Tuesday, December 30, 2008


January invites us to make a new start in many aspects of our lives. As a current Toasmaster, or someone considering joining, you're encouraged to remember your personal goals and set a realistic timeline in which to move towards the success you are capable of achieving.

American poet Edith Lovejoy Pierce once said, "We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year's Day."

If you're a Stoneroad member, review your manuals, talk to your mentor or mentee and email Terri with your January plans. If you're not a member, drop in to see what we're up to.

Friday, December 19, 2008


"We is stronger than me." - Baldev Arora

It was a husband and wife duo on Dec. 15 with Baldev Arora as chairman and wife Bani presenting the Education portion of the meeting. Bani drew the members' attention to the Leadership Manual and highlighted the fact that developing leadership skills is an important aspect of the Toastmasters Program. To illustrate the leadership style the Toastmasters philosophy promotes Bani compared Authoritarian Leadership, which is focused on ego, to Team Leadership, such as Toastmasters, which is focused on Team Goals.


controls everything encourages participation
makes all decisions facilitates problem solving
discourages comm.        facilitates communication
tells people what to do persuades people to act
punishes mistakes tolerates mistakes
discourages growth helps members grow

The benefits of Team Leadership can apply to work situations as well as volunteer organizations. The efficiency and positive nature of Team Leadership increases productivity, and reduces costs. It also improves the quality of the produce or service, the work atmosphere and the company or community.

Members were encouraged to focus on meeting the goals in their Leadership Manuals and ere reminded that their responsibility as Toastmasters is to;
- attend meetings regularly
- take on roles at meetings
- bring a friend
- give a constructive evaluation
- help create a supportive environment

Monday, December 1, 2008


"There's a difference between interest and commitment. 
When you're interested in doing something, 
you do it only when circumstances permit. 
When you're committed to something 
you accept no excuses, only results." 

This inspirational quotation is attributed to Art Turock, a highly regarded motivational speaker who specializes in business issues. His insight, however, can readily be applied to Toastmasters membership.

We all joined Toastmasters for a reason, take a moment to revisit your motivation. Has it changed? Have your expectations been fully realized? Are you acting upon it? If you find that the consistency of your meeting attendance is slipping, analyze the causes. Life does get busy, other obligations demand your attention, but can you set aside some time for your personal growth?

Remind yourself what Toastmasters offers you. Recall the laughter and how the day's worries are forgotten. Review the many indicators of your skill development, and the hopes you held for further enrichment. Recall the warmth of support that permeates Toastmaster's meetings.

Check your calendar and mark in Mondays at 7:00 pm. The Stone Road Toastmasters will continue their meeting schedule, without interruption, through the holiday season. Make a New Year's resolution to fill your seat at the Toastmaster's table. 

Monday, November 24, 2008


"Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible visible." Anthony Robbins

Bani Arora presented an inspiring educational session on goal setting. She explained that goals should be:
- specific, clearly defined and precise
- measurable, so you can tell if they have been accomplished
- action oriented, focus on what you plan to do
- realistic, make sure it's achievable given the specific situation
- time bound, you need to set an exact time frame

Bani explained that once goals have been set, then next step is to make an action plan clarifying how to achieve the goals. Such a plan makes leaders future oriented. It also enables leaders to coordinate their decisions and reinforces their focus on the goals. A clear plan ensures efficient use of resources. The Planning Process involves the following steps;
1. establish strategies, who? what? when? how?
2. set a timetable
3. assign responsibilities
4. anticipate obstacles
5. modify the plan as you proceed if necessary
The session was concluded with Bani reviewing the criteria for the Distinguished Toastmasters Club Program. She reminded members of the goals our organization has been working towards and updated our progress status. For example we sought at least four new members and have attracted eight. We expect to reach the goal of two members completing their Competent Communicator's manual by spring. We also expect to have one or two complete an Advanced Communicator's manual. Our dues have been collected on time, and Terri reminded the members present to consider attending the officer training which is coming up in February.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Gestures: 50% of your message

On Nov. 17 Stone Road Toastmaster Alan Cook presented an Education session on the use of gestures. In his usual, highly entertaining manner, Alan offered some useful insights into this important aspect of public speaking. He pointed out that only 50% of communication is transmitted through words, the other 50% is the result of body language and gestures. Alan recommended that club members read their handbook titled "Gestures: Your Body Speaks", and in particular he highlighted page 23 which is a self-evaluation checklist.
Alan demonstrated that good posture not only demonstrates confidence, enthusiasm and positive energy, it also helps speaking mechanics. An upright posture allows for better breathing and smooth movement. A strong stance not only looks confident, it grounds the speaker thus helping to overcome and anxiety.
Hand gestures are essential for emphasizing a point or providing a visual representation of a concept, according to Alan. A good gesture can get the audience's attention and keep it. He explained that it is important to be more than a "talking head."
Alan did caution the group that gestures which are not conscious or controlled can be a distraction when speaking. Any hand or body movement must look natural, but be deliberately undertaken. Movements should be purposeful reported Alan. He advised club members to take a step when changing the topic of their talk, rather than randomly pacing. It was also pointed out that the size of gestures should be scaled to fit the room. Grand gestures may look appropriate in an auditorium, but seem over-the-top in a smaller venue.
Alan ended his comments by pointing out the importance of eye contact. A speaker should never stare off into space, Making, and briefly sustaining, eye contact with specific people engages the whole group.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Stone Road Toastmasters Newsletter

The Stone Road vice president of public relations, Bani Arora, proudly announced the outcome of a recent contest to name our club's upcoming newsletter. Betty-Anne Ouellette suggested the winning name "The Stone Tablet."  The selection was made by a team of non-partisan judges which included; Sue Lebrecht, past Stone Road VP-PR, Gary Jones, past area Governor and Danve Castroverde, Town & Gown members and area Table Topic Champion.
The quality and quantity of suggestions made this a difficult decision reports Arora. Honorable mention go to Alan Cook for "Stone Road Speak Easy", Jennifer Percy for "Toasty Times" and Baldev Arora for "New Bright Beginning." Members eagerly await the first publication.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


   This special training program is geared for Toastmaster Executive members and anyone who might wish to consider a leadership position in the future. It is an opportunity to discuss club challenges with colleagues from other areas, and to get new ideas to keep our club enriched. Having members take the training also scores points towards our Distinguished Club status.

When: Sat., Feb. 7, 9:00 am to noon
Where: AGFA Cheers Club, 455 Phillip St., Waterloo
Cost: $8/person, or $40/club
Light refreshments provided.

Contact: Georgina Green

Friday, November 7, 2008

Youth Leadership Program

The Stone Road Toastmasters Club sponsored its second Youth Leadership Program this fall. Linda Neff hosted the meeting at St. James High School. The activity was open to senior students, and representatives from all three of Guelph's Catholic High School attended. Shown above are (left to right) Jon DeLallo from Bishop MacDonell, Brian Cass from St. James and Emily Stewart from Our Lady of Lourdes. During this 8 week program the participants learned the roles involved in running an efficient meeting. They each presented one ice breaker speech and a second 5 minute speech. Table Topics was a very popular activity as were the education sessions presented by members of the Stone Road group. Linda was assisted by Marion Reidel, and their hope is to run a program at Lourdes for grade 9/10 students in the second semester.
Congratulations to Linda for leading this important outreach program.

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Mentor/Mentee Relationship

VP of Education, Terri Miller, has carefully reviewed the list of current members and is matching a "mentee" to each of our experienced speakers. She explained that not all Toastmaster Clubs undertake this approach, but the Stone Road group is a new and rapidly growing organization so this sort of partnership should prove useful. 

This relationship does not involve any extra meetings. It just identifies someone for new members to contact if they have questions about the various roles or procedures at Toastmaster meetings. The mentor can also assist with feedback on speech writing, or provide an opportunity to practice a presentation prior to standing up at a formal meeting. 

Terri will email members with their partner's name and contact information. Mentors are encouraged to reach out to their mentees, while mentees are advised to reflect on their goals to determine how the mentor can help.


Saturday, October 25, 2008

True SRTM Pride!!

Stone Road Toastmasters is proud of all of its members...current and past...new and old (or, should I say, "experienced")...and especially proud of the extremely supportive atmosphere that borders on a type of "family away from home" feeling.

And it is with immense pride that SRTM acknowledges a member that has recently brought attention to both herself and the club...attention not only from Guelph Toastmaster clubs, but from those in the surrounding cities as well...attention in (what I consider) one of the most flattering forms - that of stomach-clutching, tear popping, gut-rumbling LAUGHTER!

Marion has had us laughing all the way from our club, over to Area 62, and on to Division W, with her hysterically witty and insightful Humour Contest speech! A huge HIP! HIP! HOORAY!! to Marion for her wonderful and impressive accomplishments throughout these rounds of contests! A huge offer of thanks to all of our SRTM Fall 2008 Club Contest contestants and volunteers, without whom the contest could not have been held! And a huge group hug to all of those SRTM members that showed up at the Area and Division contests to cheer on Marion, our very own Humour Contest champion! (Marion shown holding her trophy in the photo above [at left] at the Area 62 contest, alongside Neelu [Chief Judge] and Glen [Area 62 Governor]).

Fellow Toastmasters, let's follow Marion's lead and keep the laughter coming!

Mina McCluskey, President
Stone Road Toastmasters

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Check out these Testimonials about Toastmasters!

(source: Toastmasters International website)

Hear from people whose lives were changed by the Toastmasters program! The following testimonials are less than 1 minute each, and are organized by topic. Click on one or more of the topics that resonate with you, and see how the speaker has benefitted in this area from the Toastmasters program (and how you could, too!):

Ned: Toastmasters Changed My Life
Erika: Evaluations Helped Me
Eduardo: Practice, Practice, Practice!
Jaya: Building Confidence
Dionne: Supportive Environment
Wendy: Overcoming Shyness
Trisha: Getting Past Fear
Collin: Self Improvement
Elizabeth: Becoming a Leader
Hannah: Personal Growth
Sheila: Work Presentations
Sarah: Impromptu Speaking

Monday, September 1, 2008

Tip of the Week: Setting Goals!

(courtesy Gary Jones, DTM, President, Grand River Toastmasters)

The Toastmaster year runs from July 1st till June 30th of each year. Each new Toastmaster year offers us the opportunity to sit down and do some thinking about what we'd like to accomplish in the coming 12 months. We can ask ourselves "What does my Toastmaster experience look like as of June 30th of the coming year"?

This is an opportunity to sit with our Mentor or another club member, establish speech goals and set other personal goals.

Ask yourself:

How many speeches will I complete by June 30th?
What roles will I commit to?
Will I organize a club event?
Will I attend other Toastmaster Club meetings?
Will I attend the Fall and / or Spring Conferences?
Will I compete in a Club contest?
Will I complete my CL manual?
Will I mentor a new Member?
Will I contribute to the Club Website?

It is possible to "Begin with the end in mind" as writer Stephen R. Covey suggests.

Once you establish these personal goals it is important to write them down. Share them with your Mentor and perhaps another club member. Submit these to the VP of Education so that the VP of Ed may schedule you as required to meet your goals.

This exercise in goal setting can be a useful system that not only enhances your Toastmaster experience but assists with goals outside of Toastmasters. If you have any questions about setting realistic achievable goals please meet with your Mentor or one of your Club Officers.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Tip of the Week: The Power of the CL Manual!

(courtesy Gary Jones, President, Grand River Toastmasters)

In July 2006 Toastmasters launched a new Manual to further enhance the Toastmaster Program. The Competent Leadership Manual is now an intricate part of the Toastmaster jourmey and should be an intricate part of each Toastmaster meeting. As you may know I have completed this manual three times and am a huge advocate of the manual!

You might ask why would someone do this manual repeatedly or perhaps why would someone do this manual at all? The answer is simple! This manual provides the glue to each meeting. It facilitates discussion between the person conducting the designated role and the person providing feedback. It engages those who may not have a role at the meeting. It ensures that the roles are being conducted effectively and that any areas of growth may be addressed.

For instance, imagine Fred is the Timer at the weekly meeting. Perhaps Fred has in the past been forgetting some aspects of this role. The person giving the feedback can use this interaction to highlight the aspects of the role that Fred did well and can offer suggestions where Fred may do the role even better In the future Fred will be able to pass on this advice to new members. The overall result is a stronger more effective weekly meeting.

Some of the projects in the manual are conducted outside the Club environment. For instance a member may want to organize a club picnic or special event. You will see in Project ten of the manual a section where this activity can be used towards completion of the CL designation.

The manual also offers a vehicle for Mentors to challenge Mentees to complete a task or role. The guidelines and content of each project in the manual provides valuable information on various aspects of Leadership The feedback questions gives precise areas to help the participant develop.

I would encourage all members new and experienced to use the manual at each meeting!

Monday, August 18, 2008

"Perspectives" - Toastmasters Tip of the Week

(courtesy Gary Jones, President, Grand River Toastmasters)

This week's Tip is.....

Building and Maintaining a Strong Club.

It has been said that it takes 6 to 8 months to get a new club up and running and 6 to 8 meetings to kill a vibrant club. Why is this?

A Toastmaster's meeting must always be a safe space to experience. This means that each participant is experiencing a role or activity that is not overwhelming or too far out of their comfort zone,

We have seen some members distance themselves from meetings and sometimes drop out due to the expectations fellow members place on them.

For instance we once had a member who joined as they wanted to build up their confidence level. They were comfortable doing timer, invocation and such roles. When performing these roles everyone who witnesses the results were blown away by how well they conducted themselves.

The group response was to encourage the person to start doing speeches and other roles as soon as possible. What they didn't know was that the person's Mentor was actively working to maintain the person in the club. They were dealing with the Fight or Flight response the person was struggling with.

This new member actually left the club as it was easier to quit than to stand upon to the group pressure to move ahead.

Let's always allow room for appropriate involvement. Let us leave the filling of roles to the VP of Education so that the dynamics of member growth can be a safe and pleasurable experience for one and all.