Last night’s meeting was another excellent one filled with the usual heady mix of humour, banter, encouragement and comeraderie we’ve all come to know and love about Casterbridge Speakers.

It was an evening of firsts:

It was the first meeting organised by Caroline Brewer and Alan Rooney in their joint VPE role and, impressively, they managed to organise a ‘3 speech meeting’, our first for some time, if not ever.

It was our first meeting of the new Toastmaster year and my first meeting as club president.

Mark Whitting did a cracking job with his first speech as a member – his ice breaker, which was superbly evaluated by Anna Shapter who, as a result, won her first ‘best evaluator’ award.

Andy (a guest of Steve Graham) came along as a guest for the first time, took part in table topics and showed great potential as a speaker.  We hope to see him again at our next meeting.

HIghlights of the evening included:

Alan Rooney developing a trademark ‘Al-Murray-esque’ style of bringing his pint to the stage when coming up to speak.

Douglas Pigg commenting on the various ‘air soles’ he encountered whilst out walking!

David Tucker, who managed to keep us enthralled with the subject of fine art and fossils, proving that any subject can be made fascinating if you develop the right skills and ability.

Richard White who, in his role as grammarian, challenged us with the word ‘promulgate’, meaning ‘to publicly declare’.

Stephanie Pettit who, not knowing what a ‘warm down’ entailed, took us through an impromptu exercise routine!

Stephanie (again) who, after winning her first award – best table topic speaker – was seen photographing it and posting it onto her FaceBook page.

Things we learned:

Caroline Brewer knows nothing about science fiction movies.

A really astute observation from Richard White – The level of ‘ums’ spoken by speech evaluators tends to dramatically increase when it comes to giving recommendations to the speaker.  This could stem from a fear of offending.

A really valuable distinction made by our general evaluator, Dawn Wilson, about the difference between an ‘observation’ (what could be improved) and a ‘recommendation’ (an example of how).  For example, an observation may be “your speech could have had a stronger ending”, whereas a recommendation may be “you could have punched the air and shouted “YES!” ”

All in all a fantastic meeting – I look forward to our next one.

Paul Hutchings
President, Casterbridge Speakers.

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