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Dec 8, 2020

Happy Vs Flourishing episode 16 with Bob Ferguson and we explore the world of public speaking and communication, especially Toastmasters International.

Bob has been a member of Toastmasters for over 25 years and has represented the UK twice in the Toastmasters world championship speaking contest. As a professional speaker e is also a member of the PSA, the Professional Speaking Association and in this episode we discuss the differences between Toastmasters and The PSA, the value members receive from each organisation and some tips for finding the right club.

Topics discussed:

  • Confidence
  • Impromptu speaking
  • Presentations
  • Professional speaking
  • Competition speaking
  • Mentorship
  • Evaluating
  • How to find your nearest Toastmasters club

During the early part of Bob’s Aerospace career, he realised that the standard of presentation in engineering was very poor. But he was not going to do anything about it as he detested speaking in public and would do almost anything to avoid it. Then in 1995 a happen chance visit to a Toastmasters International Club changed his life and started a 25-year journey that continues to this day. 

It started with him overcoming his fear of public speaking which was his only real target. After that though a whole world of possibilities opened up. He started to enter the twice-yearly competitions and by 2002 had won the UK & Ireland International Speech contest that took him to America to compete in the semi-finals of the World Public Speaking Championship; an event that was in equal measure exciting and a learning experience. It taught him the necessity of having processes in place to deal with writing high-quality speeches. 

He continued to focus on improving his crafting techniques and won the UK & Ireland evaluation contest in 2005. This is a competition to provide structured, supportive and encouraging feedback to a test speaker. Then he embarked on his toughest challenge – the humorous speech crown. Humour is one of the hardest skills to learn and Bob reckons it is harder than the contest that leads to the World Championship! In 2006 he was the runner up in the competition and another 3 years of work paid off when he won the Humorous speech championship in 2009. Humour is such an important skill for all speakers to be able to make listening easy and highlight important points that Bob thinks it should be mandatory training for all speakers. 

Parallel with his time in Toastmasters the last 20 years of Bob’s engineering career were spent in the space industry designing components for the European Space Agency missions to Mercury and Mars. 

His speaking skills came to the fore then helping him communicate complex concepts and information with clarity and confidence. That period also Bob attracted private speaker coaching clients to improve their crafting and delivery of important presentations and speeches. 

In 2017 Bob left the engineering world to focus solely on his speaker coaching and event speaking career. He now specialises in coaching technical experts to communicate their valuable information effectively. He also speaks at conferences, largely to technical managers, about getting communication in their organisations right so that information flows up and down the organisation effectively. 

Toastmasters International

The Professional Speaking Association

To find the nearest Toastmasters club to your location use this link: (This can be used no matter where in the world you are located)

Notes: Toastmasters International is a worldwide organisation with 364,000 members in 145 countries with over 16,200 clubs. 

It is an organisation that promotes public speaking and leadership skill development. 

It is not associated with the red-coated MCs that the word Toastmaster is associated with in the UK.

Bob can be contacted by email at:
His website is:

The book Bob recommends:

Craig Valentine and Mitch Meyerson:

World Class Speaking: The Ultimate Guide to Presenting, Marketing and Profiting Like a Champion


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