In a holiday mood – 7 August 2017

That holiday feeling at our public speaking club

We had the right weather for a typical  English summer holiday on Monday 7th August.  It was raining.  That didn’t stop 13 intrepid Toastmasters and 4 very welcome guests from attending a fun evening at The Winchmore.

John was our Toastmaster of the evening and guided us through the agenda in his friendly and efficient style.  Anna kept us all running perfectly to schedule throughout the evening by gently indicating to everyone when their time was up.  Nadia performed the “ah-erm” counter for the first time.  She helped us all to avoid distracting “filler” sounds and words that detract from our meaning.  Our grammarian was Lee, who was clearly inspired by the weather when thinking of a word of the day: Holidays.  He challenged us all to use the word “holiday” during the evening, or “vacation” if we were so inclined.  The scene was set, and we were ready for our prepared speakers.

Prepared speeches

At each meeting we listen to speeches that our members have prepared.  Our club members use the guidance in the Toastmasters education programme when doing this, and each speech allows the speaker to practice specific skills.

Dorothea spoke first, and Wendy was assigned to introduce her.  Wendy explained that this was Dorothea’s second speech at the club and that she would be focusing on how to structure her speech effectively.  This means making sure that there is a good opening, a well organized body, and then a clear conclusion.  Dorothea spoke to use about “The Mother of all Frustration” – an intriguing topic indeed!  She opened with a story about a husband’s return from work, and led into the quote “expectation is the mother of all frustration” by Antonio Banderas.  She provided examples of where frustrations were felt because expectations were not met.  It was certainly a thought-provoking speech.  Wendy’s evaluation of Dorothea’s speech was clearly well observed.  It was supportive and provided good suggestions about how it could be made even better.

Kavita was up next.  Kavita is a very experienced speaker and this time she was working on her storytelling skills.  She exhorted us to “seize the day”, by sharing a personal story with us.  She talked about a difficult encounter at work, but which worked out well once she had remembered some advice that her father had given her when she was young.  Kavita clearly demonstrated the skills that she has learned so far in her Toastmasters journey, combining clear description with an effective structure and good rhetorical techniques.  Graeme provided feedback to Kavita, including tips on use of the lectern and how her excellent use of descriptive language had enriched the story.

Impromptu speaking

We always have a networking break in the middle of our meeting.  This time people were enjoying the conversation so much that John had his work cut out to get us to reconvene.  Certainly the holiday mood was present.  We settled down eventually though, in anticipation of the fun “Table Topics” portion of the meeting.  At this point, one of our members introduces a topic and invites one of us to speak on the topic for just one or two minutes.  It’s a great opportunity to practice speaking off the cuff and typically leads to some wonderful flights of fancy.  This evening was no exception.

Barbara had come up with some very creative questions for us to answer.  This led to:

  • Salem provided us all with very useful advice about what to do if you find yourself in a scary movie
  • Nadia told us about her exploits in Cuba
  • Katherine imagined what she would do when driving through Arizona
  • Ernest was asked about Puerto Escondido, and deciding it would be much more interesting to talk about a different country instead
  • Lee shared “close encounters” in Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Seema tackled the conundrum of what to do if her jeep broke down in the middle of an African safari

We certainly all had a lot of fun.  After everyone had spoken, Rosy provided her thoughts on everything she’d heard and seen.  The ability to think on your feet when providing feedback and encouragement to others is one of the things you learn at the club.  Rosy certainly showed how it was done.

Recognising success

At the conclusion of the evening’s agenda, we all thanked everyone that had contributed to such a good meeting.   Graeme was voted our Best Evaluator and Salem receieved our Best Table Topics award.

One of our guests described the club as one of the town’s best kept secrets.  We’d be inclined to agree!  It’s not a secret on purpose though.  All our welcome to visit us for our fun evenings, so why not visit us?

In short, another fun meeting of the Winchmore Hill Speakers club.  Many of us felt refreshed, as if we’d been on our holidays.  I look forward to the next one!

What is Gavel Club?

Gavel Clubs are affiliated with Toastmasters International and provide a supportive and structured environment for members to develop their public speaking and leadership skills.

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What's in it for me?

Gavel Club will give you the skills and confidence you need to effectively express yourself in any situation. Whether you are a tenured manager, student, young professional, someone looking to advance their career, or someone hoping to make an impact in your community, Toastmasters is the most efficient, supportive, enjoyable, and affordable way of gaining great communication skills. By learning to effectively formulate and express your ideas, you open an entirely new world of possibilities. You’ll improve your interpersonal communication and be more persuasive and confident when giving speeches.

Joining Toastmasters can help you achieve your personal and professional goals. Is one of your goals listed below? Click on it to see how we can help you accomplish it!



  1. Build Confidence for Public Speaking: Gavel club present speaking opportunities at every meeting. Whether you present a prepared speech, participate in Table Topics®, or fill a meeting role, you can get the valuable practice needed to build confidence for public speaking. And Toastmasters’ safe and supportive club environment means there’s no pressure, so you can work at your own pace.
  2. Become a more effective speaker: An integral part of Toastmasters is giving and receiving feedback. When you speak at a club, a fellow Toastmaster will provide you with feedback to help you grow your public speaking skills. With the Pathways learning experience, you will have access to an education program that will teach you the skills required to become a more effective speaker.
  3. Improve my presentation Skill: Gavel Club isn’t only for improving your public speaking or communication skills. By giving speeches and working through a learning path in the Pathways learning experience, you will learn how to structure your presentation and incorporate tone and body language to truly engage with your audience.
  4. Improv my Leadership Skill: Since Gavel clubs are run by members, each club offers volunteer leadership positions. When you combine this with the leadership skills you can learn through the Pathways learning experience, you can not only build skills, but can gain valuable experience leading a team.
  5.  Meet my professional Goal: By improving your communication, public speaking, and leadership skills, you are building a better version of yourself. Whether you are hoping to land that big promotion or simply want to feel more confident when communicating with coworkers, Gavel Club can help teach the skills you need!
  6. Increase my fluency in a Language: By improving your communication, public speaking, and leadership skills, you are building a better version of yourself. Whether you are hoping to land that big promotion or simply want to feel more confident when communicating with coworkers, Gavel Club can help teach the skills you need!
  7. Network With Others and Build Social Communication: Gavel come from all walks of life. Over time, attending meetings will allow you to build social connections and network with others that you may not have had the opportunity to meet otherwise. In a Gavel club, you’ll find likeminded people who are working hard to build similar skills as you!


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What can I expect in a meeting?

In Toastmasters, everything revolves around the club meeting. With over 15,000 clubs in almost 150 countries, each club is unique in their own way. While clubs all feature the same structure, some are more formal, feature a theme, or have criteria for members to join. We encourage everyone to visit several clubs until they find one that fits their needs. To learn more about the basic structure of a Gavel Club meeting.

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What does the club experience offer?

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What are members saying?

Don’t just take our word for how great being a Gavel Club is. Hear from members from around the world who have used the Toastmasters program to learn new skills, solve problems, and grow as individuals.

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How do I learn and grow?

In addition to the supportive learning environment in the club, there is a structured education program called Pathways.

What is the Pathways learning experience?
Pathways is Gavel’ exciting, interactive, and flexible education program open_in_new. It focuses on five core competencies: Public Speaking, Interpersonal Communication, Strategic Leadership, Management, and Confidence. With 11 paths to choose from (and more in development), you have the option to pick which skills you want to focus on.

How does Pathways work?
Sign into Pathways and take the online assessment, which will suggest a learning path based on your goals. As a Toastmasters member, you will receive one free path when you join. Progress through your path by completing projects, giving presentations at club meetings, and implementing feedback, all done at your own pace. Each path has five levels and you’ll start by mastering fundamentals before working your way up to demonstrating your expertise. Best of all, Pathways is available online or in print and is translated into eight languages!

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How can I start learning now?

Ready to experience the ultimate source in public speaking and leadership? For 90 years, the Gavel Club  has provided practical information and inspiring stories, with a range of in-depth articles and helpful tips written by industry experts and experienced members. You’ll gain tools for improving your speeches, advice on growing your leadership skills, and deeper insight into your strengths. Plus, look forward to online exclusives every month!

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I’m ready to join. What’s next?

You can visit a club near you—or one that meets online—for free as a guest, with no obligation to join. Find a club that best fits your schedule and personality.  Send questions via email to .

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