Monday, December 11, 2006

Public Speaking is fun

My Toastmasters International speaking club, London Corinthians is going from strength to strength. I've seen people grow from a "shrinking violet" to competent speakers in a very short space of time.

Toastmasters clubs are a great way to meet new people, network and improve your speaking and presentation skills. I've enjoyed it tremendously. I've given talks on footbasll, broadcasting, radio commentary and have been lucky enough to advertise my "Margate to Maasai Mara" trek which I'm doing on behalf of Breast Cancer Campaign

Here is my Club's latest bulletin.

Newsletter for 30th November 2006
London Corinthians News
The Voice of the 'London Corinthians' Toastmasters Club
'The Greatest Public Speaking Club In The World'!


I wondered at the last meeting why I leave our meetings so nourished, excited and happy? The answer is that I see the meeting as being just like a nourishing supper; full of delicious components; learning new things, laughter, and the pleasure of seeing people develop and blossom. We have 3 new members joining our club to add even more delicious and exciting ingredients to the Corinthians Recipe for Success. A warm and joyful welcome goes out to Denis Goodchild, Kerry Naylor and Jonathon Palmer.

All of the speeches at our meeting on 30th November were brilliant, as always, but there was something unusual last Thursday. One of our speakers, Pieter Fourie, exceeded by far his previous speech, winning the ribbon for ‘Best Speaker’. He spoke with more pauses, clarity, and structure than previously and has improved greatly and quite suddenly. The secret of Pieter’s visible improvement became clear when he told of how he owed his success to his mentoring. We found out that Pieter had met up with his mentor in person and had the opportunity to rehearse it and take good advice. The end result was clear for all to see – the change in his speaking was VERY noticeable and his speech far exceeded our expectations for a Number 2 speech. Please read what Peter said:


Dear Corinthians,

It was a real honour for me to win the ribbon for ‘Best Speaker’ last Thursday. Do you know how I did it? Can you keep a secret? A while ago, I asked a great speaker at Corinthians to be my mentor. She agreed! We met up a few times so that I could rehearse my speech. She gave me many tips and a lot of good advice. Without her help, I wouldn’t have delivered my speech in such a powerful way. Fellow Corinthians, if you are serious about improving and delivering outstanding speeches, I encourage you to get a mentor!!!!

Pieter Fourie


There is nothing more powerful then. As we are all aspiring to be a great speakers and to keep a very high QUALITY of the club I would love to invite all mentors to take an active interest in their mentees and, whenever possible, meet up with them in person. This I believe will produce amazing results! Evaluators. Please call the person you are going to evaluate before the meeting. See how you can support them and find out where they want to improve.

Also, with QUALITY in mind, please remember that we now have a Competent Leadership Manual, as described by James Mills (our club Secretary) at our meeting. Please do check out the Notice Board section below to learn more about this great opportunity for self development and recognition.

We have our last meeting for the year on the 14th December. Please come and enjoy yourself. As we all know it is a very special night where most of the speeches and functionaries are the past presidents of this club! If you want to learn from the masters please come along and join us for a fantastic end to 2006!

your proud president

Gosia Gorna


Gosia Gorna, our President warmly welcomed our members and guests on another chilly November evening. In her introduction, Gosia told us how creativity makes life worth living for her and suggested to us that by ‘making small changes in your life, BIG things can happen.’

Graham Price was our Toastmaster for the evening. Graham’s theme for the evening was ‘Scotland’ in recognition of the fact that 30th November is Saint Andrews Day – St Andrew being the patron saint of Scotland. Graham invited all functionaries and programmed speakers to tell us what first comes to mind at the mention of Scotland. From the beautiful Scottish mountains, to deep fried Mars Bars and the famous Kilt (a ladies favourite), we had an interesting insight into what Scotland means to our members.

Daniel Clee was our competent Timekeeper for the evening, bringing humour to the role when, during his initial description of his duties, he promised to shoot anyone that went over time!! I am pleased to report that Daniel was a little prone to exaggeration on the night and his threats materialised in nothing more dangerous than the ringing of a bell for those that went over their allotted time. [see my tips section below for an article on timing]

Maria Rojo was our enthusiastic and generous Grammarian for the evening, bringing us a humorous word of the day (WOTD) ‘Tickle’ [ ]. Maria’s generosity was very topical as she brought a small bottle of Scottish Whisky as a prize for the most prolific user of the WOTD.

Alla Bida was our Table Topics Master for the evening, continuing and focusing on the theme of Scotland. Alla delivered a challenging set of table topics to our members and guests, tackling related subjects from shopping to golf and from food and drink to monsters! In a flash back to our last meeting, the Scottish James Bond actor Sean Connery made an appearance as Amy Jackson promised to give up a date with him to allow her mother to take advantage (of the date!), winning the ribbon for her efforts. Other participants were: Ian Millen, Denis Goodchild (new member), Kerry Naylor (new member), Matthew Pearlman (guest), Esther de Angelis, Jonathon Palmer (new member), Jeremy Jacobs and Gosia Gorna.

Lannah Carbonilla, was our Table Topics Evaluator and did a fantastic job of evaluating our table topics speakers. Incisive, analytical, with a great balance of recommendations and commendations, Lannah gave a masterclass in Table Topics Evaluation of nine topics and to time!! An example for all to follow in this role.

Maurice McParland brought his own brand of humour to his post as Sgt At Arms, welcoming eight guests (three of which became members on the night). As usual, our guests brought even more international flavour to the club, hailing from a variety of locations at home and abroad including France, Israel and Derby!


Mark Henderson, introduced himself formally to the club with his No 1 speech (Icebreaker),

In which he gave us an educational insight into his own origins; from sledging and skiing in the North East of England to working in banking in London, Mark told us how he had been held up by gangsters, charged by an elephant and had even met Brian Clough (a famous English football manager).

Pieter Fourie delivered his inspiring and highly educational No 2 speech (Organise your speech) entitled, ‘The Dream Stealer’. Pieter talked about the downsides of watching TV; the commercials, TV violence (by age 16 the average child has witnessed 30,000 TV murders!) and other things that he believes conspire to prevent us from engaging in other more meaningful activities, such as playing games, making music and engaging in conversation. Pieter urged us – ‘instead of watching ‘Friends’, go out and make some!’

Jenny Cutler, delivered a highly entertaining and educational Advanced Speech (based on vocal variety) entitled, ‘Finding the Neglected Voices.’ Jenny’s speech introduced us to the art of making the most of our voices with her F.A.C.E. (Fluency, Accent, Colour, Energy) method. The speech was packed full of practical advice for improving our voices and was illustrated with entertaining demonstrations of just how to get the best out of our vocal variety – great tips and advice for us all to take away and improve our speaking.

Jeremy Jacobs delivered the final prepared speech of the evening, an Advanced Speech (Leave them with a smile) entitled, ‘Screw You Jimmy!’ Jeremy told a disturbing, but nevertheless inspirational story of how he supported someone close to him through a family tragedy. In mixing heavy subject matter with a little light humour, Jeremy touched us all with a story of caring and solidarity in the face of tragic circumstances, leaving us with the thought that – “In life, it’s not about getting what you want. It’s about handling what’s thrown at you.”

Speech Evaluations – four excellent evaluations were given by Esther (for Mark), Gilly (for Peter), Amy (for Jenny) and Lourdes (for Jeremy).

General Evaluator – Dorothea Stuart (Riverside Communicators) finished off the evening with a good analytical and complimentary evaluation of the evening’s events. Thank you Dorothea.


Best Table Topic was won by Amy Jackson for the selfless act of giving up a date with Sean Connery to allow her mother to meet the handsome beast. (her words not mine!).

Best Evaluator was won by Gilly Cutts for her warm, analytical and encouraging evaluation of Pieter Fourie’s No 2 speech.

Best Speech was won by Pieter Fourie for his expose on the perils of television. A fantastic achievement for Pieter and endorsement of mentoring – but not forgetting that no matter how much mentoring you get, it is still the speaker who has to stand before the audience and deliver – and boy did he deliver!!


Improve your timing!

Did you know that ‘on average’ about 25 people + an unknown number of guests speak every time we meet at London Corinthians and that there are approximately 33 speaking ‘slots’ in the course of our two and a half hour (with break) meeting. Is it any wonder then, that timing is so important to the smooth running of our meetings? Meetings that run over time, reduce the time that we have to socialise outside the meeting room (such as getting valuable feedback from fellow toastmasters in the bar) and, for some, create transport problems as they risk missing buses or trains to get them home.

We have all suffered at the hands of speakers in the workplace that have far exceeded their speaking slots, shortening our coffee and lunch breaks and, sometimes, making our eye lids heavy with sleep. Such speakers are normally the ones that don’t practice what they have to say, preferring to take us all on a voyage of discovery – the kind of speaker that uses the same PowerPoint slides (full of useless detail) for every business address, allegedly ‘adapting’ for the audience. The kind of speaker that doesn’t respect his or her audience because they don’t take the time to do what they say they will, that is, speak for a specific time and no more.

The good news is, that Toastmasters can stop you from becoming such a speaker. Our emphasis on time is there for a very good reason. It forces you as a speaker to prepare properly. Speeches are generally short (5-7 mins) and so must be edited until they fit the time slot allowed. The end result should be good QUALITY substance – there’s no time for unnecessary words if you want to deliver a great speech. And a speech can’t really be great if you over run badly on a time that you have set as a target. No better is this illustrated than in the area of competition speaking. For example, did you know that in the Toastmasters International or Humorous speech contests held each year, if a speaker speaks for 1 second longer than 30 seconds after the RED light has been illuminated, they will be disqualified? They will not be told that they have run over, they will just not be considered in the voting for first, second and third place. Just imagine the hours that someone might spend on honing a speech – the ideas, the writing, the editing, the rehearsals – only to lose because you go over time. It must be heartbreaking – and it can happen to very experienced speakers – IF THEY DON’T PREPARE PROPERLY.

So, have I convinced you to focus on this aspect of your speaking for your next speech, evaluation or other functionary role? Let me help you a little more – have you ever timed a speech with your watch or mobile phone, glancing at it every now and then to see how you’re going and looking at the end to see your final time? Have you ever wished you could have the timekeeper right there in your living room? Someone to put the GREEN, AMBER and RED lights on for you while you practice your speech? Well today, I want to offer just that service to you. No it’s not me, as much as I would love to, my boss won’t give me the time off work! It’s much better than a real timekeeper – because this one won’t get so engrossed in your speech that they forget to time, or forget to start the watch or push the button for the light.

In my latest search around the internet I have found two great tools. These are software tools for timing your TOASTMASTER speeches. They can be used to practice your speeches. They are small and self-contained pieces of software which offer preset times for standard Toastmasters speeches as well as manual entry. But best of all they are FREE. Just download them to your PC or Laptop and you have a timekeeper that will serve your needs whenever you want to do a speech. Two versions are available:

Download ‘Time Toaster’ from:

Download ‘High Note Software – Speech Timer’ from

(You will need to enter some details including London Corinthians Club Number – 7951)

You’ll have to decide for yourself, which suits you best. The first version is more like the lights you will see at the club, but the second version (which changes the screen colours) features some encouraging clapping at the start and end of your speech – although it is very polite clapping; nothing like the raucous clapping, whooping and whistling at a London Corinthians meeting!

So, fellow Toastmasters, now you have no excuse. I look forward to discussing your use of these great tools in the bar after we complete our next meeting ON TIME!!!


Competent Leadership Manual

Leadership is something that is increasing required in society. We are facing and will face increasingly complex and challenging issues in all aspects of our lives.

Toastmasters International is an organisation that not only strives to develop great communicators, but also great leaders. Consequently a new Competent Leadership Manual has been created that enables Toastmaster members to further their leadership skills through the completion of a series of projects.

All these projects can be completed through performing a variety of roles at London Corinthians. All you need is a Competent Leadership Manual and a fellow member to assess your performance in a variety of situations. Upon completion of the 10 projects, you will be recognised as a Competent Leader.

For more information of how you can develop your leadership skills through Toastmasters, please e-mail James Mills (

International Speech & Evaluation Contests – Thu 22nd Mar 2007 – 7:00pm for 7:30pm

Two annual contests will be held at London Corinthians on Thursday 22nd March 2007: The International Speech and Evaluation Contests. The overall objective of the International Speech contest is for a speaker to inspire an audience. Length of speeches: 5-7 minutes. Contestants should have completed up to and including speech six of the Communications Manual. All members are eligible to compete in the Evaluation Contest where a speaker from another club will be evaluated by all contestants. Length of evaluation: 2-3 minutes.

We very much encourage our members to take part in these contests. Or, if not, to take on a functionary role at the contests. For further information contact the club President, Gosia Gorna ( or the Vice President Education, Kim Horner (

Do you have a Mentor?

You’ve read about the power of mentoring (above) - an amazing learning experience for both, mentors and mentees. Should you wish to have a mentor, please contact Esther De Angelis, our Mentoring VP (Email:; 020 7433 1619).

London Excalibur Advanced Toastmasters’ Club

London Excalibur Advanced Toastmasters’ Club meets on the second Wednesday of each month (7:15pm start) at the Cheshire Cheese public house near Temple. This warm, cosy club welcomes anyone at any stage of their speaking development. Whilst new members are always welcome, speaking/functionary slots are available to those who are members of other Toastmasters’ clubs. For further details, contact Alison Precious (Work: 020 7218 5670; Email:


If you have any suggestions or want to contribute to the Newsletter, please contact Ian Millen at and or on 07809 441145. Please use both email addresses together for Ian if you want to guarantee your message getting through.


James Higham said...

This is my main task - preparing businessmen and women for public speaking and I've just finished one yesterday for a conference in Zurich tomorrow. It's a rewarding business.

Anonymous said...


Toastmasters is FANTASTIC. I am a member in Australia and have been for 13 years. I love it so much that I haev started my own public speaking business. Visit it at There are a few tips and pointers that may help you in your next speech.


Darren Fleming ATM-B CL
Public speaking coach