Meeting on the 17th September 2015

Well my fellow Toastmasters what a night our last meeting was. The room was packed to the rafters. Our Sergeant at Arms for the evening Vijay Patel opened the meeting bang on time and went through the three f’s with ease and showed us all how he is growing as a speaker.

I stepped up to the stage and discussed how to be a good leader using Jeremy Corbyn as an example of how to develop as a leader and come nowhere to become a household name. Regardless of your political ties it would be hard to deny the meteoric rise of Mr Corbyn and I feel this is due to three things. He is honest and open, doing things differently (Prime Minister’s Questions being one of them) and he is relatively free from scandal.

Our Toastmaster of the evening was Tony Babatunde who introduced the theme of the evening, things that are wonderful and weird. Tony used the example of a potato that looked like Jay Leno and offered us a magic pill with which to increase our confidence. Tony also had a gadget for us to use. An easy button which when pressed said “that was easy”. This was used to demonstrate that most of the time when we think that a task will be difficult it can actually be really easy when we look back on it.

‘A tree does not make a forest’ Tony decreed using this saying as an interesting way to introduce our timekeeper of the evening Julie Ward. It was Julie’s second time as the timekeeper and she built the role up and added her own unique touches. Julie also wished all the speakers luck with their speeches.

Guy Dessoy was our Grammarian and Ah-Counter for the evening. The word of the evening was ‘Seize’ as in to reach out and seize an object. Guy’s introduction was very clear and concise even if he did need to be prompted to give us a definition.

The Hot Tip of the evening was delivered by our Vice President of Education Dave Henson, who stepped in at the last minute. The tip was to make sure we ask the right questions. Rather than ask “who wants to increase their confidence?” and maybe get one or two very timid hands raised, ask “who doesn’t want to increase their confidence?” and you will not only have no hands in the air but also an audience on the edge of their seats.

Alex Clark helped the room to warm up our vocal chords by asking us what our ‘Jeremy Corbyn moment’ was. Alex really got the room excited with this question and by starting at the back of the room he woke everyone up and really helped to set the mood for the evening.

We then moved to the first of our prepared speeches. Georgina Singleton brought to life the story of a Skype call with a friend of hers in New Zealand taught her a new way to look at the laws of attraction. In ‘The Secret’ by Rhonda Byrne the author mentions that if you believe something will happen and ask for it, receive and give gratitude then you can get that dream job, pay rise or the new opportunities you are looking for. Georgina delivered her speech brilliantly and asked us all to check out the book.

Susan Rayner’s speech ‘When nothing goes your way’ took us all back to February 1986 and the birth of her first child (coincidentally I was born only a few months later). Susan used a personal story to make her speech more engaging for the audience and by using subtle body gestures we were all kept interested and waiting for the outcome which after a dramatic build up turned out okay in the end.

Our final speaker was John Cross who like Georgina was delivering his third speech from the competent communicator manual. John chose Down House the home of Charles Darwin to be his topic and he definitely did his research. John’s speech was full of insightful facts about Charles Darwin and his family. John mentioned that Darwin was a true family man and doted on his ten children even building them a slide to use when going down stairs. John also told us about the impressive coffee shop we should visit even if we don’t want to see the whole of Down house.

Our Evaluators were up next and first up was Paul Lynch. A previous president Paul took to the stage and had one of the best openings to an evaluation I have seen and had brilliant commendations and recommendations even giving us and Georgina some examples. Completing our duo of Pauls Paul Goodhill was evaluating next in his own inimitable style. Even though it was mostly delivered directly to Susan it was still one of the best evaluations I have seen in a long time. Our third evaluation was completed by Alistair Feely who showed how much he has also grown as a public speaker, just watch the ers and ums. I think the Ah-Counter’s pen nearly ran out of ink.

Eddie Barnes was our table topics master and he kept the topics very short and sweet. Tell us about… was the basis of all of the topics and they ranged from tell us about breakfast to tell us about shopping on eBay. Evelyn Khan Panni told us about going to the gym and how much of a money spinner it was as most people paid their membership but didn’t go. One of our newer members Derek (who is a very experienced Toastmaster) was asked to tell us about going to the dogs and he surprised the audience by telling us about how Zimbabwe had gone from the bread basket of Africa to the dogs. A very nice example of how to take a different angle on the topic.

The Table Topics were evaluated by our Immediate Past President Richard Green who told us all to “seduce the audience with your eyes’ proving he is a true master of seduction. The main point he mentioned, other than seducing the audience, was that some of the speakers were clasping their hands up high and this means that you hold your nerves up high, so remember to try and relax your arms to let your nerves go.

Following Guy’s brilliant report as the Grammarian and Ah-Counter, Karen Mefflin showed us how to do a General Evaluation and Karen really has developed her speaking style and now has a really mellifluous style. Karen was specific and even mentioned that the Word of the Day was not on paper and this may be why it was hardly used.

The award for the best speaker was a tie (and incase you were wondering there were several recounts to be sure as we have had issues in the past) with Georgina Singleton and John Cross winning. Our best Evaluator was Alistair Feely and Alex Clark won the best Table Topic with his tale of failing his driving test.

All in all a brilliant meeting and I hope to see you all next time when I will be telling you how being able to cheat at cards can make you have a more positive outlook as I deliver my number 10 speech.

Our Toastmaster Meeting 3rd August

Thursday’s meeting was kicked off bang on 7.30 pm by our new Sergeant at Arms Paul Andreas who has recently joins Bromley Speakers from Croydon Communicators. He mentioned the three Fs, Facilities, Fires and Food and set us up for an interesting meeting.

Next up was me and I took my Presidential Address as a chance to talk about being prepared and that by having a speech, a word of the day, a table topics session or even a timers report in your back pocket you can step up and fill in a gap in the agenda should we have any last minute gaps. Okay maybe not a timers report…

Chris Howell was our Toastmaster of the Day and my, what a truly fantastic job he did. Not only did he lead the applause but he had the audience truly pumped up and kept the meeting’s tempo up all evening. He loudly and proudly introduced everyone and kept the audience bussing for the whole meeting.

Our timer was Vijay Patel doing the role for the first time and he told us a joke to get our attention. Why did the boy stand on his watch? Because he wanted to be on time. Not necessarily a great joke but a great way to get everyone listening. Vijay’s reports were concise and accurate so well done Vijay.

Bromley Speakers Immediate Past President was our Grammarian and Ah-Counter of the evening and he delivered one of Winton Churchill’s famous addresses in a slightly different style. ‘We shall erm fight them on the err beaches….’ With an albeit edited quote Richard really managed to demonstrate his point. Well done Richard.

Our Warm up was provided by Jenny Taggart and the question was ‘what happened the last time you were late?’ There were many people who said they were never late and I’m sure at least one of them was lying but the best answer was by Eddie Barnes who turned up a week early and the person he was meet never said a thing about it.

Susan Rayner delivered a Hot Tip about how she prepares her speeches and I’m sure we all learned from it.

The first of the evening’s speakers was Ruth Gordon who told us a story from her past telling us that moments of boldness can change our lives and we can either let opportunities pass us by or grab them with both hands. Ruth certainly grabbed the opportunity in her story and told us about how it changed her life. Ruth also mentioned that two people can see an event differently and take different outcomes because of this and that there are moments when time and chance are on our side. Against very tough competition Ruth won the Best Speaker Award.

I was the second speaker of the evening and I used this as an opportunity to test an idea out for a presentation I will be putting together for work and I was trying to persuade my audience of driving instructors to increase their prices and increase their profitability. The feedback was great and I believe I achieved my aim. Two more speeches and I can achieve the coveted CC status.

Alex Clark had the third speaking slot and asked us ‘how eccentric are you?’ We learnt all about the Fifth Duke of Portland who was also known as the burrowing duke due to his tendency to build extensions to his Manor House underground. He was also a model employer and helped to improve the lives of his 2-3000 employees. Alex also said that it is thought that the level of eccentricity in a society is equal to the level of genius, so may be being eccentric is a good thing.

The first evaluator of the evening was the inimitable Martin Langdon. Martin delivered a brilliant evaluation he mentioned all the key points and pointed out specific parts that he liked and areas for improvement.

Our second evaluator was Tony Babatunde who asked the audience if I had persuaded them which is a brilliant way to start an evaluation. Tony gave specific areas for improvement and gave the whole audience advice by saying that perhaps we should consider being more persuasive by telling stories so we can connect with our audience better. He summarised by saying that the speech ‘flowed like a good wine, but left a bit of an aftertaste’. I’m still not sure if that is a good thing or not.

Finally Neil Pettigrew was our last evaluator and he had the delight of evaluating Alex Clark. Neil completed his evaluation in the third person meaning that the feedback could be used by the whole audience as well as making his evaluation personal by saying what he liked about Alex’s speech. Neil was voted as our best evaluator of the evening. Well done Neil.

Dave Henson was our Table Topics Master and armed with a very large dictionary he gave the participants a word and asked them to provide the definition. My personal favourite was David Wilson’s attempt to define the word Rawgabbit. David suggested that it was a word used to describe conkers that were not quite ready to fall down, even when you threw your bag at them to dislodge them. It’s actually a word to describe someone who is talking about a subject they know nothing about which was very apt for this Table Topics session.

The Table Topics session was won by Joyce Reid a toastmaster from another club who had the word Cockalorum and one of our guests Chelsea Sampson who had the word Jerepigo. Congratulations to Peter Willians a member who we haven’t seen in a while who correctly told us the meaning of the word Dogwatch.

Vinod Venkatanarayana was our Table Topics Evaluator who had lots of feedback for all of the participants and the main thing everyone was told was to keep going for at least the green light.

Our General Evaluator was Samir Malak, our area director, who commended Chris Howell for his theme of mindfulness and Samir did a great job of being mindful during his evaluation. Samir mentioned everyone by name which is fantastic when evaluating and commented on how strong he thought the fellowship of our club was really good as all of the evaluators commented on how good it was to see the members they were evaluating grow and develop. My piece of feedback to Samir is KEEP TO TIME!!!! Otherwise a brilliant evaluation.

So once again we all had a great night and thanks to all of the members who made it happen. If you would like to get involved at a future meeting get in touch with Dave Henson our VPE if you are a member or if you are a guest get in touch with me and I look forward to seeing you soon

President of Bromley Speakers.