Humorous Speech & Table Topics Contests Results

Monday 12 Septempber 2016

Humorous Speech Contest Night

Acting Sergeant-at-Arms & Acting President – Tom Hostetler

Contest Chair – Mike Jones

Chief Judge – Steve Catchick

Timer – Esther


Humorous Speeches

Order of Appearance

Speaker 1 – Doreen (Snakes and Ladders)
Speaker 2 – Michael (Mamma Mia – The Mother of All Rides)
Speaker 3 – Richard (Seize the Opportunity)
Speaker 4 – Chris (Know Your Role)
Speaker 5 – Tony (I Wish I could Still Be Funny)
Speaker 6 – Honor (That Ship Called Dignity)


1st Place – Chris 
2nd Place – Michael 
3rd Place – Tony 


Table Topics

You’ve Ran Away to a Travelling Circus, What Role or Act Will You Do – and Why?

Order of Appearance

Speaker 1 – Doreen (Elephant Lifting)
Speaker 2 – Chris (Juggling Chainsaws)
Speaker 3 – Vidyha (The High Wire)
Speaker 4 – Tony (Animal Trapeze)
Speaker 5 – Michael (Tiger Catcher)
Speaker 6 – Nick (Trapeze Artist)


1st Place – Doreen 
2nd Place – Chris 
3rd Place – Tony 


Best wishes to Chris and Doreen at the Area Humorous Speech and Table Topics contest on Saturday the 8th of October at our normal meeting venue, St Piran’s Centre. Doors open 2pm and event starts at 2:30pm till 4:30pm.

Make Sure Your Shoes Are Clean

MSC Meeting – Monday 22 August 2016

With Guest Blogger – Richard

Make Sure Your Shoes Are Clean


As I walked into the hall on Monday night I read a sign “Make sure your shoes are clean.” Was this a new standard that had been introduced at Maidenhead Speakers Club, or maybe it was just there for the pupils who use the hall during the day.

I did not have long to contemplate this as it was to be a very busy evening ahead with 5 prepared speeches to be delivered.

Sergeant at Arms, Tom welcomed us all and commented on the success of the Olympics, a theme that would be continued throughout the evening. President, Chris attended the meeting despite having just flown back from the USA where he had attended a Toastmaster convention. The evening was well organised and expertly conducted by Toastmaster of the evening, Louise. Grammarian for the night was Cheryl with Gayatri in charge of timing all the speakers.

Preeti made her icebreaker speech. She told the audience about herself and left us with a profound thought – To be happy you need someone to love, something to do and something to look forward to.

Riccardo was up next with speech 3 in which he explained the influence of the scouts on his life and the satisfaction he gains from volunteering and charity work.

Paul presented speech 8 entitled “Ain’t no mountain high enough.” He compared speaking at Toastmasters to climbing a mountain. He used great visuals displayed on the flip chart to really emphasise his message.

Steve delivered an advanced speech entitled “Killer openings.” This provided techniques and examples on how you can make a good first impression. This included curiosity, shock and surprise, use of a date, statistics, stories and also the use of rhetorical questions.

The final speech was an advanced speech by Monica in which she reflected on the issues facing doctors. Amusing anecdotes included a mobile phone being left inside a patient.

Table Topics Master was Grant who continued the Olympic theme with John, Nick, Tony, Jan and Michael all speaking confidently around their given topic.

At the end of a great evening Best Table Topics was awarded to Tony, Best Evaluator was Mell and Best Speaker award went to Paul.

Looking forward to the next meeting. I will have clean shoes just in case the shoe rule is enforced.




Summer Nights

MSC Meeting – Monday 8 August 2016

With Guest Blogger – Mary

Summer Nights

It was a barmy, summer evening and there we were gathered together for yet another entertaining evening at Maidenhead Speakers Club. An enthusiastic Sergeant-at-Arms, Mike, welcomed and called us to order before handing over to our President, Chris, who conducted the business part of the meeting swiftly and efficiently and with a reminder about the club contest on 12 September 2016.

Chris handed over to Toastmaster of the Evening (TME), Honor. Despite this being her first time as TME, Honor displayed great confidence and competence when she introduced her summer themed evening. With it being the summer, several members were on holiday and TME Honor revamped the usual meeting format. Scheduled speeches were reduced to four and we had the luxury of not one but two separate Table Topics sessions … good thinking Honor, it certainly kept us on our toes and kept the creative juices flowing!

Topics master Jan started with the summer theme and challenged us with impromptu topics. Richard was first up with his refreshing cocktail balancing a colourful and nutritious vitamin C drink with a couple of pints of vodka! Mary, using her best body language, shared the joys of what it felt like to be a beach ball on the beach. Julie (Ascot club) communicated the delights of sampling different flavours of ice cream and highly recommended brussel sprout flavoured ice cream! Tony was colour challenged about beach outfits and gave a convincing argument and brief history about the colours of pink and blue.

The second Table Topics session was hosted by Topics master Grant. He invited Mike J to tell us which sportsperson he would like to invite to dinner. The invite went to an impressive, tiny, Olympic gymnast, although Mike did confess that he probably wouldn’t be serving up any ‘rabbit food stuff’. Gayitri shared her preference for a holiday to Naples where she might enjoy the food, the weather and perhaps a visit to Pompeii? Continuing with the summer theme Michael W moved seamlessly into the groove when invited to talk about his summer music, so much so he could “feel the music deep down in my bones” …we were there Michael …grooving along to the summer sounds. But not for Kasia (from one of the London clubs), no beach for her, she wanted to jump on a horse and ride off for adventure and if time permitted, perhaps learn belly dancing too.

In her speech ‘Dreams’, Toastmaster Louise captivated us with her magical holiday when she swam with dolphins. Doreen delivered a thought provoking speech, ‘There’s a Knot in My Stomach’ about metaphors, how they are used and how our own metaphor for life might look. Mell’s interpretive speech, ’Whiter Shade of Pale’ had us transfixed and spellbound as she ‘tripped the light fantastic’. The scheduled speeches concluded with an encouraging and educational speech from President Chris, ‘Keeping the Commitment’. In it, he highlighted the importance of member commitment to the club through participation, interaction and improvement. It was a motivational speech providing great tips for all club members.

Other roles fulfilled on the night were:

Evaluator #1: Tony – evaluated Louise                                                           Evaluator #2: Nick – evaluated Doreen                                                        Evaluator #3: Cheryl – evaluated Mell                                                            Evaluator #4: Tom – evaluated Chris                                                                General Evaluator was Norman                                                                   Timer was Rajeev, and finally, Grammarian was Mary

Overall, a great evening with Best Table Topics award to Michael, Best Evaluator to Tony and Best Speech to Louise. Next meeting – Monday 22 September, 7.30pm.

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.