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.
Think about the subject of your speech, Think what research you will need to undertake, Think about the logical sequence, Think of the speech opening, body and close, Think of your timing, eye contact, body language, voice projection. Improving your presentation skills requires a great deal of Thinking!!
Firstly, let met congratulate Paul Dowdeswell and Amanda Zwarts for both coming third at the Division contest last Sunday. Paul has only been with the club around one year, and it just goes to show you that the more you put in, the more you get out when it comes to improving your public speaking. It is a great achievement, and one I failed to mention on Monday evening, but I do hope you noticed it on the agenda sheet. Amanda was actually representing Surbiton speakers, but she is part of the back bone of Epsom Speakers, and whoever she was representing, we would all wish her well as a participant. What a great achievement to have two accomplished speakers at the club.
So back to the matter in hand. Monday evening’s meeting saw another lively affair, where there was much laughter and learning occurring on all levels. Paul D set the room up really well and mentioned the new donation box, where we can donate money for the tea, coffee and biscuits supplied. Paul is actively trying to improve the service of the tea break, and every little helps him to do this. We are grateful as a committee and a club to have such a conscientious member trying to make the atmosphere and experience of Epsom Speakers a better one for all our members. Please show your appreciation for Paul’s efforts by donating as all monies collected go back into the betterment of the service.
I am so pleased to say we had another first timer as Toastmaster this meeting with Phoebus at the helm. Phoebus showed us another string to his every increasing list of talents. He ran the meeting very well, and although there were a couple of time issues, he recovered well, as there were many anomalies happening during the evening that made that part of the role difficult. Phoebus showed great stature and made comment where necessary and kept the evening flowing nicely. On speaking to Phoebus afterwards, he does now appreciate the effort that goes into making the club meetings work. Well Phoebus you certainly made this evening work. Also thank you to his team which were Julia as ballot counter, Daniel as timekeeper and Gillian as videographer.
Costa ran the warm up. It was a thoughtful warm up as he asked us to express what we are grateful for. Many members, especially more experienced ones, were grateful for Epsom Speakers as a club because of what it has done for them personally. Here in the west, we have much to be grateful for, as compared to some other parts of the world, it is the land of milk and honey. I am especially grateful to Epsom speakers, and in particular, some of the core members, as the skills I have learnt have actually put me into situations I would have never dreamt possible as a musician and Writer. So thank you Costa for such a thoughtful introduction.
Elizabeth then came on briefly and gave us a tribute to George Hollis, who was part responsible for making Epsom Speakers what it is today, an established club. Elizabeth’s tribute was interesting and insightful and then we gave George a minutes silence showing our respect. It was a poignant and reflective moment making us grateful for what we have here in Epsom as a speakers club.
Then came the speakers. Paul D decided to redo his C1 which was entitled ‘The child is father of the man’. It was a remarkable improvement from his first C1 almost a year ago. Up next was Sheena with her speech entitled ‘The baying of the hounds’. It was an impassioned speech about fox hunting. I agree with Sheena and still can’t answer the question ‘How can you kill any healthy animal compassionately?’ Lloyd Griffiths then delivered his speech entitled ‘Be Creative’. It was a prop filled speech with very interesting subject matter. When making the brain work on non demanding tasks you can be more creative. My friend Dr Tomasz Kopec has brought the Open Focus theory to this country from America and check that out if you want to go deeper into the workings of the brain and attention styles. It is truly fascinating. And finally we had Aishi Lim delivering his speech entitled ‘Just call me Bob’. On speaking to Aishi, the name was real, and it was actually thirteen names put together, so it was truly a humorous story about greed. Just like your wealth, you won’t be able to take it with you when you leave this mortal coil, so I certainly hope Bob is making the most if his amazing name while he is here. Lloyd was awarded the best speaker for the evening.
Then came the evaluations, which are really the heart of the Toastmasters experience, as everything gets evaluated. Doris was first up evaluating Paul’s speech. Doris did point out the improvement of Pauls speaking abilities in one year. Patrick was up next and gave us an insightful and informative evaluation encouraging Sheena to learn the beginnings and endings of her speech. This is so important when delivering your speeches. Paul Hickson was next and he gave Lloyd great positive feedback. Finally David Villa Clark was evaluating Aishi. David was animated and informative and certainly gave Aishi some great recommendations. It is good to see both Paul H and David VC back on the agenda. We do miss you when you are not around. Patrick won the evaluation contest.
Paul introduced the guests as Paul, Rick, Chris, and Mark. I do believe we will be seeing three of them as members very soon all being well. Please keep up the good work of making the guests feel welcome as this will help turn them into members, which is good for the club and good for the guest, so we all win in the end. There is a great buzz at the beginning of the meetings and also in the break. I do hope this continues as it is a great atmosphere for learning and having fun. Well done everybody for contributing to such a great atmosphere.
After the break we had the topics. This was very creative but a little complicated. I will say more on that in a moment. Justin did a great job as Topics Master and ran a lively and fun session. The participants were Charlie W who spoke about the back end of a donkey. Doris who spoke about a flute player. Patrick who spoke about cricket. Elizabeth who was supposed to talk about golf but ended up mentioning Scottish Dancing. Brilliant!!!!!!! And David VC talking about Spiderman. What I liked about the topics session was the element of mystery as in, who created the topic to speak about from the audience. What could be improved is this? The topics session was not finished off properly. As topics master it is important to finish the session properly, so that all the participants of the meeting are clear who spoke about what and whether they are eligible for the vote. And secondly, and probably more importantly, that people who haven’t spoken yet during the meeting, get to speak. This includes guests. When creating your topics session as topics master, one should be considering the guests also. This means creating something that even the most nervous speaker can join in on, without making it too obvious. This is a challenge in itself. We as a club could easily create tough guidelines to stick to as a Topics Master but that is not necessary. If you have no guidelines then you are like a ghost. You can come up with an ethereal concept where no one really understands the concept or idea of what you are supposed to speak about. Or if you go the other way, you become like a zombie, where the topic is so leaden and obvious that you have nothing to say about it, without stating the obvious. This is an art in itself, and when taking on the topics role, it is something that should be considered. If you are an experienced speaker, always remember the guest who had the most trouble with topics and try to consider them when planning your session. We had a line up of experienced speakers with this topics session, so Justin did pull it off, and everything worked. I would have liked to see the guests up there too as the session was a little short. Charlie won the topics session and is keen to try the position of back end of a donkey at Christmas.
Finally we had Amanda giving us a general evaluation. Amanda has a keen eye and is observant and she gave us a very accurate run down of the evening, letting us know how well we did and where there is room for improvement. We are lucky to have such an experienced Toastmaster as Amanda at the club, and such a great evaluator, as well as general mentor.
I loved the sentiment Phoebus left us with when he said we need to work together to make a better world. Yes I agree with that wholeheartedly. We are seeing the ultimate expression of competition with two opposing nations with their fingers on nuclear buttons at the moment. I am sure much of it is smoke and mirrors, which is how the political world seems to work. We are all blessed to have something so solid that is such a creative force as Epsom Speakers Club to help us become better communicators and leaders and put our club, our community, our towns, our countries and our world back on track to making this experience we call life a happy one for all.
See you at the next meeting on 6th November where David Goodman is the Toastmaster. Please reply promptly if you are on the agenda.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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!
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.
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.