A memorable night

Last Wednesday’s club meeting was anything but forgettable, as the theme for the evening was ‘memory’, selected by our Toastmaster of the evening and club chairman Anthony Brennan.

In keeping with the theme, our grammarian Zsuzsanna, selected ‘remember’ as the word of the day and every speaker of the evening, without exception, was able to weave it into their speeches.

Shayan had the role of table topics master and he put five of his fellow toastmasters on the spot to deliver mini impromptu speeches on questions all centred round the memory theme.  This week’s winner was Jill, who was asked to speak about her most memorable teacher.  Mr Dobbs – who loved an oversized cardigan.  Our table topics evaluator Ged, had some excellent feedback for Shayan and all the speakers.

Jill wins tabletopics

Our prepared speakers were once again all excellent.  We kicked off with Aga, who reached a milestone by delivering her final speech from the Competent Communicator manual all about how we can determine our own luck.  Next up was Ajeet, who shared the 7 traits an eagle has, that correspond with those of great leaders.  Chris delivered his second speech, reminding us to not give up even when the odds are stacked against us.  Last – but not least – was Jenny, who reminded us all of the importance of Armistice day, the meaning of the poppy and why we must never forget those that fought and died in the first world war.  She and Ajeet both tied for the Best Speaker Award.

Ajeet & Jen win Best Speaker

Every member delivering a prepared speech is assigned an evaluator, who introduces the speaker and provides an evaluation speech of it afterwards.  This week’s evaluators were Richard, Judy, Colin and Paul M.  It was Colin who scooped the best evaluator award for an extremely thorough analysis of Jen’s speech, full of commends and the all-important ‘recommends’.

Colin wins Best Evaluator

An excellent evening all round, evaluated in its entirety by general evaluator Andrew, aided by our timekeeper Diana and ah-counter Matt.  We were also really pleased to welcome 3 guests, 2 of whom were back for their second visit.  We look forward to seeing them again at future meetings.

Next meeting will take place on 22nd November.

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Halloween themed speeches

We were all renamed ‘ghostmasters’ for our Halloween themed club meeting last week, led by Toastmaster for the Evening, Aparna.

The best costume award went to NO ONE, as not one of us decided to come as witches or ghouls, however we had plenty of other awards to give out to recognise those that excelled in their speaking roles.

Spencer wins Best Speaker

Spencer took home the Best Speaker award of the evening, for a personal tale of overcoming anxiety and not simply ‘forgetting everything and running’.  He had stiff competition from Werner who shared his experiences of when he forced himself to live off just £2 a day, for a month, to get a better idea of what it must be like to live, as many do, on a very low income; from Saulius whose third speech from the Competent Communicator manual was all about his superhero Martin Strel, the Slovenian marathon swimmer; and from Diana who absolutely killed her icebreaker speech.  We cannot wait to hear more from Diana.

Diana gets her Icebreaker ribbon







Our best evaluator award winner was a three-way tie between Zsuzsanna, Jack and Paul Goodman.  Each had their own unique style and delivered some excellent feedback for our speakers.

It’s a three-way for Best Evaluator

The table topics section of the evening was hosted by Jill on the subject of scary movies.  She had some very tricky questions that challenged even our most accomplished speakers.  It was Judy’s recollection of when she discovered that Santa wasn’t real that won her the Best Table Topics Speaker award.  Well done to everyone who stood up and spoke for the obligatory 1 minute – Shayan, Matt, Ajeet and Andrew – you all did very well.

Well done Judy!

Club business included an update from Andrew on how fulfilling it was to attend the Division conference recently, in support of club member Ryan who represented our area in the Table Topics Contest. We have also started to plan our West Herts Speakers Club Christmas party!

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Journeys… lead to great speeches

Excellent turnout at our last club meeting, with some brilliant speeches and cracking evaluations.

Paul G may be both “vertically and follicly” challenged (his words) but his unique style and extra dry sense of humour makes him a winner in the role of Toastmaster for the evening.  We listened intently waiting for whatever gem would next leave his mouth.  If you miss an evening with Paul as Toastmaster, then you miss out.

The theme for the evening was journeys.  We think our prepared speakers must have been a little bit psychic as first up was Paul talking about his 10k race running experience, with advice on the training needed to get yourself 10K ready.  Jack, who deservedly won Best Speaker of the night, told us about how he

Jack wins best speaker

‘climbed to the top’ on a bike riding journey, followed by a harrowing tale of crossing terrifying rope bridges over French mountains.

Continuing the theme was Jill who encouraged everyone to follow her example and bag themselves a Munro (a Scottish mountain over 3000ft high).  Then in a break from the active lifestyle motivational talks, we had Aparna who gave us compelling reasons to calm down our social media usage.


Ryan wins best table topics speaker

Our Table Topics master Richard put our guests on the spot during the table topics session, but they had nothing to worry about as they did brilliantly.  Being able to stand up and speak on a subject of someone else’s choice, without prior knowledge is a brilliant skill to have, and one we all go to Toastmasters to develop further.  Well done (again) to Ryan for winning Best Table Topics speaker.

Colin wins best evaluator

Evaluations were expertly delivered by Gwendoline, Colin, Sola, Judy and Andrew.  They all provided the all-important ‘commends’ and ‘recommends’, giving not just our speakers, but the audience something to think about for when preparing our next speeches.  Colin’s excellent evaluation of Jack earned him the Best Evaluator award.

Our general evaluator Anthony Boboe finished off the evening with some great observations about our evaluators and the evening, after insightful reports back from Saulius, our ah-counter and Ged, the grammarian.  Our stand-in President for the night, Judy must also be commended for stepping in and making the role look easy.

Well done everyone!

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How to be a great Table Topics Master

Love them or hate them, Table Topics are a key component of a typical Toastmasters club evening, through which club members learn how to improve their impromptu speaking skills.

If you have taken on the role of Table Topics master (TTM) then there are some important ways you can ensure you and your impromptu speakers get the most out of the evening

1. Start by preparing, in advance, the theme for the coming session and the specific topics to be addressed by the selected club members (and, possibly, by one or more guests)

2. Ensure that the Timekeeper for the evening concerned is briefed (normally just before the start of the meeting) to announce when requested (typically by the Toastmaster of the Evening (TME): the name of each Topics speaker, the title (or equivalent) of their Topic and their time

3. Take over the floor from TME at the commencement of the session

4. Introduce Table Topics by explaining why they are an important part of the evening

5. Set out the theme for the current session

6. Set out each specific topic in turn and select the speaker to address that topic

7. Lead the applause when welcoming and take back the floor after each speaker and provide brief “continuity comments” before moving on to the next Topic.

8. Provide a few closing words at the conclusion of the session, thanking the speakers for their participation and handing back to the TME

Click here to read our full guidance on How to be a great Table Topics Master

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Brilliant humorous speeches

Last night was contest night and it did not disappoint!

The judges must have had an incredibly difficult job deciding who would win our humorous speech contest and table topics contest, to compete on behalf of our club at area level.

But they managed it and it was the Ryan Parke Show.  Huge well done to Ryan – not only did he enter both the contests – he won them both!

Ryan wins the double

It’s hard to know whether it was his hilarious tale of when he devoured a table decoration along with his steak, while out for dinner, that had us laughing the most.  Or if it was his recollection of the time when he broke into an Austrian family’s mountain home, and fought off their dog.  Either way, we are sure he will do well when he represents in the area contest.

Our humorous speech contestants

Every one of the contestants did us proud.  From Anthony Boboe telling us of the floating Rasta-man’s head outside a London club, and Shayan’s 10k struggle that resulted in an injured ‘muscle’, to Ajeet’s comedic performance on the subject of HTML – How To Meet Ladies, Ajeet stylee.  Well done to everyone for stepping up and taking part.

Table topic contestants

There was no requirement for our table topics contestants to be humorous, but they all had us chuckling after being given the statement “My perfect day is…” to wax lyrical on.  All the participants did themselves proud: Andrew, Aparna, Corinne, Anthony Brennan and Werner.

We had three guests join us for the night, who were kind enough to get involved and help us moderate the vote counting and share the timekeeping role.  They seemed to have a great time and we hope to see them back at our next meeting on 11th October.

The whole evening was a huge success and it wouldn’t have been so without the excellent leadership from our contest chair Richard.  He showed us all how it should be done, working closely with chief judge, Judy, and our stand-in Sergeant-at-Arms Colin.

Lets all give Ryan our full support by attending the area contest in Luton on 7th October, 1pm:

University of Bedfordshire Student Union in Luton Room G004
Vicarage Parking Lot
Vicarage Street
Luton LU1 3HZ
Richard with Ajeet
Richard with Anthony
Richard and Aparna
Richard and Corinne
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It’s conference time!

The Inaugural Division H Conference is taking place on 14th October from 10am-5:30pm,
The Stafford Cripps Centre, Cranfield University, MK43 0AL

Programme, information and booking details are on the conference website division-h.mktoastmasters.co.uk/

These are the three top reasons for attending conferences:

1) The workshops A lot of thought has gone into the workshops where we strive to cover better speaking skills, skills for speaking success in the real world, leadership excellence, and thriving clubs. It is rare to assemble this quality and choice of presenters outside of District conferences and rarer still to have it at affordable prices in a convenient location.

2) Networking and catching up Toastmasters from 16 clubs and our friends will be assembling with ample refreshments and breakout space to network. You could easily make new friends and connect with excellent speakers in your field and thus find mentors or proteges.

3) The thrilling contests
Get to see six humorous speech and six Table Topics contestants battle it out for places in the finals at the District conference in Sheffield (3-5 November). The standards are going up exponentially with each round as contestants hone their speeches to perfection. I was blown away by the standards at the first Division conference I visited. I still remember the drunk squaddie’s night out

£30 for the day including lunch and refreshments or attend for just the morning or afternoon for £10. Contestants please contact us for special rates.

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Preparing for our upcoming contest

Who wants to deliver a humorous speech?  That was the question of the evening at the West Herts Speaker Club meeting on 13th September, posed by club member Richard, who’s admirably volunteered himself to be contest chair at our upcoming humorous speech contest on the 27th September.  We Toastmasters love a contest and the humorous speech is a particularly enjoyable one, by its very nature, it’s one that guarantees much laughter.

Round the world, Toastmasters clubs are holding humorous speech contests, competing at division area, regional, national and international levels. Well done to everyone who put themselves forward, but especially to Ryan and Andrew, who have entered both the prepared speech contest as well as the impromptu speaking contest.  We think these two have a bit of rivalry going on…

Anthony is toastmaster for the night

It was business as usual otherwise for our club meeting, brilliantly led by our toastmaster of the night Anthony Boboe.  We had three guests join us for the evening, keen to know what West Herts Speaker Club is all about.  One has indicated she’s really keen to sign up to be a member, another loved how more relaxed we were compared with her former club in Hungary, and the other didn’t reappear after the short break – hey you can’t win them all!

Patrick wins best table topics

We also welcomed back Patrick, who was visiting us from Toastmasters in Luton.  He smashed his impromptu question, posed by our topics master Paul M, and won the coveted best table topics speaker award for the night.

Ryan wins best speaker

Our prepared speeches were delivered firstly by Aga, who was keen to dispel the myth that we should be eating five portions of fruit and veg a day; then Ryan who shared his top tips on how to influence people and not be held back by worries; finishing with Andrew, whose excellent speech on leadership blew everyone’s mind, not least because he over-ran the maximum allocated speech time by four minutes – you can’t be doing that during the contest next week Andrew!  All were inspired speeches, but it was Ryan that won the coveted Best Speaker award this week.

Richard & Paul tie for best evaluator

When it came to evaluations, the quality of the evaluators was so high that we simply couldn’t pick one winner.  Well done to Richard and Paul G, who shared the prize for the night.

Now try as we might to be a very serious club that observes all the rules of Toastmasters international, we do have our moments and Wednesday night was no exception.  Shout out to Spencer – our grammarian, who forgot he was supposed to provide a ‘word of the day’, to Jill – our timekeeper who repeatedly forgot to write down the times (she can’t do that during a contest) and to Phil – our general evaluator who hilariously failed to notice that he’d been fed the word ‘procreate’ as one of the 4 P’s Paul G had used in his evaluation of Aga’s speech.  Funny times.

We look forward to our humorous speech contest on the 27th and encourage as many guests as possible to attend.

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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.

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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.



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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.

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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!

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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!


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