13 Apr 16 Meeting: Spring is Here

By Anantha R


The meeting was opened by Ascot Speakers’ very own, humorous and entertaining Ann M, the Sergeant–At-Arms. The meeting commenced on time.

2016-04-13-nee-sClub President James H welcomed members and guests. New member, Neelam V was inducted. Ian S was congratulated for completing the Competent Leadership manual.

Nikita P, Toastmaster of the evening, welcomed everyone and said “spring is in the air”; she made us feel excited about Ascot Speakers status in about to become a chartered club.

This is the first time Nikita performed the role as Toastmaster at Ascot Speakers. The theme for the evening was introduced and it was the Magna Carta – the great Charter. Nikita told the story of Magna Carta, which was first drafted by the Archbishop of Canterbury to make peace between the unpopular King John and a group of rebel Barons. The document was sealed by King John in 1215 and also treated as a charter in the American constitution.

Julie H, explained her role as a Timer and demonstrated the coloured cards, from the front row for the first time.

Ian S, was the Grammarian of the night and explained his role. He introduced the word of the day “PACT” and explained its meaning of an agreement.

Prepared Speeches

Nee V with Club President, James H

New member Neelam V delivered her first speech from the Competent Communication manual with confidence and panache. She explained her Indian name Neelam was mispronounced by people and requested everyone to call her Nee. She also explained the meaning of her name which is a Blue Sapphire.

Neelam cleverly used different coloured hats to explain different roles in her life. A red hat described her while she was self-employed, an orange one to explain how she became an entrepreneur and finally a yellow hat to describe her happy place when she is flying and watching the Formula 1 racing.

The second speech was by Jamie C which was his second speech from the Competent Communication manual. His speech was about taking ownership for his mistakes and not blaming others as it is important to make yourself accountable. Jamie gave an example where he took his parents to a restaurant and lost the table he booked due to arriving late and not finding a car parking space. Another example he described was when he was participating in the Duke of Edinburgh award and due to lack of preparation he and his team did not achieve the award.

The third speaker of the evening was Hira S and this was her fourth speech. Hira explained her trip to Nagaland, which is the North East part of India and which is described as the Switzerland of Asia. She also described her stay in Kohima and the kind consideration of people whom she met during her stay there.

One of the speaker’s went over time and so we didn’t vote for Best Speaker.

Educational Speech

Jacqui H explained who is who in a Toastmasters committee. She explained that the committee is re-elected every year from 1st of July and the new committee serves a year’s term.

Jacqui used the word of the day and explained that within the last 5 years the UK has agreed to more treaties than any other countries in the world.

Having been a Toastmaster for 14.5 years, Jacqui is one of our most experienced Toastmaster at Ascot Speakers. She is Club Mentor and Club Secretary. She explained the competency requirements and tasks of each committee role:

James H is the President of the club. The President opens and closes every meeting. This leadership role’s responsibility is to overlook the general operations of the club. They key attributes are skills in leadership and delegating.

Paola K is VP Education. This involves scheduling the training programs for the club members and assigning roles to individual members so they can learn and develop. The key to this role is to be well organised, good at planning and implementation.

Ian S is VP Membership. His main responsibility is to increase the club’ membership and to get to know the members. This person in this role needs to be well organised and good at planning.

Jordan S is VP Public Relations. This is the person who communicates with the general public and our own membership via many ways including social media and our club mailing list. Writing blogs and sending out interesting links is also a part of this role.

Jacqui H is Club Secretary. The Secretary is responsible for the club’s correspondence. They also write and distribute minutes from the committee meetings.

The Treasurer (currently being performed by Paola K) needs to be good with figures and Excel spreadsheets. The person needs to enjoy working with numbers and ensure the club is solvent at all times. Part of their role is to keep records of all purchases, collect membership fees promptly and makes financial reports for the club.

Ann M is Acting Sergeant-At-Arms. They prepare the meeting room, maintains the club property and speaks at every meeting. They are also responsible for starting the meeting promptly.

Jacqui H said that these seven officer roles form the core structure of the Toastmasters club. Ascot Speakers have defined additional committee roles of VP Mentoring and Webmaster. A Toastmaster club is very much like a franchise in that it follows a blueprint defined by Toastmasters International.


Sheila HA evaluated Neelam’s speech. She remarked that, unlike others who do the Ice Breaker speech with some nervousness, Neelam took the stage in confidence. Sheila described how Neelam told her story “Life Changing Hats”. Sheila liked the introduction of some humour. One recommendation was to prepare the stage better when using props – that is, to bring the table with the hats on nearer the lectern so that the stage could be used effectively. Another recommendation was to speed up the speech slightly as over-exaggerated pauses slowed down the speech.

Karolina E gave the evaluation of Jamie’s speech: Taking Ownership. Karolina remarked that Jamie said he would include three examples but now he only included two when he ran out of time. However, the two examples were described clearly and captivated the audience. Karolina said that Jamie could have made a ‘pact’ with himself to include all three examples and to pace the speech adequately to deliver it more effectively.

James H was the evaluator of Hira’s speech. He remarked how her confidence has increased on the stage. Hira’s use of hand gestures and movement on the stage demonstrated this. James said that Hira “absolutely nailed” her stage presence, and that her speech was comfortable to listen to, with her story of her experience in Kohima, Nagaland with various anecdotes. This included meeting and taking a lift with a stranger in Kohima and their kindness from a female taxi driver when her response when Hira offered her more money after hearing her story of her son suffering from cancer was “I don’t need your money but need your prayers” was a memorable speech.

No certificates were issued to the evaluators as one of the evaluators went over the time allocated for their speech.

Ian S, gave his Grammarians Report. He remarked that in general various people used filler words in their speeches and recommended to take a pause instead. He noticed that Ann used the word of the day before it was introduced to everyone. He said Hira used many descriptive words such as ‘soothing noises of waterfalls’. Overall many speakers had a good use of English used plenty of imagery. Nikita used the least filler words. He also commended Karolina for the best use of the word of the day.

Harry F was the General Evaluator for the evening. He started the evaluation by saying how much he enjoys coming to Ascot Speakers and the first time when he came to the club he said that he was dancing on the stage. He remarked the meeting started on time by Ann and applauded her ability as Sergeant-at-Arms with her sense of humour. He also commended the ability of James relaxed manner as President.

Harry liked Nikita’s Toastmasters welcome by saying “spring is here” and making everyone excited about a new beginning for our club, achieving the Chartered status. His overall impression of the club was “it is a vibrant club, love the agenda and happy to hear it is acquiring the chartered status”.

One of the evaluators went over time and so we didn’t vote for Best Evaluator.

Awards and Closing

Club President James H issued the following awards:

  • Neelam V for Icebreaker: Achievement Unlocked
  • Nikita P for The least “Ah”s & “Um”s
  • Hira S for Most Imaginative (or Expressive) use of English
  • Karolina E for Best use of the Word of the Day
L-R: Nikita P, Karolina E, Hira S

Area Director official visit

Nick B addressed the club. He explained Ascot Speakers position within Area 21, Division H, District 91. He talked about the upcoming realignment of Areas and Divisions. The current proposal was that Area 21 would not change. He also encouraged members to attend the D19 Summer Conference in May. One can buy tickets for just the contests, half days or single days. See http://d91toastmasters.org.uk/conference/


Ian S invited guests to give comments on the meeting. After every guest spoke, he invited comments from members.

Guests commented that they were impressed with the club and the speakers. Mike remarked that he was attending the first time to a Toastmasters club meeting. He said he was highly encouraged to see that Ascot Speakers was a supportive and friendly club. Debra commented on the bravery shown by the speakers going up to the stage for the first time; she was also impressed by the standard of speeches.

Sheila HA & Jacqui H remarked on the ambience of the club and how Ann and James have created a relaxed atmosphere so that everyone felt happier to participate. They also both said that they preferred timing lights to be used at the back by the Timer rather than cards in the front row, which were hard to see.

Finally, Acting Sergeant-At-Arms, Ann M, closed the meeting.

Next Meeting

Our next meeting will be on Wednesday 20th April (not 27th April).

We look forward to welcoming you then.

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