Author Archives: Peter West

What Happens When I Don’t Show Up?

It’s that season again when meeting chairs find they are scrambling to put on meetings where members either haven’t shown up or failed to find a replacement by leaving the search to the last minute.

We go through this problem every spring (Is it the nice weather?) and every year we come up with the same solution. (Call on the mentors to get involved with their delinquent mentees.)

For the most part the problem of no-shows is confined to new members (Sorry if this offends any newcomers but it is what it is.) who don’t appreciate the magnitude of the problems they create when they don’t show up or wait until the last second to find a replacement.

It means the chair can’t print their agendas until the last second. It can also mean that the chair, the Toastmaster, the GE, the VP of Ed., your mentor and maybe even our club president get dragged into finding a replacement because you didn’t fulfill your obligation of finding a replacement. (These are busy people in their own lives and they’re not your parents.)

This showing up piece is part of the educational and leadership learning that takes place at First Oakville Toastmasters. There are lots of other clubs that aren’t so fussy and maybe that would be a better fit if you are a habitual offender.

But before you go, consider what letting down your fellow club members says about you? Not a pretty picture is it? (And, one truism I’ve learned is how we are in one thing, we are in all things. So if you’re a no-show at Toastmasters, you’re likely a no-show in other areas of your life.) At Toastmasters you get a real opportunity to change yourself and change your world. This is a gift of immense value.

When you consider the people you’ve let down at the meeting are potential new employers for you or new associates who might have written a letter of recommendation for you in your personal job search it becomes pretty obvious that these are not people you want to disappoint.

So how do you make certain this never happens to you again?

First call (or get) your mentor for help with your upcoming assignments. Read your speech if you have to but show up when you’re scheduled and do your best. Your fellow members will see that you’re struggling and they will help you. (If you don’t show up nobody knows if you need or even want some help.)

Don’t blow off what may seem like minor roles like greeting. Our greeters are our first-line offense when it comes to attracting new members. (We need to find at least 10 new members annually to qualify for the Distinguished Club Program.)

Every role in Toastmasters is important regardless of whether you are listed on the agenda or not. But if you are listed on the agenda and you don’t show up everybody knows. There’s no place to hide at Toastmasters and sooner or later the VP of Education will remove your name from the upcoming schedules.

And if you do show up and do the work, what does that say about you?

It says you are a person whose word can be trusted. You do what you say you’re going to do. You’re excellent executive material. You will make a fine mentor for newcomers. Maybe one day you’ll accept the role of president or area or divisional director.

But most of all, you’ll know yourself as someone who can count on themselves to show up and get the job done.





Santa Comes To First Oakville

Did you miss Santa?

If you attended our First Oakville Toastmasters‘s Christmas Party on Thursday Dec. 8 at O’Finn’s Irish Temper Pub you didn’t.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

On top of great food, great fellowship, silly games, Christmas music and festive drinks we also had Santa drop by to help distribute gifts and spread great cheer. (Raffle tickets to a bunch of great prizes raised well over $200 for the local food bank.)

Learning how to be a public speaker doesn’t have to be an ordeal. At First Oakville Toastmasters we’ve been developing world-class public speakers while having a fun time doing it for 60 years.

Meetings at the Knights of Columbus Hall on Wallace Road start up again on January 5. Plan to arrive around 7:15 pm.

Don’t take our word for it. Just ask Santa.

Photos are available on the club’s Flickr gallery here.

How To Beat Roger Caesar

(This post also appears today on my blog The Toastmaster.)

Roger Caesar spoke at First Oakville Toastmasters a few weeks ago as our featured speaker during our open house meeting. He blew away the crowd.

Roger has been a Toastmaster for a few years now and as emerged as a real contender to win the World Championship of Public Speaking. He’s competed twice now at the World Championship semi-finals and I believe he’s going to go all the way very soon.

So am I blowing smoke when I say you can beat Roger?openhouse2first-oakville

As the only competitor to beat Roger in the last four years I think I’m eminently qualified to offer some suggestions. Okay so it was in the provincial finals of Table Topics when I beat him and not the International but give me a break here.

(In photo: First Oakville Toastmasters VP of PR Zulma Garcia who helped organize the club’s Open House night and Roger Caesar our guest featured speaker.)

And before anyone gets politically upset that I’m suggesting we figure out ways to beat Roger I can assure you that Roger and I are on  the same page here. We want to see speakers and especially new speakers enter the International Speech Contest in their own clubs and we want them to be so successful that they too can see the possibility of winning the world title.

So what makes Roger so good and such a great competitor? What’s his secret?

The club-level International Speech Contest is normally held in January and I bet the speech we heard from Roger in November was an early draft of one of the three speeches he’s going to write and deliver in his quest for world domination.

The point here is Roger is already out practicing his International Speech and I bet you haven’t even written yours yet!

Roger dresses for success. Now I don’t care whether you think dressing appropriately is important or not. Your opinion and mine is irrelevant. It’s the judges who care and most care to see a speaker dressing in such a way as to honour his or her audience and add to the impact to their speech. If you’re wearing jeans then your speech better be about riding horses! Just saying.

At our open house Roger was introduced but didn’t start his speech for a good 10 seconds allowing the the Toastmaster to sit down and the audience to settle. This dramatic pause helped Roger to separate himself and his speech from everything that had come before him on the agenda. It was a smart thing to do.

Roger’s first words were “I believe…”

He then went on to immediately tell his audience what he was going to say in his speech and why it should be of interest, even importance, to his audience. Why this speech and why this audience is the one question you should answer early in your speech if you want your audience to stay with you for five to seven minutes. That’s what Roger did so well.

Roger uses vocal volume and variety to great advantage and his gestures are measured and practiced and add to the impact of his speech. His ability to look into the eyes of his audience members is second to none.

So is there no hope of ever beating Roger Caesar?

The good news is Roger has good days and bad days just like the rest of us. He’s not always at the height of his game in top form. You might get a day when the stars align for you and not for Roger.

But waiting for fate isn’t a plan.

So what can you do to beat Roger?

My first suggestion is don’t try to be another Roger Caesar. One is enough LOL! Be yourself. Tell your own story. Tell it from your heart. Practice, practice, practice until you can deliver your speech in your sleep. Practice in front of a mirror. It helps.

Once upon a time I had a mentee who had delivered six speeches and I insisted that she speak at our club level International Speech Contest. She was reluctant because she’d be going up against the best speakers in our club and some of our best speakers are pretty close to as good as you get in Toastmasters.

But I insisted and persisted. I told my mentee that I didn’t expect her to win. I didn’t even expect her to place. I just wanted her to have the experience of speaking before a large audience during a formal occasion. I wanted her to be nervous and afraid because I wanted her to be less nervous and less afraid the next time she competed.

Of course, you can guess what happened.

My mentee spoke from her heart about a personal situation to which all in the audience could related. And while she may not have done it perfectly, she did it perfectly enough to win our club level International Speech Contest that year.

That’s how you beat Roger Caesar.

First you show up. Second you practice, practice, practice and compete to win. Third you keep coming back until you do win.

It’s that simple and that hard. Good luck.

How To Win The International

(This post was originally posted on The Toastmaster blog.)

Club mentors should be talking to their mentees right now about whether or not they are eligible and willing to try their hand at competing in the club-level International Speech Contest.

First you need to have completed six speeches from the Competent Communications manual. If you will have completed six speeches prior to our club contest night then you should sign up to give your International speech.12416996753_23d56ab174_z

You should give your International speech with the objective not to win (although newcomers have won in the past) but to learn how to compete. You need the experience of speaking before your fellow club members and hopeful at the club’s amazing Charter Party in February to make yourself a better overall speaker.

Second you need to write a five to seven minute International speech.

An International speech needs to have an amazing beginning, strong middle and rememberable end and should contain a motivational message that has a call to action. Almost immediately the speaker should answer the question “why this speech and why this audience”.

You can’t use notes and expect to place. Having said that you can use props to help you get your message across.

Read and understand the judging criteria.

Write a speech which is simple, direct and theatrical enough to capture the audience’s attention. If your speech comes from the heart make sure you can speak through your emotions. Practice it daily before a mirror and incorporate appropriate gestures. Speak louder than you think you should and make your gestures bigger and bigger.

Above all, watch your time. Don’t run your speech into the red light. On contest night you’ll likely speak slower than at home and the time will fly by. If you do look up and see the red light, end immediately anyway you can. You aren’t eligible if you go over time even by a second.

If you get lost in your speech just stand and make eye contact with selected members of the audience. Take your time. Everyone will think you’re about to make a dramatic point. The silence will have your audience leaning in to hear what wisdom will follow. As you regain your speech begin speaking again and few, if any, will know you were actually at a lost for words.

If you can deliver your speech before other clubs. Get feedback. Make changes. Practice more and then put your name forward to be a competitor in our International Speech contest.

BTW I have started writing a first draft of my International speech 🙂

Message From The President

Greetings and a warm welcome to the 2016 / 2017 First Oakville Toastmasters season.

Now celebrating our 60th year, First Oakville Toastmasters is the longest running public speaking and leadership program in OakvilleIMG_0221

Since the late 1950s, First Oakville Toastmasters has given many Oakville residents the opportunity to build their public speaking, presentation, and leadership skills. (In photo: Mark Molder winning our club level International Speech Contest as presented by Zulma Garcia our vice president of education last year.)

While I’ve only been a member since the Spring of 2012, my journey with the club has been rich and rewarding and has opened many new personal and professional opportunities.

When I decided to overcome my fear of public speaking and I attended my first meeting, I knew that I had found the right place. From the warm, friendly members to the professionally run meeting, to the depth, variety, and quality of the speakers, First Oakville Toastmasters keeps bringing me back every Thursday evening.

This year we continue the tradition of providing quality public speaking and leadership opportunities in a fun, engaging, and inspiring space. And all at an accessible price!

The value that I receive from the club, through the “learning by doing” format, to the many conversations I’ve had with members, to listening to the interesting ideas and inspiring speeches, is an investment in time, and money, that has opened many new doors for me.

We have another fantastic year lined up. Between our regular meetings, special committees, contests, and social events, we’re well positioned for another rewarding year.

This year I look forward to working collaboratively with all members and to learning from all of you as we continue our journey of becoming better communicators.

Fellow Toastmasters, here’s to another rewarding year with First Oakville Toastmasters ☺

Mark Molder

President – 2016 / 2017

P.S. Guests are always welcomed to attend and to learn about how First Oakville Toastmasters can help you reach your goals.

New Exec & Tall Tales Contest

Congratulations to our new executive team upon their election last night at First Oakville Toastmasters. The opportunity to serve your club is both an honour and a gift. There’s lots to learn and lots to do and we’ve elected just the right team to get the job done.

We had multiple candidates for just about every position (this is a sign of a very healthy club) so we’re counting on all those members who weren’t elected last night to lead our many committees next year.


(Our 2016-2017 executive team from left to right: Sameet Batavia – treasurer; Zulma Garcia – VP of PR; Rhiannon Filip – VP of Education; Mark Molder – president; Rosa Rodriguez – VP of Membership; Scott Richardson – Sgt.-At-Arms; Luke Jin – secretary)

Also last night we held our Tall Tales contest with a possible record of seven participants (and yes it was a long but funny night).

Our winner was Deborah Bartucci with her rapid hair growing problem which she turned into a business. (Remember this is a Tall Tale Contest.)




First Oakville Toastmasters will continue meeting on Thursdays (arrive at 7:15pm) at the Knights of Columbus Hall at 1494 Wallace Road in Oakville. Our last meeting of this session will be June 2. It’s not too late to join and get involved in Toastmasters.

A summer party is being planned for members to take place in July and our new executive team is getting ready to attend District training sessions over the summer.

A super night last night and we’re set for a great season next year.

Emily’s Gift

At First Oakville we’re a family of individuals (and couples) who join together every week to learn how to become better speakers, better listeners and leaders in our own lives and communities.

Often over the years we’ve been treated to special moments at club meetings and at our special events such as our Charter party and our upcoming club summer party.

But today we’ve got a special treat. The young daughter (I think she’s three or four.) of one of our members has sent us a picture that she drew and thought we’d enjoy it.

So here it is. It’s a drawing by Emily and we can thank her mom for bringing it to us. And we can thank Emily for thinking of us. Enjoy.scan