A Halcyon Meeting 29/08/2019

What a Halcyon meeting we had last night at Ripley Arts Centre, Bromley.

Yes, Halcyon was the word of the Week and a few of the members managed to use it throughout the evening, which was definitely happy, joyful and gay, especially as the table topics were all about humour. Thanks David Henson for a great Table Topics Session.

Also, we had a very humorous speech by Ross Taggart, who won the Best Speaker Award, well done Ross!

Our members and guests were greeted warmly by our Club Membership Officer Vinu Madhavan and our fabulous Sargent at Arms James Kirkby opened the meeting, which was held in a room full of wonderful artwork. That’s one of the benefits of meeting at the Ripley Arts Centre; not only is it an entertaining and educational evening, it’s also a spectacular feast for the eyes.

Members and guests mingle amongst the artwork at
Ripley Arts Centre

Our President Christine Morrell introduced the meeting with a fabulous lesson on how nerves and excitement are both a state of heightened emotion and how a simple technique called ‘anxiety reappraisal’ can help people channel nervous jitters into improved performance.  When evaluating the meeting, our General Evaluator John Vickers noted that Christine created a good mood and led us into the meeting with positivity.

David Henson shared his success story, telling us about his forthcoming comedy slot where he will be performing in front of 300 people at the Professional Speaking Association (PSA) National Convention in October. What an amazing challenge to take on and he could never have even thought about doing it before he came to Toastmasters.

Here at Bromley Speakers we just love the success stories. Keep them coming guys!

Rajesh Deshmukh warmed us all up by asking about our amazement over the past few weeks and our Top Tip was delivered by Ben Lopez who shared with us a personal story and urged us all to persevere.

The Timekeeper was the ever-amusing Martin Langdon and Vinu Madhavan was our Ah Counter for the evening.

The Grammarian was Richard Green who picked up some great use of language throughout the evening.

Our first Speaker, Jamie Simpson delivered a speech entitled ‘The Three S’s’. This was Jamie’s icebreaker speech and Jamie told us that he joined Bromley Speakers because he finds it friendly and supportive and that he feels it will help him to achieve his goals, not only in business but in life. He regaled us with his tales of travel and he engaged the audience well by asking us questions. It was a great first speech, well done Jamie.  We look forward to many more tales from our newest member as he will no doubt go from strength to strength.

Our second speech was delivered by Susan Rayner who educated us on her thoughts on how we might improve as leaders. Her speech, entitled ‘Learning to Influence’, was an enlightening insight into the world of persuasive influence and understanding of leadership styles.

She told us that it’s easy to tell someone what to do but it’s more difficult to take someone on a journey with you. How true that is. Another gem of wisdom from Susan was that it’s good to give praise in public and reprimand in private. It was a great speech with lots of useful information on leadership skills.

Speakers Jamie Simpson and Susan Rayner

Our third speaker, Ross Taggart, had us all laughing with his speech entitled ‘Interview’. Ross should definitely enter into the forthcoming humorous speech contest as he is a naturally funny guy. As he told us about his hilarious experiences of job hunting, he improved on his last performance by incorporating feedback from a previous speech. When Neil Pettigrew evaluated Ross’ speech he said that it was his best speech to date. Nice one Ross!

Toastmaster Jenny Taggart reminded us that children have no shame when it comes to evaluating their peers as she encouraged our three evaluators up to give their reports.

Sue Shaw said that she liked the way that our first speaker Jamie Simpson linked into the word of the day and reminded us that, for a 6-minute speech we should have no more than 2 pages of A4 in a 14- to16-point font. She said that Jamie had excelled at his audience rapport.

Evaluators Sue Shaw, John Vickers, Neil Pettigrew and John Cross

John Cross evaluated our second speaker, Susan Rayner. He said that she had an engaging and interesting delivery, good punctuation and a good varied pace. It was a polished delivery.

Evaluating Ross Taggart, Neil Pettigrew agreed that Ross had achieved both of his objectives by incorporating feedback from his previous speech. It was humorous and, as mentioned before, his best speech so far!

Table Topics at Bromley Speakers always gets us laughing but this week the subject was indeed ‘Humour’. David Henson delivered the topics and kicked off the session by asking, is laughter the best medicine? Following this he asked, is swearing funny? (to which Alistair managed not to swear at all), Are women as funny as men?, Is it important to have a good sense of humour in a relationship? and a few other amusing questions.

Our Topics Evaluator, Eddie Barnes also tickled our funny bones with his amusing feedback on the topics.

Best Speech – Ross Taggart, Best Evaluation – Neil Pettigrew, Best Table Topic – Martin Langdon

As you can tell, here at Bromley Speakers we like to have fun. But at the same time we also take our learning and feedback seriously. At the end of the day, Toastmasters is about improving our speaking skills and that is always at the heart of what we do and why we do it. But if we can’t laugh at ourselves along the way, then life as a speaker might become a little dull. Our audience will dictate our level of seriousness or humour and that is always remembered when giving our speeches.

Learning can be fun and I can’t wait for the next meeting!

Bromley Speakers meets at Ripley Arts Centre, Bromley on the 1st, 3rd and 5th Thursdays of the month, at 7.15 pm.

For more information please email us

Member’s Profile – Deborah Goodman

Deborah Goodman, Public Relations Officer -Press Release 22/08/19

Orpington Woman Reaches New Heights

After nearly 20 years away from the corporate world, a woman from Orpington has gained the prestigious position of Vice President Public Relations at her local Toastmasters club, Bromley Speakers.

Deborah Goodman, from Crofton, Orpington worked in the Telecoms industry for 23 years before leaving the corporate world behind her in 2000 to pursue her passion in holistic therapy.

Deborah, who has recently been appointed Public Relations Officer at Bromley Speakers Club said, “I really thought I’d left this kind of work behind me, but I am finding that this new role has ignited a spark in me and I’m eager to get my teeth into it.”

Deborah left her London job after suffering stress and depression and experiencing her first massage and energy healing whilst on holiday in Costa Rica.

After losing her father, aunt and two brothers to a hereditary neurological condition, she started to raise money and awareness for the Huntington’s Disease Association. Deborah trekked on the Great Wall of China, the Inca Trial to Machu Picchu in Peru and even summited the world’s tallest mountain – Mount Kilimanjaro.

Standing at 5,895 metres Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa and the tallest free-standing mountain in the World.

China Trek
Machu Picchu
Summit of Kilimanjaro

After raising over £20,000 she took on another colossal challenge, writing and publishing her autobiography, Hummingbird.

After the publication of the book, Deborah was invited to give talks at Bromley College and Langley Park Girls School.

Deborah with her book
Langley Park Girls School
Bromley College

“I think I did an OK job, but I’d never done anything like that before and I realised that I definitely needed some help with public speaking” Deborah said. “So I joined Bromley Speakers and I haven’t looked back.

 “I was instantly struck by how friendly the club is” she said. “It’s a safe environment to practise and it’s OK to mess up. The meetings are structured in a way that is really informative and I learn something useful each time I go. My confidence has soared and I even filmed for Channel 4’s First Dates programme! I would not have had the confidence to do that, were it not for Bromley Speakers.

Deborah at C4s First Dates

Unfortunately they didn’t show my date but I got through all the interviews and auditions and went on to film a date with them. The whole experience was exciting and incredible. ”

In March this year Deborah was a key speaker at the Amazing Women Awards, held in London by Roz Thornton of Amazing Women Global.

“I am sure that being a member of Toastmasters was instrumental in securing that speaking slo,” Deborah said. “It was one of those ‘pinch me’ experiences that I will never forget.”

In 2015 Deborah also took part in a video for 5 News, in relation to the Assisted Dying Bill which was being debated in Parliament. “I don’t think I did the best job in this interview, and I wish I’d have found Bromley Speakers years ago. It definitely would have helped me to come across better.”

Filming for C5 News Report

Deborah has recently taken part in a documentary with David George of Utility Films about her experiences of living in a family with Huntington’s disease, which is currently being finalised.

Bromley Speakers is a non-profit organisation and was founded in 1992 as a local group of Toastmasters International.

Deborah said, “It is a place where you can overcome your fear of speaking in public, and it provides positive leadership at work or in your business. It enables you to develop skills related to timekeeping, grammar and helps with overall communication skills. Bromley Speakers is a multi-award winning club, but it’s not just for business people. It’s also open to those who just want to increase their confidence in life.

“The club is friendly, very welcoming and hugely supportive. I really look forward to the meetings where I get an opportunity to practise my speaking skills and receive constructive feedback and recommendations on how to improve. And, as an extra bonus, I have made some wonderful new friends.

“Members represent a wide cross-section of the community, including students, educators, business people, professionals, authors and retired people. Anyone can go along as a guest, without any charge, to three meetings to get a feel for it before actually joining.  I promise we will give all our guests a friendly welcome.

“As Public Relations Officer, I am happy to speak to organisations about what we do.”

Bromley Speakers meets at Ripley Arts Centre, Bromley on the 1st, 3rd and 5th Thursdays of the month, at 7.15 pm.

For more information contact Deborah via email vppublicrelations@bromleyspeakers.co.uk

We All Need Heroes

“Fantastic Toastmasters club with energetic members.
The atmosphere is awesome; highly engaging and supportive community.
Will love to be back again.”

This was the feedback on last night’s meeting from our special guest, Harun Dagli, President of Beckenham Communicators Club.

Harun was one of nine guests who were warmly welcomed to the meeting by our hospitality host and membership secretary, Vinu Madhavan.

Last night’s energetic meeting opened as usual with our Sergeant at Arms, James Kirkby.

James Kirkby

Our President, Christine Morrell gave her introduction and handed over to our Toastmaster for the evening, Deborah Goodman. Deborah is the club’s PR officer and Christine commended her on the good work she has been doing since she started the role six weeks ago.

The President hands over to the Toastmaster

The warm-up was set in motion by Neil Pettigrew who asked us to share our special buildings with the group. We went on a journey from the building we were in – Ripley Arts Centre – through various London and UK buildings before going overseas to Cologne, Warner Brothers Studios, Mumbai and Barcelona.  

The warm-up is always fun and it was a very interesting ‘virtual’ journey for us all!

The Hot Tip was given to us by Martin Landon, who always brings humour to the meeting.

The Speeches

Our first speech was delivered by Ben Lopez, who was presenting his ‘Icebreaker’. The Icebreaker is the first speech on the Toastmaster’s pathway and Ben surpassed expectations by delivering his speech without notes. With his speech entitled ‘Ten Year Life Experience’ Ben entertained us with his Australian Adventures. He left us with a heartfelt message – that we shouldn’t wait to fulfil our dreams.

Our second speaker pulled out at the last minute due to unforeseen circumstances and club member Sue Shaw stepped in with a speech entitled ‘We All Need Heroes’. Sue was definitely the hero of the evening, delivering her speech with only 15 minutes of thinking time.

Sue told us about how she was once asked to speak on behalf of the hospice and went on to tell us the fascinating story of Cicely Saunders, an English nurse, social worker, physician and writer involved with many international universities. Sue told a great story of how Cicely became involved in the birth of the hospice movement and how she emphasised the importance of palliative care in modern medicine.

Sue delivered her speech with expertise and it certainly was deserving of the ‘best speaker’ award of the evening. Well done Sue Shaw!

Illuminating us with the third prepared speech of the evening was John Cross with his speech entitled ‘Let the Light In’. John has been a member of Toastmasters for four and a half years and is an accomplished speaker.

With his 7th speech from the Presentation Mastery pathway, John’s objective was to share with us the impact and importance of having a mentor, which he did brilliantly. It was obvious from John’s speech that his mentors have helped him a great deal in his life and he is now listening more and letting in the light!

It was an interesting speech which was relevant to everyone in the room.

Bromley Speakers guests and members listen to Grammarian David Henson


Our three speech evaluators for the evening were David Hampton, guest Alison Morris from Legacy Speakers Brixton and Richard Green.

David Hampton evaluated the first speaker, Ben Lopez. He reported that Ben’s speech had a good structure and commended him on not using any notes for his first speech.

David liked the detail in Ben’s talk and the way that Ben tied up the speech with a ‘neat bow’.

David is a very experienced evaluator and this was evident in his feedback.

It’s always a great pleasure to have visiting guest speakers from other clubs and we were delighted to welcome our second evaluator, Alison Morris who evaluated Sue Shaw’s speech.

The evaluations are also speeches in their own right and they take practice and skill to deliver. Alison has a very engaging manner and delivered her evaluation with the expertise of an accomplished evaluator.

Alison thought that Sue’s speech got off to a great start. She liked the structure of it: a clear introduction followed by great storytelling and rounding off with a clear conclusion. Alison said that she thought Sue’s speech had great transitions between the three sections and that her gestures were engaging. Sue was continually connecting with the audience and the best thing about the delivery of the speech was that the vocal variety and range was clear. 

A great evaluation for a great speech!

Guests from other clubs,
Harun Dagli and Alison Morris

Richard Green then evaluated the third speaker, John Cross. Another accomplished evaluator, Richard commended John for his mentoring example. In his engaging, effervescent manner, Richard said that John was an affable guy who had created an image for us when he said that his mentor had ‘handed him the baton’.  As usual, Richard gave an entertaining and insightful evaluation that concluded with him telling us that John had given a really good speech.

When giving feedback to the speakers, the evaluators always try to give recommendations for improvement. It’s usual for people to speak too quickly when they first start public speaking and it was suggested that a 6-minute speech should contain about 1,100 words.  


It’s a challenge to make the time-reporting engaging and entertaining but our Timekeeper, Susan Rayner did just that! Stepping in at the last minute to take on the role, Susan did a great job.

Table Topics

The Table Topics session was run by Vinu Madhavan who gave us topics under the following statement:

You woke up to find yourself in someone else’s shoes. Share a slice of your day with us.

The topics subjects and speakers were:

  • Hacker – Alistair Feely
  • Zookeeper – John Vickers
  • Driving Instructor – Jenny Taggart
  • Astronaut – Jamie Simpson
  • Tour Guide – Ross Taggart
  • Children’s Party Entertainer – Rajesh Deshmukh
  • Artist – Robert Parker

Karen Mefflin gave her evaluations of the Table Topics. The Table Topic speakers were as humorous as ever and Karen reminded us that the answers to the Table Topics don’t have to be true – we can make it up and create a good story if we want to.

The ‘Best Table Topic Speaker Award’ went to Jenny Taggart who had us all laughing with images of her as a driving instructor, having fun with the dual controls. 

Jenny Taggart

Our ‘ums’ and ‘ahs’ and filler words were counted by James Kirkby and we kept him quite busy last night. #MustTryHarder

David Henson was our Grammarian for the evening. David reported on the good use of language and of rhetorical devices and there was plenty to report on with examples of metaphors and similes as well as two alliterations – ‘second scheduled speech’ and ‘comforted, cosseted and encouraged’.

David’s word of the day was ‘prodigious’ which was used four times in the meeting. He could only find two misuses of the mother tongue which demonstrates what a grammatically-aware group of people we are.

Grammarian, David Henson

Harun Dagli, our guest from Beckenham Speakers, took on the role of General Evaluator. He liked the idea of having a ‘warm up’ and a ‘hot tip’ and these are agenda items that he might take back with him to incorporate into his home club.

He commended Susan Rayner for making the role of timekeeper humorous and interesting. He also liked the humour that David Henson injected into his Grammarian report and said that David Hampton was an outstanding evaluator. Harun liked Alison Morris’ voice and thought she was a great evaluator and he also liked Richard Green’s personal humour.

Our President, Christine Morrell presented the awards and congratulations went to the following people:

  • Best Speaker – Sue Shaw
  • Best Evaluator – Alison Morris
  • Best Table Topic Speaker – Jenny Taggart.

The President invited our guests to give feedback on how they enjoyed the meeting and it’s a great pleasure to report that two of the guests have decided to join the club. Yay! We love it when we have new members. We look forward to welcoming Robert Parker and Amanda Harrison in the very near future.

Other feedback from our guests was that they liked the humour, the table topics and that we were a friendly and welcoming group. Some were excited and nervous at the same time and that is totally normal and usual. That’s why we are doing what we do – to overcome our nerves and practice our speaking so that we can get better and better, with the support of the wonderful people at Bromley Speakers!

What did we learn?

We always learn something new at each meeting. This time we learned about the interesting and inspirational life of Cicely Saunders, that it’s essential to carry a piece of acetate in our back pockets and that we have some of the most humorous Toastmasters members at Bromley Speakers Club.

I think it’s fair to say that the unexpected theme of last night’s meeting turned out to be ‘We All Need Heroes’.

Club Meeting 1st August 2019

Wow, what an incredible meeting! It was a pleasure to welcome seven guests to our club meeting 1st August 2019. Members and guests were greeted with a friendly welcome from Deborah Goodman (hospitality) and the meeting commenced with more warmth and smiles from Margot Glover, our Sergeant at Arms.

Our President, Christine Morrell

Bromley Speakers President, Christine Morrell
Christine Morrell

Although it was the second meeting of the Toastmasters year, it was the first for our new President, Christine Morrell. Wearing the Presidential ribbon with pride, which has 27 names of the past Presidents of Bromley Speakers on it, Christine told us that she was delighted and honoured to be our President this year.

Talk to Us

Christine was happy to take on the role as President because she knew that she would have a great team of committee members supporting her. She invited the members to let the committee know what is required from them to meet their personal objectives and to ensure that the club has a successful year ahead and therefore her message to our members is… please talk to us!

The Past President, David Henson, did an amazing job last year and implemented some of his own ideas, such as ‘success stories’ and ‘what have we learned?’

Christine is carrying on in this vein and our newest member, Jamie Simpson told us how – after just three times as a guest – Bromley Speakers helped him to deliver his wedding speech recently. Congratulations Jamie, we wish you all the very best for a happy and healthy life together – with your wife and with your new Toastmasters family!

Word of the Day

Congratulations also went to the rhapsodic Richard Green who has been a member of Toastmasters for ten years this week. Richard was our grammarian for the evening, introducing our ‘word of the day’ which was Panacea. Panacea means a remedy for all ailments, a cure-all. Four people managed to shoe-horn it into the evening and Richards’s mystery prize was ….. that there was no mystery prize!

Toastmaster Paul Goodhill
Paul Goodhill

Our Toastmaster was Paul Goodhill, who entertained us with an interesting and fun warm up and put us in touch with our inner Julie Andrews! Paul guided us through the evening as he introduced us to the speakers and members taking on the roles.

Prepared Speeches

Speech One – P.A.D by Haluk Resitoglu

Haluk Resitoglu
Haluk Resitoglu

We had three prepared speeches in the first half of the meeting. The first was from a visiting member of  Beckenham Communicators, Haluk Resitoglu.

Haluk took us on a car journey which was both serious and humorous and shared with us his thoughts about receiving dating advice from a ten year old lad.

He went on to deliver a more serious message of how our Perception will influence our Actions and therefore our Decisions.

Speech Two – Three Letters From France by David Henson

Men at war

“Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori – How sweet and fitting it is to die for your country.”

David’s speech was a powerful and emotive story, fully meeting with the speech objective which was to bring history to life. He had us all captivated by his moving story of a family whose 19 year old son William had gone to war. William wrote to his family, “This war is bloody awful. It ain’t right.”

David’s speech was delivered with the expertise of a very experienced speaker. He acted out the characters in the story with control and emotion and used props to enhance our experience.

Broken Heart

The Grammarian, Richard Green later picked up on a phrase that David used; ‘this letter had the power to smash her already-broken heart into a thousand pieces’.

Well done to David Henson for winning the best speaker of the evening.

Speech Three – My Life by Eddie Barnes

Although Eddie has been a member of Toastmasters for almost twenty years, he was delivering his Icebreaker – which is traditionally a member’s first speech – on the new Pathways programme. Eddie’s objective was to introduce himself to the club by engaging humour and he certainly did that.

Eddie is by nature a humorous man and he delivered his speech with ease and wit. He told us that he joined Toastmasters all those years ago because someone told him that it would help him to become a better salesman. Now retired, he continues on his journey with Bromley Speakers purely because he enjoys it. He told us about his life and his travels to India and Japan.

It seems that Eddie Barnes is becoming more adventurous the older he gets as at 72 years old he is snowboarding, windsurfing and taking lessons in an autogiro aircraft! He has also recently taken up the trumpet and has learned to read music. What an inspiration Eddie is to us all!

Other News from the Evening

Every role at Bromley Speakers involves an opportunity to stand up and speak. Our Timekeeper for the evening was Simon Philbin who did a fantastic job of explaining his role and delivering his report.

The three speeches were evaluated by Robert Parker, Neil Pettigrew and Marot Glover and the award for the best evaluator went to our guest, Robert Parker. A very well done for a great evaluation.

As it was such a lovely evening, some of our members enjoyed their tea break in the garden of Ripley Arts Centre before reconvening for the Table Topics session.

Bromley Speakers Tea Break at Riply Arts Centre

Table Topics

The session was delivered by Simon Maggs and was inspired by a study, the results of which were published as “The Experimental Generation of Interpersonal Closeness”.

The worthy winner of the Table Topics impromptu speech was our newest member, Jamie.

Our ‘Ah’ counter for the evening was the lovely Shaun Brennan who reported that not one of our prepared speeches included any ‘ums’ or ‘ahs’, which is pretty good don’t you think?

David Hampton concluded the reports by delivering his evaluation of the entire meeting and stressing that ‘the most important thing in a meeting like this is enthusiasm’ and boy, did we have that in abundance last night!

Worthy Winners.
Best Speech, David Henson. Best Evaluator, Robert Parker.
Best Table Topic, Jamie Simpson.

Bromley Speakers is a non-profit organisation. We meet at Ripley Arts Centre on the 1st, 3rd and 5th Thursdays of each month. Guests are welcome to come along free of charge. Please see our website for more details or contact us @vppublicrelations@bromleyspeakers.co.uk. See you there!