Keeping the commitment is a reminder of the expectations of members as part of this Club. This is the speech I gave as President on April 4th 2016. I would like a discussion and answers to the questions in bold.

Over the past few weeks we have been provided with an exceptional learning opportunity if we choose to address it. I would like to sincerely thank everyone involved in providing us with this. We could ignore this opportunity or we can use the professional strength of this club to have an open and honest discussion on the etiquette or unwritten protocols. We can recommit to the Toastmaster Promise.


As a member of Toastmasters International and my club, I promise…

  • To attend club meetings regularly
  • To prepare all of my speech and leadership projects to the best of my ability, basing them on projects in the Competent Communication, Advanced Communication Series or Competent Leadership manuals
  • To prepare for and fulfill meeting assignments
  • To provide fellow members with helpful, constructive evaluations
  • To help the club maintain the positive, friendly environment necessary for all members to learn and grow
  • To serve my club as an officer when called upon to do so
  • To treat my fellow club members and our guests with respect and courtesy
  • To bring guests to club meetings so they can see the benefits Toastmasters membership offers
  • To adhere to the guidelines and rules for all Toastmasters educational and recognition programs
  • To maintain honest and highly ethical standards during the conduct of all Toastmasters activities

I would like your advice, as members of Casterbridge Speakers, as to how we live our values. The values and associated behaviours set the culture of the club. Too often we can assume understanding.

Toastmasters International Casterbridge Speakers
·         Integrity

·         Respect

·         Service

·         Excellence

·         Supportive

·         Mentoring

·         Active

·         Recognition

·         Tenacity

Are they to be just words on a page or a blueprint for our behaviours?

I believe my role as President is to help clarify expectations. We may all have different views, and I would like us to start talking about it. The fact is there have been a number of incidences where speech content has made the audience feel uncomfortable or even offended. Now we can turn a blind eye to this situation or as a professional, courageous and caring club resolve it.

As you know, I am very proud of this club and what we have achieved. Having fun is a key part of that and long may that continue. However, one person’s joke can be offensive to someone else.

One of the Toastmaster commitments is that we observe ethical standards – in words and action. This includes being respectful and courteous to everyone.

What I don’t want, as I am sure you don’t, are

members or guests coming to meetings apprehensive of what they will hear, feeling uncomfortable; or going away and not coming back. Nor do I want speakers feeling they have been gagged. We have to accept that Speakers have the right to choose their subject material.

How do we balance freedom of speech with the sensitivities of the audience? 

How do we define an appropriate or inappropriate speech?

Is it down to us to agree as a club?

How do we balance the speaker’s judgement of an appropriate speech with the audience’s view?

Not everyone will respond to your speech the same.

Not everyone will respond to your speech the same.

How far do we push the boundaries?

Should we let anything go or agree boundaries?

Perhaps Speakers when choosing a certain topic can reflect more on what impact it may have on a known audience and run it past a mentor or friend.

Swearing is another part of this. I realise that what we have not done as a Club is agree what is appropriate.

How much swearing is acceptable?

Members and guests come to these meetings and expect a safe environment, whether physical or emotional.

Do we not have an obligation to provide that?

How open minded do we need to be?

Do we ignore our values and be more liberal?

Where do we draw the line?

How do we respond when we feel someone has crossed that line?

Is it our individual responsibility to make people aware how we feel?

We have a fantastic opportunity to address a key leadership issue of defining the culture we want. We are all leaders in this balancing act of managing ours and others expectations. In a fast changing world, deciding where the line is can be fraught with difficulties, but that shouldn’t stop us from trying.

I trust you to rise to this challenge and for Casterbridge Speakers to grow in strength and integrity as a result.

I welcome your comments either personally or by email.


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