Welcomed by Alex as the “very experienced” former president of Toastmasters, Danielle explained her choice of theme, inspiration, explained how important this is in helping us break free of our limitations and reach our potential. Vicki’s toast explored the idea further, describing the multitude of sources from which it springs as well as its power in our lives.

Proof that TMP is constantly the source of inspiration, the meeting saw the induction of new members, Nikoleta and Nadège, and welcomed ten guests, including Amelie, who is now seeking membership, With happily growing numbers and a sadly static room, are we moving towards the possibility of having to establish a waiting list?

Guests inspired to attend included Mohammad, who used to belong to Toastmasters before moving to Lebanon; Leah, returning for a second visit; Jens, whose interest was piqued when he heard Toastmasters mentioned in a podcast; Margot who wants to join us because she is frightened to speak in public (an old and vary familiar paradox!); Claire who was seeking a bilingual group but was happy to find us; Natacha, who knows Patrick, one of our more recent members; Chris, who wants to meet English speakers who are “nice” (you’ve come to the right place!); Yalani, who is currently mastering French and determined not to lose her English in the process; and Bhayva, who heard of Toastmasters when she lived in India and who embraces the opportunity to discover more, at last!

Amelie requested that she should be guest no longer. Her explanation of why she wanted to join us raised both smiles and sympathy: “Who here tonight,” she asked, “has never found himself embarrassed because of a bad speech?”  her own being at the wedding of her best friend, the most humiliating experience she has had. (“So far!” she added.) Amelie reminded us that being able to do a good speech can be a “lifesaver”. 

Patrick’s word of the evening ‘hunch’, was a popular choice and used by many of the evening’s speakers, including Laura F, who gave us the evening’s joke.  She apologized that she hadn’t found anything on the evening’s theme, but her well-acted and well-paced story inspired much laughter.

Alex’s table topics helped us dig deeper into the subject. Vicki explained what inspired her to join Toastmasters – the great group of non-judgmental people who are interested and appreciative as well as the chance to develop leadership skills. For inspiration, Larry now enjoys the city of Paris -the opportunity to go to the Louvre and celebrate his wedding anniversary at the Eiffel Tower! Nikoleta agreed with Thomas Edison, that success is only ten percent inspiration, the other ninety percent depending on effort. Karoline, asked if Elon Musk is inspirational, suggested that he has the potential even if this is not always realized, and that whether or not we are influential depends on our choices. Nadège talked about her community development work and her desire to make individuals understand their power in effecting change; so inspirational was she, she went home with the table topics ribbon!

Connal’s icebreaker (“The Only Thing Harder than Finding a Good Quite is Living Up to One”) was evaluated by Josep. He commended the originality of his speech in using quotes to structure his speech and provide insight into his personality and noted that the use of simple language conveyed his message clearly. Josep suggested that he seemed very comfortable (despite Connal’s admission that he was nervous!) – for example, not over-using his notes. He added that if Connal could place the notes on the lectern, he would free his hands for gesture, and also advised that he could be more expressive vocally. 

Benoit presented “Albania is not Lebanon” for the second time. Vincent called him “the king of vocal variety”, commending the way he had acted out dialogue as well as his use of humor which had provoked general laughter. Moving forwards, he recommended that Benoit should slow down, memorize, and work on pronunciation. Benoit’s goal was to use feedback. Although Vincent had not been the original evaluator, he said he had been told enough to know that Benoit had reached this objective and that his speech was greatly improved. True! Anyone who saw both speeches would agree that it was like watching a new and far more confident speaker – inspirational proof once again that the Toastmaster training really does work.

Siobhan felt that Cindi’s “Should you Choose a Cruise?” contained too much negativity to be an objective look at the subject. She also suggested that the introduction about the history of cruising, although undoubtedly interesting and informative, did not add information needed to make the choice. However, there were so many points of excellence in the speech that Siobhan, to her shame!, ran wildly over time. Even before she speaks, Cindi showed her command of the room by stepping out from the lectern, engaging the audience with real eye contact, and smiling. Siobhan noted that her gestures, vocal variety, and strong vocabulary helped her storytelling, and that although the objective was not comic, the speech was infused with humor. She enjoyed Cindi’s comparison of cruising with TMP (at first daunting but then comfortable, a place where cultures and languages mixed), as this helped an audience unfamiliar with cruising to understand the experience better.

Silvia’s objective in “Video Technology made Easy” was to connect with the audience when the subject was unfamiliar to them. She covered three difficult concepts: internet delivery, packaging, and CDM, and Martin, evaluating, noted that although the subject was “very, very complicated,” Silvia had made it seem simple and understandable. He praised her for her use of questioning to check our understanding at the very beginning as well as several times during the speech. Commending the “beautiful structure” of the speech, the clarity of the ideas, and her comfort at the lectern, he advised her that to pause before starting would convey her calm to the audience and greater vocal variety would maintain the tension.

In her general evaluation of the evening, Anaëlle had some recommendations for improvement. She indicated the need for absolute silence during proceedings, pointing out that one speaker had to ask for quiet before speaking, and suggested that roles and activities could be explained more fully. Among many of the evening’s highlights picked out for mention, we all enjoyed her drawing attention to Vicki for having dressed the part: her leggings were patterned with glasses ready for the toast!

Despite starting on time, the evening had been action-packed and we were finishing late, so Alex closed quickly with two important announcements. The club contest will be held on February 21st; he has sent an email calling for a contest chair. There will be a training event, open to all – in French, on Zoom, Saturday, January 21, and invited anyone interested to contact him for more details.

Congratulations to the evening’s champions – Nadège (tabe topics), Benoit (speech), and Josep (evaluation).



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