Liz was our Contest Chair. Her warm and encouraging attitude calmed our members’ nerves as they began their speeches, making everyone’s delivery confident and relaxed.

Our timekeepers Nicky and Laura kept the meeting running smoothly. Meanwhile, Chief Judge Rebecca and Zoom master Peter Lane made sure the judges didn’t reveal their secret identities over Zoom.

We also welcomed a number of guests – D71 PR Elizabeth  JordanTJ, Peter, Jonathan  and our key speaker, Ryan.

In her prize-winning speech with the topical title, ‘Tomorrow Will Be A Good Day’, Emma shared a deeply touching story of adopting her puppy. Luna is “muscle powerhouse”, but she hasn’t always been so lively. Her previous owners mistreated her and made Luna hesitant to trust others. But Emma didn’t give up, and, with gentle stroking and cradling, conditioned her to human kindness. We basked in the “balmy warmth of the spring day” as Emma took her for a walk, and we could almost feel Luna jumping around and licking our own faces thanks to Emma’s visceral storytelling. It was an entrancingly poetic speech with a call to action – don’t flinch and recoil when challenges arise; believe in better, for tomorrow will indeed be a good day.

Emma is a Dobble family champion – and now she is also the East Herts Speakers champion. A well-deserved win!

Inspired by the speech, we even met our members’ and guest’s pets – Caroline’s French Bulldog Pepe, Nina P‘s Border Collie Bella, Liz’s Yorkshire Terrier Molly and Ryan’s Pomsky. John’s dog was asleep, but we look forward to seeing him next time! And Paul is getting a kitten.

“Your reputation is your facsimile of yourself. It is what other people say about you when you are not there.” In his speech ‘Why the bad rep?’, full of quotable nuggets, John invited us to think about our reputation, and why it is important. A good reputation opens doors for us at work, helps us make friends and choose the best birthday presents for our loved ones. So how can we avoid getting a “bad rep”? John’s advice was concrete. Do what you say you will do – deliver on your promises. Demonstrate selflessness – go out of your way to help others. And be consistent in your actions. First impressions count, but they are not the whole story. We can grow and change into better versions of ourselves, and as we do, so will our reputations. A wise and motivational ending to the story.

Paul intrigued us with his speech title: ‘I need to think about it.’ He confessed that he isn’t always quick at responding to colleagues’ ideas at work, and he puts this down to his personality. Paul sees himself as an introvert – he enjoys long bike rides and gets energy from the quiet. Science shows that introverts’ brains work differently from those of extraverts. The former are sensitive to dopamine and only need a little risk to be happy. They may be slower thinkers, but they can offer deep and insightful ideas when given time to ponder. If you are an introvert, don’t use it as an excuse to stay in your comfort zone. Instead, go challenge yourself to some table topics! But equally, do not feel that you need to alter your personality, for both extraverts and introverts can make valuable contributions to society. As proof – it turns out we have an even split between the two types at East Herts!
Congratulations Paul on your second-place win!

Next on the agenda was our evaluation contest. The participants were asked to judge a speech by our special guest, Ryan Parke.
It was a real treat of a speech about… the word “do”. Have we ever been so entertained by linguistic analysis? Ryan introduced us to his German friend, Herbert, who asked him to explain the meaning of this English word. Easy, right? So we thought, before Ryan performed his conversation with the inquisitive foreigner. After all, “do” can mean so many things! If you do English, you are learning; if you do business, you are earning; if you do a eulogy, you are mourning; and if you do Shakespeare, if you are performing. English doesn’t always make sense when you try to explain it. But therein lies the silver lining for the non-native speakers among us: “You cannot break it, for English is exactly what you make it!”
It was a witty, fast-paced and humorous speech which had the audience hungry for more. Ryan, we look forward to seeing more of your delightful performances!

Our contestants – John, Andy, Nina M and Anna – offered constructive critique of the speech above.
Nina M was the winner of the evaluation contest and Andy came in second. Kudos, you were both brilliant!