Speaking and Slide Presentation Masterclass

Date and Time:
Apr 30, 2020 18:45 (GMT)

Instead of our usual meeting on Thursday, we have a different and very exciting event on Zoom – a speaking and slide presentation masterclasses!

Join us to get top insights from three leading experts in this valuable session.

Part One

Actor and Effective Communication Coach, Stu Goodwin helps leaders achieve confidence, integrity and clarity by focusing on vocal technique, body language and bringing content delivery to life.

Stu will be joined by Actor and Writer Simon Thorpe to talk about how to use your voice when speaking online as well as how to appear professional in front of the camera.

Stu Goodwin

Part Two

David Henson, The Slide Presentation Man, will show you how to create slides that will WOW your audience and make your presentations engaging, empowering and effective whether speaking online or in-person.

We are so lucky to have them all with us on Thursday to share their knowledge and skills and this is a not-to-be-missed one-off event – so please make sure that you register for it.

David Henson

You must register to join us. Register using the link below.


Please note that this is a different registration number to our usual online meetings.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Click, Zoom – We’re In The Room!

Bromley Speakers held another successful online meeting on Thursday (17th April) with 27 members and 2 guests in attendance.

Ah Counter Alain Culos displays the Bromley Speakers Background


The Zoommaster is a newly-created role in response to the current situation of holding our meetings online. Our talented Zoommaster was David Henson who works hard behind the scenes to make these online meetings happen, for which we are all thankful.

Success story

David explained the protocol of the meeting before our President Christine Morrell welcomed us with her own success story of how, only six weeks ago, she would have avoided online meetings like the plague (or more aptly like the Coronavirus – I wonder if that saying will now be changed forever!) but, because of having no option but to deliver the Toastmasters meetings online, she has now hosted two successful online events this week in her daytime work environment.

She enthused that she has Toastmasters to thank for this achievement as it’s such a supportive environment to learn and practise in.


Our Toastmaster for the evening was Vinu Madhavan. Christine commented that she has seen Vinu blossom and grow in the three years that she has been with Bromley Speakers and I have to agree. She takes on the roles with gusto and confidence and made us laugh when she told us how she has learned a new skill in the lockdown – that of a hairstylist, cutting her husband’s hair. I wonder how many people are turning their hand to this new pastime?


Caroline Jeffrey is another member who throws herself into the roles with enthusiasm. She relishes an opportunity to get involved and led the warm-up by asking us if we are a ‘sweet or savoury’ person and, as such, what are our favourite sweet or savoury dishes? We discovered that we are a mixed bunch of sweet, savoury or a combination of both. I thought that was a great idea for a warm-up, leaving some of us a little peckish at the thought of lemon meringue pie, chips and crisps!


James Kirkby expertly kept the timing in check, using the Toastmasters-created backscreen colours for the first time and they worked extremely well.

Prepared speeches

Our first prepared speaker was Ben Lopez with a speech entitled ‘The Magic of Isolation – Aren’t We The Lucky Ones’. It was just what we needed to focus on the positives of the ‘stay at home’ situation we find ourselves in, so a great choice of speech at this time of uncertainty – oops, I mean opportunity!

Ben shared with us his experience of home schooling his children and how he decided to ensure that the lockdown situation would be a positive experience for his family. We chuckled when he told us that his children had invented a new game of ‘throw the beanbag at Dad’ and how his diet had gone out of the window! He told us that being creative and working with ‘what we have’ has been a positive experience and that they have connected with more friends and family than ever. Ben has been passing on the positivity to friends and family around the world and it was a very uplifting talk. He finished on a high with a message of ‘never, never, never give up!

And on that note, we had a break and joined our neighbours outside to clap our appreciation for the NHS workers. Some of us could hear Eddie’s trumpet as he blasted it in the street and when we came back online Richard had a little strum on his guitar and David Henson also gave us a snippet of insight into his talent on his mandolin. It was a bit of light-hearted fun before we resumed the meeting.

Some of our multi-talented members entertained us

Back to the task in hand, the next speech was delivered by Margot Glover and it was entitled ‘Not Smart’. At Toastmasters we work through a manual or a pathway with guidelines on which type of talks to deliver. Margot’s speech was from the Competent Communication Manual #9 – Persuade With Power.

Her remit was to persuade her listeners to adopt a viewpoint or ideas, or to take some action; Appeal to the audience’s interests; Use logic and emotion to support the position; Avoid using notes.

Margot told us that the original speech she prepared wasn’t appropriate to deliver in these challenging times, so she adapted her speech to tell us what she had learned from using online meeting tools. This was:

1. Before you start an online meeting, whatever type it is, you need to:

  • Check your equipment and make sure it’s all in working order
  • Check your position on the screen
  • Check your background is suitable
  • Dress appropriately for the meeting
  • Comb your hair, put your make-up on – act the same as if you were going to a face-to-face meeting in this regard
  • Think about your gestures – don’t point at the camera

2. Use your new skills to help others

For many of us, this is a brand new way of working and the information from Margot’s speech is really helpful and it’s great to be reminded of what works well and what doesn’t. Margot reminded us that online meetings may well continue to be the norm after the lockdown and so these Toastmasters meetings will hold us all in good stead going forward.

Margot definitely practised what she preached. She was well-positioned within her camera vision, she looked smart, we could see and hear her well and…. she’d combed her hair!

The speeches this week were, not surprisingly, about our current situation and our third speaker, John Cross followed in the same vein with his speech entitled ‘Out of Office’. This speech was from Pathways Presentation Mastery #3-5 – Connect with Storytelling.

His guidelines were to present an established story, a story about the speaker’s life, or a fictional tale of the speaker’s own creation.

John shared a personal story with us about how he was encouraged to write to his grandmother and about how he found other ways to communicate with his family. He told us that he enjoys being in the office and that he likes the camaraderie and company of his fellow workers and this is apparent as John is extremely good at getting people together in online games, meetings and gatherings.

It was a touching story and I am always interested to hear about people’s lives – the good and the challenging.


As usual we had three evaluators who gave us their thoughts and recommendations on the speeches.

Neil Pettigrew evaluated Ben Lopez, saying that he liked his style of presenting. He pointed out that Ben had a clever ending – the quote from Winston Churchill – never, never, never give up!

Sue Shaw evaluated Margot Glover and Tom Jewers evaluated John Cross. Tom noted that John’s speech had a good life-cycle and that he built the story. He commented on John’s friendly and open approach.

Evaluations are a difficult skill to master for most of us and all three evaluations were insightful, helpful and well-delivered. Well done!

Top tip

It was great to see Royston Pistone again after a period of absence due to work demands and he gave us a great tip about being prepared for the online meeting. He looked extremely smart in his suit jacket, shirt and tie and then we laughed when he got up from his desk and he had no trousers on! What a great joke that was. I do love it when there’s humour in the meetings.

Table topics

The table topics session was brought to us by Robert Parker who delivered a very clever session based on his deck of playing cards. Interestingly he told us that playing cards were invented in China and it is said that they were based around the four major pillars of the economy of the Middle Ages.

According to www.theplayingcardfactory.com/facts, hearts represented the church, spades represented the military, clubs represented agriculture, and diamonds represented the merchant class.

David Hampton won the best Table Topics award with his clever and quick-thinking speech about the 9 of spades. David told us the story of why he came to have nine spades in his shed.

Rajesh Deshmukh told us a beautiful love story about the 2 of hearts; Adrian Clay was given the ace of spades and, of course we heard about Mortorhead; The Joker was given to Susan Rayner who says that she isn’t funny but we all know that she has a good sense of humour so she can’t fool us with that one; Arun Vijay talked about the shape of the diamond; we were reminded by David Wilson that the queen of hearts would have trouble finding the ingredients for her tarts at the moment (and this is true because I can’t get any flour but, by the way, Polhill has LOADS of eggs – just saying).

The jack of clubs was given to Eddie Barnes who told us how he fixed his car with a playing card and avoided a £300 bill and the king of diamonds was received and delivered by Georgina Singleton who told us about her favourite card game, Sevens. She cleverly rounded off her impromptu speech by telling us that, where most of the other speakers said that they had been given their favourite card, the king of diamonds was actually her least favourite as it worked as an ‘end card’ in the game of Sevens.

Other roles and the awards

Jenny Taggart evaluated the Table Topics; Alain Culos reported on our um’s, ah’s and filler words; Richard Green delivered his Grammarian report and our use of the ‘word of the day’; Stir-Crazy!

Karen Mefflin delivered her evaluation of the meeting in general and our President Christine Morrell wrapped up the meeting with a positive vibe and delivered the awards of :

Best Speech – Ben Lopez

Best Evaluation – Sue Shaw

Best Table Topic – David Hampton

* Congratulations to you all *

Thank you to Susan Rayner VPE, who works hard alongside the Toastmaster Vinu Madhavan to ensure that the roles are all filled and that the agenda is up-to-date and to all of those who took part in the speeches and the roles.

What did we learn?

We learned that we need to check our equipment before a meeting. David Hampton had a problem with his tight area. Don’t be fooled by Royston’s appearance, it’s not what it seems. You can fix a car with a different kind of jack. It’s impossible to find the right ingredients for tarts at the moment. Speakers have musical talent.

We also learned that online meetings can be fun and work well, if done properly, and whatever challenges we face, we can overcome them together.

Other business

The next meeting – on 30th April – will take a different format as it will be a Presentation Masterclass delivered by The Slide Presentation Man, David Henson. We are extremely lucky to have this opportunity to learn from the master so please do come along and join in if you can.

The after-meeting gathering in the virtual pub was different but fun and we discussed the meeting over a drink as well as larking around a bit with various musical instruments and banter.

Whatever your views on the world, the online meetings, the situation, it’s all OK. Stay positive, have fun, have respect, stay safe and keep smiling. For many this is an opportunity to take stock, to breathe deeply and to craft a speech!

We are a community. If you are struggling in any way, or just want to talk, I encourage you to reach out to your fellow Toastmasters, your mentor and/or your committee. Be there for each other, not only in these challenging times but always.

Stay positive

Deborah Goodman
PR Officer, Bromley Speakers

Zoom Meeting and General Evaluation – 2nd April 2020

By General Evaluator, Neil Pettigrew

What a memorable meeting we had on 2nd April. And how reassuring it is that, in these strange times, we can all stay in touch, still say a few ‘ers and ums’, still get supportive feedback from one another, and still have a few laughs.

I was General Evaluator on the night but, because of technical problems with my sound (still not resolved), my evaluation had to be abandoned. So I present it here in written format instead.

Several of my recommendations will be ‘Zoom-specific’. In other words, recommendations on how we can improve the way we look and sound on-line.

We had two Zoommasters for the on-line meeting.

Zoommaster #1 – David Henson

Once again David made sure that everything in the meeting went smoothly on a technical level. His lighting, background and sound were all good examples of how on-line speaking should be done.

I especially appreciated his suggestion about timing, because sometimes it isn’t easy to work out exactly where the time-keeper is on the Zoom screen. David’s suggestion was that we all need to take control of the timing of our speeches, by having some device in front of us that displays the time.

Zoommaster #2 – David Hampton

David’s sound and lighting were very good. He was especially good at explaining in easy-to-follow instructions how to do things, such as change the way your name is displayed on your Zoom tile.

Recommendation for David Hampton: David left at the end of the formal meeting and some people stayed on to chat. However, his tile was still showing and we weren’t sure if he was still there or not. It might be a good idea to clarify with David Henson what the correct protocol is for a departing the meeting when you are the Zoommaster.

President – Christine Morrell

Our president is so good at presenting on-line that I suspect she is an old hand at it. She spoke confidently and welcomed our guests in a friendly manner. Christine gave a brilliant summary of how we all have to learn new skills, and she coped impressively when told we were losing her audio. She gave a first class introduction to our Toastmaster-of-the-evening Robert Parker, having clearly given it much thought before the meeting.

Recommendation for Christine: On the technical issue – can her sound problems be resolved before the next meeting? 

Toastmaster – Robert Parker

It must be quite a daunting task being Toastmaster of a Zoom meeting but Robert made it look easy. I would like to thank him for getting in touch with me – and perhaps others – before the meeting, offering tips on using Zoom and asking if we had any concerns.

I liked the very positive message he gave about the NHS. He gave enthusiastic introductions for each of the prepared speakers, and he also added numerous humorous comments between each speech.

Recommendations for Robert:

  1. As he realised later on, he had overlooked the 1-minute feedback slot after each speech – but he handled the oversight brilliantly, getting us to do all three feebacks after the final speaker. We had a break after the three speeches, whereas we normally have the break after the three evaluations. Was this planned or an oversight? I’m not sure.   
  2. I believe the 8pm ‘NHS Clap’ is going to be a regular thing from now on. Many of us want to be on our doorsteps at 8pm and therefore I recommend that the Toastmaster re-jigs the agenda as necessary so that we are free to do so. For example, if it is 7.55 and the next item on the agenda is a 7-minute speech, then I suggest that the Table Topics Master be prepared to do a couple of topics, and the Toastmaster postpones the 7-minute speech until we all return from our doorsteps. What do other people think? I noticed that while Arun was delivering his ice-breaker, a number of people sneaked off to their front doors, which must have been disconcerting for Arun – but I must say he didn’t let it phase him!

Timekeeper – Harry Langley

Lateral thinking is what is needed in these unprecedented times, and Harry certainly came up with an excellent bit of improvisation to indicate timings – a green apple, an orange and a red apple! He also explained the role very clearly, and gave precise, thorough timings when asked. A job well done. 

Recommendations for Harry:

  1. Try adjusting the camera position slightly – the bottom of Harry’s head was missing from the shot.
  2. At the start of the meeting his image was a bit dark, but he altered his lighting as the meeting progressed. 

The Speeches

We had three prepared speeches.

We were all impressed with the Icebreaker speech by Arun Vijay, one of our newer members. The title of his speech was ‘How are You Doing?’ and at one point in the speech he asked his audience that question and then invited us all to pause and think quietly for ten seconds about our answer. What a brave technique to use in an icebreaker. 

Our second prepared speaker was Susan Rayner, delivering a speech entitled ‘Summer of ‘73’. This was a very personal, confessional speech about being bullied at school, and she held us all in the palm of her hands as she bravely told her story.

Our third prepared speech, entitled ‘Bridging the Gap’ was delivered by Sue Shaw who told us all about how she had conquered her fear of heights. It was a definite case of ‘Feel the fear and do it anyway’ and Sue walked away with the vote for best speech of the evening. Congratulations Sue!

Speech Evaluations

Evaluator #1 – David Wilson evaluated Arun Vijay

As we all know, David is a very experienced evaluator and he gave Arun some very supportive praise as well as two thoughtful recommendations.

Recommendation for David: David praised Arun’s hand gestures, but when he demonstrated this, his own hands disappeared out of the sides of the camera view. It’s something we all need to think about in this new medium: if we are going to use gestures, then we need to make sure our arms are still within camera range.

Evaluator #2 – Karen Mefflin evaluated Susan Rayner

Karen’s lighting and sound were both of excellent quality, making it easy to listen to her. She is a very experienced evaluator and as usual had listened carefully to the speech and came up with some thoughtful comments.

Recommendations for Karen:

  1. The camera was placed a bit low, so that we were looking up at Karen. Try to position the camera so that it is level with your face.
  2. I have noticed several times that Karen’s evaluations are short – on this occasion she spoke for only 1 minute and 58 seconds. Speakers deserve to receive evaluations which go the full three minutes. If you struggle to think of things to say, see the document I compiled a couple of years ago listing around thirty aspects of a speech that you can comment on.
Information Compiled by Neil Pettigrew

Evaluator #3 – Caroline Jeffrey evaluated Sue Shaw

I am very impressed by how Caroline, who has only been a member for a couple of months, has jumped into the deep end and taken on her first evaluation. Not only that, but she evaluated one of our most experienced speakers. For a first time, it was surprisingly perceptive, giving praise and recommendations where appropriate. Her lighting and sound were both sharp and clear.

Recommendation for Caroline: For part of the evaluation, Caroline addressed her comments directly to Sue. It is better to address remarks to the whole audience so that we can all benefit from the recommendations. 

Other Roles

Ah Counter – Jenny Taggart

Jenny listened well to everyone’s speeches and gave a thorough report on all our ‘ers and ums’.

Recommendations for Jenny:

  1. At the start, when Jenny explained the role, I would have liked to hear an explanation of WHY we count ‘ers and ums’.  
  2. Jenny’s lighting was over-exposed, meaning we couldn’t see her properly and her head was too low in the frame (sofa too comfortable maybe?)

Grammarian – David Henson

I was impressed with the way David volunteered to take on the role with just a few seconds notice when the Toastmaster asked for someone to step forward.

Recommendation for David: He admitted that being Zoommaster and Grammarian was too much and he regretted volunteering to be Grammarian. He apologised that, as a result, his report was too short.

It would have been better to omit these negatives and just given us the report. I doubt if any of us would have noticed that it was a bit short. Why draw attention to your failings?

Warm-up – Vinu Madhavan

Vinu picked a highly relevant topic.

What new activity are we doing as a result of being stuck at home?

She announced each person’s name clearly so that we all knew when it was our turn and she remembered to include surnames when there was more than one person with the same first name. Her lighting was excellent.

Recommendation for Vinu: Sorry Vinu – I can’t think of one – you’re too good!

Hot Tip – Ben Lopez

What a great tip – go for a walk and practise your speech while you are on the move.

Recommendation for Ben: It looked and sounded like Ben was reading from notes, and as a result his presentation lost some freshness and energy. I bet he could have done it without any notes!

Table Topics Master – Tom Jewers

I loved the way Tom explained WHY we do Table Topics, and how we can benefit from doing them. I enjoyed his topics which were all about being quarantined. He kept his topics short, allowing the speakers the maximum time possible.

Recommendation for Tom: Sorry Tom – I couldn’t think of anything!

Table Topics Evaluator – Richard Green

Very good lighting and sound. Lots of thoughtful praise and recommendations.

Recommendations for Richard:

1) Recommendations were needed for Dave Henson and Margot Glover. 

2) There was some distracting pen waving.

3) If the timing was correct, he only spoke for five minutes when he had seven available.

General comments

Well done to John Vickers for winning best table topic by telling us about his favourite meal in isolation which he said would definitely not be bat stew!

I noticed that many of us dispensed with the usual protocol of starting our speeches with ‘Mr. Toastmaster, fellow Toastmasters and Guests’.  What do people think – should we still stick to this protocol on Zoom?

I am not sure why we went so over time. Was it the 8pm hand clapping? As a result, the table topics session was reduced to one minute per person, which is too short for someone to really develop an idea and grapple with it. I wonder, since we are all already at home, and therefore don’t need to worry about getting home after the meeting, perhaps the meeting could run on longer. That way we could make sure that EVERYONE gets a chance to speak, and the table topics could still be a full two minutes. What do people think? Another fifteen minutes perhaps?

Please leave your comments and feedback below. Thank you.

Note from PR Officer, Deborah Goodman

I would like to thank Neil for writing the blog as I was absent from the meeting. It’s easy for members to get disheartened at this difficult time and struggle to adapt to this new way of meeting and speaking; I have struggled with the stresses of the whole situation myself and I totally understand.

Bromley Speakers is an extremely strong and supportive team (or family as I like to call us) and has rapidly adjusted to this new way of working.

The committee is working exceptionally hard behind the scenes to keep the spirit and momentum of the club up.

Any member who is finding things a bit difficult should not hesitate to speak to either their mentor or another club member or reach out to the committee. We are in this together and we are always here for you.

I look forward to seeing you all at our next meeting on Thursday 16th April. In the meantime, stay safe and stay healthy.

Bromley Speakers Club meets on the 1st, 3rd and 5th Thursdays of the month, at 7.15 pm. Our meetings are all on-line until the foreseeable future. For more information please email us