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.


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

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To attend in-person, RSVP to

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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.


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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!

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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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How to Broaden Our Perspective

And so a year of heavy weather in so many ways comes to a close.

Vancore is fortunate to be graced with two meteorologists in the mix, each with their own perspectives and speaking styles. Their job this 2021 year has been a little more like war reporting than they would have preferred.

British Columbia saw the most extreme swings of extreme weather ever experienced in Canada, and both Bobby and Giselle were on the front lines of weather forecasting and reporting.

Giselle gave us a hint of what it all felt like – and what Covid has been like for her in general – in a highly personal and evocative speech that evoked the Indiana Jones-like ride that has changed the way she works, socializes and even thinks.

Hat tip to our favourite meteorologists, Giselle and Bobby! You’ve earned your rest.

What a great mix of professions that are represented at Vancore! It provides broader perspectives that helps us to grow.

Vancore is taking the holidays off for two weeks. Wishing you Merry Christmas and happy holidays!

We look forward to welcoming you at our first meeting of 2022 on Wednesday, January 5th.

Be sure to join us! Sign up here for access and notifications.

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How to Build Your Expertise with Public Speaking

When you have a professional meterologist on the roster, things heat up quickly.

Heeeeerrrrree came….Giselle, capping a summer of weather like no other. 

A summer when Lytton, BC smashed the record for highest temperature in Canada ever — for three successive days. On the fourth day it burned down!

That’s the kind of tragic drama we’re talking about. And Giselle did talk about it, extremely well, in a 15-minute stemwinder that kept us all spellbound. She used the Toastmasters platform to help build her expertise as she practiced an important talk for work.

The best thing about Toastmasters is that each member brings a unique area of expertise. Everybody learns something, and not only about public speaking. We all have something valuable to share and we learn from each other.

The show goes on, even through the Covid doldrums of October. This is the perfect time to upgrade your skills so you're ready for golden opportunities that will open up over the next year.

The Toastmasters education system will help you to hone the craft of speaking well and gain a valuable skill that will serve you for life. 

* Communicate important and useful information with clients, employers, colleagues, and other important audiences.

* Enhance your personal and professional reputation and earn the respect of important people in your life.

* Build your personal and professional brand and get known for your expertise, character, and influence how others see you.

* Engage professional colleagues and business associates to take certain actions or consider certain ideas

* Inspire referrals and new business opportunities

Please join us on Wednesday at 3:30 PM PT. 

Sign up on guest list here for weekly updates and notifications.
Prior to 2020, we hosted fun and engaging socials for our members. We can’t wait to bring back our epic socials soon!

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Remembering Susan Chew

Long-Time Member Became the Heart of Vancore

Susan Chew in front of the Waffle House she started in 1955

There are times in life when we’re called to meet a moment with a few carefully chosen public words. This week was one of them.

Beloved long-time Vancore Toastmasters member, Susan Chew — a larger-than-life spirit who was in so many ways the heart of the club — passed away at age 94.

Susan was a member of Toastmasters for 30 years, in three clubs, including more than 10 years at Vancore, and even started a youth leadership club.

So at our Vancore Toastmasters meeting we held our first-ever wake.

The conversation naturally flowed out of reminiscing about Susan’s presence on the club and how she personally touched many of the Vancore members.

Those members who knew Susan tried to capture her for the newer members who never met her. There were laughs and a few tears. Susan would have loved it. (Except she’d have liked more jokes.)

“Susan was an inspiration to me. I love how she embraced speaking partly to keep her mind sharp, and for the cameraderie she found in the club.”

“Susan was always an inspiration! The stories of her life were amazing. She had done so much, met so many people, and loved. I remember she used to bring photos, handwrite our nametags and make everyone feel welcome.”
~ Mary Lou

“What a legacy she left at Vancore Toastmasters and anywhere she touched.”
~ Jonathan

“Susan showed us what is possible. I loved her spunk. I got to know Susan when she made a special effort to come out to New Westminster to support me at my public talk. We later went for lunch at The Waffle House, the restaurant she started in 1955! A natural storyteller, Susan described the people and events in vivid colour. What a privilege to spend time with an incredible woman who was ahead of her time.”
~ Deb

“She was/is an inspiration in so many ways.  She will be deeply missed. She was a sweetheart and accomplished so much in her life.  We were lucky to have her in our presence for as long as we did!! 

I loved her life stories, sassiness and always presenting ways to improve ourselves and the club.  She showed up for socials whenever she could.  I got a kick out of how bold she was…never worried about being PC.  😂  She was so committed to Toastmasters!!”
~ Loa

“I credit Susan a lot for the fact that I saw the light, completed the levels and got my own Distinguished Toastmaster (DTM). What I didn’t realize then was how much all the meta activity would help me grow as a speaker and a leader.

Over time, we made a point of going for coffee after our club meeting and I learned more about her large family here and her many experiences.

I think that we were very lucky that she chose Vancore and her legacy has remained. My Toast…here’s to Susan Chew, Distinguished Toastmaster (DTM). She broke barriers, took chances and did the work.”
~ Connie

Susan Chew, DTM
1927 – 2021

Susan’s verve to put herself in front of audiences and out in the public eye brought her many interesting opportunities and enriched her life.

Read about Susan Chew’s life here or in The Unbreakable Susie Chew

This is why you practice public speaking, folks.

Next week it’s back to the normal template. Please join us on Wednesday at 3:30 PM PT. Sign up on guest list here for weekly updates and notifications.

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How to Cultivate Good Conversation Skills

Why is it important to cultivate conversations skills if you want to succeed in life?

We need productive relationships to succeed professionally and have meaningful relationships for a happy, fulfilling life, and conversations are the foundation of all relationships.

Conversations are based on back and forth sharing of our thoughts, opinions, knowledge and feelings that express who we are, our values and what we want. When you have good conversation skills, you will be able to put others at ease which results in people forming better opinions about you. You will be seen as someone who is approachable, trustworthy, and worth listening to.

At last week’s Vancore Toastmasters meeting

Bruce, long-time Vancore member and author, contributes to the conversation…

There are three subjects you should never bring up in polite company: sex, religion and politics. Or so they used to say.

We didn’t *quite* test that adage in this week’s meeting, since only one of ‘em — politics — was on the table. But the early returns say the old adage is wrong.

Not only can you discuss politics, you should when presented with the question in the Table Topics section of the meeting:

“Imagine you had the ear of a federal or provincial leader. And you could appeal for funding for one cause. What would you pick?”

That’s a good question – maybe even one you’ll have to tackle for real some day. Deb, Vanessa and Bruce took an admirable shot at it, with answers ranging from small business to health to mental health.

They were challenged to think on their feet, get creative in their answers and deliver a coherent response. These are valuable skills to develop, whether in a job interview, meeting with colleagues, or for a work presentation.

It’s fun to switch on our imagination and play around with other people’s pretend money for two minutes! Just another of the reasons we practice public speaking, which helps us develop our conversation skills.

Ready to cultivate your confidence in the art of conversation?

Join a Vancore Toastmasters meeting on Wednesday at 3:30 PM for learning, practice and fun.

Sign up on guest list here for weekly updates and notifications.

Prefer in-person? Contact us at to reserve a limited spot to join us in-person at our downtown Vancouver Toastmasters location when we open for hybrid meetings.

Prior to the lockdown, we enjoyed lively in-person meetings in the AME Boardroom. We can’t wait to welcome you in-person soon.
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