Reaping a Harvest of Excellent Toastmastery

Maidenhead Speakers Club  – Monday 23 September 2013

With Guest Blogger, STEVE Cann

Monday’s meeting had an autumnal air about it (what with it being two days since the equinox), and we certainly saw some seasoned performances tonight.

Sgt at Arms Doreen Gowing kicked the meeting off in inspirational fashion, asking ‘Is it better to know, or not to know’ when faced with a challenging task where you don’t quite know what’s in store. She went on to speak about the charity palace-to-palace cycle ride she successfully completed at the weekend, and how she went for it!

Club President Jacqui Hogan took to the stage to formally open the meeting, and awarded a club badge to new member Rajeev Sawhney, also welcoming four new guests. TME Clive Pugh (very efficient in his first time in the role) spoke about autumn in his intro, and what he loves about it.

The speeches began with an excellent Educational Spot by Yohan McDonald, with five great tips for improving your speech’s intro: Anecdote, Startling Statement, Question, Activity and Use of silence. He also warned us that apparently it takes just seven seconds for an audience to decide if they like a speaker, and thirty seconds to decide if they want to hear any more from you!

TTM Chris Webb continued the autumnal them with his Taple Topics session: Julie Farrell spoke all about being happy and cheerful during the winter months by wearing bright colours, smiling (just doing so makes you feel better apparently), and singing in the rain! Chris Boden stepped up next to talk to us all about Christmas in his native Australia, and that it’s not as good in the sunshine as you might think. And that instead of eating the traditional turkey, they have seafood from the barbie! Nick Bailey was up next, and, after being asked if he were a night-owl or a lark, told us he prefers the mornings so that he can get into work early, and also how he’s going to smile and be happy throughout the winter months. Sandra Davison spoke about two spectacular buildings she’s visited – the Sagrada Família in Barcelona (a city she loves, and how she went there as a child), and then went back five years ago and found it still isn’t finished! She also had an inclination towards the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Finally John Callaghan told us about his two favourite experiences this summer – very contrasting holidays in Sweden and Croatia, and how much he’d love to learn to speak Swedish – despite it not being a very widespread language, especially in Croatia!

Best Table Topics ribbon was awarded to Julie.

On now to our four prepared speeches, and first with his icebreaker was Moyn Islam, and his speech entitled ‘Moyn X’. He asked himself ‘who am I?’, and went on to talk about his life, and how he’d always been very calm, but had gone blank when asked to deliver a presentation a few years back at college. But no such problems tonight, as he told us his soul is on a journey and a path of discovery – and how he wants to retire at 40!

Next, also with an icebreaker, Rob Crowe delivered a personal speech ‘Footsteps in the Sands of Time’. He told us a quote from his old schoolteacher, that ‘footsteps in time will not be made while sitting down’ and went on to tell us about his career, family, and where he’s headed. He also told us he had ambitions once to be an astronaut… but ended up in IT instead!

Greg Healy (doing project 7 from the CC manual) gave an informative and interactive speech all about scams and fraud. He looked at Advanced Fee Fraud, Dating Scams and Identity Theft, and how statistically 40% of tonight’s audience could (or have been) a victim of one of these. He also jokingly told us how it appeared he’d scammed his own brother, when illegal withdrawals from his bank account were made!

The final speaker was Jacqui Hogan, with the alliterative ‘Search for a Suitable Cinch’ – a cinch being a corset. In what must surely be a first for Maidenhead Speakers, Jacqui produced a corset on stage as a prop (although didn’t actually wear it!) and entertained us enthusiastically with the magical ‘true’ story of the princess and the corset – and how the princess achieved an 18″ waist after not a little hardship it has to be said!

Best Speaker ribbon was awarded to Jacqui.

Beshlie Donaldson, in her first time as General Evaluator, led the evaluation team with Fatiha Lafkar, Romain Barraud, Sam Billington and Zahid Aziz. Beshlie mentioned how Evaluations are like mini-speeches themselves, and one of the most important skills for a Toastmaster to learn.

Fatiha gave Moyn a very warm evaluation with lots of great observations and recommendations. Next, Romain evaluated Rob’s speech by using the stage well, and even gave a good example of some vocal variety he could possibly have added. Sam evaluated Greg’s speech with lively and valuable commendations on his usage of Power of Three and personal involvement on what otherwise may have been a rather ‘dry’ subject. Finally, Zahid did an excellent evaluation of Jacqui’s speech, mentioning how her title grabbed his attention and interest straight away, and also commenting on Jacqui’s power of words and drama!

Best Evaluator of the evening ribbon went to Romain.

Grammarian Matthew Woolacott gave a lively, confident and relaxed report on tonight’s usage of language, not to mention his word of the day Pandiculate, which was used by several speakers. Timer Sandra Chavez also did excellent work making sure all our speakers were aware of those all-important traffic-lights.

This was a thoroughly entertaining evening all-round, and I personally felt we had a very high standard of speeches tonight. Thanks too to TME Clive Pugh for bringing in his lovely tomatoes from his garden to share – we certainly reaped a harvest of excellent Toastmastery at Maidenhead Speakers’ Club tonight!

The next meeting is the Humorous Speech & Table Topics Contest – Monday 30th September at 19:30. See you all there for one of the biggest annual events of our calendar!

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.

4 thoughts on “Reaping a Harvest of Excellent Toastmastery

  1. Sorry we missed the evening but your blog is very good and made us wish we had been there.

  2. Sounds like I missed a good meeting too. Lovely to be able to read all about it via the blog.

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