Epsom Speakers – 7th October 2019

What a tremendous night on Monday. Amanda, as our Toastmaster, led a fun filled and energetic evening. To keep the autumn blues at bay, she encouraged everyone to dress for the beach – which many engaged with fully – some quite scarily! A fun warm up that saw us singing, three great speeches teaching us about electric cars, how the Eurozone and the Spice Girls are connected, and how to make your mother’s love life the source of a humorous speech. High quality evaluations that we all learnt from, and a wonderful topics session – speeches we have to give at work when colleagues leave. We even had the props of the card and the whip round

Epsom Speakers showed, yet again, that it is the place to go to learn high quality speaking skills, and have some fun to book

Charlie Warshawski, general evaluator on the evening

The Area Finals for the Humerous and Table Topics Competitions will be held at Epsom on Wednesday 18th October 2019

Here to tickets to help us plan numbers – Remember 40p for Parking

Cosy Meeting 2nd September 2019

Where can you go to hear about the Great Fire of London, poems for the four seasons, the benefits of living in a tree house and practical tips for how to be happier?  It has to be Epsom Speakers Club of course!

The evenings are starting to draw in but there was plenty to smile about when we met on Monday 2nd September.  After a warm and humorous welcome from the sergeant at arms Paul and Club President Dave, and a poetic and seasonal warm up from Elizabeth, our Toastmaster Phoebus led us through a packed agenda.

We were treated to three excellent prepared speeches starting with Fatai, who explained how a different approach to coaching has helped his tennis forehand.  Matt then took to the stage to share some great suggestions on life hacks that help to promote happiness, before Charlie showed us his skills as a budding comedian with an Advanced Speech demonstrating humour.  There were laughs all round as he described some of the insightful observations his kids make!

As always with Toastmasters our evaluators shared plenty of helpful suggestions as they reviewed each speaker.  Everyone was able to learn from their observations and our thanks go to Mark, Paul and Gillian (who stepped in at the last minute) for their insightful, supportive and heartfelt comments about the three speeches.

Our guest Shawen had joined us for a second visit and introduced herself with a bang: “I’m back!!!!!”.  And she certainly was – returning in style, as you’ll see later in this report…

A break for refreshments offered a chance to catch up with fellow members over a biscuit or two before we moved into the second part of the evening: the Impromptu Speaking “Table Topics”.  Toastmaster Penny led a lively and humorous session starting with a useful reminder of structures that you can use if you are asked to say something “off-the-cuff”.

We heard mini speeches on thought provoking topics including the benefits of living on another planet, tree houses vs. caves, the importance of good friends, different holiday choices and the value of developing new skills.  Who knew our president could play the guitar?  Toastmaster Lloyd evaluated the session, battling through the pain of a bad back to share valuable suggestions for all the participants.

Next up, Gillian led an excellent session as Grammarian, asking us to share a reflection on something we had heard during the evening which had made us think.  What a lovely way to cement some of the ideas from the meeting.

As always the evening finished with our regular awards.  Congratulations go to Matt as best speaker for “How to be Happier”, Mark as best evaluator, and a three way tie for best Table Topic between John, Phoebus and our guest Shawen.  Well done to you all!

We look forward to seeing you at our next meeting on Monday 16th September when we have the Table Topics and Humorous Speech competitions.

Meeting 5 Aug 2019

Epsom Speakers Club is one of the coolest places to be, especially when the air conditioning has been turned right up! Once we got that sorted out the meeting settled down and our Sergeant at Arms Amanda welcomed five guests; Philip and his sixteen year old son Louis, Hilary, Shawa and, after a break of just twelve years, Seun (pronounced Shaywoon) came back for a second visit.

Our President Dave reminded us that we are part of an organisation of over 300,000 members and that the international speech finals will be taking place in Denver from 21-24th August. We all have front row seats courtesy of the internet via the Toastmasters website. Pop in to look and learn.

Toast master Paul introduced the support team of Shalwa (visiting from Reigate Rhetoric Club), Amber and Costa.

Once we were suitably warmed up by Costa we then enjoyed speeches by Gillian, Julia, Lloyd and John on topics that went between conquering a fear of heights to the benefits  of mentoring and being mentored via the injustice of being in a man’s world where just about everything from handrails in trains to air conditioning is set up to suit a man’s physique instead of a woman’s.

The speeches were evaluated to a very high standard by Gary, Matt, Mark and Amanda.

After the break, we had a lively topics session on the theme of Holidays by John where our guests gave some very high-quality impromptu speeches. David evaluated the topics session and finally, Penny evaluated everything that had not already been evaluated.

The Best speaker went to John (several of us commenting that this was his best speech so far by quite a margin), the best evaluator was Amanda and best Topics was from Louis who was telling us that who you are with is more important than where you are.

A quick heads up; it looks like our club Topic’s and Humorous Speech competitions will be on the 16th of September. If you would like to take part then please let Julia know.

The next meeting is on the 19th of August when our Toastmaster is Doris. We look forward to seeing you all there.

Food Report 15th July

We had a small but perfectly formed Toastmasters meeting at Epsom Speakers Club on Monday 15th July where the theme was ‘Food’.
We welcomed Bobby, Rosalind and Grace as guests and we’re delighted where they joined in throughout the meeting.

Our Toastmaster, John, gathered together some of the best locally sourced ingredients possible to create a wonderful tasting menu of epic proportions. From the Warm-Up by Anjana via the main menu of speeches by Zane, Dan, Doris and Mark evaluated by Matt, Penny, Matthjis and myself to the delicious desserts provided by Amy in her first time as Topics Master it seemed that every item was tasteful and tasty.

We now know what many of the team like as their favourite or most interesting meal was, and we also learnt via Mark the in regards to training ‘A mentor puts information in where a coach pulls it out’.

Of course, the event couldn’t run without the team taking on the various roles. Thanks to Matt, Costa, Paul, Kim, Elizabeth and Lloyd.

The winner of Table Topics was Paul, Best Speech was a tie between Mark and Dan and Best Evaluator was also a tie between Penny and Myself.

Our next Club Office Training is on Wednesday 28th August at 7:00 pm for a 7:15 prompt start at Holiday Inn in Sutton. If you are on the committee then you are required to attend. If anyone else would like to pop along and see what happens and meet with members of the other local clubs then we’d be delighted to have you along.

Our Toastmaster for the next meeting on Monday 5th of August is Paul Dowdeswell. We look forward to seeing you all there!
Best wishes, Dave Goodman, President.

Meeting 1st July

The first of July was the start of the Toastmasters year, and what a way to start! We had a great view of the grounds from the studio, and much cooler than our usual room too!

We welcomed our visitors Dao and Jo and told them a bit about Toastmasters.

Elizabeth stepped in as our temporary Sargeant at Arms and got the meeting off to a flying start. We really need a SAA or SAA co-ordinator to take the role full time. If you can help then please let me know.

Our Toastmaster was Gillian. She had prepared a great evening or prepared speeches from Kathy, John, Penny and Myself. Kathy was on her Icebreaker and did a great job.

Evaluations were carried out by Matthjis, Matt, Patrick and Amanda.
At the break, we started our first week of ‘Bring a Mug’. The best mug went to Dan with his GE 101.

Back at the meeting, we had a great Topics session run by Lloyd based on book titles with everything from One Hundred Years of Solitude to The Tiger that came to Tea. Topics were evaluated by Julia in great style with an individual commendation and recommendation for everyone.

General Evaluator duties fell to Daniel with various references to his competition-winning humour our speech.

Finally we had the awards with Best Topics Going to Gary for bluffing his way through The Tiger that came to Tea. Best Speaker was Kathy and Best Evaluator was Patrick.

Thanks to everyone that made it to the meeting and made it such a success.
Looking forward to seeing you all again for the next meeting on Monday 15th of July when our Toastmaster will be John.

Epsom Speakers fun evening

ESC Meeting 3rd June 2019

Dear Epsom Speakers

We had another energetic and fun-filled meeting yesterday – great to see so many of you back from your holiday weekend or half term break and ready to take part!

Sergeant at Arms, John welcomed our guests and got the meeting started in enthusiastic style. Matt Tuff (for the first time at ESC) was Toastmaster for the evening and did a grand job, assisted by Timekeeper Julia, ballot counter Kathy and videographer Mark.

Elizabeth Bennett, as Wordmaster, discussed poetry and prose, with an interesting explanation of Burn’s poem ‘Tam O’Shanter’ – new to most of us, probably, and now I know where the Cutty Sark got her name and her figure-head.

Philip Smale’s Warm-up theme was ‘Guilty Pleasures’ – especially of the musical sort. Who would have thought that the club had so much to hide? We all enjoyed confessing.

First speaker was Paul van der Hagen, with his C8, encouraging us all to become entrepreneurs and investors, rather than wage slaves, for our daily bread.

Next, Willorna gave a very professional presentation (just her third with the club, I believe) on ‘Social Media – the Good, the Bad and the Ugly’ – an exploration of the development of social media and an encouragement to focus on real life rather than the false glitter of online content.

Dan Magill followed with an advanced speech, ‘The Butterfly Effect’ – no, not meteorology but Ralph Smedley and the beginnings of the Toastmaster movement, brought to life in our imaginations as a fascinating story.

Finally, Dave Goodman showed us how to ‘Negotiate’ – clear and practical guidelines that I know Dave puts to good use in his day-to-day life.

Evaluators were Costa, Patrick, Doris and Gary, an elite group giving advice that we all can benefit from.

After the break, Paul Dowdeswell led the Table Topics session, encouraging participants to explain and illustrate a series of English proverbs. Julia, Kim, Amy and  guests Andreas and Lauren valiantly met this challenge, showing interesting highlights of their own lives.

Penny and Phoebus followed, with a slick dual evaluation of the session and speakers, and finally Rick Balfour rounded off the evening with a biscuit-themed  general evaluation (you had to be there to understand).

Winners were:

Dan Magill – Best Speech

Gary Argent – Best Evaluation     and

Lauren (guest) – Best Table Topic

Next Monday will be the Presidents Evening; I would appreciate responses to my invitation, please. It is an excellent evening, a chance to socialise with your friends at the club and not to be missed. Please let me know, if you haven’t already.

The following Monday, 17th June will be our last meeting with the current committee, and will be led by Toastmaster Amy Liu. I look forward very much to seeing you all there!

Kind regards

Gillian Prior

Start at Epsom Speakers to upgrade your public speaking skills

ESC Meeting 1st April 2019

So much has happened in such a short time! Here is a reminder of our last club meeting – full of energy, it was a wonderful opportunity to get to know some of our members better.

John Drinkwater, our Sergeant at Arms, gave an inspirational introduction to the meeting, in true Toastmasters style (‘It’s not where you start, it’s where you end up’).

Our Toastmaster for the evening, Paul Hickson, then introduced a full and carefully organised program of speeches, evaluations and impromptu speaking. He was assisted by John as Timekeeper, Tom Hendra as Ballot counter and Paul Dowdeswell as videographer.

The Warm-up gave everyone a chance to contribute. Gary Argent encouraged us to speak on ‘Happy memories or April Fool’s jokes’, a wonderful, lively beginning.

Moving on to the prepared speeches, first speaker was Matthijs Houweling, sharing with us the history and delights of his home city, ‘Haarlem’. We now know the meaning of the Dutch word ‘Gezellig’ (a little like the Danish ‘hygge’?) – sounds inviting, anyway.

New member Philip Smale followed with his Icebreaker speech ‘What have I done to make my ancestors proud?’ This was a lively speech showing wide interests and revealing Philip’s ambition to become ‘the best version of’ himself that he can be. I agree with the Toastmaster, this was a trailer for at least 10 future speeches!

Willorna Brock spoke on ‘Obsession’, the name of a famous perfume, appropriately describing Willorna’s keen and lifelong interest in all things girly and glamorous.  What lovely images she conjured up!

Julia Belling shared her experience as a parent in ‘A lost age of innocence’ – playground knowledge will influence our treasured offspring. (Do they REALLY know THAT WORD??) Education itself can generate a conflict between thirst for knowledge and hearing about the evils of the world. Much food for thought.

Some excellent, well-considered evaluations of the speeches followed, from Matt Tuff, Phoebus Apostolidis, Patrick Ebbs and Dave Goodman.

In the second half of the evening, Zane Vaisla led the Table Topics session with the theme of Quotations. Members and guests were invited to consider quotes from Henry Ford, Thomas Jefferson, Warren Buffet, Richard Branson and many others. Experienced Toastmaster Anjana Roy had the challenging role of Topics Evaluator, telling us what was great about the session, and finding maybe, one or two possibilities for improvement.

Finally, Penny Williams was General Evaluator for the evening, sharing her experience for the benefit of the whole club.

Winners were:

Best speech:                      Philip Smale

Best Evaluations:             Phoebus Apostolidis and Dave Goodman

Best Topic:                          Kathy Addison (new member!)

On Sunday 7th April the Division H Contests were held, won by our members Dan Magill (International Speech contest) and Amanda Zwarts (Evaluation)

Many Congratulations! Both go on to the District 91 Contests in early May, and we wish them the very best of luck.

The date for our AGM has been agreed by the committee. It will be held at our club meeting on May 20th (we have two meetings in May, on the 13th and 20th, avoiding Bank Holidays!)

 We are looking for new committee members, so if you are interested, please talk to any of our current wonderful committee to find out more, and I will be in touch soon with details.

Meanwhile, I look forward to seeing you very soon! Our next meeting is Monday April 15th, with Patrick Ebbs as Toastmaster.

Gillian Prior


Photo by Ren Wang on Unsplash

Toastmasters at Reeds – 22nd March 2019

Speaking at Reeds

Reeds has been working along with Epsom Speakers Toastmasters club. They have been empowering students with public speaking skills. The way Epsom Speakers helps is by providing educational presentations and feedback.

I was fortunate enough to be accompanied by Leo Gadson and Amanda Zwarts. Reeds has about 50 students that take part in the public speaking training. By having three visitors we are able to provide feedback in the 3 different groups of students.

The atmosphere at Reeds is always warm and welcoming. The meal and the wine was great as usual. Mr Terry had done a great job on organising the event. We had a lovely chat with Sally Briggs, one of the maths teachers. I was very fortunate to be seated next to George, the chairman of the evening and we covered a series of different topics. It was evident once again how smart the kids are Reeds tend to be.

After our dinner I covered through the educational material presented through their school year. As guest Toastmaster I was asked to cover the topics of how to create a speech and how to deliver it effectively. How to effectively evaluate and how to respond to an impromptu speech effectively. There was a lot to cover in 10 minutes.

After the meal and the speech we split up into three separate rooms. There are were about 50 student members in the club. Amanda and Leon both went to the different rooms and provided constructive feedback.

Seeing students participate in public speaking is very inspiring. They were all fantastically good. Whenever I visit Reeds, I always think I should have started my public speaking journey sooner. High quality speeches, thought provoking and full of humour! The delivery of most students was calm and well manor.

Nicholas spoke about fear of missing out, Elliot about living in a computer stimulation, Maya about fake tanning. Emily evaluated Nicholas. Gus evaluated Elliot and Joseph evaluated Maya. We then followed the session with some impromptu speaking.

All students portrayed great public speaking skills such as vocal variety, stage presence and confidence. Lots of humour to make everyone laugh. The evaluations were very constructive and resembled the standard and ethos of a Toastmaster. The speakers at the impromptu were more relaxed and allowed their creativity to develop.

I was pleased to see great use of story telling, humour, gestures and lots of smiling. After their session I provided a general evaluation to all the participants and to the way the meeting was run. To help the students with their improvement and to also encourage them for what they already do very well.

If you haven’t already attended Reeds than I would highly recommend that you speak to Patrick Ebbs and get yourself booked in for the next event. Patrick needs a list of speakers that he can poach when needed. The commitment is really about once a year. We can all contribute to the future of the students at Reeds.

I have only been to Reeds twice and I have great memories. They have a high standard and the students have great skills at public speaking. Definitely a great environment to be in both to help and to grow.

Best wishes,

Epsom Speakers Club Contests 2019

Epsom Speaker International speech Competition

18th March

The room was buzzing with excitement this Monday for our annual club International Speech and Evaluation Contests. Eminent Toastmasters from other local clubs joined us, plus a good number of curious new guests.

The meeting was opened by our Sergeant at Arms, John Drinkwater, who welcomed attendees. Many thanks to John for all the work he puts in behind the scenes to make sure room and equipment are ready. Not to mention all the other things he does for the club!

The International Speech Contest is a massive affair – the first round is at club level, and winners progress through Area, Division, District and so on, to the finals at the Toastmasters International Convention. This year, that will be held in Denver, Colorado, in August. So our contestants are aiming high!

I chaired the contest, and welcomed our four contestants. Dan Magill with ‘There is no Canary’ gave a powerful speech, reminding us of the Hillsborough tragedy and its effects on his friends and neighbours in Liverpool. Amanda Zwarts with ‘Get back in the race’ showed how some of the worst life events can still be overcome, with an attitude of determination. Phoebus Apostolidis with ‘Beyond Depression’ reminded us how many people are affected by this illness and gave us hope and ideas to overcome it. Finally, Dave Goodman gave an upbeat speech ‘Grattitude’, encouraging us to be grateful every day for the good things in our lives and to carry this positive attitude through to our dealings with other people.

After the break, the Evaluation Contest was ably chaired by our VPE, Costa Nicolaou. Costa introduced our mystery guest speaker, Mike Majuru from Croydon Communicators, who gave us a very entertaining (and rather brave!) speech on the theme of Brexit. Many thanks to Mike for joining us – we really enjoyed your speech.

Costa interviewed Mike while we were waiting for the contestants to prepare their speeches. We learned some fascinating facts. Mike has been in Toastmasters just three years but has already completed his Competent Communicator, Competent Leader and higher awards, and was President of Croydon Communicators last year. His take on Brexit – a small affair compared to troubles that occur in his home country of Zimbabwe – is refreshing and gives us pause for thought.

Mike’s speech was evaluated with skill and appreciation by our contestants: Amanda Zwarts, Richard Balfour, Phoebus Apostolidis, Dave Goodman and Mark Peacock.

Finally, Penny Williams led the audience in a never-ending story version of the ‘cool-down’, with much hilarity and contributions from most of the room.

Doris Sewhoy, as Chief Judge, announced the winners:

International Speech Contest:

1. Dave Goodman      2. Dan Magill              3. Amanda Zwarts

Evaluation Contest:

1. Dave Goodman      2. Amanda Zwarts     3. Mark Peacock

Many congratulations to the winners and thanks to all who took part or helped in any way (you know who you were): Judges, Timekeepers, Ballot counters, Ushers, Videographer, and not least to Richard Balfour who helped me to organise the whole thing, did much of the printing and had to put up with my constant worried emails!

Our next club meeting is on April 1st, when Paul Hickson will be Toastmaster.

But before that, we have the Area Contest on Monday 25th March, to be held at 7.30 in Surbiton Hill Methodist Church. Our first and second place winners, Dave, Dan and Amanda  will be competing- please go along, cheer them on, and while you’re at it, volunteer for a role – make yourself part of the event!

Gillian Prior

How to have fun on a Blue Monday

ESC Meeting 21st January 2019 

‘Blue Monday’ – but the atmosphere was fun-filled for our second meeting of the year. Costa, our temporary Sergeant at Arms, introduced the meeting and also presented the ‘Warm-up’, encouraging us to tell the meeting ‘What are you proud of?’. A really positive start!

Dave Goodman was our Toastmaster, full of wit, in charge of the evening and keeping us all entertained. Gary Argent was Timekeeper, Kim Pleatman, the videographer and guest Leon Gadson, helped out as the ballot counter.

Elizabeth Bennett was Wordmaster, this time encouraging us to think about learning another language – Latin! Far from being a dead language, Latin is making a come-back in schools and is still used in professions such as the law.

Speakers were John Drinkwater: ‘Do I need a website?’ (consider the needs of your customers, to decide), Mark Peacock  ‘Do your homework’ (an interesting discussion of communication styles: for more information, check out the Toastmasters international website), and finally, Doris Sewhoy,  exhorting all Toastmasters to ‘Keep the Commitment’. A most useful reminder of the Toastmasters Promise, which we all make when we join a Toastmasters club.

Speech evaluations were given by seasoned evaluators, Phoebus Apostolidis (John), Paul Dowdeswell (Mark), and second-timer, Matt Tuff (Doris). Congratulations to all for careful and thoughtful advice and encouragement to the speakers, and in particular to Matt, speaking like a professional. Evaluations are never easy to perform, with limited time to prepare.

After the break, I was Topics Master, clutching a bag of coins from which each lucky speaker chose one and then told a story from the year of the coin. We heard some amazing stories and learned a lot about our members and guests.

Charlie Warshawski was Topics Evaluator, as usual demonstrating his formidable powers of memory and managing to produce useful commendations and comments for all participants.

Penny Williams as General Evaluator, with her sense of quiet humour, rounded up the enjoyment and gave expert guidance to help us improve. 

We welcomed new member Kim Pleatman to the club – good to see her taking the stage to give us a ‘Table Topic’ despite nerves!

  • Best Speaker was Mark Peacock
  • Best Evaluator was Matt Tuff (congratulations, again, Matt)
  • Best Topic was from Gary Argent

And many congratulations to all, and to everyone who participated in the evening.

Our next meeting will be on Monday 4th February, when Mark Peacock is our Toastmaster. Come along, experience the warm atmosphere and forget the winter chills!

Photo by Tyler Callahan on Unsplash