5 steps to preparing for the Toastmaster of the Evening assignment

I attended the TWP Toastmasters Club meeting this evening where I was Toastmaster of the Evening**.

It’s been a while since I fulfilled that role, and in preparing for it, I was reminded of a few things that if done, will make for a well run and enjoyable meeting.

Like all toastmasters assignments, preparation is key. Here’s a simple 5 step checklist to keep handy when preparing for this assignment

1. Program – get the draft program about a week before the meeting – even though it may change, it will at least give you a structure to prepare for.

2. Theme – is there a theme? If yes, prepare your notes with this in mind. A theme provides scope for research.

3. Timings – check the timings – are they realistic? If the Vice President Education (VPE) is trying to squeeze too much into the evening, it will make your evening more challenging. After all, it will be your responsibility to keep the meeting running to time. If the timings are not realistic, chat to the VPE and suggest cutting a peripheral session or decreasing the length of the recess, for example.

4. Prepared speakers – phone those doing prepared speeches. Confirm their speech titles, and remind them to let the Sergeant at Arms know if they have any speaking requirements.

5. Notes – ensure you get the final program a couple of days before the meeting, and prepare an outline of the evening on paper. This is your script. Off course, there’s a good chance that the program will change, but the outline shouldn’t.

Preparation for this important role is key to a smooth meeting and will keep any fluttering butterflies in your stomach flying in formation.
** The Toastmaster of the Evening is akin to that of an Emcee (MC) at a wedding. The President will hand over to the Toastmaster of the Evening early on in the meeting and it is up to this person to keep the meeting flowing, the audience entertained, and the meeting running to time.
Tomorrow’s post: A checklist of what to do on the evening.


I recently joined Goodreads and have set my book reading target at 24 books this year. That means it’s 2 books per month. I am, at the moment, 4 books behind schedule, so I have much to catch up. It helps that I have audio-books which I download from Audible. I’ve almost finished with Carol Dweck’s Mindset and the Psychology of Success.

I went past the supermarket on my way home this evening and bought a tub of ginger cookies. When I got home, my husband, aka Ché, was baking cookies. This engineer should’ve been a chef! This post’s feature photo is of the cookies. They are yummy

That’s all I have time for today, I am falling asleep at my keyboard. Tomorrow I hope to have a more coherent post.

Admissions of a closet political analyst

This year marks the 20th year of South Africa’s young democracy. I have vivid remembrances of that day in 1994, the first time the majority of South Africans were able to vote for the first time. People stood in long snaking queues for hours. Nobody minded because those hours were nothing compared to the decades of struggle it took to get South Africa to that point.

This year, on the 7th May, we have another National election, and it’s the first time the “born frees” (those born after 1994) will be exercising their vote.  The website of the Independent Electoral Commission of South Africa states that 80.5% of the eligible voting population are registered to vote.

Yesterday I spoke to an expat couple from Spain who said that voter turnout on election days in Spain has been gradually dropping due to various reasons, not least of which is dissatisfaction at the government’s handling of the country’s financial situation.

Out of the 80.5% registered voters in South Africa, we will only find out on the 7th May how many actually turn up to vote on the day. I hope that, unlike Spain and other European countries, many South Africans will exercise their right to vote and turn up at the polls on the day.

I admit to being a news geek and addicted to politics, locally and around the world. I have kept up to date with the unfolding situation in the Ukraine, and been more than alarmed at the reports coming out of Venezuela.

And that’s just this week, adding to the woes of a world increasingly at odds with itself.  I majored in Political Science at university, and once, a long, young and naive time ago, I still thought of doing something with it. I don’t regret never having gone into a related field, although I sometimes toy with the idea of going into politics.

But that idea is short-lived because I have no illusions about the sacrifices and compromises even well intentioned politicians have to make. So I’m happy remaining a closet political analyst.

Summer clouds


I can tell from the clouds that summer is tapering off into glorious autumn.

In summer, cotton-woolish cumulusnimbus clouds show who’s boss with thunderstorms, hail and lightning. It isn’t fun driving in these conditions because visibility reduces to almost nil, in some cases golf-ball sized hailstones seriously dent many cars.

The rain is warm, of short duration, and it’s also the time when many electrical appliances get taken out by lightning.

Despite the intensity of these storms, I will miss them during the colder months…because for as long as there’s cumulusnimbus clouds in the sky, there is summer on the ground.


The comic books I grew up with

I remember the comic book vendor coming to our door every week in Maputo. My grandmother or my mother would buy me 2 or 3 comic books to see me through the week. I grew up with the adventures of Asterix and Obelix, Tintin, Caspar the Friendly Ghost and the Brazilian comic book character Lulu. They were in Portuguese, and when I came to South Africa and learnt to speak English at the age of 9, I re-read these comic books all over again, this time in English. My husband still has his collection of Asterix and Obelix and Tintin; they are carefully guarded, and are still the source of much enjoyment for both of us.