As the wheels were slowly but steadily set in motion for the new year, tribute must be given to all those who have made it work so well – the new Executive Committee (barring the secretary, who was doing very little from a campsite!) and everyone who participated in the launch meeting.

Oana – in her presidential inauguration speech (enlivened by music!)  – welcomed everyone back and asked us to embrace a TM mindset this year, stressing that individual effort on the journey will bring personal growth. Peter’s toast supported this idea. He echoed G.B. Shaw, “I’d have been bored if I hadn’t been present,” a wry reminder that active participation is the best way to enjoy the club.

The jokes, “a sorbet” of these from Alex, perfectly chosen for an audience in love with the spoken word, depended on wonderfully awful puns. The bear speaking hesitantly– why the big pause? The pterodactyl whose bathroom habits are discreet because of the silent p! Dickens’ spice rack: the best of times, the worst of times…

Interesting table topics from Vincent kicked off the educational part of the meeting. Back-to-school experiences – the anxieties of newness easing with time. Invited by a billionaire to share his space shuttle, the best question to ask would be about his financial priorities.  The reality of climate change should have been the international obligation of the politicians for the last few decades. Inheriting a mansion would offer the opportunity to quit a job and invite fellow Toastmasters and families to stay! The best policy for foreign affairs would be to unite America, Russia, and China along the lines of the UN. Vacations are changing – staying within the national borders but getting out and about to see interesting new places.

Jan’s “The Right to Repair by Default” was a rallying cry to all of us, “If you think I can do something, you can, too!”  Mia commended the choice of an intriguing and topical subject and suggested that, having been so persuasive, Jan could have provided some practical details regarding action.

The purpose of Jessica’s “The Power of Plant-Based Foods” was to get feedback, and Alex praised her structure, fulness of research, and her ability to hold interest. He challenged her to modify her delivery to allow the audience time to digest facts and to ensure a clear conclusion.

Suzanne’s “Up Your Game: How to Optimize a Toastmasters’ Experience” was research-based. Laura appreciated the concise, effective content and the useful tips provided. She suggested that some of the audience needed an explanation of the program changes referred to and advised careful camera use allowing eye contact.

Congratulations to the evening’s winners: Siobhan – table topics; Alex – evaluation; Jessica and Suzanne (tied) – speeches.

Silvia’s general evaluation paid tribute to Tricia’s backstage work, particularly in handling many last-minute program changes. She commended the evening’s topics, which covered important subjects. Our guests also appreciated the meeting: Luciana commended our structure and planning and appreciated the opportunity to participate in table topics, and Laura, returning for a second visit, hopes to continue TMP. Oana, wrapping up, looked forward to the next meeting – back in Les Noces de Jeannette!

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