Jamie Simpson, Bromley Speakers new club member, gives an interview to Public Relations Officer Deborah Goodman
How did you first hear about Toastmasters?
It was recommended to me by a millionaire businessman who lives in a castle in Scotland. He teaches Mergers and Acquisitions courses in his castle and he suggested that I go to Toastmasters to improve my communication skills in order to excel in the business world.
Wow, I wasn’t expecting that! What is it that you do for your job?
I own a transport company and a care home acquisition company.
Do you have any previous experience of Toastmasters clubs?
Only a little. I originally attended a Toastmasters club in Brighton a few years ago in the hope of improving my presentation skills. I had started a new project and needed to raise finance in the city. Unfortunately, with it being such a large club I felt too far out of my comfort zone and made my excuses to leave early without returning.
Why did you come to Bromley Speakers after that?
Earlier this year, after moving to Kent, I decided to try Toastmasters again. I found out that Bromley Speakers club was local to me and I attended one Thursday evening as a guest.
Bromley Speakers was a lot smaller than the previous club I had attended and it felt more welcoming and warm.
Were you nervous about coming back to Toastmasters?
The urge to give in to my comfort zone kicked in again and I had to internally win a battle with myself in order to stay for the whole session. However, in doing so I was extremely impressed with the structure of the meeting, which gave so many people the opportunity to speak.
What do you particularly like about the structure of the evening?
I was surprised to see that there are lots of roles to fulfil, such as a time keeper, warm-up, evaluator and Toastmaster. These roles help to keep the meeting running smoothly. Without these vital roles, the club would not be able to run.
Why do you think that this is important?
I recognised these roles as a very clever way to integrate people into positions of leadership and ownership for their roles, of which some people are not used to in day-to-day life. This is a fantastic way to improve confidence in leadership and communication skills, whilst in a friendly and non-judgemental environment.
I am so pleased that you liked the first meeting and decided to come back.
Yes. I decided to return to the next meeting in two weeks’ time and stood up to give my first Table Topics talk.
I was very scared as, although I see myself as confident and have a sales background, it suddenly dawned on me that I had not needed to use my communication or presentation skills in such a long time. So long in fact that I had bypassed the point of being rusty and they were now at an all-time low.
Some people find Table Topics a bit scary. How did you feel after doing your first Table Topic?
After my first Table Topic – which I was determined to do in order to be a participant rather than just a spectator – I felt very good about myself and actually ended up winning the best Table Topics’ speaker of the evening! I could feel the confidence and sense of achievement that I had unknowingly been without for so long, start to return.
That’s fantastic Jamie. Did that have a knock-on effect on you?
The burst of confidence worked a treat and then, instead of mentally forcing myself to attend the next meeting after a long day at work, I eagerly anticipated it.
I hear that you got married this year – congratulations – and therefore had to give a speech. How did that go?
Bromley Speakers, in such a short space of time, has helped me get over the initial anxiety of speaking in front of others and allowed me to deliver a well-received groomsman speech at my wedding in June. This of course boosted my confidence even further and I could then feel the momentum growing.
That’s fantastic to hear. Where did that momentum take you?
After one groom’s speech and four visits as a guest to Bromley Speakers – of which included two Table Topic wins and two Table Topic flops – I am now the one of the newest member of Bromley Speakers club and have just given my first speech. With the help of my fellow Toastmasters, I feel that I am growing as a person, alongside like-minded and friendly people.
Thank you to Jamie for sharing his story with us.