Author Archives: William

Interview with our Club President Gareth Coghlan


By William Killeen

What does being Club President mean to you?

Obviously, it’s a tremendous honour!

I have a great sense of pride in the club, watching each of the members taking on new roles and developing with every speech they give, both in confidence and skills. Sitting at the top table in every meeting allows me a unique view of the interactions between an audience and our speakers. Great public speakers engage their audience, and it is fascinating to watch our members work towards this goal.

When I joined Dublin South, shortly before the club split that led to the inception of Dublin 18 TM, I didn’t really have any plans to join the committee. I became a member of toastmasters with the singular goal of developing my public speaking skills. However, an opportunity arose before the first meeting of Dublin 18 to step in as Sargent at Arms. Our first President, Colm Roe, called me up to see if I’d step in.  At the time I’d only just completed my Icebreaker and a couple of meeting roles, but as Colm pointed out, it would give me ‘speaking rights’ at every meeting. While I felt a certain amount of pressure opening every meeting, it’s great for building up confidence and a comfort level in front of an audience. Our club is still relatively new, we’re only into our third year, and so much has been achieved in that short time.

How is the club different now compared to when you joined?

As I said before, I originally joined the pre-split Dublin South, which had almost 60 members, out of which about 40 were active.  So it was difficult to get on the agenda.  For example it was about 3 months before I could get in the diary to do my Icebreaker! After the split, our first 6 months were characterised by the ease of getting on the agenda for every meeting.  Being the SAA, it often meant double and the odd time, triple jobbing! We saw very few visitors over those first few months.  So it was largely the same 15 or 16 committed members at each meeting. It was a great time for powering through both the CC and CL manuals!

What is the secret to continued success in attracting new members?

I don’t think there is a secret to attracting members.  You first need to let people know you are there, and explain what you do.  Then when they come to a meeting, they need to be impressed by what they see.  But also prospective new members need to feel comfortable enough so that they can fit in, and try to emulate what established members do.

From the start, we were very lucky to have our website created by past member, Juan Cullen, who understood how to get our site high up on the Google search results for Toastmasters. It was so successful, that I have received phone calls and emails over the past year from numerous people, all around the country and not just Dublin, inquiring about Toastmasters! That gets people in the door, but once they’re in, it’s the atmosphere generated by the members, the fun we have in learning, the encouragement we show to each other. That all helps make guests want to come back and ultimately, join our club.

Typically, what type of members are you attracting recently?

Fortunately, we have a good cross section of the wider society in Dublin represented in the membership. Much of that is down to luck.  We don’t have quotas to influence who joins and who doesn’t. Karen and I had been worried about the gender balance, a year or so ago, where the club was quite male-oriented in the membership. However in the last year more women have joined us than men, so we’ve a better balance today. Is it really important? I think for an improving speaker, it’s vital! The more diverse your audience is in the club, the more varied the feedback you’ll receive. So if you have to make a speech outside the club, you’ll be better prepared to adapt to the type of audience you will face.

What development goals do you have for the club in 2016/2017?

The bar has been set high, in the first two years with regard to the Distinguished Club Program.  In fact we have achieved President’s Distinguished both years. (Toastmasters International sets 10 targets and 9 need to be achieved to receive the President’s Distinguished award). So far we are over half way there.  We need to get 4 members of the committee trained in January/February, 3 more members to get their CC award before the end of June, and 1 to get an Advanced Communicator award.

I’m confident that we will do it again this year. In order to preserve club culture, it’s important that we don’t sacrifice meeting quality, to rush members through their manuals.

What is the mix of advanced speakers compared to more recent joiners in the club?

At the meeting moment, we have about 1/3 of the members at or working on Advanced manuals, 1/3 of the members with 4-9 speeches done and 1/3 in the early stages of their CC manual.

Is this mix of speakers important in creating a club culture?

Yes, for new members it’s great to be surrounded by people who have “been there and done that”.  They get a feel for what they should be aiming for, and to see what is possible. Having multiple advanced speakers in the club makes it easier to role model someone who reflects your own style.

However, it’s not a one-way street! Experienced members get to work on their leadership skills, set an example. By sharing their own experiences, they get to reflect on the basic building blocks of public speaking, which are always needed no matter how advanced a speaker is. Also it’s great to get fresh perspectives and talents coming into the club, we all get to learn from each other.

The mentoring program helps to strengthen this.

Any other goals for 2016/2017?

For me personally, I want to get stuck into the advanced speeches and at least get the ACB award.

However, for the club, I just want to keep it a fun and enjoyable place for us all to learn and succeed!








Interview with our Past President, Karen O’Donnell


By William Cotter


Interview with Dublin 18’s Past President, Karen O’Donnell on her achievement on winning the award for Toastmaster of the Year 2016 – District 71.

Congratulations Karen on winning this award. How big a deal is this?

This award is presented each year to one Toastmaster who has excelled and gone above and beyond the ‘call of duty’.  It is presented by the District Director. Its recognition of the extra effort that one puts in to help a colleague, a club, an area or district.

You have won this award out of over 4,500 fellow Toastmasters, what an outstanding accomplishment. What does it take to win this award?

It requires commitment and time and the willingness to fully immerse yourself in Toastmasters. It also requires putting in that extra effort to make your club, division, area or district stand out that bit more. For example, I brought over the Toastmasters International World Champion, Mohammed Qahtani, to Dublin for our Division M Conference. I also organised the Google Gathering earlier this year which tied in with the visit of Toastmasters International President, Mohammed Murad to Dublin. This event raised the profile of Toastmasters in the corporate world resulting in four new clubs setting up.

This a significant achievement on a personal and club level. What does it mean to you?

I love helping people. I work full time as a life coach and I’m constantly helping people overcome personal and life challenges. During the course of my work I meet with people who discuss their fears and challenges which frequently relate to emotional and relationship issues. I work with them to overcome and conquer their fears and anxiety.

Toastmasters is very similar in that most people have some form of anxiety or fear related to public speaking which tends to be more deeply rooted in emotional issues such as confidence, self-esteem and respect.

How do you balance work, life and Toastmasters?

Being self-employed I throw myself into everything I do and my involvement in Toastmasters is no different to my work and my family. Some weeks I can put in over 30 to 40 hours into Toastmasters because I have to do what is required at club and district level. This time is all voluntary and I love every minute of it. I’m fully immersed and absorbed by Toastmasters and get it all back in a huge amount of satisfaction in seeing fellow Toastmasters blossom into confidence public speakers.

Why do you do what you do?

I joined Toastmasters over 3 years ago because I wanted to overcome my own fears of speaking to groups and large audiences. I also wanted to broaden my circle of friends and learn more from other people in terms of their own challenges and how they overcame them.

I get a huge sense of satisfaction from my involvement with Toastmasters. I enjoy seeing myself grow with each speech I make and role I complete. Most importantly though, I love seeing the light bulb going on in people. People who slowly emerge from their own personal challenges and become more confident human beings, all as a result of Toastmasters and our colleagues.

Who inspires you most?

I love reading and listing to the leading life coaching authors. The two that stand out most for me are Zig Ziglar and Wayne Dyer.


What advice would you give to fellow Toastmasters?

Prepare, prepare, prepare until you come so comfortable standing up in front of an audience. Throw yourself into Toastmasters and speak as often as you can. Keep the gaps between speeches to a minimum. Get out of your comfort zone, always perform a role at each meeting and build positive experiences into your internal chatter. Build a positive collage of speaking experiences to help build your confidence. Enjoy the journey!!

Finally, one book that was most influential?

It has to be Zig Ziglar’s ‘See you at the Top’.

Our D18 Tall Tales Competition, 27th January 2015

Hi all,

Super meeting tonight. Big thanks to all who attended, organised and performed. As I suspected, there was a huge amount of humour from the speeches. (And the Topics) Andy was superb as Contest Chair and he is very close to receiving his CL award. Well done Andy, a really professional job. Mairead’s Topics were excellent, loved the way she introduced each topic with quotes and historical information…we were educated and entertained. A lot of thought and preparation went into her role.

The quality of the speeches was really something. Probably the best Tall Tales Contest I’ve been to. William not only won the contest but also won Best Topic…this is becoming a bit of a habit William, you greedy gut 🙂 All of the speeches were brilliant, take a bow one and all. I’m a bit peeved with Juan though, for revealing the fact that he and I are starting a boy-band. Lol. He might have a chance, but my boat sailed a long long time ago.

Big thanks to the timer, judges, counters; especially Cathal from Dublin South. And a really big thanks to Karen. She was so supportive to Andy, as she is to every member of our club. Karen is the most pro-active VPE, and we are very lucky to have her pushing our club forward. She is going to be one hell of a President! We didn’t have a Grammarian counting our ums/ahs, but Karina was keeping her beady ears open and mentioned to me that they were almost non-existent…kudos to you all.

Something else that wasn’t used…notes! There’s a lesson in that. These were story speeches, which are easier to remember. Something to think about as you’re writing your next speech. And they were fun speeches to perform, with this type of speech you’re more inclined to look forward to giving it. As I’ve said before, looking forward to a speech (actually enjoying the thought of it) is the Holy Grail of public speaking…for me anyway!

Apologies if I’ve forgotten anyone. See you in two weeks.


Colm Roe

Club President

Our D18 Toastmasters Meeting, January 13th 2015

Impressive turnout, especially considering the weather/traffic. Great to see you all.

Gareth double jobbed, SAA and a speech about his grandad who was an army Captain during the Easter Rising. And it must be said, the story was told in his trademark enthusiastic style. Karina (Toastmaster) was superb, loved the theme and it created the wonderful meeting we all enjoyed so much. She also won the Best Contribution award…and deserved it! Andy did the role of Grammarian in his usual laid back style, loved his vow to use um/ehs as his next ‘Word of the day’…funny! Liam (Poet Master) gave a fine introduction to the poem. I especially liked the reference to the poet’s wife’s dislike to his personal/revealing works. Then Liam recited one of them…loved it! Damien (Timer) gave one of the best Timer speeches I’ve seen. No notes, and a nice piece about Einstein’s ‘relative time’. Damien showed that with a little preparation you can make every role interesting and valid. Juan (Topics Master) followed suit. His topic for James was inspired (and challenging) and kudos to James. It was such an enjoyable session and Liam won the Best Topic Award. Gerry’s Ice Breaker was also impressive. Not only did he cover the objective to use existing skills, he also covered many of the other CC speech objectives. Paula gave her Stage 2. New Year’s Resolutions, the history of them, when to make them, and how to succeed in completing them. I was impressed with the way Paula stood away from the lectern and how she kept her composure when she occasionally had to use her notes. We sometimes forget that TM is not a ‘memory club’. If you need to use notes…use them! The first time I abandoned mine was my Stage 10. Your 2nd speech can be a tricky one, there is more (self-imposed) pressure moving to a 7 minute speech. Paula’s speech was a collection of packets of data. It was a really interesting speech…but a really difficult one to remember. It took me a while to realise that writing a speech which follows a story, one with a chronology, is much easier to remember. And you spend less time preparing as well. I still remember my 2nd speech, standing behind the lectern, notes in hand…well done Paula. Karen gave an advanced speech about wheatgrass. She is such a fluent speaker, but her skills were gained by work and dedication. Karen speaks in other clubs often. And she’s proof positive that most great speakers aren’t born…they’re made…in places like Toastmasters. Great job Karen. Peter Graham GE’d the meeting…always a pleasure to welcome Dublin South Toastmasters, thanks for stepping in Peter. John Kelly and Emer Cannon (visiting Toastmasters) were also very welcome guests. Congrats to Emer for the recent little ‘Toastmaster bundle’ and best wishes to John on his approaching grandfatherhood 🙂 Evaluations by James, Mairead, William and Brendan were also impressive. I’m like an anti-GE! I rarely pay too enough attention to the evaluators. It’s not because I don’t value their roles…because I do. It’s because it’s a skill I’ve yet to master. Well done all of you.

If I’ve forgotten anyone, Karen will be on my case tomorrow morning and I’ll rectify.

A great start to the New Year.



Colm Roe, President

Karen O’Donnell Awarded Toastmaster of the Year, 2014


Toastmaster of the Year – Karen O’Donnell

At our meeting of 16th December (a joint Dublin South and D18 Toastmasters Event), Karen O’Donnell, CC, ALB was awarded ‘Toastmaster of the Year’ for Dublin Southkaren_pic Toastmasters, to celebrate her amazing efforts in getting our new club up and running in 2014. (We recently posted one of Karen’s most memorable speeches on the website. Click here to read the Power of 3, Karen’s Stage 7 Competent Communicator Manual Speech).

Karen O’Donnell , Vice President Education,  D18 Toastmasters

Our D18 Toastmasters Meeting, 9th December 2014

To Dublin 18 Toastmasters

Hi all,

I really enjoyed that meeting. Everyone performed well. James (and Karen) excelled at counting our ems…funny! I particularly enjoyed ‘Larry Clause’ demanding 20 mins and General Evaluator Andy reminding him that TM Gareth calls the shots! Paula telling James to put the camera away…I’ve a personal story to tell that links here 🙂 Damien’s Ice Breaker telling us not to be sheep. Brendan leaping onto the stage (without notes) to evaluate Darina’s ballet speech. New member Gerry’s superb discription of the Time Keeper’s role…also without notes. Juan changed my mind about dog breeding. Karen’s succinct evaluation (less is sometimes more) of Hellen’s honest and wonderful speech. Derek’s SAA opening and Gareth’s chairmanship. I also enjoyed Karina and Tim’s evaluations.

A very brief summary of our meeting. What I’m trying to say is that there was a real sense of confidence about the meeting. We are comfortable enough to speak our minds, to challenge and engage. All of the most enjoyable meetings for me contain these elements. We will continue to improve and excel, and continue to thoroughly enjoy our meetings as long as people like Larry demand 20 minutes – people like Andy (in orange T-shirts) tell him that it’s the TM’s decision – and as long as everyone just keeps doing what they’re doing.

Hope to see you all next Tuesday.


Colm Roe

Our D18 Toastmasters Meeting, 25th Nov 2014

Our D18 Toastmasters Meeting, 25th Nov 2014
Hi all,
Hope you all enjoyed the meeting as much as I did. Apologies for going over time with my Educational segment. And thanks again for your attendance; 16 out of 19 members attended (sadly Luke and Alberto are abroad so cannot attend). That’s quite a statement about your dedication, support and commitment to making our club the best it can be. It speaks to your enthusiasm for increasing your confidence and speaking skills.
By speaking regularly you progress rapidly, and that’s abundantly evident in every single member. I often mention personal goals, and how important they are. I suppose the first goal any Toastmaster should set is a personal promise to attend as many meetings as possible…well you’ve got that one sorted!
That commitment creates many positives. One of the greatest being an amazing atmosphere. There’s something almost addictive about entering our meeting room. When you surround yourself with like-minded, positive, friendly people, and combine that with…well, with everything else…the ‘about to go on stage’ tension, the knowledge that you’re going to be surprised, entertained, educated and possibly be chosen to stand in front of your peers and speak about something you’ve never really thought about before. It’s quite a cocktail!
I’m not going to mention everyone tonight. You were all brilliant! Derek, loved it when you abandoned your notes…your best speech so far. Karina’s first B word used in D18. It’s amazing how one word can convey so much, and with such impact. Swearing isn’t always appropriate, but it can be used to great effect. And it was a super speech.
Tim, another best yet…by a distance. I wasn’t the only one you impressed. Build on that by speaking more often. Andy, Powerpoint slides worked so well, especially the devastating effects of fracking…very powerful. A pertinent message nicely delivered.
Will challenged us (thankfully not me) with a theme linked with Darina’s. Some great replies and Gareth’s response won the Best Topic award. 4 impressive evaluations by Gareth, Hellen, Karen and Brendan. William GE’d, mentioned the ums…umed a bit…then promised that he’d finish his report without using any more. And he was as good as his word. Well done William. He gave first timer Damien Monaghan the Best Contribution Award for his role as Poet Master. His first ever role in D18…well done Damien.
Paula timed the event, Liam was Grammarian. Both performed admirably. And lest we forget, these are extremely important roles in Toastmasters. Every person who stands up to speak is giving a speech. The timer is training us to convey our message as succinctly as possible (note to self) and the Grammarian introduces new words, he/she also assists in reducing our ums.
Darina was TM, she had a well thought out theme which, in my opinion, really made it an interesting meeting. Super job Darina…she even liked my ‘headstones’ 🙂
So much for not mentioning everyone! Thank you all for another memorable meeting.
This is ‘Grandad’ signing off. 🙂
Colm Roe, President (26th November, 2014)

Colm Roe Presented with Outstanding Toastmaster Award


Dublin 18 Toastmasters Club President, Colm Roe,  was presented with an Outstanding Toastmaster award by Luanne Kent, Current District Governor of Toastmasters District 71. This was in part related to the conferral of Distinguished Club status on Dublin South Toastmasters, where Colm was formerly Club President. Well done to him. He adds this award to his Competent Communicator (CC) and Competent Leader (CL) awards.

Luan Colm

Luanne Kent, Toastmasters District 71 Governor, and Colm Roe, Dublin 18 Club President. (Oct 2014)