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Second Edition

International Award Winning

Spring 2013

GROSVENOR SQUARE SPEAKERS
London’s 1st Toastmaster’s Club Est. 1980

Inside this Issue

Toastmasters is where LEADERS are MADE!

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Committee President’s Introduction Member Interviews Club Contests Philip Smee Tackling Table Topics

Photo credit: Jacqueline Purcell

Toastmasters International is a non-profit educational organization that operates clubs worldwide for the purpose of helping members improve their communication, public speaking and leadership skills. Through its thousands of member clubs, Toastmasters International offers a program of communication and leadership projects designed to help YOU learn the arts of speaking, listening, and thinking.

Second Edition

Spring 2013

Our Committee 2012/13

President – Jill Segal
Email: jsegal44@mac.com

Vice President Education & PR – Elaine Lawrence
Email: erlawrence@btconnect.com

Club Secretary & Vice President PR – Taz Virdee
Email: tazvirdee@hotmail.co.uk

Vice President Membership – Epi Mabika
Email: mabikae@aol.com

Club Treasurer – Pedro Casillas
Email: pedro.casillas@btopenworld.com

Sergeant At Arms & Mentoring – Jacqueline Purcell
Email: jacqueline.purcell@yahoo.co.uk

Immediate Past President – Ash Sethi
Email: ashsethi@btconnect.com

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Second Edition

Winter Spring 2013

Meet Our President Jill Segal
Welcome to the latest edition of our Grosvenor Square Speakers newsletter. As the 2012/2013 President of
the Club I am really happy to have a great Committee who can keep the show on the road and produce this showpiece publication as well. Of course, when I write ‘show’ I mean ‘meeting’, which we run at the Cumberland Hotel, Marble Arch twice a month. We always have a night of fun. GSS has a diverse membership and I am constantly in awe of the bravado of our members as for very many English is not their mother tongue. Young and not so young, they challenge themselves time after time. It makes me wonder how, as British born and bred, I could have been so lacking in drive to improve my skills earlier. My journey to Toastmasters began when I felt self-critical and despondent after a presentation I had been asked to give at a job interview (to which I did get appointed). My previous speaking experience had been patchy as sometimes I seemed able to control my nerves and at other times I was a quivering jelly, stumbling over words and with total memory blocks. My early experience at GSS was unpromising. I felt so distressed at my perceived inadequacies after the first meeting I attended as a guest that when asked how I felt the evening had gone, replied that I supposed it would do me good but that I didn’t like it at all. My next ‘performance’ in the spotlight was for a table topic. I lasted 13 seconds and stood, with curls shaking, before bolting for my seat. Who would have imagined then that 3 years later I would be President of the club? I don’t think twice about standing up in front of the members and speaking. That confidence has extended to speaking at a workshop at Imperial College, London on the subject of preparing and presenting for interview and I intend to venture further into speaking in the public arena, arranging and presenting evening seminars on fundraising for arts administrators. I certainly have come a long way since wondering how, if I were ever to practice as a barrister-at-law for which I have been trained but have never taken further, I would be able to stand up in court and speak. Perhaps it’s not too late... This newsletter reflects the wide range of our membership and how we all have so much to learn from each other. Learning from each other is really the key to the Toastmaster ethos. We come together wanting to help ourselves but the way it happens is a two-way process. Helping ourselves helps our fellow members too in a safe environment and one that we hope is very warm and welcoming Enjoy the newsletter. Come and visit us.

Jill Segal - President Grosvenor Square Speakers 3

Second Edition

Spring 2013

Gracie Xi – Taking Roles
I joined Toastmasters in Jun 2012 after finishing my last CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) exam. I have always wanted to work on my public speaking skills but had little opportunity to do it in the past. Toastmasters provides the ideal forum for me to learn and practice. As an investment manager, I need to communicate investment strategies, ideas and market views to clients as well as to make recommendations to our inhouse run funds through our weekly investment committee meeting. Taking roles and doing prepared speeches at Toastmasters, I have become increasingly confident presenting in front of an audience. I have also learnt many useful “Everyone is very techniques and tips from fellow toastmasters and supportive and through educational sessions held by more experienced members. In the past when asked to the club meetings give a presentation at short notice it would have are extremely been difficult but now I feel more comfortable preparing a presentation at short notice thanks to well organized” Toastmaster’s meeting. At Grosvenor Square Speakers everyone is very supportive and the club meetings are extremely well organized.

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Second Edition

Spring 2013

Paola Bottini – On Why I became a Toastmaster!
During a holiday in Canada a friend told me about her experience of Toastmasters and how fabulous it was. I immediately decided I’d track down a club when I got back to London. As soon as I landed I hit the Internet and went to Grosvenor Square Speakers. The people and their skills blew me away; the meeting was both entertaining and educational. I joined on the spot, June 2011. For a living I organize and manage cultural events for a foreign embassy, in particular I specialize in art exhibitions. Communications skills, whether we like it or not, are in use all the time and I’m no exception. At the beginning of this journey I became aware of my little foibles. Now I’m in charge of some and still working on others. From body language to appropriate word usage, from pauses to rhetoric I have consistently progressed. If I can express myself better I feel more confident and assertive as a whole. On top of improving my communication and leadership skills through delivering speeches, taking part in Table Topics and covering various roles, I feel I have grown as a person thanks to the constant patience and the good advice of my mentor and fellow Toastmasters. In the past if somebody asked me to do a presentation at short notice, I would have shrunk away in total horror. Now I would jump at the opportunity of challenging myself and acting in the moment. Grosvenor Square Speakers is a friendly and positive club. Since my first visit I was welcomed as an old friend and this continues to this day.

“I have grown as a person thanks to the constant patience and the good advice of my mentor and fellow Toastmasters ”

If you value yourself go to a meeting and join. Only good can come out of it. The programme is effective, compelling, tried and tested but flexible enough to suit anybody’s liking, interests and time commitments.

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Spring 2013

Suzanne Pool - Growing Confidence
I joined Toastmasters in April 2012 to meet some new people and to practice public speaking, as it’s possible I may develop my career in that direction and also for fun! For a living I work in Television rights as a Business Affairs Executive and I’m also an NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) Master Practitioner and Hypnotherapist working with people on emotional eating – very different! I love talking with people, listening to people and being a lawyer it’s important to communicate, in a comprehensive and digestible way, some very complicated information. Coaching is also all about hearing what people are not saying and then working with them on that. It’s all in the communication. Since joining Toastmasters my confidence has grown to speak in public massively – I have discovered I may be quite funny in public and so I’m using that. I’ve also developed a willingness to speak on the hoof, which is very useful! I’m also much more willing to be out-spoken. I always was, but now people can actually listen because I communicate in a more effective way and actually I listen to their concerns first! The people are brilliant at Grosvenor Square Speakers, so supportive and encouraging. They’re witty, intelligent and generally brilliant company! What surprised me about Toastmasters is that it’s so educational and geared towards personal development. I knew it was about developing public speaking skills but I had no idea the process was so well formulated. It’s great and so very methodical. Come along and find out about it! Check it out for yourself and visit lots of different clubs to see how people run things and hear different speakers – you’re bound to learn something new and interesting!

“My confidence has grown…I have discovered I may be quite funny in public so I’m using that”

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Second Edition

Spring 2013

Liz Rowden – Tools & Techniques
I joined Toastmasters in December 2011 after visiting the club as a guest twice. I turned down a promotion at work several years ago due to the fear of having to present at management meetings. When I turned 30 I decided it was time to stop being held back by my fear and Toastmasters seemed like a safe place to practice. For a living I am a Marketing Manager for a recruitment company based in Soho. Prior to Toastmasters I would have tried to avoid having to present at the Director’s conference and I would have had weeks of anxiety prior to the event and wouldn’t have had the tools to manage the anxiety and it would have taken longer to prepare the content. Toastmasters gave me the tools to know where to start tackling the structure of the presentation and I applied lots of tips that I have gained from members such as: rehearsing out loud and visiting the venue beforehand for example. The techniques must have worked, as I got positive feedback from several directors! If I had to deliver a speech at a moment’s notice, I would still feel anxious but I would feel more equipped to tackle the challenge for sure. Grosvenor Square Speakers is a safe place to practice and improve and the members are varied in terms of ability, so you really get to learn from others and see people make progress. Recently I have been taking on the role of evaluator frequently to improve my listening skills, which are an essential ingredient for any good leader. The next step for me is to get a bit more momentum and try and get through more of my CC (Competent Communicator) manual. Due to the Director’s conference, I have not attended as frequently as I could have done at the end of last year so I am keen to get back into the swing of it and progress further in the next 6 months. What surprised me about Toastmaster is that I didn’t realize how massive it is. I had never heard of it before until a friend of mine who is a Cognitive Therapist told me that Toastmasters works on cognitive principles and that it is a good place to develop your public speaking skills and recommended it to me.

“It is a good place to develop your public speaking skills”

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Spring 2013

Ash Sethi - Immediate Past President & Area 52 Governor
1. When and why did you join Toastmasters? November 2009 - to improve my public speaking skills and have a bit of fun along the way. 2. What do you do for a living? I specialize in “Go to Market” plans. 3. How do you use communication skills in your career or daily life? To motivate, influence and inspire from a strategy, marketing, business development and financial perspective. Being a FCCA and MBA helps, being a Toastmaster gives me the edge! 4. How have you grown as a communicator and leader since you joined Toastmasters? I have won several club competitions, been a finalist in the Area competitions and have presented all around the globe. This has given me deep cultural insights and the ability to “fine-tune” my presentations depending on audience. 5. If someone asked you to give a presentation at short notice, how would you react? Be more than happy to accept - even if the notice was 5 seconds! 6. What do you like best about Grosvenor Square Speakers Club? Business-like and professional meetings format. 7. What have you done in Toastmasters to gain leadership experience? Last year I was the President of Grosvenor Square Speaker and this year I am Area 52 Governor responsible for 5 Public Speaking clubs across London. 8. Now that you’ve come this far, what is your next step? To complete the Advanced Public Speaking Manuals. 9. What surprised you most about Toastmasters? Its’ got nothing to do with Men in red coats! 10. What is the most important thing you would tell your friends and family about Toastmasters? Just go to any meeting in one of the 13,500 clubs in 116 countries and be amazed. Guaranteed you will come back if you’re serious about improving your public speaking and leadership skills.
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Second Edition

Spring 2013

Club International Speech & Evaluation Contest
On the Toastmaster calendar there are 2 most important months, March and September! These are the contest months where

brave members are given the opportunity to compete with each other in a battle of public speaking. In March we held the International Speech and Evaluation Contest and in September we had the Humourous and Table Topics Contest. On contest evenings we had excited packed audiences with our hidden judges sprinkled amongst them. Our International Speech and Evaluation Contest Chair in March was our lovely President Jill Segal who did a great job in introducing all contestants and also ran the meeting well, sticking to the agenda. We started the meeting with the International Speech Contest; our line-up was Joanna Thompson, Lyn Roseaman, Taz Virdee, Elaine Lawrence, Pedro Casillas and Ram Kumar. All speeches were warmly received by the audience and demonstrated the speaking talents at our club. After the break we had our Evaluation Contest. Our mystery speaker Harminder Dhillon from Kings Speakers delighted us with a wonderful tale of teenage love, which was not only humourous but also moved the audience. Our evaluation contestants were: Agi Heale, Colin Serlin, Pedro Casillas and Taz Virdee. Each evaluator entertained us with their thoughts on Harminder’s speech and also brought up different points and focussed on commendations and recommendations. After the contest finished our judges voted and the winner for both International Speech and Evaluation was Taz Virdee. Second place for both contests went to Pedro Casillas and third place in the International Speech contest went to Joanna Thompson. We would like to acknowledge and thank our contestants who all did a brilliant job dazzling us with their speaking talents. Also we would like to thank our Timekeepers Benito Wheatley and Rashid Mehmood, our Ballot Counters Nirmal Modi and Annabelle Carmichael, Sergeant-at- Arms Alessandro Dal Grande, our mystery speaker Harminder Dhillon and of course Hilary Briggs our Chief Judge. Our club will host the Area Contest on March 25th 2013.

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Second Edition

Spring 2013

Philip Smee
We say goodbye to our longest serving member by Jill Segal

I smile when I remember Philip Smee. I had no idea in my early days of Toastmasters at GSS of how eminent a member he was - of 30 years standing in all. He was so erudite. He evaluated in the gentlest way packing in highly observant observations and the most pertinent of recommendations. So much so, that when I was due to make a speech that I felt very proud of and was the first time I thought that I might make the audience laugh, I contacted Philip and specifically requested that he evaluate me. He did and I am so grateful that I had his help.

Table Topics from Philip were entirely unique. The last time I heard him deliver a table topic it bore absolutely no relevance to the topic whatsoever. It was a tale of true whimsy and delight and of course he won the Best Table Topic Speaker award. He was a joy and I will remember, always, that he turned up after a long absence from meetings, to support me in my first evening acting as Club President.

Thank you Philip, for being you.

Philip Smee died on Christmas Day 2012.

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Second Edition

Spring 2013

Dazzle in a minute – Tackling Table Topics!
In an article from the April 2006 issue of Toastmaster magazine, veteran Toastmaster Rajiv Ramaratnam of Quincy, Massachusetts shared these quick tricks for taking the terror out of Table Topics – or any other impromptu speaking situation: • Begin by greeting the audience. Smile. This buys you time to think about the topic at hand. Avoid apologies. Buy yourself time. Repeat the question or topic. Stay informed. It’s impossible to be knowledgeable about every topic under the sun, but a little preparation goes a long way. Stay on top of current local, national and international news. Create a repository of topics. Build a list of topics that you are comfortable speaking about, and try to use them whenever possible. Also keep them in mind when it is your turn to be the Topics master. Use your imagination. During Table Topics you develop the necessary skills to think on your feet. For this a fertile imagination is vital. You could use your imagination to create a tall tale, contemplate the future or formulate an opinion on any topic. Connect with the audience. Be passionate – the more alive and original you are, the better your performance will be. Use eye contact and meaningful gestures. Sell your idea to the audience! Have fun! Relax! What’s the worst thing that will happen if your Table Topic doesn’t win an award? Remember, the audience is in the same boat as you!

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Use these tips and you will become a more confident communicator – both in Toastmasters and in your career!

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Spring 2013

Designed by Taz Virdee Edited by Jill Segal