Club Meetings: 2016-2018

4th January 2018

President Carl welcomed us all to the first meeting of 2018 and announced his New Years Resolution. Wendy chaired the meeting, entertaining us with lots of topical items of interest. JohnM gave the first speech of the year about the benefits of music followed by Khaled who enthralled us with his stories of working around the world. Jude then gave a fascinating talk on how western Christmas celebrations compare with Muslim festivals such as Eid. She took questions afterwards and enlightened us all.

After the break the Topics session was chaired by JohnM who used a calendar theme in which the participants had to speak about various months of the year. We heard about crime, job hunting, gardening, lambs, and hair – with emphasis on the effects of the weather and an amusing speculation on how this might effect a visit from the US President. There were exotic stories of festivities in India, roaming up mountainsides, bonfires, fireworks and preparing for the seasonal sales. Lazy days by the sea contrasted with traffic jams behind muddy tractors and we were given a piece of  timely fitness advice to ‘Run Every Day’.

Thanks to the evaluators – Sheila from Melksham, Chris, Carl and JohnC and congratulations to Jude for winning the Evaluators Cup.  [JMcG]

21st December 2017

Brian chaired the meeting, slotting in an array of Christmas cracker jokes. He also gave a festive speech on the origins of Christmas stockings, mistletoe, Boxing Day and Bank Holidays. His descriptions of cooked swans and peacocks soaked in saffron and butter sounded delicious but were definitely a dish of past times and no longer appropriate in today’s world. Wendy then gave an impromptu speech on the intricacies of clay-pigeon shooting, mentioning that the sport originally used live pigeons, also no longer acceptable. Both speeches were informative and enjoyable.

Dorothy gave a Topics talk on the origins of Easter, highlighting church customs and Easter’s association with the colour yellow whilst remembering to squeeze in a reference to Christmas.

Carl ran the Presidents revels session in the form of a charades-style contest with subjects including sport, world cities and famous people. The competitors were very animated in a fast and lively session in which Brian emerged victorious. Thanks to Carl for his imaginative ideas.

Merry Christmas to all.  [JMcG]

7th December 2017

JohnC chaired this evening’s meeting which began with President Carl presenting Brian with the Novels trophy, with Brian having won the competition at both club and district levels.

Chris then gave a presentation on risk taking, using the analogy of shepherds herding sheep from one field to another and analysing the various methods and their associated risks.

Brian followed with a history of ‘light’, ranging from stone-age fires through to oil pots, candles, kerosene and gas, culminating in the various forms of electric lights including halogen and diodes.

The topics session was chaired by Carl who invited the audience to promote various sports in which they were supposed experts. This led to lively renditions about playing rounders in the sunshine, the obscure rules of lacrosse, the strenuous feat of running the New York marathon and spending a fortune on polo ponies. More debatable sports were spoken of including snooker and darts, said to be for unfit sportsmen who use cigarettes and beer to boost their skills. There followed an explanation of how archery has enormous benefits in building up chest muscles, the popularity of ice-hockey in Canada and how grass bowls enhances social opportunities.

Thanks to Topics Evaluator Sue and to timekeeper Brian.   [JMcG]

16th November 2017

The meeting was chaired by JohnM and began with JohnR ‘s speech about the varying aspects of ‘dawn’  and its importance in the cycle of life. Carl followed this with a humorous speech about the effects of having too many TV programmes to choose from. We were then given a most enlightening talk from Brian unravelling the current situation in Zimbabwe drawn from his personal experiences.

Sue chaired this week’s Topics session using the theme of ‘weather’ which stimulated lots of wonderful stories and opinions ranging from drizzling rain beating into the eyes of sailors to a warning never to point at rainbows. Crunchy grass in the frost, the delights of energy stimulating sunshine and the incessant Scottish rain  were all elaborated on. We then heard about the problems of fog, including a lament over the lack of fog-lights on sheep, and this was followed by an explanation of why aeroplanes are unaffected by lightning strikes. Snow was considered fun, creating an irresistible urge to make snowballs whilst wind was for the hardy and should be harnessed more for energy. It was a very good Topics session where everyone had an opportunity to participate.

Thanks to the evaluators – Chris, Wendy, Carl and Dorothy – who was also awarded the Evaluators Cup. [JMcG]

2nd November 2017

Chris chaired the meeting which began with an amusing A1 speech by DavidD who used the life cycle of pigs to illustrate that ignorance is bliss.

Then followed the annual Topics Competition in which nine  contestants gave impromptu speeches relating to the ‘morning’. Six of them considered the morning to be a new beginning, a time for planning, relaxing over breakfast or walking the dog in the open air. The other three found mornings a bit of a challenge with one emphatically adamant that it is the worst time of the day. It was a close contest with lots of humorous content. Zoe came third with her comical nursery school theme, JohnR was second with a vivid account of flying into Africa at dawn and JohnC won with an uplifting ‘beginnings and endings’ theme peppered with words of wisdom passed down through generations.  The competition was chaired by JohnM who was also Chief Judge joined by Chris & Sue on the judging panel. Thanks to them all and to Rita our guest for bravely taking on the role of Usher.

Our resident shepherd/motivational speaker Chris gave a practice speech in the form of “9 lessons from the Good Shepherd” which summarised the secrets of achieving happiness, told in an entertaining manner.

President Carl then gave the General Evaluation and presented the Topics Competition winners trophy to JohnC. He also presented three A1 badges to David, Sami & Martin and the Evaluators Cup to  JohnM. An enjoyable evening with everyone joining in enthusiastically.  [JMcG]

19th October 2017

With President Carl being abroad Vice President Sue opened the meeting in fine style before being presented with her A5 certificate, awarded to her by the ASC. The evening continued with MartinC delivering his A1 assignment with a lively preview of a speech he is due to deliver in London early next month.

This was followed by a Topics session based on perceptions of life lived as an animal. We heard stories of long necks, multi-functional trunks, scuttling mice and vengeful fish followed by insights into the lifestyles of.race-horses, independent cats, obedient dogs and contented crocodiles. Imagination and humour was in evidence throughout.

The second half of the evening began with an evaluation followed by a preview of a Team Speech which several club members will be giving on Saturday in a Competition held at the National President’s Conference in Kegworth, Derbyshire. Feedback was positive and we wish the participants good luck as they represent our club and area.   [JMcG]

21st September  2017

Tonight’s meeting began with Sue giving her A5 speech in which she entertainingly mused over how rivers affect people’s lives in a variety of ways. Chris then gave a practice speech on sheep dog trials, giving an amusing insight into the mindset of the competing dogs.

JohnC chaired an invigorating Topics session in which everyone in the audience participated. The theme was ‘the importance of..’ and subjects included sport, maths, gardening, social media and horses with lots of intriguing and comical ideas being aired.

President Carl congratulated Sue on reaching level A5. It was an enjoyable evening and the evaluators cup was won by JohnC.  [JMcG]

13th July 2017 – Summer Extra

Usually we have a break through July and August and this was the first of our experimental meetings in the summer break, to which 9 speakers attended.

Brian stepped into the role of Chairman and very good he is too at taking on this role without prior preparation.

John N gave us a very useful presentation on how to run/chair a topics session.  If this had been an A10 masterpiece presention then I would’ve passed him as he incorporated all the skills he has learnt over the years he has been with our club, including humour, use of voice and audience participation added to the usual gestures and stance/eye contact and confidence.  We were reminded of all the good ideas to incorporate into a topics session including how to encourage everyone to have a go but not feel pressure.

I understand he is going to make a hard copy of his ideas and I look forward to that as a useful tool.

Next Ben delivered his A6 – Vocabulary and word Pictures with the very interesting subject of Hadrian’s Wall.  It is interesting for us all to see how this speaker develops each time he stands up.  When John N evaluated him was able to point out what worked well and some tips on how to improve.  It was a good evaluation from John and we all learnt from it.

The next speech was very informative about Alcoholics Anonymous, though the speaker cleverly didn’t reveal that until he was halfway through his speech which was intriguingly entitled Bill & Bob.  A very good speech which had originally been delivered as his icebreaker some years ago.

Sophie ably and bravely chaired the Topics having prepared it before hearing John’s advice on how to do it.  She had prepared pictures like camping, policemen, airplane, flag on moon and penguins which gave plenty of opportunity to develop stories. Every one had a go some even twice!

Sandra T was launched into time keeper role and found out, as we all have, that though this role seems easy there is more to it than meets the eye.  Well done.

At the end of the evening we got a volunteer to run the next topics session and 3 members wanting to do a speech.

I would call that a pretty successful evening by any standard.


15th June 2017

The final scheduled meeting in the club calendar was chaired by JohnR and included the Novels Competition and the President’s Revels.

The Novels Competition was chaired by JohnM and was won by Brian for his science fiction story called “Who Dies”, in which he used an intriguing time travel theme relating to JFK. The runner-up was JohnR with his story called “10,300 Feet” which was a drama concerning the forced landing of an aircraft during bad weather. Both contestants go forward to the next round where they will compete with other clubs in the district.

Photo: Club President Carl presenting Brian with his winners certificate.

The second half of the evening featured the’ President’s Revels’, a long-standing tradition in which the outgoing Club President chairs a fun session where members of the audience compete in a speech-related game. Tonight, Wendy chose the BBC’s “Just a Minute” idea which encouraged much interaction and good-natured interventions on subjects ranging from favourite sports and holidays to worst hotels and how to spend mid-summers day.

Thanks to everyone for participating in a lively evening. Although this was the final meeting in the calendar there are further opportunities to meet up at the two ‘Summer  Extra’ sessions and at Wendy’s party. [ JMcG] 


1st June 2017

Tonight’s meeting consisted of the AGM followed by a Topics session. The evening kicked off with Wendy – our outgoing President – presenting A5 certificates to Ben and JohnR as one of her final duties in what has been a very successful year. Minutes of the AGM will be available in due course.


The Investiture ceremony then took place with the badge of office and regalia being handed over to Carl, our new Club President.

Orsolya chaired the evening’s Topics session using a ‘Day in the life’ theme with mainly inanimate objects. We heard about how a Union Flag spends its days flapping around proudly on the roof of Buckingham Palace. Then there was a kettle which sits around all day waiting to be turned on, when it gets all steamed up and whistles. Light switches apparently involve a pecking order, ranging from a lowly wall-switch or dimmer-switch to glamorous computerised models.

We were told of a unicorn which started life as a Prince and progressed to shepherding and we felt sorry for a frying pan which constantly had its bottom scraped to rid it of egg, whilst bacon just slithered off painlessly. The final offering was a sandbag which was a hero, being stuffed with sand, stitched up and then thrown into the path of flood waters.

Thanks to all for contributing to an enjoyable and productive evening. [JMcG]

18th May 2017

Dorothy came super prepared as chair person but had to practically start again as the agenda was pretty fluid.  It was difficult for her but she coped very well and did a good job.

Both Sandra Trusty and Ade sent apologies that they wouldn’t be there to do their speeches.
No matter Sandra Stewart had come prepared to do her A1 and in Ben’s absence Sue Illet volunteered to evaluate.
John Reynolds stepped up to do his A5 speech – a very entertaining tale of how to take off in a Boeing 747 in a blizzard. George Jacko evaluated.
Jin raced in late and out of breath to do her A5 but failed to make us see effective use of voice.

4th May 2017

Chris chaired the meeting which needed a reshuffle of the agenda following the absence of two key speakers. The first half featured Jo who gave us a preview of a presentation which she will deliver at the Paramedics International Conference next week. It was warmly received by the audience who were invited to provide advice and feedback on the presentation aspects, coordinated by Chris.

The Topics session was chaired by Sophia who chose modes of transport as the theme. She provided fascinating connecting links concerning unusual items such as magnetic levitating trains and secret aeroplane bedrooms.

The participants told of an innovative plan to produce solar-powered rickshaws with coolie backup motors and speculated on an executive Easyjet flight to visit exotic creatures in the Amazon.

There were thoughts about the possibility of travelling to Nigeria by hovercraft to allow passengers to see sights along the way. It was then suggested that we might hold the next Topics session on a train whilst enjoying strawberries and champagne. One speaker considered taxis to be too expensive and preferred walking while another yearned to ride in a hot-air balloon – while drinking champagne – having watched several glide past her bedroom window.

Thanks to the evening’s evaluators – JohnN and Prakash.  [ JMcG] 

20th April 2017

Carl chaired the meeting and shared some fascinating facts before providing a website update.

Jo gave a presentation to prepare for an upcoming event in her professional environment. It was well delivered and served as her icebreaker assignment. Carl then gave an interesting speech on motivation during which he amused us with some most amusing quotations. Ben then spoke about the over-usage of scooters in Vietnamese cities, giving us an intriguing insight into that country’s erratic transport culture.

JohnN took the floor to chair the ‘Battle of Wits’ session which required two teams of three to promote the merits of foreign holidays versus UK holidays. A second ‘battle’ featured paper books. versus ebooks and then the team captains held a fast-paced 1-minute shootout over whether fishing or darts would make the best new Olympic sport.

SandraT chaired the Topics session using a theme of unusual jobs during which we heard about  queueing professionally for tickets, the duties of a Listening Officer and cleaning the windows of London’s Gherkin building with a feather duster. There was great excitement whilst describing the duties of a water-slide tester and much curiosity about the role of a ‘face feeler’. The session ended with some imaginative perceptions concerning the Queen’s bagpiper sitting around all day smoking a pipe.

Jo received her A1 badge from Wendy at the end of what was a varied and entertaining session. [JMcG]

6th April 2017

This was a great meeting.

Tony (secretary)  has started to hand out the apologies to be read by members who have no specific speaking roles. This seems to work very well.   We had a lot of apologies and yet still a packed room.  As far as I can tell John McG, stuck in the snowy wastelands of Canada was the best apology of the night.

We were delighted to get a visitors from Melksham Speakers Club – Sheila, Kath and Anne and they all got a go at topics and it was great to see them.

Brain volunteered for the role of Chair as Carl was unable to be there and he did a great job of running the evening, sorting out the fluid agenda to take account of those we thought would be there but at the last minute couldn’t make it and those clever soles who come prepared to speak in case of such eventualities. He kept us on time and littered the evening with little stories about Easter.

We had an A5 (Use of Voice) from Ben with the great title A Sea of Scooters which turned out to be about Vietnam and Hanoi and is a great choice of subject for use of voice. This was an A5 of 2 parts and we look forward to part 2 next time.

John Crawford delivered an encouraging evaluation which we were all also able to learn from.

John Reynolds fresh from 3 months away in the States and holiday gave us his A4(use of gestures) – Quite an Adventure – and boy was it ever. We were literally transported to Antarctica by his use of word pictures, gestures and use of voice – there we were kyaking with more than 50 whales in the frozen waters and being pecked by penguins and listening to the silence (it is not silent) of the frozen wasteland.

This was beautifully evaluated by Sue, it was her first!!! She thought she was going to evaluate an A1 but it got changed to the A4 at the last minute. She stepped up to the plate and delivered in fine form.

Prakash gave us a great topics session – everyone who had not spoken yet had a go. Well done all.

Sue won the evaluators cup.

Justine was presented with her ASC badge – She did her A1 at our Charter Dinner in front of not just us but also our National President – Neil Harvey and was evaluated by our National Development Officer – Lindsey Dutch – none of us have had that honour and we are very proud that she did it.

Looking forward to our next meeting on 20th April when there are sure to be more great speeches and also a Battle of Wits Topics session.

Happy Easter,



16th March 2017

Brian chaired the meeting and shared a host of fascinating facts. Sophia gave an intriguing speech about rising to life’s challenges outside one’s comfort zone, followed by Ade who gave a revealing insight into family life in Nigeria where her mother was raised. Brian then gave us a sneak preview of his competition speech… (still under wraps). Wendy  presented Sophia & Sandra with their A1 badges (see photo). Dan chaired the Topics session, asking participants to talk about an animal beginning with a letter from A-Z, picked at random. We were told of Mice pollinating the garden, Voles swimming in rivers and a free-range hen named X. There was an odd Qwerty bird which flies with planes yet likes to mate with its partner on top of a keyboard, whilst Elephants in the savannah help with the washing by squirting out water from their trunks.

We heard about the cuteness of Lemurs and how a colourful Aardvark might make a great family pet. Prakash chose letter ‘I’ and suggested that he himself could be someone’s pet and would be easy to look after. We were told that Squirrels also make great pets, putting you in a good mood yet need no looking after.

The evening’s evaluators were Carl, JohnC, Jin and Dorothy who presented Dan with the Evaluators Cup. [JMcG]


2nd March 2017

The first of tonight’s speeches was given by SandraT who spoke about decision making, finding a purpose and when to ask ‘why?’. William then spoke about the Rite of Passage, sharing an insight into post-natal customs and child naming processes across the world. The evening’s chairman – JohnN – then announced an impromptu team debate on the merits of modern pop music, which provided a very entertaining interlude.

Brian chaired a varied Topics session during which we heard about crusty-bread made in an empty kitchen, milk in all its forms enjoyed at breakfast and the dubious delights of ketchup, which prompted much feedback from the audience. We were told of a lady who keeps a jelly mould-making machine in her garden shed and were advised how to deal with flirtatious Frenchmen with garlic-scented breath. After hearing some fascinating facts about beetle insects and Beatle musicians we were told that the best way to enjoy the water of life is to sail on a yacht with a toy boy.

The evaluators in what was another fun evening were Jin, Wendy, JohnM and JohnC who presented Jin with the evaluators cup. [JMcG]

16th February 2017

Tonight was the annual Evaluation Competition which was deservedly won by Wendy, with Carl as the runner-up. JohnN gave the ‘target’ speech talking about the Island of Madeira.

A big thanks to AndyG, a Past President and founder member who was the Chief Judge, assisted by JohnM & Dorothy. JohnC chaired the contest with Brian and Chris taking on the roles of supervisor, usher & timekeeper. Well done to the competitors who all excelled in a close contest where the standard was high. (Picture shows AndyG presenting Evaluation trophy to Wendy).


William chaired the Topics session, using a box of items which were ‘up for sale’ with participants required to give sales pitches. Items included a sports car which was found to be too low, a toy dog cocooned in a plastic cage which was difficult to clean, and a redundant frying-pan whose owner already had two of them. We were also tempted by a teapot which apparently would change our lives by providing tea-culture medication. A Barbie doll then appeared, all ready to party, followed by a fully functioning stroboscope light from an old television show. A lively Topics session with variety and humour.

An enjoyable evening centred around evaluation but also most entertaining. [JMcG]


2nd February 2017

Wendy chaired tonight’s meeting, starting with a presentation to JohnC of his well-earned ASC level 10 certificate (see photo).

Sue followed with her A4 speech, giving an entertaining insight into her amusing experiences as a lifelong cycling enthusiast. Prakash then gave a persuasive A3 speech describing how the pursuit of purpose is a worthwhile aim. The first half of the meeting included an education workshop (given by JohnM) on ‘Evaluation’, a role sometimes misunderstood and not always relished.

Dorothy chaired the Topics session using a ‘colour’ theme, having brought a blue beret with her to set the scene – and to hold the tickets. We heard about blue skies, a noisy red fox, red sunsets and the pagan spring rebirth festival. Fashion items included pink shoes and gold-leaf jewellery with a suggestion that they could be paid for with the ‘pink pound’. There was a brief history of the colour green’s role in the British racing industry, its use as an international ‘go’ signal and being the colour of tikka masala in Asia. Food items also included chocolate, apple-crumble and a nutrition-tree. Dorothy linked everything together with some unusual facts about all the colours selected.

The evening’s Evaluators were Carl, Ben, JohnC and JohnM who presented the Evaluator’s Cup to Dorothy. [JMcG]

19th January 2017

Tonight’s meeting began with an A4 speech given by Jin who talked about the many forms of rejection and how will-power can help overcome them. Dan then gave an A1 speech about enjoying the present and looking to the future. Ade followed this with her A1 speech about public speaking and how encouragement helps overcome reservations. Three good speeches with a motivational theme.

Photo: Steph, Ade & Dan were presented with their badges by JohnM.

Brian ran the Topics session using a ‘what if’ scenario which required the audience to elaborate on a range of contentious ideas ranging from the language of love, co-habiting pre-marriage, disposable nappies, organ donation, upper-age driving limits and green burials …not necessarily in that order! We then heard couple of interesting introductions from two welcome guests before the session concluded with an item about ill-fitting shoes and bodies discovered in a serial killer’s garden.

JohnC chaired the meeting and stood in for President Wendy who was in demand elsewhere. The evening’s evaluators were JohnM, Dorothy, JohnC (again) and JohnN as General Evaluator who presented the evaluators cup to SandraT. It was an enjoyable meeting in which everyone had a turn at the lectern. [JMcG]

5th January 2017


The New Year started with our traditional Open Mic evening. Microphones and speakers were kindly provided by Brian, with a short training session on how to make best use of them.

The acts included comedy, story-telling, a musical item, poetry and book readings.

We heard about how wisdom is the nicest gift, how no risks equals no gain and how sheep-shearing provides unexpected cosmetic benefits. Christmas cracker jokes were much in evidence plus some more up-market offerings involving West Wing, Sherlock Holmes and horse manure. Amusing anecdotes were told involving a persistent salesman, a flatulent music lover and an item about ducks & eagles.

We were treated to some amusing schooldays anecdotes and heard about the numerous talents bestowed upon women, with the balance later redressed by tales of constipation and the need for a man with big hands. JohnN provided a musical interlude, entertaining us with a couple of traditional songs played on his ukelele. The evening was chaired by JohnM who also did some comedy and bar-room jokes.

Thanks to all the performers and to the audience for providing support and encouragement which was much appreciated. [JMcG]

15th December 2016

Chris chaired the final meeting of the year, shepherding us through the evening in fine festive style. The session started with three speeches, beginning with Ben who encouraged us all to take a trip along the South West coastal path followed by Prakash who gave us his insight into the intricacies of the mobile phone revolution. Carl then gave an enlightening account of the changes that have taken place since the introduction of the PACE Act. The speeches covered levels 3, 4 and 7 of the Speakers Guide and were all informative and well received.

Following the evaluations (given by JohnN & JohnM) Wendy took to the floor for the Christmas Presidents Revels session in which she chose the theme of BBC radio’s ‘Just a Minute’. The teams were split into Sheep & Penguins and involved a host of impromptu speaking against a backdrop of friendly heckles and barraging in a lively festive atmosphere. Wendy handed out Christmas sweets & chocs at the end and received a well deserved round of applause for her energetic performance in keeping everyone under control.

Seasons greetings until we meet again in January 2017. [JMcG]

1st December 2016


Tonight’s meeting was chaired by JohnR and featured three Showpiece speeches beginning with JohnC who entertained the audience with some  amusing observations about operas and the intricacies of the storylines. He was evaluated by two guest evaluators who congratulated him on attaining the level of ‘Accomplished Speaker’ for which he will receive an ASC certificate. JohnM spoke about the comparisons between road journeys and journeys through life, quoting well-known people who had made this analogy then Wendy gave an absorbing insight into micro-biotics and how anti-bodies don’t actually kill bacteria. Her comparisons between stomach microbes and swarming humans seen from space was most intriguing.

Jin chaired the Topics session using a theme of time travel with Prakash speaking of his schooldays and orange candy, Allen reflecting on the pleasures of perfumes in ancient Egyptian and Dan stating that the best era in the football world is the present, with John Terry captaining Chelsea FC. SandraS mused how we could have managed without certain politicians then commented that in years to come we will probably want to go back to today. Myo closed the session with a talk about meditation.

The other evaluators for the evening were Chris, JohnN and JohnM and the meeting closed with the two guest evaluators being thanked for travelling to Swindon. Jin was awarded the Evaluator’s Cup for her efforts in preparing the Topics session. [JMcG]

18th November 2016


Tonight was the annual Club Speech Competition which was won by JohnC for a clever item questioning the ethics of stock exchange investors. It was a close finish in which we also heard Brian, Steph & Wendy speaking about caring for the body and mind with morning exercises and positive thinking plus an unusual anecdote about a Will and an exploding body when it all goes wrong.

Thanks to the judges – Dorothy, JohnR and Ben.

Jin then gave her A3 level assignment speech. She spoke about how talking to strangers can be enriching and illustrated this by sharing some personal experiences.

Wendy chaired the Topics session with a ‘club’ theme which involved drunken bell-ringing, bridge played with matchsticks, golf clubs with a surprise twist, a choir for non-singers and wine-tasting with straws while debating contentious subjects. We then heard about the hidden attractions of train-spotting and a preference for weeds over autumn leaves after which is was suggested that history lessons could be made more lively if they involved your own history. We were also told about the delights of ‘yogic flying’ to the accompaniment of Beatles songs and were given an insight into the addictive world of chess clubs.

Thanks to all the participants for making it another entertaining evening. [JMcG]

3rd November 2016

Tonight’s meeting was chaired by Carl and started with a speech by JohnR who challenged everyone’s taste-buds by explaining how cakes can be made from spit-bread and that this has been used in training courses to illustrate trust. Brian then spoke on the subject of interactive voice recognition systems (IVR) used by call centres. He explained that the use of IVRs with multiple language options during elections in Afghanistan had significantly reduced the amount of killings and maiming that had occurred in earlier elections.

Tony ran the Topics session using a story-relay theme with each participant continuing from where the previous speaker had left off. The contributions began with some interesting introductions then developed into a story about Wyatt Earp the cowboy chasing people out of a non-alcoholic bar and embarking on a range of adventures involving a caravan and a young man whom the next speaker wanted to adopt to protect him from some rampaging women. The story continued with the adopted man giving up his smartphone to become a footballer who was signed up by Chelsea before turning into superhero Volcanoeman and evacuating the town. Everyone returned 50 years later to build a pub and become farmers whereupon the hero awoke hallucinating after taking his wife’s HRT tablets and discovering that Wyatt Earp was really a film producer. The story ended when television detective Columbo arrived and didn’t understand the plot…. he was not the only one!

It was an imaginative and jovial Topics session which tested everyone’s impromptu speaking skills to the full. The evaluators were JohnM and JohnR who awarded Buki the Evaluator’s Cup for her entertaining contributions. [JMcG]

20th October 2016

Tonight’s meeting was chaired by Brian and included the annual ‘Topics’ competition where nine contestants competed for the Club Trophy and a place in the Area/District competitions. The contest was chaired by JohnC and required participants to talk about what they would like to change given the opportunity and prompted entertaining ideas ranging from baldness, deafness, the weather and the NHS to aspirations of changing gender or becoming a supreme ruler. The contest was a close run with Brian emerging as the winner.

We then heard 3 speeches starting with Ben who spoke about Swindon’s inroads into the electrification of the railway, a timely subject following Swindon station’s royal visit earlier today. Tony followed this with an intricate explanation of how gliders are launched and how thermal winds are an integral part of the process. The final speaker was William who gave an absorbing insight into the difficulties encountered by those who stammer and how they overcome it in everyday situations.

During the evaluation preps a bonus mini-topics session was held which produced some enlightening and entertaining discourse on fish & chips, black history and Halloween. The judges and evaluators were JohnC, Dorothy and JohnM and the Evaluators Cup was won jointly by Ade and her guests for their lively and enthusiastic contribution to an enjoyable evening. [JMcG]

6th October 2016

This evening concentrated on ‘Topics’ (impromptu speaking) and was chaired by JohnN during which he shared a selection of funny and unusual ‘clerihew’ rhymes involving Christopher Wren, Obama, George III and others.

Tonight’s opening speaker was JohnR who gave a very visual and intriguing speech about the intricacies of evacuating aircraft in emergency situations. As this was delivered from an airline pilot’s perspective we will no doubt remember it during any future flights and will relax in the knowledge of the safety measures that go on behind the scenes.

There followed a Topics Workshop presented by JohnM which was recorded and can be viewed on our videos page, who demonstrated how the practical skills learned during our Topics sessions can be useful in a range of everyday situations both socially and at work. This was followed by a summary on the importance of Chairing the Topics sessions and advice on the Topics Competition which takes place later this month.

Carl then chaired an amusing Topics session on the theme of garden sheds with innuendos of ‘Fifty Shades/Sheds of Grey’. Participants were asked to talk about various items found in their garden sheds and we were entertained with stories of dirty lawnmowers, bicycles clogging up the wrong shed and the discovery of a secret rack of wine bottles. Other items included a barbeque and box of nuts and bolts – abandoned in favour of calling in the builders – plus more worrying aspects involving an infestation of ants in the form of an ‘ant farm’ and how the discovery of a badminton set led to broken limbs following a fall from a tree. All great imaginative stories well appreciated by the audience and linked together with some comical quotes from Carl’s garden shed book.

The evaluators for the evening were Chris, Wendy and JohnC who presented JohnR with the evaluator’s cup. [JMcG]

15th September 2016

President Wendy opened the meeting with a flourish, sharing some amusing observations before welcoming our new VP Carl and appointing our new Club Secretary Tony. Sue gave the first speech, enlightening us all on the concept of ‘Death Cafes’ which are opening up around the country. Carl followed this with an amusing discourse about a preserving a crime scene which turned out to be a set-up involving preserves and a jammy detective. Brian then gave an absorbing talk about how a boy who grew up in a war torn African country has managed to overcome the traumas and rebuild his life.

After the break we had a light-hearted Topics session chaired by JohnM which required participants to describe what it must be like to spend a day as someone or something else. We shared the thoughts of a tree standing there in all weathers and some imaginative accounts of how cats, dogs, fishes and birds spend their days. There was an insight into the life of a fashion supermodel and the concerns of a singer who couldn’t sing plus a comical depiction of an elephant with weaving trunk which we will never forget.

The evaluators for the evening were Wendy, JohnC, Dorothy and JohnN who presented Sue with the evaluator’s cup. [JMcG]


1st September 2016

The first meeting of the season opened with JohnC updating us with club business before handing over to the chair. The first speaker was JohnR who gave us an insider’s perspective of the hectic activities that take place inside the cockpit of an aeroplane during take-off. This was followed by Livia giving a presentation on Life Coaching and how it includes skills relating to public speaking. Brian then gave a revealing account of the dangers of kapton cables which has caused fires when used in airlines.

JohnN chaired the Topics session using a storytelling theme which prompted some unusual stories of book-burning, dancing around bonfires and rain falling down like cats, frogs and raptors. There followed a tale about a camel in the desert and an amusing muse about the author Jane Austen’s view that a wealthy man must be in need of a wife.

Our new Vice President Carl gave the closing address in Wendy’s absence. [JMcG]