Author Archives: firstoaktm

Christmas With First Oakville Toastmasters

Here is a view of the Christmas Party from a far from disinterested observer who was fortunate enough to be volunteered to play the part of John “I got Rhythm” Pope, key board artist and second banana extraordinaire to Dophra Doolittle, the host for the evening’s extravaganza.

The organizing committee did a fabulous job of organizing the evening and having the room dressed in extravagant fashion. Having an early start so we could socialize as only Toastmasters can was a great idea.

Having the chat show theme for the party was inspired. Dophra Doolittle maintained control of the evening in her inimitable style with the assistance and sometimes despite the efforts of her second banana and her guests.

After a delicious and traditional turkey dinner we were treated to readings from a variety of Christmas themed writings and original thoughts and actions from Rudolph of the flashing red nose (who knew?), Mr. “I like Pierogis and prorogation” Harper, a very out of shape Santa, and a very animated and reformed Mr. Scrooge. The latter was maniacal in leading us in some risqué games. It is not every Christmas party that features mostly men donning ladies underwear on their heads! Look at the photos taken by our amazing photographer Peter West at his site Peter West Photo, in the gallery 2010 Xmas First Oakville Toastmasters and see who obviously had experience at this activity!

Mercifully the group singing this year was left until we had imbibed sufficient Christmas cheer so that we all sounded awesome, at least to me.
Truly a party to remember.


Submitted by Linda Rossi, CTM

Toastmaster Linda Rossi

Last weekend I attended the District 86 Fall Conference in Niagara Falls, ON. I would like to share the highlights of the weekend, which began on Friday night with a mix and mingle reception followed by live entertainment.

The official opening ceremonies were bright and early Saturday morning with the Parade of Banners. I proudly ushered our First Oakville #2245 banner to the front of the room along with my fellow bearers and the banners were displayed for the rest of Conference up high against the walls for all to enjoy.

The opening keynote speaker was Peter James, DTM and the name of his presentation was entitled “Heart of Gold”. Peter began by having the audience clapping in unison to get everyone in an upbeat, enthusiastic mood. His speaking style was full of verve and commitment and his message was three-fold: recognize the value that you possess, then increase your value through more education and life experience, and finally, that you absolutely MUST share your knowledge and experience with others. I walked away reflecting how to apply each of those items in not only my Toastmasters career, but in my personal life outside of Toastmasters (the truth is that they blend into one sometimes, don’t they?).

The bulk of Saturday is devoted to workshops. There are 12 offered in total and here are summaries of the three I attended:

Workshop Session #1 – I Don’t Have Time! by Greg Lewis, ACB, CL

Yes, another time management workshop and to be honest with you, not my choice. I found myself in the front row because I was assigned to introduce the speaker (as an Activator). Greg’s presentation, however, was superb! His approach was to first prioritize the different parts of our life that require time; family, job, Toastmasters, errands, etc. Then build your agenda allocating your time accordingly. If family is #1, then block in the time commitments for family first, and continue down the list. Have a list of items that are not time sensitive so that you can fit them in whenever time allows. Some tips for managing: always block in time for the estimated duration of the appointment or task, not just the time of initiation, designate particular times of the day for reading emails, making outgoing calls, and only receive incoming calls if it is during a time that you have agreed to. This eliminates constantly being interrupted when trying to complete a project or task. Finally, he emphasized the importance of taking the time out each week to review and adjust the schedule as necessary. This workshop was definitely worth my time!

Workshop Session #2 – Brand”I”fication: Ready or not, you’re a Brand … by Molly McCoubrey, CC

This workshop was full of information about branding ~ from the history of branding to current popular branding. The workshop leader definitely knew her subject matter well since she is a marketing professional with Loblaws. Many of her examples, of course, revolved around the President’s Choice brand to illustrate the how branding has been used to expand customer base. Molly then turned to our ‘personal’ branding. This involves letting others know what is unique about us personally. It is the uniqueness that sets us apart from others and gives us the edge over competitors. The benefits are that if we represent ourselves well, other people and/or like-minded projects will come to the fore automatically. Interesting workshop, lots of reading recommendations on personal branding. If anyone would like a copy of the bibliography, I would be happy to forward it to you.

Workshop Session #3 – Create Winning Seminars by Jacques Brunet, ATMG, AL

Jacques Brunet has an excellent reputation at District 86 because of his extensive knowledge and his effective presentation style. He offered many different tips about creating winning seminars including; how to select a great title (always a great idea to start with a number, such as, Top 3 Ways to ….), best day of the week to do a seminar (always best to avoid a Monday or Friday), the best time for a Q&A period (just before your close so as to not distract from your final pitch), plus much, much, more. Even though I do not see myself needing this in the foreseeable future, I found it quite interesting. If you would like more information about Jacques or are interested in purchasing his educational material, please let me know.

The Communication & Leadership Award Recipient was Betty-Lou Souter. Betty Lou is the Chief Executive Officer, Community Care, St. Catharines & Thorold, and is responsible for the overall management of the agency which provides emergency food and clothing, medical and dental assistance and shelter to the less advantaged in the communities of St. Catharines & Thorold. In her most gracious acceptance speech, Betty-Lou inspired everyone present to find a way to make the community where you live a better place for all. Her selflessness was admirable, and once again I walked away wondering what I could do to help those around me.

It goes without saying that both the Humourous and Table Topics contests were highly anticipated and did not disappoint. It is amazing to see first hand the amount of talent we have in District 86.

The conference ended on Sunday with Keynote Speaker Jamey French, DTM, presenting Fly from Fear to Faith. Jamey told a very personal and inspirational story of a very traumatic time that he and his wife Molly endured ten years ago. It was the power of positive thinking, analytical and listening skills, plus the many other skills learned at Toastmasters that actually made the difference in dealing with their tragedy. I would be happy to share the details with you if interested. A perfect way to end the Toastmasters conference.

Next week, in Part 2, I will explain the many benefits you can gain by not only attending a Toastmasters conference, but also participating. There are countless ways to volunteer at the conference ~ from working the registration desk, to introducing the speakers, giving the invocation at one of the many meals, to serve as a judge or counter for the contest … more to come!

Finally, the next conference is at the Delta Meadowvale in Mississauga in April. Remember, you do not have to come to the whole conference. In fact, you can attend a contest alone, or just attend the Communication & Leadership Luncheon, etc.

I hope this has represented the conference in a way that makes it look worthwhile and appealing. I certainly feel attending the conference is for the good of all Toastmasters!


Submitted by Toastmaster Donald Knowles

It was another great night at a Toastmaster competition. What competition you may ask? It was the Division finals for the Table Topics and Humorous Speech Contests. The venue was a repeat of last year, the Senior’s Centre at 2285 New St. In Burlington. The room is quite good with reasonable depth and good width. There were about a hundred or so people in attendance. The only negative about the room is the air conditioning can be a bit loud.

On to the first event. The meeting was called to order by the SAA David T Shaw and a welcome presented by the Contest Chair Michael Klaptocz. Avis Brodie (DTM and LGET) gave District greetings which were followed by Charlotte King giving a Fall Conference update. The contest rules were presented by Chief Judge Chris Czerwinski.

The contest phrase was “Politicians are like”

The contestants in order were;
Ross Campbell, First Burlington, Crocodiles.
Catherine Majore, Hamilton TSO, Dogs Chasing Cars.
Tim Bartol, Rose City, Community Vultures.
Chuck Slaa, Stoney Creek, Friends.
Tony Bradschitsch, Valley Town, Us.
Denise Redgers, Lakeshore In-depth, Thieves.
Peter West, First Oakville, Oil in a Car.

As you can see most of the comments were negative, and quite funny.

The results were;
Denise Redgers 3rd,
Tony Bradschitsch 2nd,


Peter West First.

How did Peter do it?

Toastmaster Peter West Taking Top Honours in Table Topics

1. Quick entrance with a hearty handshake. Trade mark energy and excitement entrance
2. Memorable play on introduction ” Politicians are like Peter West”.
3. Warm and pleasant demeanour and facial expressions.
4. Superb smooth modulation of voice with clear enunciation .
5. Positive take on politicians, relating leadership skills learned in Toastmasters to those employed by politicians.
6. Second reference to TM skills learned. This built more connections to audience
7. Perfect speech structure;
a. Hook, see #2 above
b. Introduction
c. Body,
d. Close
8. Whole body movement expressed by walking around the stage front and using a lot of the presentation area so as to include audience.
a. Note that walking is not pacing.
9. Great audience eye contact which built rapport.

In other words, a perfect speech which lasted 2 minutes and had 20 second prep time.


A short intermission for refreshments ensued.

The Humorous Speech contest was called to order by the SAA David T. Shaw who introduced the Contest Chair Lyn Jutras. The contest rules were interpreted by Gary Reid. The interpretations gave the rules more life than the usual verbatim reading from the book, but they did go on a bit longer than was expected. The participants in speaking order were;

Joanne Gray, Rose City, It Wasn’t Funny At The Time, But.
Peter Maxymuik, Midday Marauders, Smarter Than a 6 Year Old.
Ninh Tran, Steeltown, The Journey.
Joan Graham, Trafalgar, Debunking the Myth.
Linda McCready, Skyway, Love Tank.
Mark Grottoli, Valley Town, Little Bit Of Water.
Liz Grebe, Garden City, Aisle Rage.

First of all, every speech was terrific and diverse. Joanne talked about her infant son’s antics, Peter winning bribes for his charge to eat supper, a closet party animal attending premed and med school from Ninh, Joan talked about 3 myths of older people, Linda was coy with a self help book on finding romance, and lastly, Liz discussing her Aisle (shopping cart) rage and its control. This was the 3rd round for these speeches so they were all very entertaining.

The results were;
Peter Maxymuik, 3rd
Liz Grebe, 2nd


Joan Graham first place.

How did Joan do it?

1. Cynical non smiling address, which made it funnier.
2. Sardonic smirk.
3. Included people in audience for rhetorical responses, which built inclusiveness
4. Au courant jokes, especially Justin Beaver.
5. Good social reference about pharmacist going up market “from a Kia to a Bimmer”.
a. Had fun with Joan after the contest. Congratulated her then put on my Kia cap. We both laughed.
6. Perfect voice control.
7. Fabulous cynical intonation and matching facial expressions.
8. Perfect pacing with effective use of pauses
a. She had to push some lines a bit as she was picking up more laughs than the clock would allow.
b. Most laugh waits were perfectly timed.
c. Joan improved her delivery over the Area contest, which was no mean feat as she was the clear winner at that level.
d. The ceiling romantic section had people tittering well past the speech time limits.

In case you haven’t twigged on this, Area 52 WALKED AWAY WITH ALL OF THE HARDWARE.

It was a fun time, a little rushed for 19:00, but a terrific contest all the same.

Please send Peter your congrats.

Yours in Toastmasters

Donald Knowles

Another Great Night!

Yes, it was another great night at First Oakville Toastmasters. Our Chair for the evening was able to capture the atmosphere of the evening in his blog today. Please click on Toastmaster Blog and enjoy!

Toastmaster Peter West

Hear Ye! Hear Ye!

Submitted by Toastmaster Donald Knowles…

Photo by Peter West

Well, that was quite a night! Starting off with the Mayor, Town Crier, Area Governor, Trafalgar Club President, and members from Trafalgar, Mighty Oaks, and First Oakville crammed into the Quality Hotel Lobby. The proclamation ceremony declaring October Toastmaster Month in Oakville was Pat Lore’s idea and she carried the whole thing off. Then there was the Cogeco FYI interview, also set up by Pat Lore. And then the last at bat for Pat was the notification of the Service Club signs going up on the community boards. Pat is going 3 for 3 and it’s only the first night! And I know she has more stuff up her sleeve.

We had a special presentation to Past President John Smissen in appreciation of his work last year. Gerry Bram received his pin for his ACB, Matt Wagner for his ACG. Then the Area Governor Doug Carr relieved the past executive of their charge and then inducted the current club executive. The executive received TM pins which hopefully will start a new tradition of passing the pins every year.

The current president gave a little thematic speech outlining the wish for every member to pursue Toastmaster Education objectives through the Distinguished Club Program and to Soar to New Heights. And then we broke for a short respite and came back for our usual second half featuring 3 speeches.

OK, OK, some of us were a little rusty from the summer. It’s amazing how quickly the well oiled process can become rusty. The agenda had a few holes in it, but everyone reminded the Chair when things were going off the rails a bit. Gerry Bramm was once again doing Yeoman duty as a Stand Up which added fantastic levity to the evening. All the extra activities and a full regular meeting, and we were only 20 minutes over. Not a bad a start to the year. I hope that everyone enjoyed themselves and that the first meeting will be the harbinger of many more great evenings at First Oakville Toastmasters to come.

Donald Knowles

For more photos of this extraordinary evening please visit Peter West Photo


October is Toastmasters Month and Don Knowles from First Oakville Toastmasters came by the FYI studio to talk with Joe Ferroni about Toastmasters basics and events taking place throughout the month. TVCOGECO – truly local television on Cogeco Cable.
Please follow the link to watch Donald’s interview.

Toastmasters Talk of the Town

Submitted by:
Patricia Lore, Vice-President Public Relations, First Oakville Toastmasters, Club #2245

Come One, Come All!

Mayor Rob Burton has very graciously agreed to proclaim October, 2010 as Toastmaster Month for the Town of Oakville.

As a kick-off to the Toastmaster Fall season we have invited Mayor Burton to read the Proclamation at  The Quality Inn (754 Bronte Road-Bronte Road and QEW) on Thursday September 9, 2010 at 7:00pm.  On hand will be Oakville’s Town Crier Chris Pederson-Brown to announce the Mayor. As well, Executive from Toastmaster Clubs in Oakville will attend.
Toastmasters International is a non-profit organization, which has been teaching valuable communication and leadership skills to people around the globe for over 85 years. There are currently over 250,000 members in 12,500 clubs in 106 countries.

In Oakville, Toastmasters clubs have been an active member of the community for over fifty years. Its members take pride in their contributions to the development of skills beneficial to the people of Oakville.


Goin down the road- to Burlington

Submitted by Patricia Lore

For all Oakville Toastmasters the enclosed poster from the Royal Botanical Gardens (RBG for short) invites us to go down the road a bit and explore the wonders of the RBG. If you haven’t discovered this fabulous place just on our doorstep, here’s an invite to Oakville Days August 6, 7, and 8th with a two for one admission price. Check it out and expand your summer.


Submitted by Toastmaster Donald Knowles

Here is an update to the Competent Leadership Program summary, provided by Bill Bienia.

Another Home Run!

Submitted by Toastmaster Michelle Gillies

Congratulations to all who attended our First Oakville Toastmasters meeting on Thursday May 6th, 2010. Whether you were a member or a guest, you had the time of your life.

This was no ordinary meeting by any standards. There was definitely an energy level unlike any other. In fact, one of our guests when she spoke, pointed out that she had come to the meeting dragging and exhausted and was leaving energized and refreshed.

Marion West lead the way as our Chair and somehow managed to keep everything running smoothly. OK, occasionally she had to rein someone in (you all know who you are). As always it was done with the grace and charm that is Marion’s trademark.

We had a wonderful toast to a Canadian, some great table topics, a funny if not a little risque joke, a slightly awkward word of the day, three wonderful speeches and some fine evaluations.

Toastmaster Peter West aka: The Auctioneer

Why was this meeting so special? The laughter, the fun and the Auctioneer, that’s why. It was our annual clean out the stuff you have at home and come buy everyone else’s stuff auction. On behalf of everyone I would like to thank Toastmaster Peter West for giving us a night to remember. He was funny, he kept things moving as fast as he could, he kept us involved and spending money that I don’t think any of us realized we were spending. Bidding higher & higher on things we weren’t really sure what they were. And enjoying every minute of it. In the end we raised over $500.00 dollars for the club and we were all shocked. Had our ever diligent Chair not finally brought the auction to a close (as I said, with grace and charm) we would probably still be there bidding on the furniture in our meeting room.

It was a wonderful evening for all concerned. Thank you Peter for stepping up to the plate and hitting a home run!