Speaking Skills

The Only Thing I Needed for Public Speaking I Found in My Tackle Box, by Ben Starling

Similarities exist between fishing and speech-making? Surely not! Bear with me as I remember how, as a boy, I caught my largest pike…

Know Your Audience

It was a wily old fish that lurked amongst gnarled tree roots at the bend of an oozing river. Others had failed to catch this mighty pike and I’d have failed too if I hadn’t taken the trouble to understand its habits: how it responded to the weather, to river conditions, and what it fed on. Many years later when fully grown, I realised I needed the same understanding of audiences’ traits and habits when making presentations.

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News from Program Quality Director Pedro Casillas

Pedro Casillas Program Quality Director

Pedro Casillas
Program Quality Director

Following a second round of DOT (District Officer Training), I am pleased to report that 99% of Division and Area Directors have attended Toastmasters education. A fantastic turnout!

Division Directors and Area Directors have been busy setting up COT (Club Officer Training, which will complete on 31 August Read More

World Champion Public Speaking Workshop, Ewell, Surrey

A Toastmasters Masterclass not to be missed

MohammedQahtani_ToastmasterEpsom Speakers Club, along with their sister clubs in District 91 Area 53, are delighted to welcome Mohammed Qahtani, the World Champion of Public Speaking 2015, to Ewell, Surrey on Wednesday 11th May 2016, to deliver a workshop covering two important topics: “Writing a Good Speech” and “Qualities of a Good Leader“. Don’t miss this opportunity to learn from a Toastmasters champion.

Mohammed Qahtani competed against 33,000 competitors from around the globe and was crowned the 2015 World Champion of Public Speaking.

Tickets cost £10 and are available for purchase online. Doors open at 7pm.

All are welcome to attend. Come along, join our vibrant atmosphere and make the event fantastic.


This event is taking place at:

Bourne Hall
Spring Street
KT17 1UF

Further details can be found here.


World Champion of Public Speaking Workshop, London Victorians

World Champion of Public Speaking Workshop

MohammedQahtaniLondon Victorians are delighted to welcome the 2015 World Champion of Public Speaking to their club for a packed evening of learning and fun!

Mohammed Qahtani competed against 33,000 competitors from across the world and was eventually crowned 2015 World Champion of Public Speaking at the Las Vegas Toastmasters conference. His humorous speech ‘The Power of Words’ was a personal take about how events in his life have been influenced by the words of others. This award is a truly amazing achievement for someone that once had a severe speech impediment.

In this two part workshop, participants will learn to overcome adversity and to live up their dreams in the same way as Mohammed did. Mohammed will also share with us his tips and techniques for crafting humorous speeches.

Live up to your dreams

    • Define your main fear that’s holding you back
    • Learn how to avoid negativity
    • Find out how to realise your goals

Injecting more humour into your speeches

    • The different types of humour and how to use them
    • What to avoid in humour
    • How to deliver the punchline for maximum impact

Dinner – NOW SOLD OUT!

korean-dinner-300x193We’re very excited that in addition to delivering a workshop, Mohammed has accepted to join us for dinner so that attendees have further opportunities to speak directly with him. So come and have a wonderful 3 course Korean & Japanese dinner with a World Champion of Public Speaking. To spice up the dinner we’ll also be doing some humorous table topics as well! This is an opportunity that’s unlikely to be repeated soon.

Both meat and vegetarian options will be available. Dinner attendees will be contacted closer to the date for their exact menu choices.

When & Where

The workshop will take place on 10th May 2016 from 6pm in St James the Less Church, Pimlico, in the upstairs Street Room. Please check the ‘Where we meet’ page for the London or further information.

Book your ticket here.

Does Public Speaking scare you to death? R.I.P!

Tips to help your public speaking – R.I.P.

In a top ten list of our human fears, speaking in public (glossophobia) out-ranks death. Why?  It’s because public speaking anxiety combines the fears of the unknown, failure, rejection, ridicule and being challenged.

Is there an answer?  Yes, there are two; both simple, both powerful.  Preparation in advance and your audience’s hard-wired self interest.  Thorough preparation (that comes, mostly into the ‘R’ group) promises a winning speech or presentation.  Your audience wants you to succeed.  This applies whether your purpose is to inform, entertain, inspire or persuade.

Three ‘R’s

So let’s start with the three ‘R’s

Our first R is Research.  It can be your launch-pad for success.   Ask yourself – and have a clear answer to – the following four questions:  What is your audience expecting?  What is its profile? (age/gender/culture/interest).  What about the venue? (size/acoustics/AV facilities)., and the key question: how do you want your message to make your audience feel?  People may forget what you said, may forget how you said it, but they’ll never forget how you made them feel.

Our second R is Rehearse.  Take a lead from the professionals.  They rehearse their speech, time and time again, use audience feedback to improve, add power by making every word count and add polish, by creating a seamless speech.  Here’s how: shape and signpost your structure; master any visual aids you use – and have a fall back option in case they fail.  Practice vocal variety and gestures.  Inject a story – audiences love personal stories!

Our third R is Re-write. Cut and polish your speech – as a jeweller fashions a gem.  Use uncomplicated language.  Paint pictures with words.  Engage your audience with rhetorical devices such as, alliteration, delete disposable detail (an example combining a three part list with alliteration).

Well-placed pauses and metaphors help retention by your audience.  Your aim is to pack performance punch. Another key point – focus on keeping time.  Bear in mind that average speech delivery speed is 1.5 words per second.  So a seven minute speech allows no more than 630 words

That wraps up our three ‘Rs’.  Now for our three ’Is’.

Three ‘I’s

Our first I stands for Invite.  Listeners like to be invited into your speech.  Here are some how’s.  Use inclusive, open gestures; ask questions rhetorical or active; keep eye contact.  Use personal pronouns: we, us, our, you, your.  Take John Kennedy’s invitation to countrymen for example: “Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country.”

Our second I is insight.  Audiences like to learn.  They’re moved by a fresh perspective.  An astronaut, marvelling at our spinning earth below, said: “On terra firma maps, continents are divided by country boundary lines.”  Our space traveller said “ I never thought about it before, There are no lines from up here!”

As Anthony de Mello said: “opening your eyes may take a lifetime, seeing is done in an instant”.

Next, our third I is  ignite.  Speeches can spark energy.  Passion can fire emotion.  Carefully crafted sentences, pauses, timing act like blue touchpaper — you light the fuse!

Marianne Williamson said: “our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.  Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.  It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us”.

Doesn’t that sentiment set you alight?

Our three i’s were invite, insight and ignite. Now to our ‘p’s.

Three ‘P’s

Our first p is for profess.

To connect with our audience; we need to declare our intent.  Mark Antony famously said: “I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him”.  Winston Churchill’s speeches inspired. By wedding his words to winning the war – his intent was crystal clear . When you profess, do it from your heart

Our second p is for progress. To keep our audience alert, we need to ‘signpost’ our speech’s journey.  Have a clear structure.  Make logical links and telling transitions between sections.  Use body language try changing position

Our third p? – possess.  Our audiences want to be, in a sense, possessed.

David Attenborough

Years back I recall a recognition event for 400 top performers with a theme of shaping tomorrow.  The honoured guest speaker was David Attenborough when his seminal book Life on Earth was a best seller.

His keynote speech described his experience with Africa’s great silverback gorillas.  David’s delicate delivery unfurled these giants’ gentleness with a powerful poignant cameo.

“I lay down on my back at full stretch, my bare feet facing the gorilla.  At first shy, he stood stark still, then ambled forward, paused, locked his eyes on to mine, bent down and delicately stroked my bare soles with his fingers’.  It tickled and tempted me to titter”.

David was possessed.

After a few moments, David’s mood moved to melancholy as he said: “a few days later at a tourist souvenir stall, a gorilla’s hand like, the one that tickled my feet, was on display for sale – as an ashtray”

You could have heard a pin drop; 400 people’s attention held in the palm of David’s hand.  Not a dry eye, not a soul unmoved, not a mind unengaged.

The audience had been possessed.

Moments later, after a passionate close, the audience exploded with applause.  David’s mastery researched, ignited and possessed.

Fellow speakers, to sum up.  You can shape your future speaking success.  The techniques described above can be practised and perfected.

Forget gravestone grief – Think successful speeches.

About the author
Robin Chawner

Robin Chawner has founded, co-founded or helped develop Toastmasters Speaking clubs in Brighton, Bristol, Chichester, Fareham, Newport, Portsmouth, Southampton, Winchester and Worthing.

Robin has coached National Contest speech winners in inspirational and humorous speaking, and also mentored hundreds of people in their journey to success from shy starters to confident communicators and level-headed leaders.