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.


Humorous Speaking lessons from our champion!

From Taz Miah, District 91 Humorous Speech Champion 2015

Humorous speakingIn November 2014, I was fortunate enough to win the inaugural District 91 Humorous Speaking Contest. It was an immensely rewarding journey packed with many life lessons and growth points. If you are in the contest, best of luck – you are about to accelerate your personal growth. If you are not, please read ahead , watch the videos and see why entering a speech contest might just change your life.

Though I predominantly focus on my journey in this article, there are many who helped along the way. I am very grateful to them and you can find them mentioned here.

Key Lessons

• The humorous speaking contest presents unique challenges not found elsewhere
• You don’t have to be a “funny” personality, your speech has to be funny
• Focus on creating a speech with humour, not a stand-up routine
• Study humorous devices and choose the ones that fit your speech
• Work with a mentor to help you discover and refine your own style
• Respect the audience and contest by putting in the hours to polish your speech
• Visit different clubs and audiences to share your speech and find new ideas
• Accept suggestions from others but don’t lose your own intentions for the speech

During the journey to the final, via mentoring from others, the most important lesson I learnt was this: you can’t design a speech to win a contest. The best you can do is craft a speech to share a message. The next thing within your control is to show respect to each level of the contest by sweating and sculpting the speech to deliver your chosen message, in the best way possible for that audience. If you do that, then you will win, irrespective of the result, because you will have become a better speaker and served your audience in the best way.

A Daunting Challenge

Humorous speaking, in my opinion is the most challenging type of speech project to undertake. You have to have all the elements of a great speech along with the added pressure of real-time feedback. If the audience don’t laugh – and perhaps laugh often – you and the whole room know that to some degree your speech has failed in one of it’s objectives.
I’d been reluctant to enter the humorous contest; I didn’t know what topic to choose nor did I know how to make things funny. Put another way, I thought you had to be a naturally funny person to make people laugh. I wasn’t afraid of contests or competition, I’ve competed in all the other contests since the start of my Toastmasters journey, just not the “funny” one.
What compelled me to enter was the fact I didn’t like the thought of giving in. Our Toastmasters / EBS culture has a way of shaping us to frown on saying “I can’t”; I had to find a speech with which to enter the contest, even if it meant just being able to say “I tried”. The quote that best sums this up is this from Kobe Yamada: “Sometimes you just have to take the leap and build your wings on the way down.”

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Champion tips for winning a speech contest

Have you ever imagined that you could the person winning a speech contest?

Bob Ferguson


Bob Ferguson has won the district Evaluation Contest, the Humorous Speech Contest and the International Speech Contest. He is well qualified to give us some top tips!

He has said on many occasions that entering contests is one of the best ways to help you improve your public speaking skills. The added focus means that you learn an improve quickly. To put it another way winning a speech contest is a great learning experience.


    • 1. Record your speech ideas in a book as they come along. This way you’ll have plenty of good ideas when it comes to writing a speech.
    • 2. Use a personal story in your speech to hook the audience in emotional. You want them to feel involved in what they’re hearing.
    • 3. Remember to think about “What’s in it for me” (WIIFM) from the audience’s viewpoint. Speeches are always more compelling when they address our needs.
    • 4. Listen to other speakers. See what they do that builds rapport with the audience. Can you customise that technique to your style?
    • 5. The key to a good humorous speech is to think how many people will recognise the humorous situations you describe. Good observational humour, where everyone recognises the humour, will make it easy for them to laugh. Personal jokes that only you appreciate can be hard to deliver. They can also get a blank response! This is true for the humorous speech contest. It also applies if you are bringing humour into your speech for the International contest.
    • 6. Practice doing your manual speeches outside your club to build your confidence in front of different audiences.
    • 7. Prepare for your club speech like it’s the District final. Every District champion starts by winning a club contest and it could be your club – imagine if you beat them!
    • 8. Record yourself practicing and put it on a CD or MP3. Play it in your car while you drive around. That way you learn the speech by a natural learning method and you can think while you learn.
    • 9. Don’t rehearse in front of a mirror it can be distracting. Instead, video yourself and watch it back. This may take a little getting used to but it will be very worthwhile.
    • 10. Get as much stage time as possible. Look for every opportunity – family groups, business meetings. Grab the opportunity to practice your competition speech in front of anyone you can.
Bob’s top tip for the International Speech Contest


Look ahead to the finals of the World Championship of Public Speaking

**For International Speech competitors start writing three speeches as soon as possible. Most winners of the International speech are not focussed on competing in the World Semi-Finals held at the International Convention. They forget their winning District speech took a lot of effort to polish. Enter the contest with three speeches so that you’re ready if you win.**

Churchill: great rhetorical devices

From Paul Carroll, President 104 London Debaters

Rhetorical devices: the master Churchill

Winston Churchill: Master of rhetorical devices

This week marked the 50th anniversary of the death of Sir Winston Churchill and many commemorations have been published.

As a public speaking club, we specially remember the power of his leadership through communication. Indeed, when Churchill was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature the citation read: For his mastery of historical and biographical description, as well as for brilliant oratory in defending exalted human values. [Click here to see the citation]

In his biography of Churchill Roy Jenkins explained that on a visit to New York in his early days in politics he met a Tammany Hall politician whose oratory had a great effect on him. “I must record the strong impression this remarkable man made upon my untutored mind. I have never seen his like, or in some respects, his equal.” This was an Irish immigrant named Bourke Cockran, who became a US Congressman. “He was my model, “Churchill said, “I learned from him how to hold thousands in thrall”. [Read article here]

In his school days at Harrow, young Winston, being poor at Latin, did treble English and clearly put his heart into it. He has left us with many examples of skillful use of language and rhetorical devices.

Here is a small sampling of some of those rhetorical devices:

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Best speeches 2014. Announced by Toastmasters International

best speeches 2014Toastmasters International Lists 7 Most Buzzworthy Speeches 2014
Presentations that captured the attention of audiences around the world

RANCHO SANTA MARGARITA, Calif., Dec. 10, 2014 What is the secret to giving a speech that is viewed and shared by millions of people? A successful speech resonates with interesting content and a heartfelt delivery. After viewing the most discussed and shared presentations of the year, Toastmasters International considers the following seven speeches most buzzworthy in 2014…

You can see the list of best speeches 2014 here:

Read the full list here: http://www.toastmasters.org/About/Media-center

How can you learn from these speeches? What might you do differently when you are writing your next speech or giving your next speech!?