1st Distinguished Toastmaster Award for EMC Ireland Toastmasters Forum

DTM Award

What exactly is the DTM?

The Distinguished Toastmaster award is the highest award the Toastmasters International organisation bestows. The DTM recognises a superior level of achievement in both communication and leadership. Toastmasters international recognise that by receiving this award I have…” developed and sharpened effective communication and leadership skills, and applied these skills in professional and community activities to the benefit of others.”

How did I get started in Toastmasters?

My journey began in April 2012 with an invitation to a demonstration meeting of something called Toastmasters. I had never heard of this before and, once I heard was it was, I had to decide did I want to put myself under that pressure of standing up to speak in front of other people! Well I took the plunge, signed up to EMC Ireland Toastmasters and gave my first speech, also known as an “Icebreaker”, on 15 June 2012.

What has been involved in attaining DTM?

As well as completing approximately sixty speeches, and a variety of meeting  roles, I took on a number of Club Officer roles, including VP Education in 2013, President in 2014 and the Area 49 Director role in 2015. I also completed the High Performance Leadership project in 2015 and ran a workshop for fellow toastmasters in 2016.

What are some of the benefits I have found from Toastmasters?

Joining Toastmasters is one of the best things I have ever done. Toastmasters has been of huge benefit to me, not just professionally but also personally. It is a great confidence builder and taught me excellent leadership and communication skills. As well as discovering a passion for speaking, I also learnt the benefits of servant leadership and being able to share my learnings as a mentor for new toastmasters and officers means a lot.

Now that I have achieved DTM, what’s next on my Toastmasters journey?

I have started the Competent Leadership award again, as I believe it is important to refresh skills learnt. It also means another point for the EMC Ireland Toastmasters Club. UCC (University College Cork) have asked me to return in October to speak to their Mature Students Group again about presentation skills and tips on how to overcome nerves. It is great to be able to give back what I have learnt to help others. The future is definitely bright for me and I urge anyone who wants to develop personally and professionally to join Toastmasters and discover the benefits for themselves!


Follow me on Twitter @elainebeare



To Lead Is To Serve


In service or servant leadership you need to lead both with a focus on service to those benefiting from the end result and on those who work to achieve the objectives. Service leaders are willing to place empowerment above personal power, contribution above their own ego satisfaction and the needs of the team above their own needs for credit and acclaim.

However this all means nothing unless you first know how to lead! This is where I found the High Performance Leadership (HPL) project in Toastmasters particularly useful as you learn by doing to develop your leadership skills when undertaking this project.  The project covers learning leadership skills, putting the skills in action and then receiving feedback on your performance and progress.

In June 2015 I completed my High Performance Leadership Project (HPL) in EMC Ireland Toastmasters Forum. This for me was one of the best leadership learnings on my journey, not only in Toastmasters but in Leadership.

The project focuses on vital leadership areas including:

  • Developing a mission and vision
  • Goal-setting and planning
  • Identifying values
  • Building a team

It is an evaluated project with feedback given on leadership skills at each of the following steps:

  • Learning About Leadership
  • Choosing Your Objective
  • Winning Commitment to Your Objective
  • Working the Plan
  • Analyzing and Presenting Results

The first step you take is to evaluate and assess your existing leadership skills, and identify your strengths and skills that need improving. These cover six focus areas of Service Leadership, namely Vision and Values, Direction, Persuasion, Support, Development and Appreciation.

Once you have completed this assessment you need to choose a project or objective that will allow you to develop these skills. You also need to organise a guidance committee that will help and guide you through strategic planning and feedback on your journey. Members of the committee should include mentors and people whose experience will help you and whose opinion you respect.

A project will only succeed if everyone knows what they are doing and why. This is where developing a vision and mission statement is crucial. With a clear vision and a clear purpose you will create a project that is organised and successful.

When you and your team have created the vision and mission, and have your committee in agreement for your project, it is time to put the plan into action. During this process you will develop skills of a team leader through delegation, planning and conflict resolution. You will help the team members develop through appreciation and empowerment.

Finally when the project is completed you review what you have learned on the journey, and re-assess your skills again in the six focus areas. You should hopefully have learned more about yourself and how to work with others. And, of course, through learning by doing, you have improved your servant leadership skills.

My key learnings include teamwork = success, delegation = empowerment, and acknowledgement of great work is invaluable!

What #ServantLeadership Means To Me


I have a great passion for Leadership, and in particular for Servant Leadership. Let me give you one reason why.

I became a Toastmaster in May 2012 when I joined EMC Ireland Toastmasters Forum. (My first ten speeches, from the Competent Communicator manual, are available to read on my earliest posts on this blog).

Part of being a Toastmaster is about taking roles at meetings, all which count towards the Competent Leader award. While working through these two manuals I also took on various officer roles. These included VP of Education (May 2012 to June 2014) and President of the Club (July 2014 to June 2015).

I was honoured to then be elected as Area Director for Area 49 which covers five Clubs in Cork; EMC Ireland Toastmasters, Apple Toastmasters, VMware Toastmasters, Bishopstown Toastmasters and Powdermills Toastmasters. This role runs from July 2015 to June 2015. I am also currently serving as Assistant Division Director for PR in Division A, District 71.

For me all of the roles mentioned above have their roots in Servant Leadership. Consider the Toastmasters Missions below: –

Toastmasters International Mission

We empower individuals to become more effective communicators and leaders.

District Mission

We build new clubs and support all clubs in achieving excellence.

Club Mission

We provide a supportive and positive learning experience in which members are empowered to develop communication and leadership skills, resulting in greater self-confidence and personal growth.

Key words from these missions are empower and support.

The description of Servant Leadership on Wikipedia is the servant-leader shares power, puts the needs of others first and helps people develop and perform as highly as possible. 

You can see the similarities between the two. Why Servant Leadership appeals to me is quite simple. I want to share with others what I have learned to help them develop, and support and empower them to succeed.

Toastmasters International Values are Integrity, Respect, Service and Excellence. The skills I learned, and continue to learn, through Toastmasters are transferable and will always be of help to me, and if I can share those skills and what I have learned then how great is that!

Elaine Beare

Follow me on Twitter @elainebeare




Due to speak at an event in 2015? Do You Want to Increase Your Confidence?

If your answer to both of these questions is YES then please read on. Toastmasters is a great way to build your confidence and learn new skills at the same time. Not only will you learn how to prepare and deliver great speeches in a safe and friendly environment but you will also have the opportunity to network and make new friends in the process. I myself have benefited greatly both personally and professionally through joining Toastmasters and can heartily recommend it. But don’t take my word for it; why not go along and discover the joys of Toastmasters for yourself.

Powdermills Toastmasters in Ballincollig, Co. Cork, are holding a special OPEN NIGHT on Wednesday, 14th January 2015 in the Oriel House, Ballincollig, at 8.00pm to introduce the club to new members and guests.

All guests over 18 are most welcome to attend this Open Night organised by the Powdermills Toastmasters Club to see how you can develop your skills in Public Speaking and learn Leadership techniques.

Guest may attend for free and are most welcome. Don’t worry, you will not be asked to speak on the night so you can sit back, observe and enjoy the night!

You can also check out more about the Toastmaster Club here

Alphabet Blog – the letters T and F

Today’s blog is brought to you by the letters T and F.

T is for Toastmasters, a subject near and dear to me. In May 2012 I was offered the opportunity to join Toastmasters, and it is a decision I have never regretted. A brief two and a half years later I am now the President of EMC Ireland Toastmasters Forum.The benefits that Toastmasters has brought to my life are numerous. I have developed confidence, both in myself and in the things I do. I have developed my leadership and communication skills. I can honestly say my career would not have progressed without the skills I learnt at Toastmasters.

F is for Fear, one of the strongest emotions a person can feel. Fear is certainly the emotion I was feeling when I stood up to give my Icebreaker speech in Toastmasters. With my heart pounding and my whole body shaking as if a million volts were blasting through me, I stood up and gave my first speech. And I have to say, the feeling when I sat down having completed my Icebreaker was like walking on water. The exhilaration was fantastic.

Do I still feel fear? Yes, definitely! But…I now know how to control it. And that ladies and gentlemen, is all thanks to Toastmasters. To my audience I now appear confident and knowledgeable as I stand in front of them speaking. And this is something anyone can learn. That is the great thing about Toastmasters. It is open to everyone. So why not check out where your local club is and go along for a visit. I promise you, if you sign up, and follow the Toastmasters learning path, you will never regret it. 🙂

Elaine Beare

follow me on twitter @elainebeare

Being The President of EMC Ireland Toastmasters Forum

Today it is official. I am the new President of EMC Ireland Toastmasters Forum. The Immediate Past President, Niamh Brady, has done a fantastic job and set the bar high for me. During her tenure the Club achieved the Presidents Distinguished Club Award. This is a brilliant achievement, especially when you consider the Club only started in 2012.

I look forward to Niamhs guidance and support as I take on this role for the 2014-2015 Toastmasters Year. I am confident the Club will go from strength to strength in the coming year and I look forward to the exciting challenges ahead of me.

Elaine Beare

Follow me on Twitter @elainebeare

The Dangers of Wasp Badminton

Having completed my Competent Communicator manual in Toastmasters it was time to move on to the Advanced Speaker Manuals. With over 20 manuals to choose from, the range of topics was varied. While I have never considered myself a funny person I decided to challenge myself and selected the “Entertaining Speaker” manual. The objectives in the first speech “The Entertaining Speech” are to: Entertain the audience by relating a personal experience and Organise an entertaining speech for maximum impact”. On 20 March 2014 this is the speech I gave: –

Toastmaster, fellow Toastmaster and welcome guests, I stand before you today a survivor, a survivor of Wasp Badminton. I am here to warn you of the dangers; dare I even say life-threatening results of this deadly sport. I should tell you at this stage that I have mortal fear of wasps. The very sight of one is enough to start me itching. It is as though I can feel each individual step as the wasp progresses across my skin. This may stem from the fact that as a child I feel a crawling sensation just above my knee inside my jeans and my investigative touch was rewarded with a sharp burning sensation…the not so friendly return touch of a wasp sting! More stings were to follow in my teens which has led to my loathing and detestation of these abominable creatures. Let me progress with my cautionary tale.

It started as a normal Saturday evening. I had journeyed to Bandon to spend some time with my parents. As I chatted with my father I noticed a fluttering out of the corner of my eye. Looking up I saw my deadly enemy, a wasp, flitting around one of the lampshades. As is the custom in our household, a newspaper was quickly grabbed, rolled up and the hunt began.

As the lampshades were glass, delicate and irreplaceable, the beginning taps were equally delicate. One shade had a small hole from some previous incident which was to provide some solace a few minutes later! Blame it on frustration at the wily wasp or a growing tiredness from ladylike tapping but enough was enough! I lashed out with what I thought was a definitely kill shot. It was a indeed a killing blow but alas it was the lampshade and not the wasp that suffered. With one fell swoop I blew the shade to smithereens with bits of decorative glass flying in every direction!

Naturally the wasp hunt halted until all the glass was picked up. Bit by bit was gathered from window to door to fireplace and carefully placed in a box and then it was back to the wasp hunt. After all faint heart never won fair lady!

Armed once again with my trusty newspaper and convinced at this stage that the wasp was plotting revenge of a most painful sort my eyes darted from ground to couch to ceiling. And there it was!! That pesky wasp had moved to the other lampshade, happily crawling around as if it hadn’t a care in the world. My dander was well up at this stage and after another few ineffective swats I stood on the couch and prepared for the fight to the death!

Swat by me and wasp to the right

Swat by my father and wasp to the left

Back and forth

Each swing growing more determined

My father swung and with a fast lean to the left I thought I had the winning shot

And then… catastrophe struck.

That lunge upset my balance, and underestimating the bounce of the couch, I was launched, flying over a metal oil heater, (you know the ones like mini-radiators) and head first into the concrete wall two feet away. Well that took the wind out of my sails. I staggered to my feet slightly dazed. You can imagine if this was a cartoon there would have been little tweeting birds circling my head.

Gathering my bruised body, and perhaps slightly concussed,  I decided enough was enough. This wasp was going down! A few more whacks and still he was surviving. I think my father feared for the furniture at this stage and he headed for the kitchen to enquire did we have bug spray. On hindsight perhaps we should have done this at the start! One quick spray and down came the wasp to be instantly crushed beneath my boot.

The victory was ours. Beares 1 : Wasp 0

In conclusion I would like to share some lessons I have learned from Wasp Badminton: –

  1. Glass lampshades and newspapers are not a good combination
  2. Beares have a limited flight time
  3. Couches are bouncier than they look

And finally

  1. Look for bug spray when you see a wasp

These few tips could prevent nausea, dizziness, headache and most importantly destruction of parent’s furniture.

Thank you.

 I hope you have enjoyed this story and please feel free to leave a comment.

Follow me on Twitter @elainebeare


“My Inspiration”

Finally the time had arrived for me to give my tenth and final speech in the Competent Communicator Manual in Toastmaster.  This was to be a speech that would inspire my audience. An inspirational speech motivates an audience to improve personally, emotionally, professionally, or spiritually and relies heavily on emotional appeal. It brings the audience together in a mood of fellowship and shared desire, builds the audience’s enthusiasm, then proposes a change or plan and appeals to the audience to adopt this change or plan. The objectives for speech 10 are:-

  • To inspire the audience by appealing to noble motives and challenging the audience to achieve a higher level of beliefs or achievement.
  • Appeal to the audience’s needs and emotions, using stories, anecdotes and quotes to add drama.
  • Avoid using notes.

This is the speech I gave on 28 January 2013. Enjoy.


Toastmaster, fellow toastmasters and welcome guests.

This speech is meant to inspire my audience.  I started by looking up “inspire” and found the meaning “to fill with an animating or exalting feeling”.  Every day we strive to emulate our heroes.  It is their actions that inspire us, give us the determination to carry on and succeed in our goals.  Everyone has their own hero or source of inspiration, and we can but strive to equal these heroes and their motivation and inspiration.  We can also be inspired simply by a word or an image, or indeed by the actions of people around us.

One person who is an inspiration to me is Alfonso D’Abruzzo.  He was born on 28 January 1936 in the Bronx, New York.  At the age of 7 he contracted polio.  To combat the disease for two long years his parents administered a painful treatment regimen developed by Sister Kenny.  The treatment was the repeated application of hot woollen blankets to the affected limbs and stretching his muscles.  The treatment was a success and Alfonso resumed a normal life.  He pursued an acting career, following in the footsteps of his father Robert, changing his first name to Alan and adopting the same stage surname of Alda.  He starred in a few Hollywood movies but his big break came in 1972 when he was cast in the role of Captain Hawkeye Pierce in MASH.  His portrayal of this character brought laughter and joy on many an occasion and on others moved us to tears as he enacted each storyline making us feel as if we were there living his life with him.  This role continued for 11 years, during which time he also wrote and directed multiple episodes. 

When Alda won his first Emmy for writing he was so elated he performed a cartwheel on the way up to collect the award.  He went on to win 5 other Emmys for acting and directing and was the first person to win Emmy Awards for acting, writing and directing in the same series. 

But this is only half the story of Alan Alda.   While filming MASH he commuted from Los Angeles to his home in New Jersey every weekend for 11 years.  This is the kind of man he was.  He didn’t want to uproot his family just because of his career so instead he made the weekly commute across country.

Alan Alda also became a strong and vocal supporter of women’s right and the feminist movement, not a complete surprise as he was the only man in a household of wife and two daughters.  In 1976 the Boston Globe dubbed him “the quintessential Honorary Woman: a feminist icon” for his activism on behalf of the Equal Rights Amendment.  In 1982 he co-chaired the Equal Rights Amendment Countdown Campaign with Betty Ford. 

His co-stars have described him as a very generous actor and a thorough gentleman.  Alda also went on to star in multiple films and shows, including West Wing, ER, What Women Want and Tower Heist, to name but a few.

In 1993, at the age of 57 Alda embarked on a new series, Scientific American Frontiers.  The show focused on informing the public of new discoveries in science and medicine.  His natural curiosity and constant questioning to bring the information to a level everyone could understand made the show a success and he continued as the host until it ended in 2005.  Alda’s avid interest in science and cosmology led to him participating in the BBC coverage of the opening of the large hadron collider in Geneva in September 2008.  He also helped inspire the creation of the Centre for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University in 2009 and still remains on the Advisory Board.

Another string to Alan Alda’s bow is the publishing of two books thus far.  The first published in 2005, was entitled Never Have Your Dog Stuffed and Other Things I’ve Learned and it covers stories from his life.  The title, by the way, was inspired by an incident in his childhood. His father on seeing how distraught he was at the loss of the family dog decided to have it stuffed.  He was horrified by the results and took from this that sometimes we have to accept things as they are rather than desperately and fruitlessly trying to change them. 

The second book of memoirs published in 2007, weaves together advice from public speeches he has given with personal recollections about his life and beliefs. 

A quote that inspires me and is only one of many by Alan Alda is “Be brave enough to live life creatively.  The creative place where no one else has ever been”. 

Father, actor, writer, director, feminist are only a few of the words that begin to sum up Alan Alda.  His constant striving to change things for the better, to keep on going, irrespective of age, to follow his beliefs, to me are more than enough reasons to call this man an inspiration.  So happy birthday Alan Alda – may you have many more years of giving left in you.

Thank you.

 Well I hope you enjoyed this speech and maybe even found some inspiration by reading it through. Feel free to contact me if you have any comments or queries.

Elaine Beare

Follow me on Twitter @elainebeare



Snailmail My Email

Persuade with power is the focus for Speech 9 in the Competent Communicator manual. The ability to persuade, to get other people to understand, accept, and act upon your ideas, is a valuable skill. Your listeners will be more likely to be persuaded if they perceive you as credible, if you use logic and emotion in your appeal, if you carefully structure your speech and if you appeal to their interests. Avoid using notes because they may cause listeners to doubt your sincerity, knowledge, and conviction. The objectives of speech 9 are: –

–      Persuade listeners to adopt your viewpoint or ideas or to take some action.
–      Appealing to the audience’s interests.
–      Use logic and emotion to support your position.
–      Avoid using notes.

For my speech 9, delivered on 7 January 2013, I focused on the disappearing art of letter writing to try and persuade my listeners to write a letter inside of an email. This is the speech I gave.

Toastmaster, fellow toastmaster and welcome guests. 

With the art of letter writing fast becoming, I believe, a thing of the past, I took to the internet to investigate further.  In my quest for validation I came across Emily Post and her book on Etiquette, published in 1922.  One chapter is given over to the writing of longer letters and indeed she opens the chapter with the lines “THE ART of general letter-writing in the present day is shrinking until the letter threatens to become a telegram, a telephone message, a post-card. Since the events of the day are transmitted in newspapers with far greater accuracy, detail, and dispatch than they could be by the single effort of even Voltaire himself, the circulation of general news, which formed the chief reason for letters of the stage-coach and sailing-vessel days, has no part in the correspondence of to-day”. 

Ms. Post goes on to describe the different types and styles of letters, the do’s and don’ts for gentlemen and ladies corresponding, how to start and end a letter, and most importantly what not to write!

In the ninety years since this publication, computers and the internet have become a way of life. In the fast paced digital world we now live in you can like, follow, pin, and tweet.  Abbreviations have become commonplace in our messaging and emails are business-like and to the point. 

From an early age we are taught our “abc”.  Children bring home works of art they have created. An I Love You written in crayon on a coloured piece of paper is a precious gift from a child.  And yet as the years pass these masterpieces dwindle, homework and life takes over and the imaginative gene is quashed. It is all too easy nowadays to pick up the phone and ring someone, be they minutes away or residing on the opposite side of the globe.  For those who have emigrated to distant shores there is skyping and built in cameras and microphones on laptops and ipads give you the visual and audio experience of talking to someone as if they were sitting next to you. 

Notwithstanding all that, nothing is more powerful than the written word.  And yes while there is email what memento is this years later?  How often do we go back and reread old emails from friends.  A box of old letters can be a treasure trove, with words presenting images and producing nostalgia of happy times spent together. 

Letter writing has also proven popular in the film industry.  From P.S. I Love You  where Hilary Swank receives letters from her deceased husband, encouraging her to open herself up to life and love again, to the Lake House, where Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves correspond through time to “Message in a Bottle” with Kevin Costner.  Some may describe these films as “chick flicks” but no one can deny their popularity.  And of course who could forget Carrie in Sex and the City who is eventually won back by receiving copies of famous love letters from Mr. Big. 

On further searching the internet I came across another project.  Created in 2011 by artist Ivan Cash, the “Snail Mail My Email” project was launched in which 234 volunteers collectively sent 10,457 letters to 70 countries over a month-long span.  This project aims to reignite the lost art of letter writing, reminding us of the power of personal connection in a digital world.  The project has since transitioned to a week-long event that takes place annually. The next installment is tentatively scheduled for Autumn 2013. To date, a total of 431 volunteers have collectively sent 13,968 letters across the world. 

To misquote the song I’m gonna sit right down and write myself an email doesn’t quite have the same impact as writing a letter, and love emails straight from your heart really doesn’t ring true.  So I ask you, or dare I say urge you, to take the time to sit down with pen and paper and write a letter.  Be it long or short, to a family member or friend, write of old days, and times spent together.  I can promise you this, the reader of that letter will never regret receiving it, and who knows…it may be the start of a lifelong correspondence.

Thank you.


 Well I hope you enjoyed this speech as much as I enjoyed giving it. If you have any comments or questions do please contact me and I will be delighted to discuss.

Elaine Beare

Follow me on Twitter @elainebeare