The August rain failed to dampen the spirits of the West Herts Speakers, who met last night at The Noke Hotel in St Albans, for a fun evening of speeches, evaluations and dressing up as Italian police officers – well just one of us did that!

Toastmaster Jen


Jen was our brilliant toastmaster of the evening – she has a very natural style that always makes her a pleasure to listen to.  We’re already looking forward to her next prepared speech at our meeting on the 24th August.

Welcome back Spencer!

We happily welcomed back Spencer – a great fun toastmaster who’s been missing for a few meetings recently.  He didn’t disappoint in his role as table topics master, putting Ryan, Judy, Anthony Brennan and Philip under pressure with some impromptu speaking questions around the theme of change’.  Well done Ryan for scooping the ‘Best Table Topics Speaker’ award for his brilliant account of which teacher had changed his life.

Ryan won Best Table Topics Speaker
Werner won Best Speaker











If you’ve ever used Google Maps, you’ll know it’s a very helpful tool to get you from destination A to destination B.  However, our first prepared speech of the night, given by Werner, gave Google Maps a whole new raison d’etre as he encouraged its use for scoping out and reaching your life goals.  “Just start moving”, he told us, in what was his second ever Toastmasters speech, for which he won the ‘Best Speaker’ of the night award.  Well done Werner.

Next up was Ryan, the aforementioned club member that donned a poliziotto outfit to launch his hilarious speech about a time he’d driven along the Stelvio Pass in northern Italy unknowingly dressed in an outfit that could have landed him in a whole world of trouble.  Sadly, we were so caught by surprise with his outfit, we completely forgot to capture it on camera!

Aga speaking about virtual reality
Andrew delivering his 3rd speech










Aga and Andrew delivered the 3rd and 4th prepared speeches of the evening.  Aga spoke confidently about virtual reality, what it is, how it’s used and the prospects for using it even more in the future.  Andrew discussed fear and how humans make decisions based on emotions far more that logic.  Both were excellent and informative speeches.

Our evaluators – Richard, Phillip, Paul M, Paul G and Anthony Brennan – had a challenging job in trying to find recommends as well as commends with tonight’s speakers but they did it like the pros they are.  Best evaluator could have easily gone to any of them, but this week Phillip had the edge.  Well done Phil.

At Toastmasters, we always have a ‘word of the day’.  Last night’s was ‘plethora’ selected by the grammarian Jill.  It was certainly used a plethora of times!  Our ah-counter was our newest member – Shayan – who did the role perfectly.  Our outgoing president Anthony Boboe took on the role of timekeeper and kept us all in check with his red, amber and green lights.  While Judy delivered an excellent review of the whole evening as general evaluator, picking up things we did well and areas for improvement.

We hope to see all our fellow toastmasters at our next meeting on 24th August.  Guests are always welcome.

Share this...Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on FacebookShare on Google+Email this to someone

A night of icebreakers

Despite many any of our regular members being away on their summer holidays, last Wednesday’s club meeting, at The Noke in St Albans, had such a buzz to it – with 2 icebreaker speeches – that you’d have thought we were all there.

‘Being British’ was the theme of the club night on Wednesday 26th July, introduced by our toastmaster of the evening Jill.

We welcomed our Area Director, Steve Campion to the meeting as the only guest of the evening.  He took on one of the evaluator roles and provided an inspiring evaluation of our first speaker Andrew, who’s experiences at a Jazz festival in Rotterdam had led him to question the adequacy in the provision of public toilets!  Steve also won Best Table Topics Speaker for his impromptu speech on his history with toastmasters.

Anthony presents Steve Campion his table topics speaker award

Chris delivered his icebreaker speech – the first speech in the Competent Communicator Manual given to all new toastmaster members.  He overcame his nerves and delivered an excellent speech, that was superbly evaluated by Corinne.

Chris breaks the ice

Then we had yet another icebreaker speech – this time for Saulius, our newest member.  Saulius’ personal story about how he didn’t become a pilot earned him the ‘Best Speaker’ Award for the night, while his evaluator Judy was crowned ‘Best Evaluator’.

Saulius wins Best Speaker for his icebreaker
Judy wins Best Evaluator

The word of the day, selected by Grammarian Matt, was ‘umbrage’ but attendees might have mistook it for ‘flannelling’ after table topics master Paul M threw some challenging questions at our more experienced club members Anthony Brennan and Judy, around the subject of how to improve toastmasters.  They handled themselves expertly, as did our other impromptu speakers Chris and Ajeet, who both made us laugh with their own personal anecdotes.

Our ‘ah-counter’ was Ryan was superb – he put a unique and amusing slant on his report back to the group about which of us had used those killer filler words: ah, ummm, like, so… etc

Ryan as ah-counter

Just when we thought we were going to finish ahead of time, our general evaluator (and resident comedy genius Paul G) decided to ignore the red light signal of timekeeper Barrie (which tells our speakers when their time is up) and treat us to a very candid, yet very humorous review of the night.

Paul evaluating generally…

Club President, Anthony Brennan, then handed out the awards and brought the meeting to a close.

Thank you everyone who attended, it really was another great night.



Share this...Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on FacebookShare on Google+Email this to someone

New toastmaster year begins

The 12th of July meeting really was a brilliant one.  The energy in the room was at the highest we’d seen it for a while; laughter filled the room and everyone really enjoyed themselves.

Our toastmaster for the night was our former president, Anthony Boboe, who capably guided us through the agenda.  Aparna, the table topics master, threw us a curve-ball by completely changing the format for this part of the evening.  She held a debate on whether our increased reliance on IT was a good thing.  Well done to Anthony Brennan for winning best table topics speaker.

We had two excellent icebreaker speeches from two of our newest members – Ryan and Werner.  Next was Ajeet, who used his 5th speech from the competent communicator manual to tell us how we should listen more effectively.  Our final speech was delivered by Jill on how to live long and prosper, like a Vulcan.  It was speech number 6 for Jill and earned her the Best Speaker Award for the night.

Jill wins Best Speaker Award

The second part of the evening consists of the evaluations and this meeting we heard Corinne, Jack, Judy and Paul Goodman give their commends and recommends to our speakers.  All were superb at offering useful advice, but it was Paul who received the Best Evaluator prize on this occasion.

This meeting was also the first in the new toastmasters year, under the charge of new President Anthony Brennan and the new committee:

Jack Rick (Treasurer), Judy Mallinson & Paul Goodman (co-VP of Education), Jill Faiella (VP of Public Relations), Ajeet Maurya (VP of Membership), Aparna Pesala (Secretary), Andrew Louis (Sergeant at Arms).

The new committee is introduced

Next meeting: 26th July, 2017.

Share this...Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on FacebookShare on Google+Email this to someone

A fistful of medals for West Herts Speakers

Last night West Herts Speakers said goodbye to January in style with packed evening of laughter, joy…and a heady dose of public speaking, led by our toastmaster for the evening, Irina.

So what do a green dumbbell, a fistful of medals, a self-help book, and a stopwatch mean to you?

We certainly found out what they mean to some of our members in Gwen’s slightly off-piste table topic session. In an innovative move, Gwen called up four speakers to the stage simultaneously. They each had to speak for 30 seconds on what a particular object (green dumbbell, medals etc. etc.) means to them. To spice things up, the fourth speaker had to speak for…..drum roll….one entire minute! That Gwen likes to keep us on our toastmaster toes.

On to the prepared speeches…..

As if it wasn’t cold enough, newcomer Ged gave a witty, inspirational ice-breaker, where he told us about three key ‘threshold’ moments in his son’s life, and how he continues to strive to achieve his goals. This was so enjoyable, we simply can’t wait for his second speech (no pressure Ged).

In a speech entitled “Return to the alter” bride-to-be Jill took us on a fun and insightful journey through the etiquette of the “encore wedding”, with a very tightly structured speech centered around her ‘5 golden rules’.

And finally in a speech entitled ‘Doing Time’, Judy proved she is not a ‘time thief’ by delivering a solid session packed with tips on how to improve time management when giving Toastmasters speeches and evaluations – this was a hugely beneficial speech, with practical advice that the audience could take away with them.

And the winners were…….

Ged  – Best prepared speech (congratulations oh breaker of ice)

Phil – Best evaluation

Irina – Best table topic

The next session is on 8th February – see you there!

Share this...Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on FacebookShare on Google+Email this to someone

Never a bad day for West Herts Speakers!

In what must have been a record-breaking attendance for West Herts Speakers around 26 people packed into our room at the Noke Hotel last night to witness some of the finest public speaking to happen west of the county.

Our table topic speakers bravely answered age-related questions such as “If you could move forward in time and meet your 90-year-old-self, what questions would you ask?” or “If you could live forever, how would you spend your time?” – Tough questions that were answered well by all.

We had a whoppinFile 12-10-2016, 23 57 55g four prepared speeches, all of which were completely different in style and content.

Lynn kicked us off with a highly structured speech about how and why her job gives her satisfaction, while Jenny followed with a compelling argument as to why she feels that ‘Black History Month’ is not racist. Following this, Gwendoline told us why ‘creating memories to cherish’ is important to her, and how she applies it to her working life. And lastly Karen gave us an interesting poem recital in synchronisation with an on-screen video, and she focused heavily on the variation in her voice and overall delivery. All-in-all a diverse, and high-quality evening of speeches.


So who were the winners?

The bFile 12-10-2016, 23 57 14est evaluator award went to Monica for her strong evaluation of Gwendoline’s speech.

Jenny cleaned up in both the best table topic AND best speaker awards, so a big congratulations to her!

The next meeting will be on Wednesday 26th October so please do come along!


Share this...Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on FacebookShare on Google+Email this to someone

Hatfied’s Heroes of the Humorous Speech

Belly laughs were aplenty in Hatfield on Saturday as West Herts Speakers’ very own Tom Goodfellow and Richard Beagle were wittily pitted against the rest of the district in the latest Humorous speech competition.

We didn’t bring any trophies home this time (that was not a joke!) but we did raise the roof with chuckles, and that was the point!


Mr Beagle made us proud with solidly jolly table topic on ‘what do you do if you need a belly laugh’, and Tom did his famous ‘The Great Pretender’ speech, this time with an extra-loud recorder introduction which blew a few eardrums in the front row (awkward).


Thanks to everyone who came to support our speakers!

Share this...Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on FacebookShare on Google+Email this to someone

Superwoman, daddy pig, a dodgy handshake and some meta-search.

Thanks to all who embraced the heatwave and attended last night’s meeting of West Herts Speakers.

Luckily JJ – our toastmaster for the evening – coolly steered us through the proceedings of a delightful evening.

We started off on a high with an energetic and rather challenging table topic session masterminded by Yogesh on the theme of ‘Strange but true’.

During this session Monica gave us the lowdown on why she’s clearly a superwoman, meanwhile Spencer let rip about a ‘thing that is both embarrassing yet healthy’. Tom told us all about his exploits getting lost in London on a ‘tipsy night out’, Lisa talked of the privileges of being a woman, and Anthony told us how a handshake with Rio Ferdinand didn’t quite live up to his expectations.

And all that before we even got onto the prepared speeches!

Our first speech was from Jenny, who talked about how her life has changed since becoming a mum, and how parenthood eventually led her to joining Toastmasters. She used very clear structure in her speech – time, social life, outlook on life – and nicely linked her topic to her Toastmasters journey.

Our second speech was from Aga who gave the audience a quick primer in the use of meta search engines and Boolian search logic. She successfully educated the audience on these fascinating topics.

Our evaluators Spencer and Matthew both gave considered and balanced assessments of the prepared speeches.

Thanks to all other that performed roles:


Ajert – grammarian

Paul  – timekeeper

Judy – table topics evaluator

Gwendoline – general evaluator

Lynne – ah-counter (full marks for adopting a very topical gold, silver and bronze scoring system!)

Share this...Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on FacebookShare on Google+Email this to someone

We’re 20 and (just quietly) awesome!

West Herts Speakers celebrated its proud 20 year anniversary last night with a wonderful mix of the old and the new.
What’s new? The club has just reached the gold standard of President Select status for its achievements throughout the Toastmaster year. And it partied at the venue which will become its new home later this month – The Noke in St Albans.
As for the old we really should say “young-at-heart founding members” who joined in the fun: Colin Donald, Stuart Lawson and Madhu Kundu. Each regaled the audience with tales of smelly venues and cantankerous doors but above all decades of friendship and the miracle of members moving from fear to fluency.
President Richard Beagle rarely missed the chance to say (rub in) the achievements of his club but failed to mention his indefatigable energy, dedication and belief in his members that contributed to an “awesome” year.
The after dinner speaker and well-known “roastmaster” Kevin Baggs had the marquee walls flapping with laughter with some well aimed shots at office bearers.(“I always wanted to be a comedian but they’re not laughing now!”)
John Kendall, Area Director (outgoing) and regular visitor at West Herts spoke of his support for the club and its achievements over the past year and years.
District Director Kevin Lee delighted by posing the question of who can name the gardener who nurtured the “tree” from which Newton’s apple fell and sparked an inspiration that resounded throughout the centuries since. His words inspired us all as clubs to be the metaphorical “gardeners” for the trees that can nurture and support great things in others.
Last but certainly not least, Irina Baldwin read a poem penned by the talented Paul Goodman for the occasion. Paul couldn’t be there due to illness but his presence was felt though his words.

Share this...Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on FacebookShare on Google+Email this to someone

To West Herts Speakers

Penned by Paul Goodman for its 20th Anniversary Celebration on 17 June 2016 – with reference to the Competent Communication manual

Welcome all you speakers (whether old hands or brand new)
We’re a group of people who are tailor-made for you
Our start point is a handbook of ten projects (each discrete)
With a badge that marks you “competent”, when the programme is complete.

Everyone commences with a form of their CV
Built from just those highlights to be offered orally
This “breaks the ice” quite gently: no research but notes allowed
To an audience supportive (a smiling, friendly crowd).

Secondly comes structure: beginning, middle, close
While thirdly, put quite bluntly, there’s little point to prose
Unless it meets a purpose: inform? or entertain?
On a topic that’s specific, so the message is quite plain.

Then it’s “How to say it”, when one’s writing for the ear
Techniques (including rhetoric) to keep the meaning clear
Not forgetting body language in the speaker’s “box of tools”
Such as facial expression and the key eye contact rules.

Having reached the halfway mark, it’s voice that’s now “on stage”
Are tone and pitch adjusted so they’re likely to engage?
When offering the details to support a point of view
That flows from both rehearsal and thorough research too.

Effective use of visual aids comprises project eight
Leading to persuasion with words that carry weight
Before the final session where inspiring earns the votes
From a speech delivered crisply without any trace of notes.

Regular attendance at Club meetings offers roles
That also hone one’s speaking skills (or work to other goals)
The “Emcee” of the evening (for example) will aspire
To harmonised proceedings – think orchestra (or choir).

This calls for people management, quick thinking, sense of mood
As does evaluation where asperity’s eschewed
In commenting as critic after listening with great care
To recommend improvements based on findings that are fair.

So if it’s public speaking where proficiency is needed
Follow the advice that a growing host have heeded
By joining West Herts. Speakers: where our members all agree
Their progress can speak for itself, when it comes to oratory.

Paul Goodman
June 2016

(Some of you may have read the coded message – to others the hint is to look at the paragraphs one by one.)