written by dan magill
Club President Croydon Communicators
What a night we had at our 2019 Christmas get-together on Friday 29th November
More than 20 of our club members made their way to the Hilton Park Hotel in Croydon and we were even honoured to have a few of our favourite District 91 friends there with us too.
It was a fabulous evening filled with, food, friendship, fun and food!
After meeting in the bar for pre-dinner drinks, we all made our way into the restaurant, which we had exclusively to ourselves.
We enjoyed a good buffet before moving into a couple of speeches and a lengthy table topics session , which saw everyone getting a chance to share their thoughts on a given topic.
Thanks go to everyone who helped organise the event (Mike Majuru and Aseem Kapoor) and everyone who came out on a cold Friday evening to make the evening the huge success it was.
Catch up on all the night's shenanigans in the gallery below...
written by dan magill
Club President Croydon Communicators
,Another fabulous meeting of the Croydon Communicators on Thursday evening saw members and guests indulging in acts of kindness.
It was certainly a memorable evening, with two outstanding icebreaker speeches, an impromptu ‘prepared’ speech and a brilliant table topics session.
Our Toastmaster for the meeting was the inimitable, Roz Etwaria.
The traffic caused Roz to arrive a few minutes late.
It was worth the wait!
Roz stepped out of her car and onto the stage with an energy, vibrancy and enthusiasm which immediately lifted the room and put everybody in the mood for the meeting ahead.
Andrei took on his first role at the club, as timekeeper.
As Roz said, this is one of the most challenging roles at a meeting, but Andrei handled it like a pro and delivered a perfect performance.
Next step for Andrei – the Icebreaker!
It was fantastic to see Marcia back as our Grammarian for the evening. She gave us the challenge of using her word of the day, ‘prescient’ in our speeches (as Club Prescient, it was easy for me) and her report at the end of the meeting picked up on some of the best uses of language across the night.
Our Immediate Past Presecient, Tereza then led an original and highly-effective warm-up session, which involved us all finding somebody in the room we didn’t know and telling them an interesting fact about ourselves.
We then reported back that fact to the rest of the room.
It was such a great way to not only get everybody interacting and speaking, but also to make all our first-time guests feel a part of things and meeting our members.
Immediate Past President, Tereza picks up the President's Distinguished Club Ribbon 2019/20 for leading the club to the pinnacle of club achievement in the last Toastmaster year.
Our prepared speakers for the evening were, Louise, Estela and Amit.
Louise was visiting from The Reigate Rhetoric. She explained to us that she had only given her Icebreaker speech in Reigate on Monday, but that she wanted to repeat it in a room full of strange faces.
We were happy to oblige – with strange faces galore at the ready!
Louise spoke to us about her alter ego, Kai.
Kai is a blogger.
Kai is full of confidence.
She’s outgoing, a social butterfly and willing to try anything.
Everything Louise thought she wasn’t.
But over the course of her journey, Louise has started to appreciate that they are both the same person, and with a little courage she can push herself out of her comfort zone.
It was a truly inspiring speech and even in giving the speech, in front of an audience she didn’t know, Louise showed a courage and confidence that even Kai would be envious of.
Then we had our new member, Estela giving her icebreaker speech.
Estela had told me earlier in the day that she had a real surreal feeling about giving her first speech and as I said in my evaluation, it took me back to my own icebreaker speech two years ago.
The idea that we would willingly agree to do something we don’t have to do and we certainly don’t want to do, then, go away and spend two weeks preparing for that thing, before getting ready and leaving the house on a cold, dark night to go and do the exact thing we do not want to do – can definitely create a surreal feeling.
But, Estela did it.
And, in doing so, she gave us one of the most ‘real’ experiences we’ve seen at Croydon Communicators.
Estela’s speech was titled, ‘Voice’ and she spoke to us about the battle she’s had using her own voice across the course of her life.
The speech was full of highs and lows; times when Estela was full of confidence and using her voice, other times when her confidence was low and she struggled.
What made it so powerful was that Estela was battling with her voice throughout the speech.
To watch her perseverance, determination and passion to win that battle (oh, did she win) was something nobody in the room will forget in a hurry.
We learn a lot at Toastmasters about speaking techniques, but when it comes down to it, the real marker of successful speaking is creating a connection with the audience.
Estela created such a powerful connection and she was a deserved Best Speaker winner on the evening.
Next up, we had Amit.
It was a tough ask to follow on from the two outstanding icebreaker speeches we’d heard but in what was only his third speech at the club, Amit gave us an unprepared, ‘prepared’ speech.
It was fascinating to see Amit develop his thoughts, live on stage. Everything was coherent and confidently delivered. Amit held our attention and engaged us throughout.
More experienced, speakers would run a mile at the thought of giving a full-length speech, off-the-cuff, but Amit rose to his own challenge magnificently and rounded off our prepared speeches in style.
Myself, Mustafa and Norma evaluated the three speeches.
A huge thank you to Norma, who stepped in right at the very last second to evaluate Amit’s speech.
She gave some insightful commendations and recommendations and won the President’s Award for her willingness to step in and take on the role. A real act of kindness!
Terrific Table Topics
Another last-minute stand-in was Rob, who took on the role of Table Topics Master.
Rob didn’t have long to come up with a set of questions for our participants to answer, but he did a great job and we had some really varied answers.
Everything from mad scientist Mustafa and a crazy cat to Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un.
Our guest, Courtney won the Best Table Topic award for a heartfelt and inspirational impromptu speech.
It was Courtney’s second visit to the club and we’re all hoping she joins up as she clearly has a lot to offer.
Aseem evaluated the topics and really did use his time well, ensuring that all the speakers got some encouraging commendations and notes for improvement.
Finally, Florence came up to give us a General Evaluation.
Florence was kind and positive about all of the evening’s role players and she was particularly complimentary about how many of us looked comfortable on stage.
What I noticed most was how comfortable Florence looked.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen her looking so confident and relaxed. It was a superb general evaluation – even if it eventually did have Andrei ringing the bell!
Overall, another memorable meeting at Croydon Communicators.
Our next Club meeting will be on Thursday December 12.
This will be our final meeting of 2019 so please make every effort to attend.
Best Speaker – Estela
Best Evaluator – Dan
Best Table Topics - Courtney
Icebreaker Award – Estela & Louise
President’s Award – Norma
written by dan magill
Club President Croydon Communicators
The theme of our meeting at Croydon Communicators on Thursday evening was remembering the past and it was an opportunity for everyone to do a bit of reflecting whilst working on their public speaking skills.
Preparation, Preparation, Preparation
I arrived about 15 minutes before we got started and it was inspiring to see all three of our prepared speakers already there and preparing in their own ways.
By the time we got started, the room was buzzing in anticipation of what was to be another lively evening.
Our international jet-setting speaker, Rob Wilkie was Toastmaster for the evening and it was certainly inspiring to see how far Rob has come with his speaking, since he first took on the role just over a year ago.
Rob was cool, confident and in control, leading us through the evening with professionalism and good humour.
New Members Taking the Plunge
Our first role player was Estela who took on her first role since becoming a member. Estela did a great job as our timekeeper. There were no obvious nerves and she kept us all to time, even ringing the bell on our poor President just as he was getting started with his evaluation!
Another new member, Mark, got us all warmed up and it was brilliant to see he’d taken the time to make sure his question fitted the theme of the evening.
We were all asked to recall our earliest childhood memories and there were certainly some entertaining responses, with a couple of members confessing to their toddler crimes and Mustafa milking the moment, as he went into great detail surrounding his attachment issues.
Aseem was our grammarian for the evening. The word of the day was, ‘Reminisce’ and Aseem ensured we wouldn’t forget it by boldly printing it at the bottom of the agenda.
Intuition, Life Tips and Unforgettable Memories
Our prepared speeches came from Amit, Gina and Gertrude.
Amit spoke to us about the Power of Intuition. It was just Amit’s second speech, so it was especially impressive to see him present a talk which was expertly structured and effectively delivered. Amit skilfully drew in the audience in his introduction before using the power of personal storytelling to really bring the message to life.
Next, we had Gina teaching us How to Live A Good Life. Gina told us a highly inspirational personal story and really showed how the power of pause and effective pacing can take a speech to another level.
Last but not least, Gertrude gave us an Unforgettable experience, with a moving speech about her dad. Not only did Gertrude deliver a personal story with impressive poise and control, she also managed to play perfectly into the evening’s theme and even opened up with some music. Gertrude always has the courage to try new things when she’s on stage and its fantastic to have examples of how things can sometimes be done a little differently.
Myself, Paul and Kevin evaluated the speeches and each evaluator seemed genuinely thrilled to have the opportunity to evaluate such well-prepared speeches. There were plenty of commendations for all the speakers, interspersed with some insightful recommendations, which everyone in the room could benefit from.
Time-Tested Table Topics
After the break, Matt led our impromptu speaking session and again it was great to see he’d prepared his questions around the evening’s theme. It makes such a difference to the evening when everything ties together.
Matt called upon a mix of members and guests and each of them was challenged to answer questions based around time.
Hemanshu Has the Power!
All the topics speakers did a fine job but, for me, the most inspiring moment of the evening came when our first-time guest, Hemanshu, went from passing during the warm up to finding the courage to come up and present a table topic from centre stage.
It’s moments like this that remind was how powerful Toastmasters can be in swiftly giving people the confidence and encouragement to bravely face their fears.
Next up we had Mustafa giving us an evaluation of the table topics.
The evaluation itself lasted around 5 minutes, but I was still laughing hours later. If there has ever been a funnier set of table topic evaluations, I’d certainly like to see it. Mustafa had us all crying with laughter, not for the first time during the night even.
In fact, such was the impact of Mustafa’s performance, I immediately took on the advice of our General Evaluator and awarded the Best Evaluator award to Mustafa. We normally only include prepared speech evaluators in the vote, and personally, I think that’s a better way of doing it, but last night was different and there was no way Mustafa didn’t deserve to walk away with the prize.
Although, in typical Mustafa fashion – he walked away without it!
Ambassadorial General Evaluation
Our guest General Evaluator, Andy Blake rounded the evening off with a comprehensive review of everything that had happened.
It was an honour and a pleasure to have our District 91 2019 Club Ambassador of the Year in attendance as GE.
It’s always really useful to get an insight on how we do things from somebody new to the club, but it was especially valuable for those insights to be coming from somebody who has visited so many clubs and has developed such vast knowledge and understanding.
Overall, this was a night of remembrance none of us will forget in a hurry.
Don’t forget, we have four events coming up over the next few weeks…
Saturday 16th November – Division H Humorous Speech and Table Topics Contest
Thursday 28th November – Our next club meeting
Friday 29th November – Our club Christmas meal at the Croydon Park Hotel
Wednesday 11th December – Area H15 Christmas Party
Best Table Topics
Estela & Mark