Monthly Archives: April 2016

Why We’re Strict About Cell Phones

Last night at First Oakville Toastmasters we had to mention to two guests and one new member that our club members don’t use their cell phones during the meeting itself or even during the break.

Here’s why:

The Toastmaster program is first an educational program. We come to listen to and support those members who are brave enough to speak at our meetings.

What these new speakers don’t need to be doing is completing with a cell phone, even a cell phone that’s just sitting out on the table. The cell phone isn’t a member. It has no standing or place at our

I know for a fact that I’ve used my cell phone during other meetings because I was bored and needed a distraction. I’ve used it to avoid speaking to other people and making new friends (this happens a lot at Toastmaster meetings). It was a status symbol for me at one time but not anymore.

On meeting nights my cell phone stays home.

Of course we get ever excuse under the sun when we talk to offenders. From “I am expecting an important call”…  from my doctor/boss/wife/children/mother-in-law…(then stay home that night) to my friends/relatives need to reach me at all times (then maybe Toastmasters isn’t for you) or “I’ll just dash outside and take this call or make this text on the break”. (Then you miss on the important social skills surrounding meeting and talking to your fellow club members.)

And still existing members, who should know better, have their cell phones out on the table during our meetings on a regular basis. Newcomers can’t know that you’re using your cell phone as a timer (please if time is that important use a stopwatch and not your cell phone) and they see a cell phone out on the table and think it’s okay. It isn’t!

We are losing the ability to listen to each other intently and intimately on a one-on-one basis. Yes cell phones have their place and may well go down as one of the greatest communication tools of all time but their time and place isn’t at a Toastmaster meeting.

I have no hesitation in asking people to put their cell phones away and if our club loses a guest or member over it then we have provided a service to the other 40 members who came to work on their personal communication skills.

Please leave your cell phone at home or in your car. The world can wait two hours for you to finish your Toastmaster meeting.



Dues Increasing

Toastmasters International is raising our dues again! Back 20 years ago when I started annual dues were around $100 per member. Now they’re heading up towards $300 at our club.

Outrageous? Should we complain? What should we do?

Here’s a letter I sent the Area executive group in response to a suggestion Area club officers should get together to discuss how to manage this increase.

Hi All:

Over the 20+ years I’ve been a Toastmaster we’ve had many increase in dues. If nothing else simple inflation causes price for programs like ours to rise. When we factor in the difference in our Canadian dollar compared to the US dollar the differential becomes even more obvious. Welcome to the new economic reality.
Now I can appreciate that for some members these cost increases may well influence their decision whether or not to remain in Toastmasters. Fair enough. We normally see a 30 per cent annual drop in our club memberships.
I can also appreciate that the cost increase may appear to be an added problem when attempting to sell our educational program to potential new members.
But is it? For example this weekend I am taking a two-day filmmaking course that I paid $300. I’ve taken similar courses and I can say with some certainty that the educational quality won’t be up to Toastmaster standards.
Look at it this way: During our September to May season most clubs will hold about 30 meetings which last two hours each. (I know corporate clubs often only hold one hour meetings but many of those clubs are financially supported by management as well.) So that’s roughly 60 hours of training divided into $300 (for simplicity sake and that’s what First Oakville’s dues are likely to hit) which equals a cost of $5 an hour or $10 per meeting.
That’s what we’re paying…$10 per meeting. Two hours in a bar, a movie theatre or dues to any professional organization or YMCA or yoga class ($1,000/year for an unlimited pass) all cost a whole lot more. One birthday or anniversary dinner at a first-class area restaurant can equal our annual dues.
Checkout the cost of a Dale Carnegie 8-week (3 and 1/2 hours on 8 consecutive Monday nights) course. It’s $1995.00 US.
Honestly folks what we don’t need to do is appeal for some sort of a break (which I can’t see TI considering for a nanosecond). Also going into any club financial reserves only delays the inevitable and in real sense passes the burden of increased costs onto the shoulders of previous and existing members. This is not fair.
No what we need to do is take our leadership and speaking skills and go out and market our clubs and our Toastmaster educational program.
At First Oakville we’re very clear with newcomers at our door that they can find less expensive clubs to join and we encourage newcomers to go visit other clubs but we’re very clear that if they’re looking for a professional-quality educational experience then we’d love to have them join our club and pay our level of dues.
At First Oakville we’re in the middle of an aggressive poster campaign across Oakville (with prizes for participating members) and next year we might strike a special marketing committee reporting to the VP of PR to spread our Toastmaster message even farther into our community. We’re likely going to have signed up 10 new members when this Toastmaster season ends in a few weeks.
I think I can speak for First Oakville in this matter when I say we’re more than willing to cooperate with clubs in our Area, Division and District to attract new members but we will have little interest in attending meetings to review the increase in dues.
Best regards,

Peter West ACG, CLB
President, First Oakville Toastmasters Club 2245
The Toastmaster Blog
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In what was one of the most hotly contested Divisional International Speech Contest in living memory First Oakville’s own Aman Kapur took third place.

Division B of District 86 of Toastmasters International has traditionally held very competitive contests having previously sent Area 31’s Roger Caesar all the way to the International Speech Contest and last night was no different.

First place did go to Caesar again and second place went to Sebastien Acosta of Area 33 for his heart-felt speech but Aman did us proud with his third place win. Only a fraction of a point likely separated the three winners.

Congratulations Aman on this stellar achievement.


In photo from left to right: Contest chair Huida Mullings, Roger Caesar, Sebastien Acosta and Aman Kapur. For more photos go to Peter West Photography.