In Conversation With Simon, Professional Toastmaster

by Michelle

Have you ever wondered exactly what a toastmaster does? Yes, I thought so and you’re probably not alone. Then there’s the question of have you considered hiring a toastmaster for your wedding? Would a toastmaster really help your wedding day to run smoothly? So many questions, but my goodness do we have just the right person to answer them all.

Let me introduce Simon, a professional toastmaster who believes wholeheartedly that a toastmaster can make all the difference to the smooth running of your special day, leaving you free to enjoy every moment. Simon has so much of interest to tell you about his work that I’ll hand you straight over to him.

Tell us a little about yourself and your business

My name is Simon Styles and I am a professional Toastmaster.  My work can be summed up in the following sentence;  “When an Orchestra plays the music, it is the conductor who makes it a Symphony”

There is often a lack of understanding about the role of a Professional Toastmaster at a wedding and many venues try and discourage you from hiring one because they say they include it in their package. However, these ‘Master of Ceremonies’ are not fully trained in the craft and frequently don’t actually like doing it but have instead,  been co-opted!

The Professional Toastmaster has been part of the Social and Banqueting for centuries and it is, perhaps, at weddings when one can really see him involved in close up and obtain a good impression. As a Conductor of the Day, I will be spending  much of my time ‘behind the scenes’, liaising with the photographer, the caterers, and the entertainment in the evening, bringing them all together into one harmonious group, all working to make your Day a Perfect Symphony. So much could go wrong, but by being one step ahead all the time, I take care of all eventualities, quietly and efficiently. The visible bit, announcing the Bride and Bridegroom’s arrival at the reception and entry to the Wedding Breakfast, the speeches and so on are only the tip of a very big iceberg!

I will have seen the Bride and Bridegroom weeks before the wedding, going through the day in its entirety, advising how long each aspect of the day will take, running through the format and covering everything so that everyone will have a clear idea of the day and indeed, a fair amount of pressure is already lifted off the couple when they realise just how the Toastmaster is involved and the immense amount of work I do and support I give. I really do take over the worries and responsibilities of the day allowing the bridal party to relax and enjoy the occasion.

This meeting not only forms a strong rapport between everyone, but also gives the Bride and Groom the confidence in the way that I am no longer a complete stranger, I will run their day exactly how they wish it to be.

Speeches are a terrifying prospect to many fathers and even Best Men!  I am s always prepared and happy to give advice on method of delivery, content and length of speech if required, and when the time comes, always there to give support on the day if things get emotional!

Finally, choosing your Toastmaster should not be dealt with lightly for after all, I am going to be the key member of the team looking after your day and you want everything to be perfect. I can make your day Perfect!

What motivated you to start your business?

I grew up with very strong influences in tradition, style, etiquette and protocol. There is no other country on Earth that can match England for its traditions and its sense of occasion. I love all that and am passionate about keeping it alive. I also front a ceilidh band and we have been at several weddings where the lack of any control and order have turned the day into a disaster for the Bride and Bridegroom! When I found myself with the time to train in the skills of being a Toastmaster, I grabbed it with both hands!

Tell us a little more about the day to day activities of your business.

Every day is different, there is no format! I spend my days following up enquiries and planning upcoming events. Weddings; whilst being the largest part of my work are by no means the only work I and Toastmasters in general, do. We are frequently involved in Charity work, Awards Ceremonies and formal Dinners.

 If our readers were to order from you, what can they expect?

Any customer can expect my complete dedication to their wants and desires. It is their day and it will be planned and organised to suit their desires. We (I) can be as formal or as relaxed as they want. A Toastmaster is a primarily a function. The red coat and stiff shirt, whilst looking good in photographs is only a uniform. It is what we do that is important. On the Day, there is no one more important to me than the Bride.

How can couples judge if a company is the right fit for their wedding?

The only way to decide that would be to meet with me and have a conversation! All first meetings are free and with no obligation.

What are your favourite moments from previous weddings you’ve been involved with?

Every time the bride or the family come to me at the end of the day and say “we could not have done this without you” or “that was the best investment in the Wedding that we could have ever made”

The bigger picture – does your business offer goods/services outside of the wedding world? Tell us more.

As I said earlier, As well As a Toastmaster,  I am the leader of a ceilidh band and whilst we do a lot of weddings, most of our work is for fundraisers. Ceilidh (or ceili) bands are perfect for any event (especially weddings!) as they are inclusive for all generations.

The music is foot-tappingly infectious, the dances are simple and great fun and everyone can be involved from the youngest to the oldest. You cannot say the same thing for a cover band or disco. And it is considerably cheaper too!

What have you got planned for 2017?

To build my reputation as Yorkshires premier and most sought after Toastmaster.

And finally, what or who inspires you and why?

My mentors and great friends from the National Association of Toastmasters, Howard Robbins and Paul Deacon. With nearly 75 yrs experience between them, they have seen it all!

All images courtesy of Simon Styles

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2 comments

Simon Styles 2nd July 2017 - 8:57 am

Hi
Toastmaster and Master of Ceremonies are essentially the same thing these days though the Toastmaster as a profession goes back to early medieval times!
The role today is more of a coordinating and management one, much like the conductor of an orchestra. Every musician is a consummate professional but until the conductor pulls them all together as one, the music is disorganised. The conductor makes it into a Symphony.
Making the announcements is the tip of the iceberg.
I’m happy to come to Canada!
It wouldn’t be the first time one of us has been flown out to manage a wedding over there!

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The Marrying Lady 9th May 2017 - 12:55 pm

Hello from Canada,
This article was really interesting. We don’t have an official Toastmaster role here, that I know of anyway! When I hear the word Toastmaster, its simply the master of ceremonies at the reception. We do have wedding planners and I think that I – as a wedding officiant – play a part in the ‘toastmaster’ role for the wedding ceremony. This article is quite interesting… I wonder if Canada does have someone who is a ‘Toastmaster’ lol. Thanks for sharing!

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