Meeting on the 17th September 2015

Well my fellow Toastmasters what a night our last meeting was. The room was packed to the rafters. Our Sergeant at Arms for the evening Vijay Patel opened the meeting bang on time and went through the three f’s with ease and showed us all how he is growing as a speaker.

I stepped up to the stage and discussed how to be a good leader using Jeremy Corbyn as an example of how to develop as a leader and come nowhere to become a household name. Regardless of your political ties it would be hard to deny the meteoric rise of Mr Corbyn and I feel this is due to three things. He is honest and open, doing things differently (Prime Minister’s Questions being one of them) and he is relatively free from scandal.

Our Toastmaster of the evening was Tony Babatunde who introduced the theme of the evening, things that are wonderful and weird. Tony used the example of a potato that looked like Jay Leno and offered us a magic pill with which to increase our confidence. Tony also had a gadget for us to use. An easy button which when pressed said “that was easy”. This was used to demonstrate that most of the time when we think that a task will be difficult it can actually be really easy when we look back on it.

‘A tree does not make a forest’ Tony decreed using this saying as an interesting way to introduce our timekeeper of the evening Julie Ward. It was Julie’s second time as the timekeeper and she built the role up and added her own unique touches. Julie also wished all the speakers luck with their speeches.

Guy Dessoy was our Grammarian and Ah-Counter for the evening. The word of the evening was ‘Seize’ as in to reach out and seize an object. Guy’s introduction was very clear and concise even if he did need to be prompted to give us a definition.

The Hot Tip of the evening was delivered by our Vice President of Education Dave Henson, who stepped in at the last minute. The tip was to make sure we ask the right questions. Rather than ask “who wants to increase their confidence?” and maybe get one or two very timid hands raised, ask “who doesn’t want to increase their confidence?” and you will not only have no hands in the air but also an audience on the edge of their seats.

Alex Clark helped the room to warm up our vocal chords by asking us what our ‘Jeremy Corbyn moment’ was. Alex really got the room excited with this question and by starting at the back of the room he woke everyone up and really helped to set the mood for the evening.

We then moved to the first of our prepared speeches. Georgina Singleton brought to life the story of a Skype call with a friend of hers in New Zealand taught her a new way to look at the laws of attraction. In ‘The Secret’ by Rhonda Byrne the author mentions that if you believe something will happen and ask for it, receive and give gratitude then you can get that dream job, pay rise or the new opportunities you are looking for. Georgina delivered her speech brilliantly and asked us all to check out the book.

Susan Rayner’s speech ‘When nothing goes your way’ took us all back to February 1986 and the birth of her first child (coincidentally I was born only a few months later). Susan used a personal story to make her speech more engaging for the audience and by using subtle body gestures we were all kept interested and waiting for the outcome which after a dramatic build up turned out okay in the end.

Our final speaker was John Cross who like Georgina was delivering his third speech from the competent communicator manual. John chose Down House the home of Charles Darwin to be his topic and he definitely did his research. John’s speech was full of insightful facts about Charles Darwin and his family. John mentioned that Darwin was a true family man and doted on his ten children even building them a slide to use when going down stairs. John also told us about the impressive coffee shop we should visit even if we don’t want to see the whole of Down house.

Our Evaluators were up next and first up was Paul Lynch. A previous president Paul took to the stage and had one of the best openings to an evaluation I have seen and had brilliant commendations and recommendations even giving us and Georgina some examples. Completing our duo of Pauls Paul Goodhill was evaluating next in his own inimitable style. Even though it was mostly delivered directly to Susan it was still one of the best evaluations I have seen in a long time. Our third evaluation was completed by Alistair Feely who showed how much he has also grown as a public speaker, just watch the ers and ums. I think the Ah-Counter’s pen nearly ran out of ink.

Eddie Barnes was our table topics master and he kept the topics very short and sweet. Tell us about… was the basis of all of the topics and they ranged from tell us about breakfast to tell us about shopping on eBay. Evelyn Khan Panni told us about going to the gym and how much of a money spinner it was as most people paid their membership but didn’t go. One of our newer members Derek (who is a very experienced Toastmaster) was asked to tell us about going to the dogs and he surprised the audience by telling us about how Zimbabwe had gone from the bread basket of Africa to the dogs. A very nice example of how to take a different angle on the topic.

The Table Topics were evaluated by our Immediate Past President Richard Green who told us all to “seduce the audience with your eyes’ proving he is a true master of seduction. The main point he mentioned, other than seducing the audience, was that some of the speakers were clasping their hands up high and this means that you hold your nerves up high, so remember to try and relax your arms to let your nerves go.

Following Guy’s brilliant report as the Grammarian and Ah-Counter, Karen Mefflin showed us how to do a General Evaluation and Karen really has developed her speaking style and now has a really mellifluous style. Karen was specific and even mentioned that the Word of the Day was not on paper and this may be why it was hardly used.

The award for the best speaker was a tie (and incase you were wondering there were several recounts to be sure as we have had issues in the past) with Georgina Singleton and John Cross winning. Our best Evaluator was Alistair Feely and Alex Clark won the best Table Topic with his tale of failing his driving test.

All in all a brilliant meeting and I hope to see you all next time when I will be telling you how being able to cheat at cards can make you have a more positive outlook as I deliver my number 10 speech.

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