Tom Jewers, Bromley Speakers club member, gives an interview to Public Relations Officer Deborah Goodman
Hi Tom. It’s always a pleasure to see you. Thanks for taking the time to give me this interview. I know that you joined Bromley Speakers in September 2018 but why did you join Toastmasters in the first place?
I joined to improve my communication skills and to face my fear of public speaking! After avoiding any situation which involved public speaking, like customer meetings, team meetings, University seminars etc. I decided it was time to face my fear and grow my confidence in a friendly environment.
I attended a public speaking course originally and following that programme before I was made aware of Toastmasters. Soon after, I did some further research on how Toastmasters works before attending as a very nervous guest!
Most people, if not all people, find it quite nerve-wracking at first. I still get nervous about the Table Topics session. But people soon realise that we are a very friendly and supportive bunch of people. Despite your nerves, how do you feel that Bromley Speakers club helps you?
It’s allows me to practice in a safe environment and to work at my own pace. With a variety of roles which all allow for different speaking requirements, I can pick a different one week by week, depending on how confident I feel.
Moreover, everyone at the club is extremely supportive, whilst also providing relevant advice for all levels of expertise. I have enjoyed learning and watching the more experienced speakers and taking notes on small aspects of their speeches to add into my own style.
The club has allowed me to realise that being nervous is normal and that it’s about embracing the nerves and adapting to the situation.
I could not have put it better myself Tom. And it’s so true, it’s such a safe place to practice and make your mistakes. Not that you make many mistakes, I think that you are a very engaging and humorous speaker. What do you specifically like about the club?
Thanks Deborah. I like Bromley Speakers because it’s a friendly, warm and welcoming group.
The sessions are extremely structured and we stick by this week by week. I feel that this is great for new members or more nervous beginners as you soon become familiar with the sessions and this allows people to step forward to challenge themselves.
Yes, I totally agree. It’s such a friendly group and we always have fun, but the structure and purpose of the meetings are always taken seriously and handled professionally.
People often join Toastmasters because it helps them with their career. What is it that you do for your job?
I’m an Institutional Banker. I work in the Fund Finance Team at RBS International.
It sounds interesting and important. What does your team do?
We provide investor-backed and asset-backed finance to large Corporate Infrastructure and Renewable Funds in the UK and in Europe.
And what is your role in the team?
My role is to act as the Relationship Manager to an existing portfolio of RBSI Fund names. This involves business origination, leading customer meetings, managing our Infra and Renewables portfolio, structuring new transactions and leading loan negotiations with lawyers and other lenders.
Very serious stuff indeed by the sounds of it. I can see how your personality would help you in this role. How have you used the speaking and leadership skills that you have learned in Toastmasters?
For me it’s been a slow process; however I have definitely seen a huge improvement in my communication skills at work. I have volunteered to present on several occasions, where previously I may have not put myself forward.
I also think it’s improved my communication in sports, as a semi-professional footballer, it’s enabled me to communicate better with my team mates in the dressing room and also during the games.
I’m very impressed that you play semi-professional football! That must keep you very fit. What team do you play for?
I play for Homesdale FC in the Kent League and I have represented Wales Universities at football playing against England and Scotland. I’m also a huge boxing fan.
Wow, what an achievement! What would you say has been your biggest achievement at Bromley Speakers to date?
Completing my first speech at the club was a huge achievement for me. I waited a year to put myself forward and the feedback was extremely positive.
I’m so glad to hear that you felt that the feedback was so positive. The general rule at Toastmasters clubs is always to give positive feedback, followed by a few recommendations on how to improve and then finish with a positive comment. This way it helps the speaker to improve and also to feel more confident in their ability.
What do you want to achieve at the club?
My short term plan is to develop myself further at Bromley Speakers and to complete every role on the agenda – with a focus on the evaluation roles and prepared speeches.
My long-term goal is to compete in a Toastmasters competition at some point and also lead a session as ‘The Toastmaster’ at Bromley Speakers in 2020.
The Toastmasters role at the club is not as daunting as people think once you do it Tom. If I can do it, anyone can, trust me. And remember, it doesn’t have to be perfect, it’s about trying it, learning from it and improving. The point of the Toastmasters clubs is to practice in a safe environment. I look forward to your first stint as Toastmaster and then many more this year!
The competitions are obviously a bit more nerve-wracking as everyone wants to win. But they are fun and people always learn a lot from entering, so I wish you luck with that. Your mentor will help you and I am sure you will be fantastic. You are already winning awards for the best Table Topics session so you are clearly quite good at impromptu speaking.
Thank you for talking to me. We really love having you at the club and I look forward to hearing more from you this year.