Thoughts on last night’s club meeting


Flowers in the snow in Edinburgh


‘welcoming atmosphere’, ‘everyone I spoke to was incredibly friendly’, ‘I’m taking home an awareness of my um’s and ah’s’, ‘friendly evaluations’

These were some of the comments guests made after last night’s meeting.

David Calder, Toastmaster of the Evening (TME), got the club’s new year off to a good start with a short history of Toastmasters and its founder, Ralph C Smedley.  David’s opening question, to be answered in 20 seconds, was “How did you spend New Year’s Eve?”  Our members and guests celebrated by ‘trying to stay sober’;  ‘going to bed at 10pm’; witnessing a traditional Stonehaven ceremony  where locals whirl huge balls of burning tar around their heads; accidentally exploding Chinese lanterns in Portobello; and calling the police because they thought the exploding lanterns at Portobello were UFO’s (not sure about the last one – did you really call the police, Graeme?). 

David Dick, a member for just over 3 months, delivered his humorous and self deprecating Ice Breaker –  Lessons In Life .   We learned about David’s adventures, as a young man, in a certain biscuit factory, before he went to university.  After studying  for 3 qualifications, he assured us that he has now found his vocation in ‘the glamour professions’ – town planning and chartered surveying.  David’s motto is ‘never stop learning’ and the reason he joined Toastmasters, he said, is that he believes verbal communication is the most important skill in life.   The lesson he has learned from his years in higher education is that ‘only so much can be gained by being taught’ – that’s why he chose to learn communication skills as a member of Waverley Communicators – ‘a group of  like-minded, encouraging and friendly people’ .

Penny Calder ACB, entertained us with the first project in the Entertaining Speaker manual – Why Cycling and Business Pitches Don’t Mix and ended with the advice –  ‘ don’t take your bike, just arrive at the venue and place your cycling helmet on the table (to establish your ‘green’ credentials) – just be careful your car keys don’t fall out’.    However, we’re sure Penny would never do anything like that!

Eileen Scott, VPE, gave the members good advice in  A Beginner’s Guide To Evaluation.    Her main points were: 1) Don’t be overly critical, but don’t ‘whitewash’, 2) Use the sandwich technique and make sure you don’t have too much filling or the sandwich will fall apart and  3) Evaluations are always our own opinion.  She also encouraged members to begin evaluating even if they are nervous – the skill improves with practice.  As VPE, she encourages members to begin with giving written evaluations in the CL manual – that way they can practise evaluating without having to stand up and speak.

In Club Business, members unanimously voted in and welcomed new member Michael Devaney into the club.  Moira Beaton, the club’s President introduced the new club website which is now up and running (take a look and tell the committee what you think) and encouraged everyone to attend the Burns Supper (with or without partners or guests) on Saturday 22nd January at the Thistle Hotel in Edinburgh.  Anyone still wishing to attend can contact or .  As usual, it will be a Burns Supper full of wit, humour, great speeches and, as it is in conjunction with Capital Communicators again, you have the opportunity to meet their members too.

The new 15 minute break was a great success and allowed members and guests to get to know each other better. The tea/coffee/biscuits and homemade brownies helped.

Part 2 of the evening began with Table Topics, on the theme of New Year resolutions.  The topics revealed that some members fancy themselves as handymen with dire results; like reading self help books as long as they are not full of ‘airy fairy, wishy washy stuff’;  will not be juicing in 2011 as it’s too much bother; and a recommendation that we all visit Calgary in Canada at some time in our lives.

The evening finished with the reports – we had all stuck to our allotted time, we had not made any grammatical faux pas, but had many uses of good grammar  and a few members used the word of the day ‘opprobrium’.  The Ah Counter gave a very thorough report and apart from picking up on the usual speech fillers, she also noted a few incidences of  ’tisking’, i.e.  – making smacking sounds with our lips when we speak. 

As the TME banged his gavel for the last time, we were laughing and tired, but some of us were ready to face to pub (Greyfriars Bobby) for a well deserved, post meeting  ‘libation’ (the TME’s word, not mine).

NEXT MEETING: 27th January 2011 7-9pm Central Lending Library, Edinburgh


  1. Thanks for your kind comments moira. The key/helmet comment was absolutely genuine. It evoked a real belly-laugh at the time – which was my clue that it might be a good theme for an entertaining tale … Now you know how I get my ideas!

  2. Well done Moira.
    Last night was an excellent start to the new year with high energy and good fun.
    Plus a promising number of new guests.
    And as it was David’s first effort at being Toastmaster, I thought he did really well – but I may be biased!
    Graeme nobbled me afterwards and we had an interesting discussion on whether you should exaggerate and invent incidents for the sake of a story. I’m inclined to agree that the truth does usually shine brighter. I did preface my nightmare cycling scenario with “picture this” and took the audience for a spin before admitting it was a nightmare fear. To create that, I meshed several real accidents into one journey on a real route. I like to think it was augmented reality. Or maybe a bit like a soap: “life with the boring bits missed out” rather than a complete fiction?

    • I think you used the story as a clever device to illustrate a particular point. You set us up with a story with lots of drama and conflict then, near the end, you revealed that is was, in fact, fictional. Just as we were recovering from being duped, you offered us some advice you had been given – don’t take your bike, just leave the cycling helmet on the table, for effect. You could have ended it there but you then delivered the punchline ‘just make sure your car keys don’t fall out’. We were left wondering if even that was true. I thought it was a clever speech with lots of twists and turns and, in this case, I don’t think the truth would have been so effective or entertaining.

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