A little different.

Maidenhead Speakers blog Monday 27th July

With Guest Blogger Steve Catchick


A little different.


We had a meeting with a difference at Maidenhead Speakers tonight.

Our Toastmaster of the evening, Keith, decided to change the layout of the room, facing the other direction, at short notice, and also at short notice decided to change the order of the speakers. This was to expose speakers to the uncertainty and changes to expect in the speaking business, and be prepared for anything. A good move

Our Sargent at arms, Lorraine, brought the meeting to order, and passed on to Club President Monica, who warmly welcomed the visitors.

Next was our 5 speeches.

First up was Jan delivering her second speech, entitled “Passion”. She described how football was a passion for one young boy, who went on to become a top football scout. It appears that while some scouts are well paid, many others do it for the love of the game.

Our second speaker was Brigitta, with a speech named “The hidden wonders of our garden”. After starting talking about how animals such as elephants are clever enough to migrate such large distances annually, she surprised us by going on to talk about the common ant, and how they “farm” Aphids. She likened their behaviour to that of farmers.

Next up was Michael, with a speech entitled “Pressure is a privilege”. He started by taking us to a football match between England and Germany, being a draw at the end of normal time, and into penalty shoot-outs. This led on to speaking about players “choking under pressure” during the penalties, and how many wanted to go first to get t over with. The phrase that struck me was Low anxiety equals high performance.

Our fourth speaker was Mukesh, who gave a speech on “Digital Health”. A fascinating subject about how science is now engaged in digital health, and went on to give 3 examples. A digital toothbrush, (yes, that’s right) that can analyse the health of our teeth. How it is used to manage chronic diseases, and finally how it is used in early detection of major diseases. An interesting statistic was that the world population is expected to grow by 1 billion in the next 10 years, and that 50% will be over 50, putting pressure on our health industry

Our final speaker was Mary, carrying out an advanced speech, all about “Making a difference”. Starting with the well known starfish story, she then went on to speak about those who had made a big difference, such as Marie Curie, Martin Luther King, and mother Teresa. She also went on to talk about Nicholas Winton, from Maidenhead, who recently passed away aged 106. He saved over 600 children from the gas chambers during the war and hadn’t considered himself a hero, just someone determined to make a difference in his own way, and that we could do something in our own way, whether big or small.

The best speaker ribbon was won by Michael.

After the break the meeting had a difference again. Instead of table topics, we had our Club President, Monica, presiding over a panel of 3 established members, Mell, Ian, and Chris. The discussion was about the club growth, as due tithe size of the club, 54 members, speaking slots were very few and far between.

The panel gave some suggestions, based on their own experience and preferences, and the audience were able to ask questions or give suggestions.

This was closed by Monica, who handled the session very professionally, and then we moved to the evaluation part of the evening.

Our general evaluator, Steve, then introduced the evaluation section of the evening without much pre-amble, due the over-running of the meeting. He quickly introduced the 5 evaluators one at a time

Mike went first to evaluate Jan’s speech. Jivan was next to evaluate Brigita’s speech. The followed Yohan, evaluating Mike’s speech. Tony was next to evaluate Mukesh’s speech, and finally Doreen evaluated Mary’s speech.

Finally, Steve gave an evaluation of the evening as a whole, and also of Toastmaster Keith, SAA Lorraine, Club President and debate master Monica, and finally the 5 evaluators.

The best evaluator ribbon was won by Yohan.

Steve Handed the meeting back to Club President Monica to close the evening and ask for comments from our guests and members.




Maidenhead Speakers Blog 13th July 2015

With Matthew.


It was the first meeting of the new Toastmasters year. The evening was opened by our new Sergeant at Arms Lorraine, who said that her role of S@A was to be grasped with both hands as it gave a great opportunity to speak at every club meeting!

Up next was Monica our new Club President for the year. Monica introduced the new committee for this Toastmasters year, herself along with above mentioned Lorraine as S@A, Doreen as VP Education, Gabriella as VP Membership, Mell as Club Secretary, Grant as Treasurer and Matt as VP PR.

Monica announced the dates for the upcoming club contest for humorous speeches and table topics on 28th September and the area contest for the same items on 10th October. A note about the club video camera; it is in the possession of the S@A and it is a member’s responsibility to let the S@A know when it is required. Members must bring their own data card and arrange for someone to stop and start the camera for them.

Monica handed over to our Toastmaster of the Evening DoreenDoreen who felt like Claire Balding for the night as this past week there were so many sports in play, she asked us “who has been gorging on the sport” and quite a few of us had. Henley regatta, tennis at Wimbledon, the cricket, rowing, golf and not to forget the tour de France! As the intro suggested the theme for the evening was Sport. This also has a parallel with toastmasters, in that it is inspiring, encouraging and requires preparation, perspiration and performance.

The Grammarian for the evening was John, who was there to watch out for the crutch and filler words along with our ums and errs. He gave us a gift of the word of the day “gusto” to have enjoyment or enthusiasm.

The Timer for the evening was Matthew gratefully assited by Suzette.

Doreen then took us through the Toastmasters acronym Hats with a delightful visual aid of her little pink visor hat.

Alan was up next as Table Topics Master for the evening, with the proud announcement, “sports fans this is your night”, but no questions on cricket as he is not a fan.

First up was Mary answering Tour de France or French Food?

She gave away a little something of her former self as a chalet girl, and being distracted by watching the TDF go past when she worked in the French alps. Although the only in sight gain may have been how to pick the best pair of lycra shorts for the gym.

Julie was next answering, “How do you think sport will evolve over the next 20 years”?

Julie spoke about the benefits of yoga, swimming and walking, and how mindfulness and the benefits of exercise need to past onto future generations of Children. If nothing else it gives you great shoulders once you master headstands for 5 minutes. It proves you can do anything.

Chris then spoke about the funniest/strangest moment related to sport.

Chris admits he loves sport, if only to watch these days more than partake as over time injuries take their toll. He did recount his last excursion on a trampoline back in the early part of the year, and then barley being able to stand up the following day and his legs still feeling it many months after. One his wife will ever let him forget.

Keith was asked to answer “Tell us something about Formula 1”, for a brief moment he looked a little stalled until he began regaling us of the time he worked for an F1 team making furniture, their amazing trophy cabinets, the viewing area over the pristine workshop from reception and the time he was in designing the seating and staging at Silverstone. He actually knew a lot more than he first let on.

Keith picked up the ribbon for best table topic.

We then had the first prepared speech of the evening by Steve, an Educational speech about impromptu speaking and the difference between Table Topics and business. Steve spoke about the importance of using a structure to base your thoughts around, the purpose of this and the benefits. He then outlined the different techniques that can also be used. He also outlined how speaking for business and for toastmasters differed and what was best to use when, and closed with a few handy tips. Steve also produced a very handy one pager that he made available to all to take home to sum up his excellent educational slot.

Jivan was up next with his Icebreaker, speech no 1 form the CC manual, titled connecting the dots. Jivan told us about his upbringing in a village in India. His early mornings, having to tend the fields before a long walk to school. He spoke about his determination and rise through education, completing his Masters in record time and going on to do an MBA. Onto his start on the career ladder, working in a small section within a large organisation but having to put in his best efforts, this really helped and fast tracked him into his next role in a fortune 100 company. It was only looking back that he was able to connect the dots, how where he had come from had a profound positive impact on where he had gotten to. He wrapped up his inspiring speech with these wonderful words of wisdom. Put your best foot forward, take a leap of faith, for the catalyst to success in your life.

Mike was then up with his second speech from the CC manual, titled Conquering heavier than air flight. He started his speech by taking us back 120 years to December 1903, when the Wright brothers made their first successful flight. Mike then went on to talk about the fascinating facts behind the Wright brothers’ months of research and the development of the three fundamental elements of flight. Lift, Thrust and Control. How they learnt from other people’s efforts and went back to basics to get the understanding correct and test the theories, which enabled them to develop their own. Then in 1902 they built their first practical glider. It just shows us what practise and experimentation can do for us.

Our third speaker was Marco, with a speech title, P for Product. Marco opened by drawing us into his own past experience of a cold winter’s evening driving along, at -3 degrees outside and gusting 60mph winds. He then told us there was more than just one thing when it came to product there were three elements, the core product or the end result. The actual product the item you are buying and the augmented product, all the additional extras you can get with the product, warranties extras etc. Outline these with his experience of going to a car sales show room. Then he very cleverly brought us back around to the evening in the car, when the road turned to a mirror and then brakes would not work. He said the ensuing crash was like the white ball hitting the eight ball in pool.

Next up was Richard, with his moving speech entitled Chris’s Storey. Richard began talking us through what seemed to be the start of a normal day, especially when he noticed the jogger with a T-shirt reading “everyday is a good day”. It was only when he arrived at work and the usual strong and determined PA came over in a very distressed state to tell him that a colleague of theirs was on the news. What unfolded was the tragedy on the Tunisian Beech and the close connection of their dear work colleague and his wife who were caught up in the events. How as an office over the next few days they bonded together to help each other and honour and support the family by setting up a website. Clearly this was not a good day, and on reflection it makes you try and make the best of every day. He left us with a profound quote from Abraham Lincoln, “In the end it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.”

The ribbon for best speaker went to: Richard

We then embarked on the evaluations led by our General Evaluator for the evening Grant.

First up was Tony evaluating Jivan, full of praise for an excellent Icebreaker and sated that it was delivered with “confidence and belief”.

Next we had Honor evaluating Mike. She picked up the use of the power of three and said she had learnt things from the really enjoyable speech.

Following on was Paul evaluating Marco. Paul asked us if we also felt the rain, and how cold, wet and miserable it was. The speech well met the objectives.

Finally Ian evaluating Richard. A brilliant stirring of emotions, a key part of the objectives. An excellent quote to finish, a great personal effort.

The best evaluator ribbon went to: Ian

Grant as General Evaluator did an excellent round up of the evening, before handing over to the Grammarian John for his report capturing the use of the day and the Yoda ‘esk’ speech.

The Club President rounded up the evening and reminded us it was a good idea to put the dates in our diaries for forthcoming meetings to aid the memory.

And with that our next meeting is Monday 27th July 2015 with Keith as our Toastmaster of the Evening. We look forward to seeing you all then!

An Epic Handover!

Maidenhead Speakers Club – Blog Monday 29th June

An Epic Handover! 


This session of speaking delights was alike none other…as it was the last session facilitated by our brilliant team of committee members, as they hand over the baton to the new team.

It begun by a heartfelt and emotional opening by Paul who has brilliantly graced the role of Seargeant at Arms for the last 12 months. He shared how much the role has meant to him, and how much he has learned from it, to which is audience has been the beneficiaries of his witty conduct for so long.

Next up was in Paul’s words ‘The Marvellous & delightful’ Julie as the clubs president. She opened with high energy and exuberance to which has been consistent in her time in the role. She shared how receiving the ‘gold medal’ around her neck at the start made her feel very proud to lead this club, which has also given her great confidence.

Our Toastmaster of the Evening was Lorraine who actually compared herself to Davina McCall or Dermot O’Leary…a likeness which raised good humour in the audience! Lorraine ran the evening like a true professional, with some very nice touches e.g giving each speaker some immediate & quick positive feedback after each speech. It made the session run without a hitch.

Gabriella was our Table Topics Master for the evening, who done a splendid job of creating seasonal based scenario’s for the speakers to contend with, the speakers were as follows:


Question: Summer is a great time for picnics, if you were to prepare for a picnic what would you buy?

She would go to the Jubilee River on her bicycle and take duck/duck breast. During her description of her travel to the river on her bicycle she sang a little song.


Question: What would be your dream vacation destination?

She would go to her grandmother’s house in the Russian forest. There it is peaceful and there is a farm on which she can drink milk from the cows.


Question: What is your worst summer holiday?

He talked about a holiday in Australia/New Zealand during which time he rode on the back of a bike that a family member rode. The family member was not the best of rider and there was rain and it was the worst vacation for him.


Question: Most people in the UK spread out their 25 days’ vacation allocation. Is it better to take a whole month or to take a week at a time?

He would prefer to take a whole month to visit his uncle’s house in New Zealand/Australia. His uncle built the house with his own hands.


Question : If you have a visitor to Maidenhead where would you take the visitor?

She mentioned that not long ago she had a friend over to visit her in Maidenhead. She was conscious of some areas in Maidenhead not being very scenic, such as the shopping centre so she tried to distract her friend during their walkabout. At the end of the visit the friend mentioned that Abingdon where she is from is similar to Maidenhead but what makes it special in Maidenhead is Julie’s presence.


Question : If she prefers a cold or hot climate for vacation?

Jan prefers a cold climate. And she went on to describe the type of cold climate, in which it is terribly cold with your nose freezing and your eyes watering. This is the type of temperature she would choose.

The award of the best table topic went to Grant

We then moved into the prepared speeches.

First up was Tony with speech no.9 from the CC manual, which was based on ‘influence’. He used the story of how the cat chases the rat to support the idea of how a certain bacteria & cells will be passed from one to another in the ecology cycle. He demonstrated this superbly with visual props located around the room which brought his speech to life and made it energetic & dynamic.

Rajeev was also delivering speech no.9 from the CC manual, from which the results were outstanding. He used his expertise as an IT specialist to demonstrate how we will all succumb to rely on technology in our lives in the years to come

Jacqui shared her entertaining talk titled ‘When a Monkey won’t do’. It was about Jacqui’s experiences dealing with people (or not, as a techie), and how some of their behaviour is similar to animal behaviour like meercats, monkey and donkeys

The award of the best speaker went to Tony

It was now time to hear the evaluation team share their analysis on tonights speakers:

Alan evaluated Tony’s talk and begun with a powerful compliment designed to inspire & motivate the speaker to which there is little doubt he did so. He structured his talk around the classic commend-recommend-commend model superbly, giving clear direction as to how it could be improved.

Marco started his evaluation by using a quote from Rajeev’s speech, which is a tried & tested way to create powerful interest and draw the audience in. His comments were all backed up by reasons why they are important, which helps both the speaker & audience appreciate the context in which it was delivered, overall this was a very good evaluation.

Steve evaluated Jacqui’s speech and begun with a fabulous technique by stating the framework from which he will fill with the meat of the talk. He gave very clear and comprehensive points, delivered with energy and clarity.

The award of the best evaluator went to Steve

The Grammarian for the evening was Honor. Whose analysis was clear, concise and delivered with a warm & friendly tone, which is particularly helpful to hear as a speaker. She identified excellent use of English throughout, and used a great technique of practicing for the role to Kanya West’s appearance at Glastonbury!

The Timer role was filled by Clive, who done a splendid job throughout of helping maintaining one of Maidenhead speakers key disciplines.

Yohan fulfilled the role of General Evaluator to help encapsulate an overall extremely enjoyable night of speaking.

The next session is on Monday 13th July

See you all there