28th February 2024 | By Phillip Khan-Panni FPSA

As we continue to celebrate 25 years of the PSA, it is the perfect opportunity to look back at where it started and how far the Association has come over the past quarter century. Today, we are happy to share our beginning from the perspective of Phillip Khan-Panni, one of the Co-Founders of the PSA & Hon. Fellow. 


Phillip Khan-Panni FPSA (PSA’s Co-Founder & Hon. Fellow; UK’s first World Silver Medalist in Public Speaking)

As we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the PSA, it’s worth looking back at its origins. Back in 1998, a small group of professionals with public speaking backgrounds assembled in a West London hotel to consider starting a version of America’s National Speakers Association (NSA). The group included Brendan Power, Rex Warner, and two award-winning Toastmasters, Rikki Arundel and myself.

We wanted to create a supportive environment for people with two main skills: public speaking and ideas worth sharing. We cast the net wide, appealing to professional speakers, Toastmasters, business leaders, teachers, actors and anyone who used the spoken word in their work.

The launch meeting on 30th January 1999 had an eclectic mix of over 150 delegates. The several board members each delivered a speech that echoed their own responsibilities. I held the Marketing brief with responsibility for building up membership. Over the next three years, I stabilised membership at a healthy 200-plus. Rikki Arundel was the PSA’s first President. Brendan Power was a hit from the start with his self-deprecating humour.

We Founders decided to make the PSA owned and run by the members, keeping nothing for ourselves. No perpetual honours, for example. It was totally democratic. Of course, it took a few years to create its own identity, but our successors have done a fine job of maintaining the original intention, to create a community of those with ideas and expertise that could make a difference—a mutually supportive group.

Worth belonging.


To read more about the history of the PSA, visit to read a blog by another PSA Founding Member – Rex Warner.



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