Archive for Competent Communicator

Toastmastering Season Begins!

Autumn is here, well it has been here for the past 30 days but thankfully the weather has helped us live in denial for just a little bit longer. Of course with Autumn comes a next term of “toastmastering”. On the 16th of September we will restart our Toastmaster sessions in Hellfire. We’ll have 3 or 4 speeches, a debate and table topics. Guests are very welcome to come and don’t worry you don’t have to contribute anything at your first meeting unless you’d like to of course. There is no charge for attending as a guest.


So to recap…. September 16th (Tuesday) at 7.45pm in the Ballsbridge Hotel (D4 Hotel). Email me (Eric) at if you have any further questions.

Hellfire Review 29-10-2013

Should psychics and mediums be banned? Hellfire Toastmasters voted no.

We had a Halloween theme for our meeting tonight, with some speeches and the topics on this theme.  Pat, our President, began the evening at the disputed time of 7 59 (he said it was that time, others said it was 8 02), and welcomed everyone, and especially the guests on the night.  He had one message which was the Christmas Party in December.  Barry was Toastmaster for the night, and he began with a story about fear given that it was two days before Halloween.  David was Sargent At Arms and Eric was timer and they gave a quick explanation of their roles, before we heard the speeches.

Shauna gave the first speech of the night, which was her Ice-Breaker.  This speech gives new members a chance to speak before an audience for the first time, and discover speaking skills they already have.  Shauna spoke about herself, coming from Monaghan but having spent a few years in Australia when she was younger.  It was quite a humorous speech, telling us about how she spent a long time in education to become an actuary and how her boyfriend gradually moved in with her.  Finally Shauna told us that she joined Toastmasters to beat her fear of public speaking.

The second speech of the night was given by David, a Stage 3 speech titled “Wind energy in Ireland.”  The third speech in the manual asks speakers to Get to the Point and for the speech to have a purpose.  The speech’s subject stems from when David saw signs protesting against wind energy coming to Ireland while driving through the midlands. David did some research on the matter and gave a lot of statistics during his speech – there are 180 wind farms in Ireland, but only one off shore farm on the east coast.  The industry is highly subsidised, and David had reservations about how sustainable they are, given that wind only produces about 30% of its possibly energy.  David had more questions than answers in his speech, and ended by asking the audience whether wind energy is sustainable in Ireland and whether people would like a windmill in their back garden.

Third speaker on the night was Dennis, giving off stage speech entitled “A Night to Remember”.  He began by saying that as a scientist, he is usually sceptical about things that cannot be proven, and, for example, didn’t worry about moving into House No. 13.  An elderly couple lived beside Dennis and over the years they became friends.  Both the man and the woman died within a short period of each other but on the night of the woman’s death, Dennis heard a loud, screechy noise.  He thought it was a cat, but changed his mind, and then he thought it was a baby crying.  The next morning when he heard that the woman died, he tried to figure out what the noise was as he decided it couldn’t have been a cat or a baby.  Dennis, the sceptical scientist, believes it was a banshee.  It was a suitably eerie story for the night that’s in it.

The motion for the debate was that “psychics and mediums should be banned”, proposed by Richard and opposed by Brian.  Richard spoke about how psychics and mediums aren’t able to scientifically prove their abilities, and how it is wrong to take money off people without giving them a service in return.  Brian spoke about how psychics and mediums can give some solace to people and that banning won’t work.  After numerous contributions from the floor and summations by both speakers, a vote was taken and the motion was defeated.  We then took a break for tea and biscuits.

Mandy, dressed in black and wearing a witch’s hat was Topicsmaster and all of her topics had Halloween involved in them.  The topics included whether Halloween celebrations were becoming like Christmas, what people think of witches, where a person would go if they had a broomstick, trick-or-treating, whether we should have bonfires, memories of Halloween in youth, should fireworks be banned, favourite costumes for Halloween, what food is associated with Halloween, what does a person think of Halloween.  Following the topics, we had the evaluations part of the evening.

Myra evaluated Shauna, talking about how competent and confident she was, how the topics in her speech was very appropriate and something the audience was able to relate to.  Her only suggestion was to speak louder and project her voice.  Jim evaluated David, liking the structure, and getting to the point quickly.  The topic had made him think about the issue in a way he had never done so before.  Ger evaluated Dennis, liked the hand gestures, pace, how it was a great story telling.  His suggestion was to stop using “em” as much.

General evaluation was John H, full of compliments for both Barry and Pat at the beginning of the meeting, and really enjoyed the interaction during the debate and the topics session.  Really liked the speeches, and the evaluations, how they pointed out the good and the bad points of the speech.  He then handed control of the meeting back to Barry and Pat and the meeting closed soon after that.

Best Contributor                                                    David

Best Evaluator                                                      Ger

Best Topic Response                                             Mike (a guest)

Hellfire Meeting Review 22-9-13

Should we become vegetarians? Hellfire Toastmasters said yes.

Our meeting began as usual with Pat, our President, welcoming everyone, especially the guests, and informing everybody of the upcoming Christmas Party to be held early in December.  He then handed control of the meeting over to Dennis as Toastmaster for the evening.  He quickly ran through the program and after an explanation of the timing by Timer for the evening Mike and Barry, standing in as Sargent at Arms, telling us the exits and to turn of our phones, the first speech of the evening was given.

The first speaker was Mandy, an experienced Toastmaster who has held numerous roles within the club such as President and within the wider Toastmaster structure, such as Area Governor.  Mandy gave a PowerPoint Presentation to explain the Leadership Manual which is all too often forgotten by members, explaining each Stage of it and what a person would have to do to progress to the next stage.  She did this by using an example of one of the Stages and finished with the benefits for both the club and the person the manual provides.  The second speaker was Robert, a new member, who gave his Ice-Breaker speech.  He spoke about his up-bringing in Kerry and how sport played a huge part in his life, and many humorous stories of his time being educated in Glenstal Abbey.

The third and fourth speeches were both Stage 3 speeches, asking the speakers to “Get to the Point” in their speeches.  Kayleigh gave a speech on employment law in Ireland, something she has an expertise in given she works in the area.  She explained how new policies and legislation shortened the appeals process and that numerous courts were being merged into a two-tiered system.  Lisa delivered the final speech, and spoke about how a number of people have begun to use surfing and cooking as a way of integrating people in the Gaza Strip and bringing the Israeli and Palestinian people together.  She even included a quick Hummus recipe for us all!

Following the speeches was the debate on the motion “That we should become vegetarians,” with John O proposing and Jim opposing.  John spoke about how the world would need to produce 70% more food to feed the world’s population by 2025 and growing food for vegetarians requires less inputs.  Jim, in opposition, spoke about the need for meat for a healthy diet, especially for children growing up.  After numerous contributions from the floor and summary speeches by the debaters, a vote was taken and the motion was narrowly carried, by 11 votes to 10.  We then had our break for tea.

We resumed with our Topics session and Noel took control of the meeting, asking people about who the best person is to replace Giovanni Trappatoni, exercise making people happy, nicknames for cars, love conquering all things, among others.  They were all very well interesting and a nice mix of different subjects.

It was then time for the Evaluations.  Michael evaluated the first speaker Mandy, and was very complimentary of her speech, mentioning how prepared she was and the speech was well delivered.  He particularly liked how she gave a hand out to everybody about the Leadership Manual.  The second evaluator was Sinead who spoke about Robert’s Ice-Breaker.  She liked how he grabbed the audience’s attention at the start, had a good structure, was confident and had quite a lot of humour in the speech.  She suggested he used some hand gestures, though recognised that this would come in time.

The third evaluator was John H who evaluated Kayleigh’s speech.  He thought it was a very relevant topic for the speech that had lots of material that needed to be organised and she used good linking words and phrases.  He suggested that she might perhaps have been better to use a PowerPoint Presentation for this speech.  The final evaluation was for Lisa by Rose.  She liked how Lisa was very confident and spoke about a very interesting topic for her speech.  She suggested having a better structure, and to speak a little slower but louder.

It was finally left to Martin as General Evaluator to speak about his thoughts for the meeting as a whole and it was largely positive.  He learned a lot from the speeches and thought the debate was very interesting.  He had a couple of suggestions for the evaluators themselves, but thought they did a wonderful job though.  The meeting was then handed back to Dennis and Pat and after a few thank yous, the meeting finished and everyone left for home.

Best Contributor                                  Mandy

Best Evaluator                                    John H

Best Topic Response                            Colette

Hellfire Toastmasters 15/9/2013

Should performance enhancing drugs be allowed in professional sports? Hellfire Toastmasters said no

Back after a weird and wonderful trip to the Engineers Club for the Area Contest of the Humourous Speech and Table Topics Competition (what do you mean you didn’t get it?), Hellfire Toastmasters returned to our usual haunt of the Ballsbridge Hotel, with our members competition for spaces with the football fans travelling to the Aviva for Ireland’s match.  This resulted in the meeting starting a little later than usual but it didn’t deter us for too long.  Our President Pat opened the meeting with aplomb and after a few words from our Timer Kayleigh, and Sergeant-At-Arms David, handed the reigns over to Sinéad who was standing in as Toastmaster.  Sinéad gave a quick overview of the meeting and welcomed the nine guests, yes nine, for the evening.  She then introduced the first speaker for the evening.

Marlene was giving a Stage 9 speech, the objective of which is to Persuade with Power.  With this particular speech a speaker can either attempt to persuade people to take a certain action or adopt a certain viewpoint.  Marlene’s speech attempted the former, and succeed she did.  Asking us to manage our energy, not our time, Marlene spoke about people’s physical, emotional, mental and spiritual energy and our need to concentrate on these things, as opposed to simply our time.

The second speaker was Richard, also giving a Stage 9 speech, and unlike Marlene, attempted to change the audience’s viewpoint on emigration and immigration.  Richard wanted the audience to show more compassion for immigrants into Ireland, especially given this country’s problem with emigration.

The final speech was given by Paul, a new member, and it was his Ice-Breaker.  The object of the Ice-Breaker is to speak before an audience for the first time and discover speaking skills not already known.  Paul’s Ice-Breaker was wonderful, showing speaking skills well in advance of what is expected for an Ice-Breaker.  He gave a short overview of his life, primarily his interest in sport and the journeys he has taken around the world.

Following the final speech, we had our debate, a feature unique to Hellfire among Toastmasters clubs in the area.  The motion was ”that performance enhancing drugs should be allowed in professional sport”, proposed by Barry and opposed by Richard.  Barry argued that if these drugs are allowed they could be made even better by chemists and athletes bigger and stronger.  He also spoke about the thrill of sport and how this would make sport better.  Richard, in opposition, argued about the potentially fatal side-effects of these drugs and how it maintains the idea of winning at all costs.  After contributions from the floor and summations by both debaters, a vote was taken and Richard declared the winner.

Following a short tea break and chat, the meeting resumed with a Topics session, ably convened by Jim.  Topics included favourite seasons, favourite days of the week, favourite Irish tradition, whether money is a good or a bad thing, what country a person would visit among many others.

Next up was the speech evaluations, which are great because it gives the speaker a chance to work on certain things and it means the evaluator has to listen carefully to the speech with a critical ear.  Niamh was first up, evaluating Marlene, mentioned the excellent and complementary topic chosen for the speech and the delivery was very good.  Aileen evaluated Richard and thought the speech was very well delivered.  Finally Noel evaluated Paul and spoke about how Paul was a very competent speaker already with good structure and a good topic.  The only suggestions for all the speakers were to time the speech a bit better, slow down a little and repeat the main points of the speech during the speech.

Finally we had our general evaluator, Rose, who was full of praise for the speakers but thought some people could have spoken louder, as it was hard for some people to hear what was said.  But overall, she was happy with the night given the problems associated with the match in the Aviva.

Contributor                                                        Paul

Evaluator                                                           Niamh

Topics                                                                Kayleigh

Meeting Review Tuesday 17-9-2013

Tonight we had our first meeting of the new 2013-2014 Toastmasters year and it was very successful.  Our new club President, Pat, opened the meeting at 8 on the dot and welcomed everyone back and welcomed especially the guests who arrived for the first time.  After outlining the plan for a Toastmaster’s meeting, he handed control of the meeting over to Toastmaster for the night, Mandy.  Mandy gave a quick overview of the specific program for tonight and implored us all to set goals for the year.  Without further ado, she introduced the first speaker of the night, Marlene, to the podium.

Marlene was giving a Stage 8 speech which involves the use of visual aids and Marlene gave a PowerPoint Presentation about Fair-trade and the products it sells.  One of the most striking slides was the percentage of profits given to each of the unit along the supply chain, with the farmer getting the tiniest portion.  The second speaker of the night was Niamh who, in her role as Vice President for Education (VPE), gave a speech from the advanced Speak to Inform manual about Hellfire Toastmasters, introducing the club’s committee to the guests and explaining about the club itself.  The final speaker was Ger who was giving a Stage 10 speech to inspire the audience.  Ger used three stories to convey his message; the first was about not letting money define success; the second about not being negative; and the third about no matter whether the deed is big or small, if it is good, then it will always be beneficial.

Following this speech we had our debate for the night.  The motion was “Sex, religion and politics are topics that should be included in Hellfire debate motions!”  This is particularly meaningful for Toastmasters as the founder of Toastmasters International decreed that sex, religion and politics should never be used as speech topics, and this motion was challenging this idea.  Keith proposed the motion and spoke about how these topics are important to everyone and the need to talk about these issues.  Barry opposed the motion and spoke about how religion and politics especially have caused conflict in the world and they can be very emotive topics which can offend some people.  After the debate was opened to the floor and the debaters summed up their arguments, a vote was taken and Keith emerged the victor.  We then took a break for tea.

We returned and it was time for the Topics part of the night, ably conducted by Cian.  He had a fine array of topics and made sure all speakers who had not spoken at the meeting got a chance to contribute.  Topics included lab-grown burgers, favourite childhood toys and Edward Snowden.  It was then time for the speeches to be evaluated with Dennis, Ollie and Noel giving their opinions on Marlene, Niamh and Ger respectively.  Each evaluator praised what was done correctly and gave suggestions about what could be done better.  It was then left up to Richard to act as general evaluator and give a synopsis of the meeting.

The awards went to:

Topics – Sinead

Contributor – Ger

Evaluator – Dennis

Hellfire Toastmasters 19-3-2013


Should guns be legalised for personal protection in Ireland? That’s debatable.

Another Tuesday, another Toastmasters meeting, another interesting evening.  Brian, our reserve President, began the meeting at 8pm, welcoming everyone and the guests that attended.  He introduced our Toastmasters for the night, Ger, who got the meeting running and the speeches started, with a brief mention of the timing and the escape routes in case of an emergency by the multi-tasking Dennis.

The first speech was a Stage 2 speech by John H, a returning Toastmaster who is on the road to becoming a Competent Communicator once again.  Beginning with a personal anecdote about watching the new pope on the television, John spoke about the leadership qualities needed for success.  He gave an interesting account of the life of Marcus Aurelius, a 2nd Century Roman Emperor, who wrote an influential guide to leadership which John believes all leaders should read.  The second speech was an Ice-Breaker by Mark.  Standing away from the podium without any notes, Mark showed skill even the most experienced Toastmaster would be unable to match.  He spoke about two important dates, his birth and his upcoming wedding day and how he has three older sisters, or as he refers to them, four mothers.  This is a promising start to a Toastmasters career, and a few people asked him to give his wedding speech in the upcoming weeks, as it will be a useful exercise for Mark.

The third speech was given by Richard, a Stage 8 speech which involves using visual aids.  With the wonderful assistance of Niamh changing the slides, he gave a brief history of human capacity, of people being able to smile, laugh, inspire, but also to do horrific things, like World War II and 9/11.  However, he told us one voice can change things, like Rosa Parks sitting where she wanted to sit on a bus, and 60 years later, there is a black President.  The final speech was a Stage 9 speech by Elizabeth, which asks her to Persuade with Power.  Doing a wonderful job, Elizabeth told us about FairTrade products and motivated us to but these products, as opposed to Non-FareTrade items which could be produced by people living in abject conditions.  She also brought along KitKat chocolate bars, which everybody really enjoyed at the break.

Following the speeches, it was time for the debate.  On the motion “Guns in Ireland should be legalised for personal protection”, proposer John G talked about the problems with criminals having guns whereas citizens couldn’t defend themselves.  This means that criminals can do terrible things, because citizens and the Gardaí can’t fight back.  Lisa opposed the motion, talking about how guns in the hands of irrational people can be very harmful, citing recent shootings in the US.  The debate was thrown open to the floor with some interesting arguments, such as guns coming into the hands of children and how greater guns in houses can be a deterrent for criminals.  After summation speeches by both debaters, a vote was taken and the motion carried.  After all that excitement, it was time for a break.

We returned from the break to the topics part of the meeting, with Cian in the hot seat as Topicsmaster.  He ensured that everyone who hadn’t spoken at the meeting so far was given a topic, with questions such as describing a bank robbery, a favourite teacher in school and the Cypriot bailout.

The next part of the meeting was the evaluations.  All of the evaluators were very happy with the speeches, with Niamh evaluating John, Susan evaluating Mark, Noel evaluating Richard and Jim evaluating Elizabeth.  There were very few suggestions, which is a credit to all of the speakers.  Finally Barry gave a general evaluation which was very praiseworthy of all speakers on the night, with only a couple of suggestions for Ger, the Toastmaster.

The prizes went to:

  • Contribution - Richard
  • Evaluation – Noel
  • Topic – Mandy

That’s all from this week folks, I’m Richard and I’ve been your host.  Next week we’re in the Engineers club for the Area final.  Best of luck to all of our competitors!

Competent Communicator

Toastmasters don’t do “Public Speaking for Beginners” courses, but if they did, the competent communicator manual would be it. Your first ten speeches at toastmasters are a series, and each speech has a different objective. The aim is to get you thinking about and comfortable with all aspects of public speaking.

The first ten speeches are:

  1. The Ice Breaker: A simple speech where all you have to do is introduce yourself.
  2. Organise your Speech: Give a speech with a simple structure.
  3. Get to the Point: Give a speech with a purpose.
  4. How to Say It: Choose your words and sentences carefully
  5. Your Body Speaks: Think about how you move during your speech.
  6. Vocal Variety: Vary your tone, pace, power and add pauses.
  7. Research Your Topic: Practice using sources to back up what you say.
  8. Get Comfortable With Visual Aids: Use flipcharts, props, powerpoint, whiteboards etc. to get your message across.
  9. Persuade with Power: Practice the art of motivation
  10. Inspire Your Audience: Use all your skills to date to deliver a powerful inspirational message.

What is Toastmasters?

Public Speaker at Hellfire Toastmasters

Speaking at a Meeting

Toastmasters is an international non-profit organisation dedicated to help people improve public speaking skills and master leadership skills. Every member joins a locally based club (like Hellfire) and the club offers support, feedback and guidance when you give a speech or take on a leadership challenge.

So how do people usually join the Hellfire Toastmasters Club, and what happens once they do?

New members usually start by attending one or two meetings as a guest. To attend as a guest, just show up at one of our Tuesday meetings, in the D4 hotel Ballsbridge, and say hello. Attending as a guest is completely free, and you can attend as a guest for a few meetings while you decide whether or not you want to join. You will be invited to speak, but you don’t have to.

Once you decide to take the plunge and join, you pay your membership fees, and the Vice President for Education will put you on the meeting program to speak. Your first speech is known as an icebreaker, and is a chance to simply tell us all about yourself in four to six minutes.

In the mean time, toastmasters international will send you out your first two manuals – the competent communicators manual and the leadership manual. The competent communicators manual has a program of ten speeches to follow, each one building up your skills and abilities until by the time you reach speech ten you are a confident and accomplished speaker. The leadership manual builds up your roles and responsibilities within the meetings and the club. It focuses on skills like organising and chairing meetings.

Generally you will be on the meeting program once or twice a month, giving speeches, debating,  and as you progress evaluating, carrying out topicsmaster and toastmaster duties. Whether you’re on the program or not, you will always be given the opportunity to speak at every meeting.

Attend a Hellfire Meeting →

More About Toastmasters International →


About Toastmasters International

Toastmasters International empowers people to achieve their full potential and realize their dreams. Through our member clubs, people throughout the world can improve their communication and leadership skills, and find the courage to change.

Toastmasters International is a world leader in communication and leadership development. Our membership is 280,000 strong. These members improve their speaking and leadership skills by attending one of the 13,500 clubs in 116 countries that make up our global network of meeting locations.

Established in 1932, Toastmasters International uses time-tested programs that are continually updated to meet participants Communication & Leadership needs.
In Toastmasters, you will learn to:

* Become a better public speaker
* Be a better listener
* Easily lead teams and conduct meetings
* Give and receive constructive evaluations

At Toastmasters you will learn to relax, enjoy, plan and present an excellent speech through a range of education programs.

A Toastmasters meeting is a learn-by-doing workshop in which participants hone their speaking and leadership skills in a no-pressure atmosphere. There is no instructor in a Toastmasters meeting. Instead, members evaluate one another’s presentations. This feedback process is a key part of the program’s success.

Meeting participants also give impromptu talks on assigned topics, conduct meetings and develop skills related to timekeeping, grammar and parliamentary procedure. Members learn communication skills by working in the Competent Communication manual, a series of 10 self-paced speaking assignments designed to instill a basic foundation in public speaking.

The unparalleled success of Toastmasters is testimony to its effectiveness in creating confident public speakers while the existence of so many lifelong members in every club indicates the social and recreational value members’ obtain from their weekly meetings.


Visit the Official Toastmasters International Website →

New Members

At Toastmasters we learn by doing.

There is no better way to become a confident public speaker then to speak publicly regularly. The main benefit of Toastmasters is the self-confidence gained from the experience. This self-confidence tends spills over into different situations outside the realm of public speaking, because when you conquer the fear of standing up and speaking in public, you feel more confident in meeting other challenges in your work and social life.

Hellfire Toastmaster has a reputation as being the friendliest toastmasters club in Dublin, our meetings tend to be very sociable and friendly occasions, so it is a good place to meet people and have a bit of fun for a while.

In addition it is a good learning experience – not just in what you learn from your own speeches, but also from what is to be learned from others when they deliver their speeches.

What Happens at a Hellfire Toastmasters Meeting? →

Attend Your First Meeting →