Archive for Toastmasters Meeting

Meeting Report – 22nd January, 2013

Debate: As A Society We Need to Learn To Demonstrate

Should we protest more?

Paulo was the man of the two and a half hours tonight, and an able man he was. He opened the meeting promptly at 8.03pm and President Susan began the meeting by giving us all some gentle encouragement to

Enter the Tall Tales Competition

She’s right, you should.

There quickly followed the admin of any meeting. Barry, featuring as the worlds most unlikely air hostess, pointed us to the fire exits and warned us to switch off our phones. Since no phones went off throughout the meeting, there is evidence that people were practising the essential Toastmaster skill of listening. Following a brief introduction to the art of Timekeeping from Aengus, the meeting proper got under way.

First up was Mike, who in a rather rousing speech, encouraged us all to bring our speechcraft skills to the masses, and develop skills in others through mentoring programs. Which reminds me, existing members – we need volunteers for mentors. Next up was Rose, who stepped up at the last minute, and put together an interesting and engaging speech about Percy French. Third up was Richard who in a very relevant speech talked about the power of words. All three of these speeches were off stage speeches, always difficult to evaluate. However evaluated they were, and ably so by Elizabeth, Susan and Martin. Each evaluator brought out the positives in the speeches, Elizabeth in particular mentioned several nice examples of specific phrases and alliterations used by Mike. Not to be too nice, all three evaluators also gave good advice on where speakers could improve.

Finally Cian gave his stage five speech, the purpose of which was to bring in body language to make his point. This he did and he did well, with a speech on the psychology of self-defence. His opening was particularly strong, when he woke the audience up by demonstrating how one should yell at an attacker to back off. Nearly sent me scurrying from the room. His speech was evaluated wonderfully by John H, who has recently rejoined the club after a few years absence.  John brought the guidelines of the manual in wonderfully, praised Cian’s speech (praise which was well deserved), and demonstrating the problem himself, gave Cian some feedback on the need to finish speeches in a timely fashion.

After the speeches came the debate. A nice topic this week, not too controversial, not negatively phrased, lots of juicy detail for the debators and the audience to get their teeth into. Mandy was first up for the proposition, and argued her point persuasively in a well structured speech, that really laid out the motion well. Jim opted for the more passionate orator style in his opposition speech, and as usual succeeded well. Then the motion was opened to the floor. There was no wishy washy stuff, everybody spoke firmly either for or against the motion, which is always nice. Martin produced one of my favourite moments of the evening when he pointed out the hazards of demonstrating, people who really don’t deserve entitlements get to keep them simply by being loud, in spite of it being undemocratic, unfair, and bleeding the country dry. After eight contributions from the floor, Jim and then Mandy summed up. Mandy won the motion comfortably, and lo it was time for tea and biccies.

After the tea and biccies came everyone’s favourite part of the evening – Topics.

John G proved himself a master of topics. The topics were varied, they avoided the usual stereotypes, they challenged people, but they didn’t challenge them too much. Particular Kudos goes to the two visitors who spoke – Victor and Julie. Julie in particular got a particularly tricky question that included a Shakespeare quote on the frailty of women, but her response was excellent, and it meant I didn’t get it, which in some ways is the most important thing. I have to say my favourite response to a topic came from Aengus who chose three people to bring to a desert island – Cheryl Cole, Usain Bolt and Barack Obama.

I may see a flaw in that plan there Aengus.

Following the topics, were the evaluations of the speeches, which I’ve already covered. Then Marlene stepped up as em counter. A horrible job, but she did it well. It seems perhaps we made some progress over last week, but there’s still a long long road ahead. Finally there was the general evaluation from Niamh, which summed up the meeting almost as well as this post, and the awarding of the trophies, as follows:

  • Speech – Cian
  • Evaluator – John H
  • Topic – Julie and Victor

and so the meeting ended and we all went home.


Meeting Report – 15th January

Thomas Gray

Thomas Gray

Oh what a meeting.

Elizabeth, while in theory an inexperienced Toastmaster, managed to remember absolutely every single detail that very experienced Toastmasters regularly forget. There was a seargeant at arms, which even though there thankfully was no fire was still comforting. There was an introduction from the timekeeper. There was even a surprise appearance by an Um and Ah counter, but more on that later.

There were three speeches. First up was Niamh, giving her stage 8 speech. Stage 8 requires the use of visual aids, so with a fabulous presentation done using “Prezi”, Niamh started the meeting with a presentation full of maps made by strangers. The full presentation can be seen here.

Next up, from the modern era to a big step back in time, the story of the 1914 Christmas ceasefire from Pat. Beautifully told, beautifully read, and very timely with the 100th anniversary of the start of the first world war coming next year.

The final speech of the evening was from Dennis, who pulled a master stroke with his innovative idea. He first took a few minutes to introduce one of his favourite poems,

“Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard” by Thomas Gray

and then proceeded (rather worryingly) to give each member of the audience numbered envelopes. Inside each envelope was a marked verse of the poem. Beginning and finishing with Dennis, each member of the audience read their own verse. The effect was striking as the different intonations, voices and accents each put a spin on their own verse. Like an expert conductor, Dennis’s oversight ensured the reading flowed perfectly and the change of pace drew universal praise.

Next up was the debate, and as promised it was lively and controversial.

Gender quotas should be introduced in the Dáil

Proposed by Keith and opposed by Martin, the issues raised included the hazards of single sex workplaces, the lack of female participation at a grassroots level in political parties, the calibre of our current political representatives and the unfriendliness of political life to family life. At the end of the day it seemed the audience and the debators agreed on one thing – that change was needed, but fundamentally disagreed on how that change should be brought about. Keith carried the day with unanimous support, slightly worrying since that included Martin, but I guess he was just that convincing.

And so it was time for tea and biscuits, and a lovely tea and lovelier biscuits it was too.

After the break Paulo stepped up to the top table to issue topics, and since the meeting was running ahead of schedule he had plenty of time to  torture  hand out his topics. My personal favourites were the question to Rose on online dating, Aengus on Jon Walters efforts to join Chelsea, Michelle (a welcome guest from engineers) on new years resolutions and Aileen on volunteering.

And so to the final part of the evening, or so we thought, evaluations. They were good, but the Toastmaster had a surprise in store. Unbeknownst to the audience, Zanya had been taking an extremely thorough list of ums, ahs and “you knows”. It was a little embarrassing and a little disconcerting to say the least. It was also extremely helpful because as she pointed out, most people begin their speeches with a machine gun spatter of ems and ahs but as they gain confidence and relax into it, the fillers disappear. At least we now know where to focus our efforts.

The meeting concluded with the always on point, Barry, giving a comprehensive general evaluation and awarding the trophies.

  • Topics – Aileen
  • Speech – Dennis
  • Evaluator – Ger

and so the gavel was banged, the meeting was over and we tidied up.

The End. . .

(until next week)



Oh What A Year! Jan 8th Meeting Report

Toastmasters Debate

We Are Going Backwards y Becoming Technology Dependent

In spite of the best efforts of the hotel to misdirect our new members, a motley collection of new faces were present to welcome in the new Toastmastering year. Ably guided by the Toastmaster, Barry, the meeting got off to a prompt and energetic start.

First up was Aengus, who gave a fascinating and in depth speech about the history of gun control laws in the US. It was a challenging topic for a stage three speech, but as Rose noted in the evaluation he handled it well and kept it interesting, though it was a little long.

Up next was Marlene, giving her stage six speech, the aim of which is to entertain us with “vocal variety“. And entertain us she did, with a great story about a trip she won at the age of 17. If the drama involved in 17 year olds stranded in a boat that won’t start trying to get back to their sailing ship isn’t a great topic to show your vocal variety, I don’t know what is.

There was quite a change of pace for the final two speeches of the night. Denis practised a three minute speech he is to give at the opening of a very formal and prestigious conference on Friday, and he received some great recommendations from Paulo. The final speech came from Sinéad and was on Ergonomics. Sinéad gave a very thought provoking speech on health and safety in and out of the workplace, though I have to say I’m now a bit worried that I’ll injure myself if I bend over to pick up a pen.

The it was time for the debate . . .

We are going backwards by becoming technology dependent

Myra was first up as the proposer, and she put the case extremely well, discussing how technology interrupts our daily lives and makes it more difficult to really be in the moment and enjoy real interaction with real people. Zanya countered by bringing in the enormous benefits technology in healthcare, food production and transport has brought to human lives. The floor then got involved with several excellent contributions, including the best quote of the night from a guest, Axel who spoke against the motion. I can’t get it word perfect, but a picture is worth a thousand words and what he discussed was the cartoon in the top left corner.

The debate, unusually, but showing the skill of both speakers, ended in a dead heat, and so we adjourned for a tea break.

After the tea break, Brian stepped up as topics master and with a clear knowledge of current affairs generated some great contributions from the floor. Again a guest – Brendan, made the best response, in this case to a question on Pat Kenny and his ability to retire.

The night then finished with the evaluations and an excellent (as always) general evaluation from Mike, who spoke in praise of the toastmaster Barry, the topicsmaster Brian and the president Susan. Mike also complimented the speeches and the evaluators. Really the only quibble was with the lack of a sergeant at arms speech, which turned out ok since the building didn’t go on fire. It should be sorted for next week though.

So all that remained was to award the trophies and wrap up the meeting:

  • Topics – Brendan
  • Speech – Marlene
  • Evaluator – Niamh


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Toastmasters Meeting – 4th December

Our penultimate meeting of 2012, only the Christmas drinks to go!

And what a great meeting it was.

A wonderful sales presentation from Zanya, which included what was probably the quote of the night from Keith

Oh Nike make GAA shoes now do they?

Followed by a self-assured and confident stage two speech from Aengus on the perils of watching too much sport, a well researched and enlightening speech from John McD on beer and finally a speech from Bernard on the search for Alien life.

The debate, was as always, a highlight of the evening. Marlene proposed that “No animals or plants should be considered pests”, and Dennis had the tricky job of opposing. It was lively, with six contributions from the floor, but eventually the motion was defeated and we all adjourned for a tea break.

After tea, Martin our toastmaster introduced an innovation – the tall tale. Frank, a guest for the evening, left us hanging on the edge of a cliff shouting at God. After that Aileen peppered the audience with a range of topics, from the intensive media attention to the status of the Duchess of Cambridge’s uterus to social welfare reform.

Finally it was time for the concluding part of the evening, evaluations. Suffice is to say the usual range of praise and helpful advice was given and Mandy rounded off the evening with the awards which went to

  • Elizabeth – best evaluation
  • Zanya – best contribution
  • Sinead – best topic

and so ended another very funny, and very interesting toastmasters meeting.

Membership Fees

The Hellfire Toastmasters year runs from January – December, but you can join at any point during the year. For 2013:

  • Yearly membership costs €150
  • If you’re a student/unemployed, yearly membership costs €100
  • If you’re retired, yearly membership costs €130
If you join in the middle of the year, then the membership fee is pro-rata’d.

There is an additional once off joining fee of €20, which goes to Toastmasters International.

The membership fee covers the running of the club, which is mainly fees to Toastmasters International of $72 per member per year, rent of room and competition fees.


Meeting Location

Now that you’ve decided to attend the next Hellfire Toastmasters meeting, all you need to know is when and where . . .

Hellfire Toastmasters meets every Tuesday in the Ballsbridge Hotel, Pembroke Road Dublin 4. Arrive at 7.45pm for an 8pm start. Meetings finish (before) 10.30pm. There’ll be a sign telling you where to go in reception, but we’re nearly always in the Mezzanine Room.

Guests are always welcome, and there’s no charge.

  • When: Every Tuesday, 7.45pm for 8pm
  • Where: D4 Hotel, Pembroke Road, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4

Getting here:

  • Drive and park on Pembroke Rd or Landsdowne Rd, free weekday evenings.
  • DART to Landsdowne Road and walk ten minutes
  • Buses that stop in front of the hotel include the 4, 7, 7A, 8, 18 and 120
  • Walk or Cycle in less than 15 minutes walk from Merrion Square (North)

 Find Out What Happens At A Hellfire Toastmasters Meeting →

View Pembroke Rd. (Jurys Hotel) in a larger map


Toastmaster's Summer Outing

The Summer Outing!

Our regular meeting slot is:

  • Every Tuesday at 8pm
  • D4 Hotel, Ballsbridge

Click here for full details.


We take a short break over Christmas and a longer break over the summer. We’ve just had our Christmas Party, our 50th Anniversary Party and our annual walk to the Hellfire Club. On the other hand our members will be competing in the next round of the international speech competition in the Engineers Toastmasters club on the 26th March and we haven’t set a date for the summer outing yet.

Keep an eye out for our special events and outings throughout the year.

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The calendar below has details of all our meetings and activities:


Meeting Format

A Hellfire Toastmasters Meeting

Meeting in Progress

Every club does slightly different things at meetings. Some meet every week, some every fortnight, some do debates, some focus more on speeches, some have a summer break, some don’t.

At Hellfire, we meet every Tuesday at 8pm, in the D4 Hotel, Ballsbridge

The weekly programme is usually:

Speeches: These are given by members old and new, on topics from online dating to dancing, to the history of the German national anthem. Most meetings have three or four speeches and most speeches are about six minutes long.

Debate: One of the more unusual features of Hellfire Toastmasters is that we have a debate every week. The proposer and opposer both speak for 4 minutes, then all meeting attendees can comment on the issues raised. This gives everyone a great opportunity to practice thinking on their feet, and gain the confidence to give short impromptu speeches. The opposer and the proposer are then given two minutes to sum up and the winner is decided by public vote.

Tea Break: Because sometimes it’s nice to chat.

Topics: A “topicsmaster” will state a question or topic briefly and then call on a respondent. Each speaker receives a different topic or question and participants are called on at random and have up to two minutes to reply

Evaluations: Since toastmasters is about improving your public speaking abilities, every speech is evaluated by an experienced toastmaster. Every speaker is given constructive feedback on what they did right, how they met the aims in their speech and what they could do better next time.

General Evaluation: (almost) finally, the evening as a whole is quickly summed up by one person. The general evaluation can comment on any aspect of the meeting, but it’s usually used to give feedback to the debators, the topicsmaster and the evaluators.

Trophies: At Hellfire, we award three trophies at every meeting

  • Best Topic Awarded by the topicsmaster for the best response to a topic
  • Best Evaluation Awarded by the General Evaluator for the most helpful evaluation
  • Best Contribution Awarded by the general evaluator to whoever made the best contribution of the evening.

And then we go home!

If you want to read a bit more on a meeting, there are regular blog posts about our weekly meetings in the News section, or simply come along and find out for yourself!

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