• We meet online every Tuesday at 18:30! Zoom meeting Link: https://zoom.us/j/580017929

Four ladies fighting to lead

Meeting 2020-06-16

By Mohammed Salih

Paulina is still our president and there are no coups so far, it looks like she is going for a home run after a year. One thing she drew our attention to, and that the post of Club President has be occupied by four females in a row! What? How come we didn’t have the same thing as Prime Minister? Well done ladies. We are reminded that so much has changed over the year; UK left Europe, Covid-19 and Black Lives Matter campaign. But “Life does not stop, we keep going, we are London Victorians”. Paulina appeals to us to reflect over a simple question, after all “What would be your contribution? What would be the legacy you leave behind to people?”.  

Agatha is Madam Toastmaster of the evening, on her plate was three speeches and three evaluations, she still managed to bring to the meeting her own sister, well done, why don’t we all? It would be nice to learn how to provide an evaluation to our partners, telling them what we liked and what they could improve on, maybe not, let’s stick with sisters. Agatha’s moto was “Learning by applying” this is to improve how to communicate better.

Michelle kept times for us announcing “I will use these cards, if you pass your time, I will find a way to make some noise”. I guess we can experiment with screaming, however we did not go there. Why should we stick to time? Well! There are 3 reasons according to Michelle: –

1-Helps you think about your speech delivery

2-Keep audience focused

3-Everyone get their share of stage time

We are told also that there are mobile apps that we can use to practice timekeeping during speechs.

Grammarian? Hello? Anybody home? Never mind, Lucy is on the block so with a split second we had word of the day; Bucolic which describes the pleasant aspects of the countryside and country life, an example would be “The villa is lovely for its bucolic setting”.

First speaker Stephine spoke of “This too shall pass”, this is a phrase so dear to my heart, it unearths emotions when I use it especially when the whole world seems so tight on me going through hard time. The phrase echoes in my head to calm me down; This too shall pass. We heard of how a life crisis on breakup can be so hurtful, drawing the image of the night, outside an underground station and the news dropped on her like a shell.  “I was in an indulging evening with some girls when I had a phone call”, it wasn’t a normal call because it included “We need to talk!”.

Annabel stoop up to deliver the second speech “The good, the bad and the ugly”. This included taking the audience on a trip we are familiar with; the 13 weeks of covid-19 lockdown. “This little virus that came from a tiny town, Wuhan in China to spread through all corners of the world!”. Did you know that at time of hardship and crises, we humans go through and number of stages? Some of those include (1) Denial, (2) Depression and later one (3) Acceptance. The good side of lockdown was having extra 122 hours for Annabel saved through cutting travel times working remotely. The bad side exposed domestic violence and increase of 24% more incidents. Annabel took us to her childhood back in Scotland when she was about 13 years old, having lots of free time and taking care of a fig tree.

Table topics was lead by Jon and his innovative juices started to flow throughout the meeting. He selected “Home” as the strategic theme, and all questions were related to it. I love this kind of structure as it makes us all think together what could be the question? With a number of questions like

-At home, what would you change?

-What or who do you love most at home?

-For a new home, would you prefer a beautiful porch or a castle?

-Apart from home, where would be your second home?

Our club meetings became home to visitors from around the world as far as India and America, no barriers at the moment folks, jump online and celebrate your thoughts with us next Tuesday, come say hello.

Join us every Tuesday from 18:30 GMT

102 Meetings over 35 countries!

By Mohammed Salih

Lucy got hold of the mike to announce “I am not your president yet, but I will be”. We were reminded why Toastmasters get together, well “to become better communicators”, this actually for many it means different things. If it scares you to speak public and scares the hell out of us, others want to be TED talkers, politicians. Tonight ! “We have an amazing structure of speeches that happen every week”. Also, being a Harkmaster, Lucy used the chat feature of Zoom to get answers, she was in for a surprise to discover how fast people type, guess how fast they would have typed if chocolate rewards were thrown over the Internet !

Jon, takes us on lessons learnt from his war on drugs and his wish to jump on a time machine going to the past to change things. Being a grammarian means listening to beautiful use of language, hey both British English and American English, this is how we learn about each other online. Jon selected the word TRANSITION to be word of the day, this is inline with the Theme of the Meeting; Change. Jon enterinded the club by comparing words in both dialects. “Magnum” is an ice-cream in the UK, in the US it is a gun! Beautiful language included “Squeeze this meeting into a blog post”, “A crescendo in learning to dance”, 

Dilemma means having two options, 3 options does not make it a dilemma as the prefix “di” means two 🙂 

Agatha took the role of Timekeeper, don’t mess with her because she warns us “I will be strict in time keeping, there is a minimum time and maximum speaking time” this threat seems to have worked as many behaved themselves in regards to time slots. A gadget she is eager to use “The Count Down” however she was denied by two speakers, poor Agatha.

Like a wonder woman, Stephani put on the clock of Toastmaster – if there is one, I think we should make one- She told us with a high voice an a smile that filled the screen “I will guide you through speeches, evaluations”. One wonders why bother attending such weekly meetings? Well, she promised that “Something would change in each one of you during the meeting” and that since “We had so much change in past few weeks” so change remains with us in human rights and change for a better future. “THANK YOU FOR YOUR SPEECH!” she chanted after speakers. 

Our Meeting reporter shed light on his intentions, he was going to be three things; a journalist, a blogger and a media guy, hold on! These things are the same thing? Yes, but we like to express ourselves in Toastmasters more. Mohammed told us he is going to write about the meeting, that’s what I am doing now. Why bother? Well, “You may not have joined the meeting last week?” so such blogs on our website will make you feel entice to visit us next Tuesday. Don’t forget to show the article to your boss to show your writing skills, that’s my wife actually. 

Speech 1, AK took us from London to Africa, where lions eat people for breakfast. In a speech entitled “Let’s Live Now, today and in the Moment”, the audience were asked to reflect on what happens when “We make long term plans”, well, it sounds smart to think of the future, however there’s “a problem! we forget today”. In 1885, John Henry Patterson supervised the construction of railways in Kenya. The story reflected how only focusing on completing the railways meant more workers were being attacked by lions, how solving immediate problems can help in achieving targets.

Speech 2, Charles introduced an app called “Headspace” dedicated to help people meditate especially at times of crises. What is being “Normal at 16 years of age”, Charles joined in his school the debating society learning how to construct arguments. And on the night we practiced that exact debating muscle. “In designing electric cars, would you make it safer for drivers more or safer for other road users?”, I guess for drivers as I paid for my car. “In a hostile takeover, would you submit or fire 80% of your staff being the CEO?”, I would be happy to submit to the takeover since I could have a better share in a more successful company. “In a crisis like Covid-19, would you implement a lockdown or would you ignore it?”, I would do both in stages.

Speech 3, by George entitled “Olé!” made the club stand up, not in ovation, but in shaking the rear sides of us, what else one would do during a speech on flamingo dancing. It looks like at times of lockdown, people have become more innovative. We were told how George found himself “Dancing along with 20 beautiful ladies, all middle aged”, well I worried for you buddy, lucky all this intimate mixing was online, phew! Dear reader You have a friend called Lidia that invites you to dance this Spanish andalusian style, let’s flamingo! 

Evaluator Annabel noticed how AK “Took us into a journey into Kenya”. How storytelling was used to tell us about the speaker’s father, seeing emotions, day to night, night to day. A recommendation was “Use body langues, use better camera angle to show us your eyes”

Evaluator Natalie was still waiting for hairdressers to open up so she can go dye her hair. Come on Boris ! Open up business buddy! She pointed out to us how confident and engaging Charles was using suspense, vocal variety and humour. 

Evaluator Raj started with 3 .. 2  .. 1 to structure his feedback on George’s speech. 3 things Roy liked, 2 things Roy recommended to avoid rocking while standing to speak and act the voices of characters. One takeaway that was the juicy part of the evaluation is that after listening to a speech, one may ask “What can I try and change in my life?”, so we speak to inspire.

Chris pulled his weapons of welcoming guests as he was the Sergeant at Arms. HE spoke of “We all once were guests at a club” when Chris wanted to change something in his life, he joined London Victorians and found himself in a Toastmasters meeting. His question to all guests “What is one thing you changed today or wish to change?”. Answers included

-Travel around, Australia and moving from technical to management role

-I don’t like change, when my mobile number changed I cried, tiny changes shock me.

-So many unexpected things happen, I moved home, I try to live in the moment.

-I used to live in the UK, back to France, I was a Toastmaster before, looking to get back. 

-I have enjoyed my time, nothing to change. 

-I changed bedding from winter to summer then realised I need to change them back.

It seems that Lukas adopted the debating fever of the night and presented Table Topics as comparisons between many aspects of life including companies like Astrazeneca vs HSBC, BP vs. US Tobacco, alcohol vs. mining, Tesco vs. Coral, BAE Systems vs. JustEat. Well those battles were safely settled on the night. 

What did we do well Beatrice? Our General Evaluator commended, encouraged, praised and guided with some thoughts. What a wonderful feeling infused in us when she declared “In 102 meetings I have attended in 35 countries, your meeting is the most accomplished” WOW if this is not a medallion on all club members I don’t what what. What is that Beatrice? She explains the reasons

-Before the meeting started, the Sergeant at Arms was already welcoming guests.

-The link to join the meeting was sent via email using the club website.

-Members kept video on which made me feel welcome.

-The Toastmaster was joyful that I could be with her all day.

-Grammarian selecting a word that was aligned to the theme of the meeting.

Well ! Is it time you turned up to our meeting? We meet every Tuesday at 18:30 GMT.

A Toastmaster’s Tale

by Chris

It was a balmy, late spring evening which meant absolutely nothing as we were all indoors sitting in front of our computers ready for the toastmasters meeting to begin of the greatest toastmasters club in the universe to begin. The evening opened with our esteemed outgoing president telling us about the gifted storytelling of Malcolm Gladwell and how we could all learn a thing or two from him. For this interested in him tell a story check out his revisionist history podcast!

The meeting was turned over to Raj Roy who was to be our toastmaster for the evening. It is a role with big responsibility to take the audience through the evening and maintain great energy.
Raj did this with aplomb. What a talent!

You couldn’t keep Paulina Dabrowska off the stage very long as she returned to take on the timekeeper role. At toastmasters all speeches are timed which helps speakers learn to not to waffle and keeps the meeting on schedule.

Natalie Kay made her toastmasters comeback with an outstanding evening as grammarian, even though she sounded like she was on board the International Space Station. Word of the day was cognisant.

Then came yours truly who explained the role I am performing now, your meeting reporter 🙂

Next were our prepared speeches. First up was Florian Bay(club legend/ aka Michael Jordan of District 91) who was doing a speciality speech where you are given a topic and on the spot need to speak for 5 minutes. His topic was if he was Prime Minister what would be his first actions. Topics covered were sorting out Covid-19 in 2020 and Brexit. I was convinced , this man has a political future.Impressive speech.

Massimo Guadagnino gave an outstanding and helpful talk on How to use Presentation Software effectively on Zoom. Massimo is a rock star when it comes to public speaking and has an incredibly engaging manner. This is one of the great things about toastmasters is all the great practical things you learn for a really small fee. Well done Massimo 🙂

Jon Kelly , a new member who has joined us all the way from New England gave an outstanding speech on describing good mentorship through the metaphor of skiing lessons he has taken in his life. The lessons were:

Deadlines should be flexible
Don’t be afraid go se weeeeeeeeeeee
if you don’t fall down you are not pushing yourself

Welcome to the club Jon.

At toastmasters all speakers are evaluated and Stefanie Walker, Susanne Alfs and Lucy Rosa gave us some high quality evaluations maintaining our high standard that we have come to expect at the greatest toastmasters club in the universe.

Jackie Gallego then welcomed all our guests and invited them all to speak and introduce themselves. Everybody gets to speak at our meetings and it was great to have so many engaged guests. Jackie has recently stepped down from here excellent stint on the committee to focus on getting more speeches done. We look forward to seeing her at level 5 by the end of the year.

We had a break, I made a cup of tea mmmmmmmm.

We came back and Raj Roy moved us onto the table topics/impromptu section of the evening and invited our table topics master Annabelle Lamb onto the stage who chose the theme of nature/gardening
with some excellent and enjoyable topics.

Darren Useree then wowed us with an excellent evaluation of all those folks that took part in table topics. I for one was impressed with Darrens performance as well as his commitment to the club! Well done to all those that took part in this section of the evening.

Natalie Kay returned to tell us about superb uses of grammar and where we could improve.

Raj Roy then handed back to Paulina who closed the meeting.

What a night. See you all next week.

*Join us every Tuesday at 18:30 on Zoom*

New Committee is Born 2020-2021

Written by Mohammed, 26th June

Paulina, our president told us how taking up her role offered challenges and amazing opportunities for her. This included moving the club from venue to venue and then to online. Leading meant building resilience for Paulina, this is what Toastmaster does to people.

Christ jumped on the horse of toastmasters the whole meeting, sprinkling smiles and positive comments after each speech was needed when home locked up. He told us we have 3 speeches and 3 evaluations, that’s how London Victorians meet weekly with plenty of speeches.

The Timekeeper, Lucy was in charge of changing screen colours to indicate time progress for participants, those colours were carefully integrated into her background, her face colour and eyes, this is mimicking a chameleon from the wild, eyes colours? very spooky when it gets to red.

Are you listening guys! That’s what Jon, the Harkmaster was after, listening. Despite this was his first official role in the club, Jon dished out great questions that reminded us of what we just heard from speeches. Jon told us that 50% of content gets forgotten within one hour according to psychologists.

The meeting reporter Mohammed (Woops! That’s myself) told us that perhaps over the centuries there were many speeches that were lost forever, however those that survived were the ones that were documented like I going to do. Just imagine this blog reaching millions across the world being published on our web site. I invite you to sign up to the next meeting reporter and impact the lives of future generations to read, learn and enjoy.
The first speech from Saloomeh reminded us of the World War when Winston Churchill was leading and projected his toughness to fight for freedom, “We shall fight on the streets, we will never surrender”. How does mental health affect us all and why should we care?

Sophia a second speaker told us about gifts and journaling, what it did for her and why should we consider it to get clarity for our goals and manage negative self-talk. Our third speaker Lukas convinced us to start waxing, yes all wax please! men and women, but his waxing was related to education as “Was on, wax off” from the movie “The Karate Kid” and how important to keep learning until you see the benefit.

Three great evaluations lead by Annabel, Stephanie and Alex, what was commended included well researched speech, persuasive language used, informative style with statistics, welcoming smile, asking questions, injecting humour. Recommendations included looking at the structure of the speech and implement it during delivery to avoid losing the audience, and to use more statistics to support your message.

Out general evaluator told us what we are doing wonderfully well and what we can consider to improve that included avoiding exaggerations, stand up when talking, give the audience time to obtain replies to questions.
Eleanor managed the AGM, review and new year. She emphasised how great this club is over the years, hence le’t “stay fantastic as always, we have been”.

The AGM The Annual General Meeting which was dedicated to selecting the new club executive committee gave birth to the new team, all the best guys and have a prosperous year ahead.

Why don’t you visit us next Tuesday?

President – Lucy
Vice President Education VPE – Agatha
Vice President Mentoring VPM – George
Vice President Membership VPM – Natalie & Annabel
Vice President Public Relations VPPR – Raj & Michelle
Treasurer – Florian

The Art of Toasting

Written by Stephanie

Tonight we were reminded why we joined Toastmasters.
For some, to eliminate the butterflies and others to speak like broadcasters
All in all, we want to improve ourselves in an area we can grow
And one day be treasured liked a painting by van Gogh

We heard some savvy sales pitching tips from Susanne
Which we can use to sell to anyone, even the milkman  

Cyril taught us that there is power in remaining silent
Which is superior to being violent  
We ended the prepared speeches with Camila’s leadership style
And discovered she is extremely versatile.

The Evaluators were direct, compassionate and inspiring
Their suggestions and praises will never be expiring

We dived into terrific table topics and the speaking level was high
The victims did not disappoint and answering the questions as if they’d hit bulls-eye

The Grammarian, Time keeper and general evaluator were sound in their approach
Their reports reminded me of a game play given by a football coach

All in all, a magnificent time we all had.
Do join us next time, comrade 

(Wherever you are in the world, London, Ohio or Delhi, you can meet us as a guest every Tuesday from 18:30 GMT)