Rebirth was the topic introduced by Toastmaster Alex. Cindi’s toast of the evening wished all the best for health, money, love, and the time to enjoy these good things. Over the next year, this is how we should we experience rebirth, the evening’s theme.

Vicki and Danielle urged for the rebirth of TMP as we find new committee members. As new members are the blood transfusion that will keep membership levels healthy next year, everyone is encouraged to spread the word and bring a guest to the next meeting.

We had three guests this time. Stephie, from Madagascar and now studying in Paris, visited us first last February. She brought Eva, a student in translation (English and Chinese). Nkenge proved an exciting guest: already an established Toastmaster and an accomplished speaker…

And she won the table topics, prompted by quotations about rebirth.

Nkenge spoke of being born again when she left home, explaining that she stayed until she had a partner who offered her new life as a married woman. Paula talked about being born again by moving from Saudi Arabia to Holland for her Master’s, a time when she grew up more than she had thought possible. Chihiro responded to the idea that a book is reborn every time someone reads it, and recommended Snow Country, by Nobel Prize winning author Kawabata. Peter talked about how to bring about your own rebirth and rejuvenation, suggesting a scotch and soda, good sleep, and learning. Responding to the idea that rebellion is a rebirth, Tricia confessed she becomes a rebel when faced with sexist attitudes. Finally, with the suggestion that vacation is a rebirth, Bertrand believes that we do not need to travel far to enjoy revival but that we should stay close to what is important to us.

Nelum gave her icebreaker speech, with a personal goal of overcoming fear when she presents to senior leaders. Clearly she has no reason to worry: Suzanne praised her “great speech’, commending her smile and posture, which belied any nervousness. She liked the choice of title (“Reflections and Rebirth”) and the structure of the speech with an introduction, body, and a happy climax. “So where do you go from here?” she asked, suggesting that Nelum ensure that she does not drop her voice at the end of sentences and that she add gestures.

Bob delivered “Voices and Choices” in rehearsal for the weekend contest. Now familiar to most of us, he continued to entertain. Martin noticed that the speech was still improving, citing his use of technology, engaging eye contact, delivery without notes, and the physicality of using an object (a frisbee) to illustrate ideas concretely. He commended the variety of both facial expressions and voices, but he wondered if the different characters’ speaking could be still further exaggerated – “The snide voice could be even snider!” It might also be possible to inject further tension with the use of more pauses, particularly at the end where Bob has to make the choice between a safe and a risky throw. This moment of hesitation could be exaggerated to make the end of the speech more dramatic.

In conclusion, General Evaluator Bertrand praised the evening’s participants for their contributions – Vicki’s warm welcome, Alex’s theme, efficiency and good humor, and Laura’s smooth handling of the timekeeper role. We ran a little over time, he noted, adding that last minute alterations to the agenda had complicated the timing.

It was the only thing that was ‘wonky’, to use Danielle’s word of the evening.

Hope to see everyone – and lots of guests – at the next meeting, May 18th.

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