Learn to speak in public with courage and openness

Epsom Speakers Club Monday 21st May 2018

It was another great evening at Epsom Speakers Club. I thought the theme of the evening was really about courage and conquering your fears and preconceptions about public speaking. We do have a talented group of people at the club. That was on show this meeting with some thought provoking speeches, astute evaluations and interesting table topics answers. On the whole there was much laughter again. The whole room seemed alive with energy. I feel this makes Monday evening at Epsom Speakers Club something to look forward to.

We had a change of schedule for the meeting this week. Patrick Ebbs kindly agreed to chair the Annual General Meeting. Patrick is a very experienced Toastmaster and handled the proceedings very professionally. The session was thorough but was over on time, and everybody seemed happy with the result. I look forward to organising where the generous donation we received from George Hollis will go with the subcommittee. The subcommittee will then put the proposal forward as to where the money may go. I am pleased to see new members taking on committee roles also. It helped me with my leadership skills by taking on these roles. I was not going to do that when I joined Toastmasters as I was focused on learning to speak in public, but the roles have developed me not only as a speaker, but a leader also. The change in me is amazing. I hope it is as fruitful for all of you.

Costa was the Toastmaster and handled the role admirably. We had a good explanation of all the roles. Paul was the timekeeper, and Lloyd the videographer. Both stepped in at the last minute. A big thank you on behalf of the club, as these are very important roles. Elizabeth was the ballot counter for the evening. The whole team performed well and made for a smooth running of the meeting. I would reiterate Charlie’s general evaluation that when introducing the speakers, more emphasise is needed to lift the room for the arrival of the next speaker. Clapping of hands is not only encouraging for the next speaker up, but also stimulates the acupressure points on the hands when you clap. This helps to increase the energy in the body. It is truly a win win situation when we clap the next speaker onto stage.

Next up the speakers. We had Mark Peacock delivering his C1 on his first Pathways project. A great insightful speech about his journey through the corporate world and why he ended up at Toastmasters. I am sure Mark will re find his presentation skills as he performed admirably last night. Dave Goodman also delivered his C1 from his Pathways project. Dave gave us a little insight into his upbringing and how much fun he had with his imagination as a child. Yes I remember those days when imagination was used for play purposes. Unfortunately this is slowly diminishing with the use of more and more technology. With regards to the people I know with children, I can see the use of imagination coming back now, where children will once again explore their imagination to create a happy childhood. As Dave quite rightly pointed out, it is not about the money, it is about the attitude. And lastly, hamming it up in the best possible way, was Daniel Magill. Dan told us a story that was using the three little pigs tale as his theme. It was a very well thought out speech, with some toe curling humour in it. Dan is giving Dave Goodman a run for his money with the jokes in his speeches. It was a wonderful speech about courage. I have met so many people in my short life with so many different stories. We all seem to suffer from fear and lack of courage, and Dan addressed these issues in a very comprehensive way. The courage to keep going no matter what the circumstances is imbedded deep within all of us. It is part of our natural instincts for survival. Dan’s speech was inspirational as he encouraged us to use your courage to go where you want to go. Thank you Dan for your insight into the subject. Dan went onto win best speaker for the evening.

Next up was the evaluations. Phoebus evaluated Mark. Dave Lane evaluated Dave Goodman and Amanda evaluated Dan. All evaluations were very good. We could all learn from what each evaluator was saying, though some of them went into the first person, which is a little exclusive. Evaluations should be performed either using the speakers name or in the third person. This makes it open to the audience also. Toastmasters is all about evaluations and we had a real treat this meeting. Unfortunately there was not a vote on this part of the evening as one of the evaluators was so into his role, he went over time.

After the break came the Table Topics. Good to see Justin back at the club and taking on this  role. Justin explained the role well but omitted to let us know the timings. The subject was the weather and what an set of questions he gave us. The participants were Anjana, Peter, Amanda, Chris, Dave G, Mark and Charlie. We had some fun, some wisdom and some insights into people’s views on the weather. It was another lively session so well done to everyone who took part. David Goodman and Chris Terry went onto win the topics session.

The session was evaluated by Doris. Doris gave us one of her best evaluations to date and showed us how to evaluate the topics session. With a good commendation and recommendation to all the speakers, Doris made this tricky role look easy. Charlie went onto give us his general evaluation of the evening and what a cracker. No notes again, and a commendation and recommendation for everyone. Charlie has run a memory workshop for us in the past. I am sure if asked nicely he will run this workshop again for us so we can aspire to have such a great memory. We then had the Presidents closing remarks who couldn’t even remember what month we are in!!!!!!!!

I had great fun again. I hope you all did too. Laughter is so good for you, it is refreshing to find it in a learning environment, which can sometimes be a little stuffy and rigid. I am glad to say that we do not have that problem at Epsom Speakers Club.

Until next time. Keep shining.

Kind regards,


El Presidente.

Speaking in public with wise words

Epsom Speakers Club Monday 14th May 2018

We were blessed with so many wise words and quotes last night, I felt I was at an inspirational seminar. From Mark Twain to Yoda himself, we had an array of quotes during the topics session, and some inspirational speeches about change and realisations, as people across the world slowly wake up to the situation we find ourselves in as a species. It is that curiosity and questioning that I love in people and would encourage this kind of meeting every time. I left the meeting with such a grateful heart for such an experience. Long may it continue.

The evening started well with Paul D setting up the room and introducing the President. Then David Goodman stepped up to the plate as Toastmaster for the evening, and started with a joke about IKEA. We then went onto experience jokes about slamming sliding doors among many others flowing out of David. It really was a fun evening and Dave did a great job keeping the whole meeting running smoothly. David introduced his team asfollows. Fatai as timekeeper, who gave us a fabulous run down on why we use a timing system at Toastmasters. Mathijs was the videographer and Phoebus the Ballot counter. They all contributed to a great evening. And Sheena opened up the floor with her warm up about whether you would like to travel backward or forward in time to meet your past or future ancestors. It was a very interesting warm up and everybody managed to speech about the subject. Well done Sheena. What I would say is make sure you finish up your session with a definite ending.

Then came the speakers. First up was Rick Hazelden with his C2. The theme was really the theme of the evening, which was change. Rick performed a great C2 and really is growing steadily as a public speaker. Next up was Norman Keane speaking about plastic. It was an interesting speech and Norman did open up and say he had changed his view on plastic, even while being in the business. Plastic is a problem, but it has its uses. Norman did make us aware of many of the problems about plastic, but one of my major concerns are the endocrine disruptors that are sometimes added to plastic. Paul Dowdeswell gave us a very heart rendering story about love and rescue. I am sure Paul and I would have set up an animal sanctuary if we knew each other when we were younger as I was always rescuing animals out my cats and dogs mouths. Paul made some lovely points about how we can learn so much about ourselves with our interactions with animals. Charlie gave us an educational slot about growing the area. Again Charlie was upbeat and positive and shared with us the rise, fall and projected rise of the area with regards to Toastmaster clubs. You know you are going to get some good speaking on show when Charlie speaks, and he didn’t disappoint.  I did here Charlie use an Errr though during his educational. Come on Charlie, standards are slipping.

At Toastmasters, everything is evaluated. Amanda Zwarts stepped up to evaluate Rick. Amanda gave us a wonderful evaluation and I am sure not only Rick, but we all learnt from this. Amanda was very encouraging of Rick and his progress and I couldn’t agree more. Then we had Lloyd evaluating Norman. He used a river as an analogy of the flow of the speech. Lloyds evaluation was very analytical and Norman did hear what Lloyd felt was good about his speech and what he could improve on. And lastly Julia Belling evaluated Paul D. This was Julia’s first evaluation and I felt she did a super job. Although you could see Julia was a little nervous, she managed to give great commendations and recommendations. Julia keeps getting better and better as a speaker and a Toastmaster. The best evaluator went to Amanda.

After the break we had the topics session. Mark Peacock stepped up for his first topics session and what a cracker. Mark chose inspirational quotes that made us all think. Mark managed to get all participants to speak for over a minute so he set up the ideal situation with the right themes. That is the idea of Topics by getting people to talk off the cuff and this was achieved. The participants were Peter, Dave G, Phoebus, Anjana, Gillian, Rohan, Sharon and Julia. It was a great session with many inspiring and wise words given to the audience. Anjana won the topics competition again. Dan Magill evaluated the topics session and what a great job Dan did. He managed to find a recommendation for all the participants together with many commendations. The topics evaluator role is a difficult role and Dan made this look easy. Dan is also improving very quickly as a speaker and Toastmaster. He does look like he has been doing this for years.

Finally we had a change from the agenda, where Doris stepped in and gave us her general evaluation. Doris decided to work herself harder by running down her evaluation from finish to beginning. Doris is a very experienced Toastmaster and this showed with her general evaluation. This is also a very tough role and Doris did make this look easy. Well done Doris.

Overall I was very impressed by this whole evening with the standard always rising at Epsom Speakers. What I really enjoy about the rapid improvement is that we do have many Advanced speakers at the club, and they can’t rest on their laurels. Also the wisdom and knowledge shared with us was also very impressive. There were also many laughs to be had over the course of the evening and laughter is the best way of clearing many things, and nerves and fear take a back seat when there is much laughter. I love to hear it and be around it, as we do live in very difficult times as a species and it is good to let off steam with laughter. So keep smiling and keep laughing.

I will see you all soon.

Kind regards,

Peter. 🙂

El Presidente.

Reeds School Awards Night 27 May 2018

I am sure that most Epsom Speakers Club members are aware of the Youth Leadership Programme we are currently running at Reeds School in Cobham. This has been running for a number of years now. We have currently just had a change of Teachers who are running the scheme. They are being guided by Patrick Ebbs, my mentor and long term member of Epsom Speakers. Every year they have an awards night and this year, I was invited as President of Epsom Speakers club to attend the gala evening. It was a black tie event. This is usually a little too formal for me, but I did dress smartly and enjoyed the evening.

There were 39 pupils who were on the programme this year. This is a slight increase from last year. This is looking likely to grow to over 50 in the next year for the programme. It is going from strength to strength. All pupils who are members of the programme managed to speak, and I was impressed by all of them. It took many hours before home time, but I felt suitably entertained by the talent on show and what they had to say. We even had some parents performing speeches and evaluations. It really did feel like a community affair. All the pupils showed their gratitude to Epsom Speakers for what we have done for them. We have helped all of them with their public speaking skills and made them look at different aspects of their lives. I was particularly interested in some of the contents of the speeches that were delivered.

There were two speakers in particular that I remember very well. One boy stood up and spoke about his battle against his suicidal thoughts. He spoke calmly and articulately about his turmoil. He also pointed out that he did not want for anything, and that was not the problem. As more and more pressure is put onto human beings in this very traumatic time in human history, we are going to see  more and more of this from all levels of our society. It was very refreshing to see a young man being able to speak so articulately about his problems and what he was doing to turn his life around. You could feel from his passion that this was not a cry for help. He was genuinely trying to get to the bottom of his suicidal feelings and resolve them.

Another speaker spoke about the recent death of her mother and how she was coping with that. Again she spoke very articulately about her feelings and the speech was received in a heartfelt manner. Again it was very refreshing to hear someone speaking very clearly and concisely about how they felt, and what they were doing to rectify the problems. I was very impressed by both of these speeches, as it is really what I try to tell everybody to do when speaking in public, which is speak from the heart. These two speeches were particularly heart driven and I did feel compassion and even empathy to both of them as I have also suffered of losing my parents early on in my life and have had suicidal thoughts in the past.

We also had speakers who were very materialistic and flippant, to speakers who wanted to address the inequalities of our society between the haves and the have not’s. All the speakers were interesting in their own way, and I did learn much from this very diverse group of students. Times they are a changing, and I can see little glimmers of  hope appearing everywhere in a very harsh world. There were many glimmers of hope from the speakers at Reeds on Friday evening.

Both Patrick and myself were celebrated at the end when we gave out certificates to all the attendees of the programme. I was delighted to meet all of them and hope they go on to make this world a better place. The food was good and the company too. We were welcomed like heroes and we kept the profile of Epsom Speakers Club high in the eyes of the Cobham community. If you haven’t been on a Reeds night, and are interested, please speak to Patrick as he will organise for you to attend one of their meetings. It is a very good experience and also one for helping you learn and grow as a speaker and a leader. I am sure Patrick will welcome a proactive approach to Reeds night if you approach him first. You also get a great meal thrown in too. Who could resist?