Dear Toasties and Guests,

Lovely to see you all at our meeting yesterday, and it was super to meet those of you joining us for the first time.
Congratulations: to Esmé for winning our club speech contest and to Jenny for winning our club Table Topic contest two weeks ago. They will be going ahead to the Area competition on 4th November, and we’ll share Zoom details as they become available.

A huge thank you to everyone involved in front of the camera and behind the scenes for making the competition possible: Aga, Katie, Carrie, Laura, Georgina, Dena, Vikki, Sam, all the judges and counters, and to everyone who showed up to support and cheer and learn. Thank you.

The toastmaster leading our meeting this evening was Carrie, with the team of:
– Sam as our timer, who did a fantastic job in her first timer role in a club meeting, having already been the timer in our competition 2 weeks ago.
– Armelle as our grammarian, who chose vigilance as the word of the day – “the process of paying close and careful attention” which she certainly did in her skillful noticing of our speakers deliberate and unconscious word use. A particularly useful choice Armelle made with her feedback was drawing attention to our own personal filler words or phrases, rather than the more generalised ‘err ummm y’know like’. If we’re using something mindfully and effectively that’s one thing, if we’re missing out on an opportunity to improve our impact, then that’s something to take advantage of. and
– Georgina as our Zoom maestro, making the tech play nicely.

We had Laura as our speaker, making excellent use of the space to practice a work-related presentation. Jo as the evaluator provided useful feedback, including reminding us about the use of subject- or -sector-specific terminology when speaking with a mixed audience.

Helping us develop our off the cuff speaking skills was Esmé who ran a ‘would you rather…’ table topics session, which included Ailsa weighing up the merits of meeting previous generations over future fur babies
Robina wisely avoiding the Central Line (couldn’t agree more…) and MC considering the significance of purpose and impact of action, above the vehicle for that action, winning the contest as she did so.

All participants were evaluated by Shruti who drew our attention to being mindful of our eye movement (sometimes tricky if one is using gallery view or if we’re searching for thoughts)- taking the opportunity to inspire, if possible- and enjoying the use of less well-known phrases or sayings to get the audience curious as to where you’re going.

‘Would you rather’ is a very useful structure for table topics, because it immediately helps us set up our answer of ‘well, on the one hand… / and on the other hand…. / therefore on balance…’. In other words it establishes a path for us from the outset. However, we don’t have to wait for the table topics master to offer it to us. We can see if we can apply it to whichever question is asked. We can also make an impact by adamantly taking one side from the outset – ‘how outrageous that anyone should think anything else?!’ – creating a memorable contrast as we disrupt expectations of those listening. As Goethe said ‘boldness has genius, power, and magic in it’, so feel free to play with table topics. As you know, ‘failing’ in pursuit of play or improvement isn’t ‘failure’, it’s exploration and adaptation – finding new rewards and new ways forward.

Have a super fortnight.
Best wishes


Eve Parmiter

President, City Women Speakers

Toastmasters International