The  end of the Toastmasters year (July – June) is  drawing nearer, with only 3 meetings left.  While some members of the club can’t wait to go back to in person meetings, others don’t want to yet or can’t as they are not living locally.  President Paul Bayliss opened up the meeting by letting us know that we will continue as a hybrid club at the very least until September, which means that  members who cannot join in person will still be able to join online.

This week we welcomed our guest Nadeera and our members to a Star Wars themed meeting, May the 4th (Force) be with you.

We heard 4 inspiring speeches.

Laura Hiles started us off with her Icebreaker (and first ever speech in our club) You just never Know. Originally from Zimbabwe, and having also lived in South Africa, she came to the UK 19 years ago. The plan was to only stay for a short while, so, much to her own surprise, she and her family are still here. She and her husband also celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary this year, another thing she can’t quite believe. They haven’t lived in the UK continuously though, a few years were spent in the US, where they moved for Laura’s job in a big pharmaceutical company.  Now they are settled here, and enjoy life with their 2 teenagers and their dog CoCo. Laura loves gardening and growing fruit. Speaking publicly is a part of her job, she joined Toastmasters to practice and lose her fear of doing it. We say well done for taking the first step, and letting us get to know her better with a confidently delivered and interesting Icebreaker!

In his speech How I learned to lovePeter Lane flipped the table over the infamous 2.5 hours minimum play time board game Monopoly. We learned that the game was created in the early 20th century by Elizabeth Magie, but it was the Parker Brothers who started selling it in the mid 30ies.  Peter is not alone in hating this game that  takes ages to set up and is played for hours. Until…  he learned to love it. How? By looking at it through the lens of data. The most frequented square is the jail, and the most visited neighbourhoods are red and orange and that you shouldn’t bother buying hotels (stick to 3 houses) or rail stations.The dynamic of the game is also influenced heavily by the number of players. The most surprising piece of information? The game is set out to last 45 mins. Maybe if we stick to that, and Peter’s data driven tips, more would learn to love Monopoly too.
Who is up for a round then?

Nicky Fawehinmi explored different Communication Styles in her speech with the same title and reflected on her own. Calm and supportive, Nicky is the glue between different teams at her workplace. She hasn’t always appreciated this quality in herself, and used to think that a more assertive style was preferable. But experience showed that the best approach depends on the circumstances. Nicky identified three traits of effective communication, which are: clear, concise and consistent. (Great alliteration + rule of three!) While she admitted that she sometimes finds it hard to be brief given her natural ebullience, Nicky definitely nailed it this time with her articulate and measured delivery.

Kartik Daswani did something we don’t often see at Toastmasters (though we should!). He practiced a real-life presentation which he will soon deliver before a company’s senior leadership. In his speech Approach to a first 90 days in new role Kartik walked us through a detailed plan on what to do in the first 3 months: from building relationships to developing a roadmap, with many things in-between. He also shared tips on avoiding “banana skins”, which can be applied to many types of communication. To name a few: don’t act like you’ve “been there, done that”; set credible expectations and don’t create the false impression that things can be done easily.
As Kartik’s guinea pigs, we wish him best of luck at presenting this in his company – no doubt he will ace it.

We never would have guessed Emma turned to the Dark Side! Was it the cookies?
Darth Painter was our table topics master tonight and asked storm troopers Carl Glover, Margaryta Malyukova and Mark Richardson Star Wars inspired questions they had to answer impromptu. They all survived, Darth must have been sufficiently pleased with the answers.

Our winners of the night are
Margaryta who delivered the best table topics
Steve who delivered the best evaluation
Peter who delivered the best speech

Well done everybody!
May the Force be with you.

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