Toastmasters and Hungry Tigers

‘When I attended my first Toastmasters meeting, I thought I would rather face a room full of hungry tigers, than do a Table Topic’, said Kevin Miller as he opened Thursday’s meeting.       

There were no tigers in the room, just keen members and 17 guests (no, the pussycat on the left was not one of them).   Everyone was warmly welcomed by Kevin  who explained that, ‘at Toastmasters you always get the chance to make another first impression. At every meeting you can come back and be the speaker you really are’. 

The Toastmasters training programme helps members build on their experience, helped by feedback given by the other members.  Your speaking skills are always a work in progress.  In 6 years as a member, I have seen many people improve, I have never seen anyone become worse.  It’s practically impossible.

The word of the day was aberration.

Stay Safe Online’ was the first prepared speech of the evening (CC2 – Organise Your Speech), given by Mark Ferguson.  Mark described the internet as ‘the modern day equivalent of the wild west’ and advised us how to avoid falling foul of malware, online theft and cybercrime.

David Calder delivered ‘Goblin Billie’ , his 7th speech in the CC manual- Research Your Topic.  Goblin Billie  was his grandfather’s first car. According to David, in those pre AA and RAC days the only way to have your car fixed if it broke down was to do it yourself.  And the  way you learned to fix it, was to help build it .  So, David’s grandfather went off to Paris for 6 weeks to build his car and bring Goblin Billie home to Scotland.

The importance of judging in a speech contest cannot be stressed too much.   Good judging is not only fair to the contestants, it is also fair to the audience, the judges and Toastmsters International.  With the club’s International Speech Contest and Evaluation contest set for the next meeting, 10th March, I delivered an education session,What You Need To Know To Be A Good Speech Contest Judge.  The handout from the session is on the club’s forum at  You can log into the members’ site and access it from there.  Alternatively, you can log directly into .  There is also a breakdown of the judging categories with explanations, so it is useful for speech contestants, as well as judges.

After the break, Louise Kirk, the Tabletopics Master challenged us to choose 3 types of food out of a hat and design  our own dish.  Sounds easy?  Not when combinations included broccoli, raspberry jam and chips; baked beans, blue cheese and beetroot; pigeon, peanut butter and seaweed.  Members and guests rose to the challenge and produced some creative and memorable combinations.  That said, I don’t think we will be seeing them cook their dishes on Masterchef any time soon.  

The club contest is on 10th March, usual time 7-9pm, usual place Central Lending Library.  We have 2 contestants for the International Speech Contest and it would be good to have more, although only members who have already delivered at least 6 speeches from the CC manual are eligible to enter .  For the  Evaluation Contest, there is no speech criteria – anyone can enter.  If you would like to take part, either as a contestant, a judge or a role player, contact Eileen Scott at , and, of course, if you just want to come and watch, that’s ok because the contestants need your support.  The meeting will be different, fun and you will learn something .  I hope to see you there.

To access the club website, go to


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