helping to develop speaking and leadership skills 
Wokingham Speakers Club

News, January 2015 

Fun, education and a little bit of politics 
Paul Gardner 
20th January 2015 

In another packed programme of prepared and impromptu speeches, the members of Wokingham Speakers and their visitors were treated to an evening of fun and education. 
 
Our Toastmaster of the Evening was Paul Gardner, who ensured there was a warm welcome for everybody in the Rose Room on a very cold night. After the usual explanation of the agenda and the HATS protocol, we launched straight into the prepared speeches with Paul Chapman delivering his third project from the Competent Communicator manual. 
Paul’s speech was entitled “Take a Deep Breath”. It proved to be a very relevant, instructional few minutes in which he advised us on how to control our emotions by controlling our breathing. As speakers we are often advised to breathe deeply in order to control our nerves when starting a speech. But Paul’s advice went further and included some tips on controlling anger. 
 
Our next speaker was Nirmala Erpula, with her speech “Know Your Type…” only her second speech from the CC manual. She told us all about the visual, auditory and kinesthetic learning styles, how we might tell which is our preferred style, and why knowing this would be useful. 
 
Then Sandra Rodwell answered the question “Why Don’t Bees Get Sick?” in her Project 8 from the CC manual. Apparently, it’s all to do with something called propolis produced by bees – especially those in a certain part of Brazil. It has many health benefits, including, apparently, the ability to fight some cancers. Well, who would have thought it…? 
 
Our last prepared speech of the evening was by Andrew Sims, delivering a project from the advanced “Technical Presentations” manual. His speech was entitled “Can we foretell the future?” and focused on the facts around climate change – specifically global warming. He presented a very serious subject with a real lightness of touch – comparing, for example, the tools available to scientists today in order forecast changing climatic conditions, with the “sheeps’ entrails” which may have been in the past. 
 
After the break – efficiently managed by Matt Burchett – we moved on to our Table Topics session, run on this occasion by topicsmaster Rachel Tinker. Rachel took as her theme the 750th anniversary of the precursor to our House of Commons – marked by the BBC with their “Democracy Day”. With this in mind, she invited members to answer particularly interesting job interview questions that may be put to prospective Prime Ministers. 
 
This led to: Cherif Hemici telling us what he would do once in the position of Prime Minister; Nadir Ahmed pointing out that if he had to be an animal, it would be a horse (probably more useful than most Prime Ministers?); Therese Edkins suggesting that she would probably delegate the task of tolerance to a subordinate; Ian Rodwell enlightening us as to what type of leader he would be for the country (there would not be much input from voters…); Jo Thayer’s suggestions for improving the image of politicians; and Graeme Hobbs claiming that the leadership required to deliver an audit on time would also make a good head of government (well, he is an accountant…). 
 
We then moved onto one of the key parts of any Toastmaster evening – the formal evaluations of the prepared and impromptu speeches by members of the club. 
 
All of the evaluations were delivered succinctly and provided both encouraging commendations and insightful recommendations: Deborah Broadhurst evaluated Paul’s speech; Amanda Bouch gave feedback to Nirmala; John Murphy (fulfilling a formal role for the first time as a member of our club) commented on Sandra’s speech; and Brian Moffatt delivered his insight into Andrew’s speech. 
 
Christina MacGuire stepped in at very late notice as evaluator of the Table Topics session, giving her usual considered and pithy feedback. 
 
Our Grammarian for the night was Asha Narasimha, who was looking out for particularly good use of language, use of the word of the night “ubiquitous” (which proved indeed to be a word that can be used in all sorts of ways – almost being ubiquitous itself…), and was counting up the unhelpful “filler” words we all often use. 
 
The evening ended with the General Evaluator, Mell Sheppard commenting on the evening as a whole and giving some really useful feedback for all of us to take on board. As ever, Mell delivered this with warm humour while also providing some really useful recommendations. 
 
Our President ended the evening by presenting the Best Speaker award to Paul Chapman, Best Table Topics Speaker to Ian Rodwell and Best Evaluator to Amanda Bouch
 
Can our next meeting possibly be as educational as this one? 
 
There’s only one way to find out! See you there! 
The Toast in Toastmasters 
Brian Moffatt 
6th January 2015 
Can I smell smoke? Ah, almost! It’s that Brian Moffatt in his first role as Toastmaster. He’s brandishing a toasting fork complete with well done toast perched jauntily on the prongs; waving it like a conductor’s baton to orchestrate the evening’s talks. Brian explained how the term "toasting" arose from its historical use of sweetening poor wine, a procedure he proposed to test during the speeches on a quart of ropey wine supposedly hidden under his chair. He claimed it was in the pursuit of authentic research but most reserved their own opinion on this. 
 
Marce Colucci opened the talks with "Watch, I'm talking to you", a masterful, calm and confident performance conveying the importance of non-verbal communication, how it works and can be used for dramatic effect. 
 
The next speaker was Ian Rodwell who returned to public transport for his fascinating talk “Due to Over-running engineering works...”, not this time his suffering of the vicissitudes of rail travel or his fellow passengers antics; instead Ian explained the technical problems in completing the Reading’s rail upgrade from the contractors perspective. His horse drawing was much, erm… admired. 
 
The atmosphere room dropped twenty degrees with Paul Gardner’s chilling eye witness account of a terrified man facing mutilation by knife in his talk “Don't read it, experience it!”. We were captivated, scared and spellbound and only later realised the scene was from The Merchant of Venice. Paul implores us see it live! 
 
In Andrew Sims’ “It's easy to lie with statistics, it's a lot easier to lie without them” Andrew used slides to explain how statistics render global warming irrefutable and how different political parties use or dismiss statics for their own ends. 
 
After the break, and recovering just in time from a wardrobe malfunction in the bow-tie department, Brian spread more cheesy toast toppings across the second half. 
 
Stepping in at short notice Amanda served the Table topics and called upon Nadir, John, Asha, Catalina, Therese and Sandra. 
 
Speeches were evaluated by Matt, Asha, Graeme and Steve, table topics by Mel and grammar by “warm as toast” Jo. (Sorry, you had to be there!). Rachel gave her overall evaluation before Amanda awarded best speech to Paul, best Table Topic to Therese and best evaluator to Steve
 
The evening was notable for the exceptionally high standard and variety of the four main speeches. Congratulations all. 
 
But as for ending with Happy New Yeast… well; crumbs. Next please. 
 
Brian