Spring is in the air

Spring was in the air for our first meeting of March with 3 totally different prepared speeches which had something relevant about careers in them, very appropriate for the time of year we think about renewal. 

First off we had a speech by Bev Rimmer who has recently rejoined the club after a break.  She was re-introducing herself to club members and we learned about the doors she has opened to different opportunities in her life.  We learned about she opened up to City life from her early years in rural Derbyshire and then she told us about her career transition from the corporate world to freelancer.  It was a really fascinating glimpse into how she has made the most of these change and a delight to get to know her all over again and some things we hadn’t up to now.

– Dr Rossana Espinoza followed this with a wonderful speech about her experience moving jobs. She used a very clever metaphor comparing moving jobs to dating and telling the story of a job application in times of Covid-19 and salary negotiation as if it were a dating saga.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

– President Lynne Wilkins gave us some very helpful tips on how to be preparing for interviews, making using of her 20 years’ experience in recruitment.  It turned out we should be doing that all the time, not just the night before or even when we start looking for a job.  Lynne explained how this helps because we never know when we might be approached about a career opportunity and she told us more about the kind of information that is useful to prepare.  Very helpful for anyone thinking of a career move.

– Our impromptu ‘table topics’ speech section for the evening was run by Anna Taylor were on a well chosen World Book Day theme.  We learned about Helen Calvert’s favourite first book (Tracy Beaker by Jacqueline Wilson), Robert Harris inspired us to want to read The Best and The Brightest by David Halberstam about the origins of the Vietnam War and finally experienced speaker Dorothy Molloy tackled ‘can you judge a book by its cover’ and had us all laughing and smiling at her ideas.

Another great evening enjoyed by all as we start to dare to hope about returning to face to face meetings when we can.  We’re making the most of the online medium for a while yet and always enjoy the joke at the end as we close with ‘have a safe journey home’.

Our next meeting is on the 17th March when members will be taking part in our Club Contest to see who will be our best evaluator of speeches (we will have a ‘test speaker’ and contestants all have to give the best review of the same speech).  We will also be deciding our best speaker who will get the chance to go further through different levels of contests from Area to Division to District and so on until finally in August the Word Champion of Public Speaking will be decided at the Toastmasters International Convention – every single winner of that award has won a club contests.  You’re welcome to come and enjoy the spectacle, contests brings out the very best speeches you’ll hear in clubs. 

If you would like to visit – please email us: info@northhertsspeakers.org


A Toastmaster’s Fellowship

  • Our first meeting of February was reported to many of those there to be one of the very best they’d been to.
  • This is in part due to the way we have continued to adapt our meetings to the online environment and respond to our members’ needs.   
  • We have dispensed with some of the meeting roles to shorten meeting length and at the same time we’ve added some elements in to increase our enjoyment.  We all enjoy some time in break out rooms to enjoy socialising with our fellow toasties – something that happens naturally in the break in the middle of face to face meetings.
  • To give more attendees an opportunity to speak, we have added back in the popular just a minute slot where anyone can say anything, within reason!
Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash
  • We took fellowship as our theme for this meeting, something that our toastmaster for the evening, Judith Jones-Nugent, in their chairperson role threaded through the entire agenda with aplomb. This reminded us all that toastmaster meetings are about a lot more than public speaking, they are about friendship and connection too, something that we can really appreciate a lot more at this time.
  • As ever, we enjoyed the diversity of prepared speeches with a humorous look at going organic, one about using influence and with our glasses to the ready we enjoyed toasting our success as toastmaster at North Herts Speakers led by Dorothy Molloy.
  • We had a number of visitors at this meeting and two gamely took part in table topics, which were themed to honour the life of Captain Sir Tom Moore.
  • All in all, a very convivial and entertaining evening.
  • Special congratulations to our newest member Kelly, winning best table topic at her second attempt.  Well done!

New year, new speeches with Toastmasters

On Wednesday 20th January, we had another amazing Toastmaster’s meeting. Key takeaways of the meeting are as follows:

  • One of the surprises for the Toastmaster of the meeting (similar to chair person or master of ceremonies) is that they never know what to expect in people’s prepared speeches!
  • The best speaker of the evening was our member Judith Jones-Nugent – her task was to deliver a social speech.  Judith chose to do one imagining she was accepting the Nobel prize for literature.  We could really believe this could be true because we already know that Judith is brilliant with words from previous speeches and this was no different. 
Photo by Ariel on Unsplash
  • It was so easy to imagine Judith actually delivering an acceptance speech and a joy to hear and see.  This was another very memorable speech where her ability to engage our emotions and use of the dramatic pause was used to great effect. 
  • We had a very different and entertaining speech from Mike, who gave us a very amusing speech about the lifecycle of bees.
  • Our president Lynne brought to life communication styles illustrated with the use of four characters she created and described.  This really had us chuckling at points recognising elements of ourselves in the characters.
  • The club continues to respond to our members’ needs in our online format and is always looking for ways to improve.  We are enjoying more social time to get to know each other in smaller groups in break out rooms, which are proving very popular with members.
  • The table topics section of the evening led by club founder John Kendall was great fun as speakers revealed ‘the worst thing was….’ about various scenarios.  This gave license for a lot of story telling, which members enjoyed.
  • All in all, a well attended and very enjoyable meeting.

What is your favourite meeting role and why?

In our last meeting, Wednesday 18th November, we asked attendees what is their favourite meeting role (for example, chairperson, evaluator, grammarian, and many more). This is what they said:

Toastmaster because I am in control!

❤ I like Table Topic Master as it gives me control and I can be creative and don’t have to do a topic myself 😊

❤ My favourite role Table Topics evaluator, I love having the opportunity to give feedback in short snappy way 😊

❤ I like the Table Topics Master role because it lets me move a little more out of my comfort zone, as you get more of a chance to make it your own.

❤ I love Table Topic Master – it’s great fun thinking of a great topic that will draw people out – needs to be balanced with being enough of a challenge – lots of fun to be had with that role – love it when one of our Toastmasters bought a bag of objects and you had to talk about something you draw out of the bag by chance.

Photo by ConvertKit on Unsplash

❤ Grammarian because it’s fun to focus on the use of language

❤ I enjoy Table Topic Evaluator because you avoid doing a Table Topic speech! But it is also challenging.

❤ Evaluator because it is a good school to prepare yourself for evaluating other people in real life, I find it also challenging

❤ My favourite role is evaluator because it involves close listening

❤ My favourite role is the Table Topic Master. I like different roles for different reasons at different times.  I like TT Master but I don’t do it often as it’s a great chance to find out things about the people who inspire me.

❤ My first favourite is speech evaluator as I like to help people improve. My second favourite is Table Topic Master as I like to be creative

❤ My favourite role is the Table Topic Master because I stretch of imagination and it is a chance to have some more fun:)

And finally, my favourite (your VP PR) has been the evaluator role, because it stretched me to put together a short speech after listening to what my Toastmasters peers have said, in a short amount of time. Good challenge, eh? It’s my chance to be positive, focused and helpful 😊

Join us next time!

Rossana Espinoza, VP Public Relations.


Special Guest, Vicky Lester, at our next meeting on 18th November

On 18th November, the wonderful Vicky Lester will be guesting at North Hearts Speakers. She will delight us all with his speech on “Toastmasters’ meeting roles”. Find out more about here and join us!

In Vicky’s educational speech about meeting roles, she will cover not only what each role entails, but how the roles map across to Pathways projects. You will find out how you can be developing your leadership skills at the same time as supporting your club and fellow Toastmasters by taking on these roles within meetings. Various supporting documents and templates will also be shared to help you in a role you are less familiar with, giving you the confidence to dive in and make a start.

Profile: Vicky Lester


Vicky Lester joined The Case Centre in 1991 and became its Deputy Director in 2008.

As Deputy Director Vicky works with the Director to set, deploy and implement the company’s strategy. She is also responsible for managing the organisation’s finances and overseeing the management team. Prior to her current role Vicky worked in many areas of the business, including sales, operations and systems.

Vicky regularly represents The Case Centre as a speaker at conferences and events around the world. She also enjoys reviewing and judging cases for a variety of case writing competitions.


Vicky holds a Diploma in Management Studies from De Montfort University. She also completed the Business Growth Programme at Cranfield School of Management.

Volunteer experience / Personal development

Vicky joined Toastmasters International in 2004, a non-profit educational organisation that develops public speaking and leadership skills through a worldwide network of clubs.  Vicky has carried out a variety of leadership roles, including Club President (3 terms) and Area Director (1 term). She has led a Youth Leadership Programme and is aiming to achieve her Distinguished Toastmaster award early 2021. 

LinkedIn profile


A special Halloween Toastmasters night🎃

Your Vice President Public Relations reporting on our zoom meeting on Wednesday 4 November. 

Great to have a cozy meeting in a cold November night before heading to lockdown in the UK.  We had two wonderful guests.

So much learning for everyone in fact this evening with two interesting, intriguing and informative prepared speeches – we heard about Amphibians from Enroy and getting out of your comfort zone with camping and trekking with Sean. 

It was a hugely friendly time with Helen as “Toastmaster” (equivalent to chairperson) for the evening – she brings something very special to the role with her openness and enthusiasm. We all felt looked after during the meeting and she kept us moving a great pace.

I ran a menti word cloud to find out about our Toastmasters’ experience. Here the result:

Well done to Vice President Education, Oliver, once again for taking on so many roles at the meeting at the last minute with Toastmasters being poorly or unavailable – he is doing a fantastic job. Great suggestion having Toastmasters displaying a Halloween theme related zoom background.

Our Vice President Membership, Mike, selected a fabulous word of the day: SURREAL. Our Toastmasters’ night was indeed FANTASTICALLY SURREAL.

Join us next time!

North Herts Speakers Public Speaking Club Meetup

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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. 

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.

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!

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.

Get the Toastmasters’ mindset

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

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.

Consider getting a mentor

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

Manage your inner critic

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

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 😋

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.

Take care of yourself and be yourself

Take your time, be yourself and you will pick up the speed.

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