At 7:15 pm it looked like the meeting might not go ahead as an accident on the M27 had all but blocked routes into the city with traffic down to crawling pace, but over the next 10 minutes members arrived and we were able to start on time.
It fell to Ray Adams to open the meeting as Sergeant at Arms welcoming members ad guests to the meting and describing the housekeeping rules before welcoming Wendy Benson as the evening's Toastmaster.
Wendy started by explaining how it was an auspicious week for Toastmasters as the organisations had been started 90 years before in California. She asked Simon Roberts to explain his role as Timekeeper to which he gave a full and clear description of the importance of keeping time and the use of the lights.
Jenny Green, from County Communicators, took on the role of Grammarian, explaining that she would be looking for examples of good and bad language and set the word for the evening as 'Bimble' to walk or travel at a leisurely pace.
Next Wendy called on Stephen Okonkwo to get us under way with the warm up – which he did asking those present to think of the next anniversary they would be celebrating. Wedding anniversaries, birthdays, trips with friends and even retirement featured.
Wendy moved us on to the prepared speeches. First up was Elena Grigorieva, with her No 3 speech “You can choose it” explaining it was your own personal choice how you viewed what happened and you should look for the positives in everything.
Ann Carver was next up giving a speech on negotiation, concluding with a role play with Keith Oliver to emphasise her points.
Finally Keith Oliver gave us a potted history of Toastmasters from its conception, to the present day and how it may move forward in the future, as it remains as relevant now as it did 90 years ago.
After the break we resumed with the evaluations, provided by Marie Newman, Brent Crouch and Wendy Benson, each pointing out the strengths of each speaker but also suggesting areas for improvement.
Suzy Slight was next invited to the lectern to host our Table Topics session. In keeping with the theme of Toastmasters anniversary she invited those present to speak on little known facts about some of the countries where Toastmasters is represented. Knitting in Hungary, and Bimbling in Botswana were among the answers offered up.
In the absence of a Table Topics Evaluator the audience was invited by Wendy to identify good points and possible improvements to those who had participated.
Jenny next gave her grammarian's speech commenting particularly on the word 'so' which was particularly well used during the evening, but highlighting some of the good language used. She also commented on the many times the word Bimble had been used.
Michael John Smithson concluded the main part of the meeting with his General Evaluation.
Keith Oliver reported on club business, with particular emphasis on the forthcoming District Conference in Brighton.
Michael John then gave out the awards and sought feedback from the guests present.
Best Speaker – Elena Grigorieva
Best Evaluator – Marie Newman
Best Table Topics – Wendy Benson