The meeting on Tuesday had the theme “Man’s best friend”, an homage to our club members’ pets.

We welcomed 10 guests, Bianca, Pam, Melissa, Chitra, George, Philip, Kendal, Karsan, Carl, and Ryan Parke, from (the wild wild) West Herts Speakers who was our fabulous general evaluator. All of the guests contributed to the meeting and spoke, thank you!

Our dialled in quote master Stuart Lawson opened the meeting with 2 short quotes from George Bernard Shaw, which are found below.

In her speech ‘Chocolate Cake’ Margaryta Malyukova  tells us how not to take unexpected negative feedback. She tied this together with a personal story that happened at her work. She described how she first chose to not hear the unwelcome feedback (selective hearing), then heard it but took it too lightly, and ultimately heard it and took it to heart. You are not doing yourself a favour when you don’t listen to feedback, because it will help you improve and become a better person. Take it as you would eat chocolate cake, take a bite, chew it slowly, then swallow.

“Introduction to Toastmasters Mentoring”  by Mark Richardson was everything but. He did an elegant U-Turn avoiding a topic we have heard quite a few speeches about and talked about giving a toast instead. He was asked  to give a birthday toast to his grandmother last minute which made him reflect on this custom.
He outlined the history of toasts, tracing it back to the Ancient Greeks and a toast to Zeus and then explained step by step how to give the perfect toast:
1. Research (who is toasted? why? who is the audience?)
2. Decide on a Format (sentimental, formal, funny)
3. Stick to time (between 30 and 60 seconds)
4. Clear invitation to raise glasses
5. Don’t forget to toast
Get toasting, everybody, here is to the end of lockdown! Klink! Gulp…

In ‘Cooking with gasDerek Deheer-Graham took us on tour. Working from home, days spent on zoom calls he found it difficult to wind down for the weekend. A ritual helped to to achieve that: Hot pepper soup- Friday nights. He took us to on his ride to London where he shopped the ingredients. His vivid storytelling let us see, smell and hear the market. Lastly he locked himself in the kitchen cooking, while dancing to funky music. We wound down from our own stress listening to it!

Nina Prager explained her committee role as Vice President Public Relations. The VPPR handles maintaining and building the club’s image. This includes website maintenance, (social) media presence and spending a lot of time shouting out how amazing we are! (Best job ever.)

Andy Cowan talked about his role as  Sergeant at Arms who handles meeting facilities and decorum. The role involves all those tasks expected of the host of the meeting. The role is different in zoom meetings, he creates forms and takes care of the polls.

Nina Prager was the host of a pawsome table topics session. Bianca, Laura, Emma, Peter and Kendal talked about their pets in impromptu mini speeches.

And the winner is…
… Margaryta Malyukova won best speech
Emma Painter  won best table topics
Nina Morozova and Rebecca Wigmore won best evaluations in a tie
Well done everybody!