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2015-02-10 Table Topics Contest

Today, we held our Table Topics contest, organized and led by our very enthusiastic and capable VIce President of Education, Firoozeh, pictured below on the left with our Club President, Jill.

Erin served as Chief Judge.

Erik is a member and also serves as Area 21 Governor.

Here are our fabulous contestants, left to right: Leo (2nd place winner), Jill (1st place winner), Rachael (winner), and Jyothi (winner). Well done everyone!

If you wonder why everyone is a "winner," it is because we sincerely believe that the contest is not about competing "against" anyone, but about competing "with" others to bring out the best in all. That way, we are all winners.

Details of the Contest

by Firoozeh

Message Masters Table Topics contest

11:45. All judges, officials and contestants were in our meeting room, all except for Leonardo, one of the contestants.

The Chief Judge, Erin, was briefing the three judges, ballot counter and timer. Two of the Judges were from other clubs. Rana served as both Timer and Ballot Counter. Erin handed out the judge’s guide and ballot, timer record sheet and counter tally sheet. She had all the eligibility forms ready.

Firoozeh, the Contest Chair, was eyeing the clock. It was 11:50. Leonardo hadn’t showed up, but the show must go on, so she started briefing of Sergeant at Arms, Fedra, and the other contestants. The briefing included drawing lots for speaking order: 1- Rachael 2- Jyothi 3- Leonardo and 4- Jill

It was 11:58. All briefings were finished. Fedra stepped to the lectern and with a warm smile announced, “I’ll hit the gavel at 12:00 sharp.”

11:59. Suddenly the door knob slowly turned. LEONARDO! Fedra rapped the gavel to open the Message Masters 2015 Table Topics contest. She welcomed everybody and introduced the Contest Chair, Firoozeh.

The contest continued by welcoming our Area 21 Governor, Erik Borgersen, and other participants. Then she emphasized the importance of impromptu speaking skills. Erin described the judging criteria. At 12:13, Fedra escorted all the contestants except Rachael to the corridor. Rachael remained at the back of the room. As Firoozeh called her name and read the topic, Fedra also showed Rachael a printed copy of it:

“Nowadays, are children as respectful as they were when you were 15 years old? Why?”

Rachael proceeded to the front of the room and presented her response. The procedure repeated in the same way for Jyothi, Leo and Jill.

Once the judges finished completing their ballots, Rana and Erin collected them and left the room to count the score. Meanwhile, Firoozeh invited the contestants for an interview.

Jyothi spoke about her favourite quotation from Albert Einstein, “There are only two ways to lead your life: one as though everything in life is miracle and other as if nothing in life is a miracle.” Jyothi said she believes in miracles and shared her story of starting work in the Government of Canada as a new immigrant.

Jill said she always looks at everything from a positive perspective. She shared her recent experience about a competition for a promotion at work. For unknown reasons, they cancelled the exam and obviously the results. Although she was among the successful candidates, she looked at it in a positive way. Now she continues to prepare for the next exam.

Rachael described how great ideas that she reads or hears inspire her. Firoozeh added that one of Rachael’s speeches inspired her.

Leonardo described a Latin quote, “Verba volant, scripta manent,” which means “spoken words fly away, but what is written stays.” He said he really believes in this quote. He added we might say many things, but until they are on paper, they can’t be taken seriously.

The contestants each received a Certificate of Participation as a memento of the contest. Rana and Erin returned to the room. Firoozeh announced the results:

Second place winner: Leonardo
First place winner: Jill!

We cheered the winners. We believe everyone is a winner, just for participating, as a contestant, as a contest official, or taking it all in as a member of the audience.

The contest was a success for the whole club. We worked as a team to make it happen, so we’re also winners of each other in this fine team. We gave ourselves a cheer and closed the meeting with taking photos.



Meeting: 2014-11-04

Firoozeh called meeting to order and introduced our Toastmaster, Craig on time. 

Craig welcomed members and guests. He also reminded that due to Remembrance day (November 11) and library closure, Message Masters wouldn’t have any meeting for the next week. The meeting continued with Erik who presented “remembrance” as Word of the Day. Then Craig smoothly moved to the evaluator of the first speech, Natasha.

Natasha introduced Jill and presented her speech objectives. After that Craig awarded Jill a trophy (a puppy) for her unconditional love to dogs. She received this award as part of her project number 4 on Advanced Communication manual in which she was to give an award to someone and she creatively awarded herself. Jill used projector as visual aid to tell an amazing story about her vacation in a peaceful island. The story was about homeless dogs. A charitable organization near the hotel finds homeless dogs, vaccinates them, and takes care of them. They also facilitate adoption and air travel of the dogs to their new homes. It was an engaging story and everybody admired her for...  adopting one of the dogs.

She received feedback around the use of visual aid. Craig suggested she look at the laptop, not the projection screen. She was also asked what this award meant to her.

The next speech was Sylvain’s first project. He had a very engaging Ice Breaker.  He used a Japanese fan as a prop and didn’t use any notes, which was fantastic. In five minutes and forty seconds he summarized his life at home, his work, and ended up with his decision to join Toastmasters.

The feedback he received was very encouraging. People liked his hand gestures and the good mix of his speech which gave the audience a clear image about him as Sylvain. Members cheered him on his first speech and Rana gave him an Ice Breaker ribbon.

Our General Evaluator, Percita, was happy to see everything was set up before the meeting. She also said that word of the day was appropriate and visual aids were very helpful.

At the end of the meeting, Coach Craig gave the opportunity for one of the guests, who would be a contestant in the District Evaluation Contest, to practice by evaluating Jill’s speech. Good time for more practice!

Craig asked the guests about their feedback and they evaluated Message Masters a friendly and welcoming club.


Jill announced that we would have a celebration for Message Masters's 20th anniversary in December. HAPPY ANNIVERSARY MESSAGE MASTERS!!



Meeting 2014-10-28

Pranav hit the gavel sharp at 12:00 and started the meeting wby introducing courageous Sylvain as Toastmaster. 

Sylvain welcomed the members and asked our Grammarian, Craig, to present Word of The Day. Craig presented  “reminisce”  which means  indulge in enjoyable recollection of past events and its noun form “reminiscence” means a story told about a past event remembered by the narrator. Craig presented this example; “Craig likes to reminisce about the early years of Message Masters, when we didn’t know what we were doing.”

Then Sylvain introduced Rana as Table Topics Master. Rana just returned from GTEC 2014, which is the largest annual event for the Canadian Government Technology. She talked about the atmosphere and presentation of private and public IT people in the event. She beautifully used this introduction to present a slide show and asked for volunteers to speak about the images. The images were pictures from movies like Titanic, Mrs.Doubtfire, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Rocky, Jurassic Park, and also a picture of an old man and woman. Natasha, Craig, Firoozeh, Sylvain, and Pranav spoke about the slides. They could all successfully accomplish off-the-cuff speech goal. 

We moved on to the next part of the meeting when Sylvain introduced Rachael as the speaker. Rachael’s speech title was “hustling for good health”. She had chosen health topic for her project number seven from Competent Communication manual which is “research your topic”. She started her speech with a creative idea. She played a rhythmic music that students in the 90s were used to do morning exercise. She asked us to do the exercise and it helped us to make a connection with her topic. She could easily engage the audience and gave us concrete reasons for the positive impacts of exercise on our health and longevity. She delivered a well-organized presentation with good use of music and movements. All the audience enjoyed her presentation. 

Erik as General Evaluator asked for Timer, Ah Counter and Grammarians’ reports. Craig as Grammarian gave a detailed report, which demonstrates his eloquence and attention to details. We all learned that for consistency in our communications, use "may" for permission and "might" for probability. Using "may" for probability creates an inconsistency that forces the listener or reader to think back to determine the intended meaning.


At the end of the meeting all members were encouraged to participate in the Toastmasters District 61 Fall Conference. It’s the social side of Toastmasters where you’ll meet Toastmasters from other clubs. You will also hear the best of the best of keynote speakers.



Meeting 2014-10-21

Lorraine stood behind the lectern as Sergeant at Arms at 12:00 and introduced Jill as our Toastmaster.
Jill was very well-prepared for the meeting. She had a surprise for the club. She made a delicious cake to celebrate 90th anniversary of Toastmasters Clubs. We sang happy birthday and Rana and Fedra blew the candles. She also prepared several questions as a quiz, which she asked during the meeting and surprisingly received correct answers to all the questions.

Erik was cheered for his new role in his Toastmaster experience as the Governor of Area 21. Janice announced “cohesion” as word of the day. Cohesion in form of noun means “the action or fact of forming a united whole” and in adjective form “cohesive” means characterized by or causing cohesion.

Then the meeting was followed up with two amazing speeches.

Jill called Pranav as the first speaker. Pranav presented his first speech; the Ice Breaker. His presentation title was “The World Citizen”. He could easily engage the audience and introduced himself very effectively. He didn’t use any notes and smoothly went through different stages of his life.  Members cheered him on his first speech and Jill gave him Ice Breaker Ribbon.  The only suggestion that he received in order to improve his speech was using humor.

Leonardo was the second speaker. He presented project number 8 from Competent Communication manual. The title of his speech was “The First Woman of My Life”. He took advantage of a laptop as visual aid to run a slideshow. He spoke about his mother and her passion of cooking, love of family and joy of life. He could successfully portray his mother during her one-month stay in Canada with Leo, his wife and two kids. His sense of humor, passion for subject, body language and on time pauses engaged the audience. He handed out several copies of an Italian Pasta recipe which disappeared in a twinkle of an eye.

He received some feedback from members about slideshow. They said that they couldn’t follow slideshow due to high speed and invisibility from distance. Rana announced that the club has a projector for presentations which will be provided upon members’ request before the meeting.

Our General Evaluator, Rachael, was happy to see all the members present in the meeting and admired their huge turnout. She praised Jill for handling a cheerful meeting and appointing Lorraine as Sergeant at Arms due to last second change in the agenda. She also evaluated Erik and Fedra’s feedback very positive.
Despite of busy schedule, meeting finished on time.

Jill announced that Erik has been chosen as the Area 21 Governor. Congratulations Erik!



Meeting 2014-10-14

Our Sergeant at Arms, Craig started the meeting on time and introduced our Toastmaster, Firoozeh.

Firoozeh talked about some changes to the agenda and replacing one of the speeches with Table Topics.  She assigned the role of Timer to the brave volunteer, Pranav.

We were fortunate to have two guests: Erin and Martine.  Erin was a former member of the club and she is very excited to return.  Welcome back Erin!  Martine is the wife of one of our members, Craig Senior.

It was fantastic that Jyothi took her first role as Ah Counter on her first day in the Message Masters club. Lorraine our Grammarian introduced “grandiloquence” as the Word of the Day. Grandilouquence means a lofty, extravagantly colourful, pompous, or bombastic style, manner, or quality especially in language.

As Table Topics Master, Rana, spoke about her nice experience in last Friday's Area 21 Evaluation contest. She won the contest, which was jointly held by Area 21 and Area 24. Congratulations Rana!!

Rana’s Table Topics theme was inspired by one of the Toastmasters in the Humorous contest. She asked about a previous experience with a pet, a time that we were asked to do something but we didn’t want to, and what we would do if we meet a celebrity or a famous person.

Our guests were very active, responding to the questions. Erin shared with us her nice experience in a student club in Los Angeles and meeting three celebrities, two of which were comedians. Martine also took us to her childhood and challenges for taking care of her duck and finally giving to a farmer. Sylvain also talked about the time that he accepted something that he wasn’t willing to.

The meeting continued with a fantastic presentation by Percita. She did her project number six from Competent Communicator manual. She talked about her family tree. She described genealogy as the second hobby in the United States and mentioned that curiosity is the most important reason for this interest. She used different tools and ways to collecting the information about her ancestors. She demonstrated the difficult, but possible process of finding her roots. She showed us her grandparents wedding photo which helped us to make much better connection with her speech. Her speech Evaluator, Craig, praised her effort and also organization of her speech and when he asked who is interested in family tree. Everybody raised his/her hand.  She received some feedback like choosing a title for her speech and also describing the handouts.

Our General Evaluator, Erik, reviewed the meeting and gave wonderful comments to participants. He asked Toastmaster to introduce a theme for the meeting like Thanksgiving or Senators Hockey games.
He evaluated Rana’s Table Topic very interesting and amusing.

The meeting was adjourned five minutes ahead of time.


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