Thank you to all who made it to our meeting last Wednesday – the first of 2017 and the first in our smart new home in the Edinburgh Room at RBS’s 280 Bishopsgate building.  We were very warmly received by all the reception staff and I’m sure we’ll be very well looked after there, however we will need to make a few adjustments to the way we manage our meetings in order for everyone to benefit from them as well as RBS’ hospitality.  I will send a separate email about that shortly so please look out for that.

We welcomed two new members to the Club – Lan and Esme who joined in January, and three visitors: Gunita from DB speakers, Rochelle and Anam.  There was a packed agenda which our Toastmaster, Rowena managed to whisk us through, followed by several important notices which I have set out below – PLEASE READ THEM EVEN IF YOU DON’T READ THE WHOLE OF THIS MEETING SUMMARY!

Appropriately for January, we had a first and a last speech from the Competent Communicator manual, starting with Maria’s Icebreaker speech.  We heard about Maria’s childhood and education in Zimbabwe, how she followed closely in her sister’s footsteps until she met her husband at university, the evolution of her career at Barclays in Zimbabwe, South Africa and now London as well as how she adapted her communication style from being known as a chatterbox, to become the sharp but reserved person she is today.  We also learnt about her family, her strong faith, her miraculous recovery from a health problem and her exercise preferences – she certainly packed a lot into her introduction and we look forward to hearing more from her when she next takes to the stage.

Our second speaker was Gunita, who was visiting us from Deutsche Bank Speakers; she used the structure of CC speech #6 to introduce a piece of advice to a group of university students as they contemplate their future career choices.  She reflected on her own experiences when she was at the same stage of her own education, evoking wonderful images of her graduation trip to Croatia, and her fears at the time that the best years of her life may be about to end as she took on more responsibilities in life.  She urged her audience not to fear the future, but to follow Steve Jobs advice to stay hungry and stay foolish; explaining that more responsibility doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy work and love what you’re doing (most of the time).  Her key message was that, to be more successful you should follow your passion and take time for yourself – inspiring thoughts to start the New Year!

Our final prepared speech was JT’s 10th CC project entitled 30 hours.  Her mission was to inspire the audience to noble motives, so she picked a similarly motivating subject – charity work – and explained how a chance conversation had introduced her to the world of possibilities and responsibilities open to people who are prepared to donate 4 evenings / year to a cause that they believe in.  We heard how a world of possibilities opened up to an author after a 15 second idea for a character became immensely popular with librarians, leading to a parallel career as a public speaker and ambassador for the Orangutan foundation.  JT also gave us many inspirational examples of similar stories in other sectors including food, sport, and the girl-guiding movement, and pointed us towards 2 websites which give more information about what is involved in becoming a trustee, as well as how and where to find your way into one of the 90,000 open positions that are available today .  I’m sure she would be happy to share those with anyone who is interested but who wasn’t able to attend last week – let me know if you would like details.

Our evaluators for these speeches were Jane (Maria), Barbora (Gunita) and Julia (JT).

Following a short break, Sayara took on the role of Table Topics master, picking a musical theme for her questions.  First of all, I was asked whether I would agree to perform in an amateur music show to raise money for charity – that was an easy one to answer (yes!) but I managed to spin my response out over more than one minute.  Lan was then asked which musical she would choose, so she selected Hamilton, as she loves the story-line and has heard great reviews; one of our visitors, Rochelle chose her best friend as her co-star since she is very dramatic so they would have a lot of fun; if given the opportunity, she would also like to choose a story which helps to bridge culture gaps and bereaved children.  Another visitor, Anam was given the opportunity to re-choreograph the chosen musical to her favourite dance style, so we heard (and saw) how she loves to dance (almost regardless of the outcome); she would engage very enthusiastically with this project and use it as an oppor tunity to practice her salsa and learn street dance, but the final choice had to be tango which she was keen to dance with her partner.  Lastly, Esme was asked to name her favourite childhood musical – she was spoilt for choice as she’s a great fan of Disney and Dreamworks productions; in the end, she chose Aladdin, as it has the best memories for her.

Following Susan’s evaluation of the Table Topics session, we voted JT as our best speaker, Anam as our best table topics speaker and Susan as best evaluator.

Rowena’s theme for the evening was ‘Great Plans for 2017’, so we heard many of our presenters’ objectives for the months ahead; she was ably assisted by Helen as Timekeeper together with Zhenzhen as Grammarian (wearing one of her many hats for the evening); Zhenzhen chose Epic as our word of the day, which aptly described her juggling of responsibilities as Sergeant at Arms, meeting hostess, grammarian and ah-counter!

We closed the meeting with notices, followed by networking over a glass of wine which was left over from the Christmas party, enjoying the view from our lovely new room, and getting to know our visitors and new members.


I hope some of you will be going to this event this evening, which I advertised last week and which has been organised by Excalibur:

Wed 18 January: 5 Steps to Take Giant Strides in Competition Speaking, with Bob Ferguson & Simon Bucknall (£9) (Excalibur)

Leadership Institute – Workshops & COT

Saturday 21 January near Euston from 9h30 onwards. All Toastmasters members and leaders from London and beyond are welcome to attend this FREE event.

If you are a club officer, attendance to 3hrs worth of sessions will count as having attended Club Officer Training (COT), but if not, it will still be very interesting and useful. Sessions will be running throughout the day in two separate rooms, and a wide range of topics will be covered during the day, covering both speaking and leadership skills.-Refreshments will be served throughout the day. For more information including a full programme and to book your attendance, click here.

Also on Saturday 21 January, Lan asked us to mention The Women’s March; more information here:

And the Facebook group to sign up:

Ahead of our International Speech and Evaluation contest season, I strongly encourage you to attend this workshop on Monday 30 January, given by a champion evaluator (and former president of our club):

Area 56 Evaluation Workshop with Lynne Cantor, hosted by Data Science (no fee)

Club officers and deputies are encouraged to attend our area Club Officer Training event on

Wednesday 1 February: Professional & Corporate Club Officer Training, hosted by Deutsche Bank (no fee).  Other dates are available and Nadine is circulating those to the committee. Please let me know when you sign up for a training event so I can keep track, for DCP purposes.

At our next meeting on 25th January, we’re looking forward to David Longley’s presentation on the new Pathways education program (2019) which will include Q&A.  David has also kindly agreed to be our General Evaluator for the evening.  There are still many roles available for that evening, including evaluator, Table Topics Master, Toastmaster etc, so please sign up for the meeting and a role, or let me or Brana know which role you would like to fill.  Remember, it’s just as important to contribute to others’ experience of the evening by carrying out one of the supporting roles, as it is to complete your speech manuals!

Our next Club Committee meeting is scheduled after our meeting on 8 February, so please let me or one of the committee know if there is any issue you would like to raise with us before then.

We will hold our International Speech and Evaluation contest on 22 February, with the winners going forward to the Area contest on 9 March.  We do need volunteers to organise and participate in this contest, so please step up and let me or Brana know if you will be there, and in which capacity.

See you on 25th January, and keep warm in the meantime!

Best wishes

Please click here for details of our next club meeting

Ailsa Darroch