Table Topics Extravaganza! – 14th March 2017

Today’s toastmasters action-packed meeting was a London Victorians first – a meeting entirely devoted to table topics! Table topics are about developing a sharp mind and are useful for job interviews, meetings or even in day to day conversation. They are also a great way to practice speech techniques like body language or vocal variety on a weekly basis.

Terry giving us an educational speech

Terry began the meeting with an educational speech with some fantastic impromptu speaking tips. He highlighted how thinking about speech structure (introduction, main body, conclusion) before your table topic was a good way to prepare – unfortunately this went out the window for many of us when the nerves kicked in!

The meeting was then divided into three sessions, each with a different table topics master, evaluator and timekeeper.

Narrating Stories

Prateek introducing his table topic story theme

Prateek was the table topics master of the first session and presented a very original theme. He asked members to narrate a continuous story, while trying to incorporate selected words. Prateek provided the first sentence, then members followed on from each other.

The resulting story was filled with excitement and suspense, not to mention Toastmasters domination, tornados and time machines. Overall it was an exceptionally humorous table topics session. Alexandro was timekeeper and Diane managed the difficult task of evaluating over 10 speeches with ease, providing some thoughtful feedback.

Stories in Three Words

Cleo led the next session and she asked members to incorporate three words chosen at random into a story.

The audience was captivated by Millar’s holiday in Cape Cod, Alexandro’s speed dating train business venture and Karen’s dislike of buses. We even were treated to a live singing performance by Charlotte. Gabriele injected humour into his evaluation and Pascale was timekeeper.

 

Smelly Memories

What’s that smell?

Miller was the table topics master for the final session, with a brilliant theme that involved using our sense of smell. Miller asked members and guests to identify a smell from one of her mystery bottles and then describe the memory the smell transported them to.

There were some great stories and experiences involving lavender, lemon sherbet, and peppermint English to name a few. Charlotte was timekeeper and Nuala provided a clear and perceptive evaluation that gave each speaker something positive and something useful to take forward.

Congratulations to Judy, Charlotte and John, who were tonight’s table topics winners and to all who helped make this an extremely entertaining event. We look forward to seeing you on 21 March for our next meeting!

Well done Judy, Charlotte and John!

Guest Blog: Self-trust and the art of public speaking

London Victorians Toastmasters member shares on a topic she is experienced and truly passionate about in this guest article for our website:

Self-trust and the art of public speaking

When it comes to public speaking there are few things more powerful than a healthy dose of self-trust.

No matter how experienced we are it can be nerve racking to stand and speak. It is scary to be exposed and vulnerable to the opinions and judgments of others. And it’s tempting to down play who we are and avoid being authentic.

Yet when we trust ourselves, we believe in ourselves. We are confident exploring new experiences and tackling new challenges. We are willing to take greater risks. And this permeates through when we speak. We are sure of ourself. Our voice projects further. Our presence more engaging and our audience transported.

Sadly we are not born trusting ourselves. In fact we are born with no intrinsic sense of who we are and what we are worth. We learn about trust as a child. And rightly or wrongly, we learn who we are and what we are worth from those who surround us in childhood. As adults, we need to learn how to trust, and how to nurture trust and belief in ourselves.

There are three things we can do to cultivate trust in ourselves that will also enhance our public speaking. They are:

  1. TO BE SINCERE
  2. TO LOVE OUR MISTAKES
  3. TO BE BOLD
  1. The first is to BE SINCERE. To be true to ourselves. To know who we are and to be willing to express it. To allow our authentic personality to shine through on stage and to share our thoughts and feelings with the audience. It’s also about being genuine and honest. Checking our intentions, making sure we believe and are committed to what we are saying. If we are not, we shouldn’t say it. To trust in ourselves, it is vital that we honour what is important to us and stand by our beliefs.
  2. The second is for us to LOVE OUR MISTAKES. No one can avoid making mistakes. Neither should they, for our mistakes are our most potent lessons. The ones we don’t forget easily. The lessons that we remember. They show us what we are good at and not so good at … and where we need to focus our efforts. Each time we embrace our mistakes, pick ourselves up and try again, we are building our resilience and becoming ever more confident speakers.
  3. The third is TO BE BOLD. With public speaking, as in life, it is important for us to know where we want to get to. Our path might twist and turn but our end goal will remain the same. We need to know what we want and to go for it, in ways that don’t limit others. We need listen to the opinions of others, mindful that we don’t always need to be right.  Then we decide for ourselves. So we choose to talk about subjects that matter to us. We voice our opinions and balance them with those of others. We learn the right techniques for public speaking and then find our ‘personal style’. We use our speeches to share powerful messages, to create connection and inspire action.

To say I trust myself is to say I believe in myself. I can rely on myself. I can count on me. What greater asset for public speaking than this!

But if we’re not feeling that, if those words feel uncomfortable and get stuck in our throat, then let’s ‘fake it till we make it’ and ‘practice, practice, practice’.

Even with self-trust, we will not be immune to fears of failure and rejection when we speak in public. But with practice and being sincere, embracing our mistakes and being bold, we can replace self-doubt with self-confidence. As our respect for ourselves as public speakers grows, we can let go of old patterns of self-judgement and create new patterns of self-belief. And with self-belief comes the courage to become more of who we are!

I would like to close with this beautifully simple quote from Julia Cameron, author of the Artists Way.

“When we trust ourselves we become more humble and more daring. When we trust ourselves, we move surely. … When we trust ourselves we become what we are meant to be. It is that simple.”

For more information on Diane’s passion for this subject and her business, visit her website

Inspired by workshop on how to win the International Speech Contest

Our fabulous member Karen has kindly written up the following blog as an overview of the awesome workshop given at London Victorians Toastmasters Club in January:

Ever wondered what it takes to deliver a world class speech? Or how to communicate a message powerfully and persuasively?

London Victorians were given the tools to do just that last week at a masterclass in speech craft delivered by Toastmasters veteran and legend, Freddie Daniels. With speech season about to get underway, Freddie shared lots of tips on how to make it to the Olympics of public speaking –  Toastmasters World Championships! For those of us less focused on contest glory, there were lots of useful insights and tools to help improve our communication skills.  Top among Freddie’s tips were:

Keep it simple

Don’t underestimate the power of a simple, relatable message.  Speeches that highlight common challenges, life lessons or universally accepted wisdom do well at speech contests. Freddie encouraged us to think about our own experiences and the lessons we’ve learned. What advice would you give to your younger self? Wisdom is the bedrock of inspiration as Freddie reminded us and an audience loves a speech it can relate to.

Watch a movie

What do Hollywood movies and world class speeches have in common? Freddie showed us that both have a well-told story at their core. The Pursuit of Happiness, the Kings Speech and Disney movies are examples of great storytelling. They all follow a predictable pattern, the ideal structure for a cracking speech – a situation, a main character, a goal, an obstacle and a journey to success. If you’re concerned it might not be possible to fit all that into a ten-minute speech, check out toastmasters website to see recordings of previous winners.

Have a laugh

Freddie really emphasised the power of humour. Speeches that win at district, area and international level are those that entertain. He reminded us that even when speaking about the most serious of topics, a dash of humour has the power to move an audience and keep them interested.

You can never have enough mentors

They say it takes a village to raise a child… Freddie’s workshop really showed that it takes a whole bunch of mentors, supporters and friends to craft a great speech. Freddie stressed the importance of practicing at different clubs, getting tips from those who have done well before, gathering feedback and constantly refining the delivery.

Interested in pushing yourself and taking your step towards the final? London Victorians club contest is taking place on 7 March and there are still places available. As Freddie said, someone’s got to win and that someone could be you!

 

The New Year at London Victorians Toastmasters

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

The new year at London Victorians is packed with opportunity for all our members and guests. Normal meetings start back on Tuesday the 10th of January and then every week until next December!

Every meeting this year will be special, with our members progressing their public speaking & leadership skills to the highest possible standard. In particular, we have a couple of key events coming up to make Tuesday nights in Victoria, London really special.

How to Inspire your Audience WorkshopTuesday 17th January

One of London’s highest regarded Toastmasters, Freddie Daniels, will be coming to London Victorians at our second meeting of the year on the 17th of January to give a special workshop.

Giving Inspirational speeches is an aspiration for many and this workshop is designed to educate us on how to really inspire our audiences.

The workshop has been timed in our agenda to provide an educational meeting ahead of this years…….

Club Level International Speech and Evaluation Contest – Tuesday 7th March

The first contest of the year is coming up in March and now available on our page at toastmastersclub.org for members to take part.

International speeches are normally of a inspirational style and the workshop in January will give you lots of tips on how to win this contest.

Last year, a member from a close partner club of ours, St Paul’s Speakers, went all the way to the International final in Washington DC, so we hope to be sending someone from our club this year, get started writing those speeches in January.

Club member “speakathon’s” – January 24th and February 21st

Also in January and February we have two special nights were we offer up to 8 speeches in one night. These meetings are included in the agenda to help members progress through the speech manuals sooner.

They are also a fantastic opportunity if you are not actually taking part to watch and listen to lots of different speakers on one night, for tips and tricks you might want to include in your own speeches.

It’s going to be a great new year at London Victorians Toastmasters Club in Westminster, if you are a member please register your attendance to meetings on EasySpeak and if you are considering coming as a guest, please just come along or contact us for more information, everyone is welcome!!!

My 3 years journey to DTM

DTM

Distinguished Toastmasters – DTM

In the Beginning

When I did my icebreaker speech in Cheltenham Speakers in June 2013, little did I know back then that I would become a Distinguished Toastmaster (DTM) just 3 years later. A few weeks later I was living on the Clyde estuary and Toastmasters only came back on my agenda when I moved to London in late September 2013. Mastering public speaking and leadership was and remain a priority for me; so a rough plan was sketched in my head of joining several clubs to clock up experience faster.

My knowledge of the Toastmasters educational programme developed itself in drip by drip, mainly through my own research. Not having a mentor meant that I was on my own. But my natural curiosity coupled with an early promotion to VPE did the trick and so my first objective was set. Achieving Competent Communicator and Competent Leader status by June 2014! Once this was done, my next objective was a bold race against the clock, becoming a DTM before I turned 30; becoming a DTM before December 2016!

Launching London Victorians paved the way for completing all the leadership related tasks in time. The major stumbling block for me was the speeches, completing 30+ speeches in just 2 years. Like many I found the jump from the CC manual to the advanced manuals quite big and my speech progression stalled for a few months, adding to the dilemma. The dilemma was eventually sorted through a combination of forward planning and seeking out extra speaking opportunities whenever possible. Being a member of 3 and even briefly 4 clubs also helped in a big way! Eventually, my final speech from the Technical Presentations manual in late May, Speech 49 AM in my classification, 2016 sealed the deal.

Over the last 3 years I’ve learnt more about public speaking and leadership that I hoped for and the amazing thing is that my Toastmasters journey is still far from over. Indeed, the more I learnt about both subjects, the more I realise that I know little and still have a lot more to learn and experience. It goes without saying that I’m already working through my second DTM in order to focus on anything I may have missed when doing the first one!

Can anyone do the same? The answer is yes you can and here’s how.

1. Plan Your Speaking Schedule

As soon as I learnt the “2 roles in between speeches” rule in my clubs, I immediately requested speeches and roles far in advance to progress as fast as I could. I subsequently started keeping a record of all the meetings I attended and tabulated all the meeting dates of my clubs 6 months in advance. This way you can calculate how many speeches you’ll be doing over the course of a few months. Number your speech and here you go, you’ll have a very good idea of when you’ll deliver your 9th or even your 24th speech!

Use easy-Speak (http://www.toastmasterclub.org/) to track your progress and plan ahead!

Use easy-Speak (http://www.toastmasterclub.org/) to track your progress and plan ahead!

2. Join a Second Club

Not being a member a single club meant that I was exposed to some of the wider elements of the Toastmasters community very early on. You’ll meet more people faster, be known to visiting GEs and functionaries faster. But more importantly you’ll have more opportunities to speak and do meeting roles. Don’t neglect meeting roles as they’re just as important as speeches to sharpen your arsenal of skills.

3. Network Proactively

Had I not attended the Division B contests of October 2013, I most definitely wouldn’t have been as involved as quickly since these words of wisdom from the amazing Hillary Briggs, “you’re enthusiastic; you should get more involved!” Made me think a lot back then. In the same vein, offering my services as general evaluator, mystery speaker or judge, both pushed me out of my comfort zone and allowed me to meet more people in other clubs. Without these relationships, London Victorians would have never happened, I would never have considered doing a Youth Leadership Project and becoming an area director would have been much harder.

4. Get to know the Educational Program

The Toastmasters Educational Program is rather simple, but the devil lies in its detail. For example in the requirement to do two speeches from the Successful Speaker Series to achieve ACS, the imperative of being a club mentor, sponsor or coach and a few more. Know what these bottlenecks will be far advance and plan accordingly!

5. Remember to Push Yourself!

You’ll need to do 46 speeches to become a DTM. That’s right a whopping 46 speeches! The effort will be worthless though if you don’t push yourself and excel in whatever you do. Always ensure that your speeches meet their project objectives. NEVER hesitate to repeat or redo a speech of you’re not happy about how it went. As club officer or district officer, don’t forget that you’re a leader and that you have a duty to lead by example. If you decide to launch a club in your own journey, make it the best you can, do better than what others do and serve your members first and foremost!

Just like me you’ll learn more on this journey than you hoped for. So onwards and forwards, go on and add these three letters ‘DTM’ to your last name by December 2019!