Maidenhead Speakers Club – Monday 23 Jun 2014
WITH GUEST BLOGGER, PAUL AHERNE
On a hot humid July evening (with temperatures more akin to a mid-summer in Mississippi than Maidenhead) the faithful few gathered for an evening of sweaty heat, but stimulating speeches. Whilst the heat did keep the numbers down, the gusto of our Sergeant at Arms Doreen Gowing and Toastmaster of the Evening Zahid Aziz quickly replenished the energy. Doreen encouraging those sitting at the back of the room to come forward to fill the front and create a more intimate space, and it worked!
Club President Jacqui Hogan encouraged the audience to use descriptive words to capture to mood of the warm weather, and, after a quick round of audience participation, she proudly presented our newest member Suzette King with her Maidenhead Speakers name badge. Welcome aboard Suzette, the adventure starts here!
Zahid opened the proceedings with his customary energy and enthusiasm, explaining the importance of H.A.T.S. and introducing our Timer for the evening Tony Searby, and Grammarian Cheryl Brickell.
First up to speak this evening was Moyn Islam with his speech entitled “The Four Principles of Success”. Moyn delivered a confident speech outlining the notion of being “lazy by default” and developing strategies to ensure success.
Next to speak was Alan Grayly. Alan’s speech entitled “Fly Like a Butterfly” focused on the use of body language, and he spoke of the three main elements of the Butterfly stroke, Timing, Flexibility and Rhythm. He used gestures to describe the beauty of the stroke and left the audience ready to head for the pool to give it a try!
Our third speaker was Richard Davies, delivering his tenth speech from the Competent Communicator manual. His inspiring speech entitled “Words of Wisdom” outlined four key points to apply to life: Work hard, develop wisdom, have courage and take note of feedback. His closing statement concluded his speech perfectly. “You have one life, live it!”
Following these three inspiring speeches we broke for an early tea break, and Doreen ensured that everybody was back in their seats ready for second half. Sadly this was the final outing for her as our Sergeant At Arms… Next week we will see another take on the role as our new TMs year begins! Zahid thanked Doreen for all she has brought to the role over this last year – we’ll will all miss her warm smile at the start of every evening.
The last prepared speech of the evening was an Educational Speech by Monica. Her speech entitled “I Did Not Prepare This Speech” focused on Impromptu Speaking, and the difference between an unprepared and an unrehearsed speech. She described techniques, used examples of Impromptu speaking in a business context, and also speaking during an ‘elevator pitch’.
After the prepared speeches we headed into Table Topics territory. Our Table Topics Master for the evening Mell Sheppard created a series of fantastic topics that put our participants in the role of Agony Aunt/Uncle for a newspaper – ‘Mell from Maidenhead’ needed advice on a series of moral dilemmas!
Nick Bailey tackled the difficult task of deciding if Mel’s £5000 of savings should be spent on her sick pet dog or used to help pay for a house move. Nick revealed his kind heart by eventually settling on saving the poorly dog, and was adamant that she should avoid ever owning a cat as they “do things in the garden that make the front doorstep smell!”.
Next Jules Abernethy was tasked with advising Mell after a small car accident. Sadly Mel had reversed into a Porsche causing some damage, but nobody had witnessed the accident. What would you do? Jules assumed the role of Agony Aunt completely, ultimately advising that she writes an unsigned note explaining what had happened and leave it on the windscreen, easing the guilt Mell was experiencing. This would ensure that whilst Mell’s conscience is clear, her bank account remained safe and insurance-claim free!
Picture this – you are working on a large proposal, ans a potential customer offers you tickets to see your favourite band as a sweetener. What do you do? Clive Pugh asked more questions around the subject and offered to explore other options with his usual command of body language and humour before deciding that honesty is always the best policy.
Mell has entered a pub quiz with a top prize of £10000 being donated to charity and, as luck would have it, happens to be in possession of the quiz answer sheet! Is it OK to cheat if it’s for charity? Gavin Collins reminded us of those childhood days of trying to cheat at tests in school, advising that whilst the short term gains may seem tempting, in the long term honesty is the only way forward!
Would you lie to the Police if a friend asked you to? Tony Searby had to wrestle with this one. He began by asking more questions around the original dilemma, and exploring what may be going through Mell’s mind. Once again honesty won the day, and Tony advised Mell to do the law-abiding thing!
Office politics are a minefield at the best of times. You work with a great team, all of whom happen to be women, and have been accused by some in the office of discriminating against men. After conducting several interviews, you realise that the best candidate for the new opening in the team is a woman. Should you hire her or give the job to a male candidate to prove you do not discriminate? This was the tough choice Mell wanted Eric Elliot’s advice with. Eric placed himself in her shoes and explored the feelings involved, concluding that Mell should do what was best for the company, best for the team, and best for her own peace of mind… hire the woman she believed was best for the role and to leave the ‘office whisperers’ to worry about it!
Finally Mell from Maidenhead disclosed that her best friend was about to get married. Unfortunately after an alcohol-fueled evening her friend’s fiancé had made amorous advances toward her, and had left her in a moral dilemma. Lorraine Hamilton looked at this bombshell from two perspectives – the heart and the head. She examined what would happen emotionally if she told her friend the news, and the logical implications, concluding that she felt it was better to follow her head in this situation!
Overall a very honest bunch of Toastmasters! From here, we headed straight into the evaluations.
Sandra Chávez evaluated Moyn’s speech, covering the aims of his speech and gave examples of his success in meeting the criteria. Sandra used the technique of Commend, Commend, Recommend and Commend to shape her feedback and provided a great evaluation.
Next was Helen Elliot, evaluating Alan’s speech – and she managed to capture the same enthusiasm and joy of swimming that Alan had projected. With simple, elegant and understated gestures, she highlighted Alan’s own successful use of body language to convey his message.
Our next evaluator was John Callaghan who, like Richard, is a master of using humour and storytelling throughout his presentations, and was quick to pick up on these elements of Richard’s speech. John also mixed a recommendation amongst several commendations whilst covering every element of Richard’s speech.
Following the General Evaluator Paul Aherne and Grammarian’s reports, Zahid once again took the reigns and closed the evening with the same amount of good cheer that he had shown at the start of the night.
In closing the meeting, our Jacqui congratulated Zahid on his energetic performance for the evening and his ability to think on his feet and deal with a technical issue without breaking his stride. She then handed out the winners ribbons to Jules for Best Table Topic, John Callaghan for Best Evaluation and to Monica for Best Speaker. All that remained was to say our goodbyes, clear the room and head back out into the warm night air after a thoroughly entertaining evening.
The next meeting will be on Monday 30th June at 19:30. See you all there for what promises to be I’m sure another sizzling night of speeches at MSC!