13 Jan 16 Meeting: Look Before You Leap

By Jordan S


2016-01-13-clappingsAscot Speakers kickstarted the New Year with a show-stopping, jaw-dropping, great-big-whopping “Masterclass Meeting”.

On Wednesday, 13th January, – our first official meeting of 2016 – all the meeting roles filled by very experienced and accomplished Toastmasters.

This was the perfect opportunity for new or prospective members of the Toastmasters community to see the roles done excellently in a single meeting.

After a warm opening and welcome from Paola K (VP Education) and the Club President James H, the evening embarked with our Toastmaster for the Evening Sheila HASheila explained our theme for the evening which took inspiration from this year being a leap year and to ‘look before you leap’. After being informed on why we have a leap year and other effects of a leap year, Sheila described the format and protocol of a Toastmasters meeting.

Our Timer, Paola K and Grammarian Ian S were introduced. Each gave a brief overview of their meeting role. Ian S introduced his word of the day – discontinuity. It fitted in well with the theme to look before you leap.


Prepared Speeches

Before each Speaker delivered their speech, their Evaluator told us what their objectives were and what else they would be looking out for. Sheila introduced each of the Speakers with their answer to the question: was there a time you hadn’t looked before you leapt and were the consequences?

Hira S was the first Speaker. She delivered speech #2 (Organise Your Speech) from the Competent Communication (CC) manual. In Hira’s speech – ‘Do you like in the world or does the world live in you?’ – she concluded that, via the dangers of reinforced invalid assumptions, the world lives in us. She stated that she chooses to wear her “happy glasses”: if we have positive thoughts we will see the world in a positive way.

Reshmi B was our second Speaker, delivering speech #3 (Get to the Point) from the CC manual. Reshmi’s speech title was: ‘Why is pressure mounting for doctors?’ She illustrated how government and council cuts are putting the NHS under more and more pressure with an ageing population, a rise in diseases and the on-going need for research. Reshmi asked what gives us job satisfaction, ending her heartfelt speech describing what gives doctors job satisfaction.

Karolina E was the evening’s third Speaker, giving speech #2 (Organise Your Speech) from the CC manual. With her speech ‘5 ways 5G will change your life’, Karolina gave us a brief history of 2G, 3G and 4G. She then explained the five ways in which 5G would change our lives: it would make our houses safer and energy efficient, roads safe, it would give us longevity in life, create more industries and connect us through virtual reality. Watch Karolina’s speech and Mell’s evaluation of it on YouTube.

Richard A was the fourth and final Speaker of the evening, with another CC #2 speech. His enigmatic speech title was ‘Betelgeuse’. After referencing Orion’s star, Richard told us about shellac, the substance secreted by the female lac beetle, explaining that it was used on furniture in French polishing. Richard donned his work apron, opened his tool box and showed show the audience the processes involved in creating this ‘beetle juice’ for polishing. At the end of his speech, Richard showed us his own work of French polishing.

Richard A won Best Speaker of the four prepared speeches. Watch Richard’s speech and Bob’s evaluation of it on YouTube.

Ruth M (Best Table Topic) and Richard A (Best Speaker)

Table Topics

Therese E – from Wokingham Speakers – was our Table Topics Master. All her topic questions were on the theme of Look Before you Leap, and the leap year. The first person up was Jordan S who, on being asked what she would do if she had an extra 24 hours, asserted that 24 hours would not be enough extra time to make big differences. Emilio S was then asked whether – like those people born on 29th February – he felt he’d missed out on anything in his life. Not much as it turned out, although he would have liked more time to dedicate to music composition.

Nikita P was asked to consider something in her life that has “sprung forward”. Nikita described the serenity of now living afloat, on a narrowboat. Ann M was asked where she saw herself in four years’ time. Ann explained it was a hard question because she only had an answer to where she saw herself in the more typical five years time. On considering four years, she expected to have completed her Competent Communicator manual and more, of course!

Finally, Ruth M was asked what sport she would add to the Olympics and why. Ruth won Best Table Topic with her highly amusing answer suggesting the egg and spoon race, predicting Nike- or Adidas-sponsored spoons, and scandals involving glued eggs on spoons! Watch Ruth’s winning Table Topic on YouTube within a video of highlights from the Table Topics session.



Amanda B – from Wokingham Speakers – evaluated Hira’s speech. Amanda said that “Hira lived her topic which brought it alive for us”. Amanda complimented Hira’s transitions and for confidently not using the notes she’d placed on the lectern. Amanda recommended that Hira need not apologise for her speech title, and to maintain volume.

David W – from Windsor Speakers – was Reshmi’s evaluator. David said that Reshmi’s voice is gentle and soft but audible, and she has a lovely warm smile”. He commended her authentic and accessible delivery of the subject matter. He recommended that Reshmi put her notes on the lectern so that she could express herself more freely.

Mell S – from Wokingham and Maidenhead Speakers – delivered the evaluation for Karolina’s speech. Mell said that it was a “well-structured and confidently delivered speech” with a clear outline and summary. Mell recommended more pauses and a stronger ending to back up the main message in future.

Bob N – from Guildford, Camberley and Woking Speakers – was Richard’s evaluator. Bob said he felt like an apprentice in the workshop while listening to Richard’s speech, which he described as an “interesting speech, very well put together and delivered”. Bob highlighted Richard’s great use of props – especially for an early CC speech – and effective use of repetition. Bob recommended that Richard take care not to follow any diversion for too long in future speeches. Bob also recommended more signposting of the speech structure.

Dorothea S – from Riverside Communicators – was our Table Topics Evaluator. Dorothea gave constructive feedback on each individual Table Topic speech, highlighting what she liked. She also gave all Table Topic speakers one or two extremely valuable recommendations to consider.

Best Evaluator was won by Mell S.

Ian S, the Grammarian for the evening, highlighted the individual words and phrases he had observed in throughout the meeting. He enumerated how many ahh’s, umm’s and “so’s” people used, also declaring “overall, a good use of the word of the day”. Hira S received the certificate for the Least Ahh’s and Umm’s. Ruth M won Best Use of English and Richard A won Best Use of the Word of the Day.

Mary F – from Maidenhead Speakers – evaluated the whole evening and Evaluators as General Evaluator. She started off by saying she “felt very welcome at the club – thank you Ascot Speakers.” Mary liked the slips and organisation of the meeting, saying that the meeting was well organised. She said there was a high quality of speakers and that she enjoyed the theme. Mary said that the Table Topic session was fun, everything was on time and there was a full house. Mary recommended that people project their voices to the back of the room and suggests that Table Topics are at the beginning of the meeting to warm people up.

Ian S, VP Membership, with our welcome guests who joined at this meeting!


A massive thank you to visiting Toastmasters for taking on the meeting roles, and to everyone who came along to visit us and participate in the evening.

Thank you to Paola K for organising this special masterclass meeting, in which new and prospective club members have gained knowledge and awareness, and have become better acquainted with Toastmasters.

A special thanks to Amanda B, David W, Mell S, Bob N, Therese E, Dorothea S and Mary F for imparting their Toastmasters experience to everyone present.

Next Meeting

Our next meeting will be next year on Wednesday, 27 January 2016 .

We look forward to welcoming you then.

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