Join us on Tuesday, 25th February for a nigh with Kitri at London Victorians
By Camila – 4th February 2020
Have you ever been in a job interview when you get asked a question that really throws you off your seat? You seem to have everything covered, you talked about your CV, skills and experience and suddenly the interviewer wants to know about your approach to a problem?
One of the skills we aim to harvest at Toastmasters is being able to speak coherently, following a structure when we are not prepared. Job interviews were the theme for the night and Tom – our Table Topic Master – did a brilliant job at getting every volunteer to participate with an unexpected question. The attendees who participated in Table Topics were tasked to hypothetic scenarios of job interviews; some of the most quirky ones were:
- You are walking past a bakery and you need to decide between carrot cake and chocolate cake; which one do you choose and why?
- When applying to a job in the London Zoo; what animal would you be and why?
- If you want to get an archaeology job; do you see yourself as a hunter or as a gathered?
- You need to get a job as a superhero; what’s your superpower?
However, before the exciting and fun Table Topics activity, we had four inspiring speakers who have different objectives and aims for the night. Below you will find a brief summary of what each speaker did brilliantly and where they have a chance to grow. So take note as these recommendations and commendations might be helpful for you too.
George introduced his ice-breaker (whoop, whoop) with excellent use of voice variation, calmed presence on stage and well-structured format. Engaging the audience with humour, George captured our attention on this speech titled ‘Oh Really?’ where he exposed the different questions he often gets from people about his heritage. George is a confident speaker and was recommended by Finlay to project his voice towards the end of the room (if you’ve been to Hotel Wellington where Toastmasters London Victorias in held, you might know it’s a challenging echo room).
Annabel took us on a journey to her travels around South America. Through the use of analogies, metaphors and adjectives, we embarked on her trip to Peru and visited three different landscapes where she met three different men that taught her about the culture and life itself – hence the name of the speech ‘A Tale of Three Men. Jackie recognised her natural and confident presence on stage as well as the structure and eye contact to engage the audience. Full of interesting facts, Jackie recommended Annabel to decide on one purpose for the speech as we all got both inspired and informed about Peru.
Learning more about your communication style. Agatha delivered an outstanding, informative and structured speech about how she has been finding her own path to reveal her style. She got the audience thinking and wondering about how we can identify our own. Huge and positive impact also mentioned by Steph who evaluated Agatha by evidencing the great job she did on stage. (I personally got hooked from when I read the tongue twister title ‘What To Say When You Say What You Say’)
During the guest presentation, all of the first-timers mentioned the inspiring speech by Chris titled ‘My Steps At Competence’ at Toastmasters. With his 10th speech completed as part of the Competent Communication Manual, Chris described all of the challenges faced from day one at the club. He grabbed our attention from the very first moment and managed to keep on engaging us by telling the story with relatable moments we have been in regardless of the expertise level. Chris showcased the perfect example to go from zero to more than a lot in the Toastmaster journey.
Other advice from Mo who evaluated table topics which might be useful to have at hand:
- Make stories personal and also contextual to a common subject in the news everyone in the audience can be familiar with
- Throw questions back to the audience by engaging with eye-contact and pauses
- Voice projection is definitely key
- In table topics, try to avoid ‘I don’t know’, you do know as you are the boss when you go up to the stage
I have to say, another stimulating, exciting, impressive night at Toastmasters!
What does the assertiveness mean to you?
When I came across this term for the first time, I was about 10 years old and I thought – “This is so simple – it’s just about saying ‘No'”. Why even bother to give it a name? As I grew up I realised that we have a lot of barriers stopping us from saying ‘No’ and how important it is to exercise our assertiveness.
In history, there were a lot of brilliant men and women who stood up and said ‘No’ to inequality, injustice and irresponsible politics – which made our lives today a little bit more bearable. One of the inspiring examples is Audre Lorde, in her own words she was: ‘black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet’. Born in the 30s, you can imagine she didn’t have an easy life… In her speeches, she talked about the impotence of silence and the power of speech – how too often we stay quiet because we fear visibility and vulnerability it brings. This is what she said shortly after being through breast cancer, so it’s a bit more existential: “I was going to die., if not sooner than later, whether or not I had ever spoken myself. My silences had not protected me. Your silence will not protect you.”
I think it perfectly captures our fear of speaking, and even more – the fear of speaking assertively, but we need to find strength in words. The last week’s session has equipped us with more courage to say ‘No’ more often.
Gareth has introduced us to the pillars of assertiveness: Ownership, Urgency and Detachment by sharing his inspirational story of finding mental strength in self – development through fitness and exercise.
He made us to think of our true priorities, not the ones imposed by the others, and encouraged to book fixed time blocks in our schedule to ensure we stick to them. Himself, he has time blocks in his work calendar for the gym, meditation and daily close. These techniques have helped him to be highly successful in his career as Global Program Director at GSK.
He clarified that assertiveness is not necessary saying ‘No’ but instead – saying ‘Yes’ on your own terms: “ I would love to, but it would compromise another project”, “Sure, I’m happy to do that but can only deliver next week”, “When do you need it by?”
Dr Jung said: “I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become.” – this is what make a difference between reaction and response. A reaction is typically quick, without much thought, tense and aggressive. A response is thought out, calm and non-threatening. Being able to switch into a responsive mindset can help us to better asses the situation and make better decisions. We brainstormed a lot of practical ideas on how to switch between these two mindsets in a situation of urgency:
· Take a breath
· Move – go for a walk
· Make a tea- so British😊
· Count back from 5 to 1 – has anyone heard of Mel Robbins?
· Ground yourself and do the body scan
· Think of the worst thing that can happen to correct your perspective
What is your idea?
Hope it was useful for you, if you wish to explore more on the topic here is the recommended reading:
We hosted this workshop on 21st January 2020 and will host many more throughout the year. Keep your eyes on our website and Twitter for details.
Written by Natalie
We’ve made it to the second week of the year and we are off to a strong start with 2020 vision. Beating the January blues, the theme of the night for our Toastmasters meeting on the 14th Jan was New Year’s Resolutions. Have you set your resolution yet? If you’re like me and have already broken it – don’t worry, there’s a whole year to pick it back up.
The meeting started with our esteemed club president Paulina who, as always, filled the room with her vivacious energy and positivity. Our Toastmaster Sergey then kicked things off by explaining the course of events to come, while inviting each contributor to the stage to explain their role. The word of the day was buoyant, which turned out to be very representative of the evening.
We were lucky to have 4 accomplished speakers come to the stage, starting with Kelvin’s ice-breaker speech ‘Late Bloomers Never Quit’. He brought us along on his journey from his school days to where he is today. Mohammed then followed with his speech entitled ‘Encounters’ he was able to inspire the audience by sharing some of his life’s hardships and highlights.
The third speaker to the stage was Massimo with ‘Communication Styles: AIDS in communication’, he explained the impact of choosing communication styles when conveying a message to a specific audience. The final prepared speech was delivered by Yue, who offered a different perspective on procrastination and the common connotations that come with it.
As with every toastmaster meeting, the speeches are accompanied by evaluations. This part of the evening is invaluable as the feedback really helps provide constructive criticism, positive feedback and insight that forms a big part of the learning journey.
During the break we had the chance to chat, stretch our legs and get the energy levels back up for the impromptu speaking section; the table topics. These are impromptu topics given to volunteer speakers which means no preparation, thinking on your feet and making a coherent 1-2 minute speech. It’s daunting but a real adrenaline rush and honestly a lot of fun. Tom Peters smashed it out the park with his second win in a row.
As we wrapped up the evening Paulina concluded the night by handing out the coveted awards (listed below) and a short round up of club business. A new exciting and buoyant role was assigned at the end of the evening – a barmaster! Come to the bar and socialise with your fellow toasties!
Congratulations to the winners of the evening!
Best Speaker Award – Kelvin Ke
Best Evaluator Award – Washington Gwenzi
Best Table Topics Award – Tom Peters
Next meeting we have an assertiveness workshop delivered by the winner of the Division B Table Topics contest – one not to be missed!
Meeting Report for 7th January 2020, by Agatha
Seven days into 2020, how are you doing? Do you feel like you’ve taken up too much already?
Taking on the role of meeting reporter as well as being responsible for collating guests’ details, I felt like I had overreached. However, I delegated 😊. Toastmasters provides you with a lot more development opportunities for other skills such as leadership.
7th January at London Victorians we resumed our weekly Tuesday evening Toastmasters meetings. For our meeting blog, I asked a guest for an account of his experience at our meeting and he kindly obliged.
“My experience as a guest at the London Victorians
It was wonderful to know people will make out the time in their evenings to get together and listen to fellow individuals practise public speaking.
It usually starts with the Club president opening and handing over the meeting to the Toastmaster for the evening who gives a brief run through of the outline for the evening. This included introducing other roles to explain what they will be doing for the evening, which I guess is also an opportunity for the other club members to gain confidence and control in speaking to a room full of people.
The first speaker was introduced, and he walked up to the podium to deliver his speech. With every word, his posture improved, and confidence grew like a stock exchange chart. All the speeches were impressive.
Speakers got really detailed helpful evaluations. Everyone was involved in the process, from writing down your thoughts on the speech on what the speaker did well and what can be improved to make a better public speaker.
There was a feeling of achievement towards the end of the evening with engaging activities including the role of the hark master.
Definitely a worthwhile gathering if you wish to improve your public speaking skills.”
–London Victorians Guest Joshua
Although everyone gets credit for participating, each meeting, the audience votes three times for best speaker, best evaluator, best table topics.
As the first meeting of the year, we received a large number of guests who were in their way taking their own small steps, giant leaps and a majority admitted it was a part of New Year’s resolution. We appreciate guest and members who make up the meeting and the toastmaster who coordinates and general evaluator who provided constructive comments on how the meeting was run. Next meeting is 14th January @ 18.30.