Report by: Georgie Williams
Full house in London Victorians this evening! Our President kicked off with a warm welcome and a big smile, and introduced our latest (and exceptionally brave) member Tamara.
Eleanor then reflected on the resilience and determination embodied by Gareth Southgate, noting the guts it would take to come back from the infamous missed penalty in 1996 to inspire a young and inexperienced english team to the semi finals last week – the lesson for all Toastmasters that we should all be inspired by that resilience to keep practising, keep trying, keep taking risks, and keep improving.
She then introduced our very own Gareth Southgate in the form of our Toastmaster for the evening, Terry Pullin.
Terry introduced the role with energy and charm. He outlined the programme for the evening, and introduced the functionaries for the evening.
First up, the timekeeper – Joseph! With a cracking summary of the timekeeper’s job to keep the meeting on track – ‘time flies and I am your pilot.’
Next up, our grammarian Dana! Who gave us Ostentatious- pretentious or showy (giving a certain D. Trump as the archetypal ostentatious person) – as the word of the day, encouraged us all to use it, and reminded us that he will be looking out for our use of language – good and bad.
Followed by harkmaster Faith – but where was she?! Harkmaster Faith appeared to have been waylaid, so we moved on to… me !, the meeting reporter.
Harkmaster Faith made a well-timed entrance and bounded straight on stage to introduce her role – to listen very attentively and ask us, the audience, questions at the end to make sure we have too.
Speeches that inspire and encourage: Japaneses Etiquette
We then moved on to … the speeches!
First off – Yumi with a fabulous and hilarious speech on ‘Japanese Etiquette.’
Everyone knows that in Japan it’s polite to bow, and accept a business card with two hands… but did you know that it is not OK to blow your nose in public in Japan? Or that it’s polite to use a ‘toilet silencer’ to protect your dignity while you do your ‘business’? Or that eating while you walk is a no no? But slurping is acceptable – nay, encouraged?
Next up with had Andy, with
‘I Hate Winter.’
Andy took us through a magical and descriptive journey through that much maligned month. His speech is a grammarian’s dream – with imagery from fox’s breath to frost on the ground to wind howling through the bare trees – and he managed to convince even the most hardcore sun seekers among us that winter should be cherished.
Trolls are real life things
Then we had Anna, with a hard hitting talk on the threats faced by journalists – specifically, the threats connected to online abuse. ‘The Rise of the trolls’ gave us some scary facts and figures and anecdotes about the increasing prevalence and intensity of online abuse of journalists. Did you know, for example, that 94% of UK journalists had experienced some form of online abuse? Or that when Laura Kuenssberg, for good reason, was accompanied by bodyguards to the labour party conference she was accused of being ‘pathetic’ and ‘a snowflake’? Or that 68 journalists were killed last year alone? Anna ended her speech with a plea for governments and social media platforms to do more, and the public to think before they write.
Panel evaluations, a way to discuss
After a lively report from our timekeeper we got kicking with the evaluations. Due to a programme change, we had two evaluators for Yumi – Mark and Arsen – and Terry cleverly engineered a panel evaluation. The evaluators commented on the excellent humour, use of props and structure of Yumi’s speech and recommended that she use a little more eye contact and vocal variety.
Next Fahad (with no notes!) evaluated Andy’s speech, commending Andy on his wonderful use of language, his brilliant booming voice, and his body language. Fahad recommended that Andy use pauses more and make more of the conclusion to make it even better.
Rob then evaluated Anna’s speech. Rob praised Anna’s speech for its structure; the great use of facts and figures; the examples of the types of trolling; how interactive she made it; and the topicality of the subject she had chosen. On delivery, Rob felt that Anna’s speech was very clear and fluent. He suggested that Anna could make more of the pauses and reduce the use of notes.
Clear, constructive, and commendable feedback all round.
After the evaluations, our newest member Tamara took on the role of sergeant at arms – having been coerced into the role by our very persuasive toastmaster. Tamara talked to show how pitch perfect is done, and shared her own experience of joining toastmasters before inviting our guests to share a bit about themselves. Reasons for attending ranged from wanting to practice for best man speeches to promoting their own business, to aspiring to be a presenter, to needing to speak at international negotiations.
Part Two- Table Topics
After a very sociable break, our toastmaster kicked the second half off with energy and enthusiasm.
Our table topics master for the evening was Yue, who introduced the excellent theme of Money money money!
How much is enough? What would you do with £1 million? What’s the biggest financial mistake you ever made? Can money buy happiness? Speakers confidently addressed those questions at tonight’s table topics.
After the timekeeper’s report our table topics evaluator Alex then gave speakers helpful, thoughtful and concise
feedback. One running theme was the importance of a good conclusion. Though acknowledging that this is hard in table topics, Alex’s advice was that less is more; repeat the question and then summarise what your answer was to conclude.
Our grammarian Dana then made a reappearance. Dana showed his thrills at all the excellent language this evening – in particular from Yumi and Andy. The word of the day was used extensively, with Terry in particular leading the charge. Dana reported that, happily, there were very few ums and ers from our main speakers.
Our harkmaster Faith then tested our attention skills and threw werther’s originals at us for our efforts, before our Toastmaster wrapped up with as much energy as he started with and our president awarded ribbons to: Fahad, Mohammed, and Yumi!
In just want to summarize it all by saying that we laughed, we pondered, we questioned, we were enraged, we learned and we clapped (a lot). Great stuff.