Toastmasters District 74

Southern Africa

Emoticon! The ultimate Octobercon Conference for D74 Toastmasters


Emoticon promises to be the ultimate Octobercon Conference for D74 Toastmasters (Southern Africa).

Join us at Alpine Heath in the Drakensberg from 13-16 October 2016 (Thursday to Sunday) and you too can improve your Communication and Leadership skills.

Our guest speaker is Craig Valentine, World Champion of Public Speaking, renowned International Speaker and highly sought-after Speech Coach.


Register now






Electing Leaders for the D74 District Council

Toastmasters, at least in District 74, is a democracy. We elect our leaders who meet the required qualifications (of past service and paying dues!) at District Council.

We need a third of all Club Presidents and Vice Presidents Education of clubs in good standing to be registered to vote for a quorum for business to be approved. As of today, that's 112 officers (or their proxies).

If you are a President or VPE and cannot attend on Saturday 14 May at Bytes Conference Centre from 14:30, please guarantee your club's say by assigning your proxy to a member who is going to attend. Please use to do this. This also contains links to further information about the District Council.

Please note:

  • It's free to attend
  • May just be after the International Speech Contest, so you can get the result almost first hand
  • If you're inspired to advance your leadership experience or your opinion of any of the nominees is not 100%, or your nomination was not endorsed by the DLC (District Leadership Committee), you may stand from the floor!
  • If you have something to say about the running of District, you will only have a chance if you are a member of Council or a proxy holder.

To quote the IEC of South Africa: "Your tomorrow is in your hands".

Shaun Goodbrand DTM


Sonja Smith and Zoya picWHEN DEATH & LIFE COLLIDE


I wasn’t quite sure what to expect – truth be told.

I was meeting an award-winning Businesswoman and Director of a funeral home after all.

Instead, Sonja Smith–Janse van Rensburg walked into Isabella’s Country Cuisine in Kyalami,
JHB, and was the epitome of relaxed and radiated warmth that made us “hit it off’ instantly.


Her story begins back in 1997 while watching a Carte Blanche insert on funeral homes. She says “my curiosity
was sparked immediately when I realised that no one goes to a funeral home by choice. This is what planted the seed that saw me quit my job as a bank manager and find work at Avbob in Durban as a funeral arranger.”

“I have a gift of comforting people and the more funerals I arranged, the more I realised that I wanted to do things differently in this space.” It was this desire that saw Sonja Smith start her own business – Sonja Smith Funeral Home.

Ten years after the establishment of her business, Sonja was awarded the Woman in Business Champion Award 2015 by the National Small Business Chamber of SA in November 2015.

The Business Excellence Forum Awards (BEFA’s) held in November 2015, saw Sonja Smith Funeral
Home walk away with the award for Most Innovative business.


We veer onto her involvement with Toastmasters and she says “Toastmasters has been invaluable on my journey, equipping me with leadership skills and the confidence to do live radio interviews and to take on the challenges that come with being a businesswoman in a male-dominated industry.”

She continues, “I want to be EXTRA in extraordinary as President of Centurion Toastmasters. This involves giving back to the community and our club is currently involved in four speechcrafts at local high schools.”

“Toastmasters is the space where I merge my desire to improve as a speaker with my call to lead and serve others. I can’t think of another organisation that offers both in the way Toastmasters does.”


In working so closely with death, ultimately Sonja has made the choice to live life in the best way she knows how. Her deep compassion for humanity and what can only be described as ‘her gift of healing’, will ensure that one day when her time on this earth is done, she will leave this world a better place than what she found it.

A simple reminder to each of us that when we marry our God-given talents with the commitment to make a difference in the world, we too can leave a lasting legacy.

What will your legacy BE?

5 things that need to be in your speech

2015 06 10 03.18.36When I deliver a speech, I feel as though I am an actress on the stage of my life and I am sharing my vulnerability with my audience. I thus propose that we liken a speech to a play in which we are the actors. In order to succeed, every play needs its actors to deliver on certain criteria in order to hold the audience captive for the full duration of the play. We know that every speech must have an – opening, middle and conclusion. However, I would like to suggest criteria that could help your speech captivate your audience like a sold-out Broadway production.

1. A lightbulb moment

2. Developing the story

3. Involving the audience

4. Being honest

5. Concluding on a strong note

Involvement – are you passionate about what you are speaking about? Can you bring your audience into your speech? Can you make them inspired or involved?

Commitment – are you exposing yourself in your speech? Are you the pig (totally committed) or the chicken (just laying the egg) in this?

Delivering a speech is something important to you and your growth as well as your contribution to your club/audience.

When I start to make a speech, I have to think. Strangely, I do not write my speeches, they develop in my mind. They play like songs and music until they birth fully fledged. Then they soar out of me.

This is not the ideal. Many people write and rework their speeches over and over until they are certain of them. This is preferable, because then you have a record and can repeat that speech again and again.

As I recognise this as a weakness in myself, I have now started to record my speeches, so that I can capture them and write them down. This I am doing at “dress rehearsal” stage, the night before I actually present. Here I rigorously check my timing as well and check on vocal variety as well as body language.

This is where Toastmasters is teaching me to be more rigorous in my own presentations and improving my results. It is the move from being a singer who has learnt her notes and words, into being a speaker who is mastering her ability to present her own thoughts concisely and precisely.

It is a discipline well worth mastering. The value it delivers is immense.

So what are my five things in my speeches?

1. A lightbulb moment

2. Developing the story

3. Involving the audience

4. Being honest

5. Concluding on a strong note

Witten by Judith Taylor

A Tribute to Toastmasters

Recently, I participated in an international Symposium on “The Nuclearisation of Africa” and I did a presentation. It was a highly learned audience – consisting of scientists, lawyers and activists. All right, it was not a TM International conference with thousands. There were cameras there and over 100 people in the audience. My first time in front of cameras at a major conference, in fact, the first time I was aware of being recorded. Somehow, this did not concern me.

I did my presentation, drawing on what I had heard during the previous two days, as well as my prepared material.

Afterwards, I was blown away by the feedback.

Then I took a step back to see what my being in Toastmasters had contributed to my success. These are my main realisations:

1. I have learnt to listen and absorb information

2. I have honed excellent presentation skills, including how to use effective slides

3. I realised that I am speaking to an English and French speaking audience, with translators assisting the latter in
understanding me, and I paced my speech to assist the translators

4. I used body language

5. I engaged amazing vocal variety

All of this comes from my past three and a half years of working the Toastmasters’ programmes. Oh, I missed out that I was also working behind the scenes to make sure everything flowed smoothly. This was pure TM leadership, drawn from working through the Competent Leader manual.

2015 10 East London 020