Meeting summary: 7th September 2016

We kept the competitive theme going for another week at our meeting last night, as our Toastmaster, Armelle, got us all in the mood for our Humorous Speech and Table Topics season. Our theme was ‘Contests and Adrenaline’ and meeting participants were invited to recount their experiences of contests, or why they avoided them.  We had some very interesting responses, with quite a few people preferring to avoid them; however we hope to have persuaded them to confront their fears and enter our forthcoming contest.  Armelle led us through the evening with her usual charm and humour, and brought us to the finish line in good time despite the late start caused by RBS’s new security procedures.  She was helped by Katri as timekeeper and Susan as grammarian, who set the word of the day as ELATED.

We had three prepared speeches from the competent communication manual, starting with Zhenzhen’s second speech entitled The Full Moon of Autumn; she explained the importance of the mid-Autumn festival to Chinese people, it is a time for families to come together to celebrate the harvest as well as the joy and importance of the moon, and to mark the changing of the seasons.  She told us the version of the charming but sad legend of the moon that she grew up with as a child – and ended with a lovely quote from a poem to the moon.  Zhenzhen also brought a moon cake to show us and share with us during the break – it was delicious!

Our second speaker was Brana with her CC speech number 3 on Corporate tax avoidance: she told us of the three angles of attack on large corporations who endeavour to avoid paying an equitable rate of tax on their vast profits globally.  We learnt how individual governments, the European Commission and global organisations are trying to stamp out widespread inequality between large and small companies, including some staggering statistics relating to some recent rulings; sadly however she commented that the debate still rages and legality seems to overcome morality in too many cases.

Our last speaker was Carrie with her fifth CC speech which focuses on body language and gestures.  She regaled us with the story of a recent domestic disaster involving gushing water in her cellar, plumbers with ££ signs in their eyes at the prospect of the work to be done (as well as a share of a treasure found under the floor-boards), a tripped circuit board, all of which led to a complete quandary over how to redecorate her flat.  The theme through it all was her perspective on the challenges confronting her – whether she could keep a positive mind-set, or whether they would overwhelm her.  She used the analogy of a glass half full or half empty very effectively and filled the stage with her melodramatic and highly amusing saga.

The three speeches were evaluated by Andra (Zhenzhen), Rowena (Brana) and Barbora (Carrie).  During the break we had a chance to chat to our visitors for the evening: Sandra, Angie and Sophie, and they introduced themselves to the whole club at the end of the evening.

Jane led a very topical and useful table topics session on the theme of working life and career advancement, starting out with.  We heard advice and specific example of asking for a pay rise, worst day at work, advice to procrastinators, working wardrobe, conquering fears and what to do when we want to feel good about ourselves.

Awards for best performance of the evening went to Carrie for her fifth CC speech, Barbora for her evaluation and our visitor Sophie for her Table Topics speech.

As we probably all know by now, our Club’s Humorous Speech & Table Topics contest will be at our next meeting on 21 September, ahead of our Area contest on 28 September.

Please let us know if you will be attending that evening by signing in on our Easyspeak system, and step forward to participate in either or both contests, or to help out with judging/timing/counting.  Rowena is chairing the contest so please get in touch with her or me if you have any questions about the contest or your potential participation; many thanks to those who have already registered.

Please make a note of the following Area club contest dates and let me/Nadine know if you’re able to step in:

Barings Speaking Club: Thursday 15 September, 12.15 – 1.30 – 1 Chief judge needed (location – next to Liverpool St Station)

Data Science Speakers: Monday 12 September, evening – they still need 5 judges (location – near Old Street)

Deutsche Bank: Friday 16 September (table topics), 11.55 – 13.00 – they still need 1 Chief judge and 2 other judges (location – on London Wall)

Just outside our area, London Communicators is holding their Speech Contest on Monday 12th September; their venue is along Upper Street, halfway between Angel and Highbury and Islington Stations.  Anna Aldamluji is their VPE and they are looking for visiting judges.  They are providing a visiting judge for our contest, so we have a bit of an obligation to provide one for them in return. if this location is easy for you to get to, please do consider volunteering by letting me know as soon as possible.

Next step will then be the Area Contest on Wednesday 28 September. For many members winning the club contest it will be the first time to speak in front of an unknown audience, and it will be really important for the contestant to see a couple of familiar faces in the audience. Please ensure that your club members come along to support your club’s contest winners at the Area Contest. Prior registration required:


I look forward to seeing as many of you as possible at our contest on 21st September, and in the meantime, don’t forget to register your attendance and ideally volunteer to as a contestant!  Go on, be brave – what’s the worst that could happen?

Best wishes to all



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