Community Connection with Public Speaking

Public speaking is all about connection, and that’s hard enough when your audience is right there in front of you. It’s crazily more difficult when they’re also online, as the pandemic taught us all.

Vancore Toastmasters — and many other clubs — are now experimenting with hybrid meetings. This means you can attend in person and you can attend virtually.

The extra convenience for members amounts to a big challenge for presenters.

Club president, Jonathan Buchanan, faced the conundrum head-on.

Jonathan made “connection,” with each and every listener, both in the room and “out there in vacuum-land” (as the late-night deejays used to say) his primary goal. He was going to try like heck to make every single attendee feel he was talking to them alone.

Making up the Vancore Community were twelve members and guests, six live in the Van Cave and six scrubbing in from cyberspace (including a couple from out-of-country: California and Texas). 

As Jonathan spoke, he made eye contact with everyone in the room. He glanced at his notes. He looked deep into the eyes of the Owl, which stared unblinking back at him from the middle of the table. The Owl (a camera/microphone thingee) transmitted him into the craniums of the folks in the metaverse. Somehow, he pulled it off. That’s why he’s the club prez.

Folks, this is the future. Hybrid meetings are what we’re increasingly going to be dealing with as more and more people work from home.

Would we all prefer to speak in front of live humanoids? Absolutely.

But will the challenge of having to try to dial in to everyone, live and online, make us better presenters?

Absolutely. It’s the future of what Community Connection will look like.

** COME AND EXPERIENCE HYBRID MEETINGS! **

You are invited to join our friendly community EVERY WEDNESDAY at 3:30 PM PDT

Your choice to attend either ONLINE OR IN-PERSON! Guests are always welcome!

Sign up here for details and weekly notifications.

Upgrade your communication skills, elevate your career and life! Will you join us?

www.vancoretoastmasters.com

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Should You Attend Hybrid Meeting Virtually or In-Person?

Hybrid meetings are a post-Covid innovation that’s clearly here to stay. Show up in person or tune in from home in your pajamas. Always good to have options!

Vancore has been experimenting with hybrid meetings for a few weeks now, so it’s time for a comparison.

The virtual experience is pretty solid. It’s certainly convenient. For some it’s the only choice —we have Vancore members scrubbing in from as far afield as California and Mexico.

The Van Cave has a pretty sweet AV setup: movie-quality sound and a great big screen on the wall beaming in members’ smiling faces. So it definitely feels like the Zoom folk are part of the meeting.

In the live room there’s a smart camera called The Owl that sits in the centre of the table and follows speakers, a little unnervingly, when they speak.

Unique to Vancore – Meet Owl!

Hoo are you? At Vancore, we know! Vancore Toastmasters is the only we club we know of that uses Owl, a conference video camera that zooms in (yes, pun intended) on whoever is speaking, regardless of where they’re sitting.

With Owl, we can see whomever is in person and online. And when attending a Vancore meeting in person, you’ll get valuable experience on how to conduct hybrid meetings!

The online “remote” experience gives you a good taste of what’s happening in the live room — the Van Cave, our lair at 889 Pender Street in downtown Vancouver.

That said, there’s nothing like attending a Toastmasters meeting live. Seeing the “whites of their eyes” across the room. The projecting your voice to the back of the room. The wondering what to do with your hands. These are valuable communication skills we get comfortable with practice over time.


I choose to attend in person meetings as it simply cannot be replicated on a Zoom call. Gestures, energy, tone and more get lost online. Some people turn their cameras off, which is akin to hiding, in my opinion.

Vanessa, Vancore Member

The verdict? Both live and remote attendance work. But please come in the flesh if you can. Human communication works best when we’re staring at each other across the primitive fire — or at least the boardroom table.

Will you join us?

Elevate your communication skills; upgrade your relationships and career!

Only 2 Summer In-Person Meeting Dates: JULY 6TH AND AUGUST 10TH.

We hope to resume weekly in-person meetings in September.

The rest of the summer, join our friendly group EVERY WEDNESDAY ONLINE at 3:30 PM PDT!

Guests are always welcome!

Be sure to Sign up here for access and notifications.

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How We Grow and Expand With The Seasons

Spring is a time for renewal, growth, and expansion.  We have that extra energy and focus to get active, take action, and create change.  

We are fortunate to lean on the Toastmasters platform of support and education system to help us grow and expand into the next level of our personal and professional lives.

Vancore’s final meeting of this Spring season was – to borrow the word of the day – congruent with that theme.

This was the first Vancore meeting hosted from what is called the Inland Empire – as Nidia as chair welcomed us warmly out of “Raincouver” into the California sun.

Deb gave an eye-opening presentation, part 2 of her emotional eating series, on why we get food cravings and how to get beyond it.

Quentin led us down a path of consultation hearings for Table Topics where each participant was given a Yes or No side to argue the merits of dockside sulfur pyramids, drinking in parks and standardized entrance tests for university.

Speeches were passionate, and at the end of the day, everyone felt good about their moment in the sun.

As we enter Summer next week at our June 22nd meeting, we will be welcoming the season and guests with our usual warm, easy, laid-back vibes.

Vancore is always active and evolving with the seasons. It is time to announce the new executive, continue our journeys on Pathways and connect every Wednesday afternoon.

This is a great time to envision possibilities for ourselves, and to use our skills and talents to reach new levels of achievement, success and happiness.

Will you join us?

Elevate your communication skills and upgrade your relationships and career!

WEEKLY HYBRID MEETINGS

Join our friendly group EVERY WEDNESDAY at 3:30 PM PDT!

Your choice to attend online or in-person! Guests are always welcome!

Be sure to Sign up here for access and notifications.

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Impromptu Speaking Helps You Grow

“Sometimes I’ll start a sentence and I don’t even know where it’s going. I just hope I find it along the way.”                                           

— Michael Scott, The Office.

Now you know why the head of Dunder Mifflin paper company is such a captivating public speaker. He knows the power of making it up on the fly.

There was a lot of Michael Scott-style improvising going on at last week’s meeting of Vancore.

Multiple people jumped in to fill empty roles.

Vanessa took on the role of chair.

Bruce filled the empty speaking roster with an off-the-cuff speech.

Quentin appointed himself grammarian. And chose a word of the day that perfectly fit the spirit of the meeting:

 “Impromptu.”

Without preparation; extemporaneous.

From the Latin in promptu, a promere,  meaning “in readiness” or “at hand.” 

Why is impromptu speaking important?

We will feel more confident at work, when put on the spot by our boss or a colleague with a difficult question. We can up your game and start inspiring the people around us. We will also feel more comfortable just having a conversation with a friend or a chat with a stranger we’ve just met. We will gain the respect of others.

Sometimes we need to do things impromptu. What we lose in polish, we often make up for in energy.

Impromptu speaking has a bit of danger to it – a swinging-vine-to-vine, live-in-the-moment quality!

And that, ultimately, is the only way we grow.

Are you ready to improve your communication skills and upgrade your relationships and career?

Join our friendly group EVERY WEDNESDAY at 3:30 PM PDT!

Weekly Hybrid Meetings! Guests are always welcome!

Be sure to Sign up here for access and notifications.

Join our WEEKLY in-person meetings starting May 18th!

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Stepping Into the Future with Hybrid

The Covid era taught us something about the future of meetings: they’re going to be hybrid — part live, part online. Some folks will be there in the flesh, and some won’t.

Last week Vancore stepped into that future, with our first hybrid meeting.

The Vibe

For the folks tuning in remotely, the vibe was like a space mission. The half-dozen members and guests gathered around the table in a downtown Vancouver boardroom were the astronauts. Deb, the meeting chair, Zooming in from home, was flight director at Mission Control.

For the folks in that room, the vibe was one of … relief. It was good to be back public speaking the old-fashioned way: eyeball to eyeball. Some members had never met each other in person. There were handshakes and a few hugs. The camaraderie was so strong even the folks at home could pick it up.

Three speeches.

A lively Table Topics session.

An evaluative shootaround.

Just Like Old Times!

The Verdict on Hybrid Meetings

This is gonna work. Even a couple of years ago the technology wouldn’t have been capable of delivering a friendly experience to both sides. But now it is.

On the live side, a robotic camera called The Owl detects who is speaking and swivels its head to focus on them. On the remote side, the Zoom interface folds in smoothly. Everyone speaking is heard, everyone watching is seen.

It’s going to take a little more rigour to run the hybrid meetings — especially as attendance climbs.

But if this week’s performance is any indication, Vancore is up to it!

Are you ready to improve your communication skills to upgrade your relationships and career?

Join our friendly group EVERY WEDNESDAY at 3:30 PM PDT!

Guests are always welcome!

Be sure to Sign up here for access and notifications.

Hybrid Meeting: April 21, 2022

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Icebreaker: What Great Stories are About

Great stories are all about the “telling detail,” a specific little observation or description or scrap of dialogue that SELLS it.

Lori gave her icebreaker speech at the last meeting. Around 20 years ago, Lori told us, she found herself financially strapped. Struggling to pay the mortgage. She needed a plan.

She decided to take in some foreign students. They could stay in the spare bedrooms. In exchange she’d cook for them and provide conversation.

And so the students started coming: from Brazil, Mexico, eastern Europe.

There was Andres from Columbia, who couldn’t get warm for two weeks. There were the Japanese teen girls who liked Lori’s cooking, except for the rice. “My mother can tell how many times the rice has been washed just by tasting it,” one said. They went out together and bought a rice cooker.

There was Joe from Bulgaria, whose English was … an adventure. “I sleep naked,” he told Lori one day. Or at least that’s what he THOUGHT he said.

What he’d actually said was, “I sleep with a snake.” Somehow, this got out. Joe sleeps with a snake. At school, other students — and even some teachers — pulled him aside. “Is it true, Joe? You sleep with a snake?”

The student boarders who passed through Lori’s life, many of them are still IN her life. They send flowers, they call, they visit.

This idea that started as a mortgage-helper ended up one of the most profoundly meaningful things Lori has ever done.

Her icebreaker was a public service message: open your doors.

And also a reminder that the best stories are all about the telling detail.

Sharing our lives with others, whether through experiences or sharing our stories, is the path to bliss in connecting with others. When we communicate effectively, we build credibility at work and trusted relationships in our families and social circles. And that’s why we think Toastmasters is the best personal development program!

Want to build your speaking and presentation skills?

Join us every Wednesday at 3:30 PM PDT!

Our Wednesday meeting is moved to Third Thursday on April 21st, You have a choice to attend online or in-person at our downtown Vancouver venue.

GUESTS ARE ALWAYS WELCOME!

We welcome you to our upcoming HYBRID MEETING on April 21st!

Be sure to Sign up here for access and notifications.

To attend in-person, RSVP to guests@vancoretoastmasters.com

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Sharing Stories: A World Journey Icebreaker

“At the end of every road you meet yourself.” So said the playwright S.N. Behrman.

Fortunately, introductions also come at the BEGINNING of the road.

In Toastmasters we call it the Icebreaker. And it’s one of the best part of the Toastmasters education program as we take the first step in building our speaking confidence.

The Icebreaker is your first speech on your public speaking journey. For five-to-seven, members speak about the one subject about which they are the absolute, uncontested world-wide authority: themselves. We are treated to an interesting story and we get to know the person behind the speaker.

This week, Quentin, one of Vancore’s newest members, regaled us with the tale of his own life journey, from Paris to Vancouver. “I’ve spent an awful lot of time in libraries,” he said, and backed it up with the visual evidence: there he was, looking studious, in the exquisite reading room of a beautiful French university.

(Note: Take selfies: you never know when you’re going to be called on to give an icebreaker speech.)

Flash forward to the next stop on the road: Hong Kong, where he worked in the import/export business (scratching his travel itch further — while meeting his life partner in the bargain.

In the last slide we saw him beachside at the sailing club in Vancouver — where we hope he remains a good long time, sharpening his speaking chops in Toastmasters.

What a world journey that Quentin shared with us through story and a photo presentation!

Learning to share our lives with others, whether through experiences or sharing our stories, is the path to bliss. And that’s why we think Toastmasters is the best personal development program!

Want to build your speaking and conversation skills?

Join us every Wednesday at 3:30 PM PDT!

Be sure to Sign up here for access and notifications.

NEW! We welcome you to our upcoming HYBRID MEETING on April 17th!

Our Third Wednesday meeting will be moved to Third Thursday on April 17th, when you have a choice to attend online or in-person at our downtown Vancouver venue.

GUESTS ARE ALWAYS WELCOME!

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A Juggling Act Mirrors Life

When you’re new to Toastmasters, it can feel like a lot to manage when you take on a role at a meeting.

Maybe you’re the timer, watching the clock and nudging the light stack from green to orange to red. Or maybe you’re the grammarian, with an ear cocked to count every “um” and “ah.”

Louis is one of Vancore’s newest members. This week he somehow ended up with three roles – two evaluator roles plus grammarian. And he participated in Table Topics.

Remember that classic episode of I Love Lucy where Lucy and Ethel get a job in the chocolate factory, and the conveyer belt starts moving faster and faster, and they only way they can keep up with the chocolates coming at them is to pop them in their mouths?

That was Louis. At one point there seemed to be sweat running down his brow.

But Louis happens to be not just one of Vancore’s most recent members but also one of its most enthusiastic. And so he embraced the chaos.

“I must confess, I’m a little disappointed in you all,” Louis said in jest for the general evaluation shootaround. “None of you managed to work in my Word of the Day.”

The word was Ridiculous.

Juggling in life

Many people walk around thinking that they can’t do something and that, even if they could, they wouldn’t be good at it. Part of that is the knee-jerk reaction we all have to something we’re not comfortable with.

To learn how to be successful, to learn how to learn, we have to be willing to do lots of different things (like juggling multiple Toastmasters roles), and to be willing to accept when things don’t go perfectly or as expected. And that’s what our newest member did with great humility. This is how we teach ourselves to be confident in many situations.

Join us every Wednesday at 3:30 PM PDT!

Guests are always welcome!

Be sure to Sign up here for access and notifications.

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Let’s Talk Food Stories

“Make your favourite meal for us!”

If you’ve ever been asked to do that — in words, not beans and butter — you know how hard it is.

But the folks who took on this week’s Table Topics question rose to the challenge.

Nidia made us the traditional Mexican dish of pozoles, and we could taste the red chilis and the hominy corn.

Liza rolled out a pizza — loaded with double cheese and burnished with her secret ingredient: hot sauce.

Quentin made us the ultimate picnic sandwich (hint: it’s all about the bread.)

Those little food stories ended up being a highlight of the meeting.

And that’s saying something on a day when one of our new members, Louis, delivered a crackerjack icebreaker that established himself as just possibly The World’s Most Interesting Man.

We discovered these mouth-watering stories as an expression of our sensory experiences.

The more powerful the story behind our food choices, the more it evokes a memory, which in turn enhances the flavour.

Come try out your stories and hear others’ stories come alive.

Who knows what’ll be on the menu!  

Join our weekly Wednesday meetings at 3:30 PM PST!

Guests are always welcome!

Be sure to Sign up here for access and notifications.

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Category 5 Toastmasters Tornado Meeting Hits Vancouver!

One of the most common questions children often hear is, What do you want to be when you grow up?  A child who grew up in a family of doctors might say, “I want to be a doctor like my dad.”  

Our environment and experiences we were exposed to growing up greatly influences our career choices. And that’s what Giselle demonstrated in her speech at this week’s Vancore meeting (2/16/22).

When Giselle was five years old, an F2 Tornado swept through her Manitoba town.

She knew it was bad when she saw someone’s front door blew by.

Her mother snapped into action. “Giselle!” she barked. “Go up stairs and watch to see where our trailer blows to.”

Of that spectacularly bad advice, a career was born.

Giselle is now a government climatologist, and has parlayed her childhood fascination with tornados into a career advising on extreme weather events.

As Giselle told her story, we saw how her early experiences can have a bearing on her “dream job”. It’s hugely inspiring to see how an F2 Tornado experience can influence a career choice.

And that’s the yarn we all got to hear at our Wednesday meeting. One of the best things about Toastmasters is we get to hear each others’ origin stories.

Join our weekly Wednesday meetings at 3:30 PM PST!

Guests are always welcome!

Be sure to Sign up here for access and notifications.

Come try out your stories and hear others’ stories come alive.

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