Build confidence with Toastmasters

Since 1924, Toastmasters has helped build confidence in millions from around the world. Our learn-by-doing program teaches you the communication, leadership, and public speaking skills to help you get ahead in your workplace. Learn more about how Toastmasters can help you meet your personal or professional goals by visiting www.toastmasters.org/WhyToastmasters.

Toastmasters Speech Contests

Join us for the Toastmasters Speech Contests this Monday 15th February @19.30 which promises to be another exciting evening! 

Watch some of our most experienced speakers compete to deliver the best speeches and speech evaluations – and develop your own skills in the process.

Find out how to register here:  https://linktr.ee/epsomspeakers

Open House- 18 January 2021

We had another fun night at Epsom Speakers. We had our first Open House for a long time, which was a chance for guests to visit the club and see how we run our meetings.

There was a great turnout, which included the Mayor of Epsom and Ewell, the Toastmasters District Director and the Area Director! El started proceedings with a warm up, where every one was able to advise her on where she should take her husband on a date!

Most people advised her to take him to the beach (even if it is January). Debra then invited each of our numerous guests to explain what had brought them to the meeting. Mr Humphrey Reynolds, talked about how he became Mayor of Epsom and Ewell and explained the importance of public speaking in his role.


Next it was time for the prepared speeches. Debra gave a fascinating and moving speech about what she has gained from Toastmasters. It has massively helped her confidence and she said ‘If only I’d joined Toastmasters earlier!’


After Debra, one of our more experienced members, Mark, gave a speech with tips for those wishing to improve their speaking skills. One of his points is that it is completely normal to be nervous before a speech, but the more you practise the easier the nerves become. Amy and Kim gave insightful and motivating evaluations on the two speeches.


After a well earned break, it was time for the improvised speaking part of the meeting (also known as the Table Topics). Experienced Toastmaster Gillian led us in a fun session of improvised (and at times very surreal!) story-telling. Highlights included a story involving a dog that loved to paste mosaic tiles onto sailing boats! Finally Matthijs gave a great and perceptive General Evaluation.


Our next club meeting is at 7.30pm on Monday 1 February, where Fatai will be our Toastmaster. Don’t worry if you missed the Open House – guests are welcome at every meeting!

Online Meetings

It has been almost nine months now since Covid changed our lives and sent us into the first lockdown. Meetings in person were suddenly no longer possible and Epsom Speakers Club (like all Toastmasters clubs) was forced to adapt very quickly to the new reality. Thankfully one of our members, Past President John Drinkwater, who is an IT expert, was at hand to help us transfer seamlessly from face to face to online meetings.

At present, our regular club meetings are still online. Epsom Speakers Club plans to return to face to face meetings as soon as it is safe to do so. However, in the meantime, learning to deliver speeches articulately and confidently to an online audience is an incredibly useful skill to master.

It is very likely that, even after the population has been vaccinated and COVID is hopefully behind us, video presentations and meetings will be far more common than they were before the pandemic. In the last 9 months, people have seen how easy it is for meetings and speeches to take place online (as long as you remember to take yourself off mute before you speak..) Why travel to the other end of the country for an hour long meeting, when you can have a virtual meeting from your desk?

I have learned this year that speaking to an online audience requires different skills to delivering a speech in person and, as it were, a ‘different type of confidence’. Even if you are used to getting up on a stage and speaking to an audience in the same room, speaking to an online audience takes some getting used to. Epsom Speakers is an incredibly supportive, friendly club and this is the place to come to gain experience of any type of public speaking and not worry about making a few mistakes.

Why not try attending one of meetings as a guest and find out for yourself?

Epsom Speakers Christmas Meeting 21st Dec

We had a really fun and festive meeting on Monday 21 December, when people turned up with their best Christmas jumpers & hats and their worst Christmas jokes!

It was great again to see welcome guests. El Geylen was Toastmaster of the evening for the first time and did an excellent job. If we hadn’t been told it was her first time, we wouldn’t have guessed. Elizabeth was fascinating and well-informed as ever, as our Wordmaster. Gary got us warmed up in Christmassy style by inviting every one in turn to tell a Christmas joke and boy there were some stinkers! Christmas Crackers manufacturers would be have been so proud! Every one was fully warmed up and laughing by the end of the warm up session.


We enjoyed speeches from two very experienced Toastmasters. Amanda Zwarts gave a humorous speech that had us in stitches. We found out that Amanda is not too keen on real Christmas trees and for good reason. Gillian Prior was up next with a fascinating icebreaker speech. Amanda’s speech took us on a journey to South Africa and Gillian’s to Canada. There were then some very insightful and informative evaluations from Matthijs Houweling and Patrick Ebbs.


After the break, Mohammed Ali heroically stepped in at the last moment to be Table Topics Master. He continued the festive theme with some Christmassy topics. Costa Nicolaou gave an interesting and observant General Evaluation of everything that had so far not been evaluated.


At the end of the meeting, it was an absolute pleasure to announce a fantastic achievement – Penny Williams’ Distinguished Toastmaster award. This is no mean feat and very well deserved. Our next meeting is at 7.30pm on 4th January 2021. Why not come along and start the New Year on a high?

Hosted by a first-time Toastmaster

On Monday evening 20th July, we had another great online meeting hosted by our wonderful Toastmaster for this evening- Debra who gracefully facilitated the session.  This was the first time that Debra had been the Toastmaster for the evening. She would be introducing all the speakers to the virtual stage and keep the evening running.  She looked like she had done this many times before and took control of the event brilliantly.

On the agenda we had 3 prepared speeches
1) ‘Crushing it’ by Amy who advised aspiring entrepreneurs and business owners how to best use social media.
2) ‘Zooming around the world’ by Costa who discussed how Toastmaster has quickly moved online across the globe in the current times of crisis. He highlighted that this provides a wonderful opportunity to take part in Toastmaster meetings with other clubs in other countries (such as his native South Africa) and meet new people.
3) ‘What a difference a year makes’ by John who shared how he has been applying the lessons learned in Toastmasters in his day to day life.

Constructive feedback was provided to them individually by Gary, Kat and Efra. This was followed by a very entertaining Table Topics session run by Alex who asked the participants to persuade the audience to buy random objects from his household within 2 min timeframe. This was in the context of a stranded car in the Brazilian jungle.

We were delighted that 8 new guest joined us for the evening and we are very much looking forward to welcome Howard, Abir, Mary, Alice, Fergus, Daniele, Jemzy and Mahad in the future meetings.

Best speech award went to Costa, best evaluation went to Gary and best table topics went to our guest Fergus who did a fantastic job.
Congratulations to you all!

Our next meeting will take place on August 3rd and Toastmaster for the evening is our fantastic Penny. This will be a great evening!

Two Icebreakers and first-time evaluator!

Another great night of public speaking, learning and friendship.

Debra, as Sargent at Arms, opened the meeting with a great reference to Spring and the standard housekeeping notices. Great to see her delivering a confident start to the meeting.

Dave, our President gave a good opening statement with a challenge to be a leader, as well as a great speaker at Toastmasters.

The night was then put in the capable hands Amanda who took control and leads us through the whole meeting smoothly and clearly. She introduced her team for the evening. Costa overcame the ‘disappearance’ of the timer lights with some good improvisation to keep us all on time. Gillian took the role of videographer and although all speeches and evaluations are private links online. She reminded us that you can have this switch to the public for more people to see if you allow us. Elizabeth took the role of Ballot Counter and explained what that entails.

Amanda introduced four great speakers for the evening. Two being their first speeches and one a guest from another Club. Well done to all of them for great speeches, but especially for Yusra and Kat for their confident Icebreakers. Thank you to Roz, for coming from another club to join us. These were followed by the four evaluators, including Debra doing her first Evaluation, and well done it was too.

Debra then introduced our five new guests for the evening, and I think we had three returning guests? And we stopped for our break.

Amanda passed over to Gary to run the table topics and he produced a bag of items which speakers were going to have to imagine the item they chose was a birthday present! – This was interesting if not worrying about what Gary at home!

Talking about an object is quite a challenge but all the speakers adapted and delivered well thought through and entertaining replies in their allotted 1-2mins. As a rare treat, Gillian videoed the table topics and I found time earlier to send the clips to the guests together with the topics evaluation.

Matthijs then delivered that Topics evaluation with feedback and ideas for all the speakers. Not only with great content but in good time too.

Penny was then invited to the stage to deliver the General Evaluation and to evaluate everyone who had taken part but not yet been evaluated. I will include a private link to this for members in my follow-up email and see how many watch it. 😉

Too soon, as time seems to fly by for me, our President, Dave has to give his closing remarks. However, he also had the privilege to hand out 2 icebreaker ribbons to Kat and Yusra, best Speaker to Roz, joint best evaluator between himself and me and best table topics to first-time guest Simon.

Notices:

We are all back again on 17th February, and those that want to take part in the Speech Competition on 3rd should contact Matt Tuff. If you need a Toastmaster fix in the meantime then there are plenty of other local clubs; Sutton, Surbiton, Reigate, Mole Valley, Purley, Croydon. Around 20% of our members are regular members at other clubs.

How Often Do I need to come to Toastmasters?

  • One of our guests this week asked me a question that has been posed many times, and so I thought I would post an answer here.

The simple answer is to come as little, or as often as you like. The more you come the quicker you will benefit.

The bigger question is how often do I need to come to learn and grow as a public speaker and here the answer is actually even more simple. The more often you come, the more quickly your public speaking skills will improve.

If you think of your Toastmasters journey has one of a succession of speeches over time, that help you learn and grow as a Toastmasters, then you are correct, but you are also missing out on so much that would make that journey more valuable and your skills grow more effectively. Every time you attend a Toastmasters meeting you are going to soak up the ideas, techniques and qualities in the room. The whole Toastmaster agenda is created to ensure that everyone who wants the opportunity will have a chance to speak.

If you are not delivering one of your prepared speeches, then there are plenty of other places where you can take a role and be part of the meeting. Once you have done a few speeches, you can then put your name forward for learning how to do evaluations. This is a whole extra skill and gives you the chance to learn how to create and present an analysis of another person’s speech in a supportive and educational way. Evaluating others is the fastest way to pick up ideas and techniques for your next speech. Even if you are not the presenting evaluator, every member has the chance to write down suggestions for the speaker on the evaluation slips.

There are other support roles at each meeting;

  • Timekeeper
  • Videographer
  • Ballot Counter

All these roles are supporting the meeting and give you a chance to explain the role, which means giving a short and succinct speech. Another skill to practice.

The next big role at Toastmaters is the warm-up. This is a chance to give an interesting, but not too challenging a question to the audience. Then, manage everybody’s participation. Which also makes this a good starting point for the next two big roles.

Running the table topics session is like running a mini-meeting within the main meeting. You need to introduce and explain table topics, bring on all the speakers and keep it running. This is a great challenge for speaking and leading.

Once you are confident to the roles of table topics and warm-up you can put your name forward to be Toastmaster. It is then your responsibility to organise all the speakers, evaluators and role and then manage the whole meeting. This role is usually one of the last you will take on and probably not be asked more than once or twice a year.  It is hard work, but very rewarding when you do it.

The other two major roles are the table topics evaluator and general evaluator. Again these are roles you will not be asked to take up till you are a confident evaluator, but when you have the chance they are again very rewarding.

Of course, Epsom speakers is just one of thousands of Toastmaster clubs around the world and is this part of south London, there are many clubs slightly further, but within reach.  I estimate that around 20% of Epsom Toastmasters currently visit or are members of another local club. This gives them twice or more Toastmaster meetings in their year. I myself are pretty regular at

  • Epsom Speakers (my home blub)
  • Reigate THetoric (a new club)
  • Tandridge Communicators (just started and not yet chartered)
  • Sutton Speakeasy (infrequently recently;-(

That means I have around 1.5- 2 meetings a week. Instead of the once a fortnight. My experience of Toastmasters and my public speaking skills are therefore growing at a faster rate and my 18 months of membership is more like 3-4 years of experience.

So the question has to be, what do you want to learn at Toastmasters? There is so much more on offer than just the chance to overcome the nerves of public speaking.

  • The more often you can come, the more quickly you will learn.
  • There is no pressure to take on extra roles, you take them when you are ready for your next challenge. However, the more involved you become the more skills you will pick up.
  • Just being at a meeting will give you the experience and understanding better the reading any book or training video. There are plenty of ways to be involved, even if that is just the warmup and table topics.
  • Gain a different perspective by visiting another club. You don’t have to go there regularly, but I promise you will be warmly welcomed. You may even be asked if you want a guest role.
  • We have not even touched on the committee roles that organise and manage the club for the members.

Contact me, or another member of the committee if you want to discuss some aspect of the Toastmasters which you want to know more about.