Identity and extreme sport

Jeremy was the Toastmaster of the Day – a Master of Ceremonies who steered the meeting with style. The small but very vivid crowd was challenged by Josh, the Table Topics Master, with topics related to extreme sport.

During the second half, Saloomeh, a guest speaker, made us chuckle about her problems with describing her national identity. She once told a taxi driver that she is Iranian, but he replied that she sounds much too English for that. In another encounter she called herself English only to be told that she sounds much to foreign for that. Calling herself Iranian-English evoked the suggestion that English-Iranian would be more appropriate. Fortunately, she does not have any problems with the issue herself.

Shane and Brad provided a joint speech – a type of presentation that is completely new. Both sat in panel-discussion-style on chairs that had been arranged in front of the meeting room. Brad started by emphasising the benefits of team sport – and that it is part of human nature to get together and compete. He was followed by Shane, who disagreed and found individual sport much more relevant. People can do it whenever they have time, without arrangement to get a whole team together – and that keeps them from getting fat. Going to the very edge of one’s very edge of physical ability is also fun – think of the big smiles you see when people win a Marathon.

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Humorous Speech and Table Topics Contest

The meeting on 26 September was dedicated to the big contest, which proceeded smoothly under the skilled guidance of Brad, the Contest Chair, while Trang, the Chief Judge managed the voting process with her usual efficiency. The event is intended to strengthen ties between clubs and we were happy to welcome Jan, Joy, James and Sam as external judges.

All Table Topic contestants got the same topic: “Some stories are first published as book and then turned into a film. Others are come out as a film and are then turned into a book. If you could choose, would you rather see the film first or read to book first”. Ana, Caroline, Roland, Bryan and Aaron competed.

The Humorous Speech session was started by Ana, who described vividly how she tried to get rid of insects that had crawled under her blouse and set off her insectophobia. Wetland mosquitos are no more pleasant and at one time she was woken up in the middle of the night by the mean buzz of a wasp. Fortunately, all those pests can be sucked up with a vacuum cleaner.

Aaron did not know what to do when one of his friends overstayed his welcome and got the audience involved by asking whether any one of them has had similar experiences. He described how he dropped subtle hints – without effect. And how he carried his work documents around to make it clear that he had work to do – without effect. Finally, it turned out that the friend had personal problems and did not want to be alone at the time. Aaron therefore concluded that it is best to humour friends in need.

Roland introduced Rudolph the Reindeer by singing part of the Rudolph Song and then used results from the Google Trends website to investigate Rudolph’s regular success at Christmas time. Emboldened by the results he used the same approach to look at sex, drugs and rock’n roll as well as lust and drinking habits.

The judges put Roland in first place for the Humorous Speeches and Roland, Caroline and Bryan in first to third place for the Table Topics competition. After the event, visitors, members and contestants socialised at the hotel bar.

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Drama, Philosophy and Commitment

Roland, in his role as President, opened the meeting by reporting on the progress with the Humorous Speech and Table Topics Contest to be held during the next meeting and appealed to the members to fill open positions. In his role as a Table Topics Master, he presented a randomly chosen selection of topics that allowed the speakers to shine in their own way.

Roscoe remembered what brought him in trouble most in past times and described himself as a youngster with baggy trousers and wild hair. Emilia talked about dangerous things, which soon brought her to Brexit. Aaron gave examples about wacky things done by his family members. Ana philosophised on the question: Boxers, briefs or nothing at all. Emily remembered her favourite movie as a child while Brad preferred to meet his grandparents rather than his grandchildren.  Kess would rather spend a week in the future than a week in the past. Shimi dealt with a habit she would kick and Jeremy told us about his preferred sporting event.

Trang, the Toastmaster of the Day chose objects that we would miss most as topic of the day.

Brad, opened a speech on “Keeping the Commitment” by telling us that he missed out on a memorable celebration in order to come to the club and deliver this speech. He reminded us that Toastmasters do not only learn speaking. They also learn improvising, thinking on their feet, dealing with people and managing events. Roscoe philosophised about the for cardinal virtues: Prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance. He mentioned that they were already quoted by Aristotle, that prudence rather means being rational than being very cautions and that fortitude relates to having guts. Shimi sparkled in an advanced storytelling speech entitled: The Scent of a Woman. This is a 1992 film starring Al Pacino – a prep school drama about suicide, betrayal, and honour – all brought to live by Shimi.

Emily McQuillen from MLP Speakers provided a thorough and thoughtful evaluation that balanced commendations and recommendations.

Members and guests were last seen at the bar.

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  • Where

    We meet in The Chapel at the Grange Wellington Hotel, 71 Vincent Square, SW1P 2PA (centrally located between Victoria, Pimlico and St. James's Park tube stations). See map.



    Enter from Vincent Square through the large wrought iron gate. Cross the courtyard, and ascend the steps. Once inside, if the room is not signposted, ask at reception for the Phoenix Speakers meeting room.

    Guests are very welcome to turn up - no booking required.
  • When

    We meet every second and fourth Wednesday. Meetings start promptly at 7pm, why not arrive a few minutes early and get a drink!

    Next meeting Wed 24th Oct