Tall Tales of Maidenhead

Annual Tall Tales Contest 2019

A delightful evening at our President’s home to celebrate 35 years of Maidenhead Speakers Club.  We held the Tall Tales contest where the contestants told funny and wildly exaggerated stories.


There were 4 contestant for the Tall Tales competition which took place after a delicious Texan BBQ.

First up was Lorraine with a speech entitled “Squashed” where she enlisted dark forces to become the best squash player “in the world”.  Lorraine was followed by Maria who gave a very humorous tale about her special VW Golf that talked to her, guiding her driving and giving advice on avoiding dangerous shrubs.

Next was Tony with his heart warning yet dark tale about a pet tortoise that had died or had it?  Last but by no means least Steve delivered a very clever impromptu tale in which everything and everyone was named after a fish!

Lorraine emerged the winner but it was a very close contest with extremely strong entries from all competitors.

lorrain 2019 - tall tales


It was a thoroughly enjoyable evening and our Club President Tom and his wife made all of us feel very welcome.  Everyone had a great time.  I’m really looking forward to our next social event around Christmas time.

Thank you for your hospitality

Annual International Speech and Evaluation Club Contest – 2019

Once again, this years International Speech and Evaluation contest provided members and guests with a spectacular evening. This years event was organised by Toastmaster Julie Farrell and what an evening it was.

The event was attended by no fewer than 30 people and everyone was extremely impressed with the speakers and evaluations.

The night kicked off with an unusual but highly interactive A-Z story that involved everyone taking turns to continue a rather bazaar story about a group of aliens that visited the Toastmaster club.

This led us into the speech contest where we where glued to our seats as 4 speakers and 7 evaluators took part in trying to claim those coveted wins.

International Speech Contest

We had 4 entries to the speech contest this year with brilliant performances from all. In the end Tom Hostetler took top honours with his heartwarming speech sharing his story and pride of his son.



Results for the 2019 International Speech

  • Tom Hostetler – 1st
  • Tony Searby – 2nd
  • Chris Boden – 3rd

Evaluation Contest

Next the audience was treated to a master class in speaking from our guest speaker, Eddie McGuire from Chiltern Speakers. He delivered an amazing, active, thought provoking speech about how our actions or words can sometimes cause offence and the importance of owning and recognising them.

We had 8 entries to the Evaluation contest but on the night, Tony Searby took top honours.


Results for the 2019 Evaluation Content

  • Tony Searby – 1st
  • Lorraine Hamilton – 2nd
  • Vidhya Nadarajan – 3rd

Well done to everyone that took part and thank you to everyone that helped arrange the evening.


Overall, an educational, fun-filled and enjoyable evening.


How to evaluate table topics

The role of Table Topics Evaluator (TTE) is a relatively new one for Maidenhead. Some people may be wondering how to do it. My first club, like many others, has this as a role at every meeting so I’ve had lots of practice. Here are my tips on being the TTE.

Scope of the role:

Give useful feedback to each of the table topics speakers.

But how ?

1_ConferenceEssentially the TTE role is very similar to the General Evaluator (GE). You’re giving feedback to a number of people in a short amount of time. Time is your enemy here, a good TTE, like a good GE will effectively use the time they have.

A struggling one will waffle on and waste it. You will have about 5 minutes to evaluate 6 or 7 speakers. This is why this role is so good to do – it teaches you to get to the point and be disciplined in your content.

What’s the key? Structure

Every speaker gets a Commend / Recommend / Commend (CRC). And nothing more.

For each speaker state one thing you

  1. liked (C);
  2. one thing you thought could be improved (R);
  3. then one other thing you liked (C).

Then move on to the next speaker.

e.g. Bob’s question was about his favourite holiday.

I like the way Bob came striding to the front, he really looked confident and that big smile put us all at ease. I’d recommend that Bob keep his hands out his pocket, it looks a bit too casual and fidgety, so try to gesture or keep the hands in a comfortable neutral position. What I really loved was the story Bob told about the waiter in Ibiza. It was really funny and the vivid language out us there with him. Next up was Charlene…”

Keep it short and to the point.

How long? 45 seconds per speaker. 15 seconds commend, 15 seconds recommend, 15 seconds commend. It’s longer than it sounds, but it will make you get to the point.

Some things you could look out for in your evaluation:

  • Did they answer the question? (That’s important)
  • Did they waffle a lot at the start?
  • Did they have any distracting nervous habits?
  • Did they spend all of their thinking time looking at the floor or the ceiling?
  • Did they tell a good story?
  • Did they use an effective structure?

Whatever you talk about, remember to be encouraging. Lots of people are very nervous about table topics so try to finish on a positive.

Things not to do:

  • Don’t evaluate the topics master. The GE will take care of that and it wastes time.
  • Don’t spend a lot of time talking about the first speaker. Do theirs quickly and move on. Many TTE spend loads of time talking about the first two speakers then realise they only have a minute left to do the other 5.

Now, sign up! Remember – stay focused, get to the point, don’t waffle, use CRC and enjoy yourself!

Chris Boden


The Toastmaster Promise – 12th Nov 2018

Turnout at the Nov.12 MSC meeting was again well over 20, and all were treated to an entertaining evening of varied speeches and evaluations.  Area Director Bret Freemen came to participate and hopefully was impressed with the organisation, attention to detail and camaraderie amongst the members.


Doreen, our steadfast Sargent at Arms, opened the meeting and led from the start with her enthusiasm and humour.  Chairing the first half of the meeting was first time Toastmaster of the Evening Kathleen, who set the scene.

Lorraine then followed with Table Topics under the theme of ‘The Toastmasters Promise’ and the members called up impressed us with their impromptu speaking ability, including new members Alex and Leanne.   Tony came away with the Best Table Topic award with his humorous view on the merits (or lack thereof) on speech preparation.


Prepared speech topics included an Ice Breaker on the subject of tasting a fine wine, a foray into the world of mnemonics, the value of education, and the fall of Troy.

Best Speaker Award went to James on only his second speech, delving into the mysteries of memory techniques.


In the evaluation section of the meeting, evaluators assigned to each speaker are given 2 minutes to provide a scintillating, detailed and thorough assessment of the speech, while another member evaluates the Table Topics speakers.

While seemingly a daunting challenge, all 5 were clearly up to the task, with Chris, who evaluated Table Topics, winning the award for Best Evaluator by appealing to each speakers’ unique characteristics while providing valuable feedback.

Closing the evening with the awards, all members were then reminded to RSVP Tom on the Dec. 8 Christmas ‘do’ and that the second half of the December 10 meeting will be social hour with food and drinks.


Humorous Speech Contest, 24 Sep 2018

‘Battle of the Sexes’, ‘Definitely Weird But Is It Funny?’ ,’Life Changing Events’.. just some of the humorous speeches delivered on the night.

Energy in the room was high when the S@A opened the meeting, the room was buzzing in anticipation.  As well as the regular members of the club there were 3 visitors from other clubs and 4 new guests.  For Club President Tom, it was his first meeting back after a holiday in the US where he had attended the International Speech Contest in Chicago and had seen the top 10 Toastmaster’s speakers in the world delivering there speeches to an audience of 1,500 – 2,000. He encouraged members to think about attending the next conference in Denver, saying it was an inspirational experience.


Contest Chair Clayton then opened the contest proper, assisted by Chief Judge Vidya.  He opened as always with an very amusing anecdote.  Then onto the serious business of the contest and he ran through the rules.

Humorous Speech contest first of all and Micheal was up first with his very funny speech entitled ‘Battle of the Sexes’ a story about when he had a sty removed from his eye.  Tony was up next with his speech entitled ‘Definitely Weird But Is It Funny?’ where he asked the ultimate question.. would we do anything for love?  Tony had some problems with his audio equipment which definitely added to the laughs.. Steve then delivered a speech ‘Life Changing Events’.. do you remember a life-changing event was the question he asked of the audience. His life changing event was parenthood.  Nick was the final speaker in the contest with he speech ‘Me and My Flannel’ , opening with a proverb..when in Rome do as the Romans do..but when Japan ??

Judging then took place, counters counted the votes and we broke for tea, coffee , biscuits and croissant.


We reconvened for the Table Topics contest;7 contestants taking part.  Angela was first up to hear the Table Topics question while the other 6 contestants where led out of the room. The questions was ‘ My friend was invited to a house with a 80 million pound super-car collection. If money was no object what would you collect and why?’.  The other contestants Michael, Chris, Tony, Doreen, Steve and Kathleen where brought into the room to give their response to the table-topic question in turn.

Judging then took place and award presented.

Humorous  Speech Contest Results

  • 1st: Steve
  • 2nd: Tony
  • 3rd: Nick

Table Topic Contest Results

  • 1st: Chris
  • 2nd: Doreen
  • 3rd: Kathleen


A thoroughly brilliant evening, well done to all who took part. A big thank you to those members who organised the contests, you did a brilliant job and thank you to members of other clubs who assisted in the evening.

Holiday Season, 20th Aug 2018

Holiday season is in full swing but that didn’t stop members from coming down and listening to some great speeches. With some of our regular committee members taking a well earned break, other members stepped in and held the meeting together. Special note to Steve who managed to take on 2 roles at once (timer and GE), not an easy task.

The table topics session was led by Ian, and what seemed initially as an easy ask, stumped a few regulars. Ultimately, a guest Speaker (but soon to be member), Alistair, was crowned the best Table Topic speaker for the night, with his ability to describe the useful, yet challenging position of telesales. Congratulations.

We then where treated to 3 prepared speeches from Jack, Riccardo and Cheryl .

Jack challenged the group with a powerful speech about how important it is that we have space to talk about topics that are difficult or risk creating space for those who are ignorant or not as honest as others to hold and sway the conversations.

Riccardo then took us on a tour of Opera and how it relates to your voice, how using Toastmasters provides a way to train your vocal muscles to help you deliver better speeches.

Finally, Cheryl took us on a magical tour of a recent experience she had in the forests of Bedfordshire. She told us how we can help ourselves to create a better connection to nature and open ourselves to listen.

Cheryl-1780-final-low res

Best Speaker – Aug 20th 2018

Our evaluators, Alan, Tony and Micheal then provided valuable feedback to the speakers with Tony taking top honours for best Evaluation.

At the end of the meeting, we closed with a general evaluation from Steve and awards where Cheryl ended up taking Best Speaker for the night.



New Committee, New Journey

Maidenhead Speakers New committee brings new ideas to the table

This years committee has started work on preparing and planning out the new year. Each year in July, club members are nominated to take up roles that help to keep the club running and aligned to the Toastmasters International mission.

We provide a supportive and positive learning experience in which members are empowered to develop communication and leadership skills, resulting in greater self-confidence and personal growth.

In fact, part of that missions ‘personal growth’ is directly related to gaining new experiences by taking part in the committee roles. Each role, challenges people to step into an area of skills they may have little to no experience in but allows them to learn in an open and safe environment.


Weather it be learning how to manage the finances of a club, running the PR activities or even running the whole club as the president does, each of these roles gives people the opportunity to learn and try out new things.

Who knows, maybe it sparks an interest in making a career change?

Contest Comment & Results, 11 Sept 2017

Congratulations to all the contestants and club members who helped make Monday 9/11 a night to remember for all the right reasons.  The stage beckons for our performers who delighted the audience with their wit, insight and enthusiasm to entertain.  Comedy Central, watch out!
Table Topic Contest
1st Chris Boden
2nd Sandra Davison
3rd Tony Searby
Humorous Speech Contest
1st Chris Boden
2nd Monica Horton
3. Sandra Davison

Contest Bonanza 27th March and 8th April

A catch up on the club and area contests just gone. On the 27th March, we held our International Speech and Evaluation Contests. Brave members gave their all, pulling together their learnt skills to show what they can do under pressure. The International Speech contest saw three speakers – Doreen, Tony and Louise – doing their thing. Doreen spoke about the difficulty of entering the contest and the difference that the support and acceptance of others makes. Tony spoke about the problems of covering up child abuse and the factors that have led to the recent scandals. Louise gave an emotional account of her grandfather’s time in an underfunded NHS hospital system.

In the evaluation contest we were lucky to have a test speech given by Alice from Wokingham Speakers. It set a very difficult task for our four evaluators – Doreen, Michael, Gayatri and Paul M.

The results were:

International Speech – 1st Place Louise

Evaluation – 1st Place Gayatri, 2nd place Paul.

Congratulations to all! [I will say at this point there was a photographic failure, which is why I’m lacking picture to go with this blog…sorry!]

Yesterday saw Maidenhead Speakers host the Area 21 contest, which is the second round. We were joined by contest winners from Wokingham, Windsor, Ascot and Chiltern Speakers, taking on our champs – Louise in the speech contest and Doreen in Evaluation (both Gayatri and Paul had previous engagements.)

In a remarkably high standard Area contest, both were won by former Maidenhead member Amanda Bouch. Louise was brilliant and placed third in the International Speech Contest.

Louise.jpgA big thank you to everyone who helped out on Saturday. We had a load of volunteers and it was fantastic to see the club getting behind the event and supporting.

An Absolute Treat!

MSC Meeting – Monday 13 February 2017

With Guest Blogger – Doreen

What An Absolute Treat!

Looking at the original schedule and what actually happened on the night, one would be forgiven for thinking it was a Friday 13th. Chopping and changing going on all over the place, with no less than 7 changes. On one hand it’s concerning that members were not committed to their allocated roles. On the other hand, it’s a huge tribute to the members who dug deep and pulled the meeting from the brink. Mohammad stepped in as TME to run the show, sliding in 3 minutes late almost unnoticed as Mike and Chris got the evening rolling.

If you weren’t at the meeting you missed an absolute treat of a Table Topic session led by Tony. In his creative and novel way he ingeniously managed to involve the whole audience by running a Quiz alongside his theme of Music. All I can say is never ever miss an evening when Tony is Table Topics Master. As speakers were dropping like flies there was time for 10 lucky speakers. Of which Monica came out shining as the winner with her thoughts on the song ‘Don’t cry for me Argentina’.

We were treated to no less than two Ice Breakers. Paul M with his speech ‘I Paul’. His personal story of what made him the man he is today and what inspires him for the future was touching and powerfully delivered. Paul has a bag of skills tucked under his belt and willing to learn lots more.

Our second Ice Breaker was by Gerry who touched us with his poem which shaped his life. Then continued to light up the room with his story of how he is part of a team who designed a bulb which will last 100,000 hours.

It was indeed a night for the poets and singers as Chris working from Specialty Speeches Reading out Loud, entertained us with two poems by Australian poets who had very contracting writing styles.

Paul took away the Best Speaker Ribbon. Well done Paul.

The three evaluators for the evening Grant, Sandra and Mary all gave high quality feedback to the speakers. It was Mary who went away with the coveted Best Evaluator Ribbon.

Well done everyone for turning what could have been a pancake into a soufflé.

The meeting ended on time and a few members meandered down to the pub to chew over the evening, life and the universe.