Meeting on December 16, 2013 at Café du Pont Neuf

By Sean Ryan, Wordmaster of the Meeting

Our Club President Antonio Meza welcomed members and guests to the club’s Christmas Party held in a new location at Café du Pont Neuf beside the art deco Samaritaine building and overlooking the river Seine.

The theme of the evening was very fitting for the season. As members donned festive red and green hats our Christmas evening was introduced by Toastmaster of the Evening David Logan, resplendent in his green Ghanaian formal outfit.

Wordmaster Sean Ryan explained his role as combining grammarian, stumble catcher and providing the word of the evening, Merrier or Merry. Peter Kenton asked everyone to raise their glasses in a toast to Christmas. He also said the following joke:

“A man walked into his bank and asked to borrow $5,000 as he wanted to go on a vacation to Tahiti. On checking that the client was, in fact, a billionaire the bank agreed to the loan but asked for collateral as security. The man handed over the keys to his $250,000 Ferrari which was then put into the bank’s underground car park. On his return the man paid back his loan plus interest of $23.07. Curious to know why he asked for a loan when he could clearly afford it, the man replied that it was well worth it. ‘Where in New York can you get car parking for $23.07?’”

In his speech tip of the evening Bob Mohl gave a number of ideas of how to interact with the audience. He cited three: ask questions followed by pause particularly who, what, where, and how; test to see if they are awake; and get them to do an energizer.

David introduced another innovation for the club: Speech Masters Christmas Bingo. Everyone received a card at the beginning of the meeting and whoever had heard and crossed out 15 words shouting out Bingo they would win a present.

Prepared Speeches

Even though he is an advanced Toastmaster and came second in the District 59 Humorous Speech Contest in Budapest, Marc Yoshikawa shared with us some insights about himself in his Ice Breaker speech. We learned about his life growing up in Tokyo, Japan and his love of city centres, cats, cars, Christian education, concerts, culture, and learning communications skills among convivial people.

Heli Aru shared with us about how her fellow Estonians celebrate Christmas or Jöulud. Traditional foods such as pork, meat jelly, potatoes, sauerkraut together with vodka and beer are consumed. Before receiving their present children must sing a song, recite poetry or do another performance. Candles are lit for relatives and there are visits to cemeteries. Heli ended her speech with a very apt remark, “Merry Christmas is what others do for you, while a Happy New Year depends on what you do for others!”

Nicolas Stricher’s life had a dramatic change three months ago. During a phonecall he learned that his international role at his company was being eliminated. He recounted that after 12 years with the company he took the opportunity to move on with his career by accepting a leaving package. While it was a very difficult situation Nicolas managed to finish projects and, using his Toastmaster public speaking skills, to give his best toast ever at his company’s Christmas party.

Table Topics

As Christmas was the theme of the evening Table Topics Master Antonio Meza (ably assisted by Mother Christmas Rose Marie Burke)  invited members and guests to pick out a wrapped present and to share their particular memory or story. Amir Toly surprised us all about his youthful smoking of vegetables. Bertrand Hauteclocque shared his childhood memory of living in Germany where Santa Clause was a frightening man. Cyrillle Jerabek spoke about a winter scene in a painting from Pieter Bruegel.

Rose Marie Burke remembers heavy snow and walking to church on Christmas day while Peter Kenton’s snowflake reminds him of skiing on snow and ice in the mountains of Vermont on very cold days.


In her evaluation of Marc’s speech Elisabeth Dancet praised his sharp structure, humour, use of acronymns and his powerful voice that is full of energy.

Karine Nzeutem evaluated Heli’s speech. The topic was appropriate with a good structure and examples of Estonian traditions. In particular she liked the conclusion of the speech.

In his evaluation of Nicolas’ speech Bob Mohl admired the frankness and personal nature of the dramatic situation.

Ribbon Winners

Best Evaluator: Elisabeth Dancet

Table Topics: Rose Marie Burke and Peter Kenton

Best Speaker: Nicolas Stricher


Our TME David Logan concluded the very festive evening by leading us all in singing at the top of our voices “Speech Masters of Paris We Are” with words written by him to the tune of a Christmas carol.

Next Meeting

Our next club meeting on January 6, 2014 will take place at Chez Clément, 9, rue Saint-André des Arts, 75006 Paris.

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