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Doncaster Speakers Meeting Report | Monday 23rd February 2016

Meeting report by Alison Turner

With a theme of “Make a Difference” set by our Toastmaster for this evening Sean Gordon Doncaster Speakers met on 23 February at the Regent for its usual fortnightly meeting. The theme was extremely apt as we were treated to a meeting which really did Make A Difference with ample opportunities to learn and hone our public speaking and management skills.

We learnt that Steven Bisby is “a funny man”. Steven was brave enough to deliver his ice breaker speech entitled “Me and Musicals” with tales from his time in the old Civic Theatre and the Odeon Cinema to trips to see his favourite musical Phantom of the Opera. We learnt more about Steven and with his natural humour were transported to the world of musicals with funny stories throughout. Derek Lucian gave a very insightful evaluation of Steven’s speech and easily picked up on the structure, humour and storytelling. Well done Steven and we cannot wait to hear more in your next speech.

Our Grammarian for the evening was Andrew Miller who explained the rhetorical devices he would be looking out for and set us the challenge of using “Affect” as the word for the day. Andrew gave good examples of its use in everyday language and sure enough after a hesitant start in the second half of the meeting we were all using it to great effect.

Unfortunately our second speaker for the evening Andy Howell was unable to deliver his speech due to unforeseen personal circumstances. This was managed very well by Sean, our Toastmaster, with the educational slot being brought forward to the first half of the meeting. Phil Heath was our guest for this evening and he gave us some invaluable tips with a speech entitled “Give your Voice a Voice”. On a subject which Phil is clearly passionate about we learnt to take a deep breath before we speak, exercise the facial muscles, use powerful pauses, vocal variety and tone. He reminded us that the audience is left with an impression of our speech which is often formed not so much by what we say or the words we use but by how we deliver them.

During the second half of our meeting Stephanie Bisby set the Table Topics for the night. Carrying on from the theme “Make a Difference” she asked us such questions as what sporting moment made a difference, what bad habits would we drop and what groups or hobbies had made a difference to us. We heard about the momentous moment when Andy Murray won Wimbledon from Shelagh Jones, turning off the TV from Derek Lucian and time travel from Andrew Miller. But the winner of Best Table Topics was one of our newest members Ben Mullins with his passion for Prog Rock and the Canadian Rock Group Rush and in particular drummer Neil Peart.


Shelagh Jones had a busy evening not only evaluating Table Topics but also being our Ah Counter.  Other roles were taken on by Bridget Pearson as Timekeeper, Jean Stewart as Sergeant at Arms and myself as General Evaluator. And what did I learn in this role?- to be more organised and perhaps move to the front of the room when you are responsible as General Evaluator for introducing all the other evaluators and taking charge of the second half of the meeting. The best evaluator award was jointly won by Derek Lucian and Shelagh Jones – well done to both of them.

A big thank you to everyone who made this meeting the success it was. I do hope everyone attending learnt something that they can incorporate in their future speeches or roles. The next meeting is the Competition night which is to take place at the usual Monday night slot at The Regent on 7th March. See you there.


Andrew Miller will fly the flag for Doncaster Speakers in Harrogate

Club and Area Speech Contests

Humorous Speech & Table Topics Contest Results

We held our Doncaster Speakers (club-level) Autumn Contest on 8th September: The Humorous Speaking Contest and the Table Topics Contest.
Toastmasters International | Doncaster Speakers | Participants club contest

Doncaster Speakers Table Topics and Humorous Speech Contest Participants, Sept 2014, L-R: Andrew Miller, Sean Gordon, Jean Stewart, Alison Kitchman, Bridget Pearson (front)


Toastmasters International | Doncaster Speakers | Andrew and Jean club winners

Doncaster Speakers Club Contest Winners, Sept 214, L-R: Andrew Miller (Table Topics Contest Winner), Jean Stewart (Humorous Speech Contest Winner)


Club Contest Chair, Gail Powell, said about the Club Contest on 8th September:

“It was, as usual a fun evening, especially as it was the humorous speaking competition. We only had two contenders for the speaker’s competition – Jean Stewart and Sean Gordon – both would have done us immensely proud at the next stage, but in the end Jean’s inimitable style won her the first place.The Table Topics competition was well represented with 5 competitors. It was a very close call for who came first with our President Andrew Miller getting to the post first. His comfortable and accomplished ability to turn a couple of minutes, on an unknown subject, into a mini-speech shone through. The subject of the Table Topics (set by the Contest Chair for the evening Gail Powell) was – If you had to wear a badge with only 5 words on it what would it say and why? Now there’s food for thought!”

The winners (Jean Stewart for Humorous Speaking and Andrew Miller for Table Topics) then competed against the winners from the other Area 15 clubs (Leeds City Toastmasters, Sheffield Speakers, White Rose Speakers, Huddersfield Cummins Toastmasters, Hull Speakers) in our Area 15 Autumn Speech contest, which we hosted at The Regent Hotel again yesterday.

Frederika Roberts, who attended the Area 15 Autumn Speech Contest, said:

“It was a fantastic day with lots of fun/laughter but also many opportunities to learn from watching all the winners from the different Area 15 clubs and network with Toastmasters from outside our own club.  Attending Area/Division/District contests is a brilliant way to observe and learn from great speakers.

The judges had a challenging task as the level was very high in both contests.”

Toastmasters International | Doncaster Speakers | TT participants Trevor Hatib Tony Bairstow Pauline Westrop Andrew Miller

Area 51 Table Topics Participants, L-R:
Trevor Hatib, Pauline Westrop, Andrew Miller, Tony Bairstow

Toastmasters International | Doncaster Speakers | Humorous participants Anthony Day Jean Stewart Alex Kelly Andy Nicholls Claire Crowther

Area 15 Humorous Speech Contest participants, L-R: Alex Kelly, Anthony Day, Jean Stewart, Claire Crowther, Andy Nicholls

Jean Stewart and Andrew Miller made Doncaster Speakers proud: Jean placed 3rd in the Humorous Speech contest, having faced stiff competition, and Andrew Miller placed first in an equally challenging Table Topics contest.

Toastmasters International | Doncaster Speakers |Humorous winners Andy Nicholls Anthony Day Jean Stewart

Area 15 Humorous Speech Contest Winners, L-R: Anthony Day (2nd place), Andy Nicholls (1st place), Jean Stewart (3rd place)

Doncaster Speakers | Toastmasters International | TT winners Andrew Miller Trevor Hatib Pauline Westrop

Area 15 Table Topics Contest Winners, L-R: Pauline Westrop (3rd place), Andrew Miller (1st place), Trevor Hatib (2nd place)


Andrew will now go on to represent Doncaster Speakers in the Division E Table Topics Contest in Harrogate on 26th October!

Go along and support Andrew, watch some great speakers, learn, laugh and network:


Division E Humorous & Table Topics Speech Contests


An Interactive Workshop

Cairn Hotel, 13 Ripon Road, Harrogate, HG1 2JA


TO BOOK: Email (please advise of dietary requirements, including vegetarian)

10.00 am Registration

10.45 am Interactive Workshop

12.00 pm Lunch

1.00 pm Humorous Speech Contest

2.30 pm Table Topics Speech Contest

3.30pm Close

Speak well and sell the sizzle | Alison Kitchman

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