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)



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