Toastmasters with Differing Abilities by Cathy O'Connor

As a Toastmaster with a hearing loss and a (hopefully temporary) physical disability, I see the need for occasionally having to accommodate those with differing abilities. A friend of mine is blind; nothing annoys her so much as when some well-meaning Toastmaster tells her she needs to improve her eye contact. She can’t see. How can she improve something she simply cannot do? It is like asking a fish to climb a tree. Fish can swim really well. They leave the tree climbing to others.

As Toastmasters, it is our duty as leaders to know how to incorporate an accommodation. The simplest way is to ask the person what s/he needs or wants. I am hard of hearing. I don’t require much in the way of accommodation, but some of my hard of hearing friends may need everyone in the club to use a microphone. Someone else with a mobility disability may need a wide aisle to go down to accommodate a scooter, a wheelchair or a service animal.

Sometimes certain prerequisites required to attain certain educational awards may have to be modified, or even eliminated altogether. A case in point. As a child I joined Girl Guides. Because of my severe ADHD and other learning disabilities, I simply could not and cannot tie anything more convoluted than a sheet-bend knot. A clove hitch is beyond me; don’t even talk to me about a bowline or a prusik knot! Back in the 60s, there were no accommodations. One either passed or failed in Guiding. As a result of this one thing, I was not able to attain the highest level in Guiding, and thus was never able to meet Prince Philip who handed out All Round Cords, Gold Cords and Canada Cords.

These days, my disability would be accommodated, and I could substitute another project of similar scope in its place. This is something that also needs to occur in Toastmasters.

If someone, for some reason, cannot handle the job of timing (whether because of the physical ability to reach or manipulate the switches on the timing mechanism, or cannot see well enough to watch a stop watch, get the person to do something else and give them “credit” for timing. Someone may love the role of general evaluator. Within this position the general evaluator has to know about, and demonstrate, the importance of time in the meeting, and is in charge of the timer of the meeting, among other people. If the person loves the role of general evaluator, but cannot perform the role of timer, switch them out. Don’t let something like this hold someone back.

What if someone with a disability wants to become an area director? That can happen. If the position needs to be modified, or if something needs to be put in place in order for the person to be accommodated, sit down with the person and find out what needs to happen. A person may make a perfectly good area director, and may need to fulfill this role in order to attain the educational level of ALS in the legacy program, or one of the higher levels of the Pathways paths. Traditionally the area director needs to visit the clubs twice and write up a report. If the person doesn’t drive because of a disability, a couple of things can possibly be put in place to accommodate (again, with the person’s input – never make a decision on behalf of a disabled person and expect to be praised!). Either arrange for a team of volunteer chauffeurs, or arrange to have the area director participate via virtual meetings. Set up a computer on an overhead projector, and invite the person to participate via the web. There are many programs available online to do this. Again, always ask the person, who knows best what works for him or her.

Don’t be afraid to ask us what we need. We don’t bite. Well, usually. In fact, being asked makes us feel part of the club. All too often, people are afraid to interact with us because they don’t want to say the wrong thing. The result of this is that we end up feeling alone and isolated. Something that should never happen at a Toastmasters meeting. You don’t need to know how to accommodate. Just treat as as you would want to be treated, which is with dignity and respect. After all, the Toastmasters Club Mission sums it up perfectly:

We provide a supportive and positive learning experience in which members are empowered to develop communication and leadership skills, resulting in greater self-confidence and personal growth.

Roger Caesar speaks at Grand River Toastmasters Open House Event

Grand River Toastmasters are hosting an Open House on May 1st in Cambridge. Come out and enjoy an evening of fun and learning.

  • When: May 1st, 2018
  • Where: Allan Reuter Centre, 507 King St E, Cambridge, ON (MAP)
  • Time: 7:00 - 9:00 PM

Featuring Roger Caesar
Roger Caesar is a two-time semi-finalist in the World Championships of Public Speaking. A truly amazing speaker. Along with hearing Roger Caesar, members and guests will enjoy Table Topics™ (impromptu speeches) and information about Toastmasters, refreshments and door prizes.

How to Run an Election Nomination Committee

Nominee Meetings 2018

While we are about to prepare for a spring Provincial Election there is another election Toastmasters across District 86 should be preparing for. I am talking of the Club Elections that are held every year in May. This is a big club event as it will set the club up for success for the coming year. Holding a smooth election where every executive position has at least one nominee is a hallmark of a quality club. An engaged and energized executive is a great way to keep the energy from one year to the next. I would like to share with you some information on how you too can hold robust elections and make sure you executive is as strong as it can be.

One of the first tasks that needs to be undertaken is to set your election date. Toastmasters International suggests that date be the first club meeting in May. I am a dual member (Port Credit Toastmasters and Great Minds Advanced Toastmasters) and my club elections will take place on May 7th and 8th respectively. This date should be announced during a club business section and then followed up with other forms of communication. The goal here is to make sure the entire membership is aware of the date.

Once the date has been set the next task is to strike up a nominating committee! Who strikes up this committee? That duty falls to the Club President to select three active members to form this committee. The Immediate Past President should be the committee chair (unless the best interests of the club require otherwise) and the other members should be familiar with the club executive positions. According to the Club Leadership Handbook (Item 1310) this should be done at least 2 weeks prior to your club elections. In my experience it should be announced sooner then that for the committee to get candidates for the various executive roles.

Now that the committee has been selected the real work can start. First the committee should be providing information during the business section of the club meetings. Letting everyone know who is on the committee and what to expect in the coming weeks. This committee has important work ahead as the goal is to make sure that all positions have a nomination (or two).

The committee may consider active members who have announced their desire to serve in office. (current members of the executive or others who are proactively seeking office) The committee may also seek out qualified candidates. In either case, only Toastmasters who accept the nomination may be placed on the committee’s report. The nomination committee report is due the meeting before the club elections and should be presented during the business section of the meeting.

The committee is looking for Candidates for the following positions: Club President, Vice President of Education, Vice President of Membership, Vice President of Public Relations, Secretary, Treasurer, and Sergeant at Arms. A member can run for more then one office. At a minimum a club must have three officer positions: Club President, a Vice President, and the Secretary or Secretary/Treasurer. In this case each office needs to be held by different people. This should be avoided if at all possible as without a full executive the risk of burn out is high and the work load would be too much for just three.

It is important that the nominating committee report is presented at the club meeting before the elections. Otherwise all the hard work of the committee will go unrecognized and the stress on election night will be high as candidates will be running for office without vetting.

The work of the nominating committee is important. If your club hasn’t followed this process I would strongly encourage you to consider following this direction. In my experience this process allows for members to feel comfortable about running for office. It takes the stress off the club that occurs when an election is held with little to no candidates for office. Finally, it gives the toastmasters on the committee some new skills to learn and enhance.

In my next article I will detail what the committee should be looking for in successful candidates and how to have a robust election!

Steve Elliot is currently serving as Area 83 director, immediate past president of Port Credit Toastmasters, and Vice President of Education of Great Minds Advanced Toastmasters.

How To Find Leaders

By Steve Elliot ACS ALB

In my last article I shared how you should strike up a nominations committee and how the process with the club elections should unfold. In this article I am going to focus on how to get candidates for the various club executive roles. After all a committee is great, but if they fail to deliver nominated candidates for the roles then the work is for naught.

A great idea for the weeks leading up to the election is to have the current executive stand in the business section and detail what they do, what they’ve learned, or even answer questions about the role. This can help the club members to have a better understanding of the various roles. It also helps grow the executive as they must speak briefly on what they do and what they have gained from the role. I think it can be very powerful to hear what skills have been learned in the role as this allows the members to see what roles will cause them to grow or stretch some leadership skills.

How should the nominations committee begin their search? First step the current executive. These are Toastmasters who are already aware of the executive. Chances are high that a few of them might want to stay on the executive and take on a different role. It is strongly encouraged that members don’t repeat a role on the executive, however in some cases it may be needed due to the level of members. Every effort should be made to have the current executive take on a new challenge for the coming year. The only person who can’t repeat in the role is the Club President. This person must only hold office for one year.

Once the current executive has been interviewed, the next step is the club at large. Here it would be a good idea to look for keen members.

  • Is there a Toastmaster who has helped at Area or Division Speech contests? Maybe this person would like a year long challenge.
  • Maybe a person who is eager to complete a Distinguished Toastmaster (DTM) award in the legacy program? (if they take a club executive role this year, and a district role the following year and make their communication track they should have enough time to earn a DTM).
  • If you are a corporate club, is there someone wanting to learn new skills? What a great way to try an executive leader role.
  • Does your club have an longer serving member who’d like to get back into the club executive after a break?

Those are some good questions that might lead you to a Toastmaster who would be interested in filling a role on the executive. The committee should look to approach the interested or suggested candidates one on one. To send out a generic email and blast everyone who may be interested in a role makes it look like the committee isn’t interested in everyone. The committee should divide the candidates up between them and approach them one on one. It would be a good idea to schedule some time with the candidate. This needs to be a two-way conversation. The interested Toastmaster will most likely have questions. The committee member should come with some questions. Note taking and listening skills will be required.

What sorts of questions should you ask of an interested Toastmaster?

  1. What attracts you to the role? Do you have questions about what you will be required to do in the role?
  2. Why are you interested in being on the executive? How will you balance your Toastmasters commitment with being on the executive? (we don’t want someone feeling they have to stop their Toastmasters journey to serve as an executive.)
  3. What plans do you have after the coming year? (ideally, we would like people that wish to stay on the executive in a different role. It will lessen the work of next year’s nomination committee!)
  4. What’s a strength of our club? What’s a weakness? How will you address them in your role on the executive? (these questions gauge whether the person can see the big picture and is truly engaged in the club.)

Once all committee members have met with the interested parties the notes and thoughts need to be complied and discussed. Each member should present who they met with and provide the committee with the details of the interview. Once all candidates have been discussed the Nomination Committee Chair would write a report stating the various roles and those who the committee supports being nominated. Remember you can have multiple candidates for the roles. The committee is not to choose who should be on the executive, but rather who is fit to be on the executive. The Election Night is the meeting where votes will be held, and the club will elect their incoming executive. If the committee doesn’t have a candidate for all the roles, don’t fret members can run from the floor within the meeting.

Following these steps and suggestions should result in the club having a smooth election process. Remember the role of the Nominations committee is to help in the process of discovering candidates, not choosing who is on the executive. The result of an engaged committee will be an engaging and stress reduced club election. I wish you much success as you take steps to prepare for the coming Elections.


Soar To Excellence Toastmasters Club Contests


It was a successful, fun, and exciting meeting where contestants competed in the International and Evaluation Speech Club Contest held at St. Hillary's Church, 2055 Hurontario Street, Mississauga, ON, L5A 2E6 on Saturday, February 17, 2018.

Rob Belsby competed in the Evaluation Club Contest and Yasseen Tasabehji competed in the International Speech Club Contest, and both achieved first place. Sally Wong competed both in Evaluation Club Contest and International Speech Club Contest achieved second place. The winners will move on to the Area Contest at the Area 46 contest held at Streetsville Vic Johnston Community Centre on March 6, 2018 at 6:30 PM. The winners for Area 46 contest will compete at Division C Contest in South Common Community Centre Room - Arbour Green Room 2233 South Millway, Mississauga, ON, L5L 3H7 on March 20, 2018.

We invite you to join in the fun, networking and cheer on both contestants from Soar To Excellence Toastmasters Club.

If you are looking to reach your highest potential, join Soar To Excellence Toastmasters Club, to experience the art of public speaking, communication and power point presentation.

For more information, please visit Soar To Excellence Toastmasters website at or email us

Soar To Excellence Toastmaster Team
St. Hillary’s Church
2055 Hurontario Street,
Mississauga, ON, L5A 2E6

By: Alvin Abawan
Edited: Rob Belsby

How OPS North Bay Toastmasters Celebrated 5 Year Anniversary

Let me tell you a little about the OPS North Bay Toastmasters Club and why we’re so excited to have recently celebrated our 5 year anniversary!

OPSNorthBay TM2OPS North Bay Toastmasters is a corporate club for employees of the Ontario Public Service. Back in 2011, Bonnie Murphy spearheaded bringing a Toastmasters Club to North Bay for her government colleagues and faced a steep learning curve as the first President. She found a mentor club and willing coach in Cementation Canada’s corporate club and our OPS club chartered in October 2012.

Bonnie Murphy – Founding President (on left) and 
Pat Devereaux – Current President (on right)

We just celebrated our 5th year anniversary on October 12, 2017 with an open house and lunch ‘n learn event, both of which were very well-attended.

At the lunch ‘n learn we were very honoured to have as our guest speaker, Roy Slack, the President of Cementation Canada! The event also provided guests with an overview of Toastmasters, demonstrated a typical Toastmasters meeting by explaining key meeting roles, reviewed the Toastmaster Education Program and included an informal question and answer period. Later that day our open house, complete with displays of Toastmaster information and our club’s history and a celebratory cake, was attended by more than 20 interested colleagues!

OPSNorthBay TM

The following current members were club founders: Anthony Akomah, Melissa Delfino, Pat Devereaux, Alain Lemay, Bonnie Murphy, Siobhan O’Leary, and Arlene Phillips.

If you live in the North Bay area, or are just passing through, we meet every 2nd and 4th Thursday, noon to 1 pm, Library Boardroom, 2nd floor, 447 McKeown Ave. Even though we’re a corporate club we love hosting visitors from other clubs! 

by Sandy Bell-Murray

The 2017 Toastmaster’s Award Winning Celebration


A ceremony to honour Jocelyne Vezina, the 2017 toastmaster’s winner was held at Mississauga Central Library on December 18th. The celebration was hosted on behalf of two sister clubs: Comfortably Speaking Toastmasters (CST) Club and Lambs to Lions (L to L) Club. Being awarded the Toastmaster of the year award is the highest honour in the district. It signifies that the Toastmaster dedicated their service to the district and toastmaster’s community to assist others in achieving their goals in communications and leadership. Jocelyne certainly fits this description. Not only is she a member of 3 Toastmaster clubs in Mississauga, but she has mentored a long list of new clubs to their success, each coming with a 6 month to a year commitment. She is currently a club coach for a French speaking club in Mississauga, helping this club to gain it's strength and success. On top of this, Joecelyne is our Pathways Ambassador helping the district to successfully educate, train guides and ambassadors and launch the new Pathways program through the district. Joecelyne has really touched and impacted many Toastmaster Members lives.

Kyla Werrett, DTM, member of CST and 2017-2018 Division D Director, opened the party for Jocelyne. She mentioned that it was an honour to nominate Jocelyne for this award and that she enlisted in the help of 5 other toastmaster members within the community in this nomination. She added that in addition to the nomination, there is a point system and the opportunity to ask people to write a letter about this individual. “The letters that came back for Jocelyne, were unbelievable”. Letters came from clubs that Jocelyne mentored, Pathway's Guides she led and others that Jocelyne's contributions impacted.

Kyla’s speech was followed by Aanchal Kamra, L to L President, Iona Rodricks, DTM, L to L SAA and Paul Dubal, CST President indicating Jocelyne as a dedicated member of both clubs. Then Paul asked Jocelyne to say a few words for both club members.

Jocelyne mentioned “I didn’t do these for the award, I think I’m getting more out of it.” At the end, she showed her gratitude for both clubs by saying “you two clubs, Lambs to Lions that I was the first president and the founding member and comfortably speaking that was the first club I have ever joined, have a very special place in my heart and I am so glad that you are still here.”
The ceremony was proceeded with Paul giving Jocelyne a card on behalf of the two clubs followed by a group photo and potluck.

Hamedeh Razavi
CST, VP Public Relations

The Lambs to Lions Toastmasters Club Hold a Speech-a-thon!

Dear Enthusiastic Reader,

The Lambs to Lions Toastmasters Club meets every 1st and 3rd Saturday at the Mississauga Central Library from 11.30 a.m. - 1.00 p.m. Founded on May 2011, the club offers a hands-on learning experience for new members through advanced evaluation techniques and leadership opportunities.

On December 2, 2017 our club hosted a special ‘Speech-a-thon’ style meeting with 5 scheduled speakers who presented on a wide variety of topics enriched with knowledge, courage, and humour. It was certainly my first speech-a-thon experience and I walked away feeling motivated and entertained with much food for thought. So let me give you a snapshot of what happened that mid Saturday morning in one of the meeting rooms at the Central Library.

Mike Filev, one of our newest members kicked off the speech-a-thon with his ice-breaker speech. This Bulgarian born-Canadian told us that it was his dream to improve his public speaking skills. With a speech title of ‘Breathing deeply, the main stream media and getting the things you want in life', Mike walked us through the tricks of the mainstream media and how it has conditioned us for failure. He also discussed ways in which we can overcome our fears and achieve our goals more effectively. What was the take away? Well... not to be shallow breathers - to practice deep and mindful breathing - 5 seconds in and 5 seconds out and to try our best to re-connect our breath with positive thoughts. He received a standing ovation at the conclusion of his speech, a practice we follow for all ice-breaker speeches to recognize the effort. It is also key to laying a solid foundation of encouragement for all newbies. Congrats Mike, well done!

Tiffany Chen, one of our long standing members as well as the Area Director for Area 85 in District 86 was next in line to deliver her speech on 'Social Anxiety'. She is currently working on achieving her ACS designation. She introduced the concept of social anxiety, the fears associated with interacting with others, being judged and the feeling of inadequacy etc. Tiffany also walked us through the symptoms such as a racing heart, sweaty palms and a dry throat and mouth. She spoke about the 'Flight, Fight and Freeze Theory' which we all can relate to. So what was the takeaway? To think positively, for e.g. 'I am unique vs I am weird' and to use the visualization technique more often to ease things. She concluded by reminding us that everything requires practice and by changing our attitude towards the way we deal with social anxiety, we too can overcome this. Well done, Tiffany!

Aanchal Kamra, the President of our club took on the audience with her speech 'Introduction to Graphology' - an analysis of the physical characteristics and patterns of handwriting to study human behavior. Her speech starts her journey towards the ACG designation. She took us through a simple exercise that provided insight on how we can use graphology to understand the writer’s psychological state at the time of writing, or evaluating personality characteristics, generally considered a pseudoscience. She also made us write down a sentence on a blank sheet of paper which brought us all to the edge of our seats followed by a nail biting reaction, when she started to explain our characteristics via our handwriting. What a fascinating subject. Aanchal, you never fail to spark our curiosity!

Michael McAra, another one of our long standing members delivered his speech on the 'Flint Water Crisis'. This was a 3-5 minute speech followed by a Q & A session. Michael wore the hat of the newly hired Reputation Management Consultant for the City of Flint and spoke to the media [the audience] and provided an update on the status of the water crisis. It was a tough job to defend the City, but Michael had done his research! He also sparked our interest in reading more about this crisis.

Peter Barrett, our final speaker delivered a humourous speech themed, 'I have an idea!', a speech towards the ACS designation. He encouraged us to pursue our creative aspirations and inspirations and how to make at least some of our ideas come to life. After all, from young to old and around the world, some of us bravely convert our ideas into action, which can result in an outcome that ranges between 'Yes! I did it and it is successful' to 'maybe we need to think through this a little more' - Sounds familiar?? Peter went onto sharing his childhood stories about the mischief he got into with his brother and had the entire room roaring with laughter. Jokes apart, the stories had a motivating factor embedded as object lessons. So next time we go 'Hey, I have an idea!' don't hesitate and don't be afraid to give it wings!

All 5 speeches were successfully delivered and evaluated by 2 senior members of our club, Jocelyne Vezina and Iona Rodricks as well as our 3 honoured guest evaluators, Jeanie Lai, Stephen Stachin and John Constant.

The structured evaluation is one of my absolute favourite sessions at each meeting. There is a lot to learn from the manner in which evaluations are presented to the speaker. The suggestions / recommendations can be adopted by anyone who is hoping to deliver a speech in future. A true learning experience indeed.

My journey with Toastmasters officially started in August 2017 and it has been an amazing ride filled with new found knowledge, motivation and enriching experiences. I enjoy and value the camaraderie and look forward to exploring the path ahead.

Dear patient reader, I now pose the question to you, "Have I given you enough reasons to come witness us in action on a Saturday for 1.5 hours and perhaps join the Lambs to Lions Toastmasters club?”

Interested? FANTASTIC!

Got questions? AS YOU SHOULD!

I welcome you to connect with me on

Respectfully submitted,
Ayesha Bhikha
VP Education, Lambs to Lions Toastmasters
Club Number 1633651, Area 85, Division D, District 86

Brampton Gavel Club Celebrates its Fifth Anniversary


On Saturday, December 2 the Brampton Gavel Club (Club No. 2888888) celebrated its fifth anniversary as an affiliate of Toastmasters International. The celebration was attended by approximately fifty club members (Gaveliers), parents, and a few special guests. A fun time was had everyone in attendance!

The meeting was filled with many festivities. For example, Brampton City Councillor for Wards 2 & 6, Doug Whillans and several members of the Fletcher’s Meadow Community Group were on hand to send their sincere congratulations for this remarkable accomplishment. Malcolm Jones, the founder of the Brampton Gavel Club, helped give an oral history of the club’s early beginnings and tremendous growth. The Gaveliers were later treated to a wonderful keynote speech by Neil Dunsmore who spoke to them about his three sons and encouraged everyone to live a life worth talking about. Following a fantastic potluck, the several Gavelier’s shared their hidden talents, which included: card magic, drawing / painting, and music (playing the drums and recorder, as well as caroling).

The Brampton Gavel Club was established on Saturday, September 8, 2012 and officially became an affiliate of Toastmaster International on November 30, 2012. As previously noted, it was founded by Malcolm Jones with the support of Brampton Speakeasy Toastmasters Club. Since its humble beginnings, the Gavel Club has provided youth – ages ten to seventeen – a safe and supportive environment to enhance their communication and leadership skills through the use of Toastmasters education material. In fact, the only significant difference between a Toastmasters club and the Brampton Gavel Club is the age of its members.

Today, the Brampton Gavel Club has become an integral part of the Fletcher’s Meadow community in Brampton. Indeed, I had the honour of receiving the Fletcher’s Meadow Community Group’s 2017 Community Spirit Award for my four plus years of service as a Counsellor of the Gavel Club. It has been an absolute blessing to have the opportunity to help youth develop and enhance their communication and leadership skills. Some parents cannot believe the difference the Gavel Club has made within the lives of their children. These Gaveliers are truly amazing and could certainly give many adult Toastmasters a run for their money in speech contests if they were allowed to compete.

The Brampton Gavel Club – which meets every Saturday morning from 10:15am to 12:15pm at Fortinos Supermarket (35 Worthington Ave., Brampton) – currently has thirty-eight active members who are always eager to complete speeches, as well as learn from special guest speakers. That being said, if you have a story or lesson you want to share please feel free to reach out to me via email (see below). Even better, if you want to have a more significant impact on youth than just doing a speech, lesson, or YLP, consider starting your own Gavel Club. There is currently a dire need for a third Gavel Club in Brampton, which is evident by the fact that there are over SIXTY young people waiting to join the Brampton Gavel Club (yes, that is not a typo)! Youth deserve the gift of Toastmasters, too! If you would like more information about Gavel Clubs please feel free to read Muktha Tumkur’s, ACG, ALB, blog post “What on Earth is a Gavel Club?” or visit

Ryan Belluz, OCT, ACB, ALB
Brampton Gavel Club

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Our Principles:   Lead By Example • Work / Play as a Team

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