Public speaking. Can you learn to love it?

Epsom Speakers Club Monday 19th February 2018

To love public speaking may seem a pipe-dream for so many people. It is more fearful than death according to certain surveys. That is quite a statement. But can you learn to love it. I believe you can. What do you need to do? Practice, practice, practice!!!!! It really is as simple as that. When you engage in as much public speaking as you can, the fear slowly subsides, and you build confidence each time you attempt to speak in public. It is a process all the more experienced speakers have been through at Epsom Speakers Club and we are witnessing a high standard at the meetings at this point in time. As I stated at the end of the meeting, I am grateful for the opportunity to engage with every member at Epsom Speakers and try to help achieve the individual goals we all have. I see that it is in the spirit of cooperation and appreciation that is the beginnings to fixing this broken society we live in today. The divisive strategies appearing in many forms from politics to religions, gender to sexuality etc are causing so many problems today among human beings. It is fantastic we can put all that aside and learn together. We can entertain the positive thoughts of starting to love your public speaking. You can do it. Only you can choose that fate for yourself. Epsom Speakers Club is just the vehicle.

Penny Williams was the Toastmaster for the evening. The evening was guided by Penny in an effortless way, and she explained all the parts of the agenda well, and let the Topics Master explain his role. Penny showed us how to be a great Toastmaster. Just enough to feel her presence, but not too imposing to detract from the other speakers. The Toastmasters role is probably one of the most fun roles at the club, and you do see the meetings in a different way after taking on the role.

We had Norman on the lights, who was very organised and explained why we use the lighting system at the club. We had Mark as videographer, explaining why it is important to have your speeches filmed. And Doris stepped in as ballot counter. Then came the warm up which was taken on by Phoebus. I used to look at Phoebus when he spoke as a new member, but his growth as a speaker makes me see him in a different light now. Phoebus has improved so much as a speaker and took to this role like a fish to water. He asked what do we do to relax after work? The warm up should enable everyone in the room to say a few words on the subject, and Phoebus certainly did that. Play stations and beer stood out, though I must say more and more people are turning to meditation to relax, which is hard, but a very enlightening pursuit.  When you can slow the monkey mind down, life really does take on a different look altogether.

We had four wonderful speeches and the competition was close for the winning speech. We witnessed two C2 speeches from Chris Terry and Julia. Chris spoke about speed cameras. Chris raised some interesting points. If you look deeper into why the road safety set up is the way it is, then that is a very interesting piece of research in itself. Julia spoke about being a parent. One of her children is in their terrible two’s. Julia looked more like a C7 or C8 speaker and was evaluated in that way. Julia has made enormous improvements in her speaking, and it is great to see. I do remember her as a guest. She found it so difficult to introduce herself. I see the confidence starting to rise in her public speaking and it is a joy to see. Also Julia highlighted a good point that we do judge parents on moments in time rather than seeing the whole picture. Another good tip was don’t go to Pizza Express before 7 pm if you want a quite meal out.

Paul Van Der Hagen was next up, and his speech was about flying. For me, it was like Paul quoting my Father. He used to say ‘If you don’t ask, you don’t get’. Paul also has improved greatly as a speaker and gave us a very interesting speech about hitching a lift in a plane. I would never of dreamt of doing such a thing. My Father would have though, so Paul has re awakened the more adventurous spirit that has been lying dormant in me for a while. It was another thought provoking speech. And last but not least, we had Lloyd speaking about loving his spot. It is wonderful to see Lloyd reaching his C10. I know he has really worked hard on his speaking. Lloyd does much background work for Epsom and Mole Valley speakers as well. It is great to see him now achieving his C10 award. Speaking in public takes on a different turn when completing your C10. It is a different pressure. You feel you have to produce something special each speech. I am sure Lloyd will rise to the challenge. Lloyd went on to win the best speaker prize, but it was a close call.

The evaluators were Daniel, Patrick, Costa and Gillian. All the evaluations were of a great standard. This is at the heart of Toastmasters. Everything is evaluated, and therefore we learn from our recommendations and build on our commendations. I feel the evaluations at Epsom are becoming so much more refined. The recommendations are clear and easy to understand, and everyone in the room learns from them. I did notice there were some people evaluating in the first person, rather than the third person with some evaluations though. This is a little distracting for the whole audience as it starts to feel like a one to one conversation, rather than addressing the whole audience. Patrick also raised a good point during his recommendations of asking a question of the audience. Rather than saying ‘Has anyone…?’, ask ‘Have you….?’. This makes the question open to everyone and more personal. These seem like little points, but they are very important. It is the little things that mean a lot. Daniel went on to win the best evaluator. Daniel also is a relatively new member, and he has improved remarkably also.

After the break we had the Topics Session ran for the first time by Rick. Rick is another new member to the club and is slowly and methodically chipping away at his nervousness at public speaking. This was a great example of how he is achieving this by running a great topics session. The theme of the session was interview questions. I can’t even remember the last time I went to an interview in a formal way, so this was particularly interesting to me. The participants were Dave Goodman, who let loose with a foray of jokes, myself, Doris, Justin, Elizabeth, who managed to speak about Scottish dancing again, Aron and Phoebus. It was an amazing topics session where everybody had something to say, and many laughs were had. Justin went on to win the topics session.

David Lane was Topics evaluator. David gave us good commendations and recommendations for every participant.  David is becoming more confident as a speaker since being at Epsom Speakers. David is good at finding recommendations and is a real asset to all of our learning experiences. And last but not least was our general evaluator Aishi Lim. Aishi gave us a wonderful run down of the evenings proceedings and kept the humour going from the topics session. Aishi has a wonderful presence on stage and showed us this with his observant evaluation of the evening.

I had so much fun last night I was laughing most of the evening. Laughter is so good for you on many different levels, but it also helps to stop you feeling so nervous. I do hope you all learn to love speaking in public. I am very grateful also to be able to preside over such an amazing club. May the learning curve keep growing.

Keep shining.

Kind regards,

Peter. 🙂

El Presidente.

The heritage of Epsom Speakers

Epsom Speakers Club meeting Monday 5th February 2018

Firstly, I do want to reiterate what I said last night.  I am truly grateful for Epsom Speakers Club, the heritage that it has passed down to us, and the people who share that history today in the terms of members of our club. Without the members, there would be no club. Without the committee, there would be no organisation of the meetings, and without the heritage, we would be a fledgling club just starting out on the Toastmaster journey. As a member of Epsom Speakers, you know there is a great history behind us, and a bright future ahead of us. All the tools are there for you to look inside yourself and bring the greatness out from within. We are all here to help with that personal journey of public speaking and leadership. Rest assured that you have a diligent committee working hard in the background to keep this all alive. And I will say again, a big thank you to George Hollis for his donation of £1,000 to the club in his will.

We were given a great treat last night with Patrick Ebbs as our Toastmaster. Patrick is a very experienced Toastmaster and has encouraged me greatly as I keep trying to get better at public speaking. Patrick showed us his gravitas last night as he held the stage and ran a very entertaining evening. Patrick’s team was also on good form, from Paul D setting up the room, Rick H, who was first time up as timekeeper, Phoebus as videographer, and of course all the members on the agenda.

Chris Terry opened up the proceedings with his first warm up. Chris was looking for holiday suggestions to take his young family on. It was a great warm up, as everybody spoke well. Many ideas were given to Chris to help him find the perfect destination for his holiday. Then came the speakers.

First up was Justin with his C9 entitled White Dune Kite Camp’. I can’t believe Justin has already reached his C9. The speech was a little bit of a sales pitch, which Amanda quite rightly stated that this is frowned upon. But Justin did get away with it, and it certainly made me think about what his Sister and associates are trying to do. It certainly looks like an interesting holiday idea if you want an action holiday. Wall to wall sunshine all year round sounds great to me also.

Katie performed her C6 entitled ‘The big 5 – 0. ‘ This speech was a list and again Amanda showed here experience by saying lists are usually frowned upon at Toastmasters. Again Katie did make it work in her usually upbeat manner. It was a touching speech. Also what is wonderful to see is two relatively new members proceeding through their manuals and learning the skills necessary to become a great public speaker. So well done to Katie and Justin for providing us with the speeches for the evening. Please, please, please try to keep to time. It is important for many reasons.

Charlie presented an educational about the Youth Leadership Programme that we participated in at Woodcote School. It really was a life changing experience for the young people who took part. The pupils grew in confidence, stature and speaking abilities while we were running the programme. Charlie reiterated that so well during this educational. The Youth Leadership Programme is a great way to help young people empower themselves so they can say what they feel, in a confident articulate way. So thank you Charlie for your educational, and thank you for organising the meetings at Woodcote.

There were no winners of the speech contest as all speakers went overtime.

 Then came the evaluations. David Lane started the evaluations. David was evaluating Justin and gave us a very insightful look at Justin’s speech. He gave Justin some very good commendations, but did say he wanted to feel more of the emotions of a story in the speech to persuade him further that we all should go on a holiday like this. David has grown well with the club and is a very keen Toastmaster. This really showed on Monday, so thank you David for your valuable contribution.

Next up was Doris with her evaluation of Katie. Again Doris is a very experienced Toastmaster and gave Katie many commendations. I also agree with Doris saying Katie could have gone into more details of just a few of the points, than going through all 50. Maybe that would have lost some of the idea of the speech, but it certainly was food for thought. Doris went onto win the evaluation contest. Again Thank you Doris for your great contribution to the evenings agenda.

Last up was David Goodman. David also did a great evaluation of Charlie’s speech. Dave was on the team at Woodcote School. We did have a little more information given about the experience. David found some good recommendations as well as commendations for Charlie. Thank you David for your contribution to the evening.

After the break we had the topics session. Costa ran the session. It was a thoughtful  topics session looking at balance in certain aspects of life. We had many participants, both new and old members alike. We also had guests participating. Costa achieved his objectives as Topics Master as all the speakers managed to speak on their given topics. We done Costa. The winner of the topics was a guest called Chris.

Aishi was the topics evaluator. Aishi is also now one of the more experienced Toastmasters at Epsom, and gave us a very funny and insightful evaluation of the session. Aishi has a lovely way about him that is funny and entertaining, while he manages to get important points across. Thank you Aishi for your contributions to the evening.

And lastly, we had Amanda as General Evaluator. Amanda gave us an insightful evaluation for the evening. Many commendations and recommendations were given. Amanda is another very experienced Toastmaster, and she showed it with her General Evaluation. Thank you Amanda,

Patrick did mention at the end that many people had left during the break. I do not feel that this was not a reflection on the evenings proceedings. I feel that this was due to people having busy lives. So keep moving onwards and upwards and I look forward to seeing you at the next meeting on 18th February, where Penny Williams is going to be our Toastmaster.

Keep on shining.

Kind regards,

Peter. 🙂

El Presidente.