What a fantastic start to 2020 at Croydon Communicators on Thursday night.
Troy confidentially banged down his hammer to officially start a new decade at the club and, as the evening progressed, it was easy to see that the future remains bright and exciting.
We had a Blast with the Past
Ironically, as we moved into the future, it was a Past President who would lead us through the evening, in the shape of 2016-2017 Club President, Gina Roque Drayton.
Gina took command of the evening and led us through the agenda seamlessly, squeezing in the word of the day more than the rest of the room put together – something for us all to ruminate on.
Collins took control of the timing and Matt was our Grammarian for the evening. Both were outstanding.
Aseem led the warm-up and asked us what three items we would most likely find in your shopping trolley. Most members seem to be observing a Dry January, although there were one or two are still celebrating the new year!
Our luck was in
We then moved into the prepared speeches segment of the evening and we were treated to three thoroughly entertaining, moving and magical speeches from Andrei, Paul and our guest from Society Speakers, Hector.
Andrei gave us his icebreaker speech, The Power of Sounds.
Stepping in at the last moment to give a speech is brave at the best of times, but to do it with an icebreaker speech is quite something. And, what’s more, is the speech showed thorough preparation with bags of confidence and plenty of entertainment for the audience.
This really was a fantastic ice-breaker speech from one of our newest members.
Another Past President then took to the stage in the shape of Paul Rhys-Taylor.
Paul delivered an entertaining speech on an epic scale.
We moved from snowy mountains, to scorching deserts, but it was the contrasting emotions we felt as we travelled with Paul which were the real heartbeat of this terrific tale.
There was an important message for everybody in the audience to take away, along with the feeling that we’d already seen one of 2020’s best speeches, in our very first meeting of the year.
Finally, Hector came up and delivered his speech, Choosing Lucky.
Following Paul was going to be a tough ask for anybody, especially for a guest to the club.
But Hector didn’t put a foot wrong. He used magical storytelling, humour, a strong stage presence and another powerful message to really deliver a memorable speech.
In fact, across the rest of the evening, members ‘called back’ to Hector’s speech more than any other since I’ve been at the club.
It was a pleasure to have Hector along and we hope he visits us often.
Our speech evaluators were Sandra, Alison and Paul Imm.
Sandra showed bags of empathy in her very personal response to Andrei’s ice-breaker speech. It must have been fantastic for Andrei to have his very first speech evaluated in such a thoughtful and positive way.
Sandra has quickly gone from a club newbie to a confident, engaging and highly valued member.
Our regular visitor, Alison, came along to evaluate Paul’s speech and her note-free, tour-de-force evaluation was a joy to behold.
Alison’s evaluation was packed full of commendations and recommendations for Paul to take away and work with.
Alison’s evaluations are a prime example of how we can push our own personal development at Toastmasters, whilst still providing outstanding value and service to club members.
Finally, Paul Imm evaluated Hector’s speech.
Paul is a highly experienced Toastmaster and it was great to see him calling on that experience and know-how to give Hector a really thorough evaluation.
Everything Paul does at Toastmasters, both on stage and off, is done with an infectious smile and the standard of our meetings is always higher when he’s around.
The WA Cup
With a little time to spare before the break, we decided to hold the inaugural Croydon Communicators, Word Association Cup.
Members were called up in pairs to compete in a battle of words. Winners made it through to the next round and losers sat back down with nothing more than the prospect of licking their wounds for the next 12 months ahead of them.
The highlight of the first round was an epic battle between Afia and Aseem, which saw Afia eventually progress, after a drawn-out word frenzy.
Troy also impressed with his ‘turn-on-a-sixpence’ performance, booking himself a place in the next round.
The highlight of the semi-finals saw a ‘Paul-off’ with Imm facing Rhys-Taylor in what some described as a, ‘Paul man’s Rap Battle’.
But it was Matt, in his very first appearance at the WA Cup, (it was everybody’s first appearance) who bagged himself the President’s Award and a place in Croydon Communicators' history.
Afia hits a century
There was still time before the break to present Croydon Communicators’ 100th official award to Afia, who recently completed her Competent Leader journey.
Well done to Afia and congratulations to all past and present members who’ve contributed to our fabulous 100 achievements.
After the break
It was always going to be tough to maintain the fun and excitement of the first half of the evening after the break, but Afia managed to make sure this happened with a fun-filled, New Year themed table topics session which saw, Hector repeat his prepared speech, Caroline have a little one-on-one chat with Matt and Paul admit that every New Year’s Resolution he ever made has ended in failure. (We didn’t believe him)
2020 Word Association Champion, Matt gave a fantastic Grammarian report and 2019, Ice-Breaker of the Year, award winner, (unofficial but true) Collins kept us up-to-date on how we were doing for time.
Caroline, who couldn’t be with us, then could be with us, then was with us, gave a marvellous run down of the evening as our General Evaluator before we handed out awards and headed home filled with excitement and anticipation of another brilliant year ahead at Croydon Communicators.
Best Speaker - Paul Rhys-Taylor
Best Evaluator - Alison Morris
Best Table Topics - Caroline Rainford
Icebreaker Ribbon - Andrei Lapusneanu
2020 Croydon Communicators Word Association Cup Winner - Matt Clark