Saturday, March 29, 2014


Toastmasters International Speech & Evaluation Contest for Area 61, held in Stanmore, March 29 2014

The International Speech and Evaluation Contest for Area 61 was hosted by HOD Speakers Club at Glebe Hall in Stanmore. 
Each club in the area has held a competition and two winners, placed first and second by the judges, have now met the contestants from other clubs in the area. The clubs represented are HOD, whose premises are used for the contest, Harrovians, Watford and another club. 
The Chief Judge Coralie briefed the judges, timers and counters. 

The Contest Chair Alan Gillman, of HOD, oversees the speakers drawing numbers to decide the order. Some prefer to speak first and get it over with, others to be last and remembered. Others don't care. All the speakers will hear the others, since every speech is prepared in advance, is original and different.  

The first speaker was Kabita Dulai of Watford Speakers.
After the speeches, while waiting for the judges to do their tally, Alan interviews the contestants and asks them about their speeches, their roles in Toastmasters and their hobbies.

The second speaker was Gosbert Chagula, President of Harrovian Speakers.
The third speaker was Indra Sikdar, a founder member of Harrovian Speakers.

The fourth speaker was Gill Ornstein, President of HOD Speakers. She is wearing a wonderful co-ordinated costume of black, cream and white with matching designer shoes.

The sixth speaker was Alan McMahon of Watford Speakers, a former member of Harrovian Speakers.

Alan Gillman presents a certificate of participation to his good friend and previous President of HOD, David Phelops.

Alderman Keith Toms presents a certificate to Gosbert Chagula.

Alderman Keith Toms gave a speech explaining how he represents the Worshipful the Mayor of Harrow at events, sometimes fearing he has been sent to an event which will make him lose the will to live. He was gracious enough to say that he had thoroughly enjoyed the entertaining and informative speeches at this contest, and the earlier club contests.  He also explained how an alderman was originally an elder man who advised. He was a councillor for many years. 

Contest Chair Alan Gillman is relieved he can at last sit down. 

Angela Lansbury, representing Harrovians Club (also a member of HOD Speakers) came second place in the Evaluation Contest. Receiving a certificate from Hon Alderman Keith Toms.

Next on the agenda:
1 Voting for Area Governor. 
Coralie Frances could stand again but she invited proposals from the floor to give somebody else a chance and Alan McMahon offered to be the next Area Governor. This will later be put to the vote by post (actually email nowadays).
2 Next event is the next level of contest on Friday April 4th in London.
3 HOD is holding a meeting at Harrow Civic Centre attended by the mayor and many VIPs.

Photo of Angela Lansbury and Alderman Keith Toms by Trevor Sharot.
All other photos by Angela Lansbury.
Copyright photos. For permission to copy or for other photos of this event please contact the photographers. 

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Tuesday, March 25, 2014


What I've learned about speeches

Know the audience. Pick a topic that they care about. Pick a topic that you the speaker cares about.

A catchy title.

   A memorable speech has at its heart a memorable person and a memorable event.
Possibly two people, even three - one confident or self-doubting, one arguing against action, one encouraging action. Have two contrasting voices. Or two outfits.

For two events use different areas of the stage.

Move purposefully, but don't fidget.


Use of threes.

A problem and a solution.

A memorable prop or costume. Or two contrasting costumes - thin person outfit and fat person outfit.

A conclusion.
Punchline echoing opening and title.

Write out the speech. Underline parts in colour. Add amusing phrases or metaphors.



What I learned about evaluations

Practise evaluating other speakers, previous day or same day or same event.

Note speaker's name.
Note title of speech.
Draw a diagram or chart on one page.
When listening, note favourite phrases.
Note grammatical errors or mistakes.
Title - subject- audience - eye contact - head - ears listening - mouth - body - arms - hands - legs - feet
1 Start memorably.
2 Address contest chair and audience and speaker - locate them in audience.
3 Start Loudly
4 Start enthusiastically
5 Summarise your way of evaluating to prepare the listener
6 Give a praise
7 Comment on opening
8 comment on body
9 comment on conclusion
10 Summarise
11 Say what you've learned
12 End enthusiastically


Competition Time

I won a place at the next level Evaluation contest. At Harrovians Club contest. I came second on 24/3/14. I received a certificate of participation for both the Evaluation contest and the prepared Speech Contest.
   The contest was attended by VIP guest Keith Toms, Honorary Alderman. We are old friends. Both old and both friends. I think he is friends with everybody.
   He gave a great speech. I was flabbergasted to learn he once invented a Bulgarian expert to quote. When a BBC reporter checked up and said accusingly, 'The BBC archive has no record of this man,' Keith Toms retorted, 'That just shows how bad the BBC archive is!'
   A sure fire winner for a Humorous Speech contest or Tall Tales event.

In this picture you see Keith Toms far left, Ruth Vishnick, a past president of Harrovians, Indra Sikdar, a founding member, At the back, current President of Harrovians, tall Gosbert Chagula, and I am at the front right, your speaker and reporter and Immediate Past President, Angela Lansbury.

Winners of the contests were Gosbert and Indra, Speech Contest, Gosbert and Angela Evaluation contest.
Member Ben Piersen far left, Sara, our timer, Lorna - Toastmaster of the evening, in her slimming style dress (also called an illusion dress) from Macy's in Florida, David Vardy, a guest, Ruth Vishnick, Indra Sikdar.

If you are free on Monday evenings in London come to Harrovian Speakers. Meeting fortnightly at Glebe Hall, Glebe Road, off the Broadway, by Sainsbury's in the centre of Stanmore shopping centre. The bus stop almost outside is the H12 to Hatch End. A short walk from Stanmore underground station.
see or
Toastmasters International Find A Club

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Friday, March 21, 2014


Puppets and Props Owned By Speaker Angela Lansbury

'How many puppets and props do you have?' asked the contest chair after my speech. Here are a few of them:
Laughing snowball (from Tesco at Christmas)




Whale or shark?


Hand puppet, policeman

Hand puppet

Hand puppet

Giant toy tortoise to illustrate being slow or procrastinating
Owl from Harry Potter Studio Tour shop.
I can put my hand inside him and turn his head.
When I press the top of the wing, he squeaks.

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Friday, March 14, 2014


Negative Words Turned Into Polite Words

In an article on slimming, you might describe yourself or somebody else in the past with a negative word, then gradually change the words.

Fat, overweight - cuddly, curvaceous, full figured, a fine figure of a man, plump, more to get hold of, well-built
Promiscuous - extremely popular, has many admirers
Prostitute - both sexy and businesslike
S... - faecal matter, poo, number two, dog doing his business, excreta, fouling the pavement
sex - relationship, as the bible says 'he knew her', shared a bed, slept together
Skinny - slim, slender

Thursday, March 13, 2014


Pronunciation Tips

Dangerous misunderstandings: 50 ships or 15 ships?
Humorous misunderstandings: Singaporeans say, 'I have tree children'.
Airline crew going to and from China and Hong Kong say, 'Wishing a pleasant fright'.
A Thai speaker at Toastmasters told us about working for 'the loyal bank of Scotland'. He was referring to the Royal Bank of Scotland.

Today in the Uk, sounds like an Australian saying To Die in Aus - try - lia.
In New Zealand and South Africa six may sound like sex.
Do you want six? Or sex?
Be careful what you ask for!

T Th

Also watch out for the lost letters we no longer pronounce.
B as in doubt

Make yourself handwritten cards of letters of the alphabet. Note which pairs sound alike and need to be distinguished.

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Impromptu Speeches and Table Topics

You probably know that impromptu speeches are those which are not prepared but 'off the cuff'. In Toastmasters International, the worldwide organisation training speakers, most meetings include impromptu speeches called Table Topics. This is because the table topics were originally topics written down and placed on a table.

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Best Speaker on Helen Keller. 26Oct 1010 to Thomson Toastmasters, Singapore

Prop - a scarf over my eyes - led on stage as if blind.

Helen Keller was blind and deaf - yet she gave speeches. I can see you Mr President (Stanley Goh), fellow toastmasters and welcome guests. Imagine if you could not see the stage, make eye contact, tell if people were looking at you.
   As a child I saw a sign outside a church, 'I used to complain I had no shoes, until I saw a man who had no feet'.
   I thought about Helen Keller. She could not see. But she dressed beautifully. She dressed to please others who could see.
   Thinking of others instead of herself gave her the courage to speak. People wanted to know about her problems and how she overcame them. Other people are interested in your problems and how you have overcome them.
   If she could speak, although she was blind and deaf, you can too. You are lucky. You can see me and hear me. I am lucky. I can see you, and hear you. Please applaud the person who inspires me every time I speak, and every day - Helen Keller. 

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Wednesday, March 12, 2014


Feel The Fear But Do It Anyway? How? How to face speaking on stage or simply opening an envelope.

OOh - I'm scared of people! I always have been. From childhood. I remember when I was scared at school. Were you scared at school?
   I was afraid when I was at school to knock on a classroom door, open it, and walk into a classroom full of people, the teacher, and lots of children like me.
   Let's go back. Were you afraid as a child to walk into a room full of people?  
   What frightens you in that situation? Getting lost. Going to a new place. Knocking on the door. See new people. Crowds of people. Being looked at? Speaking to other people? Or even just getting a letter?Are you afraid as an adult to walk into a room?
   Yes, I see several hands raised. You are afraid to walk into a room. Some of you are even afraid to raise your hands!
   As a child in school you were afraid to walk into a room. Or raise your hand. Looking back, you can see that it was nothing to be afraid of. You did it many times. You were not injured. Many times you even got welcomed!
  Are you still afraid as an adult? Ever been afraid to go to a new place? To a Toastmasters Meeting or club to hear a speaker?
  As an adult I have often been afraid. To take a journey travelling to a new Toastmasters meeting. To go to a new place and walk into a room of strangers.
 (Are you ever afraid to take a journey? As an adult, to walk into a room of strangers?)
   I see people turn the handle, enter the room, stop by the door after a Toastmasters meeting has started.  They stand to one side of the room, stand leaning back, hesitate to walk in, afraid to attract attention.
   Let's break down the problem of travelling to a new club into small steps.  Plan your journey. Look at a tube map.
   Check the time of arrival. Calculate length of journey. Allow for delays and getting lost.
   On the journey, if you are late. Plan your excuse. Phone somebody at the meeting.
    Arrival. Knock on the door. Easy. No need to go in. Just knock and wait and see if anybody opens the door.
 Somebody opens and says, 'Yes, what do you want?'
  If nobody opens the door, no need to go in, just open the door, take a peek!
   Nobody noticed you? Open the door wider.
   Still nobody noticed you? Wave at the speaker? Raise your hand to get attention and open your mouth to show you want to speak. Ask if you're at the right place.
   If told to go elsewhere, politely, thank, nod, back out. Job done, Somebody helped you.
   Now you are doing the same task again. When you reach the right room, take the same steps again. This time it's even easier. You've already done it once.
   Knock on door. Open door. Ask, 'Is this such and such a meeting.'
   If they say 'yes', look pleased. Instead of a tale of woe: 'I've had such an awful journey!' Say: 'I'm so pleased I've found it.'
   Cheer yourself up. 'I made it. I'm so pleased to be here.' Spread happiness.
  When people arrive late at Toastmasters I know they've had a stressful journey, the stress of being late, and now have the stress of opening a door to a room of strangers. So I try to smile and wave and beckon and make them feel happy.
   When you arrive late, you worry about the speaker as well as yourself. You don't want to disturb them. So I try to reassure the person who's interrupting me. 'Yes, you've found the right place.'
   Every speaker should practise what to say when interrupted. And how to get back on track in the speech.
   In Toastmasters competitions we speak in front of larger and larger audiences, until the finals where money is as at stake, prizes and prestige, so to make it fair to everybody we make sure nobody is interrupted.
   In real life speakers are often interrupted. Latecomers. Transport passing. Interruptions of noise, delivery of food, messages about cars blocking the way, emergencies, members of the audience fainting. The speaker needs to be able to go back to where they were before the interruption.

   Many of you would be afraid to step onto the stage and make a speech. I can remember sitting in the audience hearing a well-known author make a speech and wanting to ask a question. my heart would go pitter pat. Every year I would go there. I often hesitated to raise my hand.
Sometimes you are afraid to go out. You've lost your job. You applied for another. The postman knocks. Or you hear a letter. Your heart thumps. You are afraid to go to the door.
    You go to the door. Nothing interesting. Next day you run to the door. Oh my God, my last employer's chasing me! What have I done wrong. Something's missing and they think I stole it.

Are you afraid of opening a letter or reading an email?
Pick up the letter. Put it on the table. Look at the back and front? Take it easy. No need to open it. Just get a knife and slit it open. Take the letter out. No need to open it. Spread it out flat on the table, upside down if you like. No need to read it.  Unfold it. no need to read it. Turn it the right way up. No need to read it. Who is it from? No need to read it. Just see who it's from.
   Ok - take a peek at the first line. Sometimes it's just a circular. 'We are holding our annual get together. Here is our annual report' Sometimes it's good news! You got the job. Remember my first employer  who sent the letter which scared me. They were sending me a cheque, refunding my pension contribution. My friend Indra opened a letter from The income tax office, returning some money, paying him.
   Share it. If you can't tell your family, tell the stranger at the bus stop. Tell them: 'I got a parking ticket.'
   They will probably reply, 'That happened to me - when was it, I think it was a year ago.'
  You see, in a year's time, you'll have forgotten all about it.'
  You say, 'I lost my job.'
   They will probably say, 'That happened to me - a year ago. Now I'm working in McDonalds. Why don't you get a job there.'
   Hello Mum, the bad news is I lost my job, the good news is I'm working in McDonalds.
   When I went to school on the bus, I used to pass a sign outside the church: 'I used to complain because I had no shoes, until I met a man who had no feet.'

  You have only to open any newspaper to see what a wonderful life you have. Every night of the week you can go to a speakers' meeting. Most of them are free. (Except catered events such as parties and competitions when they have to pay to hire a room and provide catering and need you to pay your share.)
   In many small clubs in suburban areas there's no charge and they are delighted to have a visitor. You have a roomful of friends wanting to talk to you at Toastmasters. Free tea and coffee - and even a cake or biscuit.
   Most people want to hear you speak. They would rather listen to you than make a speech themselves.
   Yes, it's always the case. I'll prove it to you. The front row of seats is always empty. People sit in the row at the back. They are afraid to come in. They don't want the VIP speaker to look at them, ask them questions they can't answer. When you are on stage, you are already more confident than half the people in the room.
   Smile at them. Smile at them, make them happy, teach them something useful. One day you will win a ribbon, or a competition. I once the little girl who was scared to enter a room. I was scared of the teacher. Now I'm a teacher. I had never met an author. Now I'm an author. I was impressed by people who made speeches. Now I'm making speeches.
    I wanted to find somebody who would help me. I joined toastmasters. I wanted to win a speech competition. I know I can. It's only a matter of time and practice. In Toastmasters, like most organisations, every month newcomers join, others move away and leave. So, there's always room for you in a club. If the club is too big, you can start another club. You can't all become president of the United States. But you can all become president of a speakers club. If you haven't - yet - got the courage to do that, at least today you have learned how to open a letter.
    If you are afraid, then go to your nearest Toastmasters International meeting, for example, HOD, or Harrovian Speakers in NW London, or similar speakers training meeting - there are dozens in many countries of the world, especially all the English speaking countries such as Canada, Australia, New Zealand. Also countries where they are keen to learn English. For example, I've been to clubs in Shanghai and Beijing in China, and at the YMCA and YWCA in Singapore, and Thailand. And clubs are all over the USA, where Toastmasters International started before becoming so successful that it spread worldwide. I and other speakers will be delighted to help you.
   Remember I started by saying that I'm scared of people. It's true - I'm scared you haven't enjoyed this speech enough to vote me the winner. But I no longer let it stand in my way. Why should I let anybody stand in my way?  I've never let my husband do it!
   After speaking at a meeting, I can go home and say, I met somebody else. In fact I met fifty people. And they all listened to me.
   You see, being a speaker isn't scary, it's fun.
  So don't just like me, be like me! A winner! Thank you.

More Information from
Toastmasters International Find a club
Harrovian speakers
HOD Speakers

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Tuesday, March 11, 2014


Successful Speech, Table Topic on Writing by Angela Lansbury in 2014

On Monday 2014 I won a ribbon at Harrovian Toastmasters speakers club for best table topic (impromptu speech) on the subject of writing.
Angela Lansbury (Immediate Past President of Harrovian Speakers) presented with a ribbon by President Gosbert Chagula.

The topic was:
You are a successful writer - how many books have you written and how do you do it? Give us your advice.

I have written ten books for mainstream publishers and ten self-published. All books need a lot of research. It's the same as writing a speech. You start by researching. Then you put everything in logical order. Most beginning writers and speakers think it's easier to write what you want. But it's easier to have a framework and slot in your research. For example, when I wrote an article on visiting Champagne Cellars in Rheims for Take A Break magazine, they said start with a quotation and end with tips for visitors. I began with a quotation by Napoleon, Champagne, in victory you deserve it - in defeat you need it. I ended with a tip, wear warm clothes to visit cold wine cellars. Research and organise - that's the key to writing a book.

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