A Slick Night of Speeches!

Maidenhead Speakers Club – Monday 10 Mar 2014


Wow what a fantastic evening! This has probably been the best evening I have seen at Maidenhead in a long time.

Steve Catchick stepped in at the last minute, and organised a very slick evening with 5 speakers – and we finished before time too!

Doreen opened the meeting with a cheery note about the Paralympics. She recalled that a downhill skier miraculously regained her sight and, having seen what she did with her impaired vision, was so shocked that she never skied again!

Chris Boden was the first speaker with an educational on how to deal with nerves, especially before a contest. It was a speech for everyone – Chris explained that in his view we have nerves because we care. So it’s OK!

Next was our first prepared speech, an icebreaker from Cheryl Brickell aptly called the ‘Tip of the Iceberg’. You would not guess she has only been a member for a few months, giving a very polished performance without the use of notes. In telling her story about her need to challenge herself, she inspired us to believe that you can achieve anything you set for yourself. It really was the tip of the iceberg.

Grant Oliver followed with another icebreaker – again without the use of notes. He gave us a humorous explanation of how to write a book like a famous football manager… but different. Was it about disagreements with the football stars, or affairs with football stars? No it was about his love affair … with software!

Fatiha Lafkar seduced us next into travelling to the beach. It’s better to take the sea air and exercise than to spend time and money in therapy, she suggested to us.  Her poetry and word pictures were stunning, leaving all believing we were actually on the beach with her.

We were told that Mell Sheppard‘s speech would be given in ‘Middle English’, and that we had to listen well… we were not expecting what was to come. This was probably one of the most challenging speeches we have ever seen at Maidenhead Speakers – two months in the making, as Mell gave a superb theatrical performance using three voice,s and a language that was alien to us all! Yet after tuning in we understood the tale of ‘The Beard and The Bust’.

It was no surprise that Mell won the Best Speaker ribbon.

Julie Farrell chaired an entertaining table topics session with participation from Richard Davies, Sandra Davison, Helen Elliott and Paul Aherne. Mary Fraser managed to win the most votes for Best Table Topics Speaker without even answering the question. How did she do that?

Michael Williams learnt how to concentrate, being Timer for the first time. John Callaghan in the role of Grammarian advised us of our verbal crutch words in his regular witty style.

Nick Bailey led the evaluation session and summed up the evening. The evaluators were Eric Elliott, Peter Needham, Mohammad Aziz and Karen Szulakowska.  The Best Evaluator ribbon was awarded to Eric.

It was an outstanding performance by all the speakers on the night, and thoroughly entertaining for older and newer members alike. You don’t have to ever feel you can’t do this – with our successful ongoing mentoring programme in place, everybody can have access to the tools necessary to become a competent public speaker.

The next meeting will be the Club Speech & Evaluation Contest on Monday 24th March. See you all there for what promises to be a great night, on one of the biggest annual events on our Toastmasters’ calendar!

The Spirit of the Speech

Maidenhead Speakers Club – Monday 24 Feb 2014

With Guest Blogger, STEVE CANN

With the recent flooding in our region now starting to diminish, SAA Doreen Gowing opened our meeting in cheerful fashion as she paid tribute to the ‘Dunkirk Spirit’ of communities that had joined together to overcome the recent devastatthey as they endeavor now to return to some sort of normality.

TME Sandra Davison brought her own brand of sunniness to the evening as she spoke of some key events from this day in history (some very old, some rather more recent!), and relaxed us all with her humour.

TTM Joyce Rhodes led a fun Table Topics session, which she coined ‘Joyce’s Choices’! Rajeev Sawhney spoke of his busy life and lack of holidays, until he finally got the chance to visit places he’d always wanted to see thanks to a slightly unexpected turn of events. Mohammed Aziz spoke of his love of books (and drinking coffee!), and driving in his leisure time. Cheryl Brickell spoke animatedly about her two favourite seasons, spring and autumn. Next speaker Paul Aherne spoke of giving up on his ambition to become an artist after discovering his slight colourblindness, but vowed to also remain dark and mysterious! Eric Elliott spoke of his experiences of barbecues, bistros and banquets… tonight’s being his Spaghetti Bolognese! Norman Rhodes humorously surprised us by imparting whom he’d like to spend his perfect day with… a small, cuddly and cheeky koala bear! On being asked where she’d spend her perfect night out, penultimate speaker Lorraine Hamilton decided she’d rather stay in and watched her favourite TV drama series on Netflix. Final TT speaker Grant Oliver, on being asked if he were a saver or a spender, sensibly told us that he prefers not to spend money on frivolous things that he doesn’t need!

Best Table Topics ribbon was awarded to Paul Aherne.

Next up, our prepared speeches. Alan Grayly entertained us with his ‘Plastic is Fantastic’ talk – the plastic in question being credit cards, and how they can really be a good thing if used sensibly. He even provided us with some diagrams to prove his point! He also spoke of the benefits of store and loyalty cards too.

Richard Davies was next, with his catchily-titled ‘This Speech Will Save Your Life’ – a title that certainly caught everyone’s attention! He spoke of the dangers of car phones (even hands-free ones), and of not making ‘negative’ New Year’s resolutions, which make you crave the negative things you’ve given up even more. He also spoke of Geometric Projection, as he peppered his speech with lots of fascinating facts and statistics.

Clive Pugh entertained us with ‘What Goes Around, Comes Around’, and spoke of generosity of spirit, and the joys (and benefits) of simply giving unconditionally. He went on to speak of how this would make society better, and people in general much kinder – and also spoke of the benefits of simply smiling, and how it makes you and people around you feel so much better.

Best Speaker  ribbon was awarded to Clive.

We had two debutante evaluators tonight in Moyn Islam and Sandra Chavez, who both made an excellent job of creating well-structured speeches. More experienced evaluators Yohan McDonald and Mell Sheppard gave fine evaluations too, with the ribbon for Best Evaluator going to Mell.

General Evaluator Steve Cann gave a summing up of the evening, and Table Topics Evaluator Helen Elliott gave a thorough review of tonight’s TT session. Finally, it was over to Grammarian Nick Spooner to give his feedback on tonight’s usage of language – all presided over efficiently by Timer Fatiha Lafkar.

All in all, a most enjoyable and inspiring evening! Many thanks too to Julie Farrell for the loan of her laptop, so I could write this week’s blog.

The next meeting will be on Monday 10th March at 19:30. See you all there!

A Soggy (but Happy) Start to 2014 at MSC!

Maidenhead Speakers Club – Monday 13 Jan 2014

With Guest Blogger, GERARD P

29 members braved rain and temperatures of 5 degrees above freezing (not to mention the floods in Berkshire) to attend  Maidenhead Speakers’ Club’s first meeting for 2014 – choreographed expertly by TME Mary Fraser.

TTM Monica H led a carefully thought-out topics session on the theme of Christmas/Holiday Season TV.  Using the ideal technique of not naming the speaker till the very last minute, she skilfully wove the TV theme throughout the session and challenged six speakers.  Paul Aherne won the Best Topics Speaker ribbon, with a rib-tickling 3 minutes about his favourite golden oldie comedy.

Peter Needham entertained us with a #2 speech from the Competent Communicator Manual, elaborating on his love of short breaks around Europe.  During his speech titled ‘Europe is my Oyster’, he transported us to 3 countries and left us wanting more!

Also delivering a #2 speech from the CC Manual was next speaker Mohammad Aziz.   Having stepped in at the last minute, he challenged us with the question ‘Is Technology Good or Bad For Us?’.  (An inveterate technologist, his skills were later put to the test in getting the projector to display images).

After a longer than usual socialising break of over 15 minutes, Zahid Aziz made us ponder about the difficulties of sticking to New Year Resolutions.  Involving the audience with rhetorical questions and active participation, his 15 minute speech titled ‘A New Beginning’ (from the Professional Speakers Manual) was  professionally and very confidently delivered.

With a #8 speech from the CC Manual, titled ‘Music Everywhere’, Fatiha Lafkar enchanted us with beautiful word pictures enhanced by photographs of a trip to New Orleans,  wowing the audience to win the Best Speaker ribbon.

Evaluations were slightly different to normal evenings – starting with a formal evaluation of all the topics speakers by Richard Davies, delivered in his inimitably pithy but humourous style. Four very different but invaluable evaluations were delivered by Nick Bailey, Matthew Woolacott, Jacqui Hogan and Rajeev Sawney, with Jacqui (with her President’s hat on) presenting herself the Best Evaluator ribbon.

General Evaluator Gerard P provided feedback to each evaluator as soon as they delivered their evaluation.  He was particularly pleased that members who had roles (but were unable to fulfil them) had all found replacements, and stressed the importance of member accountability in fulfilling roles/finding replacements in a timely fashion.   The use of technology was commented on, with the advice that speakers whose speech success depended on the projector should test it with their laptop in advance, to avoid any last-minute stress on the night!

Grammarian Chris Boden struggled to find uses of crutch words and umms/ahhs – and commended the club on the quality of language.

In summary, another thoroughly enjoyable and professional evening at MSC. Many thanks too to Helen and Eric Elliott for the loan of their laptop, so I could write this week’s blog while mine is being repaired.

The next meeting will be on Monday 27th January at 19:30. See you all there!

Festive Fun at Maidenhead Speakers Club!

Maidenhead Speakers Club – Monday 9th December 2013


There was festive fun in the air for the final Maidenhead Speakers’ Club meeting of the year as, unusually, we had a meeting with NO prepared speeches… but there were of course speaking opportunities aplenty for all our merry members!

Sergeant at Arms Doreen Gowing got us into the Christmas spirit straight away by sporting her seasonal knitwear, and making us laugh with a story about her cat climbing her Christmas tree to play with the baubles… the results of which we may end up seeing on YouTube yet!

President Jacqui Hogan introduced special guest Norman Fox, who was once President of MSC himself and a former District Governor before retiring from TMs. Jacqui remembered him being one of the very first people she met when she joined Toastmasters many moons ago. A name badge was also awarded to our newest member, Emilio Saev.

She then formally introduced our Toastmaster of the Evening Richard Davies, who had put together an enjoyable and imaginative menu of Toastmastery to get everyone in the room involved in tonight’s proceedings. With his trademark humour and dry wit, Richard surprisingly informed us that he had fulfilled his ambitions of: becoming a millionaire at the age of 16; becoming a Hollywood Star; and not-to-mention also become the world’s strongest man… but then warned us that he was often prone to wild exaggeration! He also warned us about the office Christmas party – where you’re only ever one faux pas away from unemployment! He finally mentioned that the ‘HATS’ acronym tonight would include an extra ‘S’ – for the ‘Socializing’ afterwards.

He then put on his Table Topics Master hat and presided over an extended session full of great topics. First up was Helen Elliott, giving an acceptance speech for finishing runner-up in a beauty contest. She told us that 6 months of prep and pampering had obviously paid off, together with lots of healthy walking around the gym! Next was Nick Bailey, receiving his award for TV viewer of the year. He said this was primarily for his time watching his favourite sport of rugby, and it’s far more enjoyable to be watching the telly than attending to those usual chores that aren’t nearly as much fun. The award for Best-Dressed TM of 2013 then went to Yohan McDonald, looking resplendent in his finest fleece. Although he did rather take the shine off the effect when he revealed his fleece was unavoidably stained with baby food and baby vomit… but hopes everyone else can adopt this style and look as good as him! Ravi Singh was next, and was invited to choose his favourite working hours. He reflected on his time working in India from 2 till 9:30pm each day, and concluded that the good old 9 to 5 in the UK is the best! Norman Fox was next, with the age-old question of whether he prefers tea or coffee. Norman told us he’s been getting into drinking green tea lately (as it’s meant to be more healthy) but, after drinking a rather sludgy cup of coffee on a trip to Czechoslovakia, he’s definitely concluded that the good old British cuppa is best! Sandra Davison was asked what pet she would like to own, and revealed she was a deprived child who wasn’t allowed any pets! But, her father has recently bought her mother a cardboard cut-out dog… and she’ll be spending Christmas at her sister’s where she can enjoy a whole menagerie, so amends have been made! Our next speaker was, er, Me… with the intriguing question of how I would explain the wonders of the internet to an audience of people who had been thawed out after being cryogenically frozen for 50 years! After momentarily unfreezing myself(!), I decided I’d wow them with my iPhone and all its features, and maybe tell them it can make the tea too. Our final TT speaker  was John Callaghan who was asked where he’d go if he were given a new motor home. John cunningly recycled a humorous speech from earlier in the year, telling us the true story of a trip to Brighton with his family, and the escapades of driving and steering such a leviathan. Once encamped, he and his family then went out on a cycle ride and got a bit lost… and he swears this is all true! John was very happy to pick up the coveted (and only ribbon of the night) for Best Table Topics Speaker.

Following on from this, we had a first for Maidenhead Speakers as Richard got us all to line up and then, one by one, take to the stage to spend 30 seconds describing a meal we’re looking forward to over the Christmas break. A great variety of mouth-watering dishes were described – everything from a full English breakfast,t to a black tie dinner at the Savoy; a corned beef sandwich to samphire seaweed; and from Christmas dinner, to snail porridge at The Fat Duck…  before each speaker with ‘bonged-out’ by Timer Julie Farrell‘s tinkly bell!

Our final group task of the evening set by Richard was for a round-robin story of a Toastmasters-sponsored journey around the world. On a rather mad journey that began on a congested M4, we ended up in London, Las Vegas and eventually the moon and back… while on the way meeting Elvis, travelling on Route 66 and marrying a horse! An out-of-this-world journey indeed.

After we each read out (other members) cards we’d written describing how we would introduce a larger-than-life new member to the club, we broke off for our long-awaited drinks, nibbles and chit-chat! Thanks so much to Nick for providing the Italian wine he’d brought especially after sampling it at a wine-tasting event, and Doreen (with a bit of help from Joyce Rhodes) for all their work in putting out all the lovely party food.  Another big thanks to Richard for organizing such a great agenda… not to mention a Big-Hug-athon at the end from Julie too!

Our next club meeting will be next year… 13th January 2014.  See you all there – a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all.  And well done to everyone at MSC for another successful year – we wouldn’t have a club without you!


Baby It’s Cold Outside…

Maidenhead Speakers Club  – Monday 25th November 2013


Baby, it’s cold outside… but fortunately for Maidenhead Speakers Club, the performances are always hot!!!

Ok, Ok, I know I sound like Bruce Forsyth… let’s see how they got on in training…..

We opened bang on time with Sergeant at Arms, Doreen Gowing, reminding us all about Ireland’s near-victory against the mighty All Blacks. Nice Try Doreen!

President Jacqui Hogan proceeded to welcome all members and guests by giving us a full recital of one of Abraham Lincoln’s most famous speeches. It’s one of the best openings by a Club President I can remember, inspiring and moving.

We then got down to the nitty-gritty as we were introduced to our debut TME Alan Grayly who confidently explained HATS, ran through the agenda, and introduced his theme (inspired by a recent trip to India) focusing on life’s mysterious and defining moments.

Table Topics Master Nick Bailey then took the floor to deliver this week’s ‘think on your feet’ extravaganza. Nick decided to use the cold weather as his theme and tried something slightly different – allowing the audience to volunteer to answer the question.

First up was Rajeev Sawhney who spoke on the decision to stay in or go out in the cold weather. Next was Vinay Neogi who told us that one of the clear pros of Winter is that he is able to go caving, one of his favourite hobbies – but explained that a con is definitely that he is forced to camp out in the cold! Paul Aherne answered his Table Topic on Winter cooking by telling us that he actually microwaves most year-round anyway! Joyce Rhodes gave us an insight into who she would invite to a Winter Dinner party… in fact she would invite 18 people and hold the party on Christmas Day, even though it’s renowned for arguments! Grant was asked whether children have better Christmas presents now than he or his parents did. He decided that kids today are more spoilt and he definitely appreciated his presents a whole lot more! Finally, we had Sandra Chavez who was Table Topping for the first time and told us all about her favourite winter holiday. All in all, a great effort, and Paul was voted as Best Table Topic Speaker.

We then heard from Toastmaster Norman Rhodes who performed an effective Education Slot entitled ‘Back to Basics’, reminding us of the importance of introductions, and the correct use of Word of the Day and the role of the Grammarian. With his wealth of experience, it’s always a treat to hear Norman speak.

On to the rehearsed speeches. Matthew Woolacott told us all about the delights of Barcelona, inspired by a recent conversation with his Father-in-Law. We were taken on a mini-tour of the gothic quarter, the Park Gael, Las Ramblas and The Sagrada Familia. If you’ve never been to Barcelona, you now have every reason to go!

Our second speaker was Richard Davies with his speech entitled ‘Rhetoric’, which focused all around a subject close to our hearts – public speaking. Richard told us that public speaking is the ‘art of persuasion’ and that to become a good speaker takes three things: determination, sincerity and practise.

Next up to give it some welly on the floor was Clive Pugh who asked us ‘is everyone a performer?’. Clive explained that 55% of communication is not in what we say, but in our body language – and asked us to consider the assumptions we make towards people. Clive’s feeling was that wherever we go in life we’re naturally judged.

And speaking of judging, just before the break we heard from a man who is very used to being judged, Chris Boden, who is fresh back from the Humorous Speech District Final where he won 3rd place. Chris was putting a plug in for the next District Conference in Dublin (having just come back myself from Colchester, I can wholeheartedly recommend attending – just don’t get too drunk!!!).

After a short break, we were welcomed back by Doreen and heard from our final speaker Lorraine Hamilton.

Lorraine spoke about the journey of man on the National Geographic Project and opened with a big statement ‘Survival, Survival, Survival’. Lorraine introduced us to the time machine (and explained that DNA is key to this) and then went on to share her own genetic markers with us. Extremely interesting stuff.

Clive Pugh won the award for Best Speaker.

Finally we moved on to the Evaluation part of the evening, run by yours truly and we heard from four fabulous evaluators, Mohammed Aziz, Chris Boden, John Callaghan and Yohan McDonald, who all gave helpful and insightful feedback to their speakers.

In the end, Yohan took away the spoils and was crowned Best Evaluator.

Last but certainly not least, we heard from our Grammarian Rob Crowe, who summarised the ums and ers and fillers that we drop into conversation.

That’s it folks, another cracking evening at MSC – would you expect anything less?

The next club night is our final meeting of the year, a special Christmas Evening on Monday 9th December. We will have drinks, nibbles and some socialising in the second half of the evening as we wind down towards the Festive Season – see you all there!

A Night to Remember!

Maidenhead Speakers Club  – Monday 14th October 2013


I dream of giving birth to a child who will ask, “Mother, what was war?” (Eve Merriam)

Monday’s meeting had a Remembrance Day Theme and it was certainly an evening to remember.

Sgt at Arms Doreen Gowing kicked the meeting off in her usual inspirational fashion and set the tone for another great night.

Club President Jacqui Hogan took to the stage to formally open the meeting, and awarded a club badge to new member Sherry, also welcoming four new guests.

TME Fatiha Lafkar took to the stage (very efficient in her first TME role) and started with the Remembrance Day theme, and then brought people back to the present.

TTM Steve Cann continued the Remembrance Theme with his Table Topics session, which was challenging with only few members available for the TT: Lorraine Hamilton started taking about her childhood memories of her Grandma’s kitchen and her favourite dress. She explained how much she loved the dress ,and how she would spend time in front of the mirror!  Rajeev Sawney stepped up next to do his first table topics and to talk to us all about Indian culture and how he was in his late teens before he watched his first movie… a James Bond film. Nick Bailey was up next, discussing his favourite book with a great description, and explaining how that influenced his travels. Next up was Timea Phillips from Chiltern Speakers. She shared her story of meeting Tony Blair and HRH The Prince Wales at Hammersmith Hospital where she was a nurse. Next up were three guests, First Derone spoke about a book by Susan Greenfield, followed by Grant who shared his experience of suffering a football injury (and the transition to Rugby), and Marilyn who shared her journey (and the surprise at being called up for her first TT!). Finally Cheryll stood up to do her first TT and told us about her personal experience relating to her job.

Best Table Topics ribbon was awarded to Grant Oliver.

On now to our four prepared speeches, and first with his icebreaker was Peter Needham, and his speech entitled ‘Back on Track. He shared his personal stories and aspirations in a very confident manner with good stage presence. He finished by mentioning his experiences of setting goals (such as to run 100 half marathons) and, when faced with difficulty, how he looks at ways to overcome obstacles. 

Next, Romain Barraud delivered a personal speech ‘Computer Scientist are the Greatest’. He told why computer scientists are the greatest with anecdotes about eating pizza, and how using only one room of the house is rather good for the reducing your carbon footprint!

Julie Farrell gave an inspiration, humorous and interactive story which captivated the audience with ‘Enjoy Yourself’. Her brilliant twist in the end took us off in a new direction, and added a new dimension to the whole speech!

The final speaker was Jacqui Hogan, speaking about how Jane Austen novels have captured her imagination, and why she is such a huge fan.

Best Speaker ribbon was awarded to Julie Farrell.

Zahid Aziz, in her first time as General Evaluator, led the evaluation team with Mohammed Aziz doing his first evaluation followed by Norman Rhodes, Chris Webb and Richard Davies. All the evaluations were outstanding with good feedback and useful suggestions and recommendations.

Best Evaluator of the evening ribbon went to Richard Davies.

Grammarian John Callaghan gave a lively, confident and relaxed report on the usage of language and word of the day, ‘Quotidian’. Timers Cheryl and Nick Bailey also did excellent work making sure all our speakers were aware of those all-important traffic-lights.

This was a thoroughly entertaining and educational evening all-round.

The next club night is tonight – Monday 25th November.  See you all there!

Catching up (Part One)

Part one of District Governor Vanessa King’s latest post, with news & pics of the Humorous Speech & Table Topics Finals Contest in Colchester, featuring of course the successes of our very own Chris Boden!

Division H, District 91

I have fallen so behind in posting, I’m so sorry everyone! It’s been crazy, but fun, so here’s a summary of what I’ve been up to and a small sample of the amazing things that are happening in Division H.

FirstPlaceTopicsOn the 19th of October we had the Divsion H Humorous Speech and Table Topics Contests. We sent two worthy representatives to the District contest, held on the 8th-10th of November in Colchester. David Henderson made it to the final of the Table Topics Contest and gave a fun and entertaining response to the question ‘If you could go back in time, what would you tell your 10-year-old self?’ It was his first time competing at that level and he really did us all proud. Well done, David, you’re officially a District Finalist!

Chris Boden was also brilliant at the Humorous Speech final. He’d made a few tweeks to the…

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Blown Away by Speeches

Maidenhead Speakers Club  – Monday 28 October 2013


Doreen Gowing opened another splendid evening of high class speeches as Sergeant at Arms, sharing her dismay at losing a fence panel in the recent storm!

Julie Farrell stood in for Jacqui Hogan as President and warmed everyone up with some ‘o-fence-sive’ humour… which got everyone in a great mood for what was to come.

Toastmaster for the Evening John Callaghan then took to the stage bringing with him high energy and uplifting spirit. He made encouraging comments to all speakers and helped provide a very supportive environment.

Table Topics Master was Matthew Woolacott delivered an excellent topics session using the Halloween season as the theme.  First up was Romain Barraud who showed complete humility by saying that he actually got scared by a scary movie, sharing his story of hiding behind the sofa very skillfully. Sandra Chavez related her topic of whether Halloween had been commercialized by choosing to focus on the topic closest to home, her home country in South America. Steve Cann shared his trick or treat stories as a kid, that actually tended to be more of a ‘Menace for money’ approach, which brought howls of laughter from the audience. Finally Lorraine Hamilton delivered her talk on her worst food by first buying time by skillfully picking up the wrong topic slip! This bought her enough time to share the story of her worst veg, wining the best topic of the night in the process!

The Prepared speeches were opened with an educational slot by Mell Sheppard on the value of ‘Connecting with the audience’. Her points were extremely strong and included the question all speakers should ask ‘Is the speech for me, or the audience?’. Mell stated it should be for the audience, and that one should be versatile and ready to change the speech at the last minute to match the mood of the audience.

Mohammad Aziz was next up and delivered his Ice breaker with high confidence, including humour in his opening – which is a surefire way to win over the audience. Vinay Neogi also delivered his Ice Breaker in fine style, using his strong voice to fill the room, and holding a confident posture which says he is already establishing himself as a great speaker. Karen Szulakowska gave us an unconventional talk that included role play, demonstrating negotiation skills. This also demonstrated Karen’s advanced speaking skills and won her best speaker of the night. Zahid Aziz delivered his speech using an unconvential method of sharing his notes, which worked famously….not for the first time! He also showed why he is now working from the Advanced Manual range.


Yohan McDonald took leadership of the evaluation team as General Evaluator, and took delight in introducing a team consisting of a Grammarian and four Evaluators.

Nick Spooner opened up this session with a warm commendation of Mohammad’s talk, stating clear recommendations and ending with great encouragement which every speaker needs. Beshlie Donaldson displayed her warmth and calming demeanour to feedback her thoughts, stating the improvement areas in clear & simple terms, ensuring her words were supportive to her ice breaker speaker. Mary Fraser made her evaluation very personal by sharing all the areas she liked about the speech, skillfully presenting to the audience, but ensuring eye contact with the speaker. The winner of the best evaluation of the evening was Sandra Davison, who made her points not only by saying the message  but by being the message, moving around on stage to demonstrate each point with the high level of confidence we always enjoy from her.


Overall the evening was very enjoyable and educating, as each speech contained many things the audience could learn and benefit from. Maidenhead Speakers is (and continues to be) such a well-run club, making each session very worthy of attendance, and anticipation for the next one.

The next club night is on Monday 11th November – see you all there!

Visit to Maidenhead

Lovely overview of Oct 14th’s meeting by our visiting Division Governer Vanessa King, who was also Guest GE for the evening.

Division H, District 91

On 14th October I paid a visit to Maidenhead Speakers Club, and what a night! Packed seats, packed agenda and packed with lots of learning.

The meeting was opened with a warm and friendly greeting from the Sergeant at Arms, Doreen, she then handed over to club president Jacquie, who was very excited to welcome two new members to MSC. I really like the way the club gets badges made up for their members and makes a little ceremony of handing them to new members, it’s a lovely way to welcome them to the toastmasters family.

Gerard was Toastmaster of the Evening and told us the very useful piece of information that at MSC beer was called Jasmine tea. Sadly I forgot to make use of this, clearly I will have to make a return visit… Gerard welcomed all the speakers with great enthusiasm and created a welcoming and fun…

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Area 21 Humorous Speech & Table Topics Contest… in Full

Contestants, members and guests from Area 21 all assembled on a warm and bright October Saturday morning at Burnham Park Hall in Bucks for a fun-filled and lively Area Humorous Speech and Table Topics Contest – showcasing the best of the Area’s wit and spontaneous speaking skills!
Contest Chair and Area Governor Mark Emanuelson kicked off proceedings in a positive fashion by building up applause and getting us to make sure our whooping and cheering were all as good as they could be!
Chief Judge Krys Duvall also came up to explain judges’ protocols.

Mark then introduced guest speaker Tracey Miranda, who entertained us with her stand-up routine. She warned us that when us Toastmasters see a red light when driving, we still think we have 30 seconds before we need to stop… and then amused us with her Competent Mother Manual, a Toastmasters-style book that all new mothers surely need to read and aspire to if they wish to achieve their CM award!

Onto the speeches:

Phil Sheahan was first up with ‘Life, Plan, Lemon’, talking about the seven deadly sins, his faulty Citroen, and a mid-life crisis… at 25!
Amanda Bouch gave us ‘Mirth Beats Girth’ – starting and ending her speech with her own wonderful infectious hysterical laughter. She told of how escapades with the gym, canoeing and jogging led her to realize that the perfect work-out in life was ultimately… laughter itself!
David Wise started his speech  ‘Tongue-Tied Teenager’ with some tongue-twisting audience participation, then went on to reveal how as a child he had trouble pronouncing his Rs, with his town of Ringwood coming out as Wingwood. But he kept practising with a tape recorder until he could say it… and somehow got a disco-dancing dinosaur impersonation into his speech at some point too!
Jan Trewartha‘s speech ‘Romancing the Cone’ spoke of she and her friend’s amorous adventures in Rome as ex-army nurses. She described it as the City of Love; the place that puts the ‘Rome’ into ‘Romance’. Not to mention the delicious ice-cream too!
Stewart Linford took to the stage in top hat and dickie bow for his speech ‘Winston Churchill AGM’, telling us the tale of the wonderful wooden chair he’d made (and delivered) to the said-AGM of his hero, complete with secret cigar drawer… but somehow, due to running late, ended up at the wrong party by mistake!
Sam Billington entertained us with his power point presentation ‘It’s an Education’. He acted rather convincingly as the proverbial headteacher to a roomful of Toastmaster pupils who clearly need to pull their socks up… or they’ll all end up on his detention list!
Therese Edkins was next with ‘To Win Friends and Irritate People’. She spoke of the time she travelled to the Isle of Man to attend the TTs, but during this eventful journey she somehow ended up knocking over a police motorbike after being stopped on her bike en route… and how she then talked her way out of this potentially awkward situation by using her well-developed Toastmastering skills.
Final speaker Chris Boden brought us ‘The Joy of Motivation’, and how following the literal advice (of that seeminghly-inspiring and harmless) quote of ‘sing and dance like nobody’s watching or listening’ got him into all sorts of unexpected trouble…
All the Humorous Speakers with their participation certificates from Mark.

All the Humorous Speakers with their participation certificates from Mark.

Chris Boden went on to win Best Speaker, with Therese Edkins runner-up and Jan Trewartha finishing a very respectable third in a tightly-fought contest of a very high standard.
Chris receiving his trophy for Best Speaker award.

Chris receiving his trophy for Best Speaker award.

After the half-time break, it was onto Table Topics.
Mark asked each contestant: ‘If you had one superpower for a day, what would it be and how would you use it?
Philip Sheahan told us he’d go back in time to when he was 12 years-old and buy shares in Apple! By doing this, he mused that by now he’d be living a life of sunshine and luxury on his yacht in the Caribbean.
Marz Colucci‘s ingeniously described that his superpower would be to have his very-own customized Babel-Fish, which he’d place in his ear to understand what everybody he met was saying verbally and emotionally.
Peter Shreeve decided that his power would be to travel back in time to double-check whether our historical records of ancient cultures such as the Romans and Egyptians are as accurate as we believe… and also check back on his relatives from his family tree and spend a day with them.
Chris Boden planned to be the ‘God of Gaming’ for one day, whereby he’d clean up at the casinos and set himself up very nicely as a millionaire! He would have a superhero’s cape, but was concerned that his newly-found flying powers may cause problems with the Civil Aviation Authority.
Amanda Bouch declared her superpower would be the power of love! All she would have to do was walk into a roomful of people, and she could ‘infect’ them instantly with her power of love,.They would then pass it onto others, and soon everyone in the world would be smiley, relaxed, and at one, just for one beautiful day.
John Callaghan thought that having the power of public speaking would be useful for a contest(!) but other than that, he’d have the power of Super-speed – making him invincible and being able to get anything done. He’d also prefer to have the notoriety of being a super-villain rather than a superhero!
David Wise decided that to be a proper superhero, you do need a cape… but he’d hide his away and do something incredible with his life instead, such as having the power to heal people. But then he worried that he may get classed as a deity, with his power more of a curse than a blessing… if he ended up in the same predicament as Brian in the Life of Brian!
Jan Trewartha spoke of her recurring dream that she can fly… but can’t somehow get through the ceiling! But she’d love to have the full power of flight for one day, and to soar into the clouds. For a start, it would save her a fortune on airline tickets! She then reflected that she’d like to be a fly on the wall of the world, seeing what people really are like when their guard is down, and this would ultimately make her more tolerant of the human race in general.
All the Table Topics' Speakers with their participation certificates from Mark.

All the Table Topics’ Speakers with their participation certificates from Mark.

Chris Boden was victorious once more, winning Best Table Topics SpeakerPhil Sheahan was awarded runner-up, and David Wise third.

Chris being awarded as Best Table Topics' Speaker.

Chris being awarded as Best Table Topics’ Speaker.

Mark also invited each speaker up at the end to give their thoughts on the contest and public speaking itself, and to share some personal insights with the audience, which we all really enjoyed.

Well done to all our speakers from MSC today – John, Sam and especially Chris, who now goes on to represent Area 21 at the District Contest in Dorking on October 19th in both contests – what an achievement! Well done to Mark Emanuelson too for organizing such an excellent and well-run event.
Hope to see as many of you there as possible to support him!
Our next regular club night in Maidenhead will be next Monday, October 14th.