Ipswich: Electrifiers Speakers’ Club members talk their way to the top

Members of the Ipswich Electrifiers Speakers� Club.

Members of the Ipswich Electrifiers Speakers� Club. - Credit: Archant

CATHY SHELBOURNE explains how members of the Ipswich Electrifiers Speakers’ Club are using their public speaking experience to gain top jobs ? and still have time for a few lessons from Boadicea, the queen of leadership and communication skills!

When Ipswich businessman Stephen Guy-Clarke applied for the post of innovation consultant for Pera Technology he knew he needed to stand out from the competition.

“The skills and confidence to secure the job came through membership of Toastmasters International,” says Stephen, who joined the Ipswich Electrifiers Speakers’ Club, one of the 14,320 clubs in 22 countries that make up Toastmasters International.

“And I will be putting into practice what I’ve learnt when I take part in public speaking engagements to build the Pera brand.”

Another member thankful for the opportunity to practise his presentation skills is Yuvraj Padmanabhan. He had to do a Dragon’s Den-style pitch to get his company, MindGraph, accepted on to the ICT Incubator at Innovation Martlesham in Suffolk. “I was able to face the dragons with confidence,” he says.

Club president Julie Kenny, a business intelligence consultant at HTK Ltd on the Ipswich Waterfront, has seen a huge increase in members achieving top positions. She attributes it to the Electrifiers’ supportive atmosphere, and the strong mentoring programme.

“Members are really helpful and give honest feedback on your presentation,” she says.

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“You don’t get that in a work environment because colleagues are much more concerned about how the information or product is relevant to them.

“We will be demonstrating how we give constructive feedback, as well as the structured programme to develop speaking skills, in our Guest Evening on Thursday, October 31. Everyone is very welcome.”

In charge of the mentoring programme is Alan Todd, a business consultant. He ensures that each member is assigned a mentor to talk through goals and how to achieve them. “This is particularly useful when someone has a major pitch or presentation to make,” he says.

“Recently we worked with Tony Stanway, chairman of East of England branch of the Association for Project Management, on a crucial speech to board and executive members.”

Tony acknowledges that “I could have not dreamed of achieving such a good result without the practice opportunity that Alan Todd and Ferial Evans gave me. Their mentoring was great”.

The experience has also helped Alan himself. Being part of the club management encouraged him to get more involved with Toastmasters International, and their emphasis on leadership.

He is now the finance director for the Boadicea Conference from November 8 to 10, at which the top speakers in the UK and Ireland will be competing in humorous and impromptu speech finals, in the company of hundreds of Toastmasters enjoying workshops, feasts, and the spa facilities of the Crowne Plaza Resort near Colchester.

There will be an introductory workshop on Saturday, November 9, priced at £35 including lunch, for local businesses and academic institutions interested in finding out about the corporate benefits of the Toastmasters International leadership and communication programme. For more information contact alanmtodd@hotmail.com .

“We chose Boadicea to head our conference as she is the queen of communication and leadership skills,” says Constance Turner, Boadicea Conference director, and a member of Chelmsford and Brentwood Speakers’ Clubs.

“Visitors are very welcome to join us for any of the educational workshops or the very entertaining speech finals. We’re all really looking forward to sharing the craic with our Irish friends – and, of course, celebrating the return of Boadicea to her homeland!”