Contest Comment & Results, 11 Sept 2017

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

Contest Bonanza 27th March and 8th April

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

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

The results were:

International Speech – 1st Place Louise

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

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

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

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

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

An Absolute Treat!

MSC Meeting – Monday 13 February 2017

With Guest Blogger – Doreen

What An Absolute Treat!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

T’was the meeting before Christmas

MSC Meeting – Monday 12 December 2016

With Guest Blogger – Paul

T’was the meeting before Christmas

Our final meeting of 2016 began on time with stand-in Sergeant at Arms, Tom, calling the room to order in his usual calm relaxed manner before handing over to our Club President, Chris.

Chris spoke with great energy of the history of Toastmasters as well as the importance of the leadership manual. All under the watchful eye of Timer, Chrys.

The high energy continued with Toastmaster of the Evening, Nick. He channeled the qualities of three of his speaking inspirations, the humour of toastmaster Ian, the energy of Tony Robbins and the care free attitude of his Uncle Richard. A combination of talents that Nick embodied throughout the evening.

Kashmira ran the festive Table Topics section of the evening. She began with a great explanation of the importance of table topics as well as how the skills developed here can be applied in our everyday lives. Kashmira delivered a polished table topics session, a particularly impressive task as it was her first time as Table Topics Master.

Following the table topics section we launched into the prepared speeches with a fantastic educational speech from Steve on the importance of a powerful opening to your speech. Steve gave many examples of techniques that can be used to really grab an audiences attention.

Next to speak was Jon, who spoke about “Things that shouldn’t happen.” In a speech that covered everything from the faking of the moon landings to the assassination of President Kennedy, it was a conspiracy theorists dream. Jon covered everything from illegal drug use in sports to horses in our hamburgers, no stone was left unturned in this speech.

Following Jon we had Marco speaking of how “Cash isn’t King anymore.” Taking inspiration from Steve’s advise he began his speech by throwing a £20 note away as he made his opening point. He then proceeded to explain his theory by giving a series of incredible tips for getting the most out of online transactions and the digital world of credit transfers. His speech drew gasps from the audience as well as frantic scribbling as we all rushed to write down his recommendations and helpful hints.

Following the break we were treated to an advanced speech from Doreen. Doreen had the difficult task of giving an impromptu speech for an extended time period. Her evaluator Lorraine had a selection of five topics from which to choose a speech from. The topic chosen was mindfulness and Doreen launched into a five minute impromptu speech on mindfulness, it’s benefits, uses and helpful advise and techniques.

Honor then took us on an adventure into the murky world of human resources. Honor’s experience and enthusiasm for her subject matter shone through as she skilfully navigated us through her speech with a masterful use of Powerpoint slides to drive home her main message.

Following the speeches we had the evaluation section of the evening. General evaluator Paul introduced a crack team of experienced evaluators.

First off Michael gave a positive and encouraging evaluation of Jon speech, highlighting the improvements Jon continues to make.

Next to evaluate was Sandra. Sandra was evaluating Marco’s speech and highlighted the strong opening as it related to Steve’s earlier educational speech. She then gave Marco a healthy mix of commendations and recommendations.

Our third evaluator was Lorraine. Lorraine highlighted the difficult task Doreen had undertaken and was able to offer constructive feedback regarding the structure of Doreen’s approach to the subject, as well as worthwhile recommendations for improving the delivery.

Our last evaluator of the evening was Mary. She was evaluating Honor’s speech. Mary was quick to point out the ease with which Honor managed to use her powerpoint slides and the difficulty using Powerpoint can often bring to a speech. Mary also took the time to remind us of Honor’s objectives and also highlighted Honor’s ease at interacting with the audience.

Next the General Evaluator gave a report of the evening. Paul spoke of the way so many had come forward to help make the evening possible as well as the events of the evening itself.

Finally the Grammarian of the night Alan gave us a run down of the use of fillers and crutch words for the evening. No “Ums, and’s, so’s or err’s” went unnoticed with Alan on duty.

At the end of the night Club president, Chris, gave out the ribbons before ending the year with an invitation to join the club members for a Christmas drink after the meeting and to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New year.

Best Table Topics ribbon went to Tom, Best Evaluator ribbon went to Sandra, and the Best Speaker ribbon was awarded to Marco. Continue reading

Our Childhood Can Be the Making of Us

MSC Meeting – Monday 14 November 2016

With Guest Blogger – Cheryl 

Our Childhood Can Be the Making of Us

Maidenhead Speakers Club never fails to entertain, educate and inspire and Mondays meeting was no exception.

Sergeant at Arms Mike called the meeting to order on time, despite a last minute hitch regarding the timer system, which had mysteriously gone missing. President Chris saved the evening by arriving in the nick of time with the missing equipment, which had needed a repair.

Chris welcomed the guests and then spoke of his experience at the District 91 conference. Although his speech did not get placed his experience had been enriched by coaching the Keynote Speaker, and International Speech finalist Thien Trang. While there he received an award in recognition of his services to the District for mentoring. Chris emphasized how important it is to support one another.

Toastmaster Sandra who has been a member for over 10 years said she had attended the conference for the first time and wished she had gone earlier. She found it invigorating and motivating. She said it provided an opportunity to step out of your comfort zone.

Jan led the table topics session with questions that encouraged speakers to use their imagination and connect with the child within. The winner was Tony Searby who, as a 10 year old, would like Mind Reading as a super power. He could look into the teachers eyes and see the answers.

Sandra introduced the prepared speeches, which were a broad representation of the Competent Communicator Manual. First up was Darren with his Icebreaker Me, Myself and I. He gave a frank account of his challenging childhood when as a teenager he was described as a “highly intelligent juvenile delinquent”. His was an inspirational speech illustrating how he had turned his life around and become a better, stronger and more compassionate person. He left us with “It is impossible to be grateful and depressed”.

Next up was Yacine who was also giving his Icebreaker “How Did Sport Shape Me As a Person? He speech looked back at his childhood training as a gymnast in Morocco. Whilst he didn’t like the competitive nature of his sport he said there is excellence in craftsmanship.

Esther stepped in at the last minute to present This Is Not A Fight. She started by taking us on a guided visualization, which packed a powerful punch when she revealed that we were bulls bred for the bullring. A powerful, impactful speech highlighting the plight of the 70,000 bulls killed every year for a sport subsided by the EU to the tune of 130 million euros.

Before the interval Chris gave each of our guests an opportunity to say a few words about themselves and why they had come along. Sergeant at Arms Mike organized the refreshments for the interval.

Tom’s speech The Grotto was another inspirational speech about struggle and endurance. Mike gave a presentation on “Beyond the Submit Button” explaining what goes on behind the scenes once we have placed an order on line.

Best Speaker went to Tom.

General Evaluator Cheryl led the evaluation section of the evening giving a clear explanation of why we give evaluations. She introduced her team of evaluators – Vidhya, Mell, Mohammed, Richard and Mary all of whom gave competent evaluations. She concluded with her report of the evening.

Best Evaluator went to Mell Sheppard who said it was always a pleasure to evaluate for an Icebreaker speech. “It is the first opportunity to shape their journey. “

Timer was Melissa and Grammarian was Clayton.

Doreen reported on her experience as a guest on Marlow FM. She had been invited as winner of the Area Table Topic Contest and came third in the District Contest. She hoped that the increase in guests on Monday might have had something to do with her promotion of the club, but sadly no one present had heard her. Mike said he had been Master of Ceremonies at his company annual event. When asked how Maidenhead Speakers had helped him, he said it would not have happened without Toastmasters.

Chris concluded the evening with the presentation of ribbons for the best Speaker, Evaluator and Table Topics.

The next meeting is on Monday 28 November.

A Very Special Evening: A Night to Remember!

MSC Meeting – Monday 31 November 2016

With Guest Blogger – Doreen

A Very Special Evening: A Night to Remember!


If you debated coming to toastmasters on Monday the 30th of October and choose not to, you missed out is all I can say. It was an extraordinary evening like no other MSC meeting I have ever attended. Being the 3rd Monday of the month, Chris Boden had arranged for Paul Carroll a seasoned and passionate debater from 104 London Debaters to give us a workshop on the skills of debating. Volunteers had been called upon in advance to create two teams for the night. The topic was chosen ‘This house would allow performance enhancing drugs in sports’.

 No one knew which side they would be representing, the room was filled with anticipation.

 Paul Carroll opened the evening by introducing us to the absolute essentials for debating.

1. A definition for the topic being debated.

2. Reasoning or logic

3 The clash 

The purpose of debating is to discover the truth.

 Paul alerted us to watch out for the ‘slippery slope’ arguments and the ‘fallacy argumentsand the ‘straw man’ all of which would leave their arguments to have little or no weight at all.

For some practice and full audience participation, Paul divided us up into small groups. Each group were given a different topic to practice a debate before presenting the summary of the debate to the audience.

After the break with our bellies full and our throats lubricated, Mary chaired the debate keeping order and ensuring the flow. Those arguing for ‘This house would allow performance enhancing drugs and sports’: Tony, Michael and Vidhya those debating against the motion were Mohammed, Sandra and Chrys Fisher.

Michael opened the debate confidently and passionately stating his points that athletes are given the choice to take drugs or not. Secondly, banning drugs would drive them to go underground. Finally modern competitive world athletes will do whatever is needed to win.

Mohammed responded with equal passion. The debate was in full flow.  Before the final speakers summarised their team’s case, the debate was handed over to the floor. Further opinions were aired by Rajeev, Paul Aherne, Chris, and my good self, raising the emotional temperature even higher in the room. Vidhya and Chrys then summarised their positions before Paul Carroll feedback on the performance of the clubs first debate.  

Paul was impressed with the quality of debating of both team and concluded that while the motion failed to be passed, those arguing for the motion had managed to persuade more of the audience to change their minds. This was seen as a win, win in its own right.

It was truly a night to remember and the debate continued as we walked through the doors at the end of the night either heading home or to the pub. What was agreed by all was, a good night was had by all and much was learnt about debating.

A special big thank you to Chris Boden for arranging this very special evening and to Paul Carroll for coming all the way out from London to share his time and knowledge.

Hope to see you on the 14th November when we resume our normal format of interesting and inspiring speeches, informative evaluations and surprise Table Topics.

The Standards Were High Again at Maidenhead Speakers

MSC Meeting – Monday 24 October 2016

With Guest Blogger – Nick

The Standards Were High Again at Maidenhead Speakers

It was another slick performance by Maidenhead Speakers on Monday lead by ‘Toastmaster of the Evening’ Gerard.

After Sergeant at Arms Mike brought us to order, President Chris announced the results of the Division Contest at the weekend. Maidenhead were represented by Chris himself in the Humorous Speaking Contest and Doreen in the Table Topics contest. Chris came 2nd and Doreen was third. However, Chris has been successful in winning through to the finals in November as he is also a member of Reading Speakers representing a different area. Well done to both of them and good luck to Chris in the final.

Tony started the proceeding off with a bang by inviting speakers to the stage for impromptu speaking. The topics he chose were all real ‘curved ball’ questions asked by well-known companies in an interview situation. Despite only having the time it takes from leaving their seat to getting to the front, all the speakers gave a very polished answer to the question posed. The winner was Paul at a Yo! Sushi interview, who was ‘good with knives’ responding to the question, ‘Which three words best describe you as a person’.

Gerard easily took us through the prepared speeches for the night. Five speakers gave their all to entertain and dazzle us with their individual skills on a range of subjects. Jon talked about his love of sailing. Esther explained why ‘she was English’ with her prominent Spanish accent. Doreen taught us to forgive ourselves and Grant inspired us to watch our diet and exercise more with lots of statistics about diabetes. Finally, Michael took a novel approach by speaking over backing tracks to tell us about his love of jazz. Dorren won the best speaker ribbon.

Sergeant at Arms Mike organised the refreshments during the interval.

After the tea and biscuits, the General Evaluator for the evening, Nick seamlessly took us through the feedback session and commented on the good points and some recommendations for the five evaluators. Rajeev was very complimentary about Jon speech and referred to the objectives of the speech but could have smiled more. Gayatri with her first evaluation had good compliments but could have used more pauses. Mohammad evaluated Doreen’s speech used small notes in his hand and, in line with Doreen’s call for action, encouraged us to forgive ourselves. Alan commended Grant’s use of the power of three and his many statistics but wasted a few seconds at the beginning. Lorraine smiled throughout her speech with very punchy comments but directed her comments to the speaker alone.  All the evaluators summarised well. There was a tie with Lorraine and Alan winning the best evaluator ribbon.

Grammarian Vidhya completed the evening with her assessment of the crutch words used by all the speakers and her thoughts on the good use of English.

President Chris summed up by awarding the best ribbons prizes.

Another Very Enjoyable Evening

MSC Meeting – Monday 10 October 2016

With Guest Blogger – Tony

Another Very Enjoyable Evening


On Monday 10th October Maidenhead Toastmasters enjoyed a high energy evening of public speaking that maintained the very high standards the club has come to expect.

Sergeant at Arms Mike opened the evening with a pertinent metaphor that highlighted the similarity between building with bricks and building a speech. President Chris delivered a warm and embracing welcome to both guests and newly joined members, before handing over to toast master of the evening John who compared the evening with his characteristic humour and panache.

Preeti, undertaking the role of table topics Master for the first time, delivered an excellent round of questions on the theme of “past experiences of school days”. New members Paul and Sarah speaking for the first time, embraced the challenge of impromptu speaking with confidence and self assurance, before more experienced Toastmasters Chris, Marco, Paul and Mohammed all took centre stage. Table topics speaker of the evening went to Paul.

Kashmira delivered the first prepared speech in which she described the anxieties she personally experienced as a mother of two young children. Her story developed into telling the tale of how her son’s school friend, “Little Johnny”, came to play. As Kashmira gradually discovered that Little Johnny suffered from diabetes, food allergies and unexplained seizures, the audience could experience her fear and panic levels rising by the second. However it was Little Johnny who “took her by the arm” and reassured her that her fears were exaggerated and there was no need for concern. Heeding Little Johnny is message, Kashmir projected a state of peace and enlightenment that powerfully juxtaposed her earlier panic and anxiety.

 Second up was Honor who delivered an enthusiastic and passionate speech describing her job as a home-based online video tutor. Using her company background screen as a prop, Honor explained the need for each tutorial to be set up and presented in a professional manner. Punctuating this serious part of her speech with humour, Honor described the pitfalls of shortcutting this process. A fellow presenter inadvertently forgot to use the company background screen and found herself presenting in front of her clothes horse. Then, while live on camera, the viewers saw her husband crawling behind her in his underpants desperately searching the clothes horse for his trousers!

 Rajeev’s objectives was to deliver a dramatic talk. Using his customary engaging style, Rajeev began by asking the audience a question “who remembers the Memphis to Houston plane flight”? From this inauspicious beginning, the speech took a dramatic turn when the plane dropped 1000 foot due to extreme turbulence resulting in both panic and fear and physical injury to a number of passengers. Rajeev’s speech took on personal meaning when he introduced his friend Steve’s first hand experience of the drama, and the role he played in restraining a panicking fellow passenger. In summary, Rajeev brought this dramatic story fully to life, creating suspense throughout.

Finally, Sandra brought the evening is prepared speeches to a close with a masterclass in the principles and practice of selling. Beginning with a clear and concise overview of the four principles of selling, establishing rapport, assessing the buyer’s needs, providing a solution, and gaining commitment, Sandra went on to role-play these principles in action with Paul playing the part of the potential customer. Sandra concluded this advanced speech by asking the audience for questions and observations of the selling process. Sandra delivered all three sections of her speech with “effortless ease” which is exactly what is needed for an effective sales process.

 Louise enthusiastically evaluated Kashmir’s speech highlighting the strengths of her storytelling supported by strong posture and positioning. Louise perceptively recommended that Kashmira’s excellent speech could be enhanced further by using different accents for the different characters.

 Richard complimented Honor’s speech on the excellent use of humour, engaging the audience through the use of questioning and a clear call for action at the end. He gave a clearly structured evaluation that was engaging throughout with a concise summary at the end.

 Lorraine delivered a masterful evaluation in which she appreciated Rajeev’s strong stage presence, his credibility as a speaker and the quality of his vocal variety. Lorraine’s recommendation challenged Rajeev to devote more time to crafting the content of his speech during preparation.

Drawing upon his own experience of delivering the same sale speech himself, Nick gave a thorough evaluation of Sandra’s presentation. He complimented her on the clarity of her introduction and how she successfully implemented the principles she highlighted during the role-play.

Speaker of the evening went to Kashmira, and Loraine took the award for best evaluator. Chris brought the evening to a close by asking the guests for the feedback.

Area 21 Humorous Speech & Table Topics Contest

Area Contest Saturday 8 October 2016

With Guest Blogger – Richard

Area 21 Humorous speaking and table topics contest

On Saturday 8th October ’16 there was an afternoon of amusement provided by the Area 21 Humorous speaking and table topics contest which was held at St Piran’s in Maidenhead.

The Club level winners from all five of the Area 21 clubs competed against each other. This included representatives from Wokingham, Windsor, Ascot, Chiltern and Maidenhead Speakers Clubs.

Contest chair was Monica Horten, Chief Judge Jacqui Hogan, and Sergeant at Arms Michael Williams with Qin and Matt from Windsor Speakers as timers.

The large hall was able to comfortably accommodate the audience of around 40. It was also a great opportunity to make new acquaintances with members from other clubs.

The hall was filled with laughter as the speakers delivered their humorous speeches. The speakers made poised performances and each had a great story to tell. Subjects covered included domestic appliances, dating and DIY disasters.

The table topics question referred to a Beatles song and asked the table topic speakers where in their wildest dreams they would like to be. This resulted in a wide range of interesting responses.

The results of the table topics contest were 1st place to Doreen Gowing, 2nd Marce Colucci and 3rd Ann McCormack.

The humorous speech contest was won by Chris Boden, with 2nd place to Victor Nweeke and 3rd place to Ann McCormack.

Congratulations to winners Chris Boden who demonstrated supreme rhetorical command and Doreen Gowing who exhibited energy and fluency.

Well done to all for making it such an entertaining afternoon.

A Very Enjoyable Evening

MSC Meeting – Monday 26 September 2016

With Guest Blogger – Lorraine

A Very Enjoyable Evening

It was good to see so many new faces in the audience for the meeting on the 28 September and good to see the warm welcome our guests received from established members.

Mike our Sergeant at Arms banged the gavel to bring the meeting to order and gave some great suggestions to the club members to listen to the podcasts available on the Toastmaster website.   President Chris then spoke about the Toastmaster Universe with a recap of recent events in the Toastmaster calendar.  A further warm welcome was extended to our guests along with a little Toastmaster history. Chris also gave us a reminder about the Area Contest due to take place on Saturday 8 October at St Piran’s.

We were in safe hands that evening with Nick as our Toastmaster for the evening. A very seasoned Toastmaster whose ensemble matched the colour of his name badge. Very coordinated!

Cheryl was introduced as our Table Topics Master. She had prepared a great set our topics for the impromptu speaking session.  The speakers were adeptly evaluated by Jon who shared his thoughts on each of the speakers.

The prepared speeches were a delight; 2 Icebreaker speeches, one from Gayatri and one from Esther, these were both so enjoyable and a great way for these new members to introduce themselves to the club. In addition, we had Tom’s speech no 3 from the Competent Communicator Manual and John’s Storytelling speech which had the audience spell-bound.  John won the best speech award for the evening.

A team of trusty evaluators (Vidhya, Michael, Paul and Mary) evaluated the prepared speeches, each using the “commend – recommend – commend” format to encourage our speakers and give valuable constructive feedback for their next speeches. Mary won the much coveted Best Evaluator award for her evaluation of John’s storytelling speech.

Doreen our Grammarian gave her report, picking up all our ummm’s and ahhh’s and ‘filler’ words like ‘soooo’.  The evening came to a gentle close. Very enjoyable!