11 May Meeting: Choices

By Jacqui H


2016-05-11-img_0907The meeting was opening by Ann M, our Sergeant-At-Arms with her usual flair.

Unfortunately, our President, James H was ill, so our Club Mentor Jacqui H stood in for him. She welcomed members and five guests, and congratulated the club on chartering.

Our Toastmaster of the Evening, Karolina E welcomed everyone and introduced the theme of the evening ‘Choices’, with the quote “the thoughts that we choose to think, affect the words we use”.

This is very appropriate for a speaking club. She explained the H.A.T.S. protocol, and the agenda telling us of some last minute changes – there would be a speech swap due to a delayed Speech Evaluator stuck on the M4.

Paola K explained the role of Timer. Emilio S explained the word of the day ‘Fair-Minded’ and what he would be looking for as Grammarian.

Prepared speeches

Our first Speaker was Abby T, doing speech number 2 from the Competent Communication manual. She told us how to tell the difference between girls from China, Korea and Japan. She confessed that Asian girls can’t tell the difference between western people! It was fascinating to hear that you can tell them apart by how they apply their makeup. She explained that you can always recognise a Chinese girl, as she will always wear either no makeup or lots of makeup. She also told us that Japanese husband often have never seen their wives without makeup.

Dexter B was our second speaker who gave us a well-structured speech (speech 3) about how we can release our inner genius by following 3 simple steps: focus on the here and now, do one thing at a time and sleep more. He used some elegant language, including the phrase ‘emotional poise’. Dexter later won the award for the least use of Ums and Ahs.

Our third speech was an advanced speech from the Entertaining Speeches manual. Ian S relayed the horrid tale of the last fatal duel in England between Frederic Cournet and Emmanuel Barthélemy. Ian demonstrated some excellent storytelling techniques, including sound effects, French accents and role play. It was a very dramatic talk! Ian later won the award for most interesting use of language.

The fourth speaker was Ruth M, also doing speech 3, who contrasted and compared your life on social media with real life. Would we behave the same way in real life as we do on social media? Probably not. Ruth later won the award for the best use of the word of the day.

Sadly, two speakers over ran on time, so we didn’t vote for Best Speaker.

Table Topics

With four speakers, we only had time for three Table Topics. Our Table Topic Master was Jacqui H who gave an overview of the purpose of Table Topics and the value of mastering impromptu speaking. She then asked people to imagine they were intrepid reporters, and to report on a headline she gave them.

First up was Jamie C who was asked to report on ‘the birth of triplets to Chinese Pandas’, but chose instead to talk about choices!

The second speaker was Emilio S who told us about walking across a dry desert of the Thames for his topic.

Finally, we had Sheila HA who enthusiastically explained where we could see the remains of Britain’s oldest banana. She deservedly won the award for best Table Topic speaker.


Evaluations are the best kept secret of Toastmasters. Not only do you get helpful feedback about what you did well and what you could do to improve, evaluators get a chance to hone their listening skills as well.

Reshmi B was our first evaluator and she evaluated Abby’s speech by picking up that Abby addressed a question we all really wanted to know, but were afraid to ask! She gave lots of recommendations including trying not to clasp her hands so much. Reshmi oozed with enthusiasm throughout.

Second was Jamie C, evaluating Dexter’s speech. Jamie noted that Dexter was almost there with not needing notes, and highlighted that he had used some really powerful phrases in his speech.

Sparkly Sheila HA was next, demonstrating superb evaluation technique like the experienced toastmaster that she is. She explained how Ian had commanded the stage right from the start, finishing with a good summary and demonstration of Ian’s use of the ‘Bang’ sound effect.

Finally, Ann McC stepped up, having stepped in to evaluate during the meeting. She gave us examples of Ruth’s descriptive language and suggested that Ruth should use more of the stage. Ann’s insightful evaluation won her the Best Evaluator award.

Jacqui H & Ann M

Our Grammarian for the evening was Emilio E, doing the role for the first time. Sadly, the word of the day was not used by everyone. He gave a good run down of the Ums and Ahs used (or not used) and some examples of beautiful language.

Nikita P gave the General Evaluator’s report, including feedback on the Table Topic speeches as the Table Topics Evaluator had dropped out earlier in the week. Nikita noted the importance of using the third person when giving an evaluation, as this makes the audience feel more included. She added that saving the best commendation until last can help lift an evaluation and leave the speaker with a smile.

Acting President, Jacqui H presented the awards, and said she was looking forward to seeing everyone at the charter party on Saturday.

Finally, Ian S, asked for guest comments. Three of the guests announced they were joining as members. Hurray!

Our Sergeant-At-Arms, Ann M, closed the meeting on time.

A special thanks to Nour, a visiting Toastmaster from Newbury, who kindly videoed the speeches and the General Evaluator’s report the evening.

Next meeting

The next meeting will take place on 25 May 2016. We look forward to seeing you then.

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