Contest Night – 28th September

What an amazing evening we had on Wednesday 28th September 2016! The club held its first competitive event of the Toastmasters Year, the Humorous Speech and Table Topics Contests.

Thien Trang opening up the meeting
Thien Trang opening the meeting

Under the leadership of Contest Chair Caroline Morgan, Christopher Walker, Michael Holmes and David Saer delivered their delightful speeches in the Humorous Speech Contest, ranging from travel mishaps to Donald Trump via the joys of being grumpy. The contestants were anything but grumpy, and filled the room with laughter.

Michael taking part in the humorous speech contest
Michael taking part in the humorous speech contest

Five contestants competed to deliver the wittiest Table Topic in response to Contest Chair Sarah Beckwith’s tricky question: “What advice would you give to your 10-year-old self?” Without any prior preparation, our valiant contestants came up with the most wonderful thoughts, from childhood Christmas memories to musings about the lasting power of friendship via some important life lessons.

All the contestants were judged by some prominent fellow Toastmasters from other London clubs, some of whom were first-time visitors to St. Paul’s Speakers. We feel genuinely privileged to have such an array of distinguished members assisting our club contest!

The brilliant David Saer won BOTH contests, and will be representing St. Paul’s Speakers at the Area 33 Humorous Speech and Table Topics Contests on Tuesday 4th October 2016!

David winners of both contests!
David winners of both contests!

Congratulations to all of the contestants for their participation. Without them, there would have been no contest, and they all helped make the evening an uproarious one! A HUGE thank-you to our Contest Chairs, Time Keepers, Ballot Counters and Sergeant At Arms who demonstrated admirable leadership and organisational skills, as well as their commitment to the club by stepping up and lending the club a helping hand. And A HUGE thank-you of course to all members and guests who came to the meeting, for the fun and the inspiration.

St Paul’s Speakers are winners – 14th September

In true St Paul’s Speakers style, we had another successful meeting on Wednesday 14th September 2016. Despite it being one of the hottest days of the year in London and half the city drinking just outside the windows of our meeting room, our Toastmaster David brought us back to reality with a theme of Autumn!

Helping David in the functionary roles were Timekeeper Amelia in her first role as a fairly new member and Gavin, who gallantly stepped in as Grammarian after Thien Trang kiboshed this role by being unwell. Hope you are better now Thien Trang! And yes, the word of the day was kibosh!

Muthukrishnan (Kris) welcomed a number of guests who ventured through the heat and the crowds downstairs to sample the hospitality of Ye Old Watling and to listen to some great speeches.

Majdouline started the events with her second speech, a fascinating explanation of her Heritage. Christine evaluated this speech and gave a clear and succinct appraisal, which benefited not only Majdouline but the whole audience as well.

Our second speaker was our Vice President of Membership Michael, with his seventh speech from the manual. He certainly demonstrated his objectives with specific facts and illustrations gathered through his research on Italian history. Shalini took us through her observations and commendations of this speech with some recommendations for us all to benefit from.

Michael doing his speech
Michael doing his speech

Finally, St Paul’s Speakers past president Florian delivered an advanced speech entitled ‘United Once Again’. Not about football! It was about the United Kindgom and how it should be united once again. This was an advanced speech and so 10 mins long. Very thought provoking it was. James had the task of evaluating Florian’s speech, on which he carefully gave some clear and appropriate feedback.

Table Topic Master Mikhail asked the speakers to talk about their childhood experiences, a simple and interesting theme to hear from our seven speakers. Subjects ranged from their favourite childhood game to favourite subject in school, the zoo or circus and first experience of going in the sea. We all witnessed a fascinating collection of speaker’s experiences.

Another great night in St Paul's Speakers
Another great night in St Paul’s Speakers

The Table Topic Evaluator was Caroline who stood in for Christopher and gave commendations and recommendations inclusively to everyone.

Our thanks go to guest Toastmaster Annabel Lamb from London Victorians who gave the whole evening a General Evaluation, not only to those functionaries who had not been evaluated, but also to the club as a whole. Thank you Annabel.

We were also privileged to have the Assistant Division Director Robert Wyatt from Purley Speakers come join us for the second half. His role is to visit all the clubs in the division to ensure standards are met and also to give us feedback.

We are all winners at St Paul’s Speakers as you know, although some are more winners than others, and so Michael won best speaker, James won best evaluator and David best table topic with his rendition of how to build a snowman in a West Country accent or was it a German one?

Best evaluator James
Best evaluator James

Next St Paul’s Speakers meeting Wednesday 28th September 2016 6.30 pm at Ye Olde Watling Pub – Watling Lane, EC4M 9BR

An exquisite meeting – 31st August

What an exquisite meeting we had on Wednesday 31st August 2016 at St. Paul’s Speakers. Co-President Thien Trang was finally back from Washington DC following her participation in the 2016 Toastmasters International World Championship of Public Speaking. She told members and guests how her incredible journey had been made possible by a fellow club member’s encouragement to enter a club contest in the first place! It was indeed a meeting of “reunions”, as our Toastmaster of the evening James had also come back from his work assignment in New York City, and he was full of energy and enthusiasm as he guided us through our exciting agenda.

Thien Trang back from Washginton!
Thien Trang back from Washginton!

We had 2 speeches of very different natures: an educational speech on vocal projection and variety delivered by David, one of our most experienced members, and an Icebreaker speech delivered by Khash, one of our newest members! David gave us an interactive masterclass on one of the most crucial aspects of public speaking and provided 5 top tips to help us improve our vocal presence. Khash valiantly conquered his nerves and delivered a faultless first speech that told us so much about him and his life through his attitude to…the gym! Congratulations are in order as Khash got married only 4 months ago.

David's workshop
David’s workshop

Our Sergeant at Arms Michael greeted all the guests. We were extremely pleased to see many returning guests – proof that St. Paul’s Speakers is such a friendly club alongside first-time visitors, including an illustrious Toastmaster from the United States who is looking to complete her advanced manuals while she is on a work assignment in London. We hope she chooses us as her temporary Toastmasters home.

Majdouline as table topics master
Majdouline as table topics master

Members and guests enjoyed a hugely entertaining set of table topics, exquisitely crafted by Madjouline our Table Topics Master. She wanted to “explore the darkness within humankind” through her questions on sins and virtues, and our speakers all spontaneously thought of a certain American politician in their impromptu reflections on the deadly sins. How interesting… Michael won the Best Table Topic award. Mikhail ably evaluated all the Table Topics Speakers and managed to give each speaker a commendation and recommendation, no mean feat indeed given the number of speakers we had!

Shalini, our Grammarian who had also – you have guessed! given us EXQUISITE as the word of the day, showed she had listened very carefully to each speaker. She was pleased, and rightly so, to have heard the word of the day used on many occasions.

Our very own Christopher Walker delivered an expert general evaluation. He gave very pertinent commendations and recommendations to everyone and did so with such enthusiasm and positivity that we felt thoroughly inspired by the end of the meeting!

Christopher as general evaluator
Christopher as general evaluator

A very successful 5th Wednesday meeting. Thanks to everyone for making it happen! Everyone, come to our next meeting on the 14th of September and be part of all the fun.

Speakers in the City – 24th August

Co- president Caroline opened the meeting announcing to the club and guests how her partner Thien Trang faired in the recent World Championship of Public Speaking in Washington DC. She made it through to the final…… What an amazing achievement not only for herself but for the club too! Well Done Thien Trang!

Caroline then handed over to Joy who took the evening through smoothly transition by transition by using her Toastmaster Skills.

Timekeeper Kash
Timekeeper Kash

There were no ‘desultory‘ speeches delivered this evening. On the contrary all speakers were focussed and sharp in their delivery.

Grammarian Florian’s word of the day was a tricky one with only two people using it in their speeches.

We had two speakers delivering their 3rd speech Shalini telling us that the World is Her Oyster and Yours by recently visiting two amazing places Copenhagen and Rome.

Gavin on the other hand quite explicitly taught us that saving money for our pension is better than buying 2/3 coffees each week with marshmallows as well as a lesson on compound interest! Which certainly caught the audience attention because he won best speaker for the night.

The third speech was Christopher who entertained us with a speech about Travel Torments! This was taken from the advance humorous manual.

Third speaker Christopher
Third speaker Christopher

We could all relate to his antics judging by the laughs. Hey Christopher!!! We have a Humorous Speech Contest coming up in September. We hope you are thinking about entering!!!!

The evaluators this evening came from three experienced speakers Sarah for Shalini, Mikhail for Gavin and David for Christopher’s. All three had so much to say that they spoke for more than the allotted time.

Talking of time, at the last minute one of our newest members Kash took up the role with about 5 minute of training and a fine job he did too. My thanks go out to him for stepping in to help. Thanks Kash J

The Table Topics Master Solmaz gave 9 members and guests topics such as ‘The World is a small Place’ and Colour Affects the way we feel.

This was won by Amy talking about ‘Intelligence is not Enough’. Amy, a guest who is a Toastmaster from Sheffield has come to London on an internship for a few weeks. St Pauls Speakers gave her a great welcome and she is taking that certificate and memory back to Sheffield with her.

The huge task of evaluating all the table topics was Isabelle demonstrating her listening skills and giving commendations and recommendations to every speaker.

Last but not least our General Evaluator Brian gave the club some encouraging feedback fro which we can all learn. Thank you Brian

Best speaker of the evening Gavin
Best speaker of the evening Gavin

Next meeting Wednesday 31st August 2016 – yes the 5th Wednesday !!

See you there.

Dancing is worth a Speech – 10th August

On Wednesday 10th August 2016 we had a meeting full of vociferous speakers!

VOCIFEROUS was also the word of the day, meaning “being vocal   and outspoken ” and we certainly were !

It was an action packed and varied evening with 4 speakers, a range of table topics, a table topic evaluator and a general evaluator who evaluates us as a whole club, not forgetting a fantastic number of guests trying out St Paul’s Speakers, some for the very first time.

Co-President Caroline opened the evening by welcoming everyone and telling the audience the adventure that our other co president Thien Trang will be undertaking next week Thursday 18th August 2016.

Co-President Caroline on stage
Co-President Caroline on stage

She also spoke of a top tip in public speaking: ‘A phrase that pays!’ makes speeches memorable.

Michael our Toastmaster for the evening guided the packed agenda smoothly, succinctly and timely from beginning to end.

Jacek as Grammarian introduced the word VOCIFEROUS and promised to count our ummms and ahhhhs and to highlight unusual use of language. In fact 5 people used the word of the day throughout the evening.

Our allocated time keeper couldn’t make it last minute and so gallantly our new member Neil stepped in and covered the role with about 5 minutes training! Well Done Neil and thank you !

Muthukrishnan and Oleksandra both delivered their second speech from the Competent Communicator Manual.

They had to demonstrate organizing their speech with a strong opening and conclusion with a clear message.

Muthukrishnan guided us all into “Looking in the mirror” at ourselves in a fascinating and enlightening way, while
Oleksandra educated us with the benefits of buying insurance.

Gavin, who also stepped into the breach last minute, and Solmaz evaluated these speeches giving encouragement and recommendations to benefit everyone, not just the speakers.

Our 3rd speaker Christine really involved the audience. She also included music, which Florian who evaluated her speech said was most unusual and of the quality of an advanced speaker.

It was also fun to see Florian do a little dance in his evaluation of Christine’s speech!

Finally David became the Artilleryman with jacket and all in his interpretation of “The War of the Worlds” This is project 3 from the Interpretive reading – Advanced Manual – The Monodrama. He got carried away in character by speaking in a country accent totally immersed.

Joy, in her evaluation of the speech, proved that she had listened carefully and gave David some really solid feedback.

Our Sergeant at Arms was Majdouline and what a task she had! So many guests coming and she managed to speak and connect with them all! Brilliant !

The Table Topics Master, Dani, came up with an unusual way of structuring the topics. All the speakers continued with one story and he transitioned them between! We learned about an athlete at the Olympics who didn’t want to complete, so he thought of breaking his leg and then taking drugs, by putting them in camel and ostrich burgers and selling them he made loads of money with the help of the Russian and Columbian Teams. The athlete was arrested and escaped so all was well!

Table Topics Master Dani
Table Topics Master Dani

Thien Trang managed to give a commendation and a recommendation to all speakers demonstrating her fine listening skills.

The evening was rounded off by the General Evaluator Tomas,  who has come from Angel’s Speakers. He gave some positive feedback and also some improvers for us at St Paul’s. Some of our ideas he will take back to his club. So we are all happy!

Thien Trang closed by announcing the Winning Speech by Christine, the winning evaluation shared by Gavin and Florian and the winning Table Topic by a most valued guest Margarita – Fantastic!

Next meeting is Wednesday 24thAugust 2016 at 6.30 pm

Be there for the fun and inspiration!

A Splendid Meeting – 27th July

What a splendid meeting we had on Wednesday 27th July 2016. It was well-attended by both members and guests who showcased a range of impressive speaking skills. The meeting was ably hosted by the Toastmaster of the evening, Florian, who guided the audience through the agenda and provided clear guidance on the different elements of the Toastmasters meeting. Christine valiantly stepped into the role of Timekeeper at the last minute and fulfilled her responsibilities with aplomb, whilst Grammarian Kris introduced us to the word “splendid” and encouraged everyone to incorporate it in their speeches. The audience responded well to his challenge!

Our Toastmaster of the meeting Florian
Our Toastmaster of the meeting Florian

Solmaz and Joy both delivered a speech from Project 2 in the Competent Communication manual, which was all about structure and organisation. This is a key performance area for any speaker, and they both achieved their objectives while entertaining the audience on two completely different topics: personality traits and user experience. And this is one of the best things about Toastmasters: you never cease to learn new things! Two of the more advanced speakers of our club, David and James, expertly evaluated Solmaz and Joy, giving them a lot to think about, but also to be proud of.

Second speaker Joy
Second speaker Joy

Jacek showed us what a fantastic Table Topic Master looks like when he challenged the audience to a set of quirky and thought-provoking questions inspired by his “shower thoughts”, from why pizzas are round, to why dogs unlike cats eat everything. The audience rose to the challenge, in particular our brave guests, some of whom had never before practiced impromptu speaking in a similar fashion. David and Christine, both St. Paul’s Speakers members, shared the prize of best Table Topic Speaker. Caroline, St. Paul’s Speakers Co-President, delivered a monster evaluation of all 12 table topics. Despite her time constraints, she managed to provide practical and encouraging feedback to all of the speakers. Quite an achievement indeed!

David tackling a table topic
David tackling a table topic

We were lucky to be visited and evaluated by Gos (full name please), President of King’s Cross Speakers. He gave the club and all the functionaries of the evening thorough feedback, with useful tips on how to make our great club run even more smoothly and efficiently. We would definitely love to see him back at our club again!

Joint best tale topics winners Chrissie and David
Joint best tale topics winners Chrissie and David

Felicitous Icebreakers – 13th July

This first meeting of the new Toastmasters year was opened on a high note by our co-President Caroline who explained what Toastmasters was all about and how our members improve their public speaking and leadership skills through the educational programme. She then introduced our Toastmaster of the evening Dani who explained how the meeting would run. The two functionaries of the evening were Joy as timekeeper and Chris as grammarian who introduced the word of the day – felicitous.

Our Grammarian Chris
Our Grammarian Chris

Three of our speakers this evening did their icebreakers. The first speech in the Competent Communication manual and a the starting point in everyone’s Toastmasters journey. The first of our three icebreakers was titled “To my Granny” by Oleksandra. Oleksandra told us her journey from studying mathematics in Ukraine to becoming an actuary in London. She was followed by Ania the second of three icebreakers. Ania’s speech “The constant state of change” narrated her life from Poland to the United States to London and all the changes this entailed for her. Her message for us all was very simple, “In the face of change just be brave!” Our final icebreaker was done by Jacek “Faceless”. Jacek explained the two sides of his personality, his Polish side gained at birth and his British side gained since moving to the United Kingdom.

Second of three icebreakers "The constant state of change" by Ania
Second of three icebreakers “The constant state of change” by Ania

Our fourth speaker of the evening was James doing the tenth speech project from the Competent Communicator manual. James inspired us with his speech “Despair Not” who made numerous references to Woody Allen’s philosophy of beating despair.

The evaluators of our for speakers were Sarah, Thien Trang, Christine and Florian. Each of them provided feedback on the strong and weak points of our speakers to help them improve their skills.

Our Toastmaster of the evening Dani
Our Toastmaster of the evening Dani

This evening table topics session was facilitated by Shalini who adopted sports as her theme. She asked questions such as “if you had a choice between the Euro 16 and Wimbledon finals, which one would you attend and why?” “which sportsperson would you like to have tea with?”. A large number of speakers took part in this impromptu speaking sessions and all were evaluated by Michael.

One of our newest members doing a table topic
One of our newest members doing a table topic

Finally, Christopher came back for his grammarian report including the use of hmms, err and other verbal crutches by our speakers. He was followed by Sergey our general evaluator, who evaluated the club, the evaluators and the functionaries of the evening.

Organise Your Speech – 29th June Meeting

Our last meeting took place in the cosy surroundings of the Golden Fleece pub, with Christopher taking on the role of Toastmaster of the evening, energetically leading the evening’s fun night of speeches.


Assisting Christopher, Mikhail was the timekeeper of the evening, with Caroline as Grammarian, introducing “aptitude” as the word of the day, encouraging others to use it in their speeches.


The two prepared speeches of the evening were both delivered by some of our newer members, Shalini and Gavin, with both presenting their second Toastmasters speeches. The objective of the Toastmasters second speech is “Organise Your Speech”, by using on a strong opening and conclusion, with a clear outline and message that can be easily understood.


Shalini presented her speech first, titled “Lessons from the Multicultural Handbook”, in which she discussed the value to be gained from friendships with people from different backgrounds. It was a warm and positive speech, delivered in a friendly conversational style, and demonstrated good organisation of material.

In Gavin’s speech, “Education”, he presented an outline of the education system in the UK. Gavin also did well in the organisation of the speech, presenting the content in an objective and articulate way, and harnessed many of the fundamentals of good speech-making such as strong voice and presence on stage.

After the break the evaluations of the speakers were delivered by Michael and James respectively, concentrating on areas of the speech that worked well and met the objective, and also touching on pointers for improvement.

Table Topics is all about developing skills in impromptu speaking. Kris was the Table Topics Master of the evening. In the spirit of the recent EU referendum Kris asked the speakers questions where they could agree one way or the other. Starting off with “do aliens exist or not?” there were lots of fun and interesting speeches.

Further evaluation was delivered by Caroline, in the grammarian report, and by George in the General Evaluator report.
The meeting was the last one of the committee year, and Florian handed over the role of President to Caroline and Thien-Trang who will be joint presidents of the club for the next year, together with a new committee!DSC_0286

Competent Communicators – 22nd June

The longest day of the year marked a key point in the career of two of our members who became competent communicators for the first and second time. Toastmastered by Thien Trang, with Jacek assisting as timekeeper and Mikhail as grammarian. The meeting was off to a great start and speakers took the stage shortly afterwards.

The first speaker on stage was Christine doing the second project from the Competent Communication manual who objectives are to organise a speech. Her speech ‘The nature of coaching’ explained how coaching works, how different is it from counselling and how the overall objective is to enable individuals to realise their dreams. The second speaker was club president Florian who did the final project from the Competent Communication manual. A project where the aim is to inspire the audience. His speech ‘British Dream’ was a call to arm for Britain to fulfil its untapped potential, solve its internal problems and to become the leader of Europe with the help of its partners. Our final speaker of the evening Sarah also did the same speech project. In ‘Choices’ we learnt more about Sarah’s journey from shy and reserved child to the confident speaker and networker she is today. A journey made possible by the choices she took and by her own motto of “choosing extraordinary”.

Coach Christine speaking
Coach Christine speaking

Shalini, Dani and Christopher evaluated our speakers in turn giving them feedback on their speeches. The feedback covered areas for improvements but also the strong points that our speakers already have, so that they can leverage these in future speeches.

Speech evaluator Christopher
Speech evaluator Christopher

The table topics, impromptu speaking session was chaired by Joy. Joy’s theme was politics and she asked humorous questions such as “who would win in a cage fight between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton”. Five speakers took part in the session and were evaluated by Michael as table topics evaluator.

One of our guests doing a table topic
One of our guests doing a table topic

Shortly afterwards Mikhail came back for his grammarian report on the use of language throughout the evening. Finally Vanessa from Kings Cross Speakers evaluated the entire meeting as general evaluator.

An Icebreaker and many successes – 8 June Meeting

The sun shone brightly over the City for our first meeting of June 2016. Setting the stage for tonight was Toastmaster Gavin, who introduced his team. Caroline tasked with looking after time and Oleksandra as grammarian with ‘Lucid’ as her word of the day.

Toastmaster of the evening Gavin
Toastmaster of the evening Gavin

We were very lucky tonight to have someone doing their icebreaker speech. Kris’s icebreaker ‘I-M-POSSIBLE’ told us his journey from India to London via Oxford and Oman. Securing his first big role in London proved tougher than he expected but as he told us impossible also means “I am possible”. The second speaker was Isabelle ‘Social media friend or foe’. Isabelle’s speech covered the benefits and drawbacks of social media platforms such as Facebook or Twitter. Finally, Alan Thomas did a speech from the Special Occasions manual ‘Accepting an Award’. Alan told us how much St Paul’s Speakers means to him and treated us with an history lesson on the club from its humble beginnings where there was “no nothing” to today’s successes.

Kris doing his icebreaker speech
Kris doing his icebreaker speech

Our speakers were evaluated in turn by Thien Trang, David and Florian who provided commendations and recommendations on the speeches and how these could be further improved.

The theme of tonight’s table topics session was ‘British summer’. Questions were asked on summer themes ranging from BBQ to the weather to drinks. Each speaker was then evaluated in turn by Sarah as table topics evaluator.

Table topics evaluator Sarah
Table topics evaluator Sarah

Oleksandra came back for her grammarian report and how often ‘lucid’ was used as word of the day. We were lucky to have a GE from Bendigo Toastmasters Club in Australia who provided us and our functionaries with feedback and also insights on how it’s done down under.

The club’s annual general meeting followed led by club president Florian Bay. The many successes of the club were highlighted, alongside how money was spent and key objectives for next year.

The committee for next year was elected as well and will consist of:

Co-Presidents: Caroline Morgan & Thien Trang Nguyen Phan

VP-Education: Mikhail Krivoshein

VP-Membership: Michael Holmes

VP-Public Relations: TBC

VP-Mentorship: David Saer

Treasurer: Florian Bay

Sergeant at Arms: Kris Venkatesh