New Year resolutions

If you are anything like me then you have stuffed yourself silly with chocolates, cakes, goodies and generally far too much food.  This must be a common practice for many of us Brits because January is always filled with adverts relating to dieting or exercise!

Yes, so many of us make new year resolutions and a great deal of these are to do with our health.

But what about your plans for self development? How is your self esteem? Maybe you would like to gain more confidence this year? Maybe this is the year that your career really takes off? Is this one of your new year resolutions?

Is this not a good time to trying out Toastmasters?  You’ve been thinking about it, I know!  It’s just that you haven’t found time to come along or you were going to go with a friend but that became impossible to organise or perhaps you just kept forgetting about it.

Well here is your chance to use the new year to give you that extra bit of will power that will enable you to try it out.

North Herts Speakers Gladys and John

Have you been asked to do a presentation of your work?  Have you been told that you will need to be willing to speak in order to progress your career? Are you are filled with joy and excitement at the chance to get up there and give a talk?  If you feel less than happy with this proposition don’t worry you are not alone. It has been claimed that most people fear public speaking more than they fear death.

Or maybe you are OK with presentations but you would really like that person at the back to stop snoring!
It doesn’t have to be like this.

Come along to North Herts Speakers club and find out how it can help you to improve your leadership and public speaking skills and so progress your career.

Producing great work is key to your personal success but you need to let others know what is important about it and as you did the work, you are the best qualified to talk about it.  But it’s not just what you say, it’s how you say it.

As I see it you have three options:

  • You can just continue as you are.  If you put on a brave face and do a presentation: when pushed, you can get by. But why would you want to just “get by”, that’s not how you approach the rest of your work is it?
  • Or you can just avoid ever having to do a presentation. But like I said, this may not be a great career choice!
  • Better still you can learn how to speak in public in an easy going supportive environment.

I will presume that you all want to be the best you can be so let me tell you about our club.


I am a member of North Herts Speakers who meet every first & third Wednesday of the month at The Sun hotel in Hitchin. We currently have 23 members of various levels of experience which enables us to learn a lot from each other.

A typical meeting goes like this:

Each meeting 4 members give a short speech for which they are given feedback the very same night. The feedback is always positive and we also offer at least one recommendation on how to improve each speech. In this way it is not just those who give the speech who learn but also the audience.  I should point out that the audience is comprised of all the other toastmasters who also want to learn from the speeches.

There are many other roles that members perform at a meeting, all of which give a member the opportunity to speak in front of a welcoming audience. For example you can be an evaluator for a given speaker which requires you to give your feedback to the audience, or you could be the grammarian who will report on points grammar used throughout the meeting and of course, you can always be the toastmaster!

We also have a section of the meeting where we can practise speaking without preparation, a particularly handy skill to have in advance of your boss asking you to step in and talk at the last minute!

Toastmasters value leadership skills and some of the roles available can give you the opportunity to gain experience where you might not have otherwise.

And we’re really nice!


Just imagine yourself presenting your work in a way that keeps all your colleagues engaged.  How much more valuable do you think you will be perceived to be? Have any of you heard colleagues complain that “so and so” just knows how to talk the talk?  Well maybe it’s time that you got to do some talking?

In summary, you are not alone if you feel uncomfortable about public speaking but you don’t have to remain unconfident if you don’t want to.  Being able to communicate effectively will definitely help to progress your career or business for that matter.

At toastmasters we know that effective public speaking is a skill that can be learnt and we all aim to help each other to become the best we can. You can practise speaking and make as many mistakes as you like knowing that you will always be supported.

We meet every first & third Wednesday of the month at the sun hotel in Hitchin at 7:30. We would be very pleased to welcome you to visit us free of charge to any meeting.

What have you got to lose?

Lynne Wilkins Competent Communicator

We are very proud to announce that Lynne Wilkins has completed all 10 speeches in the Competent Communicator manual.

This Wednesday Lynne gave us her 10th speech entitled “Who Do You Think You Are”.  Project 10 is a challenge to give a speech which inspires your audience.  The manual describes it as follows:

Inspire the audience by appealing to noble motives, challenge the audience to achieve a higher level of beliefs or achievement; Appeal to the audience’s needs and emotions, using stories, anecdotes and quotes to add drama.

This Lynne did to perfection. She described to us how our life experiences mould our view of “who we are” which was very interesting and she provided us with stories of how a young child can learn to think about themselves and how we hold on to this as we grow up.
Touchingly she showed us how the “little slips” of paper which all of us use in our meetings to give feedback to every speaker also mould our impression of ourselves.
These little slips of paper mean so much to us all as they give us a glimpse into how others see us and it is usually in so much better a light than we see ourselves.

So let’s celebrate!

John Kendall Distinguished Toastmaster

We were very proud to celebrate John Kendall cecoming a Distinguished Toastmaster. This is a great life achievement as it takes thorough commitment and hard work to say the least.

We had a plenitude of guests who came from near and far to wish John well. It’s not surprising that there were so many people at our dinner as John is well known to so many for all his work in a variety of Toastmaster clubs.

The evening was opened by our club president, Wojciech Zujla and our Toastmaster was Eddie Asquith.
Steve Saunders used the Table Topics session in an unusual way, he got all the participants to tell us something about John! It was quite amusing, we almost forgot the time!

We finally realised that we are not the only ones under the John Kendall charm. He has charmed most people into doing something or other. Kevin Baggs had us in fits with his humorous tales of John’s membership or involvement with most clubs in the area claiming that John travels 900 miles per week. Then he lets it out that John isn’t a member of Kevin’s club.

Is there something that you are not telling us? Says Kevin

David Banfro was asked what he thought John would be like when he was only 20 years old. Just like he is now! Says David. Generous and hard working!

David Banfro and Steve Sanders

Celebrating 2 years as Presidents distinguished

This Wednesday 29th November, North Herts Speakers Club will be celebrating its second year since it was chartered on 29th September. 2015. It is also celebrating second year of success at the highest level of Presidents Distinguished. This is a nomination given by Toastmasters International which rewards a club for how well it is run and the value it gives to its local community. This is outstanding for new club in its first two years.

Christmas Dinner and DTM celebtations

North Herts Speakers meet every 1st and 3rd Wednesday of the month at 7:30pm at the Sun Hotel, Sun Street, Hitchin. On Wednesday we will be celebrating both our second year and our Christmas dinner.

Hitchin’s local club now has three top Distinguished toastmasters, these people have attained the highest level as recognised by Toastmasters international, this is great for the club as the average club across the country is half a Distinguished Toastmaster (the mean rather than the mode!). Bob Ferguson DTM (Distinguished Toastmaster) has been a Toastmaster for over 20 years and has been national champion in the worldwide Toastmaster competitions. Elizabeth Jordan and John Kendall have become Distinguished Toastmasters just this year so we will also be celebrating their success.

At the dinner this coming Wednesday at the Sun Hotel, Hitchin, we will have a total of 7 DTMs (Distinguished Toastmasters) in attendance which includes Coralie Frances, Kevin Baggs, Daniel Sandars, Robert Skelton as well as our own 3 DTMs (Bob Ferguson, Elizabeth Jordan and John Kendall).

We are also extremely pleased to have the national director of our district (District 71) Robert Skelton, previous District 71 National director Kevin Lee, Divisional Director Daniel Sandars, Area director Steve Campion in attendance which is a real recognition of clubs success.

During the evening we will have speeches by Bob Ferguson and Kevin Baggs and also some impromptu speaking where members of the club will be invited to speak for a minute on a topic that will be chosen without preparation, a bit like “Just a minute” on Radio 4.

Rise to the Occasion

Last week’s meeting saw a variety of great speeches from our well known members and new members alike.

French in 5

Dominic Goddard

Dominic Spoke speech entitled “French in 5” about how you can easily learn a foreign language if you can change your attitude towards this. He showed us how we can make connections between words to facilitate the memorisation of thousands of words at a time.

Rise to the Occasion

Trevor Fisher

Trevor’s speech entitled “Rise to the Occasion” was actually about baking bread! One of the objectives in this speech (Competent Communication manual #8) was to effectively use visual aids. If any of you have been in a meeting at work where you have been subjected to “Death by PowerPoint” then you would really appreciate Trevor’s demonstration of how to correctly use slides. His slides showed us pictures of the baking process and left all the explanation to Trevor, we were able to quickly see what Trevor was describing without the need to read lots of text from the screen.

Why should I go to university?

Bradley Peters

Bradley has only just joined our club and already has completed his first speech, almost entirely without reference to his notes! His Ice Breaker speech entitled “Why should I go to university?” was very entertaining, especially his stories relating to working on the Yachts of the rich and famous, those “Floating Pleasure Palaces”.

Diabetes and my Research

Mohammed Fakruddin

Mohammed taught us more on Diabetes with his speech entitled: “Diabetes and my research” where he likened the onset of diabetes to a frog being gently warmed in a saucepan! The chilling way in which we unwittingly bring on our own disease. An interesting account on how body fat makes us crave more food.

Poetry, residences and Ice breaker

Last Wednesday’s meeting was very varied from a very first speech to Rionach’s 7th speech, all in a different room to the one we use usually.

How to Learn a Poem by Heart

Rionach Aiken

Rionach gave us an introduction to poetry first by showing us how a poem can improve our mental health followed by some technical details that will help us to both appreciate a poem and then learn it for ourselves.

A little bit about me

John Kendall

On Wednesday’s meeting John did his “Ice Breaker” speech which is the first speech that a member will do when they join toastmasters.  It is a speech about yourself, a way of introducing yourself to the club.  But this time we had a DTM (Distinguished Toastmaster) giving us his Ice Breaker speech.  So you can see that this speech remains popular with all our members and it also proves that you can do any speech any number of times!

Buying a house vs renting

Sumit Gupta

Sumit gave us a very interesting talk on the pros and cons of buy versus renting both from the point of view of security as well as finance.