Mullingar Toastmasters, Pat Cavanagh, Philip Howlin, Jacqui Wiley, Pauline McCabe, Hijesh Lohidhakshan, Deirdre Bigley, Niamh Tubridy, John Waldron, John Coyne, Derek Walsh, Patricia Raleigh-Doyle, Laura Gahan and Rachael Waldron.

Toastmasters are back

Mullingar Toastmasters returned to the Greville Arms Hotel last week, with an autumnal theme.

With the temperatures dropping and the evenings closing in, it’s always cosy, welcoming at a Toastmaster gathering. The club welcomed eight guests for the first meeting of the season, and vice-president of membership, Jacqui Wiley, presented them with a ‘welcome pack’.

Vice-president of education, Deirdre Bigley, had a chat with them on what Toastmasters is about and Philip Howlin gave them a take-home single sheet on the ‘Anatomy of a Toastmaster Meeting’.

Club president Pauline McCabe welcomed everyone back, and talked about Mullingar Toastmasters being a ‘President’s Distinguished Club’, the highest level of recognition at Toastmasters International. The club met the membership prerequisite and achieved all 10 goals.

Pauline challenged members to challenge themselves, to step out of their comfort zone, to do that speech, complete a project enter a contest, visit another club…

Toastmaster Philip Howlin hosted the evening and reminded everyone that it’s 90% about turning up, as you will be surrounded by speakers, and they will bring you along.

Fáilte officer, Jacqui Wiley, gave a warm welcome to everyone in the room, and wished all an enjoyable night.

Derek Walsh explained his role as grammarian, said his word of the night was ‘Plainly’ and encouraged everyone to include it in their speaking. He sat in plain sight policing the use of the word as well as checking for filler words and catching any ‘ahs’ flying around the room.

Timekeeper, Hijesh Lohidhakshan, with his stopwatch at the ready, explained his role as timer. He made the meeting ran on strict time.

The first speaker of the night was Deirdre Bigley, with a speech that drew in everyone in the room, ‘Part 1 of a twofor’. She began with her opinion of the club as one made up of dreamers, pragmatists, jokers and poets. In her speech, she used the line of a John Keats poem: Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness. She spoke encouragingly and fluently, her words magically swirling around the room like autumn leaves. She finished by asking everyone to join her at the ending of her speech.

Niamh Tubridy was the second speaker of the night with ‘The Leading Edge’, reminding the audience of the Rosalynn Carter quote, ‘A leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don’t necessarily want to go, but ought to be.’ Niamh empowered the room with her words.

The third speaker, John Waldron, finished his path on ‘Presentation Mastery’ with a celebratory speech, ‘Reflect on Your Path’. John took the room on his journey of achievement with gusto, and said: ‘This old dog has learned new tricks and is willing to share with others.’

John Coyne evaluated Niamh’s speech and Pauline McCabe evaluated John’s. Tom Byrne took on a double evaluation role, evaluating Deirdre’s speech and taking the role of general evaluator of the full night.

Table topics followed after a brief recess for a cuppa and a chat – an important part of the night when members get to chat with new guests. Table topic master was Anke Von Bunau, who took control with a copy of the Westmeath Examiner at her fingertips, throwing out topics that were current and fresh and enabling members to take up some impromptu speaking.

Throwing out a headline, followed by a question, Anke challenged them to go on many tangents for two minutes. Some requested add-ons of a minute on the same topic.

Deirdre Bigley confessed to being locked up for being too beautiful in a cell with no mirrors, or mascara.

Eilish said she reads the papers for gossip but prefers glossy magazines. Pat Cavanagh dreamed of a car-free town centre, and would make all car parks free.

John Coyne told us how parking meters are the bane of his life.

Margaret said she would agree to join Mullingar Choral Society if only the would invite her along, despite her omission of not being able to.

Mark said that the future is good, while Lorraine would sell you her house for a steal, at €2 million, with herself included. Don’t worry; she wouldn’t bother you; she’d be too busy writing her next novel.

Gareth spoke about his travels to Venice with his family and how mosquitos loved him, and only him, so he must be a nice flavour.

Pauline talked about her forever memory of her trip to the sun, the scar on her knee from the fantastic trip hiking up the mountain.

Trish told the group who she would like to see getting pie on their face, while Hijesh informed the group that he had met Michael O’Leary, and he was a kind man.

Many of the guests on the night took part, showing their budding skills were ready to blossom and grow. One guest, Laura, used the phrase, ‘September to remember’, which left the room in the minds of many.

Philip Howlin said that it was great to see two new speakers from last year speaking and to see how far they had progressed.

Tom Byrne, as general evaluator, told the group how it was great to see everyone in the room get up and speak so freely and confidently.

President Pauline wrapped up the meeting by celebrating members’ membership milestones. She extended the club’s appreciation and congratulations to Philip Howlin for his five years in Toastmasters and John Waldron for 25 years, and presented them both with certificates.

The next meeting is on Thursday, September 28, at 8pm at the Greville Arms Hotel and it is the open night – go along and see what Mullingar Toastmasters are all about, and bring a friend.