Each month we focus on one of our district leaders or accomplished toastmasters. This month our PR Manager, Nigel Oseland (NO), catches up with Andy Hammond (AH), this year’s District 91 Program Quality Director (PQD).
I’ve met Andy at a few meetings and workshops now. As well as being clearly focussed and determined, he has a mischievous sense of humour.
NO. Where do you live and which club(s) are you a member of?
AH. I live in sunny LA, actually Littlehampton – called Little ‘Ampton by some locals! I have been a member of Arun Speakers in Chichester since 2001, and founded County Communicators at West Sussex County Council in 2009.
NO. How did you find out about Toastmasters?
AH. My brother (or to give him his full title – my older, less handsome and less intelligent brother) was already a member of Toastmasters – he founded Dereham Articulate speakers in Norfolk in 1988. When he first described what he did, especially Table Topics, and claimed it was fun, I thought he was mad! Then in 2000 I was finding myself having to present more at work, carry out training for larger groups and answer questions in public meetings. None of which I was good enough at, in my view. I remembered Toastmasters, looked for a local club, and found Arun Speakers.
NO. Why did you join Toastmasters and have your expectations been met?
AH. I had two main objectives: to be able to keep to a script and not ad lib so much; and be better able to respond to questions in meetings and not simply react. Table Topics has helped immeasurably with the latter, although people would say I still struggle with the former!
NO. What do you enjoy most about Toastmasters?
AH. Seeing members find abilities they never knew they had and growing in confidence as a result.
NO. What are you currently focussing on at Toastmasters?
AH. Providing members with the development opportunities that they need to ensure they continue to improve and grow. In particular promoting the fantastic new opportunities that Pathways will provide.
NO. What are your Toastmaster ambitions for the future?
AH. To share this amazing secret with many, many more people.
NO. Any views on how we can improve Toastmasters in District 91?
AH. I believe most of us could be a lot less shy about promoting Toastmasters – by telling our personal stories of how we have benefitted. That, backed by a much more prominent brand awareness of Toastmasters International would help achieve my ambition.
NO. How do you spend your time when you are not at Toastmasters, what are your hobbies and interests?
AH. I am the Chair of Worthing Community Chest, a local charity that awards grants to small community groups, and I am Vice Chair of Littlehampton Badminton and Squash club, where I am trying to revive my squash career after “retiring” in 2014. Earlier this year we adopted a rescue dog, Ollie, who is theoretically my son’s dog, but seems to be walked a lot by my wife, Alison, and I. I like to read, alternating between crime fiction and management development books. I also have a hobby of running pop quizzes, previously for work colleagues and now for the squash club and Arun Speakers. I also have a guitar which I will learn to play when I have some spare time.
NO. So, who are you favourite musicians and bands?
AH. Top of the list must be David Bowie. I first saw him perform Starman on Top of the Pops in 1972 and was an instant fan. Generally my musical tastes are firmly stuck in the 1970’s as there has been little music of note since then!
NO. Any final words for our District 91 members?
AH. Always aim to perform above par – which means Prepare (however large or small your role or your audience – make sure you are ready to do your best), Amaze (amaze yourself with what you are capable of, and amaze your audience with your ability), and Reflect (of course always reflect on how you can be even better, but never forget to reflect on how much you have achieved) – perform above PAR.