Dear Toastmasters and Distinguished Guests,

The 119th meeting of the Istanbul Toastmasters club was held on Wednesday May 2nd at the Taksim Metropark Hotel. The theme of the evening was “Democracy”, a concept developed in the very region we live in by the ancient Greek city states, then further developed by the Romans which had a love hate relationship with the concept that appears to continue on into the present day. Hopefully, we will be able to set an example as the only Toastmasters club in the former capital of the Roman Empire, the Byzantine Empire and the Ottoman Empire by turning our relationship with democracy into a more loving one when we vote for our new board members whose ideas are summarized below during our next meeting.

Our Toastmaster of the Evening, Tolga Yanaşık, conducted an extraordinarily well prepared and organized meeting and soon went on to introduce the first speaker of the evening Levend Kalaç, who during his “icebreaker speech” told us about his childhood in Ankara, his education, work experience, love for travel and interest in the unique field of “orienteering” which gave him the chance to utilize his interest in maps and the outdoors to find the quickest route from point A to point B. The next speaker was Aysu Güneş who also presented her “icrebreaker speech” during which we learned that she too, like Levend, was from Ankara and also had a very unique hobby on which she focused during her speech. Aysu’s hobby is sailing and she shared with us her struggles to pursue this interest growing up in a landlocked city like Ankara and also a very challenging, frightening and potentially dangerous experience she had while on her first sailing trip with her university sailing club. During this trip Aysu’s strong confidence and interest in risk taking led her to steer her team’s yacht into a forming storm out of which only with a combination of luck and determination they were able to escape unharmed. I want to thank both of our brave “icrebreaker” speakers for sharing their unique experiences with the club and now welcome you as officially validated Toastmasters on your path to even better public speaking.

After the break we rejoined and our evaluators Bülent and Işıl gave our two “icebreaker” speakers feedback on their strengths and also on how to improve their presentation styles for their next public speaking projects. Next, instead of a Tabletopics session we replaced this portion of the meeting with the election speaches by our candidates for the new Toastmasters steering committee postions. The following candidates gave election speeches:

For President: Alper Rozanes shared with us how much Toastmasters had helped him develop into a better speaker. So much so that from being intimidated and afraid of speaking infront of a crowd of strange people he developed into a person who now craves and loves the experience of sharing his ideas infront of and with others. Alper told us that because of Toastmasters he has developed his public speaking style and confidence to the point where he is now asked to make professional speaches for others! Alper now wants to give back to Toastmasters what he gained from the club and as President he will share his excitement about the Toastmaster experience to allow all of our members to maximize their benefits from the club experience. Oh, and by the way, he will donate a new, improved timer’s light to the club…

For VP of Education: Nazlı Toğanaş told us that she will continue to develop the Educational Resources available to club members. She will help new members with the mentoring program and provide additional resources to make this program even better. In addition, she will continue to enhance the training materials available to new members and also work on putting together additional resources that will help members improve their public speaking skills.

For VP of Membership: David Gökçedağ told us that he has a 3 x 3 strategy to improve the club’s membership. Three areas to be targeted for improvement, namely: new memberships, the membership experience itself, and member retention and three methods to improve each of these areas. Better Web Content with Videos, enhanced PR targeting membership growth and more referrals to increase new membership. Surprise guest speakers, availability of video recording during meetings and a better venue to enhance the membership experience. Surprise membership gifts at each renewal, less membership dues and a referral incentive to improve retention.

For VP of Public Relations: Aydın Bırık shared a touching video in which Toastmaster’s members shared how much gratitude they felt towards the club and how much they benefited from the club experience. Aydın told us that with stories like this he will tell the Toastmaster’s story to the country to increase awareness and appreciation for the club. He aslo told us that he will engage the media including television to spread the Toastmasters message. Aydın will also contact corporations in regards to starting new clubs and to find better and lower cost venues for the club beginning with his own employer Turkcell.

For Secretary: Mert Nuhoğlu told us that he will focus on providing the club with a better website to service members and people interested in learing about Toastmasters with focused content to allow people to better understand the Toastmasters message. He will also enhance the site with links to educational and inspirational resources. Finally, Mert said he will work as secretary to provide both members and the public with up-to-date and interesting content to benefit from.

At the end of the meeting our President Bülent Özsoy told us that we will vote for the above candidates during our next meeting to be held on May 16th, this meeting will also be structured slightly differently from normal meetings because of this and we might have a small celebration at the end of the meeting. Bülent also said that on a weekend during the end of May, beginning of June we will organize a Bosporous cruise to celebrate the 5th year anniversary of our club. I am also happy to announce that 3 of our guests have decided to join as full members in the club.

For more information on our club and the Toastmasters experience please visit

I am looking forward to seeing all of you at our next meeting on May 16th.

Warm Regards,

David R.K. Gökçedağ