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


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.


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. 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

Uncategorized Workshop

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!



What’s Your Purpose? Follow up to the workshop

During Ernesto’s recent workshop at London Victorians he spoke about an exercise involving a list of questions to help you find your purpose. You can download the exercise below, it also includes a list of further resources.


If anyone has any follow up questions for Ernesto then you can ask them in the comments on this page. This way Ernesto can go through all the question at once and everyone can benefit from his answers.

A big thank you to Ernesto for giving up his time for free. I’m sure many of you will be interested in taking a look at his website