Speaking Enthusiastically Wins the Day – October 2nd

We had another energetic and fun packed evening at Epsom Speakers Club on Monday 2nd October. After the excitement of the humorous speak and table topic competitions, it was going to be hard to keep the energy going. With everybody’s valuable input, we managed to have another amazing evening, with learning, laughter and more learning and laughter. The evening was a great success.

Paul D did another great job at setting up the room and organising the guests. Wasn’t it great to hear Clare, our general evaluator commend the club on a super warm and friendly welcome. That really is where the club can build from strength to strength as we keep our guests entertained and enthused by a warm Epsom Speakers welcome. The standards at Epsom Speakers are on the rise again, as we see new members improving at an explosive rate.

We then had Doris guiding us for the evening as the Toastmaster. Doris did show us her experience as a Toastmaster and kept the meeting to time, as well as adding some of the Toastmaster philosophies to her well-oiled performance. Doris introduced her team for the evening, namely Lloyd as timekeeper, Rohan as ballot counter and Sheena as videographer. And what a splendid job they all did. The frog was particularly busy on the warm up.

And the warm up role was taken by a first timer and newest member of the club, Julia Belling. I remember when Julia first came to Epsom Speakers and she had trouble with introducing herself as a guest and said she wanted to improve her confidence in public speaking. Well Julia has definitely done that. Julia chose a topic where everyone seemed comfortable talking about and did manage to leave us with a joke at the end of the session. Well done to Julia for her first time at the warm up role.

Then came the speeches, and what a line up we had. Amanda started the proceedings with her speech on Books, and really did let us know about her passion for reading. Justin let us know that we should all inject enthusiasm into our speeches, and did it with some wonderful vocal variety. I spoke about my awakening to a new me, and how we can move into a more compassionate and empathetic world. And Charlie gave us an entertaining speech about a wedding video which had some lovely twists and turns.

Then came the evaluation part of the evening. First up we had Aishi evaluating Amanda’s speech in his cool and humorous way. Phoebus evaluated Justin with an excellent evaluation, especially as it was his first evaluation. Penny evaluated Peter and Anjana stepped in at the last minute to evaluate Charlie. These were all very good evaluations. Evaluations are at the heart of the learning curve at Toastmasters and we all learned from these great evaluations.

After the break we had the table topics session performed by David Goodman. The theme of the topic was defend the indefensible. We certainly had some interesting topics here, and David did manage to get everybody speaking, which was great. Rohan started the session talking about Donald Trump. Justin spoke about the salary of footballers. Katy shared her hatred of wheels. Elizabeth let us know that free speech is so important that we should pay for it. Dennis spoke about the flat earth. Varun told us that Amazon Google should be exempt from tax as they provide such a good service. Clare spoke about compulsory naturism on Sundays. Julia spoke about wearing black socks with sandals for men as she says most men’s feet are not nice to look at. And Costa nearly broke out into a rendition of ‘I want to break free’ as he shared with us that he is the woman of the home. It was a fun and entertaining session and many laughs were had.

David Lane then evaluated the topics session with his usual laid-back style which was also informative and Clare Crowther (from Hull Speakers) performed the role of general evaluator to finish of the evening. Clare has become an accredited speaker through Toastmasters and wanted to share this information with you. She has done very well to have achieved this award and here is the link if you require any more information about it.

The winners of the contests were as follows. The best topic was won by Costa. The best evaluator was won by Anjana. The best speech was won by Justin. It is really good to see so many relatively new members winning awards. This also happened at the speech and topics contest. The area contest is being held on this Thursday 5th October at Surbiton Speakers club. Our winners going through are Paul D, Charlie, Phoebus and Costa. If you are free that evening please come along and support our members. I am sure they will deeply appreciate it. I am sure it will be another great evening. Please remember not to turn up in the new Epsom Speakers dress code of hat, black socks and sandals and that it. You may raise a few eyebrows. Lol.

Our next meeting is scheduled for Monday 16th October with Phoebus stepping out for the first time as Toastmaster. I am sure it will be another fun packed evening of learning and laughing. Let’s keep the energy up, and all improve our skills of speaking, leadership and organisation. Thank you all for being so supportive and enthusiastic. I always believe the more you put in, the more you get out, and you are all certainly putting in good work. Let’s keep it up.

Have a great couple of weeks.

Kind regards,
Peter. 🙂

Member Testimonial – Justin Pybus

“A total game-changer” Justin has been a member for just 1 year and says it’s been his best career move yet

“Joining Toastmasters has been a total game-changer for me”

Since joining just one year ago, I have been promoted twice thanks to my new public speaking skills. The funny thing is that while I never lacked confidence to stand up and speak in front of people, it was blatantly obvious that I lacked the skills required to deliver compelling presentations. I didn’t know how to prepare properly, I tripped over my words and forgot key points.

BUT, by going through the exercises and tasks set out in the “Competent Communicator’s” manual, I now prepare thoroughly, keep a cool head, and relate better to my audience. I’ve also learnt to use fundamental techniques such as body language, vocal variety and gestures. My presentation are now engaging and effective, and I am able to communicate better be a more effective in my work and personal life.

I was nervous to join Toastmasters because it looked quite formal, but once I got into the room and started meeting the members at Epsom Speakers, I quickly realised that I was in a friendly and supportive environment where I could improve easily. Certainly the best career move I’ve made!

HOW TO! – Prepare and Deliver a Speech

It takes preparation and practice to create a speech before it is ready to be delivered at a club meeting. First you need a subject that will be suitable for the objectives you have to meet, you need to write it out and then start to prune it back so that it has an opening to entice your audience to listen to you, a logical flow of your subject and a strong ending which the audience can take away with them. Practice, practice, practice to yourself until you are comfortable with what you are going to say and make sure you will be in time. Record yourself and listen for the dreaded filler words such as ‘em’, ‘you know’, ‘actually’ and similar.

When it is your turn to walk towards the rostrum walk tall, take deep breaths, shake hands with the Toastmaster and make sure the stage is how you want it to be. For instance, move the lectern to your side at an angle if you are using notes or move it away if you are not. Give yourself sufficient room to enable you to use gestures and move around.

Start with a strong voice to engage your audience. Be expressive with voice modulation to add light and shade to your words and use gestures to emphasise points. Whether your message is serious or humorous, use facial expressions to create the feeling you want to convey. Don’t be afraid to be expansive in your movements and tone of voice, it all adds to the enjoyment for the audience.

Obtain advice and guidance from your Mentor and take note of the comments given by your evaluator, both oral and written, these will all help you to improve and enable you to give a better performance with each speech. It will also help you in your quest to become good at giving evaluations and also taking part in topics. Watch the video of your speech and relate that to your evaluation and work on the areas of recommendations to enable further improvement.

Remember you are performing in a very supportive atmosphere and all members will be encouraging you to do well and to keep improving, this will then give you the courage to speak outside the club.

What are your next two or three projects? Do you have ideas for these? Write them down before you forget and then start to work on your next project and give yourself time to prepare and practice, you will then be ready and comfortable to give a good performance which fellow club members will enjoy.

From Speakeasy 157 – March 2012

Hints and Tips – Beat the Butterflies

Have you ever wondered why some speakers seem cool, calm and collected when speaking in front of an audience? Does it make you feel you could never aspire to that level of confidence? Not so! Everyone of us who start speaking in any speakers club is nervous, it is part of the learning curve to master those nerves so that the ‘butterflies’ in your stomach are all flying in the same direction.

We all need some adrenalin rush, complacency and over confidence can be the downfall of any speaker. So work with your Mentor, gain evaluation feedback from other members apart from your named evaluator to enable you to find out what you have done well and the areas where you could improve.

From Speakeasy 138 – August 2010

HOW TO! – Use Your Voice

Each speech you give, whether a prepared speech, evaluation, impromptu, topic or general evaluation, is all an occasion for you to use your voice. As a painting has light and shade to give it interest, your voice has loud and soft, to help you to project and give emphasis to every aspect of what you are saying, rather than monotone which can be very dull for the audience.

Remember your audience, they want to listen to what you have to say so make it as interesting as possible, create a mood within your speech, whatever your subject. For instance, if talking about a sport, create the atmosphere of that particular sport demonstrate how the crowd may react to a football goal, a cricket run out, a tennis game, etc. If you speak about one of your particular holidays, bring this alive and use your voice to describe the colour of the sea, the different food, the peaceful surroundings, a crowded bar or any part of the trip that was different.

During an evaluation listen for the vocal variety and give demonstrations how the voice could have been used to improve the effect. Encourage the speaker not to be afraid to use their voice to make the speech much more interesting.

Practice in front of a mirror, record yourself and listen carefully when you play it back to see where you can add impact by speaking in different tones.

Exercise your throat muscles with deep breathing and stretching your mouth to the various vowel sounds.

Now, let us hear a speech with great voice modulation and projection!

From Speakeasy 89 – August 2006

Hints and Tips – Three Ps

When practicing and giving speeches, do remember the three ‘Ps, Pitch, Pace and Pause. Use voice modulation/pitch to keep your speech interesting, the right pace – not too fast, not too slow and finally pause, a second or two between points helps you to consider your next point and gives the audience time to assimilate what you have just said. Never use ‘em’ instead of a pause!

From Speakeasy 119 – January 2009

HOW TO! – Choose and Handle Topics

Topics participants only have two minutes to give a mini speech therefore the Topics should be on subjects that everyone can say something about in that time. Firstly choose a theme i.e. recent news, sports, learning, hobbies etc. then break this down into say 8-10 different topics under the one theme creating a stand- alone topic. Think about what it is you want people to speak about and give it some thought and prepare well. The time allowed for your session will determine how many speakers you can get to take part.

Make your own notes and choose members from the audience who are not on the programme and try to make your first participant a longer serving member to enable newer members to see and listen to what is expected of them should they be called. There may well be times when attendance means you will have to ask those on the programme to take part. Please do not ask the Timekeeper or the General Evaluator, they have enough to concentrate on during the evening and do not need distractions. Give the timing required to the Timekeeper, state the Topic and introduce each participant stating what it is they are going to speak about. For instance, a theme could be “Unusual Hobbies.” The first could be ‘tell us how you play croquet’. The second could be ‘what is required to do patchwork’ etc.

Remember this is your session as Topics Master so it is up to you to introduce it well and decide which way you are going to call up members whether by using envelopes or calling them cold. If you call cold, state the topic first and then call on someone, that way everyone will have to listen carefully to what you are saying in case they are in the hot seat! When your session is finished, close it properly by calling on the Timekeeper for timings and then giving a resume of who spoke on what. It is then you request the audience to vote for who they thought gave the best topic. You then hand back to the Toastmaster for the evening.

From Speakeasy 168 – February 2013

An Energetic New Year – July 3rd

What an honour to preside over such a talented group of people. I thought the meeting was very energetic, fun and full of learning. I big thank you to Gillian, who organised the meeting as the new VPE. Well done to Gillian for making such a success of your first meeting.

The meeting was opened by Paul Dowdeswell, who is our new Sergeant at Arms. He certainly brought the meeting to order with the use of the gavel, and then gave us an energetic opening to start the proceedings off. Ian Upton was Toastmaster for the evening, and showed his experience by guiding the meeting so well. We can learn so much from Ian in the role of Toastmaster, as you are not looking to be the centre of attention in the role, but you need to make your presence felt. Ian did that brilliantly. His analogies using sport and celebrities were also insightful.

The warm up was ran by Kirk Dack. Who would have thought that was his first meeting as a member. That was a brilliant warm up and enabled everyone to speak. I look forward to Kirk’s icebreaker, which I imagine will be coming soon.

Then we had the four speakers. Timur opened the speaker part of the evening. He did a great speech on technology, which made me think. Timur showed much improvement from his icebreaker, which is always great to see. Katie spoke next and gave us five points about organisation. She also used Phil Collins songs as signposts to where she was going. It was more like a C7 speech than a C2, so there is so much promise there with Katy and we look forward to seeing her growth as a speaker and a committee member this coming TM year.

Phoebus spoke next, and what an improvement also. Phoebus spoke about bread making and how it relates to improving your life. A very clever analogy, and a very solid C2. Again, I am sure we will see great improvements with Phoebus, like all the speakers. Then Charlie gave a humorous speech on careers. Charlie was a little under the weather, but did give us a humorous speech. Charlie won the speech competition so well done Charlie. He is one of the most experienced speakers at the club and showed us how to do it with his speech.

Then we had the evaluations. I enjoyed evaluating Timurs speech. Kevin Perkins did a very animated and insightful evaluation of Katy. Justin gave us a great evaluation of Phoebus and Amanda evaluated Charlie, who is one of the hardest people to evaluate. All the evaluators did a wonderful job. Evaluations are at the heart of the Toastmaster meeting, as this is how we learn from our mistakes. Everybody learnt from these evaluations. Amanda won the evaluation contest, but there is no surprise there. Amanda is one of our best evaluators.

We then had the Table Topics run by Penny. Penny did a great job as everybody managed to speak on topic. Paul Hickson went into a Presidential type address in the middle of his topic, and managed to put the theme of his topic to the floor. A very clever tip when you are not sure what to say next when performing a topic. We had Costa speaking on Glastonbury, and how he wouldn’t go. Aishe on horoscopes, where he obviously didn’t know that these go back to the Mayan civilisations, but entertained us in his usual upbeat way. Aishe also gave us a fantastic interpretation of Mystic Meg which was brilliant, and guided us into the yellow light. Doris spoke on animals talking. Another excellent topic, as Doris is one of our more experienced Toastmasters. Elizabeth on hot or cold weather. Again Elizabeth always has something interesting to say and we are lucky to have her experience at the club. Emma spoke on the 60’s, but forgot about the moon landings. Her insight into an explosive era was great fun, and great to see. Rohan spoke on time travel versus teleportation. We had a wonderful look into the perils of time travel and the benefits of teleportation. Paul H spoke on the seven wonders of the world, who I covered earlier. Raj spoke on robots and artificial intelligence, and really bought up some more points that Timur was considering in his speech and Charlie spoke on healthy eating, which was funny and insightful. Charlie won the topics, and it is always wonderful to see a guest win the topics.

Sonia went onto to evaluate the topics. It was Sonia’s first time as topics evaluator and you would not have known it. Sonia showed us how to evaluate the topics, which is one of the most difficult evaluation jobs in Toastmasters. Sonia definitely rose to the challenge, and it was great to see.

David Goodman gave us the general evaluation and again another brilliant job. Dave is a very experienced speaker and he commended us on our performance and let us know what we could do better to improve the evening. Dave has taken on the role as treasurer again so we look forward to his insights into how to make the club better for all of us.

It gives me great pleasure to serve you as President this year. We have a feisty new committee with some experienced hands to steer us in the right direction. We have some evenings coming up in August, and I will be in touch about them soon. I would like to see the learning curve keep growing, as we have had an excellent year with Doris at the helm. Keep shining on and making the world a better place around you.

ESC President

Nicely Chilled – 19th June

Our final meeting for this TM year and it was the hottest day so far this year. So, it was wonderful to find ourselves nicely chilled, sitting in the well air-conditioned Azalea Room at Bourne Hall with experienced toastmaster Penny Williams at the helm as TM for the evening. Ian, as Club Secretary, took us through a quick EGM to elect Katy Minson onto next year’s Committee as Club Secretary. Then it was business as usual.

City worker Rowan breezed in just in time to do the Warm Up, with a very relevant question: “what does Summer mean to you?”  Mangoes, watermelons, sailing, surfing, biking, BBQs, cricket, fresh water swimming, cannabis…and more cannabis, apparently. Interesting what one learns about one’s fellow members…

Always great to have C1 speeches on the Agenda, and tonight we had two. Despite running over time, we learnt about the many entrepreneurial adventures and ventures of Timur Ganiev, originally from Uzbekistan and now a resident of Sutton, in his Icebreaker speech. Local Ewell resident Katy Minson wowed us with her story-telling skills, giving us a glimpse of her generous and focused nature and personality. Justin’s C4 speech with the title “Immigration Laws are there to protect us” was thought-provoking and controversial, leading us to his conclusion to take time to question statements so that “the truth will set you free”. Our fourth speaker was Peter Parker with an Advance Speech entitled “New Opportunities”. Winner of the Best Speaker vote went to Katy.

Paul van der Hagan joined Sonia, Ian and Charlie to deliver Evaluations. As a first time evaluator, Paul did a nice job highlighting Timur’s existing speaking strengths and what to work on. Congratulations to Ian who won Best Evaluator for his comprehensive feedback on Justin’s speech.

Gillian led the Topics session, with the theme on giving her advice on a range of topics from what to do about the dent in the car to what to do when you can’t get to sleep. Guest Emma won Best Topics with her insightful speech about what to do when you can’t stand your best friend’s new boyfriend.

Our very attentive Topics Evaluator, Aishi Lim, gave a commendation and recommendation to all 9 Topics speakers, while General Evaluator, Amanda Zwarts, effortlessly reviewed the evening’s proceedings before we adjourned to the warmth of the Wheatsheaf’s beer garden.

Many thanks to all my Committee members who’ve helped make my year as President especially fun and fill of learning. It’s with great pleasure that I hand over the President’s “gong” to Peter, who takes on this role from 1 July. Celebration time – see you at President’s dinner next Monday at Thames Sailing Club.

ESC President

Taking time and space – June 5th

It’s been a hell of a fortnight since our last meeting, with the terrorist attack in Manchester followed by the horror of the attack so much closer to home in London on Saturday. Justin Pybus, TM for the evening, led a fitting one minute silence to pay tribute to the victims killed and wounded. Taking time to stop, to pause, to breath, to reflect – a very welcome space for all.

“Where were you and what were you doing at 10.08pm last Saturday night?” was Elizabeth’s very pertinent Warm Up question. It connected us to those tragic events, and the responses gave illuminating insights into members’ lives. It was comforting to know that I wasn’t the only one tucked up in bed!

And thus began what was, as Stephen Taylor, General Evaluator, put it: “one of the most enjoyable evenings ever”. Justin had been working overtime before the meeting, liaising with the speakers and working out the Agenda and timings. He had the added challenge of fitting in 5 speeches – the most we’ve had in one meeting. As Stephen noted, Justin’s introductions and transitions between speakers showed how well he was listening to the speeches, as well as knowing each speaker’s objectives. Not bad Justin, for a first timer in the role of TM.

We had a wide variety of speeches – a C2 from Sumbal about building confidence, a C3 from Rohan on mindfulness, a C4 from Kevin Perkins about selflessness, a C10 from Bohwon and a very special non-Manual “Father of the Bride” speech from Paul Dowdeswell. Without exception, all speakers performed admirably, as noted by their respective Evaluators Gillian, Amanda, Ian, Costa and Adam, who “facilitated” Paul’s evaluation by crowd-sourcing feedback from the audience.

It was a pleasure and privilege to witness Paul’s speech. This was his dress rehearsal before the real deal which takes place on Saturday 17 June at his daughter Charlotte’s wedding, the main reason for Paul joining Toastmasters. It’s great that Paul’s not only staying on and continuing his Toastmaster journey after the nuptial event, he’s going to be our new Sergeant-At-Arms.

Taking the honours for Best Speaker was our elegant Dr. Bohwon Kim, with her C10 speech entitled “Unstoppable”. Professional, polished, poised, as well as humble, humorous and hilarious – Bohwon demonstrated so well the many lessons she’s gained on her Toastmaster journey through the CC manual. I particularly loved how she showed how much one is communicating BEFORE one even opens one’s mouth. Bohwon communicated with her eyes, her face, her body, her gestures, as well as her tone, pitch and pace. A whizz-kid with super Korean genes, Bohwon – who has a Ph.D. in Engineering (in French from Paris) – expressed her gratitude to ESC members for helping her build her confidence to speak in public, enabling her to secure her dream job at the top university in London – Imperial College. And her next goal? Ladies’ Captaincy at her golf club, just so that she can get that reserved car parking space! As Costa, who won Best Evaluator vote, noted: Bohwon is now a very “Competent” Communicator indeed.

Adam led a relevant and highly amusing Topics session. With the General Elections coming up on Thursday, the theme was “what would you say if you were canvassing to be the next Minister of….important stuff like….Public Good Manners, Fun and Laughter, French language for all UK citizens, or Standardised Haircuts (like in North Korea)?”.  Despite a tight timetable, six brave souls took to the podium and delivered some seemingly not dissimilar rhetoric aka politicians in real life. Congratulations to the Minister for Banning Domestic Pets, Katy Minson, for winning the Best Topics vote against some formidable candidates.

Dave Lane, acting SAA for the evening as well as Topics Evaluator, with his keen eyes and ears, was able to give commendations and recommendations to all our aspiring politicians.

Our final meeting for this Toastmaster year is on Monday 19 June, with Penny Williams as TM. See you all then,

ESC President