Lorraine’s Humorous Look at the Decline of Marriage


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This month, we had a couple of meetings where I had no assigned role, but was lucky enough to get a chance to speak both times nonetheless.

On the 12th of March, I was asked at the last minute to evaluate Lorraine’s humorous speech. Lorraine is a very confident speaker who spoke at this year’s humorous speaking contest – so I knew I’d have my work cut out.

It’s much harder to evaluate a really good speaker. Firstly, you have the feeling you’re not really qualified to comment – after all, I’ve only been going to Toastmasters for just under a year.

And then, you have the problem of just understanding the project. The beginners’ speaking manuals have clear, step-by-step objectives. In the later manuals, the objectives get more sophisticated, and there tend to be more of them.

Finally, you have the difficulty of actually finding something constructive to say. When the speaker is too good, it’s awfully hard to find something they can improve on.

And so it was with Lorraine. Her speech had been prompted by a newspaper article she’d read, about the decline in the number of marriages.

It was a charming speech, with lots of clever puns and word-plays. It was extremely hard to find something to suggest to improve it. Perhaps, I thought, the punchline timing could’ve been stronger, once or twice, but that was splitting hairs. And then, I thought, it had been brave of her to make fun of men so often – after all, half the audience were male.

I had a close to my evaluation ready – I wanted to finish with a reference to a Britney Spear’s bikini (which had been one of Lorraine’s jokes). However, despite all attempts at a strong finish, I still made my usual “and that’s all I have to say” close. Why do I say that? I’m still working on it…

In the end, Lorraine got the “Best Speech” ribbon – and the “Best Humour” ribbon too. That just goes to show you how great her speech was. But I was proud as punch to get the “Best Evaluator” ribbon. Lorraine said we had a clean sweep!

On a separate note, we were treated to Sheila’s entertaining speech on the value of a smile. The point she made was how much you can affect the environment around you, with a simple smile. Whenever you greet someone you know, smile. When you meet a stranger, smile. The world around you will be brighter. Even babies just a few weeks old know this!

And that’s true. Sheila’s speech made me think about my little daughter, and her lovely smile. It made me smile all week.

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