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.