Something never seen before!

This Thursday at Bromley Speakers we saw something that has never (as far as we are aware!) been seen before at the club – The ‘best speech’ prize was shared between all three of this evening’s speakers in a 3-way tie! Speeches delivered by Na on Multitasking, Viyom on Sand Dunes in Dubai, and Kieran on Growing a Money Tree divided the audience exactly.

We also saw a record number of guest visitors, who really contributed to the club’s friendly and welcoming atmosphere.

As winter makes way for Spring, we posed for an updated club photo (which you can now see on the homepage), saying a welcome goodbye to our previous Christmas theme.

A final shout has to go to David Murray, who led a fantastic table topics session – his first time in this role. This weeks session was won by Bash (picture below). David Hampton closed the meeting with the reminder that it will soon be time to decide on this year’s committee members – all members are very welcome and encouraged to stand for a role!

An original line up – 2nd November meeting

Thursday’s meeting was a veritable feast, featuring three prepared speeches which each brought something original to the evening. We started with an inspiring speech on membership-building from Alan, our very welcome guest from Beckenham Communicators. Then followed a panel-style speech from Na, which saw our club president David stand up very well to quick-fire questions on Chinese current affairs. Our third speech was an Icebreaker from Carol, who’s moving and personally inspired introductory speech won the audience vote for the evening.

After our usual tea and chat, Bash conducted his first Table Topics session, with each participant given an ‘inspiring phrase’ to muse on for up to two minutes. The people’s vote went once again to a club guest, with Michael picking up the honour. We look forward to welcoming Michael back to have a go at retaining his title at the next meeting!

Club president David presents Michael with his Table Topics award

Alex completed a memorable Table Topics evaluation which succeeded in the challenging task of providing both a recommendation and a commendation to each speaker, with Margot then mirroring that accomplishment in the general evaluation.

David wrapped up the evening with some general club news, including that of an extra festive meeting being added in December. Details to be confirmed but I would bet on mince pies and festive jumpers featuring strongly. 

KC

Humorous Speeches Competition

The meeting on 7th September was one of the highlights of the club year; the humorous speeches competition. Entering competitions is a great way to improve our public speaking skills and is a key part of the Toastmasters’ ethos.

Members were grateful to Sue Shaw and Susan Rayner for taking on the key roles of Contest Chair and Chief Judge and, between them, organising the competition so smoothly. Sue and Susan were supported in their task by members stepping up to take on judging, vote counting and stewarding roles; it would not have been possible to run the competition without them.

First up was David Wilson on ‘Wise Words’. David highlighted the use of buzz words and clichés: how annoying they were and how they can get in the way of effective communication. He conducted a straw poll of the audience and ‘blue sky thinking’ seemed to be our least favourite cliché. He ended by loading his closing remarks with an amusing concentration of clichés.

Next up was Alex Clark who told us a memorable tale of a date night disaster; and what a disaster it was! (the story, that is, not the speech!). The image of Alex waist deep in a trench filled with quick-drying cement and then going home on the train with rigid trousers will linger long in the memory. The only regret on the night is that there were only two entrants; previous years have seen five or six contestants and it would be good to get back to that level, next year. Alex and David were interviewed by Contest Chair, Sue Shaw, and both encouraged members to enter future competitions; its never as bad as you fear and there are great benefits in terms of building confidence and honing speaking skills. Alex got the nod from the judges on the night.

Our competition winners on the night – Nisha, David and Alex.

In the second half of the meeting, we had the humorous table topics competition, with a healthy seven contestants, and it produced some entertaining speeches. The question each contestant was asked was “If you were invisible for 24 hours, what would you do?’  Continuing a remarkable recent run of new members performing strongly in Table Topics, Nisha won on the night. Nisha skillfully examined the terms of the question, shared with us that she had felt invisible for much of her life and encouraged us to be more visible in our lives, rather than hiding in the background. Alex came second and David Wilson, third.

Alex and Nisha will be the club’s representatives in the area contest and we wish them both well. Club President, David Hampton closed the meeting by thanking Sue Shaw for her huge contribution to Bromley Speakers over 12 years at her final evening at the club. Sue has been a stalwart member of the Club, an excellent speaker and she will be missed. We wish her well for the future.

Mixing Old and New: 3rd August Meeting

The smiling Saadia Alege was our welcoming Toastmaster for the meeting. Saadia warmed up the room by asking us for our mindful moments. She introduced her team for the evening: new members Bash and Jason had volunteered for roles at the last minute, Bash as time keeper and Jason as the ah counter. It’s always good to see new members helping out the club by volunteering for roles. The stalwart John Cross was the grammarian, the first time we’d seen this role (designed to highlight good and memorable uses of language) filled since before the pandemic. All gave good explanations of their roles.

It was a meeting for the return of old favourites: Neil Pettigrew was up next with the hot tip. Neil encouraged us to accept our nerves: feel them, notice them and then move on.  A mindfulness technique and one very relevant for dealing with those nerves before speaking in public.

Our prepared speech this evening was delivered by our President David Hampton, with his customary style and panache. David drew a parallel between his approach to playing chess and his experience of public speaking in that both had been choked by nerves, so much so that David gave up playing chess as a young man because he got too stressed. First, under the benign tutelage of Toastmasters, David’s public speaking improved and then, years after giving it up, David started to play chess again. His message was to accept the stress but push yourself to try new things, remember to enjoy yourself and don’t over-prepare. Alex Clark evaluated what was an excellent speech and struggled to suggest how it could be improved.

After the break, Kieran introduced the table topics: short, unprepared speeches on themes provided by the table topics master. Kieran changed the format to paired debates which were very entertaining.  It’s good to experiment and this is a format that went down well on the night and members will want to see again. New member Bash was paired with former club President Margot to debate the relative merits of apples and chocolate: they must have been to the audience’s taste as they were voted best table topic of the night.

David Hampton presents Bash and Margot with their Table Topics award

The multi-tasking John Cross evaluated the table topics (feedback is key to Toastmasters), where he identified the importance of turn-taking when debating, and then provided examples of good uses of language in his insightful grammarian’s report.  We were then treated to a masterly general evaluation of the meeting by David Wilson who provided feedback on those not covered by previous speakers. Our President provided some reflections on the evening and encouraged members to enter the humorous speeches and table topics competition which is coming up next month.

Cicero

For your eyes only … Meeting on July 20th

Another meeting with plenty of guests, some of whom have already signed up as members! The Toastmaster of the evening was the stalwart Neil Pettigrew who steered us through the agenda with his customary skill. John Cross warmed us up by asking us to name our favourite plants, a seasonally appropriate subject.

Bash and Margot – our joint Table Topics winners!

It was good to have three speeches at the meeting for the first time in a while. Saddia gave us a well-structured speech from the leadership pathway on the importance of emotional intelligence and the power of empathy. Alex gave us an entertaining and humorous speech on the history and discreet charm of greyhound racing using strong vocal variety techniques, and Marian gave a speech on stress management using body language skills. Marian’s message was that its good to talk about stress and that we need to be mindful that we may be causing stress to others.  She opened and closed her speech sitting down, quite a daring departure from the norm, which, evidently, appealed to the discerning members and guests as it won best speech!

Feedback is a big part of what we do at Bromley Speakers so Margot Glover evaluated Saadia’s speech, Kieran evaluated Alex’s speech and Guy evaluated Marian’s speech. All three evaluations gave useful suggestions on how each speech could be improved. Kieran’s was voted the best evaluation on the night.

The second half of the meeting featured table topics provided by Thelma (her first time in this role!). Table topics are short, unprepared speeches which develop our skills of thinking on our feet. Thelma’s theme was titles of James Bond films. Unusually, we had joint winners at the meeting: a new member, Bash, gave us an entertaining personal story of how he met his wife when asked to speak on ‘For Your Eyes Only’. Club past president Margot gave an amusing account of tormenting her older brother when asked to speak on ‘Live and Let Die’.

The experienced David Wilson gave an excellent evaluation of all 9 Table Topic speakers. This is one of the most challenging roles at our meetings but David carried it off with ease.

Susan Shaw, one of Club’s most able speakers, then gave a General Evaluation of the meeting: the aim is make sure that every person taking on a role at the meeting receives feedback and an evaluation. Club President, David Hampton, then gave us some closing remarks and sketched our forthcoming club roadmap.

Cicero.

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

Evaluations

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.  

Timekeeper

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’.