Maidenhead Speakers Club – Monday 8 June 2015
WITH GUEST BLOGGER, JOHN
First time TME (Toastmaster of the Evening) Rajeev is a man who exudes gravitas, and he used this to full effect marshalling a full complement of speakers to deliver a well-run evening – and rousing the audience to show their appreciation of what proved to be a quality line up of speakers. He also invited us all to give Club President Julie a standing ovation for the wonderful job she’s done this past year – and of course we were all very happy to oblige!
Kicking off with an educational speaker, Mary outlined how to get the most out of the Toastmasters Programme with a well-structured speech and PowerPoint presentation, before we went into the first of the prepared speeches.
Honor gave a composed and engaging first speech ‘Sunglasses to Success’ – all about overcoming adversity at the time of the credit crunch, struggling to get a job (and apply her academic training), all whilst raising a family. And not just coming out on top but coming through in style.
In a speech that drew on the challenges she had faced, and drawing on her ‘Tree of Life’ the Thuja tree, Cheryl urged us to ditch the deadwood and feel good. Cheryl undoubtedly felt good as she went on to win the Ribbon for Best Speaker!
Tony gave another fine speech with a twist in the tale – well, the middle actually – reflecting on the experience and perspective of those with age on their side… in particular a notable nonagenarian by the name of Ellsworth, leading to open-heart surgery via a dog and a fence. (Late feedback Tony: Trimmed, just a little, it would make a strong competition speech in my opinion!)
Finally Eric gave a speech inspired by Victor Hugo, rich in descriptive language and set in medieval Paris. Eric was standing in for his wife Helen who had been scheduled to speak on the power of the voice, but who in a cruel twist of fate had lost it (her voice that is). You couldn’t make it up! Hats off to Eric for stepping up at such short notice and doing such a great job of telling the story.
After the break (and in a departure from usual practise) we had Table Topics in the middle of the meeting, with Clive our Table Topics Master proving a lively and convivial host, with a range of topics themed around summer. There was a good mix of styles between straightforward narratives, and a more reflective approach which gave the opportunity to explore the issues and ideas. For an impromptu talk on the thin line between triumph and disaster in the vegetable patch, Doreen won the Ribbon for best Table Topics Speech.
Our A-Team of evaluators, Ian, Suzette, Yohan and Alan then came to the fore. They all mixed constructive feedback with a warm appreciation of the speakers’ strengths. Delivering her first evaluation, Suzette offered some good pointers to Cheryl, whilst Yohan gave a textbook evaluation of Tony, going on to win the Ribbon for Best Evaluation Speech.
Alan “I don’t play by no steenking rules” eschewed orthodoxy (Ed’s note: when did Alan take on the persona of a Mexican bandito?) whilst commending Eric’s effective delivery, and suggesting how he could add a punch to his conclusion. (Author: not sure – I just say what I saw).
General Evaluator John loftily opined that the benefits of evaluation go not just to the speaker, who gets honest feedback, but to the evaluator (Ed: he’s got a point). It sharpens your senses as you strive to take in all that is being said and how it is being delivered – and you then have to prepare and deliver a mini-speech in next-to-no-time quick!
Our Grammarian Mohammad gave a very concise rundown of the heroes and villains on account of the scores for ums and ahs, before handing back over to Mdm President once more to invite comments and close the evening.
Comments highlighted a plethora of speaking opportunities that members are involved with outside of Toastmasters, including one ex-member who recently made an appearance on Question Time (okay she was asking a question rather than appearing as a guest, but even so… shout out to Beshlie). Toastmaster Steve mentioned that he’d be taking part in the Vinyl Frontier at Norden Farm later this week – a competition that mixes Steve’s love of speaking and love of music. No pressure Steve… but we expect great things!
Our next club night will be Monday 22nd June, and our TME is scheduled to be Grant – look forward to seeing you all there!