Our Year-End Meeting

Thursday June 15, 2023

Post by David Hampton

James hands over the President’s chain of office to David

The Toastmasters year wraps up at the end of June, and so this was a special meeting as the new committee were inaugurated, together with our new President. But this is a speaking club, and there was a lot of speaking to be done before that! So we had a prepared speech from Kieran Mangan, in which he gave us an insight into the strange world of relativity and its potential for time travel (forwards, but not backwards, as it happens), and a skillful evaluation from Alex Clark who spotted some opportunities to add even more punch to a speech that deftly combined physics and humour.

After an extended break to get to know the 8 (or was it nine??) guests, we had a Table Topics session (impromptu speaking in everyday language) led by Neil Pettigrew, who stepped up for the role at the last minute and pulled a dozen thought-provoking ideas out of thin air. Most commented-on were Susan Rayner, who gave what looked like a pre-prepared keynote on the issues of animal cruelty in zoos, and Chichi Onah who was asked how it felt to be a nervous speaker, and gave us a warm and thoughtful description of how it feels to experience nerves in front of an audience. You could have heard a pin drop; no wonder she was voted the best impromptu speaker of the night.

Guy Dennis had the job of evaluating these mini-speeches. He praised their strong points but still managed to come up with insightful recommendations for everyone, which will help them develop and gain confidence.

Saadia Alege wrapped up the regular meeting with her General Evaluation (Saadia’s first time evaluating the evaluators – not that you would know from her confident and lively presentation) – her job being to look for ways in which we can continue to improve the way that we guide and encourage our members.

At the conclusion, James handed over the reins to me. James has led the club capably and confidently, and has always set a lively and positive tone to the meetings. He will be highly valued on the new committee as the Immediate Past President. The rest of the team is: Na Jiang (Vice President of Education), Saadia Alege (Vice President of Membership), John Cross (Treasurer), Susan Rayner (Secretary), Guy Dennis, (Vice President, Mentoring) and Margot Glover and Christine Morrell (jointly, Sargeant at Arms).

I tried my best to sum up what this wonderful club is like, for the benefit of our many welcome guests: Chichi spoke for many of us when she described the all-too-human fear of getting up in front of a group to speak, and Susan Rayner showed what can be achieved, with practice and encouragement. Guy demonstrated how that transformation happens – friendly, helpful advice on how to improve. Saadia showed that roles which seem daunting can be tackled well, even when it’s your first time, if you’re willing to give it a go. And Neil demonstrated the confidence that comes from the Toastmasters experience, giving him the ability to say “yes” when handed a task with very little notice, and carry it off as if he had been given a week to prepare.

That, for me, sums up what Toastmasters, and Bromley Speakers in particular, is all about