Toastmasters Speech Contests A Great Success

It’s contest season in the Toastmasters’ calendar and last week London Victorians held their Humorous Speech and Table Table contests. As always, club contests are a great way to show off some of a club’s more proficient speakers while giving others their first taste of competitive speaking.

The contests kicked off with the Humorous Speech contest with Contest Chair, Andrew, confirming with the Chief Judge that all judges had been briefed. He then introduced the first speaker. Charlotte began by playing on the common social insecurity of how her job title never seemed to be as impressive as her friend’s. She told of the time, as a wedding witness, she was called up among a surgeon and consultant as “admin” and from there on decided it was better to lie about her job. With great storytelling skills, she recalled convincing her nephew she was actually a spy and the consequences that come with telling white lies, especially with children involved.

Next up was Alex who vexed over how the popular dating app Tinder had taken the challenge out of dating. He reminisced about the days when meeting a girl meant calling the family’s home phone and convincing a protective father that they should be allowed to speak! He then described the hilarious responses he received when setting up parody accounts for famous people including Kim Jong Un who, apparently, was looking for a new girlfriend after the strange disappearance of his wife.

Jasmine teaching us how to pretend to work

Nick followed with what was to be a dress rehearsal for his upcoming best man’s speech. I’m sure there are a few toastmasters who appreciated this speech as the fear of a pending best man’s speech is an often cited reason for members first joining Toastmasters. If you’re going to entertain both the bride and grooms family and friends then you’ll want to make it funny. Nick did not disappoint with just the right balance of embarrassing anecdotes and supporting words.

Thomas’ speech reminded us about young love and the joys of dating. In his words, he was “young, handsome and looking for love”. Playing on the insecurities we all know about at that stage of life, he told the story of his dream date that turned to disaster and put him firmly in the “friend zone”.

If you want to be sure of a few laughs then comparing human behaviour to animals is never going to disappoint. Mohammed talked about his observation of animals and thought what we could learn from them. Giving himself many opportunities for facial expressions and full use of the stage, Mohammed suggested we replace property laws and allow people to mark their territory like cats and described how much less inconvenienced we would be if we learned to poo while walking, just like horses. I think you get the gist!

The final speaker in the London Victorians Humorous Speech Contest was Jasmine who shared what I’m sure is a familiar journey of youth and optimism when starting your first proper job to the harsh realities of the modern workplace. Jasmine shared her secret to being effective at work – “pretend to work” – and gave some humorous examples of techniques she had witnessed including one colleague who used a picture of a spreadsheet as her desktop wallpaper. Genius.

The second half of this Toastmasters meeting was the Table Topic Contest. Negin took over as Contest Chair and posed the same question to each contestant as they entered the room one at a time:

“If you could live in any time in history when would it be and why?”

Answers ranged from going back to Babylon, giving way to discussion about the everlasting rules to how we manage our money; the free love hippy movement of the sixties; the present day, after all, with the technology revolution, what could be a more exciting time to live?

Paul giving his winning table topic

A couple of speakers took us into the future, with one suggesting our minds could be downloaded allowing us to live forever. While, more pessimistically, Paul wondered if we would have reinvented new ways to have conflicts – or a better dating app than Tinder!

Vahagn was more modest in his time travelling ambitions, wanting to return to when he was just eight years old and learning to swim, but he suggested doing it in water this time might be more effective!

All together, both contests were a great success. We know, at Toastmasters it’s all about learning through practice so it really is the taking part that counts. However, with both first and second place going through to the next round, we all waited for the results with some impromptu but less competitive table topics.

Thomas and Paul took first place in Humorous Speech and Table Tables respectively, while Charlotte and Alex took, presumably, a close second.

Humorous Speech Contest winner Thomas collecting his ribbon

London Victorians Tuesday 29th August

Alex did a great job standing in for our President, ensuring everyone felt welcome. He explained that Toastmasters is not just about learning to speak to an audience but also about being able to articulate your thoughts.

Our Toastmaster for the evening was Andy, with a theme of, “What made you laugh hysterically recently?”

Mohammad our Timekeeper gave us a quote from William Penn, “Time is what we want most but what we use worst2 and asked, ‘If time is money, are ATM’s time machines?’ He kept us all to time.

Matthew, our Grammarian promised to listen zealously to everything said and returned later with his impressive report.

Yumi, started the evening’s speeches with her Ice Breaker, the very first speech in the Toastmasters Manual. She told us about growing up in in Japan and learning English to help her communicate with more people around the world.

Jasmine is working her way through the manual for a second time which is a great way of developing speaking skills. She told us about her experiences of travelling the world by couch surfing, a great way of making friends.

Our third speaker, Fahad is an advanced speaker and started the Communicating on Video manual this evening. This is a different type of speech, delivered to camera instead of an audience. It is quite challenging with an audience still in the room but Fahad did an excellent job of presenting an episode of ‘Moment of Truth’ with Cleo as camera woman.

We had three evaluators, Andrew, Ed and Diane who provided some useful commendations and recommendation on the speeches. Commendations included great use of humour, pauses and audience participation by using questions. Recommendations included suggesting a more relaxed stance, expanding a topic to enable the use of more descriptive language and using vocal variety.

This evening we had 13 guests who were all invited to introduce themselves and we look forward to seeing them again. Guests are always welcome to visit our meetings to find out more about Toastmasters.

Next was our table topics section, led by our Table Topics Master, Thomas. He asked us to tell a story, which developed in to Donald Trump in a thong, buried treasure and the Queen being upset about the damage to her lawn.

Helena our Harkmaster, challenged us with some questions to see how well we had been listening. As ever Fahad, had been listening well and won a few chocolates!

Everyone who speaks gets evaluated to help them improve. Our General Evaluator for the evening Lynne gave us all some useful recommendations, including scanning the audience with your eyes in an X or Y motion ensure everyone feels included when speaking. Our Toastmaster Andy led us expertly through the evening and was complimented on his voice. We concluded our meeting and popped next door for a social drink.

 

 

23rd August Meeting – Simplifying Summer

A Whatsapp frenzy, summer rain showers and flasks of hot water…it can only mean one thing – this weeks London Victorians Club meeting has started! This meeting marking almost the end of the summer …

Our stand in president Eleanor got us of to an inspiring start revealing a personal story on how Toastmasters has helped her with her career and smash that very important interview (Ministry of defense – in case your curious!). Before introducing our toastmaster of the evening Stephen Nice.

Toastmaster for the evening – Stephen

The toastmaster Stephen began with a general recap on the club and agenda the evening, before introducing his unique theme for the evening – Keep It Simple! Otherwise know as no theme, giving himself an extra challenge in coming up with content and letting the roles speak for themselves.

Functionaries

Next we had our functionaries for the evening: Cleo as timekeeper, Alexandria the grammarian, Charlotte the hark-master and lastly Ed our sergeant in arms.  Two of our 4 functionaries used quotes in their speeches (Charlotte + Cleo), this helped reinforce the key messaging of their speeches.

Speakers

Jo delivered his first speech (the icebreaker) to the group, a natural on stage and seemingly no nerves he delivered a speech names ‘Not all those that wonder are lost’. A speech based on his travels, which I think inspired, the audience to pack up their bags too!

Next onto the stage we had Jasmine all the way from the USA! (international bunch we are). A guest-speaker she was an experience member but had decide to go back and revisited the icebreaker speech. Her speech was inspiring and asked us all the question – what would you do if you were not afraid?

Last prepared speech of the day was from a new member Mohammad. A recorder breaker for London Victorians he had done his first speech 1 week earlier! Now a mear 7 days later he was back and with a speech on education he called for us all to be part of an education revolution!

Evaluators

Now we moved onto one of the most valuable parts of the toastmaster experience, evaluations. Einstein once famously said ‘insanity; doing something the same thing over and over again and expecting different results’. Evaluations provide value feedback to speakers on what they did well and recommendations to help improve speeches for next time.

We had Claudia, Fahad and Karen providing feedback from there respective speeches. Claudia provided the classic evaluation structure CRC (commendation recommendation commendation), whilst Fahad did not have a note in sight and Karen who commendation the mention of Tony Robbins in Mohammad’s speech

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!