By Ann M
Ian S, Acting Sergeant-at-Arms, opened the meeting, introducing Paola K, Acting President for the evening. Paola welcomed the members and several guests. then presented our newest member Julie H with her member certificate.
Toastmaster of the Evening, taken on for the first time by, Hira S – introduced the theme of the evening: ‘Uniqueness’. She then outlined the HATS protocol. Jordan S, the Grammarian introduced the word of the day, ‘maverick’, and explained that she would be watching for good use of English and clear diction. Anantha R explained her role as Timer.
Abby T was the first of our three speakers with her much-anticipated Ice Breaker entitled: ‘Hello, I want a burger, thank you’. She quoted many incidences of cultural adjustment, having moved to England from China. She was baffled by Christmas crackers, for example, and was so confused by the plethora of English coins, that she tried to pay a £40 bill with 40p! Although she did not always understand English jokes, she was able to appreciate the kindness of English people. One of her big adjustments was having to look after herself and learn to cook, as she put it, ‘only when you have no choice are you pushed to learn!’
Next up was Ruth M with her second speech from the Competent Communication manual, ‘Elvis was nowhere to be seen’. She began with a question about Las Vegas, which brought to mind images of Elvis in his flared, spangled suit. She gave a vivid description of the pastor who conducted her Las Vegas wedding, a larger-than-life individual, wearing a cowboy hat, black cloak and Ray Bans. She went on to recount a number of humorous, inspiring and scary anecdotes from her travels in the US and Asia. Her conclusion was that we should take a little positive attitude away from all our experiences.
Our third speaker was Nikita P, delivering speech project 9 (Persuade With Power) , entitled ‘Don’t be like Jeremy’ (as in Jeremy Clarkson)! She was the first person to incorporate the word of the day, using it twice. She used the metaphor of sailing with the wind, when we are in a position of privilege, as opposed to sailing against the wind, when we are denied privilege. She spoke movingly about the loss of privilege she experienced living as a transgender woman. This crippling stress has affected her memory and concentration, hence her difficulty in speaking without notes (though she had found a novel way of circumventing this). She asked us not to be bystanders, stating that discrimination can only flourish when people are apathetic.
Unfortunately Abby ran slightly over time so no vote was cast for Best Speaker this evening – at least three people need to be within time within a session if a vote can be taken.
Table Topics Master, Richard A, explained that all the impromptu speakers would each be invited to give a 1-2 minute response to the same question: tell us what was happening when you wore this item. Each speaker was given a different hat to wear.
Jacqui H was presented with a fez. She intimated that her husband was a bit of a maverick who had lived in Turkey and then wove a story around shopping in the Turkish markets whilst wearing her fez.
Next, Karolina E was surprised with a ‘kiss me quick’ hat. She quickly invented a story about wearing her hat to go on a date – fishing!
Julie H was presented with a black hat, which she pulled down over her eyes and regaled us with a tale of stalking her other half on a secret mission to the pub.
Guest Jorge was offered a sea captain’s hat; he said that living in Madrid he had not much use for it, being 400 km from the sea, but told of the experience of being taken out on a boat on the lake by a friend.
Ann M donned a witch’s hat, which she claimed reminded her of her former career in film, when she had to wear costume and make-up.
Jacqui evaluated Abby’s speech, cleverly including a word or two of Chinese. She felt Abby did a superb job, taking control of her stage environment and making good eye contact. Jacqui said that Abby demonstrated clear, excellent pacing, good use of pauses. As Abby was softly-spoken, Jacqui recommended focusing on a person in the back row and projecting to them. Overall, Jacqui felt it was a wonderful personal confident speech.
Next, Paola evaluated Ruth’s speech. Paola said that Ruth had painted scenes very quickly with strong imagery and natural gestures and vocal variety, which was very effective. She felt that, for a project about organising a speech, Ruth could have used the stage, her body or her voice more to indicate the transitions in her story but overall it was a very engaging presentation.
Sheila HA evaluated Nikita’s speech, the aim of which was to persuade with power, an objective which had indeed been met. Nikita’s speech successfully challenged possibly pre-conceived notions, with her powerful contrasts of life, either with or without privilege. There was good voice projection and clear diction. Nikita’s innovation of using a discreet remote device to scroll through the speech on a computer, was a revelation to most of the audience who were unaware of this. Sheila was concerned this might impede eye contact but nevertheless acknowledged the powerful impact of the content and the delivery.
Jamie C evaluated the Table Topics session, his first time as Table Topics Evaluator. He commending Richard’s imaginative use of props. Jamie said that Jacqui had good direction and clear, calm collection and good use of humour. Karolina set the scene of the fishing trip very well, using good description language, remained composed when she gained a big laughter from the audience. Julie dealt well with an early stumble but looked comfortable, had good movement. Jorge successfully transported us to Madrid with good images. Ann had good hand movements and a friendly, engaging manner. Jamie felt that all the Table Topics speakers could have made more use of their hats.
Grammarian, Jordan, noted the filler words used by each speaker and commended those who had remembered to use the word of the day. Several were commended on their use of imagery, Abby, Jorge, Karolina and Ann. Ruth was noted for her opening with a rhetorical question and good use of diction and accents. Nikita used the word of the day and had zero ‘ums’ and ‘ahs’, good imagery and analogy, excellent diction. She enjoyed Jacqui’s use of ‘all agog’ and ‘maverick’. Sheila was noted for excellent diction and expressive English.
General Evaluator and visiting Toastmaster, Amanda B, liked the fact that Ascot, as a relatively new club was prepared to be innovative and experiment with room layouts. She said that the stage gives a fantastic experience and the opportunity to learn to project, though it may lose the intimacy of eye contact. She complimented the various role holders on their performance and suggested that the Timer might sit at the front when using coloured cards, making it easier for the speaker to be aware of timing signals. She noted that many Ascot speakers had a flair for humour and looked forward to seeing the club being chartered.
Paola commended the several people doing roles for the first time. The awards were: Jacqui for The Least “ahhh”s and “ummm”s and Best Table Topic; Abby for The Most imaginative (or Expressive) use of English, and also her Ice Breaker: Achievement Unlocked certificate, Nikita for Best use of Word of the Day and Sheila for Best Evaluator.
Ian S invited comments from guests, who all contributed, noting the dynamic, supportive environment and friendly community atmosphere.
Ascot Speakers next meeting will take place on Wednesday 23rd March.
For a prompt start please arrive at 7:20pm.
We look forward to welcoming you then.