We had another delicious full-course meal at East Herts Speakers this Tuesday, 20 April 2021.

Mark served us with a Peking duck joke for an entrée.

Our main course was Ratatouille. It was cooked by Remy, an animal you would not want peeking at you from behind the sofa when you’re reading a book.

As a side dish, Kartik brought us his favourite blue craft cheese from India. You couldn’t buy that in Britain!

And to top it all off, we had Mars chocolate bars for dessert. Yes, Bianca brought them over from her recent trip to the red planet.

We were glad to offer a seat at the table to our four guests: Gospel, Ralitsa, Mandy and Carl. They took part in Table Topics, too!

Our first speaker, Liz, shared a story about planning a trip to the Peloponnese. Though reluctant to go from the start, she felt that she couldn’t say no to her friend, who suggested the idea. Liz puts this down to a lack of assertiveness: after all, she had been taught not to let others down. But refusing to say no can hurt us in the end. As Paulo Coelho said: “When you say yes to others, make sure you are not saying no to yourself.” In order to be more assertive, we should be confident, clear and controlled. Something we can all practice more, as we toe the line between aggressive and passive behaviour. Liz shared the book titles the quotes were taken from, please find them below.

Tired of PowerPoint? Rebecca expanded our presentation toolkit by introducing us to Menti – an interactive piece of software that we got a chance to practice right at the meeting! Rebecca got us to provide feedback on the club, and even tested our knowledge of Toastmasters core values. Most people took an active part in both activities, making for a very fun session. So, next time you try PowerPoint, remember this quote by US computer scientist Peter Norvig: “Using PowerPoint is like having a loaded AK-47 on the table: you can do very bad things with it.”

“Roses are red, money is green. I’ll be the best treasurer you’ve ever seen.” With this 21st century classic, Nina M began her first ever role on the East Herts Speakers committee, serving as the club’s treasurer. She was nervous to do it, but Steve convinced her, and it turned out to be one of the best decisions of her life. Nina didn’t stop there, taking on new leadership positions as Vice President of Education and President. Being a club officer helped Nina get promoted at work and also enabled her to reach her personal goals. With club elections looming, let’s take Nina’s advice on board and apply to join the committee!

All in all, it was another enthusiastic meeting, in the words of our friend from Stevenage Speakers, Mandy, who generously stepped in as our general evaluator.

But great as it was, we could not measure up to the feats that our ancestors performed on the same day… in centuries past. Our Table Topic Master, Peter, reminded us of that.

Can we match the bold captain James Cook who, on 20 April 1770, reached the shores of Australia? Or the brilliant Louis Pasteur who developed pasteurisation on 20 April 1862? Or the brave Jimmy Carter who chased off a swamp rabbit that threatened to capsize his fishing boat on 20 April 1979?

Perhaps not, but our Table Topic speakers came close! Laura travelled far indeed – to the town of Helen in the US state of Georgia. Our guest Gospel won a fierce standoff against a mouse in her home. And our members who are chemical engineers are hard at work on the cutting edge of technology.

Additionally, Carl confessed to dancing to the tunes of his pop idol Michael Jackson in his adolescence (who didn’t?). Bianca Brinkley wisely reminded us to get sun tan lotion when we go to Mars. Kartik reminisced about the taste of Indian craft cheese. Paul admitted to selling his soul… but we never learnt who the lucky owner is.

Laura won the best table topics.

Emma won the best Evaluation. Great boost of confidence before the Division contest!

And the best speaker was a three-way tie!