Read about what Sau-Wan Lai has been doing in her spare time, as part of the Toastmasters Solent Speakers Public Speaking Group, one of the voluntary committee roles she undertakes.
Local Toastmasters Public Speaking group “Solent Speakers” celebrated its 20th anniversary this month having formed in 2003. The club host meetings in the Lysses House Hotel in Fareham High Street and were delighted to have not only several visitors to the group, who may become members soon, but they also had Lord Mayor of Fareham Fred Birkett and Mayoress Lisa Birkett attend to celebrate the occasion.
With a warm welcome to all, Solent Speakers Club was able to showcase what a Toastmasters club is all about with 3 prepared speeches from members, live feedback for the speeches as well as impromptu speaking opportunities known as Table Topics. Toastmasters is a not-for-profit global organisation that aims to provide tools and a safe space to practice public speaking skills, and clubs provide a supportive and positive space to do so.
Solent Speakers have a variety of members from all walks of like and experiences, who join the club for various personal or business reasons, but nonetheless all share the endeavour to gain confidence in public speaking.
One of their newest members James D gave his “ice breaker” speech, which is the first speech in the educational programme Toastmaster provides and members can access resources and guidance. All members get a chance to practice through prepared speeches and can take roles such as Timekeeper or Warm-Up master, that help the meeting run smoothly.
The club was also honoured with a speech from the Lord Mayor about the merits of public speaking skills and his own journey. The Lord Mayor imparted his wisdom about practising and engaging with public speaking and said “You’ll start to build reserves of experience and experience is the foundation of confidence. This confidence will truly aid you in general life activities, make you a much more confident person, employee, leader, and quite obviously public speaker”.
For those unfamiliar with a Toastmasters meeting, there are usually two halves to the night, and a break for comfort and networking. The club had an amazing 20th anniversary cake with the Solent Speakers logo and champagne fondant sculpture to celebrate the occasion.
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One of the main traits of Toastmasters is the “on the day” feedback for each speaker, called evaluations. These give the opportunity to highlight positive feedback as well as points of improvement. The Lord Mayor was even happy to receive an evaluation for his speech. Feedback is always constructive and is one of the tools for improving our speaking skills and boost confidence. Gavin Meikle, who is a member and, on the Committee, said “Toastmasters is a fabulous organisation and Solent Speakers are an excellent club.”
Apart from planned speeches, there is also a section on spontaneous public speaking, known as “Table Topics” (Trademarked), which The Lord Mayor and Mayoress appeared to both enjoy and everyone was entertained with light-hearted off the cuff speaking. The club had several visitors bravely step up to the stage, as well the Lord Mayor having a go; indeed, the final vote for best Table Topic Speaker was awarded to the Lord Mayor – we are sure for his merits in his answer rather than his status!
The 20th anniversary-theme for the evening, was a wonderful celebration of this club’s achievement and the countless 100s of people who has been members, their lives enriched by the experience and their leadership skills no doubt honed further. Sau-Wan Lai, the current Vice President for Membership comments “I joined Toastmasters in 2021 and I enjoy the meetings because they are fun, and I learn a lot – each time something new resonates or I gleam a nugget of advice that will help me improve my public speaking”. Sau-Wan Lai is a co-founder of a commercial surveying firm, Wheeler & Lai Chartered Surveyors and discovered Toastmasters through networking. Sau-Wan has found Solent Speakers club to be friendly and welcoming, and has seen her confidence dramatically improve, with skills learnt applicable in both personal and professional capacities.
The club continues to thrive, with the enthusiasm of the committee and of the people who look to join because they experience a positive and encouraging environment. Here is to Solent Speakers, and the next 20 years and more!
Solent Speakers provides a hybrid meeting every 1st and 3rd Tuesday of the month, and held at Lysses House Hotel, High Street, Fareham from 7.15pm to 9.30pm as well as over Zoom for online members and visitors.
Most Toastmaster groups allow guests to visit a few times for free before signing up for a membership, so prospective members can get a feel for what the group is like and how it all works.
Visit toastmasters.org for more information about the organisation and how to get involved.
Article also published by The News – https://www.portsmouth.co.uk/business/fareham-lord-mayor-helps-solent-speakers-celebrate-20th-anniversary-4196047