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’.