The One with the Fireworks!

3rd November 2021, the one with the Fireworks

Remember, remember the third of November, as a Toastmasters meeting where we all embraced the theme, ‘fireworks’, including our guests and visitors. We didn’t terrify any pets, or keep small children awake with our meeting, you will be pleased to know.

The wonderful meeting chairing, by our Toastmaster extraordinaire, Venice, helped us all embrace the theme and make us all into sparklers!!!

We had two auspicious guests, with Liz who kindly took on the general evaluator role, giving us a masterclass in how we evaluate a meeting. Our other guest, Elizabeth took us through our place within the Toastmasters organisation, which made me feel proud to be part of such a large and successful organisation.

Our Grammarian was the fantastic Judith, who always manages to inspire with not only her knowledge of the English language, but her passion for it’s use. I never fail to learn something from her when she is in this role.

We had a wonderful icebreaker speech from our new member Etienne, who demonstrated a skill set already advanced, in the way he constructed and delivered his speech.

Our other speaker had to drop out at the last minute, so I delivered a humorous speech about driving with a lion in the back of the car, funny and not recommended for health and safety reasons.

Our Table Topics Master Helen, put us through our paces with questions around the theme.

We found out that Deborah connects making sugar mice with bonfire night, that Liz doesn’t like bonfire night as there are many accidents but that she can be won around with a sparkler.

Fran gave us all a great visual of her unattractive dressing gown that she likes to snuggle in when the nights get darker, and Paul prefers Christmas over Halloween as he enjoys the trappings, that can last an entire season.

Ollie gave a great Table Topics evaluation, always a challenge due to the time constraints. Everyone received both commends and recommends which help us all.

The meeting closed with thanks for everyone’s wholehearted participation and we look forward to seeing you all again soon.

The One with lots of Laughing

North Herts Speakers 15/09/2021

Meet the members

The meeting was compact and bijou, as it has been for a few weeks, and we look forward to welcoming back all those who have been busy over the summer.  Compact or not, those who attended the meeting on the 15th Sept certainly knew how to enjoy themselves!

The theme of the meeting was ‘Laughter is the Best Medicine’ and we started as we meant to go on, as members of the group discovered filters for the first time on their Zoom screens and became pirates and unicorns! It set the tone for an exciting and entertaining evening.

We had a new member to welcome, Ulynda, who blew us away with her skill in her Ice Breaker speech. It was her first meeting too! A courageous start to what I’m sure will be a rewarding experience with the group.

Our wonderful Grammarian, Chris, she gave us a challenge, and rather than a word of the day, we were challenged to use collective nouns and we could make them up, and we did!

Deborah stepped into the breech and was our Timer as well as an Evaluator and will be the Toastmaster of the evening at the next meeting.  Deborah is speeding along in her confidence and speaking skills and the club is really benefitting.

It was a welcome return for Mike who has had a busy summer. He came straight back in as an Evaluator and showed he hadn’t forgotten anything!

We were fortunate to have three speeches for the evening and Bev showed that she had really listened to the feedback from her last speech as she did a wonderful job.  Though we had heard the speech before she brought us in a second time, no problem.

John gave us a speech about travelling and how we managed to navigate car journeys before the advent of the sat nav. He reminded us of those historic arguments that could ensue when the navigator or driver are going rogue and doing their own thing!!!! Much laughter with some not so happy memories.

Table Topics or a ‘challenge’ of Table Topics if you are giving it the collective noun; was presided over by Mike, who asked some great questions which elicited some very funny answers. From farting and blaming the dog, to hiding behind bushes dressed as a blueberry, I cannot divulge the context as what happens at North Herts Speakers, stays at North Herts Speakers!

Our awards for the evening went to Ulynda for Best Speech, Maria for Table Topics and Venice for an awesome evaluation of Johns speech. Until next time!!!!

The One Where we were Kicked out of the Zoom Room

The One Where We Were Kicked out of the Zoom Room.

Our meeting on the 1st September started much like any other, a little earlier perhaps as the committee had got together to discuss the up coming competition and the fee proposal.

As all the lovely members joined we were just in the process of being corralled and made to behave by our wonderful Sergeant at Arms, Enroy, when everyone disappeared and we were kicked out of the meeting!!! The Cheek!!!!!!

Lots of scrabbling (technical term) around and we were all back in our original room after spending 15 mins floating around in cyber space!

Our meeting was in the safe and supremely capable hands of John, and the Grammarian role was the equally capable hands of Judith, whose advocacy for the use of beautiful language never ceases to inspire.

Helen introduced Enroy’s speech for us and he proceeded to tell us all about his plans for rejuvenating the school newspaper, at a school, where he works as a teacher.  I’m sure his methodical and logical approach will be appreciated by those with the responsibility for the newspaper.  His speech gave us all confidence that it with Enroy in charge, anything is possible.

Bev’s speech was introduced by Deborah and Bev certainly gave us much to consider when she told us about the career path that had brought her to her current place.

Bev’s speech was moving and inspiring, and I personally, can’t wait for Bev to reveal more of herself and her journey, through her speeches.

Venice was introduced by Enrico, this was still an early speech in Venice’s speaking journey with NH Speakers, though this wasn’t apparent.  Another inspiring speech where Venice had the audience watching and listening with rapt attention.

We were fortunate to have the opportunity to welcome a guest to this meeting, and this was Andy, the husband of Sally (already a member).  Andy won Table Topics on his first try with a story about rebellious socks.

The Table Topics were led by the always funny, Christine, who evoked memories across the group with questions about our school days, from the impact of a new pencil case to favourite crazes, this Table Topic got all our brain cells working and our humorous stories flowing.

The general evaluation was done by the wonderful Ollie, and he was both insightful and concise, and this was reflected in his award for Best Evaluator at the end of the evening.

Our other winner was Bev, as Best Speaker, but I can tell you it was really close in all the categories as everyone did a great job this evening.

Until next time ……………….

The One with Five People

Small but perfectly formed 21st July 2021

Well, that was a compact and bijou meeting!! There were only four Toastmasters and one excellent guest who just went with it!

Our Timer and Sergeant at Arms was the fabulous Enroy, whose dulcet tones are a welcome addition to any meeting.  Our Grammarian was Bev A who gave us a great word of the day ‘Ameliorate’ which we had fun dropping into our conversations.

There was only one speech, which was delivered by me and was about the Public Relations for the Club and what we can achieve. 

We are working on securing our eight new members, the PR will contribute this year by having you all supporting Venice and the club, by providing content, and disseminating far and wide the posts and info we produce.

With no Table Topics Master, we decided to improvise, and took it in turns to ask each other a Table Topics question!! Lynne gave us an evocative two minutes about the summer of 1976 and the flies on the white and yellow cars! Enroy told us about his favourite holiday food which was jack fruit and sugar cane and his descriptions had us all entranced.

Bev A told us about what she would do if she were on a plane surrounded by people coughing though I don’t think her plan to spend 9 hours in the loo would have made her popular with the other passengers. Nick, our most welcome guest, told us about, what sounded like a fantastic holiday to Mauritius and the visual picture he painted had us all lamenting our lack of holidays recently.

As we were completely off script, we then did open evaluations on both the initial speech about PR and the Table Topics speeches.  It was and excellent idea as the evaluations fed off each other and new perspectives were proposed, as we discussed what we had seen and heard as a group.

I would like to thank those that came along for a, jovial, energetic, and insightful evening.

See you on the 4th of August where we have our first theme which will be Olympics! I look forward to seeing your backgrounds and your stories of meeting Seb Coe or Nicola Adams, failing at sports day or getting an Olympic medal!!

The One Where we Shook Hands

But Cleaned them After!! 18th Aug 2021

It was a fine evening for our first outdoor in person meeting. We met in my front garden in Willian as it is big enough and I was very happy to host.  It was our first in person meeting in 16 months and it was also the first time I had shaken hands with anyone in 16 months too.  How wonderfully strange it seemed.

Liz Burnett, (Toastmasters royalty) also attended and even presented our club with a sash of awesomeness!

The meeting had two glorious speeches from Lynne and Christine that had us hanging on their every word.  Christine and her cauliflower prop were a big hit, and we will never look at this vegetable the same again.  She spoke about unlearning and how difficult that can be particularly when you have a cauliflower for a brain. Lynne gave voice to the little critics that sit on our shoulders and whisper a negative commentary in our ears, or that could be just my shoulders!

Deborah did a wonderful job in her first ever in person meeting, as she led the evaluations, and it was wonderful to see Andrea for the first time in ages as she led us in Table Topics. 

 Andrea had us recalling the foibles of our childhood holidays and she had props and a series of probing questions which provoked the most wonderful stories from our group.  Judith and her undiplomatic aunt, Liz with her holidays in Ireland with only a cursory nod to planning and Dorothy and her disappointment with her water pistols.

Enroy was our timer extraordinaire, and it was very strange indeed to get the coloured card out of the meeting box again to show the times rather than just change our backgrounds.

The one with Sign Language

The one with sign language!! 04 Aug 2021

Our Sergeant at Arms, Enroy, was experiencing technical difficulties as he couldn’t get his sound to work!  In a double role as Timer, the club supported him by trying to interpret his sign language, facial expression and eventually through the zoom chat function.  Well done, Enroy, there was much celebration when you finally got the sound back at the end of the meeting.

But back to the beginning. Our first speaker was Ollie, and he was talking about inspiration, he went from the huge numbers in the size of the solar system to the dulcet tones of Edina Menzel, Defying Gravity.  I’m not going to give you anymore, if you missed it, you missed a treat.

Our second presentation was a masterclass in speechcraft from the very experienced and capable, John, who regaled us with the things he didn’t know before Toastmasters.  This speech saw modulation in Johns voice that I haven’t seen him use before and it was laced with humour, hugely entertaining.

Competition time is nearly upon us again, love it or hate it, it’s the best way to improve and I hope those of you reading this will take part, either as a competitor or as one of the roles that make the competition happen.  If you haven’t been for a while, we would still love to see you and get you involved.

Our Evaluators were fantastic this week, the energy and great structure employed by Venice was complimented by the considered insights of Deborah.

Table Topics was populated with great questions by Helen, she offered us Olympics as a topic and her questions made you want to go, pick me, pick me! Through Table Topics, Lynne gave us new sports, both of which I could challenge her for gold in!! Donna our guest got involved and gave a confident and engaging story about and Olympian in her family, she had us all rapt!

Enrico gave a good account of all our Ums and Ahs, of which several were mine, without making us feel too bad.

If you fancy attending the next meeting, we are going to try doing an in-person, outside meeting, depending on the weather. More details to follow but we are aiming to hold it in my garden in Willian.  If you haven’t been for an age, come and see us, have a drink (tea or wine) and a bit of social interaction.  We would love to see you, no pressure to join in or re-join, just a chance to reconnect.

It Takes a Village – We Need You!!

Well this has snuck up on us!   The current 20/21 Toastmaster Year is coming up fast at the end of June, less than 2 months away now.

I have really loved being your President which has probably been the most enjoyable and easiest Committee role I’ve done so far.

This is a time we can look forward to the club evolving as we emerge out of COVID restrictions.  Exciting times coming up as it can’t be too much longer before we’re in a REAL room together again.

So, this is the time we need to appoint a fresh committee to take the club forward in the new Toastmaster Year. 

Please can you share the amazing leadership qualities you have and join the team who will lead the club through its next chapter.  It takes a village to run a club and we need fresh ideas, new energy and YOU to come forward!

Photo by Roman Kraft on Unsplash

Please don’t hold back – we need you to put your hand up.   If you have any queries about any of the roles, please get in touch.

We will elect the new Committee at our meeting on Wednesday, 29th May.

WE NEED YOU – so don’t just sit there, please volunteer.

Lynne Wilkins

President, North Herts Speakers | Area 20 | Division H 

Spring is in the air

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

First off we had a speech by Bev 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.

Rossana 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 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. 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 run by Anna were on a World Book Day theme.  We learned about Helen’s favourite first book (Tracy Beaker by Jacqueline Wilson), Robert 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 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:

A Toastmaster’s Fellowship

  • Our first meeting of February was reported by 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 like some time in break out rooms to enjoy socialising with our fellow toastmaster club members.
  • 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, our toastmaster of the evening (ie our chairperson) Judith threaded this through the entire agenda with aplomb. This reminded us all that toastmaster meetings are about a lot more than public speaking, they are also about friendship and connection, 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 toastmasters at North Herts Speakers led by Dorothy.
  • 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 – 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.