I Want To Be A Star in Your Show!

Meeting Thursday 20th February 2020

We had a packed room at Bromley Speakers on Thursday with plenty of members and guests.

We were delighted to welcome Area Director Michael Crane to the meeting. It’s always a pleasure to see Michael and we appreciate his visits to the club. Michael noted that we had all committee members present at the meeting which is not unusual for our club as our committee members are extremely supportive to the club, its members and each other.

President Christine Morrell also warmly welcomed two other distinguished guests, Phillip and Evelyn Khan-Panni. Phillip was a founder member of Bromley Speakers back in 1992 and was a runner-up in the International Speech Contest, which is quite an achievement for anyone to get that far in the competition.

We had four other guests, two of whom were first-time visitors to a Toastmasters club and all of them gave good feedback after the meeting.

Our Toastmaster for the evening was Karen Mefflin. Although Karen has been a member of the club for six years, it’s been quite a while since she has taken on the role of Toastmaster. Members can sometimes become very comfortable with certain roles and it can take a bit of courage to step up to another challenge, so well done to Karen for stepping into the Toastmasters shoes for the evening.

If you won the Euro Millions what would be the first thing you would buy?

The warm-up for the evening was guided by Harry Langley. Some of the answers were as predictable as a red sports car, a bigger house and a round-the-world holiday and others were more boozy like a pub and even several pubs! My personal favourites were from Caroline who said that she would give her friends envelopes with something that they all wanted in, and Richard who said that what he would want, money couldn’t buy.

Prepared Speeches

Our first prepared speech was delivered by Jamie Simpson. Freshly off the plane from Sri Lanka, Jamie regaled us of tales from his exciting and adventurous holiday, making us all green with envy of his exotic trip.

Jamie’s ‘second honeymoon’ speech was an Evaluation and Feedback speech from the Visionary Communication pathway. Jamie’s remit was to incorporate feedback from his last speech, which he did extremely well by not using any notes at all.

He made us laugh when he said that his missus ‘borrowed’ some food from the breakfast buffet, put some bananas in his rucksack pocket without his knowing and he had the monkeys chasing after him and he had no idea why!

He took us on his train journey through the tea plantations and he said that it was like Tuscany without the tourists. He visited the botanical gardens full of palm trees and saw flying foxes amongst other animals. He even saw his first leopard!

Jamie also told us about his visit to the turtle sanctuary, which seemed unnatural but then he struck it lucky when he was walking on the beach and a turtle came out of the sea and laid its eggs right in front of him! How amazing.

I love hearing stories of people’s travels at Toastmasters. It was an impressive speech which made me want to pack my bags and fly to Sri Lanka!

Speech number two was delivered by Sue Shaw. Her speech entitled ‘At the Heart’ was from the Storytelling pathway and her remit was to arouse emotions whilst telling a touching story.

Susan certainly did that when she told us about a man named John whom she had met through the hospice at which she was volunteering. When Sue started giving speeches to the hospice, she told us that the experience wasn’t connecting with her emotions and her heart. And then she had an epiphany moment when she heard stories like John’s.

“How patients are cared for remains in the minds of those who are left”

John was an ordinary man who loved to walk. He even walked an impressive 163 miles to Hastings. And then he got his diagnosis and became more reclusive. When he went into the hospice they did a wonderful thing for him. He was never going to be able to get to the seaside again and so the hospice brought the seaside to him. They arranged for the sights, the smells and even the taste to be there in his room on a very special day.

Our third prepared speech entitled ‘Who Do you Think You Are?’ was delivered by Phillip Khan-Panni who told us not about the Spice Girls but a story about mistaken identities. His brother happily accepted congratulations for an achievement that was Phillip’s and the judges of the ‘most stylish young skater’ award mistook another lad for himself and presented the award to the other boy! Phillip told the lad that he thought it was a mistake and that they had given the award to him in error and the lad retorted, ‘who do you think you are?’.

Phillip left us with a message.

Why be an extra in someone else’s dream when you can star in your own?


Feedback was given on all three speeches by our evaluators Vinu Madhavan, Susan Rayner and Richard Green.

Vinu said that Jamie had delivered an enjoyable speech and had brought it to life.

Susan commented that as Sue Shaw painted us her picture, we all smiled. Sue Shaw is a great storyteller and she used her expertise to draw us all in.

In Richard’s evaluation of Phillip, he pointed out that Phillip used all advanced techniques and also used his body well as he spoke to us. Again, Phillip is a very experienced speaker. In fact, he is a business speaker and presentation consultant and you can see his showreel here.

Richard finished off his evaluation with a strong message to Phillip…

I want to be a star in your show!

Some of the helpful recommendations given in the feedback this evening, which we can all learn from, were as follows:

  • Pause for the audience to absorb the messages
  • Gather everyone’s attention before you speak
  • Have a strong final message
  • Keep the body of the story to three main points

Table Topics

The Table Topics session was brought to us by Caroline Jeffrey who asked some interesting and thought-provoking questions. Caroline is a new member to the club and the role of Table Topics Master is quite a challenging one so it was ambitious of Caroline to take it on.

As well as being a valuable tool for learning to speak off the cuff, Table Topics questions are a good opportunity for members of the club, who haven’t had an opportunity to speak in the meeting, to stand up and talk. It’s always impressive when guests do a table topic but paid-up members are given the chance to speak first, if they haven’t already done so.

Some of the questions that Caroline gave the audience were, ‘what is your favourite way to relax?’, ‘what was the first job you ever had?’, who or what could you not live without?’, what is your opinion of tattoos and would you have one?’ and my personal favourite, ‘would you eat food past its sell-by date?’.

Two of our guests, Adam and Laurence courageously stepped up to the challenge and delivered very good first-time table topics.

Other Business

Our esteemed ‘best-dressed’ guest Evelyn Khan-Panni reviewed the meeting and gave us feedback on all of the roles that hadn’t been evaluated yet.

Area Director Michael Crane presented our President Christine Morrell with a Toastmasters Core Values Award which helps us remember that Integrity, Respect, Service and Excellence are a set of timeless, guiding principles for everyone in the organisation.

Michael Crane with the evening’s award winners – Vinu, Adrian and Sue

Slide Presentation Workshop

Christine wrapped up the meeting and reminded us that there will be a workshop on 30th April (usual place and time of meeting) run by David Henson, The Slide Presentation Man.

David is an experienced speaker and an expert creator of professional slide presentations. We are fortunate and grateful that he will be giving us his time and sharing his expertise on how to produce engaging, effective and empowering slide presentations

Club Member Interview

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.

Freddie Daniells Masterclass in Writing Winning Speeches

On Thursday 30th January we were delighted to welcome one of Toastmasters’ most experienced and respected speakers, Freddie Daniells to our club.

Freddie gave us an absolute corker of a masterclass on how to write and perform a winning speech for the Toastmasters International speech competition, which is held at the Toastmasters International Convention each year.

Freddie is in great demand so we were extremely privileged to have had this opportunity at Bromley Speakers to welcome him to a packed room, with, not only our own members, but also many guests from other clubs. Every club in our area was represented and we even had two Area Directors in attendance, Michael Crane from Area H35 and Mo Dawodu from Area H37.

Who is Freddie Daniells?

Freddie is a public speaker and a presentation skills coach and trainer.

A Toastmaster since 2004, Freddie sat at the head of the Toastmasters organisation in Great Britain and Ireland as the District Governor and has held many other positions within Toastmasters.

He has spoken at, run workshops or coached for companies and organisations such as the Institute of Chartered Accountants, Google, Ernst and Young, and the Association of Certified Accountants amongst others.

The Presentation

Freddie delivered what can only be described as an ABSOLUTELY BRILLIANT presentation, full of top tips on how to become a winner at the International Speech contest and showed us the skills needed to become a world-class speaker.

Analysing videos of Toastmasters International champions and looking at some of the patterns that are being repeated, Freddie pointed out which type of speech does well in the competition, and that happens to be an inspirational one. The speeches all had some level of humour in them and included great storytelling.

Using a memorable message, taking an idea and making it original and repeating a message throughout the speech are just some of the valuable lessons we learned on Thursday.

Tell a Story

Everyone has a story to tell. Not just one story but many stories. Good speakers can take an ordinary story, such as changing a car tyre, and make it into a great speech. One such speaker who did exactly that was World Champion of Public Speaking 2013, Pres Vasilev. His speech was about the most basic of things but was humorous and had an important message running through it. And it won the International contest!

Stories help us to understand that we are not alone. People can relate to them. They give us direction and maybe even a route to solving our own issues. They can give us hope.

So, when you’re thinking about your next speech, be it at your Toastmasters club or elsewhere, think about your own stories. Think about not only the bigger events that happen in your life but also the little everyday happenings. Freddie suggested that we take notes throughout our day and capture the details of our lives. So guys, write down anything that made you laugh or that happened in your day. These are the little things that give us ideas for our speeches.

Do not think that nothing interesting ever happens in your life because it does! Value your stories and share them with the world. Remember that ordinary stories told really well can be highly amusing and entertaining. And they can win international competitions!

Freddie shared numerous pearls of wisdom with us about the many things we can do to ensure that our speeches are winners and it’s fair to say that every person in that room came away completely inspired and ready to get writing.

Speech Contests

Speech contests are a Toastmasters tradition and they include table topics, humorous speches and evaluator competitions as well as the International Speech contest.

The International Speech contest begins at club level with members vying to win the club contest before going on to compete in the area contest, then on to the division and finally the district competition. If they win that, they are then into the quarter finals, which is a video round, the winners of which then get to attend the Toastmasters International convention where they will compete in the semi-finals and then possibly the finals.

The Toastmasters International 2020 convention is to be held on 5-8th August 2020 in Paris, France. The semi-finals will be held on Thursday 6th August and the finals on Saturday 8th August. 

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