Wessex Speakers Christmas Dinner 2016

The Wessex Speakers Christmas Dinner was held at our usual venue, The Winchester Hotel, on 8 December 2016.  There was an excellent turnout, the food was superb as ever and the evening was packed with great home-made entertainment, only some of which involved public speaking.


Wessex Speakers Christmas Dinner 2016

Trophies for educational achievement were awarded to a number of Toastmasters in recognition of their successes over the year:

  • Steve Vear, Advanced Communicator Silver
  • Eric Skates, Distinguished Toastmaster, Advanced Leader Silver and Competent Leader
  • Andrew Keevil , Competent Leader
  • Janet Butler, Competent Communicator and Competent Leader.
  • Ravi Bhata – Advanced Communicator Bronze

Two special awards were made in recognition of outstanding achievements:

  • Steve Bimpson, The Toastmasters International Presidents Award for previous service
  • Janet Butler, Toastmaster of the year,

A hugely entertaining Christmas table topics contest was won by Jeremy Woodall.

I am a Toastmaster

I am a toastmaster
I’ve been one for years.
this doesn’t mean I am good as making toast nor that I am an expert in the technology of toasters
nor does it mean I am a gavel bashing master of ceremonies at banquets

No – what it means is that I have benefitted from a unique opportunity to learn and hone the craft of public speaking courtesy of an international charity ….. Toastmasters International. This longstanding organisation was formed in 1924 and has over 12.500 clubs worldwide
It encourages a diverse range of individuals as well those within businesses, colleges and prisons to develop their ability to get up and speak in public

But why bother to get your speaking skills better?

There are a whole host of reasons- as varied as the people who become members

* It fun to set oneself a challenge of getting better at something
* Overcoming a fear ( for some – a morbid terror of standing up to speak in front of others)
*Interview skills are improved for the job market

*Chairing meetings at work gets easier
*Speaking up in meetings to get ones point across becomes more effective
*Introducing other speakers at events gets easy
*Pulling together clear arguments gets honed
* Using more structure in your thinking and speaking in general

It just happens ….by an almost imperceptable osmosis, mentoring, having fun and some structured training

Whether you are already a keen speaker or a reluctant one,
whether you have to stand up and say something for a living or have an important event coming up – Toastmasters offers a boost to confidence , great tips and endless encouragement through the twice monthly toastmasters meetings.

The word used most often by new guests to describe their first experience of coming along is :friendly
And this is probably the key which underlies the success of toastmasters. We are all there because we are interested in the same thing……. growing our skills in speaking.
No one is judged on the level of their ability – even if you feel you are a hopeless case – toastmasters will gently and kindly support you without pressure.
If you think you are already a hot shot at speaking – you’ll soon find many ways you can improve.

But the speaking is only one strand of Toastmaster membership
There are great opportunities to learn leadership and team skills – both by taking on committee roles but also by following the competent leader manual.
I joined to improve some OK speaking skills over 20 years ago and I am still learning with some enormous pennies dropping during that time… not least the time I entered a regional contest and got disqualified at the semi final due to going 5 seconds over alloted time – ouch! But a very useful lesson learned … . although apparently not as at a recent club meeting I badly misjudged the timing in my enthusiasm and only got one third of the way through, However the point is – it is ok to mess up – no one at toastmasters is at all judgemental when someone struggles to get it right.
Over the years I have seen gibbering wrecks turn into funny accomplished and good entertaining speakers and at times become astonishing ones so I know that the empowering and kind support – works.

How do you achieve this wondrous transformation?
If you are 18 upwards ( no upper limit) you merely have to turn up. In the first instance….. 3 visits as a guest are acceptable – then membership dues are required
(10 pounds a month currently for two meetings and the monthly magazine plus occasional other area and regional events some of which are free some paid)

Where else can you get an evening of training and entertainment – sometimes hysterically funny and sometimes very moving – interesting talks on topics as diverse as cutting hair, Thunderbirds and travel disasters … for a fiver.

Forthcoming meetings at Winchester tennis club bereweeke road

December……. January

It is totally ok to just be an observer too. You will be welcome – even if you don’t utter a single word .

Sonia Hutton- Taylor

High profile public speaking – the outcome

This week ‘The rubber hits the road’ (to pick a transatlantic catchphrase) for public speaking in a major way. The speaking performances of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will be tested by the American people. The Conversation (link here) has an interesting article covering the strategies used by the presidential candidates in order to inspire, convince and call the public to action.

I for one, am waiting with baited breath…

Change is life

Change can be a curious thing.  Sometimes a dramatic transformation in our lives can pull the rug from under our feet.  Just ask any new parent.  At other times it happens so gradually that we don’t even notice it happening.  It is less than 2 years since I joined Toastmasters and at no point would I say that I have experienced dramatic change.  But when I look back on how I used to approach public speaking, the change is clear.  I have been changing one step at a time.  With every meeting I learn something more and when added together the impact is, in fact, dramatic.

Change is life

Change is life

At our meeting on Wednesday 25th November, the theme was change.  Change has become the norm in so many ways nowadays.  Four diverse speeches and evaluations addressed the subject from different angles, albeit serendipitous rather than pre-planned. Our President summed it up, “Change is life”.  All Toastmasters are looking to change some aspect of their public speaking and everyone present agreed that in some tiny way, we changed that evening.


Speaking off the cuff

Do you ever find yourself lost for words? Impromptu speaking can be nerve wracking, especially when the boss or a tricky customer needs a clear answer or point of view.


Off the cuff

At this week’s Wessex speakers Steve Vear gave us two great examples of speaking off the cuff.  He showed us how it is a skill that can be practised and prepared for.  And that when you do that, the results can be impressive.

If you would like to improve your skills at speaking off the cuff why not come along on a Wednesday evening and find out what it is all about.

Incidentally it is generally thought that the term ‘off the cuff’ originated in the US when people got into the habit of writing notes on their disposable paper cuffs.  For an extensive investigation into the origin check out Language Log here.


Giving feedback: how to make it win-win

Do you ever wonder how best to give feedback to a colleague?  You can see how they could get things done so much better.  And you want them to learn from your experience to make improvements all round, but what if you upset them?  Often people are concerned that they could make things worse, not better.

Giving feedback

Giving feedback?

Evaluation (or giving feedback) is a central part of the Toastmasters experience.  On Wednesday we had a masterclass in Evaluation from ex President of Wessex Speakers, Julian Gee, who is a teaching fellow at the University of Southampton.  Julian showed us tools and techniques that will help anyone give great feedback, whatever the setting.  You can find his slides here.

If you would like to improve your skills at giving feedback why not come along on a Wednesday evening and find out what it is all about. 

Comedy and Table Topics Workshop – Hamwic Speakers

Please note that this event has now ended

26th July 2015 – 10:30am – 15:00pm at Badger’s Farm Community Centre, SO22 4QB

Comedy & Table Topics WorkshopOver a year has passed since Hamwic Speakers hosted the highly successful comedy improvisation workshops in Southampton and they felt it was timely to invite Area Toastmasters to an innovative two part Stand-up Comedy and Table Topics workshop on Sunday 26th July at Badger’s Farm, Winchester (the Community Centre is adjacent to Sainsbury’s and parking is free for attendees).

The tips and techniques from both sessions will help build confidence in impromptu speaking and humorous speeches and should seriously boost the communication and leadership skills of members and guests.

For anyone that would like to add more humour to their speeches and for any members that are considering entering the annual Humorous Speech and Table Topics contest in September, this is the perfect workshop.Gavin Miekle

We are delighted to have Gavin Meikle from Solent Speakers coming along to deliver the Table Topics session.

Gavin is an enthusiastic and inspirational trainer who will share practical tips, involve us all in exercises and deliver oodles of fun.

You can checkout Gavin on YouTube here.

Jill EdwardsOur Comedy Coach, Jill Edwards, is all the way from the Komedia Comedy club in Brighton.

Jill has trained some of the UK’s top comedians including Shappi Khorsandi, Sean Walsh and Jimmy Carr and she ranks as the UK’s leading Stand Up Comedy Coach.

Her stand-up comedy classes received a special mention from Ofsted, at London’s City Lit. and she was the BBC’s chosen Comedy Coach in the South for their “Comic Relief” project. For more information about Jill, click here.

This promises to be an event to remember.

Tickets must be pre-paid and thanks to a generous Hamwic subsidy, offer excellent value at £20 each. The cost covers both workshop sessions and a snack lunch.

Please note that this event has now ended

Meeting Review – Wednesday 8th July

Dear All,

It was great to see a good group attend the last club meeting on Wednesday.

Congratulations to new member Eliot who delivered his first speech from the competent communicator manual and did a great job!

Andrew Keevil gave us an insightful perspective regarding entering speech contests, while Pete Collins educated us all on people centered planning. Three really enjoyable speeches! Congratulations to Andrew who won best speaker and thanks to those that voted me as best evaluator!

Les Brown gave us an entertaining round of table topics asking the speakers to imagine they were living as different animals or objects!

Our next meeting is on Wednesday 22nd July – you are of course most welcome to join us!


A GREAT meeting – 10th June

Wessex Speakers enjoyed a really busy evening with a full agenda, just over a week ago when we met at the Winchester Tennis Club. There were a total of four prepared speeches from not only our own club but also form visiting Toastmasters of Basingstoke Speakers. In the regular warm up exercise to get all of our members and visitors talking, we all reflected on what change we have the biggest challenge in accepting, before the main part of the evening began.

Our own Steve Vear delivered an award acceptance speech, speaking from one of the advanced manuals as he works towards achieving his Advanced Communicator Bronze award. Les Brown officially completed the first Toastmaster award and become a ‘Competent Communicator’ following a very engaging speech about democracy.

Sharon and Maggie from Basingstoke Speakers delivered individual speeches, each taking a different viewpoint to an argument about the value of customer service. With everything in Toastmasters being evaluated through our ‘learn by doing approach’ each speech was then evaluated giving each speaker valuable recommendations for improvement together with some motivating reflection on what shone through as the best feature of the speeches.

Relatively new member Mark took on the role of Table Topics Master and gave those that wanted to take part the opportunity to practice their impromptu speaking using music as a base theme for the questions presented. Congratulations to Sharon from Basingstoke for winning best speaker, Andrew and Eric in the tie best evaluator and visitor Hannah who gave the best table topics.

Wessex Speakers meet on the 2nd and 4th Wednesday of every month at the Winchester Raquets and Fitness club. You are very welcome to come to our next meeting on 24th June to find out more!

Meeting Review – Public Speaking & Business

At the last meeting of Wessex Speakers, at the Raquets and Fitness club in Winchester, we had a great night, which focused on public speaking in business. Our special guest for the evening was change management specialist and current UK Lieutenant Governor of Training and Education for Toastmasters, Jean Gamester.


Our members and guests were treated to three prepared speeches, after the room was put through an icebreaker question for us all to get our voice boxes working. Steve Vear, acting as our Toastmaster for the evening asked the room to talk about any kind of voluntary activity we had undertaken or task you had completed for someone for free. With only up to thirty seconds per person, it was great to hear about everyone’s achievements; charity work or indeed peoples desire to do something in the future.


Steve Vear gave us a presentation about coaching in the workplace, which included an explanation on what is coaching, the benefits of coaching and an example of the GROW model which was can be used to coach. It was a well received presentation and helped Steve work toward his next educational goal of the Advanced Leader Bronze level. Next was our special guest Jean, who gave an inspiriting speech about her business journey, and how Toastmasters have helped Jean to discover skills she never had.


Finally, club President Steve Bimpson gave a speech about pushing ourselves out of our comfort zone to see what we could achieve.


As with everything in Toastmasters, after the break it was time to hear the evaluations of each of the speeches, which allows each speaker to improve for the next time and enjoy hearing about what fellow members really liked about their speech.


Our regular Table Topics slot then followed which gives people the chance to practice their impromptu speaking, by coming up with a an on the spot speech for 1 to 2 minutes without any prior knowledge of the subject until they arrive on the stage.


It was another great night at Wessex Speakers and we can’t wait until the next meeting.


Anyone is welcome to join our meetings as a guest, with the next one being on Wednesday 11th March 2015 at 7:15pm