How To Organise a Unique Area Contest (even if you’re pressed for time)

Toastmaster Area Contest, Sep 14The Area 21 Humourous speech and table topics contest was held on 27th September 2014. First of all huge congratulations to all who competed and our winners, Steve Catchick of Wokingham and Chris Boden of Maidenhead. If you came along, thank-you, you really helped make the event special! And I’m collecting feedback here.

From the feedback I’ve received so far, everyone has commented on how unique an event it was. I wish I could take the credit for this but it was really down to our formidable contest chair Mell Sheppard who pulled it all together. It was great working with her, as well as the whole team and here’s what went into making it happen (and a little behind-the-scenes insight too)

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Book Now For Our Most Magical Area Contest Yet

Magical. Mental. Magnificent. Those are the three words that came to mind after I heard the plans for the Area contest from our brilliant Contest Chair Mell Sheppard. It is now less than 2 weeks to go until the Area 21 Humourous Speech and Tabletopics Contest, which is on Saturday 27th September from 9.30am. I’m super-excited. And that was even before she told me about her amazing warm-up act – but more about that later.

The contest itself will feature the winners from clubs in Area 21. Unlike previous years, this year only one winner from each contest goes through, so it really is the best of the best. If you’ve ever tried to make people laugh in a speech, you’ll know how tricky that can be. The humourous speech contest brings together four of the most entertaining, on-form speakers in the area. Then we also have the tabletopics contest – impromptu speaking at its very best. The contestants for this are quick-witted but mentally organised as they structure a mini-speech to strike a chord with the audience in the blink-of- an-eye.

And if that’s not enough, I am so thrilled to tell you about the warm-up act we have lined up for you, a special guest: Ian Souch. Ian Souch has a magical way with words because he is no less than a magician! In a special warm up for the contest, Ian will be performing ‘Mentalism’ or mind reading. It has to be seen to be believed – will he really be able to get into the minds of Toastmasters? I can’t wait to find out!

The area contest promises to be an entertaining and truly stunning event year. The event is free to all but places are limited so must be booked in advance.

Saturday, 27th of September 9.30am-12.30pm. Burnham Park Hall, Burham, SL1 7HR

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Tall Tales Contest, 30th September Burnham

Chiltern Speakers are hosting a tall tales contest on Tuesday the 30th of September at Burnham Park Hall from 19:00 to 21:00. All are invited to join as participants or guests.  It promises to be a fun evening of outlandish tales. Speeches will be 1-3 minutes and should be in your own words and authentic.  To join in please contact Bibi Chutoo May the most improbable story win!

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World Championship Speech and Evaluation Workshop 30th September, Wokingham

Wokingham Speakers are holding a special evening on Tuesday 30th September.

In part one we focus on how to become a World Champion speaker. You will learn:

  • What it takes to become a world champion speaker
  • What makes a world class speech

We will watch two world championship speeches on DVD and our host, Freddie Daniells will lead an analysis of the speeches, identifying the characteristics that make for a winner, picking out commonalities and noting differences in a fun and interactive way.

In the second part of the evening Freddie will present a condensed version of his well-received Evaluation Workshop. You will learn:

  • What to look for in a speech

  • How to structure your evaluation

  • How to give effective feedback in a way that motivates the speaker

With a wealth of experience in Toastmasters and having attended the last four World Championship of Public Speaking finals, acting as a judge in one and helping coach a finalist in another, Freddie is perfectly placed to share his findings on what makes a successful contest speech and what makes for a winning evaluation.

Don’t miss this fantastic opportunity to refine your skills and give yourself that extra edge.

£6.00 admission fee through Eventbrite.

There are only 30 seats available, so please book early to avoid disappointment via the Eventbrite link:

30th September promises to be a delightful evening!

Any questions, please contact

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3 Reasons You Should Take On the Judge Role

It’s competition season in Toastmasters! You may already be signed up as a speaker or taking on a key leadership role for your own club’s competition. But I still encourage you to take on a judge role at a visiting club, here’s why:

  1. If you are a contestant, it’s a great way to check out the competition as well as spend an evening focusing on the actual criteria on which yuou will be judged.  For instance, in a table topics contest 30% of the score is for structure – open, body and close. How do other competitors achieve that with so little time to think?
  2. If you are part of organizing your own contest, visit another club to do some recon – How does the timing work out over the evening? What works well and what doesn’t? Maybe there are ideas to ‘borrow’ or lessons to learn. A judging or other role gives you particular insight into a competition from a different perspective. Don’t forget to get your leadership brownie points for this as part of the leadership manual!
  3. For everyone, judging is an important transferable skill that works for other parts of life. Avoiding bias, being able to evaluate on the fly and ranking different performances are all part of it. Just today I’ve been using that very skill to rate some keynote speakers at an industry conference I went to for work.

Convinced? Well here are some club contests for you to go along to, email the club and sign up for a judge role.

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Competition Season is Here!

September in Division H means the beginning of competition season – for both humourous speaking and tabletopics.  It is a great opportunity for Toastmasters to take the skills they’ve been developing over the months and test them out either in a speaking or leadership role.

In early September the individual clubs will each host their own competitions. Then the winners of those proceed to compete at the area, district and division level. To be part of it all here are some dates for your diary.

Area 21 Contest: Saturday 27th September, Burnham Park Hall, Burnham

Division H Contest: Saturday 18th October, Oxted

District 91 Contest: Saturday 1st November, Brighton as part of the D91 Autumn Conference

In particular I’m looking forward to our Area 21 contest for which is already well in the planning and has a strong team behind it, as well as for me, attending my very first district conference and contest. It’s going to be amazing, see you there!

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Great News!

Okay, so I was so excited about writing a summary of how the year has panned out for Division H. I made myself a cup of coffee, sat down at the computer, opened up the reports on the website and started writing.. but guess what?! Even though I was writing on Monday afternoon, the reports weren’t up to date! Imagine that for a surprise.. but anyway, moving on.. the result is some other amazing achievements were left out of my report, and let me tell you, the club presidents and area governors were quick to let me know about it! So let me add to the great news from Division H…

Camberley Birthday CakeCamberley Speakers Club achieved 10 DCP goals; Farnham Speakers Club managed to get their membership up to the coveted 20 members and achieved President’s Select, which is really pretty amazing, given they started the year with 14 members.

Camberley also celebrated their 5-year anniversary with a bit of a party and a superb cake!

I’m sure there are many more causes for celebration around the Division, keep the news coming and I wish you all the best for an amazing year in 2014-15.

Vanessa King.

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