Phillip Khan-Panni


It was an unusual meeting — a 40 minute panel discussion followed by a 15 minute speech including interruptions. Every bit as good as anything you might get at an Advanced Toastmasters club. Club President Evelyn Khan-Panni lingered just long enough to ensure that all with roles on the agenda were present, before handing over to the Toastmaster, John Burns, who briskly announced the running order.

First out of the blocks was Phillip Khan-Panni, with his final project in the Presentation Mastery Path. He was to lead a 40-minute panel discussion on the theme, “Why do you make a speech?” His hand-picked panellists were Division J Governor, Alan Tracey DTM, newcomer Tiarnan O’Dwyer (online communications expert) and Club President, Evelyn Khan-Panni DTM.

Unsurprisingly, there was some overlap in the ideas of all three and the consensus was:
• Aim to make change in thinking, attitude or behaviour
• Lead people to want the change
• Leave them feeling good
• Keep your own ego out of the way

Dermot Carey heroically packed his evaluation of this extended project into three minutes!

Next up was Emer O’Neill with Managing a Difficult Audience from the Presentation Mastery Path. Her theme was “Something to say”, during which she had to cope with numerous interruptions. She very effectively embraced the hecklers and fitted them in to the points she was making, as remarked her speech evaluator, Fiona Joyce.

Evan Ryan took over as Table Topics Master and set a rapid pace. High energy was the hallmark of the day. Aileen Tighe revealed that her hidden talent was singing (inside her own head); James Watters spoke of a childhood wish to have the freedom of grown-ups; Maree Farrell had to choose between a huge lottery win kept quiet, or a more modest one that she could talk about; Alan Tracey said nostalgia isn’t what it used to be; Dermot Carey declared a passion for the Golden Arches, even on holiday; and Evelyn Khan-Panni told the harrowing tale of being mugged on holiday in Nice.

Double-jobbing as Grammarian, Alan Tracey referenced a family gathering in which his American brother-in-law was silenced by the eloquence of everyone else. A parallel, he said, with the quality of the contributions at this meeting.

The masterful General Evaluation was conducted by visiting Massimo Guadagnino who was struck by the buzz and welcome he senses on arrival at Society Toastmasters. He was made comfortable, learned something useful and had lots of fun. In closing he recommended a mug labelled, “You’re on mute”.

Visiting Area Director, Aileen Tighe, said she was impressed by the panel discussion, which she had never seen before at a Toastmasters meeting. She found it very instructive.

Finally, Club President Evelyn complimented Toastmaster John Burns on leading such a fantastic meeting, and thanked the visiting Toastmasters, including Aileen Tighe, Maree Farrell, Dermot Carey, Mary Burnham, James Watters and Massimo Guadagnino. She said plans were afoot to return to in-person meetings, and called for volunteers to fill the next year’s committee.

The next meeting of Society Toastmasters will be on Thursday 26th May at 7:15 p.m. On Zoom.