Dear Enthusiastic Reader,

The Lambs to Lions Toastmasters Club meets every 1st and 3rd Saturday at the Mississauga Central Library from 11.30 a.m. - 1.00 p.m. Founded on May 2011, the club offers a hands-on learning experience for new members through advanced evaluation techniques and leadership opportunities.

On December 2, 2017 our club hosted a special ‘Speech-a-thon’ style meeting with 5 scheduled speakers who presented on a wide variety of topics enriched with knowledge, courage, and humour. It was certainly my first speech-a-thon experience and I walked away feeling motivated and entertained with much food for thought. So let me give you a snapshot of what happened that mid Saturday morning in one of the meeting rooms at the Central Library.

Mike Filev, one of our newest members kicked off the speech-a-thon with his ice-breaker speech. This Bulgarian born-Canadian told us that it was his dream to improve his public speaking skills. With a speech title of ‘Breathing deeply, the main stream media and getting the things you want in life', Mike walked us through the tricks of the mainstream media and how it has conditioned us for failure. He also discussed ways in which we can overcome our fears and achieve our goals more effectively. What was the take away? Well... not to be shallow breathers - to practice deep and mindful breathing - 5 seconds in and 5 seconds out and to try our best to re-connect our breath with positive thoughts. He received a standing ovation at the conclusion of his speech, a practice we follow for all ice-breaker speeches to recognize the effort. It is also key to laying a solid foundation of encouragement for all newbies. Congrats Mike, well done!

Tiffany Chen, one of our long standing members as well as the Area Director for Area 85 in District 86 was next in line to deliver her speech on 'Social Anxiety'. She is currently working on achieving her ACS designation. She introduced the concept of social anxiety, the fears associated with interacting with others, being judged and the feeling of inadequacy etc. Tiffany also walked us through the symptoms such as a racing heart, sweaty palms and a dry throat and mouth. She spoke about the 'Flight, Fight and Freeze Theory' which we all can relate to. So what was the takeaway? To think positively, for e.g. 'I am unique vs I am weird' and to use the visualization technique more often to ease things. She concluded by reminding us that everything requires practice and by changing our attitude towards the way we deal with social anxiety, we too can overcome this. Well done, Tiffany!

Aanchal Kamra, the President of our club took on the audience with her speech 'Introduction to Graphology' - an analysis of the physical characteristics and patterns of handwriting to study human behavior. Her speech starts her journey towards the ACG designation. She took us through a simple exercise that provided insight on how we can use graphology to understand the writer’s psychological state at the time of writing, or evaluating personality characteristics, generally considered a pseudoscience. She also made us write down a sentence on a blank sheet of paper which brought us all to the edge of our seats followed by a nail biting reaction, when she started to explain our characteristics via our handwriting. What a fascinating subject. Aanchal, you never fail to spark our curiosity!

Michael McAra, another one of our long standing members delivered his speech on the 'Flint Water Crisis'. This was a 3-5 minute speech followed by a Q & A session. Michael wore the hat of the newly hired Reputation Management Consultant for the City of Flint and spoke to the media [the audience] and provided an update on the status of the water crisis. It was a tough job to defend the City, but Michael had done his research! He also sparked our interest in reading more about this crisis.

Peter Barrett, our final speaker delivered a humourous speech themed, 'I have an idea!', a speech towards the ACS designation. He encouraged us to pursue our creative aspirations and inspirations and how to make at least some of our ideas come to life. After all, from young to old and around the world, some of us bravely convert our ideas into action, which can result in an outcome that ranges between 'Yes! I did it and it is successful' to 'maybe we need to think through this a little more' - Sounds familiar?? Peter went onto sharing his childhood stories about the mischief he got into with his brother and had the entire room roaring with laughter. Jokes apart, the stories had a motivating factor embedded as object lessons. So next time we go 'Hey, I have an idea!' don't hesitate and don't be afraid to give it wings!

All 5 speeches were successfully delivered and evaluated by 2 senior members of our club, Jocelyne Vezina and Iona Rodricks as well as our 3 honoured guest evaluators, Jeanie Lai, Stephen Stachin and John Constant.

The structured evaluation is one of my absolute favourite sessions at each meeting. There is a lot to learn from the manner in which evaluations are presented to the speaker. The suggestions / recommendations can be adopted by anyone who is hoping to deliver a speech in future. A true learning experience indeed.

My journey with Toastmasters officially started in August 2017 and it has been an amazing ride filled with new found knowledge, motivation and enriching experiences. I enjoy and value the camaraderie and look forward to exploring the path ahead.

Dear patient reader, I now pose the question to you, "Have I given you enough reasons to come witness us in action on a Saturday for 1.5 hours and perhaps join the Lambs to Lions Toastmasters club?”

Interested? FANTASTIC!

Got questions? AS YOU SHOULD!

I welcome you to connect with me on ayeshambhikha@gmail.com

Respectfully submitted,
Ayesha Bhikha
VP Education, Lambs to Lions Toastmasters
Club Number 1633651, Area 85, Division D, District 86

Toastmasters International Values:  Respect • Integrity • Service • Excellence
Our Principles:  Lead By Example • Work / Play as a Team 

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