About the healing power of humour

We are familiar with the use of humour to break the ice, smooth tension and challenge or confront people. We are less familiar with the power of humour to heal.

How do you establish connection with people, especially during these challenging times? When we may be feeling lonely and we may find it difficult to deal with PDD, or Public Display of Distress.

Some may use food to comfort themselves (a KFC family bucket!). Alternatively, some may choose to establish a connection and perhaps support others when they are having a difficult time.

‘How?’, you may ask. How about sharing the healing power of humour? This is the message of Ola Aralepo, our guest in the last Toastmasters meeting at North Herts Speakers club.

As a trained counsellor, Ola sees lots of similarities between counselling and stand up comedy. He is also a comedian in the stand-up circuit in London.

Comedians talk about difficult situations they have experienced. Some may think they belong on a therapist coach as much as they belong to the stage.

Ola advises that you need two ingredients to start sharing the healing power of humour: Time and Permission. 

Counseling and stand-up comedy are serious business and they require the investment of time. Ask any counselor and ask any stand-up comedian.

The healing power of humour also needs that you give yourself the permission to find the humour in the tragedy of life. 

Inspired by Ola Aralepo’s speech. Ola was our Special guest speaker at North Herts Speakers Toastmaster club on Wednesday 21 October 2020.

Rossana Espinoza, VP Public Relations.

Special Guest, Ola Aralepo, at our next meeting on 21st October

On 21st October, Ola Aralepo will be guesting at North Hearts Speakers. He will delight us all with his speech entitled “The healing power of humour”. Find out more about him and join us!

Ola Aralepo is a member of Tube Talk Toastmasters and two times Toastmasters’ Humorous Speech District Champion: 2011 and 2017. He is also public speaking coach/trainer and Stand-Up Therapist™.

Through his involvement with Toastmasters he has delivered humorous speaking and training events for several community and corporate organisations. He is passionate about harnessing the healing power of humour.

Rossana Espinoza, VP Public Relations

What advice would you give to a new TM member?

In our last meeting, we asked attendees what advice they would give to a new Toastmaster member. This is what they said:

Start early and quick

Get started as soon as possible in speaking (from Rose Saliba). 

Do a speech (just a minute or table topics) at your first meeting, it feels extremely rewarding and stops you building it up into something scary if you’re nervous (from Anna Taylor).

Don’t wait too long to give a speech

Don’t wait too long to speak – it’s easier to get started and start the journey – when you do, you’ll realise how much you learn from people evaluating you and applying that takes you on the journey further.

Not starting is like sitting on the edge of a pool dangling your feet in the water and thinking it’s cold – it’s a lot warmer if you just get in and start swimming, you might need some help with technique, but it’s definitely warmer! (from Lynne Wilkins).

Image by Harish Sharma from Pixabay

Get out of your comfort zone…with a supportive bunch

My advice would be once you get over the “hurdle” of the first meeting every single one after that becomes much easier, especially if you throw yourself into the deep end. Being in the deep end is much easier in toastmaster because everyone is non judgemental and are on the same journey you have been (from Charles Russell).

Get the Toastmasters’ mindset

Just relax and be open minded to be carried out of your comfort zone, it’s all a safe environment (from Oliver Schlenker).

We are all in Toastmasters to learn

All of us are here in a TM club to learn and help each other to be better speakers  in our daily lives (from Enroy Nugent).

Consider getting a mentor

Get a mentor so you can become your best self in not just speaking but other leadership skills too (from Judith Nugent).

Manage your inner critic

Don’t beat up yourself when you make a mistake when giving a speech, because we’ve all been there (from Enroy Nugent).

You get as much as you put in

You get out what you put in and also the other members are a lovely group of people who are incredibly supportive. Give it a whirl 😋 (from Maria Iredale).

If questions, ask and get involved

Ask others to explain how things are, how their experience has been and participate as much as you can (from John Kendall).

Take care of yourself and be yourself

Take your time, be yourself and you will pick up the speed (from Enrico).

With massive thanks to all North Hearts Speakers who contributed to write this blog.

Rossana Espinoza, VP Public Relations

Special Guest, Vinette Hoffman-Jackson, at our next meeting

On 16th September, Vinette will be guesting at North Hearts Speakers. She will delight us all with her speech entitled ‘Where leaders are made’. Find out more about her and join us!

Vinette Hoffman-Jackson was born in Barking Lodge, St Thomas, Jamaica and emigrated to the United Kingdom in August 2002 as a Chemistry and Physics teacher. She is active STEM ambassador and a passionate advocate for girls going into STEM careers and has delivered training nationally. 

After years in he classroom she reached the point where she felt there was more to her life. Instead of remaining cocooned in the security of a nine to five job and a regular salary she started on her own personal journey towards self-discovery. Vinette is the only person in the United Kingdom to win thirteen speaking trophies in one year at the prestigious Toastmasters International.

UK & Ireland International Speech and Impromptu Speaking Champion 2017/2019

Vinette also has a flair for writing and has published four books. She has been endorsed for her skilful writing by international entities such as Les Brown, the international motivational speaker. She is also a contributor to business magazines like Endizine, New business and Networkshe.

Vinette regularly runs workshops for corporate and individuals in ‘Effective speaking & presentation, how to live your life like a CEO! and Behind my Smile’’ She has spoken all over the world including France, Jamaica, Canada and Austria. Her entrepreneurial and skills have been recognized and awarded by Bedfordshire University, UK.

Vinette presents a weekly talk show every Wednesday on her local radio www.lurlive.com where she interviews ordinary people with extraordinary smiles. She is also a regular panellist on the BBC 3 counties parenting show where she speaks on current issues affecting parents in the modern world.

She has recently started the Behind my Smile Initiative TM where girls learn to communicate in a safe space so they can resolve conflicts, speak or their rights and become confident and articulate speakers.

Vinette oozes confidence and is a fantastic speaker. Not only is she truly motivational but she uses her sharp wit and humour to disseminate her message and make it memorable. Audiences respond to Vinette with mixed emotions including laughing, inspiration and awe.

Vinette’s accomplishments:

  • UK & Ireland International Speech and Impromptu Speaking Champion 2017/2019
  • BBC New Voice 2019
  • London Professional Speaker Association ‘Speaker Factor’ winner (2016)
  • TEdx Speaker
  • Radio Presenter and ‘Behind my Smile’ Chat show host
  • Award winning Author and Poet (Did the Right Sperm Win? Bks 1&2, Behind my Smile, Vinette Vignettes and Journeys)
  • STEM Ambassador and Educator
  • CEO at 321Speak! And 321Write! Institutes
  • Immediate Past President of Bedford Speakers, UK.
  • Current VPM, Advanced Communicators Advanced Speakers and VPPR , Bedford speakers.
  • Nominated for the World Civility Award 2020

Triple Crown Award for Rose Saliba 🥇

Rose Saliba received a special ward for completing three advanced level achievements in the last Toastmasters year (which runs from July to June).  She completed three advanced level honours – two on the leadership side with her Competent Leader and Advanced Leader Bronze and an Advanced Communicator award which involved completing 10 speeches on themes of humour and story telling.  Well done Rose.

Rose Saliba receiving her Triple Crown Award from President, Lynne Wilkins

North Hearts Speakers, like all Toastmasters clubs around the globe, adapted to the COVID-19 challenges. We have been successfully conducting our meetings online now for a while. Nevertheless, one of the things toastmasters love is fellowship outside of the regular meetings too.  So it was a particular pleasure for our President, Lynne Wilkins, to be able to meet Rose Saliba in person recently to present Rose with her badges of honour over coffee and cake.

Things that surprised you about Toastmasters

In our last meeting, we asked attendees what things surprised you about Toastmasters. This is what they said:

Toastmasters are friendly people

Those new to Toastmasters are surprised with how friendly, lovely and supportive everyone is.  It may be a weird thing for some but everyone is very welcoming. Some regular members shared that they were surprised by the fact that they make friends within the club.

Toastmasters like growth opportunities

Those new to Toastmasters are surprised that there are so many “job roles”. From club to clubs sometimes those roles vary. There are plenty of opportunities to speak and learn. Regular members are surprised with how you grow by doing roles and speeches. Some get amazed at how much some members improve and how much more confident they become. Particularly people who were very nervous to begin with.

Toastmasters have a variety of levels 

Newbies are also surprised about the levels that you have of learning at Toastmasters. We are all just people who are at all different stages – some just starting out and a bit nervous; as well as some more accomplished speakers, who are humble and wanting to learn, from whom we can learn from and aspire to be like. Not everyone is an expert and it is not about being competitive! 

Image by JoeBreuer from Pixabay

Toastmasters followed a detailed agenda

Toastmasters newbies are surprised with how detailed the agenda is, showing very specific times for each person’s role. Those detailed agendas make things run smoothly and provide a good structure.

Toastmasters like evaluations

Those new to Toastmasters are surprised about how much evaluation goes on during the meetings. Some point out that many details of the speeches are examined. As some regular Toastmasters would say ‘Everything gets evaluated at Toastmasters. All meetings would have a few people playing the Evaluator role and in some occasions one person would do the job of General Evaluator role. The main function of these roles is to provide constructive feedback. 

Toastmasters’ meetings are not always the same

Regular Toastmasters members especially are constantly surprised with the fact that meetings are not always the same. Toastmasters love variety. We all bring different things to the different roles we play in the meetings. Variety goes from the prepared to the impromptu speeches. Specifically about the speeches we make, there are not two same speeches, even if we follow the same theme. 

Toastmasters treasure feedback

This is something that I personally like to treasure since I started my Toastmasters journey. I collect the feedback slips – they are like little gifts 🙂 And now that we are conducting the meetings on Zoom, I am collecting feedback online, copying and pasting the feedback I received from fellow Toastmasters and guests.

Image by Michael Schwarzenberger from Pixabay

With massive thanks to all North Hearts Speakers who contributed to write this blog.

Rossana Espinoza, VP Public Relations

Toastmaster’s Takeaways: An inspiring Evening

Hello everyone

Mystery Toastmaster here, reporting on our zoom meeting on Wednesday 5 August. 

Great to have a well-attended meeting in August when so many people are usually away.  We had five wonderful guests.

It was great welcome Felicia from Milton Keynes Confident Speakers.  She’s used to shorter lunchtime meetings there so she enjoyed something different with a longer meeting and its relaxed evening vibe. We always value constructive feedback from toastmasters who are members at clubs to learn how they do things differently and we were delighted she commended us on our friendliness.

So much learning for everyone in fact this evening with four very inspirational prepared speeches – we heard about Belbin leadership roles from Enroy, how we can use our environment to change us from Lynne, Rossana spoke about Leadership Lessons from JFK … Airport and Rose had us thinking about the use of negative feelings and gratitude. 

It was a hugely entertaining time with Maria as “Toastmaster” (equivalent to chairperson) for the evening – she brings something very special to the role and revels in the opportunity to be a bit of a rebel and inject humour which we all enjoy.

Well done to Vice President Education, Oliver, for taking on so many roles at the meeting at the last minute which earned him the nickname “Batman” – not forgetting his “Robin”, Enrico who stepped into the role of Ah Counter with no notice.

Our Vice President Membership, Mike, had some great table topic questions to ask us based around Rishi Sunak giving 50% off, which three guests gave impromptu short speeches on.  They had to talk about what they would do with 50% off and why in various scenarios. 

Image by Mark Rosemaker from Pixabay

Our guests took on these subjects with apparent ease and we had some great answers.  These took us cooking with Nigella Lawson, travelling in a camper van and eating lots of ice cream – what’s not to love about that!  Felicia was a worthy winner of our Table Topic of the evening winner – it really was as good as a prepared speech. 

We heard exciting news that North Herts Speakers is going to be introduce guest speakers (who may or may not be Toastmasters) to future meetings – so watch this space for details in future.

Meantime, our next club meeting will be on Wednesday, 19 August 20 – come and join us.

Toastmaster’s Takeaways: Musca Domestica

Hello everyone

Mystery Toastmaster here, reporting on our zoom meeting on Wednesday 16 July. 

We had another very enjoyable evening on Zoom with lots of inventiveness on show. Lynne Wilkins, North Herts Speakers Club President, welcomed everyone in her debut meeting in that role 💥 

Oliver, VP Education, stepped into our Grammarian role at the last minute and displayed his word for the day “Ominous” on a sign around his neck – made a nice change from a virtual background.

We had two great prepared speeches from Dorothy and Maria from whom we learned even more about mentoring and how to get the best out of it – an area we are keen on developing further at North Herts Speakers. They offered different perspectives about mentoring which proved very insightful and entertaining.

Then for something really different, we had a speech from Enroy about Musca Domestica (otherwise known as the Common Housefly) given in his inimitable and entertaining style – none of us will ever look at cheesecake in the same way now!

Unusually, we had a few technical hitches with Zoom but as good Toastmasters -especially, in social distancing times- we have learned to keep calm and carry on, especially Maria who re-started her speech with aplomb and charm ⭐

The Star of the night was Pat, Lynne’s guest, who visited us for the first time and delivered a textbook impromptu speech in our table topic round – she regaled us with a true story about the antics of baboons on a trip to India. A deserved winner of best Table Topic speech of the evening.

We are delighted to welcome Mike D’Souza to our Club Officer Committee as our new VP of Membership.

Well done to Dorothy Molloy for completing Level 2 of her Pathways education programme and Enroy Nugent who has completed his speeches for his Level 1 Award. 

Our next meeting will be on Wednesday, 5th August 2020. Join us! 💃

Table topics, love them or hate them?

Table Topics are a great way to test your ability to speak on the spot in any situation. Table Topics are definitely a marmite part of the meeting. Generally speaking, if it’s an easy question, toastmasters will love them but if no answer comes to mind, toastmasters will not be so keen.

Some toastmasters like table topics as it challenges everyone to get involved in the program. Toastmasters is about learning by doing! Some have grown to like the challenge and enjoy the thrill of doing table topics.  Plus toastmasters don’t need to prepare for a table topic speech!

Those who love to be prepared may not like table topics. BUT table topics are a good thing to do, because in life sometimes we don’t have time to get as prepared as we’d like. So what do we do when we can’t prepare as much as we’d like? We can link table topics to a personal story. That would be the first step to love table topics💕

It is a journey to love table topics, some of us used to hate them. As time has gone on and we have got more confident, however, we begin to like them, even love them. Table topics are exciting and a thing we like is the way it brings out people’s creativity and things you’d never hear about any other way!

Some people like them from a skills perspective. Table topics are something we can all master. Table topics are a good way of feeling mildly uncomfortable and getting used to that. Table topics make you think and get you out of your comfort zone. 

Those who love adrenaline and adventure love table topics, because you have to think fast and react, it’s like an extreme sport for words! The truth is that table topics give you an opportunity to speak spontaneously with no time to be nervous. What a great experience to do. Bring it on! 👍

With massive thanks to all North Hearts Speakers who contributed to write this blog.

Rossana Espinoza, VP Public Relations

Who reigns as Summer Pub Quiz Champion 2020?

A bunch of Toastmasters across Area 20 attended a very special event, an event that only happens once a year: Our Area 20 Summer Quiz!

Our 2019-20 Toastmasters year came to a close on 30th June, so our Toastmasters clubs in Area 20 came together for our annual Summer Gala (social distancing style)…

The Area 20 Summer Quiz took place on 7.15 PM, 1ST JULY 2020.

With massive thanks to our Toastmasters members who attended from:

  • Herts Speakers
  • East Herts Speakers
  • North Herts Speakers
  • Stevenage Speakers

What we did?

  • We celebrated our successful Toastmasters year with our Area Director for 19-20, John Allsop.
  • We heard the end-of-year highlights of our clubs.
  • We congratulated and welcome-in our new Club Officers for 2020-21.
  • We did our best to answer the questions of our Quiz-Masters, John Allsop (Area Director 19/20) and Bradley Peters (Area Director 20/21).
  • Clubs in Area 20 went head to head to find out which will reign as Summer Pub Quiz Champion 2020. Who won? Stevenage Speakers. Hooray. 🌟💥⭐
  • We raised a (virtual) toast to a fantastic Toastmasters year!

Rossana Espinoza, VP Public Relations