Speak well within a year – Epsom Speakers Club Meeting Monday 16th October 2017

Firstly, let met congratulate Paul Dowdeswell and Amanda Zwarts for both coming third at the Division contest last Sunday. Paul has only been with the club around one year, and it just goes to show you that the more you put in, the more you get out when it comes to improving your public speaking. It is a great achievement, and one I failed to mention on Monday evening, but I do hope you noticed it on the agenda sheet. Amanda was actually representing Surbiton speakers, but she is part of the back bone of Epsom Speakers, and whoever she was representing, we would all wish her well as a participant. What a great achievement to have two accomplished speakers at the club.

So back to the matter in hand. Monday evening’s meeting saw another lively affair, where there was much laughter and learning occurring on all levels. Paul D set the room up really well and mentioned the new donation box, where we can donate money for the tea, coffee and biscuits supplied. Paul is actively trying to improve the service of the tea break, and every little helps him to do this. We are grateful as a committee and a club to have such a conscientious member trying to make the atmosphere and experience of Epsom Speakers a better one for all our members. Please show your appreciation for Paul’s efforts by donating as all monies collected go back into the betterment of the service.

I am so pleased to say we had another first timer as Toastmaster this meeting with Phoebus at the helm. Phoebus showed us another string to his every increasing list of talents. He ran the meeting very well, and although there were a couple of time issues, he recovered well, as there were many anomalies happening during the evening that made that part of the role difficult. Phoebus showed great stature and made comment where necessary and kept the evening flowing nicely. On speaking to Phoebus afterwards, he does now appreciate the effort that goes into making the club meetings work. Well Phoebus you certainly made this evening work. Also thank you to his team which were Julia as ballot counter, Daniel as timekeeper and Gillian as videographer.

Costa ran the warm up. It was a thoughtful warm up as he asked us to express what we are grateful for. Many members, especially more experienced ones, were grateful for Epsom Speakers as a club because of what it has done for them personally. Here in the west, we have much to be grateful for, as compared to some other parts of the world, it is the land of milk and honey. I am especially grateful to Epsom speakers, and in particular, some of the core members, as the skills I have learnt have actually put me into situations I would have never dreamt possible as a musician and Writer. So thank you Costa for such a thoughtful introduction.

Elizabeth then came on briefly and gave us a tribute to George Hollis, who was part responsible for making Epsom Speakers what it is today, an established club. Elizabeth’s tribute was interesting and insightful and then we gave George a minutes silence showing our respect. It was a poignant and reflective moment making us grateful for what we have here in Epsom as a speakers club.

Then came the speakers. Paul D decided to redo his C1 which was entitled ‘The child is father of the man’. It was a remarkable improvement from his first C1 almost a year ago. Up next was Sheena with her speech entitled ‘The baying of the hounds’. It was an impassioned speech about fox hunting.  I agree with Sheena and still can’t answer the question ‘How can you kill any healthy animal compassionately?’ Lloyd Griffiths then delivered his speech entitled ‘Be Creative’. It was a prop filled speech with very interesting subject matter. When making the brain work on non demanding tasks you can be more creative. My friend Dr Tomasz Kopec has brought the Open Focus theory to this country from America and check that out if you want to go deeper into the workings of the brain and attention styles. It is truly fascinating. And finally we had Aishi Lim delivering his speech entitled ‘Just call me Bob’. On speaking to Aishi, the name was real, and it was actually thirteen names put together, so it was truly a humorous story about greed. Just like your wealth, you won’t be able to take it with you when you leave this mortal coil, so I certainly hope Bob is making the most if his amazing name while he is here. Lloyd was awarded the best speaker for the evening.

Then came the evaluations, which are really the heart of the Toastmasters experience, as everything gets evaluated. Doris was first up evaluating Paul’s speech. Doris did point out the improvement of Pauls speaking abilities in one year. Patrick was up next and gave us an insightful and informative evaluation encouraging Sheena to learn the beginnings and endings of her speech. This is so important when delivering your speeches. Paul Hickson was next and he gave Lloyd great positive feedback. Finally David Villa Clark was evaluating Aishi. David was animated and informative and certainly gave Aishi some great recommendations. It is good to see both Paul H and David VC back on the agenda. We do miss you when you are not around. Patrick won the evaluation contest.

Paul introduced the guests as Paul, Rick, Chris, and Mark. I do believe we will be seeing three of them as members very soon all being well. Please keep up the good work of making the guests feel welcome as this will help turn them into members, which is good for the club and good for the guest, so we all win in the end. There is a great buzz at the beginning of the meetings and also in the break. I do hope this continues as it is a great atmosphere for learning and having fun. Well done everybody for contributing to such a great atmosphere.

After the break we had the topics. This was very creative but a little complicated. I will say more on that in a moment. Justin did a great job as Topics Master and ran a lively and fun session. The participants were Charlie W who spoke about the back end of a donkey. Doris who spoke about a flute player. Patrick who spoke about cricket. Elizabeth who was supposed to talk about golf but ended up mentioning Scottish Dancing. Brilliant!!!!!!! And David VC talking about Spiderman. What I liked about the topics session was the element of mystery as in, who created the topic to speak about from the audience. What could be improved is this? The topics session was not finished off properly. As topics master it is important to finish the session properly, so that all the participants of the meeting are clear who spoke about what and whether they are eligible for the vote. And secondly, and probably more importantly, that people who haven’t spoken yet during the meeting, get to speak. This includes guests. When creating your topics session as topics master, one should be considering the guests also. This means creating something that even the most nervous speaker can join in on, without making it too obvious. This is a challenge in itself. We as a club could easily create tough guidelines to stick to as a Topics Master but that is not necessary. If you have no guidelines then you are like a ghost. You can come up with an ethereal concept where no one really understands the concept or idea of what you are supposed to speak about. Or if you go the other way, you become like a zombie, where the topic is so leaden and obvious that you have nothing to say about it, without stating the obvious. This is an art in itself, and when taking on the topics role, it is something that should be considered. If you are an experienced speaker, always remember the guest who had the most trouble with topics and try to consider them when planning your session. We had a line up of experienced speakers with this topics session, so Justin did pull it off, and everything worked. I would have liked to see the guests up there too as the session was a little short. Charlie won the topics session and is keen to try the position of back end of a donkey at Christmas.

Finally we had Amanda giving us a general evaluation. Amanda has a keen eye and is observant and she gave us a very accurate run down of the evening, letting us know how well we did and where there is room for improvement. We are lucky to have such an experienced Toastmaster as Amanda at the club, and such a great evaluator, as well as general mentor.

I loved the sentiment Phoebus left us with when he said we need to work together to make a better world. Yes I agree with that wholeheartedly. We are seeing the ultimate expression of competition with two opposing nations with their fingers on nuclear buttons at the moment. I am sure much of it is smoke and mirrors, which is how the political world seems to work. We are all blessed to have something so solid that is  such a creative force as Epsom Speakers Club to help us become better communicators and leaders and put our club, our community, our towns, our countries and our world back on track to making this experience we call life a happy one for all.

See you at the next meeting on 6th November where David Goodman is the Toastmaster. Please reply promptly if you are on the agenda.

Keep on shining.

Peter. 🙂
El Presidente.

Open focus link