The success of Toastmasters of Paris is undeniable. The reason for success? – There is a special spirit. Members are willing, united, and ready to try something new – as in volunteering their time and talent to write this meeting report!
Thanks to contributors Nikoleta, Eliza, Anaëlle, Nadège, Silvia, Connal, Martin, Cindi, and Laura F.

Despite being forced onto Zoom because of the strikes, the meeting was a great success. Much of this was thanks to Suzanne, and many people have acknowledged her expertise in fulfilling her role as Toastmaster of the Evening. Her planning of the event was testimony to her thinking back – how Zoom had been used successfully during Covid, and forwards – planning for the virtual meeting. With a clear vision of potential problems, she wrote to the membership in advance of the meeting, attaching ‘[Zoom] Tips for Attendees’, a document prepared by previous president Danielle. On the night itself “Suzanne managed the meeting [avoiding] all flaws that could derive from Zoom-related technical complexities… A precise example is how she had Benoit back up Nadège as a timer [in case of connection issues.” However, she was also able to inject the irrepressible TMP spirit into the event, something that is much harder to do without the ambience (and food and wine!) of the restaurant. “What fun we’ll have!” she told us beforehand in an “inspirational” and “upbeat” message that communicated “pure energy”. On the night itself “Suzanne kept everybody – especially guests – engaged in light conversation.” It was “No mean feat”, setting the tone for the meeting. In her “wonderful” introduction, she explained that in times when other groups floundered, our club thrived, a testament to our spirit. Now, post-Covid, she reported, in terms of membership and quality of our meetings, “We are back on our feet.”

The evening’s theme was nostalgia, and Amir’s word of the day, ‘yearn’ was a “poetic and evocative” choice. In her toast, Cindi talked about how today we move from thinking about “the bittersweet memory of things past” to planning for the future. “Today is the present, taking us to tomorrow, and spring will arrive!”

The theme of the evening “was used to good effect by Table Topics Master Laura F”. Her “orchestration of Table Topics was instructive and set the bar high”. She provided “a rich assortment of prompts”. and her “irresistible topics” ensured that all the speakers were able to respond well. 

Laura noted that, “With a theme like “Nostalgia,“ it’s incredibly fun to be the Table Topics Master. I took immense pleasure in reminiscing about my own life while jotting down questions that I could potentially ask the other club members to answer. In the end, eight people gave impromptu speeches. When asked about one experience in her life that she wanted to re-experience, Danielle talked about wanting to spend more time with a friend who visited her in London. Bob said the one thing he wished hadn’t changed was television replacing the radio as the major form of home entertainment. He cited the famous quote, “I prefer radio to TV because the pictures are better.” If Tricia ended up with amnesia, the one thing she’d want to remember would be the password to her computer. When Margot described her best friend growing up, we learned that she’s a twin, and her best friend was also a twin. Another important fact we learned: Eliza’s birthday is New Year’s Day! She’s had a ton of amazing birthdays, including the friend-organized “Hangover birthday party”. Debbie’s first airplane trip happened when she was five years old, with the legendary Pan-Am Airlines. One of Nadege’s favorite childhood memories having her entire family around the table talking and sharing a meal. Cindi shared memories growing up in New York with her family. A huge congratulations to Bob and Tricia, who tied for giving the best Table Topics of the evening!”

The prepared speeches were evaluated by Anäelle, Vncent, Benoit, and Silvia. Nikoleta presented her Icebreaker, “Love of Fate”, an informative self-introduction with an interesting topic that claimed both the audience’s attention and the ribbon for the best speech. “It really seems that every time she speaks, it comes from the heart!” In “The Lowest Difficulty Setting There Is”, a speech designed to convey a message, Connal “reframed being a straight white male as taking the easiest level in a video game”. His choice of subject was particularly appreciated on International Women’s Day. Yasmine’s speech was designed to use vocal variety and body language. Her gently mocking choice of title – “Why is it So Hard to Find a Topic for a Speech?” – struck a chord with the listeners: we have all wondered about this at some point! Alex’s “There’s a Game for Everyone” was “a great speech”, a “fascinating reworking of his prior speech on board games” that “reminded [the audience] to stay connected with [their] inner child.”

As ever, there were many highlights to the night. Most were the result of inspired hard work and careful preparation, but there were moments of happy serendipity. One such was the interesting and unplanned link between the first two speeches. “In her ice-breaker, Nikoleta revealed her “fate” of having to grapple with her identity: mixed heritage (Greek father from Asia Minor whose family fled to Russia after the 1922 persecution of the Greeks; she was born in Greece from Greek parents but spoke Russian at home and heard Russian bed-time stories) and sexuality. The second speech, given by Connal, was all about [the luck of] “straight, white males” because they are playing the “game” of life in the easiest setting possible. Connal then pointed out that unlike in video games, in real life no-one gets to choose their setting.”

Other highlights of the evening included Danielle’s “saucy joke” which “provoked sustained laughter” and Suzanne’s subsequent ”fast thinking and inspired” punning. Members were also pleased “to see new faces” among the guests, particularly appreciated “especially on Zoom! We know some people get scared of getting on Zoom when they don’t know the crowd.”  The club continues to grow: Four ‘old’ guests now want to become members and “It was great to have so many new joiners-to-be!” as Hui Fang, Mohammed Hallal, Margot Laureau, Debbie Orleach presented their candidate speeches. 

So yes, the success of Toastmasters of Paris is undeniable. Evenings as good as this draw new people, and TMP continues to grow. As Cindi said, “Let’s toast to the planting of seeds in the coming days, which will lead to an abundant harvest for us and our club, Toastmasters of Paris, the oldest club in Paris.”



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