The greatest thing about being a toastmaster

Report by: Ariel Elboim

Good evening London Victorians and wayward visitors to the London Victorians site. London Victorians is undoubtedly the most energetically vibrant Toastmasters club in London and it has achieved this, both objective and subjective reputation, by instilling one of the key attributes that all great speakers possess…Confidence. And by God was that evident tonight.

As you walk into the room you can feel the energy, the chitter chatter of long time members, the beaming smiles of guests being welcomed, a subtle but electrical ambience of a club that is both comfortable and confident in its identity.

To kick off the meeting our always proud and ever smiling President Eleanor cracks the gavel to commence the meeting. She starts the with a calm and considered message about Promises. She reminds us all that as a Toastmasters we make a variety of promises to the club and that, as Boris Johnson once said, “It’s not making the promises but keeping them that is hard”. We are expected to keep our promise to the club

Taking the stage as tonight’s Toastmaster, Jackie enthusiastically bursts onto the stage. For tonight’s meeting she will be the director or as she likes to put it “The Oil to our Cogs” that make this whole machine run smoothly. And how could she not, with such an exuberance as well as that London Victorians confidence. Tonight’s theme, as per Jackie’s selection is: “How long have you been a Toastmaster and what has been its greatest benefit to you?”

First functionary of the night is the Timekeeper Bertie. He has been with the club for around 2 months and the greatest benefit he has realised is the boost in confidence to get on stage and that when you’re up there it’s really not that bad. In his usual dapper 2-piece, Bertie confidently tells us of how Time is money and money is time. His self-assured tone and perfectly dotted humour conveyed a member who has been here for longer than 2 months and for whom confidence has never been an issue. This is the development that we foster at London Victorians

Grammarian for the Night, Pryendan. With the club for 6-7 months, his greatest benefit has been the increase in his confidence toastmasters has given him across all aspect of his life. His calm and collected queens English screams “high calibre” Grammarian coming through!!!! As he clearly explains his job for the evening…. Even if his choice for “word of the day” is destined to get infinitesimal usage

Meeting reporter for the evening Ariel. London Victorian for 10 months. This guy is a living Toastmaster legend, enough said.

Harkmaster Lukas. Another relatively new member he is enjoying the confidence that London Victorians has helped him develop. Not that you would know!!!! On the stage, own the stage off the stage, Lukas Mic Drop!!!!

An so we move onto the prepared speeches for the night à and boy did we have an unparalleled set of performances tonight.

Jack – London Victorian for several months now delivered an impactful and hugely informative speech on the London Olympics and its legacy. A recipe of hard hitting facts about the Olympic bid statistics to the subsequent housing issues, with Mayoral based political humour Jack delivered an educational and wholly digestible speech on why the Olympics where that bit more important than you may have thought

Next Anna. Long-time London Victorian Anna also claims an enhanced level of confidence has been the greatest benefit. And she was the epitome of her very own claim this evening. No notes, fluid and agile language, body language to enhance her message, stage presence of a someone giving life coaching lessons, facial expression to keep the audience engaged and a content that resonated in the minds of everyone at the meeting “Are you actually too busy in your life? what does this say about you? and 3 tips on how to be even MORE productive”. As ever a stellar performance and prime example of what London Victorians can achieve with hard work and dedicate

Finally, Michelle and her “Mind Matters” speech – a informative speech on the controversial topic of mental health problems. Straight away she brought the audience into the speech by asking questions on who has experienced mental health issues. She continued this engagement by debunking common myths using official figures that would make you think twice before ever dismissing the topic again. A brave and eloquently delivered speech with a valiant message on how we can make the world a better place.

“Evaluating the Hell” out of the speeches tonight we had Agatha, Florian and Steph who each gave insightful and constructive feedback on everything Improved vocal variety to the added gravitas of a pause. London Victorians, once again demonstrating how and why our member develop so quickly.

We finish the speeches off with our Table Topics Master Benedict and his creative assortment of topics mental gymnastics topics – from the controversial “Ugly and smart or Beautiful and dumb children” question to the friendship destroying “who of you and your 3 friends gets the single parachute in your nosediving plane”. All contestants as well as 2 guests! Showing just how flexible their minds can be.

Another fantastic meeting from the most energetic and confident club in Town – no wonder everybody wants to join 😊

International speech contest 2019

Report by: Agatha Amachree

This was a special meeting because we held our International speech contest which was chaired by

Batool and Jackie.

Our President of London Victorians opened with an introduction, citing this quote by Colin Powell –

“The healthiest competition occurs when average people win by putting above average effort. “

And with that the contest began with our chair Batool setting out contest rules and the aim of the contest which she stated are;

i. Opportunity for speakers to improve speaking skills

ii. For us to be motivated by the best

iii. To visualise each contestant’s progress in their toastmaster’s journey

The chair Batool then introduced the 1st speaker Mo with his speech titled – One leader.

Mo is on the toastmaster pathway Dynamic leadership. And he has discovered three things from his pathway and he described this to us in three points.

i. Style of leadership

ii. Scene/story from his life which reflected leadership

iii. Suggestions (to us) on leadership

Mo ended with this quote by Jim Rohn “…be strong, but not rude, be kind but not weak, be proud but not arrogant”. He also motivated us to lead without a title.

Our 2nd speaker for the contest was Robert with his speech titled – Growing up

Robert describes his ‘Malcolm in the middle’ growing up experience to us with three recollections

i. Wasps

ii. Pranks

iii. Christmas

Of course the Christmas ends up with a fire on the dinner table as you would expect.

Our third and final contestant was Anna with her speech titled – The f word. Yes Feminism.

Anna presented us with some interesting statistics to illustrate her points.

And she related to us some of the reasons why people were not on board with feminism which were;

i. People thought the idea was Outdated. With some statistics from 2019, Anna was able

to prove to us that that was not the case.

ii. Man hating

iii. Angry bra burning women. Anna assured us that the bra burning never happened. A

misunderstanding arose from a protest where women were throwing out stuff, and a

bra was dropped in the pile, but it was never set on fire.

This concluded the first part of the evening and we broke for tea and chat. We had guest judges

carrying out secret votes.

The 2nd part of the evening was chaired by our 2nd chairperson Jackie. Jackie introduced our mystery speaker, Dorota. Dorota is a member of another club who volunteered to be our mystery speaker for the evaluator part of the contest. It was her first visit to London Victorians and she delivered a speech as a mystery speaker. Dorota’s speech was titled – Is failing a failure. After narrating to us a rich story of her personal experience, Dorota concluded by reminding us that failing is not a failure, it is a lesson, failure is only failure if you don’t learn from it.

Now it was time for the evaluator contestants to prep their evaluations on the mystery speech.

The chairperson Jackie used this opportunity to run a table topics sessions which is when people give an impromptu speech on anything the table topics master presents.

The evaluators emerged with their evaluations.

First Andrew who recommended open body language and commended the speaker for her bravery to share.

Then Stephanie who commended structure and content of speech and recommended for more purposeful movement on stage.

The third evaluator was Joseph who commended the mystery speaker for vulnerability and inspiring the audience and recommended vocal variation and use of repetition.

The fourth evaluator was Robert who commended the speaker for good chronological order, structure and humour in the speech.

With such interesting speeches I forgot we were having a contest but alas the votes were in and it was time for the awards –

Winner of speech contest:


Winner of evaluator contest:

1st Stephanie

2nd Joseph

Congratulations to all of our contestants and participants especially our mystery speaker and judges.

Now unto bigger and better for the participants and winners who will represent London Victorians at the area contest.

It’s not all about me – it’s about us

Report by: Raj Roy

Good evening most valued guests, and welcome to our blog. You’re perhaps wondering what happens at a Toastmaster’s session – let me guide you through tonight’s events.

Our President, Eleanor, opened tonight’s proceedings with a warm welcome to the club. She reminded us: “it’s not all about me – it’s about us!” You might improve your public speaking, but you also become part of the London Victorians team. You support others, who support you.


Eleanor introduced our sharply dressed Toastmaster for the evening, Joseph. His role – to quarterback tonight’s session. And his theme for tonight, motivation. Many things motivate us – friends, family, mentors, work. What keeps you motivated, dear guests, in the pursuit of life’s ambitions?



Alongside our Toastmaster, keeping the session ticking along, we had introductions from our Timekeeper, Chris; our Grammarian, Jack; our Harkmaster, Anna; and your humble meeting reporter. Jack encouraged us be precise & succinct, and to incorporate the word ‘amicable’ into our speeches for bonus points.

Prepared speeches & swiftly prepared evaluations


Four speeches awaited us this evening, with evaluators providing their commendations and recommendations. First up, Kam, relaxed in a chair, had decided to join a walk. “How hard could this be?” “54 miles. In the Scottish West Highlands. In 24 hours. Without a break.” Kam leapt from her seat, pacing the stage, her body language mirroring her trials. Rebecca’s evaluation: “Kam’s excellent use of the stage, use of language and use of body language”.


For our second speech, we joined Stephanie, “diving into a world of fantastic animals – the shark”. The Jaws theme tune, hummed by Steph, soon echoed around the room. She left us with the thought: “if cows kill more people than sharks every year, then why are sharks considered to be the ultimate killing machine?” Michelle loved how “her hand gestures conveyed her points”, and her intro to sharks: “tall, dark and handsome; a killer smile”.


Priyendan, with a speech about forming habits, challenged the audience: “Psychologically, there is no difference between fear and excitement. In time, we could start to associate the fear of public speaking with excitement. Just keep telling yourself you’re excited!” Robert commended Priyendan on a speech, “the audience can use and take away with them,” along with his natural flow.


Our final prepared speech this evening was from Florian, about a Tinder date. We were captivated with storytelling part rom-com, part personal diary. “The date was on!” was bellowed across the chamber. Ariel valued how Florian’s “language and tone changed… giving us a personal experience through storytelling.”

Great things never come from comfort zones


Annabel, our Sergeant at Arms, welcomed our new guests: “I’d like to tell you a secret. I’m always inspired by the new guests and members of our club.” Our guests told us why they were joining us tonight – do any of these resonate with you? “To try something new.” “To try new things and push my comfort zone.” “Self-improvement.” “To escape my comfort zone.” Annabel reminded us: “great things never come from comfort zones.”


David introduced our table topics – impromptu speeches lasting 1-2 minutes. “We’re all here to improve our public speaking. But in the real world, we don’t always get the opportunity to prepare.” We were kept amused by Edward, Benedict, Lukas, Agatha and Sam, speaking off the cuff, with only a few seconds to marshal their thoughts. Mark, our table topic evaluator, provided the invaluable advice: “repeat the question back to the audience… very… slowly.” “And if you’re trying to do a serious speech in 2 minutes – good luck!”

Try us out

Ariel and Eleanor

“For my second date, I even took her to Toastmaster’s.” Perhaps an unconventional second date venue, but, dear guests, please do feel free to bring a friend, partner or date along if you wish. Just turn up, any Tuesday. How better to be wooed, than in an impromptu speech?




Alumni Evening at London Victorians

Report by: Jack S


An alumni-themed evening with four great speeches, five table topics, six uses of the word fossick, and seven(ish) chocolates for the best listeners.


Our President, Eleanor, kicked things off by invoking the statesman Colin Powell and reminding us of three key elements to success: preparation, practice and embracing failure. After which it was onto our very own statesman Susanne, Toastmaster for the evening, who introduced the theme of ALUMNI – schools, universities, jobs – a great theme that had us all murmuring about what a small world it is. Susanne herself is an alumnus of Chicago Booth Business School, making her a “Boothie”.

Susanne being our Toastmaster for the evening

Our functionaries were up next: David (Durham Uni #1) as timekeeper, apparently the most important role; Chris B (TSB) as grammarian, who introduced many of us to a new word – “fossick” – and challenged us to use it throughout the evening; Chris W (Birkbeck) as harkmaster, responsible for rewarding those that listened carefully with delicious treats; and, last but not least, Jack (Wymondham College), who had the actual most important job: penning this report.

After which it was onto the speeches.


First up was Rebecca (JET Programme), who gave us a warm and witty account of her relationship with running. She told of her transition from positive-thinking-sofa-dweller to Paula Radcliffe-esque conqueror of her Swiss sister-in-law. Evaluating, Ariel (Durham Uni #2) commended Rebecca on a confident and polished speech, then fossicked around for a recommendation on more vocal variety.


Ariel evaluating

Next was Steph (Wits Uni), who told us that people have on average 60-80,000 thoughts per day, then proceeded to provoke plenty of thoughts for all of us with an illuminating talk on OCD which explained how obsession and compulsion can have a devastating impact. She finished with wise words from Plato reminding us all of the importance of being kind. Evaluating, Eleanor (POCA alien fan club), praised Steph’s professional tone and encouraged her to introduce even more of the witty dialogue, hand gestures and movement that peppered her speech.

Four great speeches!

Third was Priyendan (Bath Uni #1), who spoke on the topic of spontaneous decisions, like, for example, how far can you get on a single tank of fuel? For him it was Slovenia and Croatia, where ignoring his mum’s advice landed him on a boat party with David Guetta tunes uniting a diverse crowd. Evaluating, Matthew (unnamed school) focused on Priyendan’s vocal variety – speed, volume, pitch, emphasis – paying tribute to his conversational style and suggesting a few more pauses and greater volume for next time.

Last up was Andy (Kings Taunton school), who wowed us all with an energetic speech on his whirlwind romance and a spider-infested delve into the jungle – none of which actually happened – all to demonstrate the dangers of over-thinking the future. Evaluating, Florian (Bath Uni #2), highlighted the power of storytelling in Andy’s speech, and recommended slowing down a touch in future for maximum persuasive impact.

Andy speaking

Guests, Table Topics and Wrap-Up

Jackie (Rhodes Uni), introduced our guests – all ten of them! – who all either loved or hated public speaking. Both equally valid reasons for joining London Victorians.

We were then onto table topics, where Michelle (Barcelona Uni) celebrated Chinese New Year by challenging five brave souls to speak on whatever topic popped out of a fortune cookie. We all enjoyed Lucy, Rennie, Gayle, Anna and Edo regaling us on topics from the mundane – buying dinner for friends – to the salacious – texting old flames. They were evaluated collectively by Batool (Shrewsbury School), who offered a couple of suggestions for buying time when kicking off a table topic: first, thinking out loud and, second, starting with a quick, humorous response. She particularly commended our speakers for filling time effectively whilst opening their cookies. Kudos to all of them.

Edo collecting his fortune cookie table topic

Rounding off the evening, our grammarian, Chris B, counted six uses of the word fossick and a remarkable lack of filler words from our speakers. He praised the alliterative abilities of our able articulators. For those of us not full up on fortune cookies, our harkmaster, Chris W, provided chocolates in return for answering his questions – “What didn’t happen on Priyendan’s yacht…?” Anna (Cardiff Journalism School – hopefully approving of this writer’s efforts), summed everything up as our general evaluator, giving a whistlestop tour of the 13 roles that hadn’t already been evaluated, covering the lot in seven minutes. Phew!

Last but not least, our award winners!

  • Best table topics – Lucy
  • Best evaluator – Florian
  • And the big one, best speech – Andy

Lucy picking up her award

David also picked up his certificate for completing Level 1 of Presentation Mastery.

Well done to everyone and a special thank you to Susanne for marshalling proceedings with style and grace.

Guests are more than welcome at all our meetings. Just turn up – any Tuesday – we’d love to see you.


New Year Resolutions 2019

Report by: Kam Johal

We had another dynamic meeting on Tuesday, filled with loads of great speeches and valuable feedback.

To begin, we had our Toastmasters for the evening, Arsen Shnashev, who introduced the theme for the evening: New Year Resolutions. Highly topical given that we are seven weeks away from the New Year 2019.


The Toastmaster then moved the meeting along by introducing the functionaries, who helped keep the meeting on track. Rebecca Jarvis, was our timekeeper, whose role was to ensure that the meeting ran on time which it did. Then our grammarian, Joseph Omeiza, who recorded all the wonderful uses of language throughout the evening, as well as keeping track of “umms” and “uhhs” and the word of the day ‘ARTICULATE’ which was used at least 13 times. Lastly we heard from our harkmaster, Batool Aljufairi, tested our listening skills and spoiling us with many treats until they all ran out at the end of the meeting.




First up we had Mark Brown present Dynamic Leadership – 1 Icebreaker entitled “How I learned to learn”. Where he showed how his many useful techniques including spaced repetition in learning.


Next, we had Boyko Tzankov presenting “Emotional Intelligence”, which is for perspective Strategic Relationships – 4 Researching and Presenting. For this speech, Boyko demonstrated an understanding in this topic, between our different brains and building good skills in perspective, understanding and reasonable behavior. All in all, helping us from self-sabotaging, road rage and preventing getting ourselves fired. All useful stuff!


Swiftly following that, Eduard Kim took the stage presenting his Competent Communication Manual -6 – Vocal Variety in a speech called “The future of Fitness”. In this speech, we saw the future of a successful gym environment tailored at improving connectivity for members, accountability/motivation and gym performance. All in all, inspiring greater use of the gym.


To round off the speaker portion of the evening, we had Florian Bay, who presented an advanced level speech entitled “High Performance Leadership – 2 – Presenting the Results”. During the speech, we were able to see how Florian has left a legacy for Toastmasters International. He also talked us through his speech in Chicago. We all toasted that!

David & Mark

After four inspiring speeches, we moved on to evaluations. First we heard from David Scott, who emphasized the importance of use of the “threes” in Toastmasters.


Next, Robert Nicholson took to the stage and gave constructive feedback regarding engaging the audience powerfully with situations they could relate with.


Then Pascale Monteil reminded the audience of the importance of vocal variety and how it had been applied with the speech.

Lastly, Eleanor Hanslip came on stage to discuss the speech of Florian Bay. She pointed out some great things about the speech and the legacy that Florian left behind together with achievements. Eleanor wanted to understand the details how the great results were achieved together with the strategies used to overcome obstacles.


Before our break, our Sergeant at Arms, Annabel Lamb, introduced the eleven guests for the evening. Guests are an important part of what makes meetings special, so please don’t be shy to stop by!


After a break, we returned for a round of table topics! This week our Table Topics master was Susanne Alfs who asked lucky members of the club to take the stage and answer some questions, all based around the theme of New Year Resolutions. We heard about resolutions fluctuating from procrastination, an assessment of the virtues of having no resolutions, and then New Year resolutions which extended to world denomination.


We then invited our Table Topics Evaluator, Mohammed Salih, to give constructive feedback to all the participants. Some themes included taking pauses, position on stage, and engaging the audience through humour.

Which brought us to the end of our meeting. Congratulations to the winners this week!


Winning The Best Speaker: MarkPlease feel free to join us! We meet every Tuesday at 6:30pm at St. James the Less Westminster, SW1V 2PS (nearest station Pimlico). Guests are more than welcome to stop by and ask any questions they may have.

Best Evaluator Award: Pascale

Winning Completing Level 1 Pathways: Boyko