From Toastmasters to the Bar

Tom Bailey

Thanks Toastmasters, for giving me confidence in my public speaking!

Before joining Toastmasters, I had set my sights on becoming a solicitor, specialising in office work.

Whilst the Bar was mentioned as a potential route whilst I was at University, I never really felt it was for me. In fact, only one other person from my cohort had committed to this path.

I assume as most of my classmates thought, that Barristers were scary and intimidating individuals with unstoppable self-confidence. It was the advocacy element which mostly put me off, the feeling of talking for extended periods of time, trying to sound in control, and most importantly, trying to persuade the Judge and Jury of your client’s case. 

Tom Bailey

Around three years ago, I was given my first spoken law assessment. I had to speak for 15 minutes on criminal law and answer to Judicial intervention.

As a natural introvert, I could not recall speaking for more than 30 seconds at a time, never mind 15 minutes, not to mention in an assessed environment.

I was terrified. The palms of my hands already starting to sweat.

Naturally, my first step was to Google my symptoms.

A video on YouTube provided my medication. Dan Lok, a hugely successful entrepreneur, shared how he had utilised Toastmasters to overcome his severe anxiety while speaking in public. I would encourage you to watch it:

(427) How Toastmasters Inspired Me to Become a Professional Speaker – YouTube

I then Googled Toastmasters and came across a local club in my hometown of Farnham, and, in October 2020, joined Farnham Speakers’ Club.

I was a part of the ‘Zoom’ generation. Whilst seen as an unpopular necessity for most, conducting my first few speeches online, in hindsight, proved to be a blessing in disguise.

I was not walking into a large hall for the first time, delivering a speech. I was not having to project my voice so those at the back could hear.

I was in the comfort of my own home, behind my laptop screen. While still undeniably nerve-wracking at first, I found this to be a less intimidating way to start my public speaking journey. (For those new to public speaking, I would encourage you to join a hybrid or online-only club, at least for your first few speeches).

Gradually, and with the unwavering support of my Toastmasters mentor, Janet Alkema DTM, I worked my way through my first pathway – ‘Engaging Humour.’

Using humour was a great tool for me to break the ice, and my confidence gradually grew and grew.

By the time I had finished my undergraduate degree, less than a year into my Toastmasters journey, I made the decision that I would become a Barrister.

I was transformed, and in July 2023, I was called to the Bar of England and Wales!

Tom Bailey

Woking Speakers Open House Event, 23rd March 2023

By Seema Viswanath, VPM


Woking Speakers Club held our Open House event on the evening of 23rd March 2023.  We had 18 guests who attended this year making it one of the most successful Open House events for the club. Milica Bennett VP-Public Relations and Seema Viswanath VP-Membership led the organisation of the event; they were ably supported by Bob Nisbet, Sergeant-at-Arms.


Leading up to the event, we designed and published the below poster at the local library and supermarkets in the local area. We advertised the event on Eventbrite, Facebook (including on the local community pages) and LinkedIn. We invited the club alumni and previous guests who have attended our public speaking meetings. We also shared the details of the event through club members, all of whom helped promote the event in their own networks.

We received the required materials (badges, name tags, leaflets) from the Toastmasters International District 91 support team on time which were distributed to the members and guests before the meeting began.


Each guest was greeted personally on arrival by a Club Member to ensure they felt welcomed. After declaring the event open, James Sanderson – Club President introduced Toastmasters to the guests. Chris Arning – VP Public Relations, D91 attended the event and addressed the audience. All the members and guests then got a chance to speak at the warm up. The prepared speeches were carefully chosen so we had a mix of beginners and experienced members. The speakers and evaluators were all confident communicators. They shared the benefits of being part of Toastmasters such as access to online resources, mentors and above all being a fun and safe environment for public speaking with the guests.

It was a pretty packed schedule as you can see from (just the front page of!) the Agenda below:

After a 15 min networking break with tea, coffee and biscuits, the second part of the meeting was focused on our guests.

Every guest was asked to fill in an interesting, unique or adventurous aspect of their life that they were proud of at the beginning of the meeting. We used this information for the table topics asking guests to come to the front and speak on their specific aspect. Due to time restrictions, not everyone got a chance to speak, but 10 guests got the opportunity to speak in front of us.  Following the evaluations and awards, we handed out certificates of participation to the guests.

The event closed in our usual manner, with a trip to our local pub.

District PR Manager, Chris Arning was in attendance with his friend Nick (who lives in Woking and whom he had been trying to get to come to Toastmasters for ages).

For a flavour of the some Guests reactions to their first Toastmasters experience and Milica, Seema and James Sanderson’s reflections on the event, see the below video.

We thank all the members and guests who participated in making this event a success. If you want to find out more about our club, please visit us at  We look forward to welcoming you as a guest. And you may find these resources from Toastmasters International helpful too:

Seema Viswanath, VPM, Woking Speakers, 2022-2023