On Saturday 26 June 2021 we had our annual open house extravaganza ‘Speech on the Beach’ on Worthing seafront. What a day it was! After days of wind and rain our prayers were answered. The rain stopped and the wind dropped. What a venue with the sea and pier framing us!
Our members were joined by the Deputy Mayor of Worthing, Councillor Richard Nowak and Worthing’s very own Town Crier, Bob Smytherman, who opened the meeting with his usual infectious enthusiasm.
Next up was Sean Keet, President of Worthing Speakers Club, who introduced the meeting members and guests. He reminded us it had been 478 days since the club members had met in the flesh and that some of us had never even met before, outside of the virtual world, as all our meetings have been on Zoom due to the pandemic. Sean said he hoped people passing by the open-air meeting would be intrigued and inspired to join our friendly club.
Our Toastmaster Amy Jones described the special programme before introducing Toby the incoming President of the club for his ‘Warm Up.’
Club members and guests were encouraged by Toby Wilson take part in the ‘Warm Up’. He explained this section of the programme gives everyone a chance to speak for just 15 seconds. He wanted to know what individuals had missed most during lockdown. What a great start to the meeting, it really got us all thinking. Everyone was keen to take part because we have all missed so much this last year. From hugs and hills to dancing and dining, someone even missed sweaty bodies! (I think she meant from all the dancing!) All our members took part in the ‘Warm Up’ along with some very enthusiastic passers-by, which was great and really added to the energetic, inclusive atmosphere.
A couple of our seasoned speakers demonstrated their skills to the crowd by presenting their prepared speeches. Bill kicked us off with his speech entitled ‘All things must pass.’ Bill talked about how the pandemic has brought us so many things. Some have experienced financial hardship, illness and death, but the pandemic it has also bestowed upon us unexpected gifts like technology, which has brought us together virtually when we couldn’t be together physically, more free time, with working from home some of us have extra time which we can use for walking and enjoying the outdoors. Another gift is that attitudes to mental health have changed. Mental health has finally ‘come out of the closet’. We are now talking about it and we have more compassion towards each other.
Bill really gave us all food for thought with his powerful speech. He left us by asking us to make a pledge to salvage something positive from the wreckage of Covid 19. ‘Only you know what is uniquely precious to you’ he said, ‘the new normal will be better than the old normal.’ Another fantastic, thought provoking and uplifting speech from Bill.
The second prepared speech came from our President Sean, whose speech was entitled ‘The Good Companion’. As Sean started his speech I thought he was going to tell us about his dog, but no, his companion is the beach. Sean took us on the magical descriptive journey, of his childhood ‘staycations’ in Worthing. He recounted his days on the beach, where his dad told him when the tide was out he could walk to France or dig down to Australia. Now, as an adult, he shares treasured moments with his own children on the same beach where his uncle once worked. Sean thinks celebrity chefs have got it all wrong. Why? Because ‘you can sit right here, on the beach, with fish and chips, a shandy bass, followed by a ‘99’ and you are living like a king’. Sean is certainly the comedy king! Another hilarious speech from him.
Other members offered tips and techniques for improving and overcoming the fear of public speaking. There were some interesting and humorous Table Topics (impromptu speaking) from our club member Lucy Brooks. She asked volunteers to explain modern gadgets to William Shakespeare. What is a mobile phone? What is a computer? The Deputy Mayor Richard Nowak and Town Crier Bob Smytherman enthusiastically took part in explaining to ‘Shakespeare’ about life in society today. Richard was asked to describe a supermarket. He warned Shakespeare to exercise caution as supermarkets ‘know you are coming and how much money you have’. Bob then described Alexa as ‘the modern-day Town Crier’. There was much hilarity over explanations of what an aeroplane and microwave are.
Sean closed the meeting by thanking everyone for coming and taking part. He then asked fellow toastmasters and members to raise their hands so that passers-by could approach them and ask for more information about the club and how to join the current Zoom meetings.
If all this wonderful, heart-warming stuff is not enough for you to want to visit us and see what we get up to, what if I told you it was free? Yes, come and see us in action for free as a guest. We love guests! Every 1st and 3rd Thursday of the month, ditch EastEnders and find all the drama, comedy intrigue and with us. Recent guests to the Zoom meetings have described us as welcoming, friendly and inspiring. A member, who joined in the summer of 2020, said “I can honestly say that joining the club was one of the best decisions I have made.” Another member, who joined this year, said ”The club has changed my life. I am now doing things I never thought I was capable of, and it’s all because of the supportive and nurturing environment here.”
To find out more or join the next Zoom meeting, please DM on Twitter @Worthingspeaker or email email@example.com
You can follow Worthing Speakers Club on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.