Hints and Tips – Practise in front of a mirror

Once you have your speech ready, practise in front of a mirror and record yourself. It may sound silly, but when you listen to your delivery you can hear where you can give more voice enhancement to bring your speech to life. You will also see how the timing is, if you are well over time start to cut the speech back. Remember, the audience does not know what you leave out, they only hear what you are saying.

Practising in front of a mirror will let you see whether you are stilted and how you can use gestures to aid your presentation.

Finally, practise in front of a family member or a friend, or better still in front of your Mentor.

From Speakeasy 129 – November 2009

Exceptional Evaluations Workshop – April 10th

It was a great pleasure to welcome Freddie Daniells to ESC to deliver his “Exceptional Evaluations” workshop on Monday 10th April. This was the 139th time he’s given this workshop. His aim is to help us become more effective and exceptional evaluators, because, as he says: “When you give feedback, you have the chance to build people up or to tear them down.”

Feedback or evaluations, are at the heart of Toastmasters’ meetings. Being able to give feedback effectively will build speakers’ confidence and skills.

Freddie joined Toastmasters in 2004, and continues to be a member of Holborn Speakers and Excalibur Speakers in London. He has served in many various Committee roles at Club, Division and District level. As District Governor for Great Britain and Ireland in 2012-13, he met many past District champions of International Speech and Evaluation contests and asked them for their winning ways. He credits his learning and much of the material in his workshop to the feedback he received from these champion speakers and evaluators.

On behalf of Epsom Speakers’ Club and everyone at the workshop, huge thanks to Freddie for travelling to the depths of Surrey to share his experience, insights and learnings. With his magnanimous spirit and personality, he’s inspired us all to give, and get, more feedback in all walks of life, not just at Toastmasters.

Doris
ESC President

Key points from the workshop

1. Mindset

Think of the mindset of people who have given you effective and useful feedback. Freddie identified 7 common attributes of champion Evaluators:

  1. Motivating
  2. Empathetic – showed understanding of others’ needs and wants
  3. Honest
  4. Timely
  5. Specific
  6. Balanced
  7. Actionable

The first 3 attributes are “emotional” – based on your feelings, and are subjective and personal. The other 4 attributes are more objective – based on what can be observed and accounted for. So, exceptional evaluators take notice of both what is going on inside for them (how they feel in response to the speaker and the speech) AND what is going on outside (what they notice the speaker is doing, saying, being…).

2. 7 Steps

Freddie identified 7 steps that all champion evaluators did. When you are asked to be a Speech Evaluator, there are things you can do to prepare before the meeting; these to do at the meeting; and after the meeting.

Before the Meeting:
1. Speak to the speaker: – find out their personal objectives and past speaking experience, what project or Manual they are on.
2. Read the Manual: look at the project objectives.

At the Meeting:
3. Analyse (listen, observe, critical thinking)
4. Prioritise (which points to focus on)
5. Stand and deliver your evaluation

After the Meeting:
6. Write up evaluation feedback in manual
7. Buy the speaker a drink (check and clarify your feedback with speaker, get their reaction, etc).

3. Analysing the speaker and the speech.

Look at Structure, Content, Delivery and Audience. Freddie referred us to the Competent Communications (CC) manual where each project identified aspects that help build an effective speech – and in turn, these are the factors which can be commented on in your feedback. E.g.

Structure:
OBE: opening, body, ending;
Power of 3
Transitions
Opening impact
Conclusions – ending
Compare & contrast

Content:
General purpose: inspire, inform, entertain or to persuade
Rhetorical devices: alliteration, metaphors, repetition, triads
Active vs passive voice
Descriptive language
Avoid jargon
Simple or complex sentences
Facts / research used
Props / visual aids

Delivery:
gestures, movement on stage
facial expressions
vocal variety: pitch, pace, pause, power, projection…
Audience: WIIFM (what’s in it for me? Why should I listen to your speech?)
How does the speaker CONNECT with the audience? Through story? Humour?
Importance of humour in speeches – laughter helps audience to connect with you.

4. Prioritising

You only have 2-3 minutes to deliver your Evaluation Speech. You need to select a limited number of points to make. Freddie recommends no more than 5 points. Select the top 3 things you liked most (your Commendations) and the 2 things that could make the speech better (your Recommendations).

What order do you deliver each point? Freddie recommends this order: Start with your 2nd best like (Commendation), 3rd best like, then 1st big recommend, 2nd recommend, then your 1st best like. That way, you start off with 2 things you like about the speech, then 2 things that can make the speech better, and end with the biggest thing you like the most about the speech. This order makes your feedback motivating and constructive. This is the Body of your Evaluation.

For each commendation, say WHAT you liked (e.g. use of gestures), WHY this important (e.g gestures help bring the message alive), WHEN you specifically noticed the speaker using gestures effectively.

For each recommendation, say WHAT the speaker could do to improve (e.g. pause more), WHY this is important (e.g pauses allow the audience to take in your message better, and can add more impact), WHEN you specifically noticed the speaker could use this more effectively, and show HOW by demonstrating this.

5. Stand and deliver your evaluation.

Your evaluation is a speech, so you should have an Opening, Body and Ending. You already have the Body. The Opening is no more than about 20 seconds, and should contain an impactful line, something relevant to the speech, to get the attention of the audience. Followed by the greeting. i.e. Fellow toastmasters, guests and Speaker name.

The Ending is no more than 20 seconds. Signal you are moving to the End, e.g. say: In conclusion, or In summary, or Overall…. Then summarise by highlighting simply what you’ve said, using as few words as possible. Then one finishing line. Example: “In conclusion, an extremely inspirational and entertaining speech with clear structure and well researched content; consider pausing more and move with purpose for even greater connection with the audience.” Then a finishing line, that’s relevant and connects to the opening line.

6. Write up evaluation in Manual

Remember to do this for the Speaker.

7. Buy the speaker a drink

Remember: “When you give feedback, you have the chance to build people up or to tear them down”. Take the opportunity to check with the speaker what their reaction to your feedback is – it’s a chance for you both to clarify meaning and understanding, to build a solid bridge for future engagement and mutual learning and development.

The F Word – April 3rd

What four letter word, beginning with F, comes to your mind when you think about speaking in public?

Yes, FEAR. Yet everyone managed to talk about “What fear have you faced and learnt from?”, for no more than the allocated 20 seconds as part of the Warm Up session, led by Phoebus – quite possibly due to his infectious smile and the inspiration gained from hearing each other’s experiences. A common theme was the fear of standing up and speaking in public. And, in facing that fear, the confidence that grows, especially in a supportive environment like Toastmasters.

TM for the evening was Costa, fresh from his travels to South Africa. In his usual relaxed style, he navigated us through the Agenda. Paul Dowdeswell gave an entertaining C6 speech on “Bananas” and how not to eat one; while Peter Parker’s Advanced Speech, “Not in My Name”, was an impassioned plea trying to persuade us that the EU was a racist, undemocratic and nationalistic set-up. Evaluating Peter’s speech was Patrick, who commended Peter on his powerfully emotive and passionate stance, and recommended he could improve by offering a more balanced view by addressing the benefits of the EU, thus allowing the audience to appreciate a less one-sided position, and thus hopefully endearing us more to Peter’s position.

Penny delivered an Educational session about the use of story-telling in speeches, taking us through the common structure behind most of the best stories ever told: 1. the Set Up (who, where, what’s going on); 2. the Struggle (something goes wrong, the problem); and then 3. the Solution.

A more sophisticated story structure is that of the Hero’s Journey, as identified by author Joseph Campbell, whom Penny quoted from: “The cave you fear to enter lies the treasure you seek”. In other words, you’ll find the treasure you want when you face your fears.

When Dave Goodman, as Topics Master, introduced this session, any residual fear was replaced with incredulity and hilarity. He invited two people up at once, with one speaking about a topic whilst the other person had to act out what was being said. Topics ranged from how to keep warm and advanced circus skills, to modern driving etiquette and wrestling wild animals. Somehow, through much raucous laughter, Dave Lane and myself managed to distil some commendations and recommendations to our six brave Topics speakers. Well done to guest Alex Goodman for winning Best Topics’ speaker – Alex definitely is a chip off his father’s block!

Our General Evaluator was our previous long-serving member, June McCullough, who found time away from her garden and many pursuits to return for an evening to our Club. Fortunately, June noticed very few um’s or ah’s (sigh of relief), and was delighted to see so many new faces, but was a little disappointed that many members were absent. Thanks to June for returning – it’s always good to see past members back for a visit.

Doris
ESC President

Area 53 International Speech & Evaluation Contests – March 27th

Congratulations to Ian Uption and Stephen Taylor, respective winners of the Area 53 International Speech and Evaluation contests, held last night at Bourne Hall. They go on to represent Area 53 at the Division H contest to be held on Saturday 22 April, 12.45 to 15.30 at Oxsted Community Hall, 53 Church Street, Oxsted, RH8 9NB. Please come along and support them as they move another step closer to becoming World Champions.

Ian was one of five contestants in the International Speech contest, with Fiona Harrison from Mole Valley Speakers coming second and Surbiton’s Tara Majumdar in third place.

The Evaluation contest, which Stephen won, had six contestants. Second place went to Amanda Zwartz and third place to Tara Majumdar, both representing Surbition Speakers.

A big thank you to Lloyd Griffiths and Peter Parker for organising this Area Contest, to Contest Chairs Eddy Quah from Surbiton Speakers and Dave Lane, and to all the helpers and judges from the three clubs: ESC, Surbiton and Mole Valley. Special thanks also to our guest Target Speaker, Danica Giles, from Holborn Speakers. Her speech urged us all to embrace the fear of public speaking by reframing the physiological impulses and sensations (e.g. butterflies in the tummy) as one of excitement.

Our next Club meeting is on Monday 3rd April, with Costa Nicolaou as TM, and we have June McCullough coming as guest GE for the evening.

Doris
ESC President

Laughing out Loud – March 20th

There’s nothing better than a good laugh out loud and Monday’s club night was packed with comic relief. All four speakers managed to weave light touches, and heavy doses, of humour in their stories. In his C1, Paul van der Hagen demonstrated not only his existing wide range of speaking skills but also his theatrical prowess as he re-enacted the events of his first, and only, date night. Adam Jones’ C6, “A minor medical … oddball”, had us in suspense and catharsis as he spun his real life tale of diagnosing what was wrong with him.

We had another opportunity to hear how we can become multi-millionaires, when Dave Lane repeated his contest speech about the amount of riches to be gained from uploading strange videos of “unboxing” stuff on YouTube. Dave is also a member of PMI Toastmasters in London, and he will be representing the PMI club at their Area final on Friday.

With his Advanced Speech, “To do or not to do”, Ian Upton trumped Paul’s dramatic performance with an extraordinary array of vocal variety and staggeringly strong stage presence.

It was a close call to see who would win Best Speaker… congratulations to Adam, and for his full recovery.

Amanda, Aishi, myself and Justin had the pleasure of feeding back our evaluations. And the vote for Best Evaluator goes to… Dr Aishi Lim, who managed to dispense some minor corrections on Adam’s use of medical terminology.

Stephen Taylor’s eclectic reading tastes led him to develop a challenging theme for Table Topics – super-heroes whom no-one (apart from him) had heard of. Hats off to Topics’ winner, Peter Parker, for managing to creatively weld a convivial speech about a rather curious super-hero, The Dog Welder. I must admit, that was relatively easy compared to Matter Eater Lad, Tar Baby or Arm Fall Off Boy.

Gillian did a gracious job as Topics Evaluator, feeding back her commendations and recommendations to our 8 Topics speakers. Penny rounded the evening off with her General Evaluation. She noted the sterling job done by our TM for the evening, Paul Dowdeswell, his first time in this role, and how well Sumbal Tsang warmed us all up with her inspiring question “what are you most grateful for this quarter?”.

It was truly uplifting to hear the wide range of things we are grateful for… including having this Club, laughing and learning as we play and practice our speaking skills.

Doris
ESC President

HOW TO! – Begin your Speeches

HOWTOIn the first one or two minutes, the speaker has to hook the attention of the audience. So what makes a good speech opening?

Make a startling statement

Use an intriguing statement that will compel your audience to listen such as ‘Smoking Kills. More Americans die each year than were killed in the battles during World War ll and Vietnam together’. Arouse suspense or curiosity. Compare these two openings.

  1. Hello I’m your speaker and I’m here to give some clues on what foods to avoid so you can have less disease and less stress.
  2. Would you like to add twenty quality years to your life? Then think before reaching for your saltcellar. I am going to share with you ten easy proven steps to add these twenty years to your life.

Tell a story (or anecdote)

Telling an amusing tale or dramatic story or anecdote arouses interest and gets the audience involved. Keep the story relevant to the main points of the speech and personalise it whenever possible, for example instead of beginning ‘Two men were hunting in the woods’ say ‘My brother and I went hunting in the woods’.

Ask a rhetorical question

Ask a question or a series of questions that relate to your speech topic. For instance, in a speech about first aid you could begin by asking ‘Do you know what to do if your child starts to choke?’

Begin with a quotation

Using a quotation is an easy and effective way to attract attention.

The following are some “Don’ts” when beginning your speech.

Don’t use the opening to restate the title of your speech

Every moment counts in creating interest and suspense so don’t go over what is already known.

Don’t open your speech with an apology

Some consider this makes you sound friendly and not pompous but apologies can alert your audience to listen for weaknesses.

Don’t explain your presence

Don’t offer explanations about why you think you were asked to speak. Your friends don’t need it and your enemies won’t believe you anyway.

Don’t say how difficult it was to choose a subject

As far as the audience is concerned you should not doubt the importance of your speech and you should communicate its vital nature.

To summarise: A dynamic beginning is essential for a successful speech. Take time to create an exciting, imaginative beginning that will keep your audience focused on what you have to say. First impressions are very often the lasting impressions so make sure your opening will create immediate interest.

Taken from Speakeasy 133 – March 2010

International Speech & Evaluation Contests – March 6th

Our annual International Speech contest attracted six contestants, delivering inspirational, motivational and highly entertaining speeches and demonstrating a wealth of speaking talent: Ian Upton, Peter Parker, Costa Nicolaou, and our three Dave’s – Villa Clarke, Goodman and Lane.

Speech & Evaluation Contestants with the Chief Judge and President

Many thanks to Jean-Marc Pierson from Holborn Speakers, who travelled to the depths of Surrey to be our Mystery (or Target) speaker for the Evaluation Speech contest. Jean-Marc’s powerful and passionate speech entitled “Money, Money, Money” gave our six Evaluation contestants plenty food for thought – contestants being Dave Goodman, Adam Jones, Aishi Lim, Peter Parker, Stephen Taylor and Penny Williams.

2017 International Speech Contest Winners with the Contest Chair, Chief Judge and Club President

Congratulations to all our contestants for stepping up, taking part and challenging themselves in this more competitive environment. And the winners…

International Speech Contest: 1st Ian Upton; 2nd Dave Villa Clarke; 3rd Peter Parker.

Evaluation Contest: 1st Penny Williams; 2nd Stephen Taylor; 3rd Aishi Lim.

2017 Evaluation Contest Winners with the Contest Chair and Chief Judge

Running a contest takes loads of preparation and planning, not just for contestants. A huge “Thank you” to this year’s Contest Organiser and Chief Judge – Lloyd Griffiths, and to his team – Contest Chairs: Gillian Prior and Costa Nicolaou; Time Keepers: Paul Dowdeswell and Amanda Zwarts; Ballot Counters: Elizabeth Bennett and Sumbal Tsang; Ushers: Sheena Campbell and Justin Pybus; Videographer: Phoebus Apostolidis; Warm down: Paul van der Hagen … and of course, to all the Judges who shall remain anonymous….

Doris
ESC President

P.S. Our Mystery speaker, Jean-Marc, is an astrologer and story-teller. To hear more of his stories, click here.

Energetic, electric and educational Speaking & Evaluating – February 20th

What a packed and exciting meeting we had on Monday. Not only did we have to get more chairs, we had a full agenda with an Educational slot and three speeches, including an Advanced Speech with a Q&A session. Amanda Zwartz, Toastmaster for the evening, expertly and efficiently manoeuvred the proceedings, keeping us all to time.

Amanda has just moved house a few days before the meeting and, unable to locate her laptop amongst the pile of unpacked boxes, she had asked Lloyd to help produce and print off the agenda. Lloyd’s innovative approach to most things in life meant that he used the opportunity to trial a new format, giving our Club a fresher, cleaner, more professional looking Agenda. Well done Lloyd; we are adopting this new format for future meetings. See link.

I had the pleasure of delivering a 10 minute Educational on “How to Evaluate Effectively” – see link for notes. We also trialled a new format for the Feedback and Ballot form, encouraging everyone in the audience to write a commendation (i.e. what did the speaker do particularly well) and a recommendation (i.e. what could the speaker do differently to improve and be even better) for each Speaker and Speech Evaluator. See link for Feedback and Ballots form.

Sheena and Justin delivered their C4 and C3 speeches respectively, and as our General Evaluator Sonia noted, it was great to see how much both had improved. Double congratulations to Costa who, with his Advanced Speech entitled “Inconvenient Truths” about why Trump won and Clinton lost the US elections, won him the Best Speaker vote and marked completion to gain the Advanced Communicators Silver (ACS) award. That means Costa has delivered 30 speeches from Toastmaster manuals. Only 10 more speeches to go, Costa, to get your Advanced Communicator Gold award!

Our three Speech Evaluators, Adam, Peter and Patrick, delivered well-balanced and motivating evaluations, with Best Evaluator going to Patrick.

Undertaking the Topics Master role for the first time was Kevin Perkins who obviously had great fun devising a series of strange scenarios on the theme of authenticity. Kevin’s dramatic delivery got everyone laughing, including his seven victims, I mean, volunteer Topics speakers. They rose to the challenge, including our newest member, Sumbul Tsang. Congratulations to guest Phil Nash, who won Best Topics Speaker with an engaging tale of his tortured days working in an awful job. We look forward to welcoming Phil as a member next time…

Dave Goodman’s evaluation of the Topics’ session highlighted several commendations and recommendations, reminding the Topics Master to outline the timings involved for the benefit of new members and guests who may be less aware of how long to speak for. It’s also useful for the audience if the Topics Master recaps who spoke on what topic at the end of the session, before voting.

It was Sonia’s first time as General Evaluator, and she demonstrated just how well she had listened and observed the whole evening. She had conscientiously taken notes throughout, and her feedback was selective, specific and comprehensive – a great example of how to evaluate effectively. Well done, Sonia – we all learnt from your observations and recommendations.

Our next meeting on Monday 6 March is our International Speech and Evaluation Contest, with Lloyd as organiser. He will be in contact with you to fill roles. See you all then.

Doris
ESC President

A Virtuous Fun-Filled Cycle – February 6th

It’s February already, and less than five months remaining in this Toastmaster’s year. How are you getting on with your goals? Like all Toastmaster clubs around the world, our meetings are designed to get you speaking, learning and developing communication and leadership skills by “doing it”, getting and giving feedback – a virtuous cycle, with plenty of fun along the way.

Our newest “dad”, Stephen Taylor, led the evening as TM. Obviously not (yet) sleep deprived, and inspired by President Trump’s first three weeks’ in office, he sprinkled several “alternative facts” throughout the evening, keeping us entertained and inquisitive as to the truth… and apparently, every one of his “alternative facts” was, in fact, true. Even the one about the dead man winning the horse race.

Justin Pybus asked “What’s your earliest childhood memory?” in his Warm Up session. Amazing what you can learn about your fellow members in just 15 seconds, and just how mischievous and down-right naughty many are!

We enjoyed three very entertaining, and persuasive, speeches: Kevin Perkins’ C3 “The Boy in the Parade, Bohwon’s C9 “3 Things I Will Teach My Future Kids” and Dave Villa-Clarke’s C8: “Making a Real Difference”.  Dave won the “Best Speaker” ribbon with his speech about Project Volunteer, the charity he started 10 years ago to help orphaned children whose parents had died from Aids in Botswana.

I took up Dave’s “call to action”, and googled “Project-Volunteer.com” to learn more. We all know that Dave has a big stage presence, but actually, he’s quite reserved, especially when it comes to acknowledging his successes. My google search revealed that Dave had been awarded the BEM (British Empire Medal) in the New Years’ Honours’ list, for not only his charity work, but also for his mentoring of businesses and schools, football coaching and other “little bits” he does – like mentoring ESC members. Many congratulations, Mr David Villa-Clarke, BEM – the “people’s medal” for meritorious civil service.

Our three Evaluators were Paul Dowdeswell (well done Paul, this was his first time as Speech Evaluator), Gillian and Ian. Ian won the Best Evaluator vote, with a “masterclass” performance, explaining not just what he liked about Bohwon’s speech but also why he liked it. And in his recommendations, he highlighted what Bohwon could do differently (use more vocal variety and pace), why this would improve her delivery, and how to do so by demonstrating his recommendations.

Costa led a fun-filled Table Topic’s session on the theme of the meaning of proverbs. With 9 speakers, my sympathy was with Amanda, who had to figure out the meaning behind “The dogs bark but the caravan goes on”. Being a polished impromptu speaker, Amanda weaved a very plausible response, alluding to the possibility that Costa had somehow misinterpreted the translation of this proverb. Amanda was marginally beaten by Peter Parker who won the Best Topics’ vote with his well-structured and enlightening 2.10 minute speech about “why you won’t get to the top by sitting on your bottom”.

Our Sergeant-at-Arms, Lloyd, obviously doesn’t have enough to do with greeting guests, setting up the room, organising the projector, setting up the refreshments, filling the biscuit tin, designing surveys, calling the meeting to order, repairing broken bits of equipment… so he counted the number of “ah’s and um’s” of each and every member who dared to utter a word.

The evening was wrapped up with well-observed and constructive feedback from Patrick’s Topics’ Evaluation and Adam’s General Evaluation of all the bits of the meeting that hadn’t yet been evaluated – only to be expected from two very experienced and polished Toastmasters.

Our next meeting is on Monday 20th February, with Amanda as TM. Until then, keep practising and honing your skills.

Doris
ESC President

Everyone is a winner – January 23rd

Membership at ESC has steadily grown throughout this Toastmaster’s year, with a total of 9 new members joining since July last year. At Monday night’s meeting, we welcomed our latest recruit, Paul van der Hagan, bringing our current membership to 35. It was good to welcome back Stephen Taylor who’s been on “parental leave” since the birth of his son, Flynn, in December.

Dave Lane aptly led the proceedings as TM for the evening, demonstrating flexibility in negotiating a few amendments to the Agenda after a few last minute changes as one speaker was unable to make it due to illness. Charlie stood in for the appointed Time-Keeper Rowan who was running late due to work commitments, Sheena took control of the Video-camera, and our VP Education, Peter Parker, got to use his maths skills as Ballot Counter.

Dave reminded us that Toastmasters is more than just about developing confidence and competence in public speaking. Holding up the CL (Competent Leadership) manual, he highlighted the many lessons and guidance in that manual which all can benefit from. So, remember to bring both manuals to all meetings as they contain valuable reference information for giving feedback, etc.

Elizabeth got our vocal chords warmed up with her question: what type of weather do you like the most? A typically British topic which everyone was able to speak about – and rather surprisingly, many members love the cold, freezing and frosty days we’ve been having lately. Elizabeth, well-prepared as ever, concluded her Warm Up session with this advice: “Whether the weather be cold or whether the weather be hot, whatever the weather, you must weather the weather whether you like it or not.” Here, here, Elizabeth – wise words from a wise woman.

Sonia was our first speaker with her C4 entitled “Not your Average Day at the Office”. She mesmerised us with tales from her time in Sierra Leone delivering workshops on child protection to aid workers. Her evaluator, Bohwon, noted how much progress Sonia’s made as a speaker, and suggested some recommendations for future improvement. One was to provide more context as to what her “average day in the office was”, so that the audience could appreciate just how “not average” this tale was. Remembering to provide the “context” for your speech is a recommendation we can all take on board, so that the audience can better connect with and understand what you’re talking about.

In his C5 speech, “The Flying Spittle”, the name of his first car which he bought in 1973 in Bath, Paul Dowdeswell demonstrated his romantic side. He spoke with great fondness about his love affair with Nellie, his Flying Spittle. Unfortunately, it was a rather one-sided love affair, with Nellie trying to kill him on several occasions. As Paul’s evaluator, Costa commended Paul on achieving the C5 objectives of using body language to help express his message and speech purpose. One recommendation which Paul will no doubt continue to work on is to simply pause more, instead of using filler words like “um” and “ah”. Gillian, our Ah-Counter for the evening, awarded Paul with the speaker with most “um’s” and “ah’s”.

With the last minute withdrawal of our third speaker, Kevin Perkins, due to a bout of food poisoning just before the start of the meeting, Justin Pybus, who had been assigned as Kevin’s evaluator, took up my request to do an “impromptu” 5-7 minute speech instead. Justin loves challenges, and delivered a C3 speech entitled “Be Honest With Yourself”. He started his speech by giving us context, explaining how he’d come to develop this speech – last minute – and how it was based on something he’d heard on the radio that morning.

Well done, Justin, for stepping up and out of your comfort zone. He was rewarded with a very comprehensive evaluation, spear-headed by Charlie Warshawski who facilitated commendations and recommendations from all of us in the audience, in addition to his own observations. Charlie’s orchestration won him Best Evaluator, with the help of everyone, thus explaining why everyone was included in the final “photo” of winners for the evening.

Our resident anaesthetist and Table Topics master for the evening, Dr Aishi Lim, exposed his vulnerable side as he asked Topics speakers to give him advice on a number of personal issues – e.g. “how to stop his addiction to Facebook” and “what to say when you break wind”… Eight speakers spoke, including our two guests, Inder and Carla. There was stiff competition for Best Topics speaker, with our first time guest, Carla, clinching the ribbon with her eloquent story of following her 9 year old’s advice on “how to prepare to speak in public” – just think of yourself as a lion full of courage.

Lloyd and I decided to do the Topics Evaluator role together, with each giving a commendation and recommendation for alternate Topics’ speaker. This was Lloyd’s first time as TE, and it’s be a while since I did this role, so tackling this role jointly meant we gave ourselves less pressure, and hopefully, gave each Topics speaker more quality feedback.

Amanda, as General Evaluator, rounded the evening with her observations of another stimulating evening full of learning, highlighted by the level of energy and buzz during the break as everyone chatting and connecting.

Finding opportunities to do things differently is easy when there’s a supportive, friendly, no blame culture – which is what ESC is about. So let’s continue to experiment and innovate, and push beyond our comfort zones.

—–
Best wishes for the upcoming Year of the Rooster, starting on Saturday,
Doris
ESC President