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

Negotiating and evaluating – Two excellent public speaking skills – August 21st

Again we had another successful night at Epsom Speakers. The format was different but the energy and enthusiasm was very high yet again. A big thank you for Paul D for setting up the room, and organizing the projector in such a timely manner. And a big special thank you to Penny Williams and Amanda Zwarts for giving us such excellent presentations. I do hope that you acquired new skills form the evening. I certainly did.

The evening started well with Penny giving her presentation on Successful negotiations. Here is a breakdown of the content. Penny has also kindly offered to send the slides to anyone who is interested in them. That is a wonderful offer and I do hope you take up this.

Think ‘Win – Win’ as both parties need to be happy with the outcome of the negotiation for it to be a success

Prepare before you negotiate 

  • Know what you want – your max price, do your research, establish the best alternative if this negotiation isn’t successful (can you go to another dealership or get the goods/services from elsewhere), as well as the price you would like to get (aspiration price)
  • Know what the other party wants – their expectations and motivations
  • Options – what possibilities are available

During the negotiation

  • Gain rapport first
  • Discuss – get the other person to name their price first if you can
  • Propose – What if…?
  • Agree – Use the options to come up with a solution
  • Negotiation isn’t always the best option – car dealerships may do a deal at month end to hit their sales quotas
  • Nine magic words – What else can you do for me on price?

We also had an amazing insight into how Amanda sees evaluations. Although slightly restricted for time, Amanda gave us some really useful nuggets of wisdom to help us on the path to being a better evaluator. Amanda did stress that evaluations are not just for the speaker, or the evaluator but for the whole room to learn and gain insight on how to be a better listener. Amanda did promise to send out a handout so you can all revise what you learnt during the evenings session. Amanda also helped with the sessions after each speech brilliantly, allowing anyone with an evaluation tip to vocalize it. I felt this worked well and I hope the newer Toastmasters had a greater insight into evaluations and how important they are. Well done Amanda. Maybe we should have a longer session about evaluations in the future.

We had four great speeches firstly from Phoebus. It is always great to see a new Toastmaster improving before your eyes, and Phoebus is most definitely a prime example of this. He spoke passionately about Everything changes. It was an interesting and insightful speech, and Phoebus showed us how much he has improved since his C1.

Next up was Sonia Pritchard. Was that really the Sonia Pritchard who joined the club all that time ago. Sonia gave a great speech, and again showed how much she has improved. There was a timely reminder that is very important to remember the three key elements of your speech, or have them easy to see with your notes. Apart from that, I thought Sonia’s improvements were fantastic.

Following Sonia was Kevin Perkins who talked about coming home. It was an interesting speech, but I feel some people in the room did think the same as me which was ‘Why are you telling me this?’ Kevin was his usually upbeat self, larger than life, funny and utilizing his intelligence for our entertainment. Kevin is also growing as a speaker and it is always good to see him on the agenda.

Last and not least was David Lane with his speech entitled ‘The tale of two Toastmasters’. David has given this speech at another club, which he said went down far worst. I felt David did get some good feedback from the members and I do hope that he has learnt from the experience of using a projector. There is an art to it, and David is slowly learning that, as his performances are improving. David is a great speaker and has a good presence on stage. I know he is working hard at improving his skills and it shows.

Well done to all who made the decision to turn up for last night’s new venture. Life always gives you choices. And remember if you make the right choice each time the opportunity comes up, you are well on the way to a more enlightened life. I do hope the opportunities come for all of you who have chosen to better yourself through Toastmasters. I am honoured to be presiding over such a talented group of people.

Keep on Shining.

El Presidente.



ESC meeting 7th August 2017

What a lively and energetic meeting we all experienced on Monday. Again I was really pleased to be presiding over such a group of talented people. I do hope you gained as much as I did from the experience and I hope the club goes from strength to strength. Even though the numbers were low, the energy in the room certainly made up for it. There seemed to be much laughter, thought provoking ideas shared and a lovely cake kindly provided by Katy. From the speakers we came away with this idea. Design your life by being a superhero and by using the flower of success technique. How amazing is that. Also it made me realise that Toastmasters is a sales organization. It is selling the members a better version of themselves. That certainly is food for thought.

The evening started well with Paul D, our Sergeant at Arms setting up the room well. Paul also stepped in and did the warm up at short notice. When you have been a Toastmaster for a while, it does help you to be more proactive and help out where you are needed. Paul was a shining example of this. Some of the newer members should note that Paul also held his position on stage until the next person came to the stage and shook his hand to relieve him of his duties of being on stage. This is a very courteous skill and one we all should adhere to when conducting our meetings. It not only shows respect for the previous speaker on stage, but gives a definite hand over of roles from one member to another. Paul did this very well on Monday evening.

We then had our very experienced Toastmaster Amanda, who did another amazing job of keeping the laughter going, the energy up and the evening flowing. Amanda even came up with a new word. Feedbackers. Let’s all become great feedbackers to happify the world. Epsom speakers even extends your vocabulary to words that don’t even exist. How about that!!!!!

The three speakers all gave us excellent performances and much was learnt by all. Justin made design sound interesting, Dave Lane spoke about superpowers within you and Dave Goodman spoke about his technique of the flower of success. Dave Goodman won the best speakers award with his wonderful presentation.

We had three astute evaluations by three very experienced Toastmasters, which were Penny, Aishe and Costa. We can learn much from how people evaluate differently, and it is a very important part of the learning curve at Toastmasters. To work on your evaluation skills, definitely helps you become a better all round speaker. Costa went onto to win the best evaluation award.

We went onto the topics session and had Katy performing the role for the first time. Katy ran the topics like an award ceremony. The session was innovative and lively and I feel everyone had something to say. Elizabeth shone out like a star again by mentioning Scottish dancing on a completely unrelated topic. Amazing. So the topics ran like this. Costa won the award for the biggest bottom. Sheena was the biggest suck up. Zahir won the award for constantly repeating himself. Bobby won the award for most likely stealing the biscuits. Elizabeth won the award for unwanted advice. Phoebus won the award for forgetting where you are, and Paul D won the award for gaining the most parking tickets at Bourne Hall. Paul D won the session with a great topic. Everybody did really well though. There are fact sheets available for you to prepare for table topics, so make sure you have a read of this information, as it prepares you for these types of sessions. It will help you to enjoy them rather than fear them.

David Villa Clarke did an amazing topic evaluation session, where he managed to give everyone a commendation and recommendation, make us laugh and entertain us while educating us all the same time. David was obviously paying attention to the speeches earlier as he was showing us his superhero abilities.

Paul Hickson ended the evening with his general evaluation. It is great to see Paul back at the club more regularly as we have missed his wit and observations. It was a great evaluation on a wonderful evening. I will certainly take note of what Paul recommended to me, which is to stop Pee ‘ing on stage. We look forward to seeing you at the next meeting which is a special workshop hosted by Penny and Amanda on 21st August. I am sure the learning curve will be high again. Make sure you have fun until then.

Peter. 🙂
El Presidente.