Our meeting reports serve two purposes. They let members who couldn’t attend find out how the meeting went and they give potential guests a flavour of the Riverside Communicators’ experience.
There is a common theme at our meetings. WE ALL ENJOY SPEAKING IN A MUTUALLY SUPPORTIVE ENVIRONMENT AMONG FRIENDS!
What on earth would possess sane people to spend an evening making speeches to each other and then evaluating them?! The club is a safe environment for members to develop their public speaking and take on a variety of leadership roles. As tonight’s Toastmaster, Anne likened it to the Olympics – it’s about commitment, practice and having great support around you – to develop yourself into a great public speaker. Many people join who are terrified of public speaking, but equally, confident speakers join to expand their skills. There’s lots of opportunities to practice and build confidence, from your first “icebreaker” speech when you get used to speaking in front of an audience and introduce yourself, to the impromptu speaking called “table topics”. These consist of one minute short speeches/responses to a question and are a great, although nerve wracking at first, way to get speaking. The table topics session
This was another of those great evenings where more than 40 toastmasters and their guests were entertained to another professional workshop. Workshop leaders Dorothea Stuart and Sue Kennedy presented ‘Story Telling’ in anticipation of January’s Cooper Cup Competition for story telling. (Octogenarian Jean Cooper a former member of Riverside was a story telling legend. On her retirement ‘up north’ she presented the story telling trophy.) The key ingredient of the workshop was to improve one’s ability to tell a story and there was only one way that that was ever going to be acheived. Everyone tell a story, not just once but several times, each time embelishing and improving the last effort. Imagine 20 stories every 60 seconds for ten minutes. 200 speeches and that was just the warm up! By the time the evening was over everyone’s ability and confidence had grown. This ably demonstrated by the club’s newest
When our President, John Craddock, introduced the meeting, he was speaking to an enthusiastic packed house. He told us how volcanic-ash flight restrictions had caused him to acquire a new skill – presenting via video link. John said his Toastmasters training helped him to master this art. Next up was Jenny Betts, our cheerful Toastmaster, who pointed out what the pre-election debates shared with Toastmasters: coaching, training and a peer group of professionals. Dennis Clarke, our Timekeeper, explained his role with good humour and lively language. The next functionary was our Grammarian, Gray Standen, who explained her duties and defined the word of the evening, ‘hopeful’, which unfortunately expired when the election results were announced. Then came three speeches. First-time speaker Cate Trotter, a very new member, trialed a summary of a speech entitled ‘Green Trends for 2015 – an Overview’ which she will be giving at the British Library. This was followed by Anne
By Andrea Blackie VPE Rob Yuen, standing in for president John Craddock, opened the meeting with his customary enthusiasm and reminded us that this was an evening of firsts, not only because it was his first time as acting president, but also because two of our new members were giving their icebreaker speeches. To inspire and motivate speakers and audience alike, he reminded us of the quote by Toastmasters founder Ralph Smedley that ‘we learn best in moments of enjoyment’. With that, we were off on another enjoyable Riverside evening. Toastmaster for the evening Dorothea Stuart started with some thoughts on Gordon Brown’s speech at the recent Labour conference, which had been rather less than enjoyable, and suggested that the PM could perhaps benefit from some of our members’ expertise! She then introduced the functionaries for the evening. New member Laura Shimili did a fine job in her debut performance as timekeeper, and grammarian Franco Vaccaro gave
By Gray Standen At last the Humorous Speech and Table Topics contests were about to begin. President John Craddock and his hard-working crew had been busy behind the scenes preparing all the rules and regulations. Dorothea Stuart was Chief Judge; Timekeepers were Richard Holland and Andrea Blackie; Counters were new members Laura Shimili and Louise Lebentz; Maria Hemming was Sergeant at Arms. At the last minute, more contestants came forward. There was a real buzz in the room. The first Contest Chair, Geetha Mazarelo, welcomed the Humorous Speech contestants, they drew lots for their placement and the first of the 6 speeches began. Andrew Klimaytys, in his ‘Keeping Romance Alive’, suggested ways in which men could decrease their investment in romance, e.g., buying Valentines roses before the price went up. John Craddock’s subject ‘EQ, it’s size that matters’ took the mickey out of self-help books. EQ, by the way, stands
By Gray Standen It was a delightful evening, still warm and sunny, when President John Craddock called the meeting to order. The balmy weather prompted Toastmaster Maria Hemming to warm up the audience by asking for their holiday destinations, which ranged from A for Albania to all over the world. Kirsten Gronning, in her first appearance as Timekeeper, offered as previous form her timing of children’s swimming matches. Pilar Sibbick, our Grammarian, underlined the importance of good grammar, and revealed her soon-to-be successful Word of the Day: STUPENDOUS. PREPARED SPEECHES Alison Shuttle spoke on the perils of picnicking: the weather, the food (especially wine bottles, which break or lack a corkscrew), and wildlife. Next up was Brendan Bensley, who advised us to take life seriously by taking responsibility, deciding what we wanted to do and making a plan. He left us with this Japanese proverb: ‘Vision without action is a daydream; action without vision is a nightmare.’
An enthusiastic meeting but no blogger alas!
by Kirsten Gronning On a sizzling evening President John Craddock reminded us that it was an evening of firsts: the 1st July; the first meeting of the new committee and the first time he got the chance to show off the Chairman’s bling! John is keen to get more people involved in the club and is looking for New Member buddies to support new members for that first month where it can take ages to master the basics. Dorothea Stuart seamlessly led as the evening’s Toastmaster by first acknowledging the scorcher of a day. Our timekeeper Ian Harrison admitted that despite being a long standing member, he had never fulfilled this role before. Grammarian Tom Biswas introduced the word of the day ‘invigorate’ as in ‘invigorated by good weather’ and new Membership VP Errol Williamson introduced the guests – ‘our lifeblood’ – to ‘The Best Club in the World’. We
by Sharath Jeevan A balmy June 17th evening provided the backdrop for an evening of transition – both for the two speakers concerned and the club’s broader Leadership team. Gray Standen, donning a captain’s cap, acted as President for the final time, ending her reign gracefully. Franco Vaccaro acted as Toastmaster with some wonderful injections of deadpan humour, including some gentle teasing of those weren’t able to make the evening. Sunaina Shori also acted capably as timekeeper for the very first time. We were treated to two wonderful speeches by Maria Hemming and Pamela Smith, both around inspiring your audience and both signifying their full status as Competent Communicators. Maria spoke movingly about ‘Dolce Far Niente’, on the benefits of staying still and not doing anything, with some lovely use of pauses for dramatic effect. Pamela’s speech, entitled ‘We live and learn’, included a notable reference to the dwindling value
by Tom Biswas So we have had an excellent few days of weather and it was clear that summer was here to stay; but not on the way to this Riverside Wednesday, as this blogger forgot his coat! Even so it was a terrific warm evening in the confines of York House with excellent speeches and considerate evaluations and storming applause. We started with an urging from our president to get more people into evaluating – Gray pointed out that a lot of the most popular TV programmes are those where the evaluation takes centre stage. Time for Riversiders to do the same! Then Sue Kennedy spoke about the Riverside Garden Party which will take place in Jenny Betts’ garden on 12th July – sounds like great fun. Richard Holland introduced his timekeeping role, and this was his first instance of speaking at Riverside and it was very well done,
by Sharath Jeevan A picturesque evening beckoned the start of the 20th May Riverside Communicators meeting. The effusive John Craddock was acting President in Gray Standen’s absence, and Jenny Betts played the role of Toastmaster to a tee. Geetha Mazarelo played the Timekeeper role earnestly and strictly (both essential qualities in any good timekeeper) and Grammarian Heidi Ashley-Hacker focused on ‘spectacular’ as the word of the evening. The audience was treated to three outstanding speeches, including Sue Kennedy’s moving story of a mother knowing best – even though it took years, in the example she used, to prove it. Bek Singh’s icebreaker allowed him to cleverly cover the many aspects of his life – everything from resisting parental pressures for an arranged marriage to the joys of fatherhood. Robert Yuen then followed with a wry entreaty to allow children to watch more, rather than less, TV – listing all of
by Robert Yuen Spring sprung at ‘the best club in the world’ when Club President Gray Standen opened the meeting and gave a sunny welcome to three new members: Errol Williamson, Richard Holland, and Sharath Jeevan. Like chocolate Easter eggs, Gray gave the audience a piece of advice –watch “The Speaker” on BBC television. Why? Because the programme contains many features of Toastmasters such as improving body language and learning to speak persuasively. Fascinating fact: the senior adviser on ‘The Speaker’ is a London-based Toastmaster member. The egg-emplary John Craddock, Toastmaster for the evening, cracked open his section with the words of a certain Ralph C. Smedley (founder of Toastmasters International) “The unprepared speaker is allowed to be afraid”, and pointed out the importance of the club’s mission. He then spent a very valuable few moments running through the format of the evening’s programme for the benefit of guests and
by Emma Thomas Gray Standen, President of the Riverside Communicators, opened the meeting promptly at 7.30pm. She told us that Stories are really important and the more relevance they have to listeners, the more they remember the message. Stories are a way of teaching people and way of getting to know the speaker. Jenny Betts, the Toastmaster, welcomed everyone to the meeting. She reminded us that Spring is a time to kick start projects and think about personal goals for the year. She encouraged us not to be part of the background but to be yourself and step forward with ideas and enthusiasm. Next up was Corinne Berset who gave us an explanation of her role as Timekeeper. She encouraged us to apply time management but also to smile and breathe. She was followed by the Grammarian, Bek Singh. He explained how he would listen to all the members then
by Jenny Betts “What a great turn-out”, our President Gray Standen commented at the start of the evening when she saw we had a full house which included eight guests. Andrew Klimaytys our Toastmaster for the evening kept things moving with his usual enthusiasm and energy, reminding us how important leadership is and that it’s something we must work on and continue to improve. He described how being able to speak effectively and communicate well enables us to go anywhere, do anything The meeting welcomed our new VPE John Craddock who introduced his new concept of a Communicator’s Toy Box – to help us think outside the box and to encourage team-building exercises. He had the opportunity to show how it works later in the evening when he produced an imaginary hot air balloon which Zahid, Geetha, Swan and Trevor bravely volunteered to go in. As the Balloon was too
by Emma Thomas Gray Standen, President of the Riverside Communicators opened the meeting promptly at 7.30pm. She told us there are only 38 days to the Riverside International Speech & Evaluation Contest. Any and all the members could help run the contest as there were lots of different roles to be filled on Wednesday 1st April. Gray concluded her introduction by welcoming a brand new member Bak who had joined the club that evening. Duncan Hyde, Toastmaster for the evening welcomed everyone to the meeting especially the 6 guests. He then read out a short excerpt from Gray’s guide to being a toastmaster which involved him whipping up the members to a frenzy. Duncan informed us he doesn’t do ‘frenzy’ so he looked for inspiration elsewhere. and produced the famous poster of Lord Kitchener but with the Toastmaster seal. Normally the first part of the meeting would consist of up
by Alison Shuttle President Gray Standen opened the meeting by wishing everyone a happy new year and enthused about the really exciting year ahead for our club. New member Alison Shuttle was welcomed, and Heidi Ashley Hacker was presented as new Mentoring Coordinator. On a cold, shivery night Toastmaster Franco embarked on a warm-up about new year wishes. Franco, having returned from an exciting holiday in Switzerland, wished for more snow. Most of the other members were looking forward to more sunshine, as well as a general wish to get fit after the Christmas blow-out. Timekeeper Robert Yuen gave a lively introduction to his task and Jenny Betts enthusiastically volunteered at the last moment to be Grammarian for the evening, introducing a most appropriate word for the evening: ‘resolve’. Prepared Speech An instructive and highly amusing account by Heidi Ashley-Hacker on the pros and cons of owning a leopard gecko.
By Gray Standen The Riverside Committee and helpers converged on York House at 6.30, arms full of fabric, food, booze, wine glasses, programmes and catalogues. At the beginning it seemed like an ordinary night, but within an hour the Terrace Room and adjoining Parlour were festive with red and silver hangings and other Christmas decorations, and two giant Christmas crackers had been fixed to the walls, all organised by Sue Kennedy and her helpers. In the Parlour, the glasses and drinks were lined up by Bertie Ekperigin and Neil Mason, the food was displayed enticingly by Andrea Blackie, and we were at finally ready for a party which had been months in the planning. Maria Hemming commanded the entry table, handing out drinks tickets, auction catalogues and paddles (don’t ask!). Soon afterwards, almost all members and and their guests were celebrating in the Parlour (which served as the kitchen where
by Jim Marshall-Andrew An excellent opening by Gray, 120 days until the big Riverside competition, there is an international speech contest and a speech evaluation contest, evidently preparation is the key. You Tube can be a useful resource to listen to great speakers. There will also be an evaluation workshop on the 4th of March, which shouldn’t be missed. Claudia opened nicely with her thoughts on the Club being the best place to practise speaking skills, I have to agree. As Toastmaster her enthusiasm throughout the evening was infectious. Emma did a fantastic job with the timekeeping and gave an excellent overview of the lights/timings. Heidi gave a quick grammar lesson which I found useful and provided us with the word for the evening “frivolous”. Heidi, if you are reading this, please go easy on my mistakes! Franco introduced the certificate for being the most UM-less, which was a good
By Andrea Blackie We had another fantastic turn-out at Riverside Communicators this week. In addition to our usual members, we welcomed new guest Alison Shuttle, returning guest Denis Lawson, and visitors from both Trojans and Holborn Toastmasters clubs. President Gray Standen started the meeting off in style with a mini-masterclass in the art of ‘chunking’; that is, breaking speeches up into small segments for more effective delivery. Gray was followed by Pamela Smith, doing a wonderful job in her first time as Toastmaster, who introduced the theme of the evening – ‘Winners’ – a particularly topical subject in the light of John Sergeant’s momentous withdrawal from Strictly Come Dancing earlier in the day ‘in case he won.’ At Riverside we have no such inhibitions, and after a quick explanation of the timing rules from Timekeeper Robert Yuen and the word of the day (Enthral) introduced by Grammarian John Craddock, it
By Robert Yuen Bonfire Night at Riverside Communicators burst into life when Gray Standen, President, opened the meeting with a sparkling declaration of her excitement at having a new US President. She lit up the audience with the announcement of the Riverside Christmas Cracker Auction scheduled for the not-too-distant 10th December to raise funds for the Club. Members were asked to donate a service or an item for the auction, and were given a stern warning not to off-load the horrible vase from last Christmas! The affable Sue Kennedy was Toastmaster for the evening and she predicted an enthralling session for every Guy and gal with the news that there were prepared speeches from 2 Advanced speakers. Timekeeper was Elizabeth Poole and Grammarian was Claudia Cronjaeger who proposed “intriguing” as the word of the day. Prepared Speeches Firing himself up first was Jim McCluskey who asked the question “Am I Being Watched?” The audience burned with excitement as he
Great meeting, but no Blogger!
By Franco Vaccaro Bertie Ekperigin, President pro tempore was in her smartest uniform to mind the ship while Gray was away. She told how she’d surprised herself on how far she’d come in two short years, to be now wearing the captain’s medallion around her neck. From one president to (Immediately-Past) another, Sonia Aste took the helm of her beloved “Best Club in the World” (as voted by its members) and steered us through the high seas, and onto the Port, on time. Sue Kennedy was minding the clock, and reminded us that “time and tide wait for no man”. “Cute” (as voted by Sonia) Andrew Dias minded our “verbal non-words” and asked us to replace these with pauses. Prepared Speeches show cased two cracking ice-breakers: one from Heidi Ashley-Hacker, who just joined last week and introduced us to the threes sides of her life; and Jim Marshall-Andrew who revealed the
Our 11th Autumn Contest in the frosty Hyde Room at York House began, necessarily, with a rousing warm-up! Our genial Humorous Speech Chairman, Duncan Hyde, introduced the candidates one by one. First up was broadcaster Jeremy Nicholas, with a speech entitled “Words don’t come easy”, about how recovers from verbal gaffes. Swan Treasure astounded us, first with her milkmaid’s costume and second with her story about “The No-No Angel”, who wanted to get rid of her wings. Then came a voice out of Raymond Chandler, complete with a snappy hat and shades – it was Jim McCluskey, giving us “Mobile phones revisited”, a funny tale of strange encounters on a bus. This was followed by some first-rate acting, as posh John Craddock told us, “I wasn’t always a toff”, and proved it with a great cockney accent and lots of rhyming slang. Andrew Klimaytys got stuck into “50, the scourge of