Benoit, Toastmaster of the Evening, gave the group a “warm” welcome to this special Christmas meeting. Alex, giving the toast, cheekily told us his wife had introduced him to a physical way of staying warm on a winter’s night – thermal underwear! – and asked us to contemplate an emotional equivalent. Siobhan presented her word, convivial, lively, from con (with) and vivere (to live), and noted that the original Latin convivium meant a feast or banquet – very appropriate for the evening’s special menu.* Tristan’s well-told joke and the ensuing laughter set the tone for a ‘convivial’ evening! * The special menu included foie gras and champagne, at a cost subsidized for members!

In a Special Secret Santa, gift-givers took turns to describe the recipients of their presents, while the rest of us had to guess who was being described. The recipient then presented the next gift – a surprisingly time-efficient and highly entertaining process!

We were delighted to see Alison returning for a second visit and Dania for a third. Ibrahima, on a first visit, had found us online, as had Julia, who is currently looking for an English-speaking community. A friend in Mexico recommended that Natalia should try Toastmasters. She arrived in Paris in May with Georgii, her self-described “house husband” who is now bored and hopes to add something lively to his agenda, Andon learned about Toastmasters through his teacher, but a very warm welcome goes to people who listen to their mothers: Florence’s mother told her about Toastmasters and Ruth’s mother recommended she should join us!

Bobs table topics

A talking Christmas tree, Bob’s assistant for the night, announced the table topics… Josep was asked if he preferred a white Christmas or a warm Christmas. Where he comes from, he told us, Christmas is always the same, but he decided that “A white Christmas is the one to go for!” A time when something or someone had warmed her heart? Vicki opened by saying, “So many memories come to mind! How am I going to choose?” When the tree prompted her to pick the first that came to her, she continued by opting for the birth of her daughter. “Knowing you created the most wonderful thing in the world…. makes me speechless!” Considering a time when anger was transformed into warmth, Martin, who clearly should have a second career as marriage guidance counselor, explained that in his relationship with his wife, anger is turned into warmth. Although his spouse may be frustrated with him and his annoying habits, “She’s committed to a relationship that works,” and responds “with gentilesse and wisdom.” Interactions in marriage, he said, should be like evaluations at Toastmasters – “Constructive, loving, and life-enhancing.” Martin had shaken hands with the tree… who became a little frisky… asking next, “Do you want a partner to heat your body or warm your heart?” – When the laughter subsided, Danielle noted that the choice is harder at this time of year when you need someone to heat your, but she concluded that a warm heart is enduring “ works in summer, too!”

A VIKING IN PARIS Claudia, evaluating Lars’ Icebreaker, praised him for meeting his objective, to introduce himself to the club. She applauded his “quickwitted” reference to thermal underwear, picking up from the evening’s toast, as well as his good eye contact and strong on-stage presence. She noted that, although he held a paper in his hand, he did not refer to it, and said he clearly did not need notes. She suggested that he might slow down in future speeches.

I WISH I WERE A TURTLE Larry complimented Patrick on his turtle analogy, which reflected his preferred communication style. He suggested that being “slow, methodical, and repetitive” is a great approach to speaking, noting Patrick’s examples of speakers who use this style effectively. He commended Patrick’s gestures and eye contact (but warned of a tendency to face one side of the room) and recommended the use of pauses for emphasis.


Although Caroline urged Mohammad to “occupy more space” next time, she found much to praise. She commended the choice of topic and his ability to call the audience to attention in a firm and friendly way. She also noted his ability to make technical talk understandable, his calling on and questioning the audience, and his use of humor.


Connal appreciated Amelie’s clarity and diction and her “naturally smiley voice”. He praised her eye contact, engaging people all around the room, and her natural-looking use of gestures. He noted that the speech was well-organized and the use of props (a slide and a sign) was effective. He suggested that neurotic was a better word than maniac to describe her love of cleaning and ended by noting that the subject, a new pet, did not seem to animate Amelie as much as previous topics.


To the Staff at Les Noces de Jeannette From Jessica, General Evaluator In her General Evaluation, Jessica praised the service, the food, the theme, Alex’s humorous toast, the aptness of the word convivial, Suzanne’s poem, the “delightful” Secret Santa with its guessing game, Bob’s exploratory table topics provoking responses that were “intimate, engaging, and funny,” and Lars’ Icebreaker. From Laura F, Grammarian Laura corrected some grammatical errors but then praised individual language use – Benoit (malleable, ideas ping ponging around the room), Danielle (scientist of language), Martin (you don’t stop but you momentarily yield), Lars (traveling the world looking for waves), Mohammad (hence), Larry (bifurcated). From Siobhan, Word of the Evening To Alison, Lars, Patrick, Jessica, Caroline, Amelie, Debbie and Jessica, all of whom used the word convivial.


Debbie, whose Name badge reads Mrs. Claus,

for Best Costume Martin

for the TableTopics Amelie

for the Speech Larry for the Evaluation



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