Some Like it Hot


With Guest Blogger, Steve Catchick

It was a very hot evening and stuffy room this late-July evening at Maidenhead Speakers’ Club, but that did not deter our members from attending. At the start there were 20 people, although 4 more turned up just a few minutes late.

The meeting was called to order by Sergeant at Arms Doreen Gowing at 7.30 (giving a very effective debut in her new role), who then handed over to President Jacqui Hogan. Jacqui began by handing out a welcome badge to new member Linda Watt, and then went on to congratulate Steve Catchick on obtaining his Distinguished Toastmaster award, after 9 years at Maidenhead Speakers.

Jacqui then handed over to Toastmaster of the Night Helen Elliott. Helen had organised a full programme, with a few changes in the background that hadn’t fazed her.

She introduced Immediate past President Nick Bailey as the first speaker, who presented us with an Educational Speech on giving Effective Feedback. Nick gave us a short introduction to his subject by giving a story that had a clear message outlining the benefits to corporate companies of giving feedback and praise. This led nicely onto his subject, and the benefit of giving effecting feedback at Toastmasters.

Helen then introduced our Table Topics (impromptu speaking) Master, Monica Horten. Monica had a literary theme for the topics, all about “The Great Gatsby”.

The first topics speaker was Ben De Candole on a subject of “Do you love or hate the heat”. Ben regaled us with his journey back from the coast on his motorbike, and how it is extremely warm on a bike, with the heavy clothes and warm exhaust. Nevertheless, he likes the heat.

Second speaker was Linda Watt, who answered the question on “what clothes she loves” by saying she liked comfortable clothes, but also the occasion when she can dress up. At the thought of a new handbag, shoes and hat, she visibly perked up!

Third topic speaker was David Macleod, who was asked about his favourite party. Well, as a Scotsman, his challenge was which one! He did settle on a recent highland gathering (n Derbyshire) with a pipe band event, and of course, whisky.

Sandra Davison was next talking about prohibition. She admitted to enjoying a drink at parties, or at “Pimms o’clock” (and hastened to add she is not an alcoholic). She is against prohibition, but she is also against lager louts!

Next was our visitor from Chiltern Speakers, Tracey. She answered a question which posed: ”Does Wealth bring Happiness”. Tracey told us about the wisdom of explaining to her children that having material things doesn’t necessarily bring us happiness, although she admitted privately to us in her speech that it would still be nice to have that convertible car her children coveted!

Our final topics speaker was Julie Farrell, speaking about obsession. An interesting rhetorical question she put out to us during her speech was “is the goal or the journey more important?”. She then linked the subject back to her own core values.

The Best Topics Speaker was awarded to Julie.

Our Toastmaster Helen Elliott was back onstage, and gave some excellent introductions to the prepared speakers, the first of whom was Yohan McDonald. His speech was entitled “The enemy within” about his personal experiences when he was younger, with panic attacks. He informed us that 6% of the population will experience some kind of panic attack during their lives.

The second prepared speaker was Naresh Chhonker, who regaled us with a  personal story about the time he was sent to Las Vegas by his company, and how a remark caused a major change in his life. He was well overweight and determined to do something about it, even putting himself in debt. On returning home, with a lot of stress, he ended up in hospital, and lost half his body weight.

Next was Romain Barraud, who gave us a speech about fighting for your nearest and dearest. His fight was to open an opportunity for his girlfriend to come to the UK, and also for his mother to keep her job and self-respect. He gave 3 tips in fighting for your family and loved ones, remarking that you don’t always win, but you should be Supportive, be Positive and Act.

Our final speaker was Steve Cann, who was giving an advanced speech from the Entertaining Speaker manual, entitled “Phone, Camera and Car”. He entertained us with a tale of his day trip to Ivinghoe Beacon, and how his camera was flat, as he hadn’t charged it before the trip. Next he discovered his mobile phone (which he had used as a sat nav) had now also run out of power. Finally on returning to his car to drive home, he found his petrol was desperately low. Despite careful driving, he ran out of petrol, and with no power in his mobile phone, finally had the good luck to find a telephone box. Calling for help, he was then safely on his way, but reflected as he drove on how our happiness levels can be affected simply by how we react to these situations life inevitably throws at us.

The Best Speaker award was given to Steve.

We then moved on to the evaluation section, and the evaluators were introduced by General Evaluator Steve Catchick.

Our four evaluators were Amanda Bouch, Greg Healey, John Callaghan and President Jacqui Hogan, who all gave a powerful and helpful evaluation. The Best Evaluator award was given to John Callaghan.

All in all, a very enjoyable (albeit very hot) evening at Maidenhead Speakers!

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