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Doncaster Speakers Meeting Report Monday 10th June, 2019

Achieve your most audacious goals

Rat a tat tat went the gavel, the room drew quiet as Jean in the role of Sergeant At Arms got the meeting underway right on time.   With housekeeping instructions, clear and understood including “not to jump on the bus home” (in the case of a fire alarm), the lectern was passed over to the Toastmaster for the evening Bal.


Bal welcomed everyone to the meeting and gave us a brief introduction to herself and how much being part of the club had already made a difference to her personally.  This was a perfect segue to the introduction of the theme for the meeting that was ‘Achieve your most audacious goals’.


Arthur was the Timekeeper for the evening and reminded us all of the allocated timings for speeches and where we could find them on the agenda.  In his authentic style he finished off his segment with a fun fact that was ‘Time passes faster in your face than it does at your feet’.


Andrew was the grammarian and demonstrated the breadth and depth of his knowledge and experience by not only clearly explaining the role of the grammarian but also the choice of his words to describe what he would be looking out for including, richness, culture and embellish.  A true feast for those of us that have a passion for words.    Andrew skillfully connected his choice of the word of the day ‘Extraordinary’ to the overall meeting theme.


Elizabeth in the true spirit of Doncaster Speakers carried out two roles in one meeting, the first as Ah Counter in which she had clearly prepared for evidenced by the production of chart to capture any of the typical filler words.  Pauses were recommended to speakers to try and avoid getting added to the chart.


There were two prepared speeches for the meeting, the first from Maria entitled, To Be or Not To Be.  Maria gave us an overview of not only the difference between management and leadership but went on to explain her own personal style, complete with print outs that she skillfully attached to the lectern for us all to see.  The speech was delivered with energy and enthusiasm and although it did run over time it was both informative and entertaining.


Lianna, was the second speaker with her speech entitled, Have You Ever, she immediately grabbed everyone’s attention with her opening line, asking if they had every had a near death experience.  What followed was a wonderful story with a happy ending and many key messages and actions that we could all apply in our own lives.


Speech evaluations were carried out by Jean and Bridget.   Jean offered Maria suggestions as to how she could condense a detailed speech topic to ensure it fitted a time slot, feedback that we could all take on board


Bridget gave Lianna an excellent evaluation, reviewing the objectives of the speech clearly and contrasting previous feedback that Lianna had been given with her own feedback.  Quite a complex task delivered in true Bridget very easy style, clearly demonstrating that her priority was that Lianna received lots of commends and recommends supported by examples as to how she could apply the recommends.


The second role Elizabeth carried out was Table Topics Master, with her persuasive charm Elizabeth managed to encourage the majority of us to take to the floor with quite a challenging quest of first imagining ourselves as a famous actor and then what career we would have had if we had chosen something different.   The alternative careers ranged from fire eaters to sausages (yes sausages, anything goes and the more creative the better) and in-between we had a show jumper, complete with actual jumping after a quick trot and unsuspecting guest Ian laying down to act as the fence to give us the full effect.


Andy took on the role of Table Topics Evaluator and managed to give each person a clear commend and recommend demonstrating his abilities on how to evaluate the differing styles of speakers.  His quality of feedback was consistent to all speakers which takes exceptional listening, planning and time management skills, a job very well done.


Having all recovered from the joviality, the meeting moved on to the awards.  As his time as President comes towards the end of the term Andy once again presented the awards for the evening.  Jean was presented with a certificate for Select Distinguished Area, thus acknowledging goal attainment and dedication to the mission of the district.


The award winners were

Lianna for Best Speaker

Deborah (With help from Ian) for Best Table Topics

Sarah for Best Evaluator


Report by Sarah

(General Evaluator)


Doncaster Speakers Meeting Report | Monday 8th February 2016

Report from Toastmaster Meeting 8th February by Andrew Miller

It was a real pleasure to get back to Doncaster Speakers tonight. Due to a combination of Christmas and holidays (oh, the humanity), this was my first proper Toastmasters meeting since November.

Michael J Clarke was our Toastmaster for the evening and he set a very apt theme of “It’s a Journey”.


It’s a Journey

As well as our own personal journeys that we go through as we gain experience and learn new things, Toastmasters itself has gone through its own journey. From its humble beginnings back in 1924, it is now a truly global organisation with a membership equivalent to the population of Bradford. Now there’s a fact to chew over.

Bridget Pearson was our Grammarian for the evening and set us a challenging word of the day in “Peregrination”. Tied into our theme, it means a journey, especially a long or meandering one. Amazingly, the word was used quite extensively. I suspect I heard that word more times tonight than I will do for the rest of my life. Even if there was heavy use of the “crow bar” to get it in some times, it was good work by all the members.

It was also good to meet the two visitors this evening. Ben Mullins was back for his second visit and brought with him his business colleague, Simon Taylor. Good to meet the two of you and I look forward to seeing you both again soon.

We had two really great speakers this evening. Jean Stewart and Shelagh Jones, both doing speeches from Advanced Manuals.

Jean was playing to her strengths by delivering a project from the Humorously Speaking manual. “Promoting to the over-50s”, a slightly less than serious insight into the marketing techniques used by Saga holidays, funeral planners and equity release agencies.

With a complete change of pace, Shelagh was working from the Storytelling manual and had to deliver a known Folk Tale. So, we all gathered round her closely in a half circle and pretended to be 8 year olds as she regaled us with her interpretation of Little Red Riding Hood.

Two very different types and styles. How do you decide who to vote for? Well, it turns out we couldn’t as the vote for best speaker ended up being a dead heat, which felt about right.

To wrap up the first half, I facilitated an Education Session around “What Toastmasters has done for me”. I think it’s important to remember why we come to these meetings. The reason isn’t to win ribbons and complete manuals. There is a real world benefit and we heard some of those examples tonight, including being comfortable in doing a presentation to a group of children, becoming a recognised expert on local radio and helping with the rehabilitation of prisoners.

After the break we had Stephanie Bisby and Andy Howell come up and evaluate Jean and Shelagh’s speeches respectively. Both gave really strong and clear presentations, well structured, supportive and useful and I was really impressed with the standard, not having seen either of them evaluate before. Very well done.

In fact, when it came to the vote for Best Evaluator of the evening, the prize went to a very deserving Andy.

In the meantime, he was back at the front to oversee the Table Topics round.

Once again the journey theme was brought to the fore, with questions such as “Your most memorable journey”, “The first holiday you remember” and “If you could travel anywhere in time and space, where would you go?”

Well done our visitor, Simon, for volunteering to make his debut on the Toastmasters stage by taking part in the TT session. He gave a very good mini-speech on his own personal journey of self improvement.

The winner of Table Topics was, very much to my surprise and delight, me !! “Name three people that I would share a journey with on the Orient Express”. After bluffing my way through the first two (including Hercules Poirot. Well you would, wouldn’t you?), I suddenly remembered I’d better add my wife to the list. Otherwise, there would have been a murder that really wouldn’t have taxed Mr Poirot’s little grey cells to any length.

Some extra thanks you’s to Sean Gordon for evaluating the Table Topics and covering the Ah Counter role when Julie lost her voice. Alison Turner did a sterling job as Timekeeper and the whole evening was wrapped up by our President Jean Stewart.

The next meeting is on 22nd February. We have two speakers lined up, including an Ice Breaker from our newest member Steven Bisby. We also have an education slot from a Toastmaster legend, Phil Heath, who has offered to come down and give us tips on how to use our voice effectively.

Should be a really good meeting, so make sure you get yourself down there.

Have a good couple of weeks and I’ll see you on the 22nd

Andrew Miller
General Evaluator

Doncaster Speakers Meeting Report | Monday 11th January 2016

Report from Toastmaster meeting 11th January by Shelagh Jones

Our Toastmaster of the Day (and also our President), Jean Stewart, chose the very appropriate Theme of Goal Setting for the first meeting of the New Year.

Grammarian Alison Turner built on the Theme with “Determination” as her Word of the Day which was reasonably well used during the ensuing speeches.


Determination is needed to achieve goals

Table Topics Master Sean Gordon created a clutch of questions centred on New Year Resolutions past, present and imagined which were, as always, taken up very enthusiastically and effectively. In fact, so effective were the speeches that for the first time “in living memory” there were equal votes for every participant – until the one person who had not voted completed their ballot and Stephanie Bisby was declared as Table Topics winner.

David Allen “broke his duck” as Table Topics Evaluator, acquitted himself well for a first attempt, and learned some valuable lessons for next time.

There was no vote for best Evaluator as David fell short of his allotted time and Alison was giving so much feedback as Grammarian that she ran way over her time. We certainly get plenty of opportunity to practice keeping to time at Toastmaster meetings!

The final part of the meeting was devoted to an informal “workshop” about ways to spread the word about Toastmasters in the area and bring more members to the club. Jean Stewart led the discussion and it was really helpful to have the input of all members present and, most importantly, a guest who was seeing the club from a different viewpoint.

There were some excellent suggestions which will be implemented over the second half of the Toastmasters year.

Those of us who are members know just how much there is to be gained from being involved with Doncaster Speakers. We really owe it to others to let them know too!

The meeting ended on a positive and upbeat note with everyone buzzing about what they themselves are going to do.

Next meeting is on 25th January at the Regent Hotel at 7pm and, as always, guests are welcome.

Doncaster Speakers Meeting Report | Monday 28th July 2014

General Evaluator’s Report | 28th July 2014 | By Shelagh Jones


The most interesting themes for a Toastmasters meeting are often  topical, especially if they take a sideways look at what is going on.  Andrew Miller chose the Commonwealth as his theme for the meeting on Monday July 28th and gave a fascinating insight into the origin of the word and how the Toastmasters ethos of working for our mutual good and wellbeing and the good of the organisation is comparable.

Grammarian Bridget Pearson (our newest member who is stretching herself at every meeting!) chose UNITE as her word of the day –both in its meaning related to the Commonwealth theme, but also as a noun meaning an old English coin worth 20 shillings which was then equal to one pound. Some members had great fun with this use of the word!

Commonwealth Unite

Image: Classical Numismatic Group, Inc. [GFDL (, CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or CC-BY-SA-2.5 (, via Wikimedia Commons

Richard Bluck took on the challenge to research a topic and speak about it by demonstrating the Triz problem-solving, analysis and forecasting tool derived from the study of patterns of invention in the global patent literature, which was created by Genrich Atlshuller in the late 1940s.

Richard managed to explain this complicated idea very clearly – and I for one have already gone online to read more!

Triz problem-solving, analysis and forecasting

Image: By User:AndriuZ ( [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

Derek Badger is working on one of the 15 Advanced Manuals, called Technical Presentations, and his first speech was a Technical Briefing which he chose to make a session about preventing Fire in the workplace. Helped by a stack of visual aids he expertly lead us through the “triangle” of fuel, oxygen and heat that is needed for a fire to take place, and emphasised his points with poignant personal anecdotes.

The new Area 15 Governor Chris Worfolk was warmly welcomed to the meeting and gave us a very informative talk about leadership – applicable to both Toastmasters and the workplace. He identified the five areas against which a potential leader should measure him or herself, and then gave a diagram on which to evaluate ourselves and, as time goes by, measure our progress.

His five areas were:

  • Be the expert  – your team expects you to know
  • Be the role model – lead from the front
  • Learn the patience to teach
  • Become a coach – empower people by delegating to them
  • And finally – be the Manager.

After the break Jean Stewart ran a lively and very enjoyable Table Topics session in which we were invited to choose one of a series of objects from her home. Gail Powell’s tale about why not to buy people a mug and Bridget Pearson’s sad story of what happened to her cuddly toys were joint Winners.

The evening ended with the evaluations, showing contributors to the evening where they performed particularly well and where they could improve.

Alison Kitchman was Ah Counter and she decided to challenge herself by not simply pointing out crutch words but also offering ways to reduce their use.

She started off by saying that Filler words are not written into a speech. She then explained how using crutch words weakens our credibility and authenticity.

In general, she suggested we should:

  • Raise the level of preparation of role introductions etc
  • Slow down (allow mouth to catch up with brain!)
  • Embrace the pause. Give yourself time to think.

She then gave detailed feedback to participants.

This resulted in her going way over her allotted time (and she had more to offer if people wanted to talk to her afterwards) and therefore could not be included in vote for Best Evaluator.

In the Q and A session at the end of the meeting Alison made an impassioned plea for the same  amount of time to be allocated to the Ah counter as to the Grammarian.  After a lively discussion it was decided to do this in future meetings.

At the end of the meeting, Andrew resumed his role as Club President and awarded Mark Powell with his certificates and pins for achieving the two Awards Competent Communicator and Competent Leader.

Competent Leader | Competent Communicator | Toastmasters International | Doncaster Speakers

Andrew Miller presents CC and CL awards to Mark Powell July 28 2014

He also awarded the Best Evaluator to Derek Lucian, Best Table Topics to Gail Powell and Bridget Pearson and Best Speaker to Richard Bluck.

This meeting was held, unusually, in the Earl of Doncaster Hotel. All future meetings will revert to the Regent Hotel in Doncaster. The next two meetings are on Monday August 11th and Monday August 18th, and the Club Speech competitions will be held on Monday September 8th. All meetings start at 7pm.

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.

Doncaster Speakers Meeting Report | Monday 23rd June 2014

General Evaluator’s Report | 23rd June 2014 | By Alison Kitchman


Excellence, energy and excitement exuded from our Monday night Toastmasters meeting at Doncaster Speakers.
Julie Gordon,our Sargeant at Arms,got us out of the starting blocks on time and with all the right equipment and facilities to enable our Toastmaster for the evening, Jean Stewart,to run with the theme of “Competition”. England might be coming home but there are lots of competitions- sporting and otherwise- going on around the world right now. Jean brings great energy and humour to our meetings and dealt seamlessly with a last minute sub as Shelagh Jones took over the role of Grammarian in place of Richard Bluck.  Shelagh pulled out the stops by choosing “excellence” as the word of the day, meaning not “to be perfect” but to “do your best” which is all we can ask of ourselves when we compete with ourselves in striving to speak better.
Our Timekeeper, Michel Ediele, set the goals urging that our speakers would be disqualified if they ran over time with their speech.
One of our newest members, Bridget Pearson, got stuck in to the role of Ah Counter with great enthusiasm urging us to breath, pause and slow down to avoid using the unnecessary crutch words that litter our speech – the “ums”,”ahs”,”you know”… Bridget kept a tally and reported back on the scores in reverse order declaring a tie for the joint winners, Sean Gordon and me with no crutch words at all – result!
Frederika Roberts excelled delivering the only formal speech of the evening – Speech 7 – Research Your Topic entitled “Well-healed”. In a very powerful start, Fred told us she wanted to share with us her “guilty pleasure”. She then whipped off a sheet covering a fantastic display of “to die for” high heeled shoes! Fred’s speech oozed with passion, historical facts and anecdotes.  Did you know men used to wear high heels before women?
well-heeled | Doncaster Speakers | Public Speaking | Toastmasters International
Lisa Johnson, our past President, followed with a fantastic presentation on Evaluation which truly is the “Powerhouse of Toastmasters”. Used safely, feedback motivates and inspires. Lisa suggested – don’t just say “your introduction was boring…” instead suggest ” your introduction could be made livelier with…”! I only wish I had heard Lisa’s tips before this meeting as I was evaluating Fred’s speech, Lisa’s Education slot and the whole meeting as General Evaluator! Oh well – I did my best!
Our table topics session was as funny as ever thanks to Shelagh who also took on the role of Table Topics Master spinning a tale which started “Once upon a time there were 6 men and 4 animals…” Each of our table topic speakers had 2 minutes to continue the story, leaving a “cliff-hanger” for the next speaker. By the time Jean, Sean, Fred, Lisa, Bridget and I had spoken we had an ark stinking of manure with 6 vegetarians, a horse, dog and hens laying eggs, in distress at the thunder, which were fed to the Indians who had come over the hill to kill the men who were trying to defend themselves with a pitchfork! How I won the Best Table Topics Speaker Award I will never know!
Our Best Speaker Award went to Fred and our Best Evaulator Award went to Shelagh.
We were all winners following another great evening. Join us?
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