Stars in Their Eyes

Maidenhead Speakers Club 19th August 2013

With Guest Blogger, Yohan McDonald

The evening began with a sound of an almighty crack as Ben De Candole slammed it hard on the lectern calling everyone to attention.  He stood in for Doreen as Sergeant at Arms and opened the evening with some fine humour, setting the scene for another action-packed evening of public speaking.

Club President Jacqui Hogan brought her usual high energy to the stage and introduced the Competent Leadership manual – referring to having (or being) a mentor to another member, and all the benefits it brings.

The Toastmaster for the Evening Lorraine Hamilton then took to the stage and established the theme for the evening, which was to be astronomy.  She also recited what the definition of TME is from an old manual, caring to label her role as the ‘Genial Host’!

Table Topics

David Macleod rose to the challenge of being the Table Topics Master, bringing with him a new structure that created high excitement amongst the participants to match David’s high energy. He announced ‘star’ themed subjects, and opened them up to the room for willing participants. Mary Fraser, Steve Cann, Steve Catchick, Alan Graly, Jacqui Hogan, Zahid Aziz and Ben De Candole all competed and delivered individually excellent talks. The winning blue ribbon went to Steve Cann for his speech about his star sign Capricorn being embarrassing because it’s a goat – and that ultimately astrology was ‘A load of rubbish!’

Prepared speeches

The prepared speeches began with Linda Watt delivering her Ice Breaker in fine style. She described herself as a ‘bonnie lass’ and shared the story of her childhood life (up until the present) to which she is a life-coach amongst many other things, and concluded by asking the audience ‘who do you think you are’?

Paul Aherne shared his story of the recent camping trip with his son, stating it was not an experience he relished but reluctantly proceeded for his son’s sake. Paul stylishly concluded the story with the revelation that he was in fact hiding from one of his fears, and by facing it actually enjoyed the decision to go and shouldn’t therefore hide in future.

Chris Boden extensively tested his impromptu speaking skills by choosing this theme from an advanced manual. The choice of ‘Being a Brit in Australia’ was quickly and expertly illustrated with fine humour, caring not to divulge too deeply into the recent cricket scores!

Nick Bailey took us on a journey into the dark, hot and military-like Chuchi Tunnels of southern Vietnam. His graphic descriptions of the tunnels and how they were used in war posed a backdrop to the humour he interjected into this speech.

Chris Boden won the best speech of the evening – well done.


Yohan McDonald took leadership of the evaluation team as General Evaluator, and took delight in introducing a team consisting of a Grammarian and four evaluators, two of whom undertook their first evaluations at the club. 

Matthew Woolacott’s first evaluation contained all the elements of a great talk, utilising the ‘sandwich’ structure and ensured the speaker walked away with clear recommendations on improving.

Sam Billington’s first-ever evaluation contained expertly articulated constructive feedback, reserved only for students destined for the high ranks of Oxford University!

Beshilie Donaldson delivered  a well-articulated evaluation, using her warm and friendly persona to carefully share each point, ending with a strong conclusion.

Julie Farrell’s evaluation was bursting with energy which helped project her speech, and she used this vitality to articulate her points. It also contained a clear recommendation to the speaker.

The best evaluator of the evening went to Sam Billington, well done Sam, looking forward to the next one.

The Grammarian of the evening was Chris Webb, who did a fabulous job of sharing the speakers’ use of good grammar, filler words and word of the day ‘Exemplary’.

The Timer for this evening was Moyn Islam who did a great job providing the essential visual reference for talk times.


Overall the evening was very enjoyable and educating, as each speech contained many things the audience could learn and benefit from. Maidenhead Speakers is (and continues to be) such a well-run club, making each session very worthy of attendance, and anticipation for the next one.

The next club night is on Monday 9th September – see you all there!


Published by Steve Cann

I love music! I've also recorded & performed my own songs (& once played in a band) & sometimes attend open mic nights. I enjoy comedy club nights & rock gigs, & countryside walks/country pubs... & life's simple pleasures, such as relaxing with a great book. I love exploring London, & particularly pub walks - there's so many wonderful pubs in the metropolis that I didn't know existed before I started doing these... I never get tired of London. I enjoy meditation, keeping fit, yoga & staying in good shape - healthy body, healthy mind & all that. I'm always open to new experiences, & strive to live life mindfully - enjoying the present moment. I've more recently got into public speaking, becoming a Toastmaster - it's great fun, & an invaluable way of learning new skills & extra confidence.

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