“The best of both worlds!” Martin said about the night’s meeting in his general evaluation.

  • The evening had been planned as the club contest, so when the number of contestants equaled the number of places in the next level, Alex was left with a non-contest. By combining the best of a contest night – the brilliance of the contestants – with the format of a regular evening, Martin congratulated his “clever plan” that amounted to a “terrific evening.” 
  • Martin also noted the excellence of the restaurant (tartar of salmon, confit canard, and a tiramisu dessert slice!) as well as the discreet service. Kudos was given to the night’s organizers, Josep who had assigned the roles and Vincent who had stepped up as TME. 
  • The internationalism of this group, something Martin has always appreciated, was highlighted Benoit’s toast listing the many nationalities represented. 
  • Nadège’s  word of the evening, irenic, was new to him, as it was to everyone else! 
  • The table topics, Martin suggested, with their peaceful focus, was a calm before the storm.

Vincent, Toastmaster of the evening, had chosen peace as theme to commemorate the first anniversary of the war in Ukraine. In Siobhan’s table topics Silvia, Amelie, Laura B, Connal, and Amir talked about peace during Covid, the places that bring them peace, the way to handle conflict to find peace, and peace in the pace of modern life. Vicki’s recipe for peace – designing and making mosaics – won her the ribbon. 

The other speeches were rehearsals for the Area contest (sign ups now open, all welcome, Saturday March 11). Cindi stepped in to replace Anäelle, who was ill and unable to attend, Bob rehearsed his tall tale, and Suzanne presented speeches for both categories. 

Suzanne’s “The Perfume of Nostalgia” was evaluated by Vicki, who noted that the speech demonstrated how nostalgia is what sets in when we cannot go back. She praised Suzanne’s title, her use of description to create the world in which she grew up, and the infusion of humor. In readying herself for the contest, she suggested Suzanne should watch the ends of her sentences as her voice sometimes drops, consider using more movement, and think about adding more perfume references in keeping with the title.

Alex recognized the truth in the opening of Bob’s tall tale “True Tails” and so found that the move into fiction plausible. He enjoyed the jokes about films that fish might enjoy, Bob’s use of gestures and the duck impersonation, and his creativity (such as how to make 3D work for fish!). To make the speech even better, Alex suggested that it could be a little more fluid, the prop could be larger, and Bob might consider telling a fish story to go with his theme.  

Cindi asked how many of us had ever competed in a contest – and how many of us were scared of competing (several people confessed to both!), and congratulated Suzanne not only on entering but entering twice! Her tall tale “The Secret Garden” had Cindi laughing from the start. Her crafting of the speech was “mesmerizing” and “entertaining”, holding the attention of the audience throughout. Cindi recommended that Suzanne ensure she uses the space, eye contact, and projection to maximum, concluding that the speech was “outstanding.”

Cindi’s own “Up, up in the Air” was complimented by Siobhan for the brilliant build-up in the storytelling, where the details created suspense and where the mood changed subtly as the story moved into its dramatic climax – Cindi’s kidnap in a hot air balloon. Cindi’s confident stance, body language and eye contact ensured total engagement, and her wordplay was praised – notably the ending when Cindi confessed that she had ‘ballooned’ the story which was “full of hot air”!

Finally, we heard from the guests. Leah had to leave before the feedback, but she’d already told us she was back for a third visit because she has been enjoying the club. Mark, a first timer, enjoyed the time structures, the good feedback, and the “almost perfect” speeches. Romain agreed and added that everyone comes to Toastmasters with a different skillset but that the format allows everyone to flourish without pressure. Leena enjoyed hearing so many different stories. Debbie, on her third visit, says she loves a good story, has enjoyed hearing ours, and would like to return to tell us some of her own (yay!).

Alex warned that the next meeting is another strike day, so we are going to go virtual. We were reminded that how well Zoom worked during the lockdown. It’s going to be fun, and it’s going to be free – so invite your friends! 

See you there – March 7.


Cindi volunteered to fill a gap in the program when a planned speaker had an unexpected reaction to a covid vaccine. In my evaluation, I noted that “With perfect timing, excellent construction, and clever wordplay, the speech was simply too good to be a ‘last minute scramble’.” 

However, chatting afterwards, I discovered this was not the case. “Up, Up in the Air” was completely new material. To create and perform at this level with so little notice is truly impressive. Our club is fortunate to have speakers of this caliber. Bravo, Cindi!



Comments are closed