“Stoned on ToastMasters”


Maidenhead Speakers Club – Blog 24th August 2015

With guest blogger Mell

“Stoned on ToastMasters”


The evening was warmly opened by our Sergeant at Arms, Lorraine, who let us in on a little tip she learnt from the 2014 World Champion of Public Speaking, Dananjaya Hettiarachchi – keep your palms open when speaking, it shows a genuine quality in the Speaker.

Our President, Monica, then stepped up to officially welcome our guests and mentioned the Committee’s progress with the consideration of an additional monthly meeting, which is still under review.

We were then introduced to our ToastMaster of the Evening, the very capable Jacqui, who took us through the agenda, reminded us of the acronym HATS and explained the importance of giving each Speaker feedback.

Unusually, we began with the rehearsed speeches and first up with her IceBreaker entitled “Comfort Zone” was Kashmira. Kasmira spoke of a time in her life when she was challenged to step out of her comfort zone and addressed the very serious medical issue of Serial Stress. Kashmira explained that her job had once caused her to become stressed and fatigued. She took us through this experience, concluding with some lessons learnt, the first of which was to recognise the early signs of stress and the second to make an effort to go outside of your comfort zone. A great first speech.

Second to take the stage was Suzette who titled her speech “Stoned on Reggae”. Using her laptop and speaker to play us some of her favourite Reggae tunes, ( including a couple of classics by the legendary Bob Marley ), Suzette inspired us to embrace Reggae music as she has and spoke of the history of Reggae and its importance. A very different, yet enjoyable speech.

Third up was Anna with her speech, “Where do I belong?”. Anna asked the question, ‘is the country you’re born in, the right place for you to live in?’ and went on to describe her homeland, Russia, the many different countries she has lived in and their cultures, culminating in describing how she found herself living and settling in the UK. Anna’s speech was insightful and entertaining.

Our fourth speaker, completing his Competent Communicator manual, was Tony. Tony’s speech was entitled “Do you believe in a just World?”. Tony began by giving the audience a scenario. The story of a man called Steven who was accused of raping a girl called Blandina. Tony offered both sides of the story and asked us who we believe asking us ‘why is it so easy to blame the victim?”. Tony’s style of speech was refreshing and I personally found it very thought provoking.

Finally we were treated to an Advanced Speech by Richard, entitled “Yes, Yes, Yes”. Richard used his usual dry and witty humour to talk to us about the Pros and Cons of Self Help Books, sharing some famous examples and talking about his own experience. Richard left it open to the audience to decide whether you should try Self Help, or go your own way.

The Best Speaker Ribbon was won by Richard.

After a much needed cup of tea, we returned for the second half of the evening.

Our Table Topics session was hosted this week by Yohan. Yohan used a theme based on the fact he has recently changed careers and this worked well, giving the audience plenty to talk about.

Our Table Topics Speakers were Sandra, talking on the subject “if you had a career change what would it be?” Gabriella who was asked “when was the last time you have/received something from someone and it had a profound effect on you?”. Doreen spoke about “something that had made you feel good in the last seven days”. Keith was asked “what words of wisdom have you been given or have given someone else?” Tom spoke on “what do you do to relax?” Finally Michael gave us a run down of “What food effects your mood?” .

The best Table Topic ribbon went to Sandra.

Mell was General Evaluator for the evening and she introduced her team of Evaluators who were Mike ( evaluating Kashmira ), Grant ( evaluating Suzette ), Mohammed ( evaluating Anna ), Norman  ( evaluating Tony ) and Steve ( evaluating Richard. )

All gave solid evaluations, but in the end, the best ribbon was won by Steve.

Mell gave her General Evaluation of the evening and recommended that the Club introduce a TableTopics Evaluator plus complimented the idea of turning the stage round to run along the back wall as it is better for Speakers to get used to using the width.

We heard from our “subtle” Grammarian, Nick who gave us a run down of the grammatical peaks and troughs of the evening before handing back to our President who gave out the awards and ran through some Club Business.

It would be remiss of me to conclude this write up, without saving the last word for our long term Member Helen, who has sadly decided to resign from the Club due to health reasons. Helen has been part of the backbone of our Club for many years, is an incredible Mentor and a very talented Speaker and the Club will sorely miss her. We wish her all the best.

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