Doncaster Speakers Meeting Report | Monday 14th July 2014

General Evaluator’s Report | 14th July 2014 | By Andrew Miller

“Security Blankets”

Lisa Johnson, Toastmaster for the evening, found an excellent way of theming the meeting.

The concept of the security blanket, something we hide behind that helps us or stops us from stepping outside our comfort zone, was nicely tied into the fears we feel when we stand up and speak in front of an audience. That we need to step out from behind our shields and face our fears if we want to progress in anything we do.

Baby Comfort Blanket
Image Credit: Granny strippe baby blanket by marenlm, on Flickr

Additionally, however, Lisa had made erstwhile contact with a number of the people taking on roles and inveigled them to provide personal stories about their own security blankets or cuddly toys that they possessed as a child.

Lisa would then introduce each one with a little insight into their childhood pecadillos, before they came up to the lectern.

Consequently, we found out about thumb suckers who cured their habit by playing cat’s cradle, the violence that can be bestowed by a small boy and his toy cat and we even had an actual toy sheep brought in to show.

Not only did this put an additional gloss on some of the more formal procedures in place, it also helped us all to get to know these people a little better and enabled us to connect with them at a deeper level.

As for the meeting itself, we had two speakers tonight, both of whom had completed the initial 10 speeches contained in the first manual we tackle, officially designating them Competent Communicators.

Derek Lucian delivered us an advanced speech from the Entertaining Speaker Manual, and entertain us he did. Entitled “Three Little Words”, Derek went on to reveal that the three words in question were “Pull. My. Finger”. And yes, described precisely how that old trick works and the consequences. With mimes and sound effects! Somehow, he managed to keep it decent and family friendly, which was an art in itself.

He then shared with us his confusion when a doctor appeared to be using this method to check for trapped nerve in his neck and how everything was finally resolved when he went to visit a bizarre alternative therapist. But not in the way that you might think.

Up against Derek we had Jean Stewart. This speech was a bonus one, stored at the back of the first manual to keep you going until the advanced ones arrive and is on the theme of the Entertaining Speaker. Similar to Derek, but a slight shift in focus on the individual over the actual content.

The End of a Promising Career” allowed us to find out a little bit more about Jean and her drinking habits at boring social events. A few too many drinks and a lack of attention to the actual words coming out of her mouth, and the career of her recently acquired husband was brought to a crashing halt.

A speech perfectly suited for Jean and delivered with fantastic humour and pacing, it was with no disrespect to Derek that she walked away with the Best Speaker ribbon for the evening.


To round off the first half we had the formal handover to the new committee. Gail Powell, last year’s President, kicked things off by passing on the ribbon of power to Andrew Miller, the incumbent for 2014/2015. The other members of the committee then came up, receiving their pins and giving a brief view on what they want to bring to the role this year.

The ambitions this year include to making meetings easier to run and ensure that members get the most out of their membership. This means increasing the size of the club, bringing in helpful procedures and processes to make it easier to organise meetings and take on roles and step up the education and mentoring elements of the club.

Doncaster Speakers Committee 2014-2015
The 2014-2015 Committee, L-R: Lisa Johnson (Sgt at Arms), Gail Powell (Immediate Past President), Sean Gordon (VP Membership), Jean Stewart (VP PR), Richard Bluck (Secretary), Andrew Miller (President & Treasurer), Frederika Roberts (Webmaster), Shelagh Jones (VP Education)

For the record, the new committee are:

President – Andrew Miller

VP of Education – Shelagh Jones

VP for Membership – Sean Gordon

VP for PR – Jean Stewart (returning)

Webmaster – Fred Roberts (returning)

Treasurer – Andrew Miller (returning)

Sgt at Arms – Lisa Johnson

Secretary – Richard Bluck (returning)

This section was concluded with a formal thanking of Gail for her work in the previous year followed by the traditional presentation of a bunch of flowers. Gail supplied the equally traditional “shocked” expression it is customary to adopt in these circumstances.

Doncaster Speakers | Flowers for Immediate Past President Gail Powell


In the second half, following the evaluations of the speeches, we enjoyed a round of impromptu speaking turns with Table Topics. Richard Bluck picked up the theme of Security Blankets and tasked each contestant to consider the security blankets that might be adopted by various celebrities. These ranged from Arnold Schwarzenegger to Angela Merkel.

In the President’s wrap up, the award for best Table Topic went to himself (greedy git) and best evaluator went to the Table Topics Evaluator, Frederika Roberts. A special “First Timer” ribbon went to Jay, visiting from the Sheffield club. These ribbons are normally reserved for people who have never been to Toastmasters before, but as visits between clubs should be encouraged, it was deemed appropriate to issue one in this case.

In his closing comments, Andrew announced the dates of the Humorous Speech and Table Topics competition. The Club Competition will replace our normal Monday meeting on 8 September. Doncaster will also be hosting the next round, the Area Competition, on 21st September.

We will need both competitors and people to assist in the organising of these two events. No experience is actually needed, either for competing or assisting. Early volunteers would be appreciated.

Guests will be more than welcome to come along as well.

The next meeting will be held on 28th July.

Published by Doncaster Speakers

Doncaster Speakers meet at 7pm on selected Mondays at the Regent Hotel, Doncaster. We welcome guests. Please check our website for details of forthcoming meetings.

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