Author Archives: rfilip

The Freedom to Fail

Fellow FOTM club members. I learned something this year and I wanted to share it with all of you and say Thank you! Each and every one of you who make up First Oakville Toastmasters. A short time ago, I gave a speech. It was the 5th speech project from the cc manual – the one where the objective is to use gestures. I had volunteered to fill another members speaking spot and I struggled to decide whatto talk about that would allow me to focus on gestures worried about having only two weeks to craft and practice.

When I joined Toastmasters I made a promise to myself, “I will do that which I don’t want to do”. This guiding principal of my toastmasters experience has brought me out of my comfort zone and led to absolutely fantastic learning experiences. These include:

  • competing in the evaluation contest in my second week as a FOTM member,
  • volunteering at an area contest hosted at another club,
  • competing in the International Speech contest,
  • signing up as a test speaker for an area evaluation contest, and
  • on this day in October 2015, changing my mind on the speech to give the day before the meeting.

When my new speech idea forced it’s way into my head the day before our meeting, I knew it was better. I realized that it actually followed my mentor’s advice for this project, unlike the other two other speeches I had been playing with, and the one I was planning to give. I was terrified when I realized that I was seriously considering using the new idea instead of what I had practiced.  This new idea, it had an “entertaining” flavor to it and all I could think was “I’m not funny!”, “People won’t laugh, or they will laugh at me!”, ” I will look ridiculous.”, and “There’s no time to practice, can this possibly work?”.

At the meeting, I still hadn’t decided which speech I was going to give. But, I looked around the room. I looked at all my fellow toastmasters and new friends. I  looked around and I knew two things:

1. I knew that even if I:

  • messed up completely,
  • failed to make anyone laugh or even crack a smile,
  • bored you all to tears,
  • couldn’t stretch it out for 5 minutes,
  • went over the allotted 7 minutes because I hadn’t had time to practice the delivery and perfect the timing, or
  • failed completely at my attempt to entertain

…you would all support my effort in trying. You would all smile, and nod, and clap for me. Your support is the support of an audience that wants me to succeed and supports me no matter what. You make it safe to try anything!

2. We can fail. Safely. Surrounded by friends.

Realizing that gave me the courage to be brave, try something that terrified me more than anything else I’ve tried yet at Toastmasters, and I want to thank you all for that.

 Thank you toastmasters of First Oakville for giving me the freedom to fail!

An atmosphere that where we can feel comfortable failing is something that not all clubs achieve. And I am so proud of you all and so honoured to be accepted by such a supportive club.

As a final thought, I encourage each one of you, whether you are a long-standing member or one of the new members just inducted, use our club to test your limits. Try something scary. Accept the possibility of failure. You may just surprise yourself with unexpected success….


Getting Ready for a New Role

I have a new motto in 2016: Learn, Commit, and Do. I often become so wrapped up in the learning phase that I never quite commit fully, bringing myself to the Do. Toastmasters has been of a great help to me in the commitment and doing phases of this new motto.

This Thursday is a prefect example. I have a new role to try, the role of Toastmaster. In our club the Toastmaster leads the prepared speech portion of the agenda. It is an exciting role and an interesting one with some unique challenges.


With the new role, in order to overcome my nervousness and prepare so that I may do the best job possible at making the speakers comfortable and helping them get the best start to their speech, I did three things:

  1. Research. I started with our manuals. The Competent Communicator Manual has a section in the back “About Your Club”. Here all of the meeting roles are outlined with responsibilities before the meeting, during the meeting, and after the meeting. I also googled it. There are fantastic resources available on-line! I even found You-Tube videos for various roles to guide you through the scripting with examples and advice for first timers like me. Although, I did get distracted watching some of the past winners of the International Speech Contest. It’s a good thing that our research and preparation is not a timed event. I would be in triple overtime!
  2. Talk to experienced toastmasters. I picked two toastmasters who I have seen fill the role exceptionally (in my opinion) well in the past and ask for their advice. I also spoke to my mentor. Here is what they have shared with me:
    1. It’s about the speakers. All about the speakers.
    2. To bring energy to a meeting – have fun. If you have fun, we will too.
  3. Prepare. I had no idea how much work there was behind the scenes leading up to each and every toastmasters meeting. In this role, I can see how hard the whole team works together to confirm and contingency plan for every possibility. Preparation is actually in two parts:
    1. As a first timer, there is the preparation to familiarize myself with the script for the evening.
    2. Every time, there is time spent to confirm and solicit information from the speakers.  Soliciting the perfect blend of facts to create their introductions. Information about their speech project (such as title, manual, project #) but also, in the least-stalker-like-way possible, personal information with which to build an introduction.


This week I am committed to doing the best possible job in my role to serve our speakers. To help them to feel welcomed in the warmest way to a safe place for speaking.

As they place themselves firmly outside of their comfort zones, trying something new and challenging, let us all learn from their example and push ourselves to try something new too. Speeches from our manual projects are not the only way to push ourselves. Try something new from your Competent Leadership Manual too.

As you see the joy and thrill of succeeding shine through our eyes, savour it, support the success of a challenge met, and celebrate achievement! In both manuals!


See you all Thursday at 7:30pm.



Team Energy Achieves Magic

Team Energy Achieves Magic

The Power of Teamwork

This is the theme of our 2016 Toastmaster Spring Conference.

April 22-24, 2016. It is coming up fast!

If you have ever considered going to the conference, this year is an especially good year to consider going. It will be held locally at the Hilton, Meadowvale in Mississauga (6750 Mississauga Road).  Not only does the conference offer workshops, networking, and a dance contest, you will be able to watch the District Evaluation and International Speech Contests!

For more information or to register on-line:

Speak up at our meeting, or post here if you are planning to go. I am sure that there are other members who would love to car pool and go as a First Oakville team.


The Spark Plug

First Oakville Toastmasters has a beautiful tradition of handing out home made awards for interesting events that occur during the course of a meeting. As a new member to the club I feel delighted and newly inspired each time that one of these club honours is awarded during a meeting. Tonight we learned about the Spark Plug Award. Our chair for the evening Toastmaster Loreen Paterick awarded the Spark Plug to both Aman Kapur and John Smissen for together providing the spark that ignited the energy level in our A- meeting this evening to a new height.
Toastmaster Hal Shaw created the trophy which is a real spark plug mounted on a pedestal, to be awarded to a club member who, as a spark plug does, delivered the electric current to ignite the meeting to a higher energy level. A creative and inspiring award to remind all that the energy of one is contagious to all. Smile and the world will smile with you. Laugh and the world laughs with you.  Thank you Toastmaster Hal for bringing this lovely tradition to First Oakville Toastmasters Club and thank you to Loreen for awarding it to two deserving members tonight!
Experienced Toastmaster Members. I would appreciate if you would take the time to post a response to this note: the other club awards that we have at FOTM and what they are awarded for or stories of who has won them and why in past meetings.
With so many new members, lets take a moment to pass on the traditions!