Extraordinary Meeting!

Maidenhead Speakers Club – Monday 30 Mar 2015


This week’s meeting was extra-ordinary – extra because it was the third meeting in March, but by no means ordinary as were treated to speeches from a renowned international speaker, a member on the edge of completing her CC manual, and a surprise double act!

Sgt at Arms Paul kicked off the meeting in his usual cheery manner, and handed over to our Club President Julie, who gave us a warm welcome with her trademark smile, that always lights up the room. She reminded us that the club’s Annual Dinner is on Saturday 18 April, and encouraged those not already in possession of tickets to see Membership Secretary Doreen before the end. She then handed over to Toastmaster for the Evening John who promised a soupcon of surprises – and didn’t disappoint. He ran through the protocols for the evening, introducing Timer Mukesh and Grammarian Marcus – who had selected “Ambivalent” as the word of the evening.

Sandra then opened the Table Topics session with a wide range of inspirational quotes for members to reply to:

“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can” – Mike spoke of the need to be adaptable and delved into the depths of his knowledge while working abroad, often on the fly.

“The worst mistake anyone can make is being too afraid to make one” – John said joining TM’s had been a huge mistake – until he presented a speech at the last meeting, and now feels more positive and confident talking about a topic without preparation.

“Never stop doing your best, just because, someone doesn’t give you credit” – Joyce told of how her husband, fellow TM Norman, always does his best at work – with little or not credit in return.

“Sometimes, you just need a break, in a beautiful place, alone, to figure something out” – Eric said he likes company as a rule and would take his wife (fellow TM Helen) with him if he went to a desert island.

“Every day may not be good. But there is something good in every day “ – Matthew said that in general life is good and work is good… the only downside being the commute on the tube, playing sardines with everyone else!

Paul quipped that “Fake it till you make it” was the story of his life. He said that at TMs, people share their experiences with you and definitely help you fake it till you make it.

My personal favourite was Suzette, who was given “Courage does not always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying ‘I will try again tomorrow’”. Suzette said that she may not have anything inspirational to say, but “to stand here and feel a bit confident to deliver this speech – that is a bright light.”

Ribbon for Best Table Topic was awarded to Joyce.

John had some well-researched intros for our speakers based on the theme ‘It is never too late’. VP Education Monica, with her Educational speech ‘Commitment’, reminded us that when we join TMs we make a ‘special commitment’ to the club. The Club is only as strong as it members, and we all contribute to its success. We are all here to learn and that although not everyone is a gold medal winner, everybody can do their best. TMs guarantees to improve our public speaking and leadership skills.

This was followed by an impromptu speech by Norman, who unveiled the Toastmasters Promise – this will be displayed at all future meetings.

Next up was Emilio with his speech entitled ‘My Studies in Moscow’. Born in Bulgaria, Emilio studied classical guitar with the best professors available. However, it was his love of table tennis (and his attention to detail of the finer intricacies of the game) that proved invaluable in taking his guitar playing to another level.

Doreen followed with her speech ‘The Power of the Detached’. She put her storytelling skills to great use by first recounting a story of her experience on the receiving end of road rage. She noted how the aggressive man in question was very ‘attached’ to how she drove but, while he raged, she remained detached and at peace. Detachment is a Buddhist principle aimed at ending our suffering by ‘doing our best and allowing the rest’ – letting go of our ‘attachment’ to the way things may turn out. She ended with a quote from Sir Winston Churchill: “Success is about failing time and time again, and never letting go of enthusiasm”.

The speeches section concluded with ‘The Winner is…’  – a parody awards ceremony for the International Shopper of the Year. Keith, as master of ceremonies sporting a dapper waistcoat, announced the award with his trademark humour, and presented it to winner Jacqui. In her acceptance speech,she told us how her love of shopping began at the tender age of 7, when she told she would own 100 pairs of shoes (after being told she couldn’t have the red leather shoes with gold buckle and dainty strap that she had coveted for her 8th birthday). She ended by saying “Retailers – without you I wouldn’t be the super shopper I am today!”.

Ribbon for the Best Speaker was awarded to Doreen.

General Evaluator for the evening was Cheryl, who outlined the aim of evaluations, and reminded members that the tone and content of an evaluation can have great impact on the speaker. She said good evaluators strive to find a balance by: Giving evaluations that are helpful, positive and constructive, and that encourage, motivate and genuinely help the receiver. She also reminded members of the ‘evaluation sandwich’ – Commend, Recommend, Commend, and then invited her team Chris, Tony and Lorraine to give their evaluations. She concluded the section with her report of the evening.

Cheryl said all evaluators, from those relatively new to the role such as Chris, to a ‘seasoned pro’ such as Lorraine (who was given the tough job of evaluating the ‘double act’) had presented accomplished evaluations. She made the following recommendations: Chris to move closer to the audience, make use of the lectern for her notes and direct her comments directly to her speaker; Tony to avoid over-use of hand gestures, reserving them to illustrate a point as he did with the “ups and downs of life”; and Lorraine to avoid holding her glasses while speaking if she doesn’t need them.

The Best Evaluation Ribbon was awarded to Lorraine.

Grammarian Marcus highlighted the use of good language, humour and gave the count for each speaker’s use of crutch words and fillers.

Our next club night at MSC will be at 7.30pm on Monday 20th April – just after the Annual Dinner on Saturday April 18th. 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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