Hello 2019! This will be a good year.

Happy New Year First Oakville Toastmasters!

We hope you have spent a nice Christmas break with friends and family and are ready for an exciting 2019.  This will be a good year.  How do I know?  Because you have chosen to say YES to your growth by being a part of Toastmasters.  Every meeting you attend is a new opportunity to practise a new role, and try out a different public speaking technique.  Where else can you do this week after week?

If you haven’t joined us yet, guests are always welcome!  We encourage you to join us for up to 3 meetings for free so that you can see first hand what our awesome club has to offer.  Our weekly meetings consists of an impromptu speaking session called, “Table Topics”, we also have three prepared speeches and each speaker receives an oral evaluation and written feedback from all of our members and guests.

Growth is just right around the corner.  Join us on Thursdays from 7:30pm to 9:30pm at 1494 Wallace Road, Oakville, ON.  (Marion Hall)

This will be a good year!

Alonso Mendizabal
Club President First Oakville Toastmasters


The Holidays are Here at FOTM

Holidays are Here Banner

The Christmas and Holiday season is here, and while many of us are stressing over gifts, decorations and preparations, it’s important also to slow down and remember that, no matter what the marketing machine tells us day after day, the season is bigger than the things we buy. At First Oakville Toastmasters, we build up that bigger Christmas and holiday cheer by celebrating with the people in our club.

The greatest gift we have at FOTM is the many diverse people from all walks of life who make up our club – people who don’t just mentor each other on speaking and leadership, but also get together as friends to share special occasions. When I first joined FOTM last fall, I couldn’t help but notice the extra energy in the air at each weekly meeting as the Christmas season drew nearer. It wasn’t just that more people were bringing Christmas decorations to the meetings, it was the excitement of getting away from the hustle and bustle of the outside and spending time with familiar faces and new friends.

It all peaked at FOTM’s Annual Christmas Party, when everyone gathered together to ring in the season with a night of great food, games and prizes. The air in the room was full of the Christmas spirit, and not just because of the Etherington Family’s amazing Santa Clauses who visited us, but because all of us, no matter what our backgrounds or traditions, were able to share in some unbridled holiday cheer and joy, and that is one of the key ingredients that make the holidays what they are. This year we are bringing the same excitement to our Christmas Party at the King’s Arm in beautiful downtown Oakville.

From everyone at First Oakville Toastmasters, we wish you and all your loved ones a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. However you celebrate this season, we hope it’s a time of peace and love for everyone you know. Here’s to a wonderful holiday season and a new year filled with great speaking and great opportunities!

Blog Post written by ROY CAMPBELL

Chirstmas Party FLyer for Blog

The International Speech Contest journey by Fei Sun

Have you thought of entering the First Oakville Toastmasters Club Level International Speech Contest? 

There are so many benefits to joining Toastmasters and the most successful Toastmasters will tell you that their growth catapulted when they started entering contests.  You get to step outside of your comfort zone even more and as you progress in the contests you get to speak and share your story with different audiences that you normally would not have been exposed to. 

Last year our club had the privilege of witnessing Fei Sun really step out of her comfort zone by delivering a very touching speech, “Mental Hug” and she made it all the way to compete at the Division level and won second place.  Fei inspired us with her passion and dedication, her words and  also her grit.   This year Fei is serving as our Club VP Education and we interviewed her on her personal experience from participating in this contest.



1.  Why did you decide to enter the International Speech Contest?

It was one of my 2018 New Year resolutions.   I was looking for some challenges that I could take on and the contest seemed like a scary enough idea to challenge myself with.

I have to mention that Adrian Scott said to me after my 3rd speech in the club: “This would be a good speech for the International Contest. Just think about it.” That was the first encouragement that I received to enter the contest and it was when I started thinking about entering. 

If you are a newer member like me and someone mentioned that to you – make a note of it.  

2.  From the first contest in January to your last competition in March, how many times did you re-work your speech, Mental Hug?

With the help from my mentor, fellow members and our open house guests, I made significant changes to my script almost every time I spoke. I did the same speech 6 times in total (club, Charter Party, test speaker, area, open house, division). And in between those major revisions, I made minor changes as soon as any idea came to mind.

3.  Did you use your mentor for help?  How was that experience?

YES! My mentor, Sharon Jenkins, was there with me for every step I took. Sharon (and her family) spent a lot of time giving me feedback and encouragement. She helped me take both my content and delivery to the next level. I even brought my dress and shoes to show Sharon before I felt confident that they were good for our Charter Party. The experience of working with Sharon was priceless.

I call on all newer members to reach out to your mentor if you are not meeting/talking regularly. You will see how much more there is to your Toastmasters experience.

4.  What did you learn throughout this process of competing?

I would have never imagined how much I could learn from this process.

What I learned about myself.  I remember attending the 2017 Charter Party and being blown away by the contestants (Adrian Scott, John Boteng, Peter West and Allan Osborn). That was 7 months after I became a Toastmaster.   And there I was, 12 months later, competing as one of the 4 contestants at the Charter Party.

What I learned about myself is that I can achieve something that was seemingly impossible much faster. And it is simple: learn from my mentor/other members and give it all the effort I could afford. I believe this is true for every newer member and really, that stage is a lot closer than we think!

What I learned about Toastmasters. As I progressed to the area and division contest, I started to understand the tremendous effort putting together an event requires, including our club meeting. I started to understand the governance of the organization. Think about it, there are over 352,000 toastmasters globally and it is run by volunteers. As a newer member, have you wondered how that works?  Do you know what area and division mean? I had no idea.

What I learned about Toastmasters is, there’s a whole Toastmasters world out there and the possibilities are unlimited. Knowing what’s happening beyond the club level is like understanding the mechanics of a car and that makes us better and more confident drivers.

What I learned about the speech contest. What techniques did I learn and practice? What are the specific tips I learned that helped me? Read these two blog posts and you will have it all. How to Win The International Speech Contest by Marion West and How to Beat Roger Caesar by Peter West. I followed EVERY single piece of advice that the West family have given us in these two posts. Did I mention you need a mentor? That is where we get personalized advice after practicing everything above.

5.  Would you do it again?

Yes, absolutely! My 4-year-old son is my biggest fan. He would wake up the morning after a contest night, and asks, ‘Mom, did you win?’. And that is the perfect time for me to teach him about ‘personal best’. So my answer is always ‘yes’. I want to keep doing it, so that one day he is old enough to join us and we may even compete together!

6.  Which contest was your favourite?  Best crowd, best feeling?

I loved every contest and the Division Contest has to be my favourite.  The Club President and VP Public Relations rallied and brought so many members to cheer.   Everyone’s energy fueled me. I felt that I was on a mission to deliver something that is important for all of us. It was quite an emotional experience. I would not have experienced it if I didn’t sign up to compete.

7.  How did you manage nerves?

I practiced techniques recommended by  Amy Cuddy (TED Talk and my mentor Sharon always tells me, nerves is good and use that energy when you are on the stage. It really works.

Right before my division speech, Peter West took me for a ‘silly run’ in the hallway. As we ran up and down, we threw our arms in the air, shook them around like no one was watching. Peter was also repeating loudly, “Shake it up. Shake it up. Don’t sit and stew in the nerves.” That was a big mental hug – thanks Peter.

8.  What are your goals with first Oakville toastmasters for next year?

3 things that I would like to achieve…in priority order:

  1. 1.To contribute to the development of our club by serving as the current VP Education.  My goal is to provide each member with the best opportunity to develop themselves
  2. 2.To encourage other newer members to participate in contests. And help to create the same experience and support that I’ve had for them
  3. 3.Complete my CC manual (3 speeches away) and compete again in the International Speech Contest 2019

Our Club International Speech Contest will take place on January 10th, 2019.  The top 4 speakers will then proceed to compete at our 62nd Charter Party that will take place on February 2nd, 2019 at the Burlington Golf and Country Club.  If you are ready to step outside of your comfort zone, talk to our VP Education Fei Sun to find out how you can sign up.


Disconnect from your phone and connect with your voice.


Untitled design (6)

Did you know that nearly half of Canadians use their cellphones at least two hours a day?  (The Forum Research Poll 2018) .  I spend way too much time on phone.  I am constantly connected for business purposes, Toastmasters, keeping in touch with family and friends, and social media of course, and you probably do too!  My usage time is more than 2 hours a day, easily.

At First Oakville Toastmasters we have a no cellphone standing rule.  Leave it in your car or your purse.  The rule might seem strict but honestly aside from travelling on an airplane, when else do you get to disconnect from your phone for a few hours?

A few weeks ago one of our members, Monica Virmani (founder of The Virmani Foundation), shared this very thoughtful speaking out on human relations and with her permission I wanted to share her message.

We are living in a digital age hat has taken over our world in   the way we think, in the way we operate and in the way we interact with one another. No doubt it has helped us make more contacts and but less connections. We are becoming more aware of the world around us but less aware of our human relations. We depend more on internet than on our own family and friends. As a result, we are becoming human robots. In this on-line world of social media I am grateful there is there is an organization like First Oakville Toastmaster’s that greets you with a smile, encourages you to communicate, gives you a helping hand and empowers you to be the best version of yourself. This is what I have learnt from my fellow toastmasters

Alone I can “SAY” but

Together we can talk

Alone I can “enjoy” but

Together we can celebrate

Alone I can “Smile”

But together we can laugh

That is the beauty of Human relations

We are nothing without each other.

So join us next Thursday, disconnect from your smartphone and connect with other likeminded individuals that are focused on finding their voice and improving their communication skills.

We meet every Thursday from 7:30pm to 9:30pm at The Knights of Columbus – 1494 Wallace Road (Marion Hall), Oakville, ON.

Resist Violence, Resist Hatred – by Roy Campbell

As we continue our 2018 – 2019 journey, it is great to see our speakers take opportunities to remind us of the ugly reality and political chaos we are living through.  One of our newer members, and club Secretary, Roy Campbell, who is a great writer, took the opportunity in our weekly speaking out session to share a great message that reminded all club members and guests why it is important to exercise our voice in order to retain the beautiful Canada that we all love.  With Roy’s permission, and as the proud club President, I am sharing his speaking out session below.  Thank you Roy!

Speaking Out, Presented at First Oakville Toastmasters on November 1, 2018

By Roy Campbell

Last Saturday, 11 people were killed while worshipping at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. Their killer was one of many people driven to violence by far-right hatred and alienation. The same week, another man attempted to bomb a list of political targets who are frequently demonized by right-wing politicians and media. The polarization caused by fear-mongering and increasingly brutal political rhetoric is costing lives.

This isn’t the world I was promised. I grew up with the idea that prejudice and political violence were outdated and rapidly fading away, yet the more I look at the world today, the less accurate that idea seems.

We have to put a stop to this. We can’t think that society will simply be fixed now that the suspects of these crimes have been captured, because there are many more people still out there who hold onto the same hatred.

It’s up to us, wherever we lie on the political spectrum, to resist this kind of violence and hatred wherever it is found; to call it out and say that it is not acceptable and will not be tolerated. We need to change people’s minds when we can. But just as importantly, we must hold our leaders accountable for what they endorse or allow to happen, by speaking out and by voting.

Resist violence. Resist hatred.

Top 5 Reasons Why YOU Should Attend Our Open House Oct 25, 2018

First Oakville Toastmasters is hosting their second Open House of the Year this Thursday, October 25, 2018 featuring a very special guest speaker, Roger Caesar, DTM.

If you have ever thought about attending a Toastmaster meeting, this is a great one to attend and if you need a little convincing here are the top 5 reasons why “YOU” should attend.


Roger Caesar is an award winning speaker and he will be our keynote speaker for the Open House.  He will be delivering a speech and presenting an interactive workshop.  You will learn some very helpful public speaking skills directly from Roger.  Roger is a Four-Time Toastmasters District Champion in public speaking, he is a Four-Time semi finalist at the World Championships and a 2014 Humorous Speech Champion District 86.

2.  Discover Toastmasters and our Club

Toastmasters is a non-profit organization that has existed since 1924.  It operates with clubs worldwide for the purpose of promoting communication, public speaking, and leadership skills.

First Oakville Toastmasters officially chartered in 1957.  For the last 61 years we have been a group of fun-loving, professional individuals from diverse backgrounds who take the Toastmaster program and our growth seriously.

3.  Do Something Different

“If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.”  Tony Robbins.

4.  Open The Door To Career Opportunities

Your fear of public speaking may be holding you back at work.  According to an article in Forbes, the fear of presenting is very real among professionals in corporate America today, so much so that many people are desperate to avoid it.

Why not stand out, and face your fear of public speaking and even conquer it!

5.  Be Our Guest!  It’s FREE

That’s right!  You can attend our Toastmaster club meetings up to 3 times in order to determine if this program and our club is a match for you.  By your third meeting you will have a good idea if this hands-on approach will work for you.


Join us this Thursday, October 25th, 2018 at 1494 Wallace Road, Oakville, ON.  7:30pm to 9:30pm.  (plan to arrive 10 minutes earlier to get settled in).

We are excited to meet YOU!

Alonso Mendizabal, First Oakville Toastmasters Club President



Message from the President

Welcome back Fellow First Oakville Toastmasters to the 2018-2019 season.
One of the most humbling experiences so far as Club President has been to see how many members are returning for another awesome season. The new executive team is grateful for our members and has been very busy learning and growing into our new roles.  In addition to meeting over the summer, we have been busy planning a very exciting year ahead.  As the President of this club I want to share with you a
little of what to expect for this upcoming year.

1. Club Culture
One of our most important goals is to preserve our club’s culture. We have an awesome club with a number of special traditions (Christmas Party, Charter Party, Summer Party) and friendships that have been built over the years. As we prepare to celebrate our club’s 62 years we will do our best to protect this and to ensure that we help create synergy at our meetings together with our membership and guests.

2. Education
This year we will continue what we do best as a club and that is to provide quality speaking and leadership opportunities in a fun and engaging way.  As Ralph C. Smedley, Founder of Toastmasters believes, “We learn best in moments of enjoyment.”
We have also organized a very special Gold Speaker Series featuring three very talented speakers in District 86 for our three open houses this Fall.  Our first Gold Speaker was
Hassan Wadi who shared his winning Humorous Speech and a workshop on “The Art of Storytelling- 10 keys to telling a great story.”

Our second Gold Speaker is Roger Caesar, DTM, three time Toastmasters District champion in public speaking and he represented District 86 at the World Championships of Public Speaking in Chicago, IL, on August 23, 2018.  He will be joining us on October 25, 2018.

Our third Gold Speaker is Gregory C.N Smith, DTM author of the book, “Life’s loudest secrets” and he will be presenting a workshop on how to write a winning speech. He will be joining us on November 22, 2018.  The Gold Speaker series is intended to provide our members with excellent workshops and to inspire our members to write their own winning speeches, whether they are considering entering the International Speech Contest, or completing their Competent Communicator designation, or maybe a persuasive sales pitch at work.

We are also very lucky to welcome back our good friend, Dennis Bartel, DTM who will be delivering a workshop on Parliamentary Procedure in order to help our members understand the proper procedure during the Business Session of our meetings. (October 4th , 2018).

3. Collaboration
We have all the ingredients lined up to cook up an amazing new Toastmaster year.  The executive looks forward to working collaboratively with all our members, to learn from all of you as we continue our  journey of becoming better leaders, better listeners, and better speakers.  As we begin this new year of growth, let’s support each other, let’s lift each other up.  Use your mentors; if you don’t have one – get one! Let’s be patient with one another, let’s be understanding, let’s be positive and inspiring.

While I have only been a member since 2016, my journey with the club has been rich and rewarding on both a personal and professional level.  While I have never had a fear of public speaking,  as someone who works in sales it has been tremendously important for me to learn how to sharpen my skills.  Toastmasters is not just for those who have a fear of public speaking.  It is also for professionals who want to learn how to deliver concise messages, learn how to inspire and motivate your audience/team.  While I recently completed my 10th speech earlier this year, I recognize that I have so much more to learn and I look forward to it.

It is an honour to serve as your FOTM Club President 2018-2019. I look forward to serving the club and to working collaboratively with our executive team, our members and our guests.
To another successful year of growth, friendship and leadership. Cheers to good times ahead.

Alonso Mendizabal
Club President 2018-2019


Be A Winner

First Oakville Toastmasters Club’s Humorous and Table Topics Contests are schedued for Thursday, September 27 at our meeting being held at the Knights of Columbus Hall, 1494 Wallace Road in Oakville, Ontario. (Guests are always welcome.)

If you’re a paid up member of First Oakville Toastmasters you are eligible to be a contestant!33282101026_c0e93c5024_k

For the Humorous Contest you need to present a speech that’s five to seven minutes in length, of essentially original material and it helps if it’s funny.

But being funny, is a funny thing. Some presentations that don’t sound funny can be hilarioius when delivered. Some speakers are funnier than others regardless of the content of their speech. Some speakers use props that help while others don’t.

My point is you can’t predict what will work until you try it.

Last year I won the club level Humorous Speech Contest with a speech about a near-fatal car-bus crash out on the QEW that almost killed Marion and myself (I ended up with a fractured spine and a week in hospital.) so there’s no telling what some people will find funny.

The Table Topics Contest, which requires zero preparation, has always been one of my favourites and back a few years ago I won the District Table Topics Contest which is as far as you can go in this event.

Everyone who is a member in good-standing (in other words paid up) in First Oakville who isn’t a judge, chair, timer or counter should be a contestant. The idea is not to win (although in Table Topics you’ve got as good a chance as the next person) but to compete so as to build your experience as a contest participant. Participation helps to less anxiety and fear of speaking and it’s fun to do.

If you’re interested in participating in either contest let either chair know right away. I’m chairing the Table Topics Contest and Marion is charing the Humorous Contest and we’ll both be at this week’s meeting.


Congrats First Oakville Toastmasters

According to the dictionary, awesomeness is an inspiring and overwhelming feeling of reverence, an admiration that induces awe.

Awesomeness is ALSO the following:

Since September 7th, 2017 we have had 871 members and guests walk into our meetings.

We have had a cumulative total of 142 guests (includes repeat guests) and not one week where we haven’t had a guest join us.

119 speeches were delivered

13 new members

10 educations awards

We earned our President’s Distinguished status as of February.   We hosted 2 open houses with guest speakers John Ribeiro, DTM and Gregory C.N Smith, DTM, 5 education sessions and a very cool Parliamentary Procedure workshop led by Dennis Bartel, DTM.

Our Area Director, Lou Mulligan handed out the Area trophies and recognized First Oakville Toastmasters for winning 3 of the 4 Area 87 contests this season.  Congratulations to Cheryl Etherington (1st Place Humorous Contest), Marion West (1st Evaluation Contest) and Fei Sun ( 1st International Speech Contest).    Congratulations on your awesome achievements.


Congratulations to Alonso Mendizabal for winning Toastmaster of the Year award.  Alonso served as VP Public Relations; he earned his Competent Communicator and Competent Leadership education awards.  He has delivered several speeches and an education session about Delegating to Empower.  He has served on the Charter Party, Christmas Party, and the summer party committees and he has attended 34 of our meeting on missing two this year!  In addition to all this awesomeness, Alonso is also our club’s incoming president for the 2018-2019 year.


We also had the pleasure of recognizing our members who have achieved education awards.  Cheryl Etherington and Scott Richardson earned their Competent Communicator.  Mark Molder earned his Advanced Communicator Silver.  Veronica Costa earned her Level 1 Pathways award and Tanouja Rama earned Level 1 and Level 2.  Congratulations to all!

As you can see this year has been full of awesomeness and it would not have been possible without all the hard work and dedication shown by our outgoing executive committee.  Toastmasters:   Danny Luu, Samantha Tam, Cheryl Etherington, Alonso Mendizabal, Luke Jin, Allan Osborne, and Rebecca Valero.

Thank you to our awesome membership.  Wishing you an AWESOME summer break.  Soak up the sun, get outside and we look forward to seeing everyone on Thursday, September 6th to continue another year of awesomeness.



Lou Mulligan Area 87 Director 2017-2018, Shelly Orchin Incoming Area 87 Director and Incoming Club President, Alonso Mendizabal 







The theme for our meeting  tonight is AWESOMENESS.  When I reflect on our club there are many things about us that fall into this category.  It has been a great honour to serve as the 2017-2018 First Oakville Toastmasters Club President.  I am looking forward sharing with our members and guests just how AWESOME we truly are!

We have a special evening lined up as our VP Education will present one of our members with the Toastmaster of the Year award.  This trophy is awarded at the end of every Toastmaster year to an individual who has earned the highest points accumulated according to a number of different categories that are tracked.  There are points that are awarded for attendance, participation in contests, participation on committees, # of speeches given, education achievements.  This award is not a popularity contest, there are no judges, it is simply the sum of hard work.  Who will win this year’s Toastmaster of the Year award?  Only these two know and their lips are SEALED!


Congrats Firas! (1)


A big thank you to our VP Education, Allan Osborne and Madame Secretary, Samantha Tam for maintaining impeccable tracking sheets all year long.  thank you!!

See you tonight!

Cheers (1)