People Power!


Maidenhead Speakers Blog 26.07.16

With Guest Blogger – Yohan

People Power!

The evening’s preceding began with Mike the Sgt at Arms bringing his energy to the stage and introducing the night with a personal story. Followed by Chris – President who built on that energy by welcoming all (including the several guests) and providing a timely reminder of the forthcoming speaking contest in Sept.

Our Toastmaster for the Evening was Lorraine who set out the scene for the evening’s events and reminded us that just four years ago today we were all preparing for the 2012 London Olympics – and how it was People Power that brought it all together through the amazing volunteers. It is this same positive group mindset that makes us so successful at Maidenhead Speakers club.

Our Table Topics session was led by Doreen, who provided thought provoking and inspiring topics for the next speakers to put their creative voice to. Mary told us how she grew Hollyhock flowers up the garden path. Tom shared a story about how his parents expecting him and his siblings to provide holiday homes across the world! Steve Catchick admitted that he hasn’t read his Toastmaster magazine this month… and left several other books half read! Monica used the classic technique of repeating the question and pause to buy some valuable seconds to think of her answer while on stage. Louise calm demeanour and use of pause also demonstrated how to create some much needed time at the start to help manifest a suitable response. Jan used vivid and detailed description of her garden to inspire our creative vision. Alan used brutal honesty by saying that he didn’t like the topic choices and would have preferred the other questions!

The winner of the Best Table Topic went to Steve Catchick

Speaker #1 was Vidhya gave us a talk laced with personal stories and delivered it with an outstanding display of stage authority and stage presence. Her message was based around her friend who was an architect who wanted to achieve more out of life. Animation and hand gestures were used throughout, which made this captivating speech so engaging.

Speaker #2 was Grant, who took us back to 1971, and explained throughout with use of a PowerPoint visual aid why this was such a significant year for him. His message was filled with humour, especially around the point that he wasn’t one of those people who used drugs at this time!

Speaker #3 was Nick, who took on the arduous task of delivering an extended talk on how to manage a sales pitch on a complex subject. He used an audience member to demonstrate how to handle objections and steer the conversation towards a successful close.

The Best Speaker of the night went to Vidhya – and her proud parents on holiday from India were there to witness the occasion!

Evaluator #1 was Jivan who was evaluating Vidhya.  His first point was about how Vidhya ‘hooked us’ with her personal story – this point also helped the audience understand how important it is to ‘engage’ the audience at the very start. He also gave very clear advice on the improvement areas, saying what and why it could change.

Evaluator #2 was Monica evaluating Grant, using a valuable technique of humour to reflect on the point made earlier about drug use by Grant to engage the audience. It was a thorough evaluation identifying key strengths and improvement areas for the speaker and audience to take away.

Evaluator #3 was Tony evaluating Nick. He began with a warm and self-reassuring message to Nick that he achieved a high standard of delivery on this tricky and difficult subject, which would surely have warmed any speaker. Tony delivered all his positive and areas of improvement points with clarity & energy, which helped show his core strengths as an evaluator.

Evaluator #4 was Paul who evaluated all the table topic speakers. Paul did a brilliant job so much so that two Best Evaluator ribbons were handed out, one to him – and another to Tony!

Our Grammarian role was filled by Kashmira, who provided a comprehensive analysis to the use of language by most – this was interrupted with her personal account of how language and accents especially have helped & inhibited her. She brought this up to highlight the challenge Vidhya’s parents told her during the break they had in understanding the British accent. They had actually not long arrived from a holiday in the US where they also found the American accent a bit of challenge!

Well done to all on another amazing and fantastic evening of speaking at Maidenhead Speakers Club

The next session is on Monday August 8th 2016 – the Toasmatster is Honor.

All that is new, and glitters…


Maidenhead Speakers Club – Blog 11th July 2016 

With Guest Blogger – Gerard

All that is new, and glitters…

Summary:  First meeting with new Committee, President promises to ensure meetings end on time,   new video camera available for members,  mentors and mentees best practices,  General Evaluator (GE) recommends:  have fewer chairs and bring attendees to the rows at the front when attendee numbers are low,  include clock times in agenda, throw away the HATS acronym,  decide who should organize the speaker/evaluator lineup. 

Best Topics Speaker: Vidhya, Best Evaluator: Mell, Best Speaker: Tony

A rousing and humorous welcome by the new, yes NEW, Sgt@Arms Mike who told us that it was the first meeting of the new Toastmaster Year (which starts on 01 July), as he invited the NEW President Chris to take the stage.   In his ‘Manifesto’ Chris reminded us about how strong Maidenhead Speakers Club (MSC) was – with good membership figures, excellent speakers and evaluators.  He highlighted the Toastmasters International motto ‘Where leaders are made’, emphasizing that people look up to those who speak with authority, conviction and passion, and that experience gained at Toastmasters opened up leadership doors.  ‘Subtle changes are coming’  said Chris, promising that one of his key goals is to ensure meetings finish by 2145 (or 9.45 pm)

Having been introduced as a ‘legend’ by the President, Toastmaster of the Evening (TME) Richard had a lot to live up to.  A well thought out and managed Topics session by Mukesh focused on a world that is changing faster and faster.  Regretfully other commitments kept numbers down with a total of 23 attendees (which included 5 guests) so the Topics session was restricted to just 4 speakers getting an opportunity to practice impromptu speaking.

Four prepared speeches followed.  Jon in a speech titled ‘Run Daddy Run’ outlined how he is preparing to be fit enough to run with his children when they are 16 years old.  Through a combination of running during his lunch break and changing his diet, he has got fitter, lost 5KG in weight, felt a sense of achievement and made friends with other colleagues from his workplace who also run at noon. 

Jivan, with a thought provoking speech titled ‘Gift of Life’, started off by offering sums ranging from £10,000 to £1 million to members willing to chop of a piece of their little finger.  Having grabbed our attention he spoke passionately about how donating one’s organs could save up to 8 lives and donating tissue could help up to 50 people, sobering us with the statistic that just in the USA, 4000 people a day die waiting for an organ.

Rajeev lifted our spirits with ‘People Watching’ – an amusing advanced speech about a recent trip to San Francisco, where he was bemused by the voice volumes and appetites of the natives and the size of the food portions in restaurants.

When Tony jumped onto the high stage with a multicolored hoop around his waist and proceeded to open his speech while ‘hoopla-ing’ it brought home to the audience what a group of multi-talented members MSC has.  

President Chris introduced a change to the meeting format by asking the visitors to introduce themselves and asking ‘what brought you here tonight?’ before the break.

During the break members entertained themselves (and entertained others) by trying out the 6 hoops that Tony had brought in.

Sgt@Arms Mike re-convened the meeting by showing us the new MSC video camera which all members can use during speeches to record themselves.  They need to bring their own SD card.

Nick delivered an advanced speech / education session about the relationship between mentors and mentees.  Mentors should make more recommendations than commendations,  listen actively, ask open questions, identify mentees potential, while mentees should take time to practice, read feedback slips and act on recommendations.

The GE Steve introduced the 4 evaluators Lorraine,  Alan, Riccardo and Mell who delivered valuable and insightful feedback to the speakers.  Steve then dissected the evening, making several forceful suggestions.  Looking around at the number of empty chairs he said that the TME or President should invite attendees to move to the front of the room when attendance was low and also perhaps change the layout to deliver more energy.  Steve recommended that the Agenda should have not just the duration but the clock time for each activity (e.g.  Speech 1 – Joe Blogs 8.05-8.12 pm rather than Speech 1 Joe Blogs 7 minutes) since this gave the TME a more accurate indication of how the schedule was being kept. He pointed out that the HATS acronym was not a TMI standard and MSC should consider not using it during meeting introductions.   Steve also raised the question as to whether the TME should organize speakers AND evaluators to minimize confusion.

The meeting concluded at 9.30 p.m, delighting the President that he had met one of his key objectives.

Club HS and TT Speaking Contests 28th Sept


Maidenhead Speakers Club – Blog 28th September

Club Contest!

With Blogger Matthew


It was that time of year again, the Annual Maidenhead Speakers Club Humorous Speech and Table topics Contest.

The evening was opening by the Sergeant at Arms, Lorraine who then passed over to our Club President, Monica.

Monica informed us that our current VP Membership Gabriella had had to resign from the committee. The club then voted in magnanimously Suzette as the new VP Membership. A big welcome to the committee for Suzette! Monica also had news that the committee had been investigating a move to new a new venue. Monica outlined all the hard work that had gone on behind the scenes with this and outlined the conclusion that St Piran’s School had been chosen as the most suitable alternative for the new venue. To enable this move the membership fees would have to be increased from the next period from £40 to £50 to ensure the finances were kept on an even keel. Monica called the club to vote on this and it was passed almost unanimously. There was a quorum of members on the evening that enabled the vote to stand.

The Contest Chair for the evening was Mohammad, with Chief Judge Gerard.

Humorous Speeches;

Chris – Smart Phone, the greatest invention?

Clive – Overheard Voices

Zahid – Secrets to a successful marriage

Michael – Outer strength, inner Strength


Table Topics;

Below listed contestants answering the question of:

What would you choose as an alternative to speed cameras?









The Humorous speech contest awards were as follows;

Third place went to – Clive

Second place – Zahid

And the winner was – Chris


The Table topics contest awards were as follows;

Third place went to – Clive

Second place – Tony

And the winner was – Chris


The winner goes forward to the area contest to be held on 10th October 2015 at Burnham Park Hall, Windsor Road, Burnham. Coffee from 9am for 9.30 start.

Steve also reminded the club that the District conference was looming large and early bird offers end soon! This years conference is just down the road (M4) in Swindon on the 7th and 8th of November 2015, and Steve would like to see as many club members there as possible as it is a great benefit to us all.


Post meeting note: Chris declined to compete for Maidenhead Speakers in the area 21 contest and has gone forward in the Reading Club and Area 46 contest. We wish Chris all the best. Therefore Maidenhead Speakers Club in the area 21 contest will be represented by Zahid in the Humorous Speaking contest and Tony in the Table Topics contest. We wish them both well for the 10th of October.

More Ladies please.

Maidenhead Speakers Club – Blog Monday 14th September 2015

With Guest Blogger Paul

More Ladies please.


Sergeant at Arms Lorraine opened the evening with a reminder that our next meeting will be the clubs annual Humorous Speech Contest. She also gave a call to action encouraging the clubs female members to enter the contest as recently there have been many more male contestants than female.

Up next was Monica, the Club President. Monica agreed with Lorraine for more women to participate in the club contests. Monica also spoke of the importance of developing Leadership skills within Toastmasters and the relevance of the Competent Leader Manual. She also explained the roles of Sergeant at Arms and Club President for the benefit of the three visitors we had with us this evening.

Monica handed over to our Toastmaster of the Evening Chris. Chris immediately put the audience at ease with his warmth and relaxed manner. Explaining the outline of the evening and a brief explanation of the roles and the people involved.

Our Timer for the evening Suzette explained the structure of her role and the importance of time management within the context of Toastmasters.

Table Topics began the evenings proceedings under the guidance of Table Topics Master Clive. Newspaper headlines provided the starting point for tonight’s topics.

Flirty and Fabulous.

Doreen spoke first about the art of flirting with her usual enthusiasm and humour. Doreen took us on a journey containing a building surveyor, a little black dress and a chimney. Doreen concluded that she’s much happier wearing comfortable clothes and shoes and dancing the night away.

Do you believe they can predict the weather?

Marco spoke about the media’s obsession with predicting the weather.  He spoke of how we have perceptions of the weather influencing our mood and the best way to retrain our connection to the weather was to put on our best clothes and take a ten minute walk in the rain.

Are fashion models good role models or are they unrealistic role models?

Tony approached this difficult topic with his usual ability to present both sides of the argument with equal importance. He posed questions for the audience and highlighted that society has created this model and we all choose to buy into it. He concluded that by valuing the superficial we miss out on our deeper qualities.

How much do we love our pets?

Do our pets hold a place in our hearts? Toastmaster Nick spoke of the British connection with their pets. He highlighted the growth of dog walking businesses over the last few years, the expenses involved in keeping pets and how the British have a real connection with their animals.

Have you ever been told to get a haircut? Did you do it?

John quickly expanded on this question to encompass the broader context of personal appearance. He used personal examples from his own experience of working in an office environment, where others took dressing casually to another level and would wander the office in shorts. He confessed to enjoying dressing smartly at work and valuing wearing a good tie. John cleverly tied the end of his Table Topic to the opening.

Following the voting for best Table Topic we moved into the prepared speeches.

Inner Qualities

Our first speaker of the evening was Toastmaster Honor. This was Honor’s second speech from the Competent Communicator manual. She spoke about Inner Qualities and highlighted how we all make snap judgments about others. Honor explained how we view others through the prism of our own personal values, prejudices and beliefs. Often with disastrous results. She highlighted the importance of being aware of this both in our personal interactions and also professionally. With clever use of music and photographs, Honor used a well known incident from British television to perfectly encapsulate this concept.

Take off the headphones.

Our second speaker of the evening was Toastmaster Mike with his third speech from his CC manual. Mike began with a brief history of the Walkman, from it’s conception as a device for a new found musical freedom through its evolution into the most annoying element of any tube train journey today. Mike then spoke of the science behind why a walkman and every personal music device since is so frustrating for the people around them. Mike concluded that far from bringing musical freedom the walkman has actually limited peoples experience of the world around them. Isolating individuals from the full sensory experience necessary for the social animal that is humankind.

The Battle of the Sexes.

Third to speak this evening was Toastmaster Michael. With his Sixth speech Michael gave a personal example of “the age old debate”. Michael highlighted how he had needed to undergo a small but potentially painful operation on his eye a few years ago. He spoke of his best efforts to remain calm and collected but ultimately descending into panic and screams whenever the scalpel came too close to his face. Only to be chastised by the nurse for his dramatic reaction. The nurse pointing out that a woman patient had undergone the same operation in silence and without fuss. Michael concluded that “we are each others counterparts and we should raise each other up”

Following the break for tea and biscuits we resumed the prepared speeches with Toastmaster Grant.

Is the N.H.S sick?

Grant posed this question with his fifth speech. He began with a brief history of the NHS. From it’s creation in 1948 to its current position as the third largest employer on Planet Earth. Grant explained the huge pressure the organisation is under with the ageing population of the country stretching the resources of the NHS. Grant then compared the problems facing the NHS now with the early days of the I.T. industry. He explained how I.T. has moved from relying on a few knowledgeable individuals to using the full power of the Internet to find solutions for symptoms. Grant explained his involvement in helping the NHS to develop towards adopting a similar model.


Our final speaker of the evening was Toastmaster Julie. Julie gave an advanced Storytelling speech outlining the life story of John Lennon. Julie encouraged us to consider how John Lennon had felt during his short life. From his difficult childhood to discovering a way to express himself through music. Julie highlighted how John Lennon had struggled to cope with the incredible pressure that the unprecedented fame brought him during his time with the Beetles. Julie explained how that pressure ultimately took him to drug addiction, recovery and spiritual understanding. She managed to convey the emotional intensity he felt living a life in the public eye. A life that was to end as dramatically as it had been lived.

Following the prepared speeches and the vote for best Speaker the General Evaluator for the evening Paul introduced the Evaluators.

Toastmaster Yohan was first to seek. He was evaluating Honor’s speech. Yohan captured the essence of Honor’s speech and highlighted her use of props. He offered suggestions for using technology and highlighted how her speech had made him feel.

Our second evaluator was Toastmaster Mary evaluation Mike’s speech. Mary highlighted Mikes good use of props and the great choice of topic. She also highlighted Mike’s use of descriptive language and how his speech had inspired the audience.

Evaluating Michael’s speech was Toastmaster CherylCheryl began by reminding the audience of the objectives outlined in the manual that Michael was hoping to meet with his speech. Cheryl then went on to give examples of how Michael had succeeded in meeting these by giving specific examples. Cheryl ended her evaluation by reminding the audience of Michael’s closing quote.

The fourth evaluator of the evening was Toastmaster Steve. Steve used his conversational style to highlight Grant’s use of statistics and facts to outline the size and scope of the NHS. Steve also used humour to mirror and highlight Grant’s use of humour throughout the speech. Steve also pointed out that Grant had offered a practical solution to the question he had posed at the start of his speech.

The final Evaluator for the evening was Toastmaster Norman. Norman began by outlining the objectives of this advanced speech. Norman commended Julie on her energy and ability to keep the action going. He commended her use of descriptive language as well as her use of eye contact and gestures to connect with the audience.

Following the conclusion of the evaluations and the General Evaluators report, our Grammarian for the evening Kashmira gave her report.

As the night drew to a close our Club President Monica presented the awards for the evening as voted for by the audience members.

The Best Speaker ribbon went to Julie. 

The Best Evaluator ribbon went to Yohan.

The Best Table Topics ribbon went to John.

Congratulations to you all.

Finally Club President Monica checked in with our visitors for this evening. Unusually of visitors, all three took to the stage independently to tell the room how they had enjoyed the evening. In doing so they crossed the first threshold we face as a new member of Maidenhead Speakers and overcame nervousness to make the stage their own.  Heartfelt congratulations to you all Gentlemen.

Don’t forget our next meeting is Monday September 28th and is our Humorous Speech and Table Topics contest. It promises to be a great night and is a wonderful opportunity to see members speak under contest conditions. It’s a night not to be missed. Remember every speaker needs an audience, especially when it comes to the club contests. I look forward to seeing you all there.

“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.

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

A Celebratory Night of Firsts!

Maidenhead Speakers Club – Monday 22 June 2015


Following the customary introductions from Sergeant at Arms Paul and Club President Julie, our Toastmaster of the Evening Grant commenced proceedings with the theme of ‘firsts’,  in recognition of the number of people undertaking Toastmaster roles for the first time this evening – which included pretty-much everyone taking on a club role tonight!

Newby Table Topics Master Amira provided her fellow-Toastmasters with a range of questions on the theme of beauty and attractiveness. Her questions found the perfect balance between being straightforward enough to give speakers a fair chance to quickly think of a response, while also being imaginative enough to allow them to express their creative storytelling skills.

In response to the question ‘which is more important, physical attractiveness or intelligence’, Norman took a ‘middle of the road’ approach saying he was happy not to excel in either domain. Toastmasters who have observed Norman’s attention to detail and creative skills in solving practical construction and design problems – both within and outside the club – will appreciate the high level of intelligence he brings to these areas.

When asked to recount an occasion in which he had made a major effort to appear handsome, John began by describing the difference between his work and leisure attire – ably demonstrating the skilled strategy of using a sub-story to buy thinking time to develop a major story. John went on to describe making a magnificent effort for his wedding day by dressing in a kilt!

Visiting Toastmaster Sandi (from Epsom & Surbiton Speakers) used the question ‘is beauty is only skin deep’ to highlight the importance of inner qualities radiating from personality and personal character strengths.

Jacqui had no doubt how to answer her question ‘do women worry more about beauty than men’. Giving a beautifully animated description of her friend Bob visiting the local gym and performing only exercises in which he could see himself in front of the mirror, Jacqui humorously described the extent her male friends go to to enhance their attractiveness.

Last up was Kashmira who was asked what recommendations she would give to parents, the media and government in response to the findings that 87% of teenagers are unhappy with their body shape. Coming straight to the point, and delivering a very clear and coherent response, Kashmira described a recent TEDTalk in which the speaker observed that in a country that lacks democracy, one of the advantages was a lack of advertising resulting in higher levels of self-esteem in young people. A very persuasive response to a challenging question, which was particularly impressive as this was Kashmira’s first Table Topics speech.

Monica began the evening’s planned speeches with an educational talk ‘How to be a Distinguished Club’ explaining how individual success results in success for the club too. Her speech also covered the importance of club officer training, recruiting new members and submitting finances as ways of scoring points towards the Distinguished Presidents award, which Maidenhead have achieved for the last four years. As always, Monica’s speech was clear and well structured and presented, with a strong delivery.

Matthew’s speech, ‘To do or not to do’ highlighted the value of to-do lists. His speech emphasised three key themes: when to use lists; having a list is better than finishing it (as the CEO of Yahoo bears out, in a very appropriate quote); and lists as memory guides.

His evaluator Michael complimented Matthew on his overall improvement since an earlier evaluation. He loved Matthew’s vocal variety and the skilled use of the pause to gain emphasis and impact. Michael suggested varying speaking pace as a goal to work on for future speeches.

Next up was Jan with her icebreaker speech entitled ‘Use the Balloon’. In a very personal and courageous way, Jan described how fear (stemming from a horrendous car crash) had presented her with a tough challenge to overcome. Several attempts were unsuccessful for reasons beyond her control before eventually finding success through cognitive behavioural therapy. Indeed, Jan’s therapy was so successful that from being frightened to cross the road she eventually re-learnt to drive, and now enjoys challenging herself with off-road circuit driving. The powerful moral of her story is to reinterpret fear as excitement!

Her evaluator Richard beautifully captured the theme of her speech as a journey in confidence building. He began his evaluation with a quote about confidence, and reflected back to Jan the many positives that her speech contained including a clear structure, relaxed delivery and an important message.

Doreen‘s speech, ‘The Cart before the Horse’, demonstrated her full range of speaking skills. An attention grabbing opening, a Chinese accent, great vocal variety/animation, plenty of drama and a personal story, with a deep and meaningful psychological message. It is amazing how Doreen manages to squeeze so much into a 10 minute speaking slot! And the moral of the story? That our worth and value comes from within not through the approval of others – a message that Doreen has strongly integrated into her own life.

Her evaluator, Steve, gave a confident and clearly-structured appraisal in his customary natural and relaxed style. Steve it is an astute observer of the strengths and weaknesses of speeches, and is willing to share helpful feedback to encourage speakers to move onto the next level. His key challenge for Doreen this time was to dispense with notes.

Finally, the last speech of the evening was delivered by Nick. An advanced speech from the Persuasive Speaker manual ‘The Effective Salesman’, his speech was a showcase of a retail selling process, including a role-play designed to highlight selling skills in practise. Nick played the part of a wine shop retailer – ably supported by Steve, who had the lucky role of being the customer invited to taste one of the better wines from Nick ‘s collection, which he did seem to rather enjoy a bit too much!

As highlighted by Nick’s evaluator Lorraine, Nick controlled the sales process in a relaxed manner using natural questions and seamless transitions. She recognised that Nick established good empathy and credibility throughout, & concluded that this was the best role-play she’d ever seen at TMs!

The awards for the evening went to Jacqui for Best Table Topic, Steve for Best Evaluator and Doreen for Best Speech.

TME Grant, undertaking the role for the first time as we’ve said, co-ordinated the evening with confidence and assurance throughout and ensured the evening was run to the high standards of organisation that MSC has come to expect.

General Evaluator Tony gave feedback on each evaluator’s speech, and noticed how they’d each been so positive in their evaluations, also giving excellent recommendations. He also commented on Sgt at Arms Paul & Club President Julie’s natural charm and authenticity – noting that Paul thinks on his feet well, & uses humour, and that Julie’s wonderful welcoming smile acts as a beacon to our members to inspire them to feel relaxed and do well.

Grammarian Mike also gave an entertaining report of tonight’s ums, ahs and uses of grammar, and the usage of tonight’s word of the day ‘Altruism’, and fellow first-timer Honor did an excellent job running the all-important Timer lights with efficiency.

Our next club night will be in a few short days – Monday 29th June. Our TME is scheduled to be Lorraine looking forward to seeing you all there!