What Was That All About?

Last night the members at First Oakville Toastmasters were treated to a two-hour workshop by Dennis Bartel, DTM on parliamentary procedure. For those of us who have struggled to understand parliamentary procedure, Dennis’s workshop was fabulous.Dennis-Bartel2

Dennis has been giving this workshop at District conferences so we were very fortunate to have had this private session.

One thing I think we should remember is not all of our members come from western nations with a history that includes a heritage of western democratic processes.

So where does parliamentary process come from?

Back in 1215 King John of England was facing a rebellion by his barons who were the wealthy landowners of the day. They didn’t want to pay for any more of the king’s costly wars in Europe.

Drafted by the Archbishop of Canterbury in an effort to make peace between the barons and the king a document called Magna Carta (or Great Charter) was signed at Runnymede, England on June 15.220px-King_John_from_De_Rege_Johanne

Among other protections including church rights, protection for the barons from illegal imprisonment, access to swift justice, it also limited the king’s ability to demand feudal payments from the barons.

While the charter was annulled (which resulted in a war), it was reinstated by John’s son Henry III and over the centuries to follow it began to be considered as the basis of English Common law from which Parliament itself finds its origins.

Essentially the Great Charter made it clear that the king and his agents are not above the law.

So what does this mean for our business sessions at Toastmasters?e21a5820e52bf3f7c880c4d6c55bffde

It means that the business session and indeed the entire meeting as reflected by the agenda does not belong to the chair of the evening or even the president of the club. It belongs to all of us at the meeting. (And perhaps we should accept the agenda as presented at the start of the meeting as suggested last night.)

It also means that as a club member you have the right to be heard and to vote on matters of interest to the club. How you do that is by using parliamentary procedure.

Our leaders in Toastmasters serve the club and they do not govern. And while they are responsible for the smooth running of the meetings, they only do so with the express approval of the members.

Parliamentary procedure also includes the concept that every member should be treated with respect and every member must have the opportunity to express their opinion. It also holds that the majority opinion should rule but the minority opinion should always be heard.Centre_Block_-_Parliament_Hill

The actual rules of parliamentary procedure aren’t all that complicated.

Essentially everything begins with the chair recognizing a member who moves a motion that is expressed as “I move that…”.

Most, but not all, motions require somebody else to agree that the motion should be debated and this person is called the seconder (who doesn’t necessarily agree with the motion but thinks it is in the club interest to hold a debate even if they plan to vote against).

Once a motion is moved and seconded, the chair usually invites the mover to speak to their motion. From there on any member who is recognized by the chair can stand and then state whether they are for or against the motion and why. Each member gets to speak once and may speak again if all the other members of the club have been given an opportunity to speak.

Sooner or later someone may “call the question” which is an informal request to the chair, which they can ignore, to go to a vote. The chair can ask at any time whether or not the members are ready to vote.DSCF5000

During the debate, any member may amend a motion but the amendment must not change the main motion in any substantive way. In other words, a motion to buy a new gavel might be amended to include the word “black” gavel.

Motions can have a second amendment and no more and again the second amendment can not substantially change the newly amended motion “to buy a new black gavel” so adding “at a cost not to exceed $50” would likely be considered okay.

There are a whole bunch of other procedural motions but newcomers only need to know a couple more to join in the fun.

The next one I’d recommend is to rise to a point of parliamentary inquiry.

Closely associated with rising to a point of order (where you’re offering an opinion that something is not being done correctly), rising to a point of parliamentary inquiry allows you ask the chair a question. Perhaps you might wish to ask if now is the time to add an amendment?

The other motion I think every member should know and practice is how to appeal a decision made by the chair. Remember the chair doesn’t make rulings that can’t be appealed.11174246

If the chair does something (say declaring the end of debate), any member can rise immediate and state: “I appeal from the decision of the chair” and this forces an immediate vote by the assembly.

Any chair who ignores the wishes and will of the assembly will quickly discover that folly of that decision.

Every member will someday get to chair a meeting and conduct the business session. Every member will also get the opportunity to be the parliamentarian.

We learn these roles by doing them. The good news is everyone is eager to see you succeed.

As a new parliamentarian, it’s not a bad idea to sit beside a member who is experienced in parliamentary procedure and allow them to whisper in your ear. (That’s how I learned from one of our club’s great members the late George Pay. His whisper in my ear was called “the voice of God” which would precede any opinion I would offer to the chair.)

As a new chair it’s a good idea to speak with your mentor beforehand and use your parliamentarian anytime you’re not certain what to do next. Take your time and ask for help and all will go well.DDC-Ramban-MH-Malik-chairing-SBI-RSETI-meeting-on-tuesday21

Parliamentary procedure is used to get things done in Toastmasters; in local, provincial and national government; in public companies; by boards of directors, in non-profit and charitable agencies; by school boards; and anywhere were groups of individuals want to work together for the betterment of them all.

Also, it’s another opportunity to hear your own voice during your Toastmaster meeting.



Last night the Dynamic Division D delivered what turned out to be a very competitive Evaluation and International Speech Contest.  The talent last night was nothing short of inspirational.

We are so proud of our competitors last night from 1st Oakville Toastmasters!  Marion West placed 3rd in the evaluation contest and Fei Sun placed 2nd in the International Speech Contest.

A few weeks ago we had the privilege of having Gregory C. N Smith as a guest speaker and if you remember, that night Gregory shared the story about P.B aka Personal Best.

I want to thank both Marion West and Fei Sun for showing us last night what aiming for P.B and crushing your Personal Best goal looks like.  They both took their skills to the next level leaving us with pride and admiration because we know what taking it to the next level looks like thanks to Marion West and Fei Sun.

I’d like to thank the 1st Oakville Toastmasters cheering section.  Together we filled up the room with support and applause for our dynamic duo Marion and Fei.  I’d like to thank Allan, Eric, Rosa, Catherine, Luke, Sharon, Tanouja, Rebecca C., Sam, Peter, Alonso.  In total including friends of these Toastmasters; we were a group of 17.  That is something to be proud of!




1st Oakville Toastmasters Cheering Section!  L to R:  Rebecca Valero, Alonso Mendizabal, Samantha Tam, Rebecca Cao, Peter West, Marion West, Fei Sun, Tanouja Rama, Sharon Jenkins, Catherine Li, Luke Jin, Eric Bastien & Allan Osborne.




Parliamentary Procedure Workshop

I now call this blog post to order.  *bangs an imaginary gavel*

First Oakville Toastmasters is excited to announce that we will be hosting a Parliamentary Procedure Workshop on Thursday, March 29, 2018. FIRST OAKVILLE tOASTMASTER'S PRESENTS (1)

Our guest speaker for the evening is Dennis Bartel, DTM.  Dennis is a Graphic Designer and Software Developer who focuses on the User Experience where rules and procedures guide the process.  He credits being “that rule and procedure guy” with his success in business and Toastmasters.  Dennis has been a Toastmaster for over 10 years, serving as a President’s Distinguished Club President twice.  He is a current President and Founder of a newly chartered club, Brampton Talks, and has been a District Officer for 7 years.

Dennis will be hosting an interactive workshop that will give you the tools to better understand Parliamentary Procedures and dispelling the myth that rules mean less fun, and less productivity.  This is the perfect opportunity to participate and learn in a casual setting by making motions, amendments to the motions and understanding the process by participating.  Through this workshop, you will learn how to this with respect, order, and fun.

For more information please check out the new Parliamentary Procedure section on the blog!  

Orders of the Day!

Rebecca Valero, ACB, ALB
First Oakville Toastmasters Club #2245
President 2017-2018


The Toastmaster Ripple Effect & Open House

Last week our VP Public Relations, Alonso, shared with us the ripple effects of Toastmasters in his personal life and career.  He joined Toastmasters to sharpen his presentation skills but ended up growing in all sorts of surprising ways.  Discover your own Toastmaster ripple effect by joining us this Thursday for our 1st Oakville Toastmaster OPEN HOUSE.

This Thursday, March 8th, 2018, 1st Oakville Toastmasters will be hosting an OPEN HOUSE with special guest speaker Gregory CN Smith, author of Life’s Loudest Secrets. Gregory is a District 86 International Speech Champion and the District 86 Humorous Speech Champion. This led him to compete at the World Championships of Public Speaking in 2010.  1

Gregory will teach us tools and techniques on how to engage your audience, making your presentation memorable and leave them wanting more. Gregory has delivered workshops and ignited the passion of audiences on four continents.

Come as you are but don’t stay as you are, because the saddest thing to be said of anyone is that they have not changed a bit.”  Gregory Smith.

Our doors are open to the Oakville and surrounding community to come and visit a club with over 61 years of experience. Start your own Toastmaster ripple effect and be our guest!


First Oakville First Again Twice!

Fei Sun won the Toastmasters International Area 87 International Speech Contest! Competing against a formidable group of competitors from area clubs, Fei, a relative newcomer to Toastmasters won the day with her personal story about getting and giving “virtual hugs”.Fei

Using excellent gestures that emphasized the highlights of her speech, Fei reached out to the crowd and allowed her voice to ring out. Obviously the judges liked what they heard and saw in her dramatic performance.

Marion West, also from First Oakville Toastmasters took first place in the Toastmasters International Area 87 Evaluation Contest. A perennial winner of evaluation contests Marion had close competition with our own MarionSharon Jenkins taking third place.

Both winners now go onto the Division D contests on March 21 at the South Common Community Centre in Mississauga.Sharon




A win there will see them compete at the District 86 contests at the Spring conference in April at the Hilton Meadowvale Mississauga.

First Oakville Toastmasters has been producing winning competitors for over 60 years. Learning how to be a speech winner takes time and effort but at First Oakville our members know they have a supportive club behind them all the way.

Cheryl Etherinton, from First Oakville, also competed in the International Speech Contest. First Oakville members worked as judges, timers, ballot collectors and our own club president Rebecca Valero was Evaluation Speech contest chair.


We learn best in moments of enjoyment. – Ralph Smedley

The 2017-2018 executive has been diligent to create meetings that spark education, collaboration and the “F” word, FUN!!  According to Scott Christopher, author of the book The Levity Effect:  It Pays to Lighten Up, he discusses how fun in the workplace can increase profits and employee camaraderie, lower absenteeism and reduce workplace conflict.  It’s easy to draw the same conclusion that while Toastmasters is a not-for-profit organization, the same can be achieved at our meetings.

Ralph Smedley, the founder of Toastmasters believed, “We learn best in moments of enjoyment.”  Finding the right balance between fun and camaraderie while reaching our goals is exactly what we have been focusing in on at First Oakville Toastmasters.

Last night Allan our Chair chose the theme, Tropical Adventures, and together with the help of the executive, we converted our meeting space into a Tropical Paradise.  It set the tone for the evening and was a nice break from the Winter Blahs.

We had an evening of many firsts.  Veronica did an outstanding job introducing the Chair.  She did her research and set the tone for a nice warm welcome.  Firas really hit a home run with the presentation of a Toast to Famous Canadian to George St. Pierre.  He delivered it without notes and with confidence and determination.  We cannot wait to hear your Ice Breaker in March!

Marcela delivered her first Jest and had our members laughing.  Our Table Topics session was inspired by our Friends at Stockholm International Toastmasters in Sweden.   Last night our Table Topics participants were asked to share a Tropical Adventure Tall Tale using 5 randomly selected emojis.    Our 4 participants did an excellent job.  Alonso shared his story about how he accidentally kissed a Sea Turtle thinking it was his wife.  Our guest Kathy shared a story about how she snuck some candies to Bruce Springsteen in Jamaica.  Firas shared a story about his travels in Thailand, and Samantha shared her story about Snorkelling in Guatemala and those pesky snorkeling-polluters.   Congratulations to our brave impromptu speakers!

We had an amazing lineup of speakers last night.  Vlad delivered his Ice Breaker and it was an excellent start to his public speaking journey!  Tanouja delivered her second speech from the Pathways Program.  Tanouja has officially progressed the furthest in Pathways.  Will she be the first member to earn her Level 1 award?  Stay tuned.  Robert G. entertained us with a very humorous speech.  Congrats to Robert for winning Best Speaker of the Evening.

Tropical Winners

Best Evaluator: Samantha Best Speaker: Robert Best Table Topics: Alonso

It was very encouraging to see so many new members participating and succeeding in their roles.   If you are a new member and you have an upcoming role, the most helpful resource is the “white book”, An Introduction to your Toastmaster Experience that is included in your welcome kit.  This book was compiled by Toastmaster Peter West on behalf of the Mentoring Committee (2012) and provides every detailed piece of information for every role you may need to fill.  Read it.


See you next week.



Have you registered for the Area 87 International Speech and Evaluation Contests?

The Area 87 Contest is in 10 days!  A great contest includes an organized Contest Chair, excellent judges, contest functionaries, prepared speakers, and of course an energetic cheering crowd.  Speakers feed off the energy in the audience.  Let’s support our fellow members!

This is your chance to cheer on your fellow First Oakville Toastmasters as they compete to win their way up to the Division D level.

Fei Sun & Cheryl Etherington will be competing in the International Speech Contest and Marion West & Sharon Jenkins will be competing in the Evaluation Contest.

The contests take place on Wednesday, February 21st, 2018.
Doors open at 6:00 pm, Contest starts at 6:30 pm
The mandatory Contestants’ briefings will be at 6:15pm
Location:  West End Studio Theatre 1109 North Service Road, Oakville

All contestants need to be registered on Eventbrite in order to receive free admission.

Audience members and cheering sections need to register.  Payment will be collected at the venue the day of the contest.  $10.00 with Eventbrite Registration and $15.00 at the door without Eventbrite registration.

Register here:  https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/toastmasters-area-87-evaluation-international-speech-contests-tickets-42511738755

Light refreshments will be provided.

Let’s cheer for First Oakville Toastmasters!!!!  wanted_