Archive for the ‘Member Accomplishments’ Category

Congratulations to Toast of CIBC Club!

December 5, 2013

Toast of CIBC club members have made another accomplishments in 2013 recently. Let’s join ToastMaster contest audience to applause for our club winners:

  • Aseel El-Baba: 2nd Place Winner in the Division F Table Topics Contest 2013
  • Peter Michael: 3rd Place Winner at the Division F Evaluation Speech Contest 2013
  • Ron Tsang: 2nd Place Winner in the Area 52 International Speech Contest 2013
  • Hondy Hong: 3rd Place Winner in the Area 52 International Speech Contest 2013



We Did It Again

June 16, 2010

Toast of CIBC completes another outstanding year on June 30.  Our many notable accomplishments include:

  • Two of our club members competed in Division F level speech contests in the spring:  Sheila Watson (Evaluator Contest) and Hondy Hung (International Speech Contest).
  • Once again this year, we achieved President’s Distinguished Club status, the highest level of Toastmasters club success.
  • Congratulations to those who added designations this year:
    • Competent Communicators, Anton Coetzee, Peter Lizon, Amy Xu and Arindam Maitra.
    • Competent Leaders, Sheila Watson and Robin Ji.
    • Advanced Communicator Bronze, Sheila Watson.
    • Advanced Leader Bronze, Sheila Watson.
  • Several other members are close to achieving Advanced Communicator Bronze, most notably Anton Coetzee, Victoria Barclay, and Lin Zhu.
  • In addition, we added eleven members to the club and have been very visible contributors at the Area and Division levels of Toastmasters.
  • We held our annual Social Event on May 19 at Marche Restaurant, BCE Place.  It was a highly enjoyable experience for those who attended.  Expect more such gatherings soon!
  • It is with great pleasure that we announce our current President, Sheila Watson, has been appointed Division F Governor.  In the new Toastmasters year commencing July 1, Sheila will have oversight of six Areas comprising twenty-two Clubs in downtown Toronto.  Toast of CIBC is very proud and wishes her the best of luck in the new role!
  • Why suffer boredom this summer?  Toast of CIBC will be active throughout the summer months, meeting every Thursday at 12.00, usually in the Commerce Court North Second Floor Boardroom at 25 King Street W.  Come out and see us for an uplifting hour in your week.

Election Results

May 22, 2009

Here are the results of our elections for 2009-10:

President – Sheila Watson
VP Education – Andrew Cheng
  AVP Education – Amanda Lee
  AVP Education – Thomas Chan
VP Public Relations – Anton Coetzee
  AVP Public Relations – Peter Michaels
VP Membership – Robin Ji
  AVP Membership – Brian Lovshin
Sergeant at Arms – Anna Hu
  Assistant Sergeant at Arms – Gene Wang
  Assistant Sergeant at Arms – Joyce Yuan
Secretary – Victoria Barclay
Treasurer – Michael Wang

Please join me in welcoming our new executives and we look forward to another great year in Toast of CIBC.

Hondy Hung
Outgoing President, Toast of CIBC

Interview with a “Solar-Powered” Champion

April 29, 2009

Victoria Barclay: Peter, congratulations on winning first at our Club level and then the Area International Speech Contest for 2008-09! You will go on to the Division contest March 23rd. How many Toastmasters contests have you participated in since the day you joined?

Peter Lizon: I have participated in a few at the club level but in every one I played a different role. I was an evaluation contestant, a chair and a judge. There are so many different opportunities and experiences available during contests!

It was my first time at an Area or Division contest. The Division contest was an amazing experience. I think I may be at risk of becoming addicted.

VB: Take us back, please, to the very first Toastmasters meeting that you attended. What do you remember about it?

PL: I remember being sold on Toastmasters by a few people over 3 or 4 years before joining so I was excited to find out what it was really like. I always imagined there would be some sort of drinking and toasting involved but instead there was a rather formal meeting. I remember a feeling of awe and inspiration in seeing how professionally the meeting was run and how eloquent the speakers were.

VB: What was it like, giving your icebreaker speech? I recall it had a lot to do with the solar energy car—yet another “contest” you became familiar with…

PL: I can’t really remember my icebreaker speech anymore but I’m sure I did mention the solar car. That contest was an experience to remember for the rest of my life!

VB: Tell us a little about the Solar Car project—that’s a side of Peter that we don’t know much about at our Club.

PL: Two years on a project, working alongside a team of over 100 individuals, anywhere from 20 to 30 hours a week on top of an insane engineering schedule. And it all came down to two weeks of racing against a field of other North American engineering schools. The race was a fantastic road trip along historic route 66, from Chicago to Los Angeles. I’ll have to present the photographs from the trip one day as a speech. People always mention to students that school is not as challenging as a real job but in this case it is the opposite. I have yet to come across a job or an assignment that has provided such an intense experience, testing a team of individuals in all aspects: emotionally, spiritually, physically and mentally. The solar car race has now been downgraded to a line or two on my résumé. Employers most often write it off as some student project. I hope to experience something like it in my professional life.

VB: What made you decide to join Toastmasters, and how has your Toastmasters experience met up with expectations? Did you have any inkling that you would become a speaking champion for our Club?

PL: I found that presentations, whether for work or for school, took a long time to prepare for. I also found that there were a few people delivering presentations who seemed to be able to do so quickly and smoothly. I discovered their secret – Toastmasters!

My experience has been an interesting one. I remember being very ambitious when I started the club but have now somehow managed to drastically extend the period between my speeches. This contest experience has been somewhat an awakening from the slumber, a jolt of electricity. I plan on finishing the last few speeches in the next few months. As for being a speaking champion for the Club, I think there’s a lot left to learn before I can consider myself anywhere close to a champ.

VB: I met you a few days before you delivered this year’s International speech and you mentioned you had been watching some great speeches on video. What video was this, and what speeches were most thought-provoking to you?

PL: The videos were: Magic Moments; DVD 1: Clips – 1990-2000 World Championship of Public Speaking Finalists (19 speakers); and DVD 2: Clips – 2001-2003 World Championship of Public Speaking Finalists.

I borrowed these videos from our own Club library. It’s a tremendous resource. David Brooks is the host and he deconstructs winning speeches and points out what it takes to write and deliver that winning speech. I highly recommend the series to all our club members. I don’t think there was one single speech that was the one that I could say was thought-provoking. By seeing a series of fantastic speeches your mind begins to see what makes them fantastic and your heart begins to feel inspiration.

VB: When you plan your contest speech, how does it normally go: do you start with the main message you want to get across, and then decide how to back it up with story, or do you begin with a couple of anecdotes in mind and try to draw a moral or conclusion from them?

PL: I tried to follow something resembling a speech development process initially but that didn’t really work. I think you can do that only if you have been writing speeches for a long time. I brainstormed speech ideas, ideas that were relevant to me that I could speak passionately about. Then I pruned the ideas down to ones that I thought would be most relevant to the audience. I did have some anecdotes in mind once I narrowed the topic and then tried to connect them into a story. At this point, the speech was still a work in progress even though it was delivered at our club level.

The real polishing began afterwards. This stage took hours and hours of sitting down with a number of invaluable mentors like Hondy Hung and Jacqueline Ryl, reworking the structure and word choices, rehearsing gestures. Practice practice practice! A speech definitely gets worse the more you practice it, but then it gets better. A lot better!

VB: I recall sitting beside you at our Club contest and thinking how calm you seemed. Do you “go into a zone” before you speak competitively? After all, a speech can be rather intricate and hard to remember the exact phrasing under pressure.

PL: Calm? No I was definitely not calm. Someone once told me that no matter how much you practice and how many speeches you have delivered you will never be calm. It’s all about somehow controlling your nervousness, channeling that energy productively.

I learned a trick from my scuba diving experience. I used to suck down a tank of air within 40 minutes tops. A dive master once taught me that if I calm myself completely right before I dive under water my tank will last longer and my experience will be more rewarding. I find the same lesson applicable to a speech. Always calm yourself before the big presentation, take a few deep breaths, visualize the audience smiling and nodding.

VB: What is your advice for members who are thinking about competing in speech contests?

PL: Sign up and do it. Don’t think too much about it. They are a rare but very valuable opportunity. Your speech doesn’t have to perfect right off the bat. If you win a round then perhaps your speech is good and you can work hard to make it better. Think of it as an iterative process – the higher you go in the contests the more you should work on your speech.

An Interview With Sheila Watson, Toast of CIBC Member and VP Membership, Winner of Area 52 Table Topic Speech Contest

December 1, 2008

TM: Hi Sheila, first of all congratulations on your fantastic results. How does it feel to have competed in three, ever more challenging, contests, climbing the Toastmasters contest ladder?

SW: I feel grateful and more confident. This was an honour I had not expected. I did not realize I could speak well enough to win contests.

TM: Do you have any words of wisdom for Toastmasters that are thinking of competing in a contest for the very first time?

SW: Believe in yourself. You can do much more than you ever dreamed possible. All you need to do is step forward in trust and concentrated effort.

TM: The table topics contest is one that is very difficult to prepare for. Did you do any sort of preparation, both long term and short term, before the contest?

SW: My long term preparation has been my years of Toastmasters experience, as well as extemporaneous speaking at my church. My short term preparation happens in the seconds before I receive the topic. I remind myself to be confident, clear, and centered within myself, and to speak loudly enough.

TM: How is the Area contest different from the Club contest? What about the Division contest?

SW: At the Club contest I knew everyone in the room and experienced very little nervousness. At the Area and Division level contests, I was grateful for the kindness of the contest officials. Their support helped me feel at ease. Also, the contest facilities were different in each case. The Division contest was held in a large room, which made it more challenging to feel in charge of the room.

TM: Can you describe what goes on in your mind in the 5-10 seconds you have to plan your 2 minute table topic speech?

SW: I focus on the topic, not on whether I will win. I am primarily a visual thinker, so if I can see a picture of the topic in my mind I can run with that picture very easily. It is like a movie playing in my head as I speak. If the topic does not lend itself to an image, I revert to my thought process and what I know about the subject at hand.

TM: Any concluding remarks?

SW: Toastmasters has given me so much over the years, in confidence and speaking skills. Being able to fully gather one’s thoughts and express them coherently to others is a source of true inner power and can bring wonderful success in life.

TM: Thank you Sheila, and congratulations again.

An Interview With Pradeep Din, Toast of CIBC Member, Winner of Humorous Speech Contest, Runner Up of Area 52 Contest

December 1, 2008


TM: Hello Pradeep, first of all congratulations on your fantastic results and your hilarious speech. We all laughed until our abdominals hurt listening to your speech. How did you come up with such an intoxicating story?

PD: There is an element of luck involved. I just happened to stumble upon a subject that turned out to have enough material to make it viable. There is something cute and comical about the fixations of a teenage girl, and my daughter is a perfect example. I find her funny. I didn’t really have to look far for material. I came up with the title first. The title ‘My Teenage Daughter’ has a comical ring to it, and it suggested the kind of voice I should use. Also, the rhythm suggested the kind of words I should use. The rest of it followed from this.

TM: Can you describe the process of writing a humorous speech? Does it start out funny from its initial draft or did you have to go back and  sprinkle a good dose of laughs?

PD: I wrote several drafts before I was satisfied. I saved each draft in case I wanted to incorporate some aspects of an earlier version.I wrote five drafts in total. The revisions were made after reading them out, either aloud or in my mind. I also had to make sure the speech was within the time constraints of greater than 4.5 minutes and less than 7.5 minutes.I set myself seven rules to follow:
1.Read the speech several times after writing it. Each reading will suggest new things to add, subtract, or modify.
2. Use simple words and keep sentences short. You don’t want to lose your audience with big words and lengthy sentences. There should be a rhythmic quality to the sentences.
3. There are many aspects of humour that are demographic and culture-dependent, but fortunately there are also many aspects that are independent of these. You need to focus on the latter and get a sense of your audience. There are certain things it is safer to avoid. I tried to avoid being risqué, or making any ethnic or religious references.
4. Emphasize the ridiculous. Nothing could be more ridiculous or incongruous than me trying to act like a rapper, or that Fifty Cent could be my future son-in-law!
5. Once you are satisfied with the speech, memorize it to the point where it becomes internalized. It should become a part of you. At this stage, you should be able to ad lib without losing your train of thought.
6. Gauge the audience you are dealing with and adjust the speech and timing of delivery according to the reaction that you receive.
7. Just enjoy the experience and have fun with the speech. If the audience feels that you are having fun, they too will probably have fun. A relaxed atmosphere is important for humour.

TM: Delivery is a critical component of a humorous speech. Do you have any  words of advice for Toastmasters wishing to improve their humorous speech delivery abilities?

PD: I agree with you 100%. Without the proper delivery, the wittiest speech will fall flat on its face. Silence at the right time and for the right duration can make or break a speech – too little and you’re rushing it; too much and it appears that you don’t know what to say next! You get a feeling about these things when you stand in front of an audience. You feel a connection with them. Pay close attention to audience reaction.

TM: Did you test your speech out before delivering it at the club contest?

PD: No I didn’t. I did it in front of the mirror while shaving, or in the shower, or driving to the station. I looked even more stupid than I normally do! I didn’t dare test it out in front of my daughter. I would have found her comments discouraging!

TM: Were you expecting the reaction you got from the audience?

PD: Not at all! I was pleasantly surprised. The audience reaction helped me to tune into what worked well and made me emphasize those aspects. It also gave me a lot of confidence which helped overcome any nervousness.

TM: Do you have any words of wisdom for Toastmasters that are thinking of  competing in a contest for the very first time?

PD: Yes. Just do it. Jump right in. No matter what happens you will have learned something useful from the experience. You’re better of having done it than not having done it. Don’t focus on the competitive aspect. I honestly didn’t care about that. I just wanted to have a good time.

TM: Any concluding remarks?

PD: This was my first speech. My ‘ice-breaker’ speech. I think that this one really broke the ice! I would like to thank Toast of CIBC for giving me the opportunity to do this.

TM: Yes, a very memorable ice breaker indeed. Thank you Pradeep, and congratulations again.

Review of Distinguished Club President Goals

November 13, 2008




2 CC completed

Thamay Chellathurai – July 2008


2 more CC completed


1 AC completed


1 more AC completed


Complete CL, AL, or DTM


Complete one more CL, AL, or DTM


4 new members



4 more new members



Officer training for 4 officers – in each of two terms

Fall term training ACHIEVED.


Club renewals and officers

38 renewals

Thamay Receives CTM

September 10, 2008

Written by Victoria Barclay

Toast of CIBC applauds its first Competent Toastmaster awardee, Thamay Chellathurai, for fiscal year 2008-09! 

Thamay joined us in November 2005 and delivered her Icebreaker a scant two weeks later.  She was so enthusiastic that her speech manual had not yet arrived.  As she recalls, “My whole speech was about the mathematician in the movie A Beautiful Mind because I did not even know the first speech was supposed to be more about myself and background.”

In a way, though, Thamay had introduced herself, because mathematics is near and dear to her heart, and she had begun the first of a series of highly informative speeches.  As Club members listened to Thamay’s speeches over the succeeding months, we realized this was someone with a true passion to educate.  Cloning, hedging, GM foods, globalization—even the benefits of garlic—are among the topics Thamay has chosen.  “I try to cover the goals for each speech in the series, she says, “and go one step more by choosing a topic the audience might not know much about.”

She recalls the comments given by her first assigned evaluator, Michael Wang.  “I was good at sharing technical information, but he recommended that I work on the stories and narrative side.”  She took the advice to heart, winding up her CTM with inspirational speeches on perseverance (CC-9) and Terry Fox (CC-10).  At Toastmasters we observe time and again how a personal story can breathe life into factual material.  “It was a challenge for me, not just because of the language barrier, but there I was, up at the front with no Powerpoint slides or engineering diagrams.”  She remembers how encouraging the applause felt that first time. 

The most difficult speech to do, she recalls, was on globalization.  “Heavy research,” she says, noting that one of the goals of CC-4 was to communicate ideas vividly without jargon.  The most interesting topics, she reports, were cloning (CC-6)  and hedging (CC-7).  “But the speech that challenged me most as a speaker was on the power of perseverance.”  That speech, at the CC-9 level, requires the speaker to “persuade with power.”

 Thamay’s skills have deepened, not just in delivering prepared speeches.  She has been a stalwart contributor to the Club, fulfilling all meeting roles at one time or another, including head Toastmaster, General Evaluator, and Chief Judge.  She has not been afraid to stretch herself, either.  Who can forget her hilarious “marriage proposal” to Bill during one inspired Table Topics session? 

Thamay will be furthering her education as Toastmaster as she embarks on the Advanced Communicator Leadership (ACL) program, beginning with delivery of a keynote address.  She also believes in giving back to the Club, and this year was voted in as AVP Education where she will be doing a lot of scheduling and otherwise helping other members to achieve their goals.  At the moment, she is organizing the Humorous Speech Contest in October.  Won’t you join in the applause?