Monthly Archives: September 2013

Table Topics & Humorous Contest

If you missed last night’s Table Topics and Humorous Contest you missed one of the most highly competitive contest nights we’re ever had at First Oakville Toastmasters. This photo is the lineup of the Table Topics contestants!DSCF1304

(Club members can view the videos at our private, secure DropBox site.)

Congratulations to David Webster who won the always difficult and challenging DSCF1351Humorous Contest and Peter West who won the Table Topics Contest for the second year in a row.

One of the problems of having such a competitive club is it seems like more than half the audience is competing in one contest or the other.

We had six contestants in the Humorous contest and 12 in Table Topics.

BTW we had six guests last night.DSCF1354

Help Wanted

We had our first meeting of the season last night which saw over 30 members in attendance plus six or seven guests.

We had three members who gave three very different speeches which were professionally evaluated by three of our long-term members.

All of the speeches are available to members (via a by-invitation-only private and secure DropBox account) and this is just one of the special benefits of becoming a member of First Oakville Toastmasters.

Having said that the standing Video Support Group could use some help. 

We need help to setup the video camera (easy) and shoot the videos of the speakers and evaluators (easy) and then render the files into watchable videos (easy).

Here’s how I do it now.

When I get home from the meeting I take the memory card out of the camera and I plug it into the SD card slot on my MacBook Pro. While I sleep the computer uploads the files and I recharge the camera battery.

In the morning I open IMovie (I’ve got other video rendering software but IMovie is so simple and easy to use it makes little sense to use anything more complicated.) and I upload the files into it.

Once IMovie is ready I have it create new projects for each speaker and the evaluators and one by one I render them into watchable formats (under the share menu) that are between 100 and 500 megabytes in size and directly upload them into DropBox.

These are big files and I could render smaller files but they wouldn’t look as good as these big files. Also on the MacBook Pro with the solid state hard drive the who process is completed while I have my morning coffee.

Later in the week I clear out the render files on my computer as the solid state hard drive in my MacBook Pro runs a lot faster the leaner I keep it and by then anyone who wanted to grab a copy of the files on DropBox should have done so.

I could make a copy of the rendered files on an external hard drive but I don’t so what’s up on DropBox is our only copy. I’m working with the club executive to load our videos elsewhere on a site that will allow for permanent storage.

For non-Mac computer users there are a ton of PC-compatible rendering software that will work just as well.

If you are interested in helping out with the Video Support Committee please send me an email at

Love to hear from you 🙂


What’s In It For Me?

When we joined Toastmasters most of us thought we’d learn how to be better public speakers. What we didn’t discover until months or even years into the Toastmaster educational program was how much better our leadership and business skills improved as well.

But there’s even greater benefits to belonging to a big club like First Oakville.

Many of us before we joined Toastmasters had never experienced the benefits of being mentored. The mentor/mentee relationship can be one of the most helpful ways of getting the most out of your Toastmaster experience.

By actively participating as a mentee, it will show you how to be a terrific mentor when the time comes that you are asked to help a newer member. Many of these skills can be carried into the business and even personal relationships.

Sometimes new members don’t fully appreciate why the club places so much emphasis on fulfilling an assigned role, even a simple one like greeter, and the importance of finding a replacement if for some reason you can’t attend on a night you have a role.

Our club has been around for over 50 years! Many of our members have been business and political leaders in the community. Many are positions of influence and often help fellow Toastmasters with references even job offers.

However, and I’ve seen this happen, when a member whose attendance at club meetings has been spotty at best or they didn’t complete assigned roles or worse just didn’t show up when expected asks senior members for professional guidance or help in the business world they can be disappointed  in the lack of response.

The response, while disappointing, isn’t unexpected.

If you’re asked to recommend someone or even be considering hiring someone would you feel comfortable if they weren’t reliable or didn’t keep to their commitments?

Of course you’d struggle with such a request.

Here’s where your mentor can be so helpful but you’ve got to be open to being taught. Not everyone is so teachable and many leave our program after only a few months finding working within a group setting to be too difficult.

Mentors can provide you with a wealth of experience and a great deal of support if you’ll let them. With the help of your mentor you can realize the most out of your Toastmaster educational program.

The next step in Toastmasters is to learn how to serve by being a leader and that’s a whole other topic. (Here’s a hint: It’s not about governing it is truly about serving.)

TI On Facebook

Did you know you could “Liked” Toastmasters International on Facebook?

It’s true. TI has emerged as one of the more innovative and modern large association by jumping in full time into social media.1017600_546528408717530_860703138_n

Right now the TI Facebook page (which is accessible from our “Links” column on the right side of this blog) has 30,155 “Likes” and is growing in popularity weekly.

Newcomers to Toastmasters often don’t realize that there’s a bigger world connected to our international association beyond the club level.

If you’re on Facebook (and who isn’t?) you should checkout the TI Facebook page where, this week, you’ll learn who won the 2013 World Championship of Public Speaking!

If you’re on Twitter checkout #publicspeaking or #Toastmasters and for convention info #ticonv13.

Meeting Your Mentor

If you’re new to Toastmasters, you may not realize that when you join our club you will be assigned a mentor.

The mentor’s role is to assist you in getting as much from your Toastmasters educational program as possible. While there are some guidelines to how to work with your mentor, it’s really up to you how much or how little you use the mentoring process.

For example, some mentors and mentees meet on a regular basis. Some meet rarely or not at all.

Some mentor/mentee partnerships work very well indeed and other pairings don’t work as well as they could.

Never hesitate to fire a mentor (or a mentee) who might benefit from working with another club member.

Over time the mentor/mentee relationship will, and should, change becoming more of a partnership of equals but the essential connection of having a senior member to lend support or answer questions should remain for the length of your time in Toastmasters.