Reeds – 16th November

Once again a lovely warm welcome from the team at Reeds. We enjoyed a delightful meal where I was able to chat with Adam Shaffer, the chairman of the evening, and Sally Briggs, one of the maths teachers. Mr Ha had done a great job on organising the event.
As guest Toastmaster I was asked to give an educational speech on impromptu speaking. I provided the team with some top tips. I reminded the team that the Table Topics are designed to give people a starting point to talk from and not simply to make it as difficult as possible to answer! They were also reminded of the Toastmaster way of providing feedback in the form of commendation recommendation.
After the meal we split up into three separate rooms. There are now 57 members in the club and this is the only way we can ensure that most people get a chance to speak.
The prepared speeches were to a very high quality. I’m always impressed with students confidence and eloquence. Most of the speeches were delivered calmly with great vocal variety and appropriate pauses. We were treated to a wide variety of talks on subjects as diverse as why you should go to the gym by Antoine Thomas, should we legalise cannabis by Jamie Baker, the history and personal experiences of Zimbabwe by Serena Fleming and experiences of a border at Reeds by James Watson.
Evaluators were all well observed and were much gentler than previous evaluations we have heard. I was delighted to see suggestions on how to improve on the recommendations rather than just pointing out items for improvement.
I’m really glad that I wasn’t asked to take part in the impromptu speaking. I think that the topics had already been thought of and they were very tough! How would you answer topics such as ‘what is your favourite item of cutlery?’, ‘Canned bread’, ‘why did Cinderella’s shoe fall off?’ and ‘What’s it like to be a Penguin?’
In answer to your question, Thomas Hancock answered the question about canned bread by telling us how we ended up with a huge bruise on his lip after a great game of basketball earlier in the day. Well done Thomas!
For the prizes, we had a draw for best speaker in Antoine Thomas and James Watson. Luke Basi was the best evaluator and Sam Hunt the best topic on how to get away with murder!
If you haven’t already attended Reeds than I would highly recommend that you speak to Patrick Ebbs and get yourself booked in for the next event.
Best wishes, 
Dave Goodman

Epsom Speakers Contest Night – 5th March 2018

We had a galaxy of stars at our contest night on Monday! So many eager contestants that it really was hard to fit in everyone who wanted to speak. But we did try. Justin Pybus and I were ‘newbies’ to organising a contest, but backed by the expertise of long-standing club members, and with the enthusiastic assistance of newer members too, with a wonderful team effort, we got there. And not forgetting those staunch Toastmasters from other clubs who were willing to head out on a dark winter’s night and give a hand. This is what I really love about Toastmasters – the community working together to create something fantastic!

So thank you to everyone who helped, before, or during the contest. Our timekeepers, Rohan and Matthijs, ballot counters Elizabeth and Paul Dowdeswell (taking time out from his Sergeant-at-arms job), videographer, Rohan, ushers, Paul Hickson and Mark Peacock. To Elizabeth for her warm-down, evoking memories of snow. To our two contest chairs, Doris Sew Hoy and Paul van der Hagen, keeping control over the proceedings and each lending their own personal touch. To Lloyd for valuable advice beforehand and help with printing, trophies and publicity. Very much to Patrick Ebbs, our chief judge, and to all the other judges, from ESC and Mole Valley clubs (you know who you were, though you weren’t supposed to let on, at the time).

And so to the speakers. There were seven entrants to the international Speech Contest, and each one, in his own way, sought to inspire and enthuse us – to raise our spirits and fire our imaginations!

Peter Parker gave us his three keys to success – the one that inspired me was to picture yourself in that winning situation, feel what it would be like to be there in that moment.

Dave Lane took us on a visit to Goodenough Street and showed us that great achievements can be made in ordinary ways, just by keeping on doing whatever you are able to do. It doesn’t have to be perfect; it just has to be good enough!

Dave Goodman gave us a thrilling story of first-aid rescue (with his trade-mark comic punch-line) and urged us to take up first-aid training so we could be prepared for that moment when the worst happens.

Justin told us his personal story of endeavour and risk, in starting his own business, and quoted from Mark Twain ‘Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbour, catch the trade winds in your sails!”

Charlie talked about removing the barriers to success. These are often just a question of attitude, created somewhere along your life when someone else persuades you that you can’t succeed.

Costa asked us where are you heading? A clear explanation of how to set and achieve realistic goals.

Dan Magill shared personal moments with us. How much difference can an hour make? 5 minutes, even one minute, could make all the difference, could be the point when a life changes.

In the Evaluation contest, we were honoured to have experienced speaker Bob Nisbett from Camberley and Guildford clubs with his speech ‘The Flying Monk’: a real tour-de-force – he had us on the edge of our seats, and a master class in many ways. Despite this, our intrepid evaluators, Amanda, Penny, Charlie, Phoebus, Dave Goodman, Doris, Peter and Dan Magill managed to find a few points for possible improvement, amongst all those shining virtues, so very well done to them, too. Definitely not an easy task.

At the end of the evening, Patrick Ebbs presented certificates and trophies. In the evaluation contest, first place went to Charlie Warshawski, second, Amanda Zwarts and third to Penny Williams.

In the International Speech Contest, first place was Dan Magill, second, Charlie Warshawski and third, Dave Goodman.

Very well done to our winners, and to all of the contestants!

Two winners from each contest will now go on to the Area contests at Mole Valley Speakers on April 11th. You are all encouraged to attend!


Reed’s School – 23th February 2018

I was invited to attend the Reed’s School 6th Form Toastmasters club. The meeting was very well organised and the Chairperson, Matthew Moran ensured the evening went to plan. I was invited to talk about Humour and how to use it effectively in speeches. The key points, in the form of “DOs and DON’Ts” I shared were:


  • Only use humour when it fits your speech. Humour has to fit into the content, tone, and structure of the speech;
  • Use humour for a speech from your own personal experience;
  • Ensure that the humour is funny to you. If it does not make you laugh then do not expect your audience to laugh;
  • Ensure that the humour relates to the point you are making;
  • Do practise your humour as funny passages need to appear spontaneous;
  • Have fun and enjoy yourself!


  • Tack on jokes at the beginning of a speech to ‘break the ice’;
  • Launch into a long humorous story; audiences are quick to forgive a single line that may not be funny, but will not forgive a long anecdote that is not worth the time. So start out with brief bits of humour;
  • Start by saying, “Let me tell you a funny story.” Let the audience decide for themselves;
  • Use offensive material.

The prepared speeches, evaluations and impromptu speeches were of a high quality and Mr Ha and Mr Gibbins, the joint Presidents of the club are to be commended for the time and effort they put into developing the members.

Patrick Ebbs

Reed’s School – 8th December

It was a privilege to be invited to Reed’s school to support another lovely evening of their sixth form Toastmasters club. The evening was well attended, with 40 students, four staff, the headmaster and his wife, plus me! It was a very festive evening with everyone wearing a wide variety of Christmas jumpers, and the room decorated in a Christmas theme.

After a delicious dinner, I was charged by the Toastmaster, Eleanor Graves to give an education slot. The topic was gestures. I gave a brief demonstration of how not to do it (hopefully intentionally!), Before drawing up some key features of what people do well with gesturing. I made sure that I mentioned my faux pas of the chicken wings that Patrick often gives me feedback about!

The room then split into two and I stayed to watch one of the groups. There were four speakers, four evaluators, and four topics Speakers. What they did well were high quality topics with interesting and stimulating material – about Christmas, mental health, whether to go to university. To work on is their engagement – bit less use of notes and be more eye contact. The evaluators were very good at their analysis, and need to work on brevity in the recommendations. The topics speakers were very good at engaging the audience and being amusing. Their area to work on is more courage to come out from behind the lectern

The evening was very well managed by Eleanor. She was organised, professional, and offered encouraging comments to speakers. Overall this was a very enjoyable evening. They are halfway through their Toastmaster calendar and are clearly developing their skills. It will be great to see how far they have gone by the end of the year.

Charlie Warshawski

HOW TO! – Be a Courteous Member

A great deal of work goes into ensuring each meeting has a full programme so that we can all learn from each other. We know that there are times when people have to work late, maybe caught in traffic or train delays or even on holiday. That is life, however if you find you are unable to attend for any reason, do send in your apology either to the Sergeant at Arms or the VP Education or even the Toastmaster for that evening. When you receive the grid make sure that you review it and should you find a date where you are allocated a role and you know that you will not be there, inform the VP Education immediately so that another member can be offered that role.

Oh what a lot of fuss you may say! Not at all, in business or other organizations it is courteous to advise if you are unable to attend. It is another skill that we are learning at Toastmasters to make us all confident in every aspect that we are aiming to achieve.

From Speakeasy 136 – June 2010

Reed’s Night – Friday 13th October

Doris Sew Hoy and Costa Nicolaou spent an enjoyable evening at Reed’s School last Friday, dining with the 38 Upper Sixth form members of their Toastmasters Club. As guest speaker, Doris delivered a ten-minute talk about guidelines for evaluating speakers and speeches. Just like at our ESC meetings, she introduced the group to our Feedback Form, encouraging everyone to write at least one commendation and one recommendation for each speaker and evaluator, as a way of practising and improving their own evaluation skills.

After dinner, the group split into two. Costa joined one half in the Library, while Doris remained with the other half. They observed some very entertaining and thought provoking prepared speeches followed by evaluations and impromptu speaking. It was great to see how quickly some evaluators had picked up and applied some of the tips outlined in Doris’ talk in their evaluations – commenting on aspects of content, structure and delivery.

This was the School’s third meeting of the year, so there will be several more opportunities for other ESC members to take part in a Reed’s Toastmaster evening and witness the oratory development of these talented teenagers. Just speak to Patrick Ebbs, who is ESC’s Youth Leadership co-ordinator.

HOW TO! – Organise your Speech

Each speech should comprise of an introduction, the main body and a conclusion and this is the structure of any talk. The introduction should be a maximum of two minutes as attention spans are very short. You need to make sure you have the attention of your audience and they have an expectation that you will start well, so make your introduction count.

The body of your speech gives the details which is better if you deliver it in bite size pieces. Break your content down into key points or sections, it will be much easier to remember that way and if you practice well, you will get everything in the correct order. If you have statistics or researched information, this will enable you to expand your subject. Don’t read your speech word for word as you will lose spontaneity and this prevents eye contact which means you will lose the attention of your audience. You know how much time you are allocated and this will allow you to set each section to time.

The conclusion should briefly sum up what you have said and should be strongly delivered rather than just trailing off to end your speech.

There are several ways in which you can put a speech together, you can sit down with a blank sheet of paper, write the topic in the middle then elsewhere note your formula (introduction, body, conclusion) and your approach (main idea, divide into key points, select supporting material etc). Rehearse your speech repeatedly, trimming it for timing and do it until it sounds more or less the same three times in a row. Any notes you use should be written big and bold enough to read from a lectern that is away from you, remember the light on the stage may be poor. If you are using visual aids, arrive at the venue early to set them up and make sure they work and are positioned to the best advantage. Use these to complement a speech and remember not to speak to them, you are speaking to an audience.

A speech is really you talking to friends in the audience. Remember that, make sure you are organised and your nerves won’t let you down.

From Speakeasy 134 – April 2010

Hints and Tips – Plan Ahead and Arrive Early

When using Power Point or any other form of visuals for a speech, arrive at your club early and test the equipment. Don’t take chances that all will be OK, remember fail to plan and you plan to fail!

Bulbs blow on overhead projectors, laptops need the right connection, so give yourself time to set up. That way when you deliver your speech the equipment will not let you down and the audience will enjoy the presentation without any hiccups.

From Speakeasy 153 – August 2011