The meeting began with last year’s President, James Kirkby, presenting Sue Shaw with the Toastmaster of the Year Award, which she was unable to collect on the evening that it was announced. Sue earned the award for her tireless support of the committee over many years and her willingness to give advice and guidance on pretty much any subject, based on her long experience.
The Toastmaster for the evening was the polished and urbane David Wilson who warmed us up by asking what is on our bucket lists. David also provided the hot tip. He encouraged us to pronounce our names clearly, and explain our jobs succinctly, when we meet people for the first time, in a work or social context, as this will help others to remember us and understand what we do. New member AK took on the Timekeeper role. It was an evening for double-hatting as Na took on both the Grammarian and Ah-counter roles. Members were grateful to AK and Na for stepping up – meetings can’t run without people taking on the roles.
There were two prepared speeches from experienced speakers. Alex Clark shared three near death experiences and explained how he had survived and processed these challenging events into something positive. As usual with Alex, there was more than a smattering of humour, despite the seriousness of the subject matter, and his demonstration of the correct technique for strangling our club President, David Hampton, will live long in the memory. David may think twice about sitting in the front row in future.
Susan Shaw gave a thought-provoking speech about the hospice movement and end of life care. Susan provided an object lesson in how to present a difficult topic by focusing on positive and uplifting messages about improving the quality of life for the terminally ill. Alex’s speech was evaluated by Margot Glover and Susan’s by Susan Rayner (both former club Presidents). They provided practical tips to improve the speeches as feedback is essential for improving our public speaking.
After the break, the Table Topics Master John Cross set questions on a bookish theme featuring favourite books and book titles. Table topics are short, unprepared speeches which develop our ability to think on our feet. Continuing a remarkable recent trend of success by guests and new members, Nisha, a guest on the night, was voted best Table Topic speaker for her inspiring account of how she bounced back from a difficult time in her life. Our immediate past President, James Kirby then gave an excellent evaluation of all the Table Topic speeches, providing useful recommendations to all the speakers. Another former club President, John Vickers provided a high quality General Evaluation of the evening with a brief to provide feedback to all participants who had not already received an evaluation.
Susan Shaw then encouraged members to sign up for a speech or a Table Topic in the forthcoming Humorous Speech competition and David Hampton provided some concluding observations on another enjoyable evening at Bromley Speakers.