“The Art Of No” – Assertiveness Workshop with Gareth Alden

What does the assertiveness mean to you? 

When I came across this term for the first time, I was about 10 years old and I thought – “This is so simple – it’s just about saying ‘No'”. Why even bother to give it a name? As I grew up I realised that we have a lot of barriers stopping us from saying ‘No’ and how important it is to exercise our assertiveness. 

In history, there were a lot of brilliant men and women who stood up and said ‘No’ to inequality, injustice and irresponsible politics – which made our lives today a little bit more bearable. One of the inspiring examples is Audre Lorde, in her own words she was: ‘black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet’. Born in the 30s, you can imagine she didn’t have an easy life… In her speeches, she talked about the impotence of silence and the power of speech – how too often we stay quiet because we fear visibility and vulnerability it brings. This is what she said shortly after being through breast cancer, so it’s a bit more existential: “I was going to die., if not sooner than later, whether or not I had ever spoken myself. My silences had not protected me. Your silence will not protect you.” 

I think it perfectly captures our fear of speaking, and even more – the fear of speaking assertively, but we need to find strength in words. The last week’s session has equipped us with more courage to say ‘No’ more often. 

Gareth has introduced us to the pillars of assertiveness: Ownership, Urgency and Detachment by sharing his inspirational story of finding mental strength in self – development through fitness and exercise.

He made us to think of our true priorities, not the ones imposed by the others, and encouraged to book fixed time blocks in our schedule to ensure we stick to them. Himself, he has time blocks in his work calendar for the gym, meditation and daily close. These techniques have helped him to be highly successful in his career as Global Program Director at GSK.

He clarified that assertiveness is not necessary saying ‘No’ but instead – saying ‘Yes’ on your own terms: “ I would love to, but it would compromise another project”, “Sure, I’m happy to do that but can only deliver next week”, “When do you need it by?”

Dr Jung said: “I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become.” – this is what make a difference between reaction and response. A reaction is typically quick, without much thought, tense and aggressive. A response is thought out, calm and non-threatening. Being able to switch into a responsive mindset can help us to better asses the situation and make better decisions. We brainstormed a lot of practical ideas on how to switch between these two mindsets in a situation of urgency:

·        Take a breath

·        Move – go for a walk

·        Make a tea- so British😊

·        Count back from 5 to 1 – has anyone heard of Mel Robbins?

·        Ground yourself and do the body scan

·        Think of the worst thing that can happen to correct your perspective

What is your idea?

Hope it was useful for you, if you wish to explore more on the topic here is the recommended reading: 

·        Essentialism the disciplined-pursuit by Greg Mckeown

·        Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win

We hosted this workshop on 21st January 2020 and will host many more throughout the year. Keep your eyes on our website and Twitter for details.

New Year’s Resolutions

Written by Natalie

We’ve made it to the second week of the year and we are off to a strong start with 2020 vision. Beating the January blues, the theme of the night for our Toastmasters meeting on the 14th Jan was New Year’s Resolutions. Have you set your resolution yet? If you’re like me and have already broken it – don’t worry, there’s a whole year to pick it back up.

The meeting started with our esteemed club president Paulina who, as always, filled the room with her vivacious energy and positivity. Our Toastmaster Sergey then kicked things off by explaining the course of events to come, while inviting each contributor to the stage to explain their role. The word of the day was buoyant, which turned out to be very representative of the evening.

We were lucky to have 4 accomplished speakers come to the stage, starting with Kelvin’s ice-breaker speech ‘Late Bloomers Never Quit’. He brought us along on his journey from his school days to where he is today. Mohammed then followed with his speech entitled ‘Encounters’ he was able to inspire the audience by sharing some of his life’s hardships and highlights.

The third speaker to the stage was Massimo with ‘Communication Styles: AIDS in communication’, he explained the impact of choosing communication styles when conveying a message to a specific audience. The final prepared speech was delivered by Yue, who offered a different perspective on procrastination and the common connotations that come with it. 

As with every toastmaster meeting, the speeches are accompanied by evaluations. This part of the evening is invaluable as the feedback really helps provide constructive criticism, positive feedback and insight that forms a big part of the learning journey. 

During the break we had the chance to chat, stretch our legs and get the energy levels back up for the impromptu speaking section; the table topics. These are impromptu topics given to volunteer speakers which means no preparation, thinking on your feet and making a coherent 1-2 minute speech. It’s daunting but a real adrenaline rush and honestly a lot of fun. Tom Peters smashed it out the park with his second win in a row. 

As we wrapped up the evening Paulina concluded the night by handing out the coveted awards (listed below) and a short round up of club business. A new exciting and buoyant role was assigned at the end of the evening – a barmaster! Come to the bar and socialise with your fellow toasties! 

Congratulations to the winners of the evening!

Best Speaker Award – Kelvin Ke

Best Evaluator Award – Washington Gwenzi

Best Table Topics Award – Tom Peters

Next meeting we have an assertiveness workshop delivered by the winner of the Division B Table Topics contest – one not to be missed!

Small Steps, Giant Leaps

Meeting Report for 7th January 2020, by Agatha

Seven days into 2020, how are you doing? Do you feel like you’ve taken up too much already?

Taking on the role of meeting reporter as well as being responsible for collating guests’ details, I felt like I had overreached. However, I delegated 😊. Toastmasters provides you with a lot more development opportunities for other skills such as leadership.  

7th January at London Victorians we resumed our weekly Tuesday evening Toastmasters meetings. For our meeting blog, I asked a guest for an account of his experience at our meeting and he kindly obliged.

“My experience as a guest at the London Victorians

It was wonderful to know people will make out the time in their evenings to get together and listen to fellow individuals practise public speaking.

It usually starts with the Club president opening and handing over the meeting to the Toastmaster for the evening who gives a brief run through of the outline for the evening. This included introducing other roles to explain what they will be doing for the evening, which I guess is also an opportunity for the other club members to gain confidence and control in speaking to a room full of people.

The first speaker was introduced, and he walked up to the podium to deliver his speech. With every word, his posture improved, and confidence grew like a stock exchange chart. All the speeches were impressive.

Speakers got really detailed helpful evaluations. Everyone was involved in the process, from writing down your thoughts on the speech on what the speaker did well and what can be improved to make a better public speaker.

There was a feeling of achievement towards the end of the evening with engaging activities including the role of the hark master.

Definitely a worthwhile gathering if you wish to improve your public speaking skills.”

 London Victorians Guest Joshua

Although everyone gets credit for participating, each meeting, the audience votes three times for best speaker, best evaluator, best table topics.

As the first meeting of the year, we received a large number of guests who were in their way taking their own small steps, giant leaps and a majority admitted it was a part of New Year’s resolution. We appreciate guest and members who make up the meeting and the toastmaster who coordinates and general evaluator who provided constructive comments on how the meeting was run. Next meeting is 14th January @ 18.30.

Agatha Amachree

New Year, Same You?

While you’re the kind of person who don’t need to make resolutions because you’re already on a self-improvement path, the New Year is a great opportunity to set the bar even higher and London Victorians’ has several great workshops to help you to become who you want to be:

Are you saying ‘Yes’ to too many things? Say ‘Yes’ then to the assertiveness workshop: ‘The Art of No’ on the 21st January 2020. Learn more and practice assertiveness techniques, take more ownership of your agenda and feel empowered to reject the invite to that meeting that is wasting your time. The workshop will be delivered by this year’s winner of Division B Table Topics contest, so you can also pick up some tips how to make good excuses and be even more assertive😊.  

Are you looking for a new job? We have a session for you – ‘Interview Masters’ on the 4th February 2020. All speakers at the meeting will be pitching for their dream job and try to persuade the audience to ‘hire’ him/her. You can choose your own job description, or we can provide a sample job description for you. It not only will help you to land your dream job, but it will also contribute to completion of Level 3 Pathways Project “Prepare for an interview”.  Everyone will have a chance to practice their interview skills at the Table Topics section by participating in the mock up interviews, again evaluated by the whole audience. 

Are you looking for a new partner? The first impression is made long before you meet in person, so make sure your presence online is as amazing as the one offline. It can be useful not only for dating but for job interviews too😊 Learn more at the personal branding online workshop on the 25thFebruary 2020. 

Can’t get enough of public speaking? You’re in luck! There are plenty of opportunities to get involved in the International Speech Contest (club level), hosted in our club on the 18th February 2020.

  • Do you want to be a Speaker at the contest? Simply sign up for the speech on that date. However, to be eligible to compete you need to complete Level 2 on Pathways or Competent Communicator manual from the old educational programme. Sign up for speeches and we also will be sharing some info about ad hoc speaking slots on WhatsApp group. Your VPEs are happy to support you in accelerating your pathways progress and can even arrange additional speaking opportunities outside the club.
  • How to write a World beating speech? Find the answer from an accomplished Toastmaster – Freddie Daniels. Freddie’s workshops are in high demand and spaces are limited, so hurry up and register for the workshop on the 5th February 2020 – How to write an inspiring international speech.

In addition, any aspiring committee members are encouraged to join Committee Officers Training on the 29th June 2020 (Area 8 COT – Eventbrite link). The agenda is as follows:

  • How do you put in place the people and processes for your club to succeed? – Paulina Dabrowska
  • Blitz on engaging long standing members with Pathways: A casestudy from – Massimo Guadagnino
  • How does your club fit in with the wider Toastmasters community? – Florian Bay

Serving as a committee member not only helps to develop sound leadership skills but it’s also an enriching experience of giving back to your community. Moreover – it means completion of Level 5 Pathways project “Leading in Your Volunteer Organization”. Simply irresistible!

Wishing you all a successful New Year! 

Club President 
Paulina Dabrowska  

Our Community

James, breaking the ice!
Madam Toastmaster, Lucy
Camila taking on her first role as Sergeant at Arms

We all define community differently, but what we all have in common is the sense of support in working towards the same goal. London Victorians’ mission is to provide a supportive and positive learning experience in which members are empowered to develop communication and leadership skills, resulting in greater self-confidence and personal growth. I feel very lucky to be a part of this inspiring community and as a president of the club I would love every member to achieve their full potential. However, this is a common effort from every one of us to make it happen. Keep up the good job Victorians😊!

According to this test If you want to test the strength of the community – just ask someone for a favour and see if they help. Looking at what we have done as a club so far – I left me assured this is a very strong community!

London Victorians crate a great community both offline (thanks for everyone who came over for drinks on Friday! For those who could not make it – let’s meet up for Christmas drinks after the meeting on the 10th Dec) and online.

We have a few social platforms carefully curated by Lucy Rosa.
I encourage you to check Twitter – I had a good chuckle over her posts 😊

For those who did not notice yet– we have a new social media platform – London Victorians LinkedIn

This is a place where we can network professionally and help each other to leverage our career progress. Our Vice President of Mentoring – Stephanie Walker, will be launching a buddy up programme, aiming to match members around their areas of professional interest.

You can also be a social media star by taking up a Meeting Reporter Role. It’s very easy but help us a lot! Just write a few words (up to 500) about the meeting – what made you laugh, what have you learned, you favourite tip etc.

Thanks, Paulina