Ipswich Electrifiers Speakers Club currently has 25 members, this is just the first in a series of interviews with some of those members, to find out more about them and their experience of Ipswich Electrifiers.
John Reynard, entrepreneur and business coach
A youthful 70, John joined Ipswich Electrifiers two years ago. Over his career he’s had several successful businesses and now shares his expertise with others as a business coach. I asked him about his experience with the club and his plans for the future
What brought you along to the club ?
I was told about it by a friend who was a member at the time, I had belonged to another speakers club many years ago and although I wasn’t able to stay at the time I had a feeling that I wasn’t finished. I felt that I could sharpen my speaking skills further and I was intrigued to find out more.
What were your first impressions?
I found the atmosphere at Ipswich Electrifiers very welcoming and I liked the people, I felt at ease and was impressed that there was a wide age, gender and cultural mix. I do enjoy the format of our meetings, that it all goes to schedule and that so much is packed into just over two hours, we even have time for a break.
What helped you make the decision to join ?
Joining was an easy decision to make, I could see there were people I could learn from and that I’d be able to develop my own skills and get a chance to experiment; it also fitted in with my schedule and was easy to get to so I had no excuses.
You’ve been a member for two years now, what aspect has been the most benefit to you ?
I’ve gained a lot of confidence in speaking spontaneously without notes, which helps when I do talks for my own business, and it’s great that I can run ideas past the club, but a bigger benefit has probably been that table topics has helped me cope with the Q&A that follows. You can never be sure what angle the audience might be coming from so if they put you on the spot it’s easy to come unstuck if you don’t have the skill and confidence to think on your feet. Table topics really helps me practise doing that.
What part do you enjoy most in a meeting ?
I particularly like table topics as it allows you to speak off the cuff but I also enjoy being able to give a set speech. It’s particularly good practise if you have a speech to do; when I was preparing for my Father of the Bride speech I could run it past everyone before the final delivery.
What’s most surprised you ?
I noticed that those who won the table topic award for the evening usually included a lot of humour so I resolved to work on adding humour to my speeches. What’s surprised me most is my own ability to speak off the cuff and be humorous which can be really important for engaging the audience.
What’s next in terms of Toastmasters ?
I’m aiming to complete my Competent Communicator by the end of the year and then start on Pathways. I’ve not chosen a path yet.
Any final thoughts ?
Toastmasters is a great opportunity for living in the moment, it’s invigorating.
John Reynard is the founder of Spirited Entrepreneur, and a regular attendee and current VP Membership at Ipswich Electrifiers Speakers Club.
VP Public Relations