It’s time to talk 7th September, 2016



It’s wet, it’s windy, it’s miserable. You’ve done nothing but complain about the summer, and now,  like an annoying relative who dropped in for tea (and who actually wasn’t that bad) it’s gone and you’re sorry you didn’t make more of an effort. Time to redeem yourself. This year instead of hibernating knee deep in Dairy Milk, you’ll make some sort of stab at self-improvement. Because, really, can you face one more meeting where you speak like Minnie Mouse and your hands are shaking?  Rise up then from the couch, cast off your PJs and shuffle out into the big, bad world that is public speaking.  For ‘tis September and time to be talking.

Vox is back, this time with a new schedule. We’re on the FIRST  and THIRD  Wednesdays of the month now starting at the usual time of 7pm.  Good news is that Vox is NOT  hiking it’s fees in spite of a hefty price increase from Toastmasters International. We will have to charge both members and guests 5 euro at the door but this is only in line with usual club practice. So more excellent value at Vox.


Our first meeting was last Wednesday and we had impromptu speaking first followed by prepared speeches after the break. Topics were varied and interesting: Would you trust a self driving car? Watch hours of train travel on ‘slow TV’? Should men get more parental leave? And what’s the weirdest place you’ve ever been on a date?  


(Answers: No, no, yes/kinda/it’s complicated, a farm).


We had two advanced speeches. John’s fascinating examination of crude oil prices and Kevin’s motivational/informative speech on second language acquisition (casually showing off his Polish as well). Bo reminded us how advanced the Roman empire was  and Jill told us of the trials and tribulations of having a fish allergy (sounded miserable but all is well now).


Join us for our CLUB CONTEST  at our next meeting on 21st September, 7pm. It’s always a fun night particularly if you enter so DO! It’s  our Humorous Speech and Topics Contests.  Anyone who wishes to compete or help out please email Mark at


And in the meantime, wrap up well,  brave  the rain and get talking! 🙂

Fiona O’Meara

Early Birds and Fierce Women



The early bird gets a lot of good press, but what about the late worm?  He effortlessly escapes death. So the question Joe, our Topicsmaster last night,  asked us to consider is, is it better to be an early bird or a late worm?

Topics abounded with thought-provokers such as the above. Can politically correct men have good manners? What has Europe done for us lately? And what’s a woman’s best friend?  I loved Joe’s intelligent and fun questions which inspired two first timers, John and Luis, to jump up and talk with insight and fluency on the attractions of Dublin.
Talking off-the-cuff is a  coveted skill.  We devote thirty minutes to it every week at Vox in ‘Topics’.  Topicsmasters put prepared questions to individuals who must talk for two minutes. These sessions can be hilarious  but they are also excellent for improving your naturalness as a speaker. Guests are not required to talk, but may if they wish.

The second half consists of prepared speeches and sometimes Open Mic sessions where members can deliver a poem, book review or anything of their choice.

Everyone was captivated last night by Maria Ortega Garcia’s skillful  delivery of her emotionally rich poem One.  Maria was quietly fierce in her delivery letting the poem speak for itself . It is really worth listening to her do so here


We are one
you and me.
Not yet free.
Not all that we can be.
You and me
We are one
with the same plea.

Your marriage at 13 subjugates me
Your burned face due to an unaccepted rejection sets me on fire
Your ironed breast numbs and un-womans me
Your unrecognised rape shames and puts me down
Your denial to have education disempowers me
Your unlikelihood of being the boss dissuades me
Your forced silence when you’re not asked mutes me.

The laws passed on your body.
The critics on your attire
The judgement on your figure.
The blame you receive
even when the crime is committed against you.
The voices telling you that you can’t have it all…

What you endure
makes me grit my teeth
and shrink my stomach
with sadness, pain, rage…

We are one
you and me
We are the same
and your suffering
creates ripples in our sea.

How can I accept and distance from your pain
when the main reason of your suffering
is the very same thing that links us together?
When borders and differences are an illusion
and what causes your pain is also what gives me an identity?

My rights are not universal
and fluctuate whenever I cross a border.
My value and worth
is determined by location
and is not undisputed.

My privileges are just a hideout
where I can pretend I am safe.

Fake pretension.

I can pretend your struggle is not mine
and trust there is a reassuring reason
in the randomness of my birthplace.

Or I can admit that I am part of a minority
that is still suffering beyond words.
I can leave my safe hiding place
and join the fight
because I won’t be fighting only for you
but for me,
for what makes us one.

You and me
not yet free
You and me
we are one.


Maria can be found here

Next week we have a debating workshop with Maria MacMullan, former Vox President, where you can learn how to argue politely, yet always win:). Entry is five euro, 7-9pm, Oil Can Harrys.

First Dates


Ah…the terror of the first date. Am I overdressed? Do I sound stupid? Is there spinach stuck in my teeth? 

Sounds just like the fear of public speaking.  And so it was no coincidence that mischievous Merrilyn held a ‘First Date’ themed session to celebrate the new series on RTE 2.

Not merely satisfied with asking us about lurve,  Merrilyn wanted to see it in action. She made us do THREE First Date role plays.  Fergal force-fed steak to a vegan, Michael Martin flirted with Enda Kenny, and Maria and Patrick debated the pros and cons of sleeping with one’s relations (before they’d even even ordered.)

Other firsFirstDatesIrelandRTE2016_larget timers included the frighteningly articulate Gordon, a Vox Virgin, who spoke intelligently about the need for the Census. “Governments need to start engaging with citizens as effectively as companies engage with customers.”

Jeremy said that size does matter and it sounds like Deirdre has fallen in love – with reading:).

Speeches were exceptionally exciting with another first timer, Karoline, performing her CC1 and suave, man-about-town,  Mark O’D giving us his CC10.

In her speech entitled “The roles that need not define us” Karoline described how moving abroad gave her the freedom to discover a new identity for herself. With an impressive delivery and a superbly structured piece, Karoline brought home her message with crystal clarity.

Mark O’ D teased us with an alluring opening in “Zero.” “Zero: it’s nothing, zilch, zip, nada.” Ok give us more Mark! But with characteristIc charm (and a wee bit of a swagger), Mark took his sweet time before revealing himself… and when he did we all were moved.

What did he tell us? Well, you just had to be there. Miss nada next Wednesday and come feel the chemistry with VOX.

7-9ppexels-photo-640x426m Oil Can Harrys, Wed 20th April

Fiona O’Meara

Vice President Public Relations.

Don’t be a rambler


“Business  is made up of ideas, amazing ideas and these ideas move at the speed of light, so we need to keep up with the light moving forward but cut to the chase and get to the point ….”


You’ve a thousand and one things to do today, but you’re stuck in a meeting with a rambler, pretending you’re interested but really ruminating on your to-do list. If this speaker can’t make his point clear, then he is wasting your time.


But what if YOU too are a rambler? Nobody ever thinks it’s them… But WHAT IF?!?! It’s not just boring people who ramble – so many creative and intelligent people fail to realise that less is more.  If a speaker doesn’t craft and signal a clear, central message of relevance to his audience from the beginning, he has lost them before he’s begun.  Or if she keeps squeezing in another story, or another great idea, she will just fatigue them to the point of indifference.  In an overloaded information age, simple is not stupid – simple is super smart.


Simplifying speeches and getting to the point takes time to master. But help is always at hand with Vox!! Next Wednesday, 13th April we will host a workshop entitled ‘Speaking with Clarity’ which outlines how to craft clear speeches with a defined purpose.  Participants will learn how to generate ideas, distill them into one clear purpose and organise them so as to maximise impact within a speech. Your days of incoherence are over. 

 It will be given by yours truly, a master in the art of rambling, and therefore aware of all the pitfalls we make. I’m incredibly interested in how we can become clear and concise communicators and love teaching these skills to others.

Here are some tips to get you thinking. (Times, venue and cost info below.)

  1. Know your purpose.  Good speakers are clear from the outset about what it is they want to achieve. Yes, this means making a decision.  Once you have generated ideas, decide on ONE angle that will best match your interests and that of your audience and stick to it. This should be written as a single sentence and it is called your purpose.
  2. Stick to your purpose. Write your purpose statement at the top of your page and include only points that directly support it. For example, a good purpose statement would be: “My purpose is to persuade the audience that tidy people are bores”. Claims that support that purpose include “All tidy people talk about is IKEA making them dull conversationalists.” This supports your purpose statement (but will need to be backed up by hard evidence). But the following claim is not supportive and should be omitted: “IKEA serve yummy meatballs in the canteen”.  True, but nothing to do with the personalities of tidiers.
  3. Have good ideas. Often people ramble because they are nervous. Having confidence in a good central idea will help you stick to your point. 
  4. Arrange your ideas effectively. In stage three of the manuals there is a great, simple outline for speech arrangement, and yet most people go off track. That’s because when topics are complex it can be hard to keep it simple. However, learning how to simplify all speeches into ‘main points- sub points – supporting material’ is a skill that will serve you in all areas of your life. Malcolm Gladwell in ‘Outliers’ writes of a dyslexic lawyer who became incredibly successful because he could make complex issues simple for judges and juries. Intelligent speech arrangement is part of a simplifying skill set. 

Hope to see you all there!

Speaking with Clarity Workshop

Date: 7-9pm Wed 13th April

Venue: Oil Can Harry’s 32 Lower Mount Street, D2

Fee: 5 euro

Fiona O’Meara teaches public speaking in Crumlin Community College, came second in the Toastmaster Humorous Speech UK and Ireland Finals, and has first class honours degrees in languages, business and politics.

A Fond Farewell


Last Wednesday’s meeting was bitter-sweet. We had so much fun at topics: there were tales of sleazy master-bakers, girls hating flowers and Sarah imagining life as a salad. There were lots of  lovely new members who really added to the buzz. One guest gave a very confident commentary on an ‘art piece’ and Brian, another guest, extolled the delights of Dublin. Speaking felt easy, fun and sociable – just like it should be. And then we had to say good-bye.


One of our most beloved members, Tommy, is moving to Cork and said his good-byes in his open mic slot. With typical generosity Tommy spoke of how Vox Populi had a hugely positive impact on his life, filling him with self-belief and a sense of power. He spoke of how much we all meant to him and of our support and positivity.

I think, however,  we all agreed with Merrilyn’s appraisal: “Tommy gave more than he ever took away.” Tommy was always pushing the boundaries, entertaining us all with his warm, fun-loving personality; entering contests, taking on new roles and being fully present to every meeting. He embodied the spirit of Vox and will be greatly missed.


After the break we had two great speeches by Sarah and Molly. Sarah’s speech, entitled ‘No such thing as a free lunch’ reminded us that although it may seem we can watch/read/download endless free products from the net, we are in fact paying for it with our personal information. When it comes to the internet, ‘we’ are the product.


Molly spoke clearly and passionately on ‘Dealing With Stress’. She appealed to our reason with statistics on the adverse consequences of stress, and to our emotion with personal anecdotes. Her conclusion struck a chord with many: “ Money does not support our well-being half so well as free time. How simple, how basic, and how important free time is to us, and yet how it is missing from our culture.”


Hear, hear. Looking forward to more good times tonight at 7pm,  and best of luck to Tommy who shared so much of his time with us 🙂

New Year, New You?


So here it is, the future. Just one month ago life was one long Christmas party about to kick off, a  glorious free-for-all of happy hedonism. Tottering home in tinsel at four was the norm as was breakfasting on After-Eights.  ‘Adulthood be damned!’ you proclaimed, guzzling the champers, ‘I wanna be free!’ And how wonderfully evolved you were not to care as you clocked up more debt than a Third World Country and oozed out like jelly over your jeans. ‘New year, new me’, you said secretly hoping tomorrow would never come, but now here it is, January,  and you can just about roll out of bed to find a pen and list your way to a better you.


But why do people bother with New Year’s Resolutions? Do they even work and how much happiness do we ever find in changing anything?


NYRs just don’t stick according to Forbes magazine. Studies reveal that only 8% of people succeed in keeping them and a whopping 75% of people last only one week. Psychology professor Peter Herman of Carleton University in Canada has identified one reason for failure as the “false hope syndrome” i.e people set unrealistic goals.  Another reason is that goals set are too vague and too numerous. Better to set just  one or two specific ones. And a third very common reason for failure is that some people are simply not ready to change. Just because it’s the first of January does not mean that you are ready to stick to the grey, gruesome grind of a new routine. Especially if that routine involves cutting out carbs, sugar and cigarettes – staples surely??


So, time to bin goal-setting then? No. According to Maureen Gaffney, eminent Irish psychologist and author of “Flourishing”, we are hard-wired to set goals and find happiness through achieving them.  Good news for the box tickers! However, it matters what areas you set goals  in. Achieving an increase in salary of eight thousand euro results in only a two percent increase in happiness, whereas hanging out with a happy friend results in a whopping FIFTEEN percent increase. Finding that soulmate, having children, having enough money – these all increase your happiness levels, but only by a mere ten percent.  It’s not very much when you consider how much effort you put into these areas of your life.


What is much more likely to make you happy is how you think about yourself, what you pay attention to, what daily activities you choose and yes, the kind of goals you set. In other words, goal setting makes you happy BUT only if you enjoy the process, value your input and see yourself as a success throughout. The latter point is the most important – how you value and perceive your success is more important than how others value it.


This is why so many of us leave Vox Populi meetings feeling happier – the club values participation over box-ticking. The culture is to support and appreciate just giving it a go – not on whether a certain standard is achieved. (I personally believe there is happiness to be felt in aiming for higher standards, but not at the cost of devaluing people. ) Research shows that achieving goals in an atmosphere of friendship and fun gives the greatest happiness return on investment. As individuals, we tend to be self -critical. But being part of an encouraging group can hugely temper such inclinations.

So don’t throw the pen and pad away – goal setting WILL make you happier. If you want to be a better communicator then signing up for grammarian or timer will give you a sense of meaningful achievement, especially with the rest of us cheering you on:). Looking forward to seeing more of you all in the New Year, to setting goals, ticking boxes and cutting back on the chocolate breakfasts.


Next meeting January 20th, 7pm, Oil Can Harrys.

Fiona O’Meara

Vice President Public Relations

Are you full yet?


It’s been seven hours and three long days since the dawn of Christmas day. Life as you knew it is over and all there is is eating.  Happy animation gave way to blurred stupefaction two days ago, and the only time you can stir yourself to speak is to locate who’s got the Leonidas.  And if you think your life is difficult, imagine if YOU had to write this blog today.  I can’t recall what day of the week it is never mind what happened at our last meeting, but let me just unscrew this bottle of Baileys and I’ll get down to business.

I do recall something about seduction in our topics off-the-cuff speaking. “Avoid the mistletoe, get home to your own bed and regret nothing”, advised G.  Another G lived more on the edge: “It was midnight and we were under the mistletoe. She moved closer…and landed me a gooser.” Santa (Tomas) kissed Jean-Marie’s missus in a role play that had no missus and no kissing but ended in a fist-fight. Such antics garnered them the award for Best Topic.

The feeling of Christmas was alive and well throughout. John evoked images of “red wine and pudding, sherry trifle and jigsaws, rugby and Guinness”. Brian recalled memories of not being able to sleep and his delight at discovering a bike downstairs. And James shared his present purchasing strategy – walk into a shop, stick your paw out and pick something.

The magic continued into the speeches.  Molly’s evocative account of Christmas in her country revealed how on Christmas Eve  it was believed that animals could talk and people could tell the future.

John’s tale of  Tir na nOg brought me back to childhood when I first heard the legend of love and youth in a land where no-one grows old.

Dan impressed us with his advanced manual project of “roasting” certain individuals i.e presenting them with awards.

And I achieved my CC10! My talk was on how we can act to prevent climate change but we need to do so now.

Big thanks to all those who took part and special mention to newbie Eamon for his excellent job as ah-counter. His honest and thorough report was refreshing.

Ok, that wasn’t so hard. More Baileys in future when faced with a challenge. Happy Holidays everybody and here’s to an eloquent New Year for us all:). See you on January 6th!!

Fiona O’Meara

Vice President Public Relations

La solidarite et les frites

Would you leave your lover over garlic chips? I nearly did once. The smell, the look, the lingering after-breath….gross!
Our opinion of garlic chips was but one sought by innovative Topicsmaster Fergal, who used image prompts to get us thinking and bingo numbers to keep us on our toes. Mine was a lone voice on the issue.  Merrilyn and Martin LOVE them.  Never mind your haute cuisine, cheesy garlic chips ruled. Jam on toast was, however, a no-no for Merrilyn as was juicing for Sarah, who won best topic for her eloquent dismissal of liquidised vege. Food shopping is a ninja-style job for Deirdre, just flying through the aisles with her trolley,  whilst salt was voted number one condiment of the evening (by me and an enthusiastic Maria).

La France, the home of good food, was the theme for the night as chosen by thoughtful Toastmaster, Gerry. Sarah,  our frenchflaggrammarian, chose ‘solidarity’ as the very apt word of the day after the terrible attacks on November 13th.

James gave a thought-provoking talk on ISIS in the open mic session. “Bombing won’t solve this,” he warned.
And for the speeches, John told us the remarkable story of  the Battle of Britain as project one of the advanced storytelling manual whilst Fiona recounted the somewhat gruesome story of Oedipus using Powerpoint.
The nicest surprise of the evening must have been Dan’s recital of a poem he penned himself in solidarity with Paris. It was quite touching and I’ll leave you with it here:
(Next meeting is Wednesday, November 25th and on Thursday, December 3rd we have a joint meeting with Dublin club which will be an excellent opportunity to hear new speakers, experience a new club and move out of your comfort zone to talk somewhere new – DON’T MISS IT!).
‘Paris in the Autumn’

A city built with grace, hope, beauty and literary life

Where lovers meet and toast each other in the fading light,

Church bells ring to mark the modern pilgrim’s journey,

In the trail of Joyce or Beckett’s yearning.


The shimmer of the sun upon the Seine,

Marks a wine-celebrated lunch come to an end

The wander past the spire of Notre Dame,

Down through the History of a cobbled lane.


Tree-lined Boulevards guide the walker Home,

The day is dying, but he is not alone.

Paris lights up, a vision of magnificence unsaid,

A monument to the best of, the Living and the Dead’


Fiona O’Meara, 18th November 2015

VPPR Vox Populi

Wonderwoman Wednesday 5th November 2015


Would you time-travel JUST to meet this lady??? Dan G would. Any lady who can deflect bullets with her bangles and lasso baddies in her high-heels was worth facing the eighties for.

But isn’t it disappointing, I argued, that TV’s best-known female super-hero wore scarcely more than star-spangled knickers? That’s hardly a role-model for young girls.

The men disagreed.  “She fought for her rights in her satin tights,” argued Dan O’N quoting the theme song.  “I thought her outfit was quite nice” I thought I heard from the back. “Linda Carter was Miss America and champion of women’s rights.” Yeah! She wore her bikini for that job.

MacGyver (fully attired) was Deirdre’s childhood hero as “there was nothing he couldn’t do.” (See how we focus on ability?). John heroically took on the Ministry of Mindfulness, asking us all to switch off our mobile phones for the day and it earned him Best Topic. Gerry O’B had us in stitches closing up the Web Summit finishing on a serious reminder – multinationals go where suits them.  It was an excellent topics session given by the wonderful Jill F.

Onto speeches then and we had two gems, one from a Distinguished Toastmaster, Barry Lane and the other from contest winner Gerry French.

Barry’s “A Sporting Gentleman” recounted how Jerry Collins, forty-eight times capped by the All-Blacks, aka ‘The Terminator’, ended up on a bus with a motley crew of plumbers and bricklayers to play reserves for a humble Division 5 League Rugby club. In doing so, he proved himself to be a gentleman, posing for photos after and coaching the kids. This funny story was made poignant when we learned that Jerry died in a car crash at only thirty-four, his arms wrapped around his little four-year old in the back who survived.

Gerry French, winner of this year’s Division C contest and off to compete in the UK next weekend, had us in stitches with his humorous speech “Don’t Get Me Started”.

What gets Gerry grumpy? Mobile phones, Facebook, blogs – don’t get him started. “Men who complain about being married don’t actually live longer than single men. It just seems longer. Complaining won’t make us live longer, we know that, but it will make us feel better. Say it straight … we love being irate.”

Well, if you’re looking for stuff to get your goat AND hoping to fit in some time travel whilst you’re at it then check out the clip below. Watch Wonder Woman get her knickers in a twist (I couldn’t resist) whilst lassoing the lads.  Oh ladies, don’t look…

(And.. don’t forget our debating workshop next Wed, Nov 11th in Oil Can Harry’s 7pm. More info below).

DEBATING WORKSHOP – 7pm Oil Can Harry’s Wed, November 11th.

Experienced debater and former VOX President, Maria MacMullan, teaches us how to debate. Through practical exercises and tips Maria shows us how to argue and rebut. Suitable for beginners and experienced. Only five euro for guests and FREE for members. 

Fiona O’Meara








We believe in one drink, Guinness the almighty.

guinness“Arthur’s Day” may have been axed this year but VOX is still going strong and as mad as ever. Wednesday saw us fighting horse-sized ducks, rewriting the “Our Father” (sooo funny – read it below) and being hit by meteors in the street.

Mark’s outstanding topics session combined the frivolous with the serious. I failed to convince members that an Evil Knievel Toastmaster type reality show would be a hit, whilst Colette succeeded in arguing that childcare is a really important issue in Ireland.

Frank thinks that, yes, men should pay for women on a first date whereas Gerry thinks that first dates might enjoy the Bramstoker Museum in Fairview which everyone should visit at least once. Siobhan advised us to “prepare for the war when we take on the battle” and Deirdre advised avoiding ‘Happiness’ the movie as it is anything but happy.

On to speeches which were really enjoyable. Malgosia,  a lovely new member, gave a very impressive icebreaker on the power of positive thinking. She’s gone through “different stages in her positive thinking career” but ultimately she believes it enabled her to get the job of her dreams and succeed in exams.

Ana-Maria gave an excellent CC8 speech making intelligent use of PowerPoint. Her speech on the architect, Antoni Gaudi, engaged, interested and informed us and her slides were simple containing beautiful images of Gaudi’s magnificent work.

The high “pint”  of the evening, however, was Gerry’s recital of a reworking of a classic in response to the cancelling of Arthur’s Day.   It is SUPERB!

We believe in one drink, Guinness the almighty
Makers of cans and bottles
Of all that is drunk and un-drunk
We believe in one brewer, Arthur
The only son of Guinness
Eternally begotten of the hops
Hops from hops, barley from barley
True drink from true drink
Begotten not made
Of one distillery of the Father
Through it all things were made
For us men and our salvation
It comes down from St. James Gate
By the power of the market he became incarnate
And was made a rich man
For our sake we are crucified under Pontious Prices
Bad pints, suffer hangovers and A.A. meetings

On the next day we rise again in accordance
With our scruples and ascend into oblivion
We come again to judge the living and the dead
We believe in one alcoholic beverage
Brewed and bottled under one licence
We acknowledge one Arthur, son of the almighty pint
Conceived in heaven and sold on earth
Blessed is the one drink through one father and many
Sold under one label and distributed throughout the
We look for the resurrection of new drinks
And a cure for hangovers.

Amen to that.

Area Contest is on next Monday, 5th October in the Lantern Centre, 17 Synge St, Dublin 8 at 7.30. Please come to support our own Maria McMullan and yours truly in the Table Topics and Humorous Speech contests. Should be a laugh!!

Fiona O’Meara