Willpower, Life Authorship & Hurling – No Conspiracy at London Victorians

London Victorians Toastmasters Club meeting report by Matthew – 8th of August 2017

Our Toastmaster Ed kicked the evening off with wit, enthusiasm and a time-honoured Toastmasters theme – where’s our favourite place to go on holiday, or place we’d like to go?

In case you’re interested I’d really like to travel across Iceland for the barren moon-like landscape, but no doubt you’re now thinking about your own holiday dreams….



Back to the meeting – we had some exceptional speeches, of course. Nick managed to triangulate two themes from the previous week – spending too much time on your phone, and being a bit obsessive with news. For Nick, his problem was both, as he almost wished his phone to feed him another story. Nick challenged us to think about willpower and training the brain – qualities that I think investing your time in Toastmasters is a solid demonstration of.

Charlotte introduced the concept of ‘life authorship’. In essence it’s about taking control of your own narrative and crafting the story that you want to. In order to do this you need a character (yourself), a quest and allies. For Charlotte her quest was met when she performed live music on stage in front of thousands of people. I think this was particularly poignant for all of us taking our next steps at Toastmasters – setting yourself a goal will push you out of your comfort zone.

Shifting from the self to the wider world (well, Ireland at least) Karen took us through the world of hurling, so every person at the meeting should now be suitably knowledgeable to explain what a hurl is (the stick they play with) and why it could be termed a ‘clash of ash’ (the hurls are made of ash!). Karen used visuals particularly well to illustrate her speech in my opinion, including to demonstrate her hurling heritage with some ol’ school pics of the family and the local club. But we need not rely on old photos to get a taste of this curious sport – it’s now on Sky Sports.

For the table topics, Alexandro challenged speakers to come and defend or challenge some conspiracy theories, ranging from the old fashioned to the slightly risqué. I particularly liked John assertion that the world was flat, and that the spherical idea had in fact been concocted by greedy globe salesman.

This evening also saw the experimentation of using a panel for evaluation, which was an interesting exploration of how we can give feedback in different formats. I think it’s definitely an area that we can develop as a club.

Well done to all the speakers, thanks for all who took a role, and finally a particular round of applause for:

Best Speaker – Karen

Best Table Topic – John

Best Evaluator – Annabel

New Member – Mohammed

New Member – Ahmad

Telephones, Trust and Time / Space theories

For the meeting Terry took the role of Toast Master with his theme of Childhood Memories. For every functionary the question is asked. “What is your best memory of your childhood that will live with you forever, and what triggers you remembering it.”

So the first functionary up is Joe as the role of Timekeeper with his childhood memory of surfing in Cornwall that and is reminded of this every time he smell the ocean. He came up and explains of his role and also reminds us never to rush for a Victorian Line train.

Next functionary is Alex in what ends up being the start of many roles. His memory is of playing in the mud near the woods which he remembers every time he is near the mud. Alex explains the role and decided to put a different spin and introduce and anti word. With this anti word he encourages speakers not to use a word. He chooses the word Just as he has seen it over used in several emails even in other speeches with people saying you’re just …

Then it’s the Harkmaster’s time Alexandra to explain her role. Her memory was playing Handlall at school and she remembers that every time she passes Pimlico Academy. She explains that listening is the ability to accurately recall and interpret messages.

The final role to be explained was Andrew for the meeting reporter role when he recounts his memory of going to Australia and he remembers that every time it’s very warm.

The speeches

So first up for speaking is Mathew doing his ice breaker speak with a brilliantly titled speech, “The here and now”. He talks about how his analytical and rational side is useful in his job as a civil servant, but can affect him outside of work too. He loves planning holidays but admits that he can get carried away with it, at the risk of not enjoying the here and now. His ambition is to have better correlation with the here and now and be more mindful.

Second up is Andy, and his childhood memory of playing around on boats that is triggered every time he is on boats. Andy speech is from the “Organise your speech” speech titled “Are you a phone addict”. He explains the dangers of the phone and becoming of spombuies (Smart Phone Zombies). He also explain how phones can control you and how we should try and all go and go on a phone detox.

Third up is Diane who was speaking on her birthday. Her memory was of falling of her horse into horse poo and finding the funny side. Her speech titled “Successful companies do it too” from the “Research your topic” with her talk explaining how some companies have employee trust as part of their philosophy. This trust has serious benefits and companies with trust at their heart can outperform similar companies. She also explains trust from her own personal experience and how it benefited her in her own company.

Last prepared speech is Alexandro with his memory of walking barefoot on a beach in Spain that is triggered every time he goes back home. His speech Research your topic speech is titled “The magic of quantum mechanics. He explains that if you can explain the subject like you are explaining to a child then you know it well. So he starts to explain the subject by going through 3 principles and even gets two willing volunteers to spin to demonstrate electrons.

Speech evaluations

It is then time for evaluations with commendations that the speaker had a good use of self deprecating humour, good use of space, lack of notes, good vocal variety and good use of sources. The recommendation for the speakers reminds us that we need good eye contact and to have a good summary at the of the speeches.

Then is the Sergeant at arms Yumi who tells us about her childhood memory of summers in Japan, that she is reminded every time she goes home. Her questions to the guests are what your favourite food is when you grown up and the answers range from Kebabs, French Fries, Ice cream, Lasagne, Pizza & Curry.

After a quick break it’s the turn of table topics with Cladia taking the helm. Her childhood memory is climbing around in trees. So she starts the session with theme “Memories of a child with the adult ability to argue”. These situations range from Sneaking Out of the house, convincing parents of a new toy drone, convincing Santa exists, leaving housework till later. Then some excellent role play occurred from Nuala as she tried to convince her teacher also played by her that she was ill. Finally it was Alex 2nd appearance as he tried to convince us that broccoli was evil. It was finished off with a swift evaluation from Florian with his childhood memory or his grandmother’s pasta dish … Which is slow cook beef.

The evening then follows with functionaries reports and harkmasters questions before the awards. The awards where , Best table topics being awarded to the Nuela, Alex for the best evaluator and the Best speaker being awarded to Andrew.

Well done to our members Eleanor and Matthew for collecting their Competent Leadership & Icebreaker Ribbons at this meeting!!!

Want to improve your public speaking skills in London? Come along to any of our meetings and take a look what it’s all about! 

All the world’s a stage, and last Tuesday, all of us at Toastmasters were fantastic players. 

 

And one woman, this time, played many parts. For Paulina was our Toastmaster for the evenings. Bringing with her the theme of the evening: theatre.

Our first speaker for the evening was Paul, delivering his second speech entitled: Pubs Pathways Proposal. The purpose of this speech was to practice organizing your thoughts and explaining them in a clear manner. His speech was entertaining, engaging and incredibly funny. Not only that, but he also is looking ahead to the new Toastmasters Pathways which will be introduced next year. We’ll have to reach out to the heads of Toastmasters to get our proposal through!

Next was Pascale, bringing us speech number 6 entitled: Difficult Paths Lead to Beautiful Destinations. Project 6’s goal is to work on vocal variety in your delivery, and Pascale did a fantastic job bringing her speech to life using a variety of different vocal tones, expressions and characters.

Then we had not one, but two advanced level speeches from two distinguished Toastmasters, which is always a treat to see such advanced speakers perform.

First was Florian, with a speech entitled: Carjacking, where he told the true story of his family visiting America and getting locked of their car in the middle of the desert. Florian shaped the story, taking us through the highs and lows, the troubles and the tribulations, and at the end, giving us some good takeaways so it doesn’t happen to us!

We then had a guest speaker David, who talked about different approaches to education. Drawing from different studies and his own experience, h reminded us that it’s important to both praise and recommend when helping people learn new things (something that we also practice in Toastmasters).

After the speeches, we had Annabel, Negin, Alex and Terry deliver their feedback to the audience about the speeches we just heard.

In the second half, we had everybody’s favorite part: tabletopics!  Negin was our Table Topics Master for the evening, and brought to us a unique scenario: the coffee supply for the world had been taken over by slothes, and each presenter had to pitch themselves as a different super hero. It was a fun part of the evening, where people had to think on their feet, practice pitching themselves, and keep the audience engaged.

After hearing from Disco Boy, Laser Lady, Makeover Man, Psychic Woman and a few others, Matthew took to the stage to give feedback on those who had just braved the storm of table topics. Focusing on good delivery, pacing, and clarity of the speeches.

As our meeting came to a close, we had the return of our grammarian Gabriele, who talked about the wonderful use of language throughout the evening, and our harkmaster Claudia, who tested out our listening skills to see how well we were paying attention throughout the evening.

And then, we announced our winners! Good job to them and everyone involved!

Come join us! We meet every Tuesday, and guests are more than welcome to stop by and see how meetings are run.

Introductions, Poems & Fairy Tales! Public Speaking full of Learning and Inspiration!

Our last week Toastmasters meeting was a great opportunity to learn a lot from, and about each other.

The former President of London Victorians club – Terry – has shared his thoughts on his experience in the past two years since he founded the club with Florian and Fahad in 2015. Terry, gained a lot of invaluable skills and experience and also really enjoyed the journey, especially by seeing how the others have developed as speakers and the growth of the club.

A Toastmaster of the meeting – Pascale, is a great example of how the activity of the club inspire great progress. Within six months from joining the club she not only can lead meetings with confidence but she’s also taking care of the new members as a VP of membership.

We can already see the results with our recent joiners – Alexandra and Claudia, who demonstrate great motivation and commitment from the very start.

Alexandra, as a Sargent at Arms has warmly welcomed all guests but only until two weeks ago she was a guest herself. Claudia, instead has delivered her Ice Breaker speech only a week after joining the club. She has shared an inspirational story on her path to confidence.

The meeting was studded with more learning and inspiration.

Fahad, encouraged by the success of London Victorians has tried to set up another club in West London. Although the idea did not took off yet at the first attempt he had some valuable leadership lessons to share. He emphasized the necessity of commitment, time and effort as key ingredients of any project, and the importance of face to face interaction.

Then, Alex and Eleanor enchanted us with great story telling.

Alex, has proved he’s comfortable with visual aids by using beautiful slides with no text but the title of the poem he recited “Highwayman” by Alfred Nayes. This powerful technique was further enhanced by vivid language, expressive body language and great vocal variety. No surprise he won The Best Speaker ribbon.

Eleanor, with Grimm’s fairy tale – Twelve Brothers – has transported us back to our childhood. In the feedback on her speech– Vahagn – summarized this as follows: “The content of the speech is a king, but the delivery is a queen, and she runs a household. “

Another useful advice was shared by Matthew – our Grammarian. The word of the day ‘simplicity”, reminds us about the top quality of a competent communicator – being easily understood.

The feedback extracted from our seasoned evaluators – Terry and Florian – is the power of vulnerability and opening up. It helps to build trust, connection and increase empathy of the audience. This is also discussed in Brene Brown’s  Ted talk, which I highly recommend to watch:

https://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability/transcript?language=en

The second part of the meeting continued with high energy level. Andy – Table topics master – has asked seven randomly picked speakers to answer his creative questions. Big congratulations to our guests who bravely rose to a challenge! The winner – Paul – entertained us with a hilarious Aussie adventure in the desert which gave him a proud nickname MadMax.

Traditionally, the meeting has ended with a Harkmaster’s quiz held by Anabel. She not only has a good ear after years of musical education but also great listening skills. She tested us on this skill and rewarded correct answers with some Scottish sweets.

We’re already looking forward to our next session. Next week meeting has a theatrical theme – we welcome all members to conquer the stage and become a star of the meeting. Costumes are not required, please just bring a smile and positive energy

This report was written as part of our new club role of ‘Meeting Reporter’ the the fantastic Paulina! Not only do we learn to present in front of an audience, now at London Victorians we are learning to present to the world, via the Internet! (and look how much she enjoyed it :))

 

Personal health, Peaceful protests and Personal wealth….. all in a night’s work at London Victoria weekly Toastmasters Club

Our Toastmasters Club meeting in Westminster this week was full of informative speeches and inspirational learning.

London Victorians new president Nuala banished our fears by opening the meeting with a reminder of how our efforts to become public speaking ‘Hero’s’ will have a beneficial effect on other fears that hold us back.

Picking up the role of Toastmaster of the Meeting, Karen continued the energy and explained how the meeting would work, and how Toastmaster Clubs like ours near Pimlico give huge support to everyone who comes to the stage with huge applause and cheering.

Karen then introduced the functionaries of the meeting, Stephen in-charge of timekeeping, Fahad in-charge of grammar, Cleo in-charge of listening and Terry in-charge of the meeting report. Each functionary came to the stage and introduced their roles and what to expect from them later.

Karen’s theme for the meeting was inspired by summer and her FOMO (fear of missing out). She asked everyone taking part in the meeting for tips on things to do in London (other than Toastmasters) during the summer. This tied the meeting together nicely and gave everyone some ideas for what to do with their spare time!

Our grammarian Fahad offered the Word of the Day which was ‘Sizzling’, this was quite contrary to the weather, however every time it was used on stage the audience got to cheer “ooooh yeah’ in their sexiest possible voices that warmed us up a little.

Tonight’s Toastmasters meeting in London was blessed with 3 fantastic prepared speeches from our members.

Kicking us off, and our diet in to shape was Gabriele, who’s speech outlined what we need to know about carbohydrates in our diet, the effects of too much ‘white’ carbs and how we can change what we eat to make us healthier. Coming from an Italian the suggestion to reduce pizza & pasta in our weekly meals was obviously a tough recommendation.

Isabelle delivered the second speech of the evening with a project 8 speech from the Competent Communicator manual which sets the objectives of getting comfortable using visual aids. Her images conjured emotion and the artistic impressions within them lead to speech that needed to be explained, the perfect use of images when presenting.

Her speech linked art with protest and was a great example of not only how to use visuals to make point and enhance a speech, left us with takeaways that literally stayed impressed on our minds……. certainly long enough until the voting for Best Speaker which Izzy won for this great speech.

Izzy was the winner of the best speaker (give me that ribbon Nuala)

Our third speech at the London Toastmasters club this evening was from Thomas. An advanced speech from the ‘Speak to Inform’ manual this speech was perfectly executed to help the audience understand complex information in a non-technical way.

This was carried out perfectly by our in-house finance professional by explaining the importance of diversifying your investment portfolio to mitigate risk. Or ‘egg’s in a basket’, though I’m not sure whether the chicken came first.

Our speech evaluators Diane, Pascale and Negin carried out the role we learn so much from by offering the audience very professional evaluations of each speech.

Diane pointed out the value we can take from the power of facts and clear advice.  Pascale cleverly used visual aids in her evaluation to reinforce the impact they have on a good speech. Negin wrapped up the evaluations with very analytical detail on how the technical speech was made amenable for our non-technical audience.

Diane won the Best Evaluator Ribbon for a great evaluation, in particular for using no notes at all to give a 3 minute evaluation she’d only had 10 minutes to prepare for, well done!

Just before the break it was the turn of our guests to introduce themselves. They contributed to Karen’s theme of the meeting by giving tips on what we can do in the London in the summer including outdoor Zumba, visiting fake beaches on the Thames and drinking beer!

Florian handled a very interesting table topics session, each table topic subject was just a single number. A very clever way of inspiring creative impromptu speeches and we had a range of responses from the humorous to inspirational goal setting to travel. Here is a skill to take a single word or number and make a two-minute speech from it, only we Toastmasters can do this with style.

Out of 6 amazing table topics speeches, the audience picked Lorenzo’s speech about the number 14 quadrillion as the winner of the ribbon. A big reward for the biggest number of the night!

Andrew positively evaluated our table topics speakers, offering each of them a commendation to highlight what they did well in their impromptu speech.

Summaries of great uses of grammar followed from the grammarian Fahad, who made a point of words and phrases used throughout the night that had surprised him (in a good way). He also noted 16 uses of the word of the day ‘Sizzling’ “Ooooh yeah”.

Our harkmaster then tested how well we had been listening to the facts throughout the meeting, I was pleased that she through chocolate rather than healthy treats as the prizes for answering her questions correctly.

Before the meeting was wrapped up we were treated to a General Evaluation of the meeting and all those speakers who had not been evaluated yet by Monika, who visited us from the other London Toastmasters Clubs she is a member of.

The last thing to do was to welcome our newest members, Alexandra, Helena & Misha! Welcome to the club!

It really was a fun, upbeat and educational meeting, can’t believe we have to wait another whole WEEK till the next Toastmasters meeting near Victoria Station in London.