple answer is that a fellow teacher invited me to a club meeting in Vernon (all men back then in 1967!). Often I’ve had the observation that being a teacher must have made Toastmasters easier. In fact, TM provided for me the opposite; a far improved teaching skill, not to mention the many different extraordinary opportunities I’ve experienced as a result.

The real question is why I’ve remained a member for so long (48 years!). The quick response is that I have never failed to continually learn something new and, most importantly, watch others enjoy their growth and newly developed confidence. Then, as now, I’ve watched individuals take TM and launch themselves into new careers, businesses and activities they never previously thought possible.

Toastmasters really is one of the best values in the area of self development. We can hardly imagine how Ralph Smedley would see his gift of this amazing organization today – 91 years later. — Frank C.

Hone My Leadership Skills
In 1985, I was elected the president of the Dawson Creek Minor Hockey Association. Every other person on the executive was male and quite sure they knew more than me. I quickly realized I would have to be assertive when chairing the meeting. That objective scared the bejesus out of me. So I looked around to see where I could learn about public speaking and running meetings. I found the answers at Mile Zero Communicators, the Tuesday morning Toastmasters club. For 30 years this amazing organization has helped me hone my leadership skills. Now five clubs later I’m about to move to a new community and one of the first things I’ll do will be to find a new Toastmaster club to join. I know I’ll find like-minded people that will soon be friends. Just as I’ve found at Morning Stars over the years. You are wonderful people and I’ll miss all of you. –Cathie Roy


Another Family
I joined Toastmasters in hopes of inspiring myself to write. I’d been meeting with a small group of writers off and on for about 2 and a half years and been doing lots of procrastinating. A writer friend and member of Toastmasters encouraged me to come to a Wednesday meeting and I finally bit the bullet – but only to support her. I had formed an impression about Toastmasters that I can only compare with my opinion of the Masonic Lodge, one that goes back to a childhood observing my father “go through the chairs” to Grand Master in a secret male society. I suspect it comes from Master being part of the name, along with the goals of ‘service’, ‘leadership’, medals and awards.
What I found at Morning Stars was another family; one that encouraged, supported and listened; a family of people not so unlike myself, with insecurities, foibles, passions, values and goals. And while our goals and values may differ, we have a structure that allows us to appreciate our individual journeys, inspire ideas, develop confidence and along the way, influence the process.
And so I keep coming, despite rarely getting out of bed before 830 am on any other day. Who knew? — Judy L.


How can Morningstars Toastmasters help you? Find out. Join us for a meeting this Wednesday at Harmony Hall (686 Harmony Lane, Gibsons) at 7am. Coffee is always on. We look forward to meeting you.

Want more information? Contact us using the form below!