What is your favourite meeting role and why?

In our last meeting, Wednesday 18th November, we asked attendees what is their favourite meeting role (for example, chairperson, evaluator, grammarian, and many more). This is what they said:

Toastmaster because I am in control!

❤ I like Table Topic Master as it gives me control and I can be creative and don’t have to do a topic myself 😊

❤ My favourite role Table Topics evaluator, I love having the opportunity to give feedback in short snappy way 😊

❤ I like the Table Topics Master role because it lets me move a little more out of my comfort zone, as you get more of a chance to make it your own.

❤ I love Table Topic Master – it’s great fun thinking of a great topic that will draw people out – needs to be balanced with being enough of a challenge – lots of fun to be had with that role – love it when one of our Toastmasters bought a bag of objects and you had to talk about something you draw out of the bag by chance.

Photo by ConvertKit on Unsplash

❤ Grammarian because it’s fun to focus on the use of language

❤ I enjoy Table Topic Evaluator because you avoid doing a Table Topic speech! But it is also challenging.

❤ Evaluator because it is a good school to prepare yourself for evaluating other people in real life, I find it also challenging

❤ My favourite role is evaluator because it involves close listening

❤ My favourite role is the Table Topic Master. I like different roles for different reasons at different times.  I like TT Master but I don’t do it often as it’s a great chance to find out things about the people who inspire me.

❤ My first favourite is speech evaluator as I like to help people improve. My second favourite is Table Topic Master as I like to be creative

❤ My favourite role is the Table Topic Master because I stretch of imagination and it is a chance to have some more fun:)

And finally, my favourite (Rossana your VP of PR) has been the evaluator role, because it stretched me to put together a short speech after listening to what my Toastmasters peers have said, in a short amount of time. Good challenge, eh? It’s my chance to be positive, focused and helpful 😊

Join us next time!


Special Guest, Vicky Lester, at our next meeting on 18th November

On 18th November, the wonderful Vicky Lester will be guesting at North Hearts Speakers. She will delight us all with his speech on “Toastmasters’ meeting roles”. Find out more about here and join us!

In Vicky’s educational speech about meeting roles, she will cover not only what each role entails, but how the roles map across to Pathways projects. You will find out how you can be developing your leadership skills at the same time as supporting your club and fellow Toastmasters by taking on these roles within meetings. Various supporting documents and templates will also be shared to help you in a role you are less familiar with, giving you the confidence to dive in and make a start.

Profile: Vicky Lester


Vicky Lester joined The Case Centre in 1991 and became its Deputy Director in 2008.

As Deputy Director Vicky works with the Director to set, deploy and implement the company’s strategy. She is also responsible for managing the organisation’s finances and overseeing the management team. Prior to her current role Vicky worked in many areas of the business, including sales, operations and systems.

Vicky regularly represents The Case Centre as a speaker at conferences and events around the world. She also enjoys reviewing and judging cases for a variety of case writing competitions.


Vicky holds a Diploma in Management Studies from De Montfort University. She also completed the Business Growth Programme at Cranfield School of Management.

Volunteer experience / Personal development

Vicky joined Toastmasters International in 2004, a non-profit educational organisation that develops public speaking and leadership skills through a worldwide network of clubs.  Vicky has carried out a variety of leadership roles, including Club President (3 terms) and Area Director (1 term). She has led a Youth Leadership Programme and is aiming to achieve her Distinguished Toastmaster award early 2021. 

LinkedIn profile


A special Halloween Toastmasters night🎃

Your Vice President Public Relations reporting on our zoom meeting on Wednesday 4 November. 

Great to have a cozy meeting in a cold November night before heading to lockdown in the UK.  We had two wonderful guests.

So much learning for everyone in fact this evening with two interesting, intriguing and informative prepared speeches – we heard about Amphibians from Enroy and getting out of your comfort zone with camping and trekking with Sean. 

It was a hugely friendly time with Helen as “Toastmaster” (equivalent to chairperson) for the evening – she brings something very special to the role with her openness and enthusiasm. We all felt looked after during the meeting and she kept us moving a great pace.

I ran a menti word cloud to find out about our Toastmasters’ experience. Here the result:

Well done to Vice President Education, Oliver, once again for taking on so many roles at the meeting at the last minute with Toastmasters being poorly or unavailable – he is doing a fantastic job. Great suggestion having Toastmasters displaying a Halloween theme related zoom background.

Our Vice President Membership, Mike, selected a fabulous word of the day: SURREAL. Our Toastmasters’ night was indeed FANTASTICALLY SURREAL.

Join us next time!


About the healing power of humour

We are familiar with the use of humour to break the ice, smooth tension and challenge or confront people. We are less familiar with the power of humour to heal.

How do you establish connection with people, especially during these challenging times? When we may be feeling lonely and we may find it difficult to deal with PDD, or Public Display of Distress.

Some may use food to comfort themselves (a KFC family bucket!). Alternatively, some may choose to establish a connection and perhaps support others when they are having a difficult time.

How? you may ask. How about sharing the healing power of humour? This is the message of Ola Aralepo, our guest in the last Toastmasters meeting at North Herts Speakers club.

As a trained counsellor, Ola sees lots of similarities between counselling and stand up comedy. He is also a comedian in the stand-up circuit in London.

Comedians talk about difficult situations they have experienced. Some may think they belong on a therapist coach as much as they belong to the stage.

Ola advises that you need two ingredients to start sharing the healing power of humour: Time and Permission. 

Counseling and stand-up comedy are serious business and they require the investment of time. Ask any counselor and ask any stand-up comedian.

The healing power of humour also needs that you give yourself the permission to find the humour in the tragedy of life. 

Inspired by Ola Aralepo’s speech. Ola was our Special guest speaker at North Herts Speakers Toastmaster club on Wednesday 21 October 2020.

Rossana Espinoza, VP Public Relations.

Special Guest, Ola Aralepo, at our next meeting on 21st October

On 21st October, Ola Aralepo will be guesting at North Hearts Speakers. He will delight us all with his speech entitled “The healing power of humour”. Find out more about him and join us!

Ola Aralepo is a member of Tube Talk Toastmasters and two times Toastmasters’ Humorous Speech District Champion: 2011 and 2017. He is also public speaking coach/trainer and Stand-Up Therapist™.

Through his involvement with Toastmasters he has delivered humorous speaking and training events for several community and corporate organisations. He is passionate about harnessing the healing power of humour.

Rossana Espinoza, VP Public Relations

Advice for new Toastmasters club members

In our last meeting, we asked attendees what advice they would give to a new Toastmaster member. This is what they said:

Start early and quick

Get started as soon as possible in speaking. 

Do a speech (just a minute or table topics) at your first meeting, it feels extremely rewarding and stops you building it up into something scary if you’re nervous.

Don’t wait too long to give a speech

Don’t wait too long to speak – it’s easier to get started and start the journey – when you do, you’ll realise how much you learn from people evaluating you and applying that takes you on the journey further.

Not starting is like sitting on the edge of a pool dangling your feet in the water and thinking it’s cold – it’s a lot warmer if you just get in and start swimming, you might need some help with technique, but it’s definitely warmer!

Image by Harish Sharma from Pixabay

Get out of your comfort zone…with a supportive bunch

My advice would be once you get over the “hurdle” of the first meeting every single one after that becomes much easier, especially if you throw yourself into the deep end. Being in the deep end is much easier in toastmaster because everyone is non judgemental and are on the same journey you have been.

Get the Toastmasters’ mindset

Just relax and be open minded to be carried out of your comfort zone, it’s all a safe environment.

We are all in Toastmasters to learn

All of us are here in a TM club to learn and help each other to be better speakers  in our daily lives.

Consider getting a mentor

Get a mentor so you can become your best self in not just speaking but other leadership skills too.

Manage your inner critic

Don’t beat up yourself when you make a mistake when giving a speech, because we’ve all been there.

You get as much as you put in

You get out what you put in and also the other members are a lovely group of people who are incredibly supportive. Give it a whirl 😋

If questions, ask and get involved

Ask others to explain how things are, how their experience has been and participate as much as you can.

Take care of yourself and be yourself

Take your time, be yourself and you will pick up the speed.

With massive thanks to all North Hearts Speakers who contributed to write this blog.

Rossana Espinoza, VP Public Relations

Special Guest, Vinette Hoffman-Jackson, at our next meeting

On 16th September, Vinette will be guesting at North Hearts Speakers. She will delight us all with her speech entitled ‘Where leaders are made’. Find out more about her and join us!

Vinette Hoffman-Jackson was born in Barking Lodge, St Thomas, Jamaica and emigrated to the United Kingdom in August 2002 as a Chemistry and Physics teacher. She is active STEM ambassador and a passionate advocate for girls going into STEM careers and has delivered training nationally. 

After years in he classroom she reached the point where she felt there was more to her life. Instead of remaining cocooned in the security of a nine to five job and a regular salary she started on her own personal journey towards self-discovery. Vinette is the only person in the United Kingdom to win thirteen speaking trophies in one year at the prestigious Toastmasters International.

UK & Ireland International Speech and Impromptu Speaking Champion 2017/2019

Vinette also has a flair for writing and has published four books. She has been endorsed for her skilful writing by international entities such as Les Brown, the international motivational speaker. She is also a contributor to business magazines like Endizine, New business and Networkshe.

Vinette regularly runs workshops for corporate and individuals in ‘Effective speaking & presentation, how to live your life like a CEO! and Behind my Smile’’ She has spoken all over the world including France, Jamaica, Canada and Austria. Her entrepreneurial and skills have been recognized and awarded by Bedfordshire University, UK.

Vinette presents a weekly talk show every Wednesday on her local radio station www.lurlive.com where she interviews ordinary people with extraordinary smiles. She is also a regular panellist on the BBC 3 counties parenting show where she speaks on current issues affecting parents in the modern world.

She has recently started the Behind my Smile Initiative TM where girls learn to communicate in a safe space so they can resolve conflicts, speak or their rights and become confident and articulate speakers.

Vinette oozes confidence and is a fantastic speaker. Not only is she truly motivational but she uses her sharp wit and humour to disseminate her message and make it memorable. Audiences respond to Vinette with mixed emotions including laughing, inspiration and awe.

Vinette’s accomplishments:

  • UK & Ireland International Speech and Impromptu Speaking Champion 2017/2019
  • BBC New Voice 2019
  • London Professional Speaker Association ‘Speaker Factor’ winner (2016)
  • TEdx Speaker
  • Radio Presenter and ‘Behind my Smile’ Chat show host
  • Award winning Author and Poet (Did the Right Sperm Win? Bks 1&2, Behind my Smile, Vinette Vignettes and Journeys)
  • STEM Ambassador and Educator
  • CEO at 321Speak! And 321Write! Institutes
  • Immediate Past President of Bedford Speakers, UK.
  • Current VPM, Advanced Communicators Advanced Speakers and VPPR , Bedford speakers.
  • Nominated for the World Civility Award 2020

Triple Crown Award for Rose Saliba 🥇

Rose Saliba received a special ward for completing three advanced level achievements in the last Toastmasters year (which runs from July to June).  She completed three advanced level honours – two on the leadership side with her Competent Leader and Advanced Leader Bronze and an Advanced Communicator award which involved completing 10 speeches on themes of humour and story telling.  Well done Rose.

Rose Saliba receiving her Triple Crown Award

North Herts Speakers, like all Toastmasters public speaking clubs around the globe, has adapted to the COVID-19 challenges. We have been successfully conducting our meetings online now for a while. Nevertheless, one of the things toastmasters love is fellowship outside of the regular meetings too.  So it was a particular pleasure for our President, Lynne to be able to meet Rose in person recently to present with her badges of honour over coffee and cake.

Things that surprised you about Toastmasters

In our last meeting, we asked attendees what things surprised you about Toastmasters. This is what they said:

Toastmasters are friendly people

Those new to Toastmasters are surprised with how friendly, lovely and supportive everyone is.  It may be a weird thing for some but everyone is very welcoming. Some regular members shared that they were surprised by the fact that they make friends within the club.

Toastmasters like growth opportunities

Those new to Toastmasters are surprised that there are so many “job roles”. From club to clubs sometimes those roles vary. There are plenty of opportunities to speak and learn. Regular members are surprised with how you grow by doing roles and speeches. Some get amazed at how much some members improve and how much more confident they become. Particularly people who were very nervous to begin with.

Toastmasters have a variety of levels 

Newbies are also surprised about the levels that you have of learning at Toastmasters. We are all just people who are at all different stages – some just starting out and a bit nervous; as well as some more accomplished speakers, who are humble and wanting to learn, from whom we can learn from and aspire to be like. Not everyone is an expert and it is not about being competitive! 

Image by JoeBreuer from Pixabay

Toastmasters followed a detailed agenda

Toastmasters newbies are surprised with how detailed the agenda is, showing very specific times for each person’s role. Those detailed agendas make things run smoothly and provide a good structure.

Toastmasters like evaluations

Those new to Toastmasters are surprised about how much evaluation goes on during the meetings. Some point out that many details of the speeches are examined. As some regular Toastmasters would say ‘Everything gets evaluated at Toastmasters. All meetings would have a few people playing the Evaluator role and in some occasions one person would do the job of General Evaluator role. The main function of these roles is to provide constructive feedback. 

Toastmasters’ meetings are not always the same

Regular Toastmasters members especially are constantly surprised with the fact that meetings are not always the same. Toastmasters love variety. We all bring different things to the different roles we play in the meetings. Variety goes from the prepared to the impromptu speeches. Specifically about the speeches we make, there are not two same speeches, even if we follow the same theme. 

Toastmasters treasure feedback

This is something that I personally like to treasure since I started my Toastmasters journey. I collect the feedback slips – they are like little gifts 🙂 And now that we are conducting the meetings on Zoom, I am collecting feedback online, copying and pasting the feedback I received from fellow Toastmasters and guests.

Image by Michael Schwarzenberger from Pixabay

With massive thanks to all North Hearts Speakers who contributed to write this blog.

Rossana Espinoza, VP Public Relations

Toastmaster’s Takeaways: An inspiring Evening

Hello everyone

Mystery Toastmaster here, reporting on our zoom meeting on Wednesday 5 August. 

Great to have a well-attended meeting in August when so many people are usually away.  We had five wonderful guests.

It was great welcome Felicia from Milton Keynes Confident Speakers.  She’s used to shorter lunchtime meetings there so she enjoyed something different with a longer meeting and its relaxed evening vibe. We always value constructive feedback from toastmasters who are members at clubs to learn how they do things differently and we were delighted she commended us on our friendliness.

So much learning for everyone in fact this evening with four very inspirational prepared speeches – we heard about Belbin leadership roles from Enroy, how we can use our environment to change us from Lynne, Rossana spoke about Leadership Lessons from JFK … Airport and Rose had us thinking about the use of negative feelings and gratitude. 

It was a hugely entertaining time with Maria as Toastmaster of the evening (equivalent to chairperson). She brings something very special to the role and revels in the opportunity to be a bit of a rebel and inject humour which we all enjoy.

Well done to Vice President Education, Oliver, for taking on so many roles at the meeting at the last minute which earned him the nickname “Batman” – not forgetting his “Robin”, Enrico who stepped into the role of Ah Counter with no notice.

Our Vice President Membership, Mike, had some great table topic questions to ask us based around Rishi Sunak giving 50% off, which three guests gave impromptu short speeches on.  They had to talk about what they would do with 50% off and why in various scenarios. 

Image by Mark Rosemaker from Pixabay

Our guests took on these subjects with apparent ease and we had some great answers.  These took us cooking with Nigella Lawson, travelling in a camper van and eating lots of ice cream – what’s not to love about that!  Felicia was a worthy winner of our Table Topic of the evening winner – it really was as good as a prepared speech. 

We heard exciting news that North Herts Speakers is going to be introduce guest speakers (who may or may not be Toastmasters) to future meetings – so watch this space for details in future.

Meantime, our next club meeting will be on Wednesday, 19 August 20 – come and join us.