The EBS 60 Second Interview – Tom Feist-Wilson
Tom is a professional Visual Effects Artist working to create 3D images for major corporate clients. Now living in South East London, he lived most of his life in North East Scotland, a far cry from the busy heart of London’s visual effects industry in Soho. Tom enjoys rock climbing, badminton and taking on new challenges.
What brought you to EBS?
Colleagues at work first made me aware of the club and Toastmasters in general. I was curious to find out more about what got them up so early in the morning for!
Was it everything you expected?
Well I wasn’t sure what to expect to be honest as I’ve never been part of any club like this before (ie debating or otherwise). What I was first struck by was how professional it all was, a very friendly welcome and really well organised, with top quality speakers taking the stage from the get go.
How long have you been a Member?
Ahhh!! Now you’re asking! I think it was around September last year (2014)
Did you have any expectations before you came?
Uh, like I said, not so much, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I was just interested to see what all the fuss was about…and now I know
Were your expectations fulfilled?
Well I suppose you could say they were exceeded to be honest. I thought that perhaps I’d go along a couple of times to see what it was about and then just call it a day. I was so blown away by the speeches, intrigued by the evaluations, and excited by the table topics that I saw I couldn’t wait to give it a go myself.
What surprised you most about EBS?
I think the professionalism probably, Early Birds is really well organised by a great group of dedicated people, and that shows through at every single meeting. I think the fact that the meetings are video recorded, while perhaps daunting at first, is brilliant. It gives you a chance to really hone in on what other people do well, and also have a look at yourself. It’s pretty rare that when you’re speaking in public you get a chance to watch it back and see how it came across.
What has been your greatest learning as a Toastmaster?
I think probably being exposed to the real intricacies of what elevates a great speaker above the rest. I considered myself to be quite good at public speaking before I came to the club, but I quickly realised when looking at the most experienced Early Birds members that there are a lot of subtleties to really mastering good communication.
What is special about EBS?
I think it’s pretty hard to beat the venue! It makes every meeting feel quite grand. If you can learn to be comfortable speaking in such an impressive venue you won’t find yourself over-faced speaking at formal dinners or other similarly awe-inspiring places. I think that gives Early Birds a fairly unique edge!
What do you like best about coming to our Club?
I think the chance to see how other people approach a given topic, either when speaking off the cuff, or in a prepared presentation is really the thing that keeps me coming back. Being able to then discuss that afterwards with such open and friendly people is fantastic. It builds a great sense of mutual support that runs right the way through the club, from long standing members to first timers.
What do your friends and family say about you since you joined?
“You go in at WHAT TIME!?!?!?!?!” ! Yeah most were shocked that I’d get up so early voluntarily. A lot of others asked why I bother going, as public speaking is not really a required skill for my job. I always tell them that it’s great fun to be challenged…and if nothing else, you’re never going to sit on your death bed and think “I wish I never got better at public speaking”.
How has becoming a member of EBS affected you/ your life?
If I’m honest I didn’t think it would affect me much when I first started going as I’m quite a confident person. However as I’ve moved forward in the club I’ve found I’m able to communicate with a level of clarity and honesty that perhaps I didn’t always do before. Having seen people stand up and tell a room full of people about some of their very personal life stories made me realise that people are much more open to these kinds of things than you’d think. I think it’ made me a better listener as well, a very underrated part of communication. Much is made of learning skills to communicate your own point, but in spending time listening to other people for 7 mins and then delivering your thoughts on what they said afterwards (as we do in our evaluations) takes a tremendous amount of skill itself.
What was your biggest fear before you came?
I didn’t really have any if I think about it, I’d already heard pretty great things from the guys who’d invited me. I guess maybe the 5.30am wake up call!
Is that still your biggest fear?
No, you get used to it.
How does public speaking impact your life?
I think the key thing is in the way that it re-frames your perspective on communication in general. You understand much more about what other people might be thinking as you speak to them, and also what others might be worried about when talking to you, even in a simple conversation in the office or down the pub. Learning more about how people talk allows you to get to know people better and can help cut through some of the BS.
Is there anything else you would rather be doing on a Thursday morning?
Nope, sleeping in is over-rated.