The Chris Ford reception

Chris Ford DTM Chris Ford DTM

Chris Ford DTM was Toastmasters World President for the 2007/08 year. He handed over to Jana Barnhill DTM at Calgary last month. In Perth we are lucky that he is here for a Mediation Conference as a lead speaker. Chris brings a wealth of experience from his time as a Brigadier General in the Canadian Army, from his consulting with major businesses since then, and of course from his year as World President of Toastmasters International


The reception at QV1

3 Toastmasters 3 Toastmasters
Robyn Glenis & Diana

25 Toastmasters and business leaders came to QV1 to meet and hear Chris talk on his areas of expertise – Toastmasters obviously, his experience as a Brigadier General in the Canadian Army and mediation and conflict resolution – without weapons. We met on Floor 2 for a reception before settling in the conference centre. The catering was handled by Rising Stars, which meets regularly at QV1.


Lisa & Chris Lisa & Chris



And then Chris discovered a fellow Canadian amongst our Toastmasters – Lisa Hughes from Young Guns, the A Team and Marketers.



Mike Helm Mike Helm

Last year’s District Secretary, Jeanette Farrar, acted as Sergeant at Arms and opened the meeting. She introduced Mike Helm, our very successful District Governor from 2007/08, who spoke about the value of Toastmasters in a corporate setting.

He introduced Michael Malone, I40 Area Governor and the founder and CEO of iinet.


Michael Malone’s address

Michael Malone Michael Malone

Michael gave an enthusiastic and gripping account of his accidental discovery of Toastmasters in the building he worked in, joining Durack and then encouraging his employees to improve their own communication skills through Toastmasters. Recently iinet has expanded to South Africa, and Michael sketched in the difficulties his middle managers have in developing their communication skills without the education and business structures we take for granted.


Chris Ford’s presentation. – an abbreviated account

Chris Ford Chris Ford

Chris announced that he is a double failure. When he retired from the Canadian Army in 2001, he had two firm plans – never to work for anyone else, and never to to go back to the military as a civilian. 

That makes him a double failure, he said, because he is now doing exactly what he said he would not: he’s working for someone else, and he’s back in the military as a civilian!




Trust me

Chris Ford Trust me!

Corporations are in business to make a buck, and government organisations are in business to provide a service to the public. Come on, trust me, he said. I have a strategy for you to improve your bottom line and that strategy is to foster Toastmasters in your organisation. You have to invest a dollar to make it grow to a dollar ten, so you have to provide leadership and invest effort to get the benefits for your business or government organisation that Toastmasters offers. We have two vital products.




Our two vital products
Toastmasters Communication and Leaderships skills.

Pat & Chris Pat & Chris

Working at a multi-national defence systems company, Chris had a revelatory experience when he dropped into an office across the corridor and had a 15 minute conversation with another manager. They discussed what they were trying to do, problems between them, and how they could resolve those problems. It seemed a great success until at the end as he was about to leave, the other manager said, “Can you send me an email, confirming what you said.” Emails! businesses are drowning in non personal communication through emails, instead of just picking up the phone to talk to the person, or sending a hand written note or best of all, walking down the passage and speaking directly to the person.

When communication breaks down, understanding is broken.

What Toastmasters offers can improve the bottom line, whether it is profits for the company or better service for the public. It’s not magic. It’s not rocket science. We learn by doing in a Toastmasters club or group – thinking, speaking, listening.

He recounted an experience as World President when he visited the Motorola Company in Penang, Malaysia. The President of Motorola told him that the first Toastmaster Club there had been such a success in developing communication skills in its members that he was initiating a program to start 10 Toastmaster Clubs in the organisation. Toastmasters works! What we offer you works!

Michael Malone Michael Malone

Questions and Answers.

Michael Malone joined Chris to take questions from the audience. One dealt with possible awkwardness in a corporate situation where employees might find it difficult to speak in front of fellow employees. Chris agreed there was sometimes such a problem, but in other cases it was a big plus that employees could socialise and work mutually on their communication skills. Another question dealt with the age range for Toastmasters – Chris agreed there was a need for opportunities for those under 18 but expressed support for that age barrier. A third question dealt with leadership development and both Michael and Chris contributed their endorsement of the leadership training opportunities available through Toastmasters with the administrative support structures involved in Area, Division and District operations

Some more socialising

Mark & Chris PRO Mark & Chris

After the formal stuff we gathered again in the lobby for further discussion and general socialising. Mark Richards DTM, our District 73 Public Relations Officer, had an animated discussion with Chris concerning our drive for a WA District. Whatever his other Toastmaster memories from Perth, Chris will definitely take away an understanding of our powerful drive to become a District in our own right. Of course, he said, as an ex-World President, I have no influence. It’s hard to take that at face value after experiencing the powerful impression Chris made of his persuasive capacities.

Sue Kane Sue Kane

Chris and Lisa swapped more information about their mutual links in Ottawa and Winnipeg. Sue Kane and the Rising Stars contingent handled the catering with unobtrusively deft skill. Long experience with Club Officer Training sessions has taught us how important the catering and the background organisation is. The Rising Stars contribution to the evening was a major one.

Eventually it finished, but no, it wasn’t over yet. 12 people crossed the road to the Indian Restaurant 9Marys and enjoyed a formal meal together.

David0703David Nicholas DTM
WA New Clubs Coordinator

Mike Helm plans to make this style of reception and promotion of Toastmasters a regular and vital feature of our New Clubs push on the way to our WA District. This was a brilliant start to the process. But it is only part of the total plan. We need also a string of new clubs in local communities in Perth suburbs. Mark and Robyn Richards showed how to do it with the founding of Canning Vale earlier this year. If you have ideas for a club in your community, let me know, and we will give you all the support you need to set it up. You can make a post on this page, or email me directly at


Restaurant Restaurant


7 Responses to “The Chris Ford reception”

  1. Avatar for Mark Richards Mark Richards says:

    What a privelege it was for us in Perth to meet and socialise with Past President Chris Ford. His presentation to Toastmasters and Business Executives was uplifting and inspirational. I feel sure that those Business Executives present have seen the benefit of having their employees join a Toastmasters club or even start their own Corporate Club. It was a truly memorable night.

    Mark Richards
    District 73 Public Relations Officer

  2. Avatar for Chris Ford Chris Ford says:

    Thanks to the Toastmasters of Perth for a most enjoyable evening last Wednesday! The format I believe was most conducive to attracting interest from the corporate sector – efficiently and convincingly. The hospitality was extraordinary, and I felt right at home …. even though home is on the other side of the world!

    Thanks again, and best wishes to all the Toastmasters of WA!

    Chris Ford, DTM
    Immediate Past International President 2008-09

  3. Avatar for Robyn Richards Robyn Richards says:

    I would like to congratulate the members of Rising Stars for their preparation & the unobtrusive, professional manner in which the event was handled. Everyone enjoyed the mingling before & after the presentation. I know I was able to put faces to names of many Toastmasters I had not met before. The presentation was simply brilliant & I feel sure we will have captured corporate interest which can only blossom into clubs & of course the up & coming leaders we need to operate our stand alone District here in Western Australia.

    Robyn Richards
    Canning Vale Toastmasters

  4. Avatar for Edmund Breen Edmund Breen says:

    Great effort Mark and I look forward to piggy backing of this for Jana’s visit. Let us keep the energy going.


  5. Avatar for Sue Kane Sue Kane says:

    It was certainly a wonderful evening and Risings Stars pleasure to host the night.
    Mike Helm and Michael did a great job in bringing this night together. What a privilege to meet with Chris Ford and to hear his presentation. A very dynamic speaker indeed!
    Michael’s presentation was also very impressive and I am sure would certainly have inspired the guests that were there on the night to become involved in Toastmasters.
    Thank you David for making it possible for everyone to view the night.

    Sue Kane
    Rising Stars

  6. Avatar for Mike Helm Mike Helm says:

    One of the many things which impressed me about our conversations with Chris Ford is the strategic approach being taken by the Toastmasters Board. The Board is looking into the future and how Toastmasters structure and operations can be best designed to get there. It made me think that in District 73 and in Western Australian Toastmasters, leaders should be spending more time discussing our long term aims and applying top management approaches to achieving them. Our leaders have the skills. Let’s use them to build a strong future for Toastmasters.

  7. I’ll agree with the other comments in here. The format really worked. We had a great turnout for the evening. The venue, food and drink were terrific. We had some very distinguished guests, including Chris of course, but also the CEO’s of some of Perth’s leading businesses made the effort to come along. I don’t know if this will lead to a bunch of new clubs straight away, but I am confident that we impressed all attendees.

    Well done to Mike and David for organising it, and Rising Stars (again) for hosting the event. You make it look easy!


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