An impassioned, entertaining and motivating meeting – January 9th

Kia Ora (Maori for hello) fellow Toastmasters, and a belated Happy New Year!

What a wonderful way to start 2017 – a truly inspirational meeting last night led by TM for the evening, Patrick Ebbs. Despite the 24 hour tube strike, the Rose Room was filled to capacity with 30 attending, including many guests and our newest member to join ESC, Phoebus Apostolidis.

Tom Beattie’s Warm Up was a super topic, helping to ignite positive energy, enabling everyone to speak and discover insights about each other: who inspired you the most in 2016 and why?

Dave Lane, who joined ESC last month and who is also a member of PMI Toastmasters in London, re-delivered his curiously entitled C1: How to Start Worrying and Stop Living. We learned a lot about Dave, as he shared with us his story of how he finally broke free from his “prison” … to become free … at last!

Our second speaker was Charlie, with a 20 minute Advance Speech from The Professional Speaker’s manual entitled “Potentially Speaking”. In usual Warshawski style (which won him Best Speaker), Charlie’s impassioned, entertaining and motivating performance on how to develop our full potential was eagerly received. I’m going to follow his advice: start doing (more) outrageous things, and develop that critical skill of bounce-back by learning to love failing – yes, really.

Well done to Rohan Nallanickan, our third speaker, for making it in time to deliver his C2 despite being stranded in London by the strike for several hours.

Our evaluators Lloyd Griffiths, Dave Goodman and Adam Jones gave their considered and constructive feedback. This was Lloyd’s first time as an evaluator, and he give a sterling performance, within the three minute time limit, securing him the Best Evaluator ribbon for the evening.

After a short break, Ian led the Table Topics session on the theme of … New Year resolutions … asking each speaker to choose between two alternatives e.g. go to the gym or eat less; holiday of a lifetime or stay-cation. Congratulations to Kat, a first time guest, who managed her nerves superbly, speaking fluently about her many failed attempts to learn both music and languages, and choosing instead to focus on public speaking – winning her the Best Topics ribbon.

Penny, as Topics Evaluator, and Aishi as General Evaluator, rounded off the meeting with their impromptu speeches, giving us their well observed commendations and recommendations.

Our next meeting is on Monday 23 January, with Dave Lane as TM. Dave will be emailing all to confirm roles.

ESC President

Story Telling & Christmas Cards – December 19th

It was good to see so many turn up for the Christmas meeting. Lloyd and Elizabeth win the best dressed with their Santa hats, and really did gave us a good injection of the Christmas spirit.

The evening was launched by Lloyd as the S@A and he started the meeting with a lively Christmas based introduction, setting the meeting off with great energy and a sense of fun. What an excellent start.

We also had a first for Sonia, as it was her first time as Toastmaster. It wasn’t planned but seemed a fate accompli as Sonia had first visited Toastmasters exactly a year ago to the day. Sonia did a great job as Toastmaster and rode over her mistakes like a true professional. That was so good to see.

Part of Sonia’s team were Justin as timekeeper who gave us a great run down on what the timekeepers role was all about, and Sheena did the same as videographer. Elizabeth did a great job as Ballot counter again.

Kevin re-joined the club and did an excellent job as warm up artist. The theme of the warm up was your funniest or most terrifying moment when flying. Kevin really did a great job at this role as he managed to get everybody to say something about their experiences. Even the people who had no such experiences flying managed to partake. This was a fun and interesting session. Welcome back Kevin. Very good to see you last night.

We had three speeches form Paul D, Penny and Dave G. Well done to Paul speaking about his French escapade when he was a teenager. Sounded like an experience and a half. Thanks to Dave for his key note speech with some very interesting solutions to what we have coming down the pipeline as a species, and Penny, for her heart felt story about her father. These were all great speeches and very entertaining, thought provoking and interesting. A big thank you to Dave for filling in at the last minute.

Our evaluators were Gillian, the Warshawskis, and Ian. This was an exceptional evaluation session and was beneficial not only to the speakers, but for all of us on how to evaluate, and how to improve ourselves as speakers and evaluators. Well done to the Warshawski family, who won the best evaluators.

We had another first as Topics master under the guidance of Lloyd. What a great and innovative session. Lloyd gave everybody a Christmas card and asked them to either comment on the theme in the centre of the card or on the front picture. Lloyd did a fantastic job as he managed to get everybody to speak well, so it was a wonderful session and very enjoyable to watch. A big thank you to Adam, Costa, Rohan, Emma, Serkan, Anjana, Elisabeth and Sheena for participating and making it such a fabulous session.

Then we had Aishi as the evaluator of the session. Aishi really did a great job as he managed to give everybody a commendation and a recommendation for their performance.

And last but not least, Amanda Zwarts was our general evaluator. Amanda gave a great evaluation of the evening, pointing out the good points and the areas that need sharpening up, and managed to give us that community feeling in on smooth flow. It is wonderful to see what I would call the new members now taking on the more established roles. It really does feel like we are all growing together and a pleasure to see such positive strives forward in confidence, ability and stage presence. Well done to everybody.

Remember to formulate your Toastmasters vision for the year to come. We are here to help you achieve that vision. And on that note, I wish you a very merry Christmas and joyful new year full of peace, good will and love.

Our next meeting is 9th January with Patrick as Toastmaster.

VPE & Acting President

HOW TO! – Evaluate Topics

HOWTOAs Topics are short and quite quick in succession, the Topics Evaluator has a lot of listening and watching to do in a short time, plus taking some notes. Firstly evaluate the Topics Master on how they ran the session, their introduction, the theme and how they closed the session by giving a brief resume of each speaker, calling for the timekeepers report then asking the audience to cast their vote. The essence for the participants is the same as any evaluation, albeit in a reduced time, in that one or two commendations should be made and one recommendation. The recommendation is very important for the participants to enable them to improve when they take part again. The Topics Evaluator must note the time allowed on the programme and then fit their evaluations into this time. Keep them short and to the point and you will not go wrong.

Taken from Speakeasy 181 – March 2014

A buzzing meeting with many firsts – December 5th

There was certainly a buzz in the packed Rose Room on Monday, with our VP Membership, Gillian Prior, at the helm as TM for the evening. This was Gillian’s first time in this role, and what a great job she did in pulling together a full Agenda with four prepared speeches and evaluations. It was also the first time in the role of Warm Up for Ben Daly, who got us to talk about best and worse pieces of advice we’d given or received. Notably, many mentioned that the best advice they had was to join our Club!

And so, it was with great pleasure to welcome our two newest members who’ve joined ESC – Rohan Nallanickan, who did his C1 Ice Breaker, and Dave Lane who is also a member of PMI Toastmasters’ Club in London.

Bohwon presented some fascinating points on how global warming will affect you in her C8 speech with some fun and factual slides. Peter Parker gave an entertaining and enlightening Advanced Speech on his recent travels to Korea. Congratulations to Dave Villa-Clarke for winning the best Best Speaker vote for his C7: “A Cold Winter”, with his moving account of homelessness in Guildford – yes, Guildford!

I joined the line up of Evaluators which included Penny, Patrick and Ian – well done to Ian for picking up the Best Evaluator vote for his feedback on Dave’s speech.

After the break, Charlie used some great props to help him as Topics Master – his eight year old daughter Chistiana and his soon to be 10 year old son Asher. They’d done some lovely pictures illustrating different months of the year, which was the theme for Topics. Eight speakers, which included many of our guests, took up the challenge of impromptu speaking, with Elizabeth taking home the Best Topics ribbon for her story of adventure on the high seas during the month of August during her teens.

It was great to see how well the Topics Evaluator role could be performed using two, instead of the normal one, member. Penny and Ian did this role as a double act, with each giving commendations and recommendations alternately for each speaker. We’ll be using this format again, as it takes pressure off the TE role, allowing each of two TEs to focus on only half the Topics speakers.

Our Treasurer, Dave Goodman, fresh from his trans Atlantic travels, rounded off the evening with his General Evaluator’s observations. In particular, Dave noted how well our presence on MeetUp and the revitalised website was working in drawing in more guests to meetings.

Our next meeting is on Monday 19th Dec, with Sonia Pritchard as TM, and our VP Education, Peter Parker, will be acting President.

ESC President

HINTS AND TIPS – Show Courage in your footsteps!

How we walk on and off the stage will show our levels of confidence, and will help the audience see us in a positive light. From the moment we leave our seat until the moment we return to it, we are on show, and we can be purposeful for every second.

Try different ways of coming up on stage: slowly and thoughtfully; striding purposefully; dynamically and exuberantly. At the end of your speech stand and take the applause, shake hands assertively with the next speaker, and walk tall back to your seat.

Your body language needs to tell the world that you have done a great job on stage.

From Speakeasy 156 – February 2012

Determination, Commitment and Practice – 21st November

A (not so) subtle reminder to members we miss at meetings…

Being a Toastmaster member means more than simply making a commitment to your self-development. You’re also making a commitment to the Club and it’s members. We need you to attend meetings regularly and to fulfil meeting roles and assignments – two key points which form part of your “Toastmaster’s Promise” which you signed up to when you joined (remember the fine print?!).

So, please, please do try to make it to all meetings – and if you can’t, then please, please send your apologies to our Sergeant-at-Arms and/or the Toastmaster for the evening.

…and this is what you missed on Monday


Yes, it was a dark, wet and cold evening on Monday, as predicted by our multi-talented Toastmaster for the evening, Bohwon Kim. And despite train cancellations and delays leaving her stranded in Wimbledon, Bohwon’s sheer determination and commitment resulted in her getting to Bourne Hall in time, thanks to a very speedy taxi and managing to dodge much of the traffic.

With the Rose Room decked out in crafts for sale for early Christmas shoppers, we were relegated to the wider Azalea Room for another engaging and educational evening. Ian warmed us up by asking us to make one prediction for “this time next year”. His own prediction was … Catherine pregnant with baby number 3!

Three well prepared and very informative speeches: Justin Pybus giving his C2 on his three steps to Self-Discipline; Tom Beattie’s C2 on how to get a good night’s sleep; and Professor Paul Dowdeswell’s (as Bohwon called him) C3 speech about the miracle of the Blue butterfly and biodiversity. Congratulations to Tom for winning Best Speaker – again, as he won it for his C1… although that was almost a year ago! Message not just for Tom, but for everyone – draft your next speech NOW!

Evaluators Peter, Aishi and Gillian gave insightful feedback, with Peter and Aishi voted joint Best Evaluators. Sonia led an intriguing Topics session with a bag of one pence coins – did you know they were introduced in the UK in 1971? The task for Topics speakers was to pick up a coin, look at the year it was minted, and then to speak about that year. We had 9 speakers, including all 7 guests, and to my pleasant surprise I got the Best Topics ribbon!

AND THEN… what a performance Mr Warshawski gave as Topics Evaluator. No notes, which is the norm for Charlie, he manages to thrill us all with perfect recall of every speakers’ name in the right order, give and demonstrate commendations and recommendations, and make it all look so easy. I asked Charlie how he does it and he tells me there’s no secret – just pay attention, listen well, and practice, practice, practice and keep on coming to meetings.

Patrick rounded up the evening with his honest General Evaluation, reminding me to remind all members of their Toastmaster’s Promise.

Our next meeting is Monday 5th December, with our VP Membership, Gillian Prior as TM for the evening.

ESC President

HOW TO! – Evaluate Like a Pro

HOWTOToastmasters are a courageous bunch. Not only do they come and give speeches in public – one of the well documented fears – but they are also prepared to receive open and public feedback in front of their peers. As evaluators, we owe it to them to do our very best. Evaluating a speech is the ultimate expression of mentoring for a public speaker. The evaluator is there to offer guidance, advice and encouragement, and their role is key to the speaker’s development. So, what are the skills that need to be developed?

Observation skills: a combination of careful listening, note taking and ignoring the inner voice which may distract us. By the time that the target speech has been delivered the evaluator needs to have noticed and recorded all the relevant points. Notice everything – major and minor points; strengths and areas for improvement. And focus your observations around the objectives for the speech.

Real time organisational skills: in most Toastmaster clubs we will have 15 minutes or so to write our evaluation before delivering it. This limited time requires the evaluator to think and plan quickly. It’s a good skill to develop, but it is challenging. Have a template or a proforma to use, and write up the notes into some order, rather than go to the lectern with all of the scribbles made when observing the speech.

Encouragement: the evaluation speech must be encouraging. Drawing out the positive aspects of the speech, noting how much progress the speaker has made, and painting a picture of where their speaking career is heading.

Challenge: the speaker will learn most from the recommendations made to them. These need to be relevant, meaningful and delivered sensitively. It is useful to have some phrases to introduce a recommendation, e.g. “my encouragement is to try xxx”; “perhaps xxx could be considered next time” “I was wondering whether xxx may work better”. Also, look for the less obvious points to note. Chances are that the speaker will be aware of their major errors, but may not know about the minor ones – nuances, often used “tell” words (you know, actually, now, so), and you will be providing a great service by pointing these out.

Managing our own anxiety: sometimes evaluators are reluctant to offer recommendations for fear of offending, or they make too many recommendations to demonstrate their own observational powers. What is important here is to overcome any reluctance to challenge a speaker – after all they have signed up to be assessed by an evaluator!

As well as evaluating single speeches, there is the opportunity to evaluate groups of speakers as the topics evaluator, and to evaluate the whole evening as general evaluator. All of the above skills apply in these roles, with some key additions. Structure is vital, as time is limited and the evaluator needs to be highly organised. Being comprehensive and ensuring that every speaker receives both praise and recommendations is also important. Finally, the best group evaluations will use different descriptors and adjectives for each speaker, and will give the audience a flavour of the collective activity as well as the individual speeches.

Use these skills to craft a well structured, helpful evaluation. Not only will you be providing an important service for the speaker, but you will be sharing learning with the audience. You will also develop your own skill which will help you become a better speaker. Good luck with it.

Charlie Warshawski – from Speakeasy 156 – February 2012

Educational, Entertaining and Inspiring – 7th November

What a night we had on Monday 7th November. The Rose Room was packed, with Charlie Warshawski delivering a masterclass in the role of Toastmaster for the evening. Guests and members alike learnt the purpose and process behind each part of the evening from Charlie’s clear and candid explanations. And imagine, what’s going on at ESC is also going on in over 15,000 other Toastmaster Clubs across 142 countries round the world.


We had educational, entertaining and inspiring prepared speeches. We learnt about the appallingly high numbers of rescue dogs that are unclaimed and are put to sleep in Sheena’s C3; strategies for coping with face blindness (or prosopagnosia) from Sonia’s C3; unconscious defence mechanisms sabotaging our goals in James’ C6; and Patrick’s AS on how to use humour in true Irish style! Amanda show-cased how to run a Table Topics session, with her simple “one word” topics, producing 10 very varied impromptu speeches ranging from adventure and autumn to cooking and curry.

Club meetings are designed to give everyone a chance to practice speaking in public, also learning and developing our communication skills by giving and getting quality evaluations. The roles of Speech Evaluator, Topics Evaluator and General Evaluator requires a multitude of “in the moment” skills – listening, observing, analysing, critical thinking, impromptu speaking…. A truly sterling job was delivered by all the evening’s evaluators: Penny, Bohwon, Dave V-C, Stephen, plus Adam as Topics Evaluator and Ian as General Evaluator. With practice, you too can become as good as these experienced Toastmasters – keep on filling out those written feedback forms as a first step.

Congratulations to Sonia for Best Speaker, Stephen for Best Evalutor, and guest Paul for Best Table Topics.

See you all at our next meeting on Monday 21st Nov, with Bohwon Kim as Toastmaster.

ESC President

Verbal and Non Verbal Communication

What is it about a speech that catches the attention of an audience? There are two essentials in delivering a speech: VERBAL and NON VERBAL COMMUNICATION.


Voice modulation
Project your voice by modulating the volume and expressiveness as this helps reflect the mood and key moments of your speech and maintains interest in what you have to say, plus it draws attention to a key point

Pace of delivery
Avoid speaking too fast. It’s easy to let nerves take over and speak too fast; on the other hand, try not to speak too slowly, keep a natural pace.

Maintain your enthusiasm from start to finish, particularly towards the end of sentences when your voice may trail away.


Keep in touch visually with your audience; all the effort you’ve put into projecting your voice to the audience will be lost if you fix your gaze in one place at the back of the room. Looking from left to right, right to left during your speech, occasionally focusing on one person will help draw in the audience.

These are lethal weapons! What to do with them? They appear to have a life of their own. They can ruin a speech or enhance it. Think about how you use them with good gestures to express your speech content.

Body language/Stage presence
A relaxed stance will project self-confidence. If you have a lectern, hands on either side is fine; if you’re stand-alone, a confident stance will suffice. Do not slouch!

In short, your verbal and non-verbal skills will:

  • enhance your speech
  • project your enthusiasm
  • engage your audience

Practising and Mastering verbal and non-verbal skills will bring your speech alive and will reduce your nerves.

Taken from Speakeasy 185 – August 2014

HOW TO! – Prepare and Practise

HOWTONow that you have the subject for your next speech, it is time to put it together. Write out your speech in full then read through it to see what is really not necessary to include and refine it so that it has a beginning that will hook in the audience, a body that has a logical flow and an ending the audience can take away with them.

Once you have the basis of the speech, speak it out loud to yourself several times and then practise in front of a mirror to see how your body language can be improved and record yourself. When playing back you can hear where you can use more voice modulation. If it is possible, ask your Mentor to see and hear your performance or at least give an outline by talking it through on the telephone so that you can gain advice.

When you feel comfortable, you will be ready to perform at your club. Remember, if you leave anything out of your speech the audience will not know so remember, when you see the red light, you should move smoothly into your close. Practise will help you to time yourself and be aware of when you need to close and will eventually make perfect!

Taken from Speakeasy 162 – August 2012