Doncaster Speakers Meeting Report Monday 12th March 2018

Monday 12th March was the first of our competition nights for 2018 (there are usually two each year). Members competed in two categories of the Club competition (International Speech and Evaluation) to go through to the Area competition in Hull. The winners of that round will compete in the District Competition in Chester, and so on up to the District competition, which is being held in Ireland this year, and eventually the International finals.

Derek Lucian gave a polished and informative speech on the origins of rhetoric, so that the Evaluation contest competitors were challenged to find recommendations as well as positive comments.  Nevertheless, all the contestants provided effective and balanced evaluations, with Andrew Miller earning first place and Andy Howell second place.

The second half of the evening was devoted to the International Speech contest, in which entrants have free choice of subject, though the talks are often motivational or inspirational in nature.  Once again, Andrew Miller took first place with his talk entitled “When We Were Very Young”, and this time second place went to Lianna Cairns for “When Are You Going to Start Acting Like an Adult?”

Thanks go to all involved in arranging the competition, including the Chief Judge, Pauline Westrop, Competition Chair, Shane Lukas, and the timekeepers and counters, Arthur Fenn and Steven Bisby, as well as everyone who acted as judges on the evening.  We wish our representatives the best of luck at the area contest.

Report by Stephanie Bisby – with thanks

Our next meeting is Monday 26th March 2018 at 6.45pm to 7pm at the Regent Hotel and, as always, guests are welcome.


Doncaster Speakers Meeting Report Monday 26th February 2018

Standing still is the path to stagnation and the beauty of Toastmasters is how easy it is for people to grab opportunities to push themselves, even if by just a little bit.  Appropriately, the theme for this week’s meeting was “Learning and Development” and our Toastmaster of the evening was Jon Carvell, who has been a member for only three weeks and straight away has taken a stab at the top job of the day.

Providing an extra jangle to the nerves was the healthy number of new faces in the audience.  As well as a couple of visitors, we also had four new members amongst the throng, which can throw an extra bit of responsibility onto the shoulders.  We must of course, welcome aboard Diran, Hussain, Mwada and Christina and look forward to their first steps within the club.

In the meantime, Jon Carvell carried out his duties with aplomb, giving a great introduction to the meeting and setting an engaging and welcoming atmosphere.  Above all, I felt like the front of the stage was a safe place to be, entirely due to the way that Jon had set things up.

The various roles being undertaken for the evening were introduced by Jon with grandeur and humour as he created dramatic titles for each position, including the Princess of Prose, Stephanie Bisby who, as Grammarian introduced “Endeavour” as word of the day.  From there it was onto the meat of the meeting.

Unusually, we only had one speaker tonight.  Lianna Cairns with a speech entitled “What is Phonics”.  This was the 8th speech from the main programme, of which there are 10, so Lianna is very close to being awarded the Competent Communicator award.  The them for this speech was to Get Comfortable with Visual Aids and Lianna chose to use a combination of slides and props to get her message across.

Lianna’s was able to draw on her experience as a primary school teacher to educate us all about how the English language is taught these days and the things that every child has to learn.  An introduction to Phonics, the current curriculum system, was an eye opener for a number of people in the audience, the majority of whom are probably more familiar with the old parrot fashion approach to learning.  I even learnt how I should have been holding my pen all these years.  Let’s see if that can improve my handwriting.

The second half saw eventual evaluator award winner Jean Stewart, give a glowing review of Lianna’s speech followed by the improvised section of the meeting, Table Topics.  Organised by Arthur Fenn this week, volunteers were given various scenarios where they had to give a farewell speech to someone that was important to them.   Challenging but interesting, the award for best Table Topic of the evening was given to Becky Pennington, President of the Sheffield club who was visiting this evening in order to ensure that Doncaster Speakers maintain the high standards that they have developed.

One of the most challenging roles of the evening is that of Table Topics Evaluator, as the feedback is delivered almost instantaneously.  Stefan Glover took on the challenge for the first time and in his second language.  Another great example of pushing oneself.

The next challenge for everyone is the Club Competition, which takes place at the next meeting on 12th March.  Everyone is welcome to attend and get involved in some way, shape or form – in fact, one of the day’s new members has asked to compete in the Evaluation contest.  Not even 24 hours on the register and he’s already pushing to seek out new experiences.  Excellent effort.

This means that the next meeting of the usual format will be on 26th March, but anyone wanting to visit and watch a competition in action is more than welcome to do so.

In conclusion, it was great to see so many people taking steps to learn and develop by pushing themselves into new places.  At the same time, everyone can choose the pace that suits them, so those steps can be tiny little ones.

As a wise man once said, “It’s not the pace at which we move forwards that matters, but that we move.”

I look forward to seeing you all at either the competition on the 12th March or our next regular meeting on 26th March.

The award winners were:

  •     Best Speaker – Lianna Cairns
  •     Best Table Topics speaker – Becky Pennington
  •     Best Evaluator – Jean Stewart

Report by Andrew Miller, General Evaluator

Our next meeting is Monday 12th March 2018 which is a club competition

Doncaster Speakers Meeting Report Monday 12th February 2018

Upon entering the room, I was greeted by the hustle and bustle of excited Toastmasters and several guests.

Debra Kershaw – the club’s VP Membership, Maria Orlovic and Andrew Miller were hard at work to ensure that guests had signed the guest book and all had seats. By 7pm when the meeting started, there was standing room only!

The night was comprised of three speeches from the Traditional Toastmasters program, and one educational session led by Accredited Speaker and Pathways Guide, Clare Crowther.

Lianna Cairns’ speech “Discovering New Zealand” drew cheers from the audience when she pointed out that it was a Yorkshire man who eventually gained the indigenous Polynesians’ trust. Arthur Fenn praised Lianna’s word choice, use of the floor and pacing, recommending that she vary her hand gestures to avoid clasping her hands.

Steve Bisby earned the award of Best Speaker for his speech “The Steve Slam,” which entertained the audience with several wardrobe changes along with a vivid and humorous slide show. Sarah Saxelby earned Best Evaluator for her evaluation, which was entertaining in its own right. She praised Steve’s physicality during the speech but added a note of caution not to turn his back on the audience when referencing the slides.

Andy Howell demonstrated advanced skills in his speech “A Trip Down Memory Lane,” Bridgett Pearson praised how he combined body language, gestures and vivid imagery in his storytelling to connect with the audience. Her recommendations included referencing the title within the speech itself.

Clare Crowther and Tina Norbury offered more insight into the what, when and how of the new educational system, Pathways. Members and guests alike were interested to hear what Pathways has in store, and how this would change the educational experience.

As Toastmaster for the evening, Shane Lukas led us through the meeting expertly. His introductions and transitions were welcoming and seemed effortless. He demonstrated how a Toastmaster can lead with a calm and confident presence.

Stefan Glova made his debut as Table Topics Master.  His welcoming and cheerful smile made speakers feel at ease, as they answered deceptively simple but challenging questions about a variety of service experiences. Stephanie Bisby evaluated the 8 table topics participants expertly.

Jean Stewart kept us laughing in her dual roles as Timekeeper and Grammarian, while still explaining the roles simply for the benefit of guests.

In the role of Ah-Counter, Jon Carvell kept the humour coming with artful use of pauses and repetition.

The meeting closed with a Thank You from Angela Scott, Division E Director, and acknowledgement of all that Doncasters Speakers have achieved so far this year to build a vibrant club. President Shane Lukas accepted the ribbons the club had earned for the Dues Renewal contest in September on behalf of the committee, and then announced that meeting’s winners were:

  • Best Speaker: Steve Bisby
  • Best Evaluator: Sarah Saxelby
  • Best Table Topics: John Carvell

Report by Angela Scott, General Evaluator

Our next meeting is Monday 26th February 2018

Doncaster Speakers Meeting Report Monday 22nd January 2018

Arthur Fenn opened the meeting at 7 o’clock and welcomed our club President and Toastmaster for the evening, Shane Lukas, who provided a lively introduction despite being let down by technology.    Proof that Toastmasters really does help you cope with every eventuality that can befall a speaker.

Jon Carvell, taking the role of timekeeper for the first time, gave a clear explanation of the importance of timekeeping and the way the timekeeper helps to keep the meeting on track.  Sarah Saxelby described the role of Ah Counter in an equally fluent fashion and Maria Orlovic as Grammarian introduced both the role and a word of the day to challenge speakers: prodigious.  Prodigious efforts were made throughout the meeting to ensure this new word was widely used!

The first speaker was Jane Franckeiss, who delivered a confident and fascinating icebreaker speech, giving us an insight into her life through her travels.  Ben Clottey then delivered his tenth and final speech from the Competent Communicator manual, asking us to consider how we might inspire others who we touch on our paths through life.  Shane Lukas closed the first half of the evening with an informative and thought-provoking educational presentation about values and beliefs.

The second half of the evening opened with evaluations of the prepared speeches.  Jane’s speech was evaluated by Andy Howell, who delivered a warm and positive evaluation which nevertheless included helpful pointers on how Jane could develop as a speaker.  Andrew Miller, evaluating Ben, also gave a clear, well-structured evaluation, offering both commendations and recommendations.

The table topics (short impromptu speeches) were set by Bridget Pearson, with the entertaining theme of respon

ding gratefully to a surprise gift.  Both the gifts and responses varied widely, with all the speakers rising to the challenge and responding originally and often amusingly, with the winner managing to display an impressive amount of emotion over her gift, a small and rather nondescript rock.  Steven Bisby, as Table Topics Evaluator, provided useful feedback to all the participants.

All the awards were closely contested but the final results were as follows:

  • Best Speaker: Ben Clottey
  • Best Evaluator: Andy Howell
  • Best Table Topics: Maria Orlovic

Report by Stephanie Bisby, General Evaluator

Our next meeting is Monday 12th February 2018, rsvp for our New Year, New You event


Doncaster Speakers Meeting Report Monday 8th January 2018

Sergeant at Arms Jean Stewart started the meeting on the dot of 7pm with a humorous but effective introduction to the logistics of the evening.

As it was the first meeting of 2018, Toastmaster of the Day Pauline Westrop chose “New Year Resolutions” as her theme for the meeting.   She did a quick run round everyone in the room asking them to complete the sentence “This year I  will….” which uncovered a promise to avoid murder and to refrain from aiding and abetting said murder as well as many more worthy goals.  We had two guests and Pauline covered all the conventions efficiently.

Stephanie Bisby as Timekeeper not only explained the reason for good time keeping but made sure everyone was familiar with the position of the timing cards in the unfamiliar meeting-style room setup.

New member Jane Franckeiss stepped in at short notice to take the role of Ah counter and did an excellent job in explaining her role.

Jean was also Grammarian and chose a word related to the meeting theme, Willpower, as her word of the day.

Bridget Pearson introduced Steve Bisby who was delivering Speech 7 in the Competent Communicator manual which helps uncover the ways to research the material in a speech. Steve gave us an amusing talk about the trials of life as a follower of Doncaster Rovers – a subject for which he had many years of research to plunder and cleverly linked specific examples to the theme of Be Prepared.

Pauline delivered an educational session around the forthcoming second half of the Toastmaster Year and the imminent start of the new Pathways programme in March 2018.

Jean had us back at our seats exactly at 8pm after a break for coffee and chat and the second half started with Bridget’s evaluation of Steve’s prepared speech.

She highlighted the parts which went especially well and, as is the way in Toastmasters, offered some points where the speech could be improved.

Table Topics, the impromptu speaking section of the meeting, was run by Andy Howell.  He gave speakers the unusual task of comparing the pros and cons of arguments. He called it “Rant and Rave” and it was really enjoyed by all the speakers.  Pauline Westrop, talking about small dogs, won the award for Best Table Topics speaker.

Andrew Miller gave helpful feedback to all the speakers which earned him the Best Evaluator award.

Jane gave feedback as Ah counter and commented on how hard it is to focus on her role and not get diverted by the content of the speeches.

Jean gave her usual entertaining look at all the language used during the meeting – and ended up saying that “I think you are all bonkers!”

Which summed up an enjoyable, entertaining and instructive meeting perfectly.

The award winners were:

  •     Best Speaker – Steve Bisby
  •     Best Table Topics speaker – Pauline Westrop
  •     Best Evaluator – Andrew Miller

Report by Shelagh Jones, General Evaluator

Doncaster Speakers Meeting Report Monday 11th December 2017

Doncaster Speakers meeting on 11th December kicked off at the usual time of 7pm but not quite in the usual style. The Regent Hotel was decorated for Christmas, and members sported Christmas jumpers and enjoyed drinks, food and a fine collection of Christmas cracker jokes.

The evening also departed from the usual format of prepared speeches in the first half of the evening followed by evaluations and table topics – short impromptu speeches – in the second. Instead an informal chat over dinner was followed by ‘evaluator bingo’. This involved listening to an excellent TED talk while attempting to count instances of ‘um’, ‘like’, ‘so’ and stuttering in each five-minute segment of the talk. Once the counts were in, everyone compared their results with the correct answers (as defined by Club Treasurer, Andrew Miller). Lianna Cairns and Steven Bisby demonstrated their listening skills by coming closest with three exact matches each.

The evening closed with a version of table topics given a festive twist by Club President, Shane Lukas. Questions had seasonal themes, from ‘how would you tell an eleven-year-old the truth about Santa?’ to ‘what would you say if you were an innkeeper with a full house, and a pregnant woman with a donkey arrived on your doorstep?’ The prize for the best table topic went to our Vice President of Education, Andy Howell, for his unconventional answer to the question, ‘What’s the best Christmas film ever?’

Report by Stephanie Bisby

Our next meeting is on 8th January 2018 at the Regent Hotel in Doncaster, at the usual time of 6:45pm for 7pm start.  As always, guests are very welcome!

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