New ways to learn how to speak in public

Epsom Speakers meeting 19th March 2018

First of all, thanks for everyone braving a bitterly cold night to come along to our meeting on Monday evening. I must admit, I poked my nose out the door and nearly turned back when I saw two penguins happily walking along the street. I knew it was bitterly cold from the biting cold on my nose, and how comfortable the penguins looked. Of course I am joking, but it is all of you who make the effort to come to the club each meetings that makes the club such a success. So thank you for making the effort. We are all appreciative of your efforts for all of our learning experiences.

We had a very experienced Toastmaster running the meeting. Amanda Zwarts was the Toastmaster for the evening and kept the energy going for what was promised to be a very informative evening. There were many hiccups at the start as we were not sure what time the general evaluator was going to turn up, and one of the evaluators couldn’t make it, among other problems. Apart from all of these problems, the evening ran smoothly. Amanda’s team did a great job. Mark was the timekeeper and kept us to time. This is a very important aspect of refining your points to a specified time. Paul D took on the videographer role, which he jumped in at the last minute to take on. Julia was ballot counter and was made redundant at the beginning of the meeting, as there were not enough speakers to vote for. It is was quite a choppy sea at the beginning of the journey of the evening, but these problems were overcome very quickly.

Fatai then took on the warm up. We were asked about presents for Mothers day and everybody managed to say something on the subject so it was a good warm up. The purpose of the warm up is to give people the opportunity to speak for 20 seconds and try to make it as easy as possible for the members. Fatai did this well.

Then came the speakers. First up we saw Matthijs with his ice breaker speech. It was great to hear about his midlife crisis, and how he is coping with it. Matthijs spoke a little quickly, but this is understandable with an ice breaker, as I am sure the nerves were tingling. It was great to hear him speak about himself. Well done for completing your ice breaker. Second up we had Charlie with an advanced speech on Toastmasters. Charlie is one of our better speakers and went through all the ways Toastmasters can help you with your quest to become a better speaker. Even our more experienced Speakers can draw a blank, and Charlie did lose his train of thought during this speech. We can all learn on how Charlie calmly waited until the thread of the speech came back to him, and then carried on as if nothing happened. It was a very good example of staying calm if you lose your place. It happens to the best of us, so if you are new to Toastmasters and public speaking, you need not worry. Your confidence will grow the more you get up on stage and speak.

The evaluators were Phoebus, who was evaluating Matthijs. Phoebus has improved with his public speaking and evaluation skills quietly and confidently over the months he has been a member. Phoebus gave us a very good evaluation of Matthijs. Phobeus showed us he was listening and observing the speech well. I am sure we all learnt much from this evaluation. Doris stepped in and took on Charlie’s evaluation. Doris being an ex President and one of our most experienced Toastmasters gave us a great evaluation. She did give a few recommendations as well as many commendations. Again we learnt much for Doris’s evaluation.

We then took a break, which Paul organised the refreshments so well. Instead of the usual topics session we had an educational on Pathways. Filip graced us with his presence instead of attending his new clubs International speech contest. A big thank you to Filip for doing this. He presented an easily understandable presentation on Pathways. Although some of the processes are a little harsh on some of the older members, I do understand why it has to be that way. Any change can be hard to take, as we are all  conditioned to be creatures of habit, but I feel that this change is going to be a good one. Club meetings will not change. What you have to do for your educational progress is going to change though. I am here to help, as well as any other members of the committee. So if you have any questions please just ask. You have all been sent the log in details to the website so go ahead and get stuck in.

David Goodman gave us a great general evaluation to end the evening. He ran through the events of the evening well and gave us all something to think about with his commendations and recommendations. So thank you David. David was also very positive about the change of education system we are all facing and was prepared to start again on his Toastmasters journey. Great inspiration from David there. Thank you.

Our next meeting is on 9th April when Dan Magill will be our Toastmaster. Please reply to him as soon as you can for your roles. It is his first time and he is hot off the experience of winning our International Speech Competition, so I am sure it is going to be a great night. I will see you then.

Keep shining.

Peter. 🙂

El Presidente.

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