Find your voice through storytelling

Meeting of Wednesday, 11 October 2017
Start: 19:30
Venue: Het Goudblommeke In Papier / La Fleur en Papier Doré
Pre-meeting dinner starting 18:00
Register on easy-Speak

open book
Our next meeting focusses on storytelling as a vehicle for voice, as a way to convey experience, as a way to live the experience.

Laced into our regular programming, Patrice Blanchard will lead us through an hour-long workshop on storytelling. As he says, “Most of us like to tell stories and to hear good ones too. The purpose of stories is usually to entertain the viewers or distract them. Stories can also be used to teach or to create interest in a subject. Telling stories is also an effective tool to influence and convince people. Marketers have long understood this and so have great leaders. Good stories are an extremely powerful way to inspire an audience and to stir people to action.”

Join us to explore the elements of a great story that has the power to influence people. If you can tell stories and if you want to learn how to influence people with them, attend this workshop.

Patrice is a professional speaker and storytelling workshop leader. He has been a successful senior project manager for 30 years, managing large projects internationally in Benelux, France, UK, and USA. He worked in areas as varied as railways security, internet banking, business intelligence, even radiology. This experience feeds his storytelling approach. He believes that human development and humour are the basic foundations for a project, hence he performs regularly as a standup comedian and uses these skills to explain project management and personal development. His approach relies on outrageous humor, good old common sense and respect for the process and its participants. Patrice is the author of the book 10 Ways to be Hated as a Project Manager.

Register now!

  • If you are a member of Artful Orators or another Toastmasters club, please register on easy-Speak.
    Please indicate if you wish to deliver and/or evaluate a speech or take up another meeting role.
  • If you are new to Toastmasters, you are most welcome to be our guest. Just send us an email to tell us that you will attend. Please note that guests pay 5 euro to cover costs of room rental. Members have it all included in the fees!

Find your voice!

Meeting of Wednesday, 13 September 2017
Start: 19:30
Venue: Het Goudblommeke In Papier / La Fleur en Papier Doré
Pre-meeting dinner starting 18:00
Register on easy-Speak

In the coming Toastmasters year, our monthly Artful Orators meetings remain the must-attend events in Brussels, if you are looking for in-depth feedback on your advanced Toastmasters speech projects, if you want to expand your knowledge on public speaking and if you want to develop your skills through artful exploration and experimentation.

We’d like to introduce a new metaphor for our meetings: “the orchestra”. Each of us is a player with an individual voice and a role to play within the context of the whole piece of work that is the meeting. That’s why Toastmasters of the Evening and Table Topic Masters should think of themselves as orchestra conductors. They are responsible for bringing out an overall melody, meaning or feeling, as well as the best in each player’s voice. Join our orchestra to find your voice!

Patrice will deliver the very first “flip-flop” speech at Artful Orators, also on the subject of money. Patrice will develop both sides of an argument and flip-flop to the other side at the command of a magic bell rung by an audience member.

Zsuzsi will make us laugh and that allways brings us closer to ourselves! What better music than laughter?

Sydney’s AO Special will focus on the development of our sense of self as speakers and human beings. Developing this is synonymous with developing voice. What can our relationship to money tell us about ourselves and how can that knowledge help us grow our voice? A parallel will be drawn between books, music and money: wherever the immaterial brings forth the material, emotional reactions can be triggered. The best speakers have voices that touch the audience members emotionally and intellectually. Sydney will show us how we can increasingly connect to ourselves and our voices, and how we can find the way to connect beter to our audience members. We may even hear the presenter present in different voices, maybe even a musical one!

Register now!

  • If you are a member of Artful Orators or another Toastmasters club, please register on easy-Speak.
    Please indicate if you wish to deliver and/or evaluate a speech or take up another meeting role.
  • If you are new to Toastmasters, you are most welcome to be our guest. Just send us an email to tell us that you will attend. Please note that guests pay 5 euro to cover costs of room rental. Members have it all included in the fees!

Join our 3rd Summer Speakers’ Corner on Sunday, 20 August

For the 3rd consecutive year, the Artful Orators invite you to share fresh air, fresh food and fresh ideas in the Parc Royal / Warandepark of Brussels. Bring your picnic and your point-of-view. We will provide the soapbox!

What is Speakers’ Corner?

Speakers’ Corner in London is well known as the home of free speech, where everyone can get on their soapbox and make their voice heard. Whether anyone will listen is of course another matter. Now imagine that in Brussels’ Parc Royal / Warandepark, with you on the soapbox!


Toastmasters, family & friends!


Sunday, 20 August from 14:00 until 17:00
Anyone can step onto the soapbox at anytime, so come early and stay long!


In the Parc Royal / Warandepark, Brussels
Find the pavilion in the center of the park. When you are facing the pavilion stairs, walk 100 meters to the right and see fellow Toastmasters in the treed triangle of grass.

Rain or shine!

We have an indoor plan B, which will be posted at the pavilion if need be.

What to bring?

A blanket, a biscuit, a fine flavoured picnic, drinks to share, perhaps a folding chair. But no glass is permitted within the park perimeter! Above all, do pack a point of view — we want to hear from you!

Register now!

  • If you are a member of Artful Orators or another Toastmasters club, please register on easy-Speak.
    Please indicate if you wish to deliver and/or evaluate a speech or take up another meeting role.
  • If you are new to Toastmaster but you want to discover Toastmasters in the wild, you are most welcome to be our guest. Just send us an email to tell us that you will attend.


Shower of Coaching to Prepare our Division Winners for Winterthur

Meeting of Wednesday, 10 May 2017
Start: 19:30
Venue: Het Goudblommeke In Papier / La Fleur en Papier Doré
Pre-meeting dinner starting 18:00
Register on easy-Speak

A shower of coaching in the pre-Artful Orators era, also known as the Dark Ages.

While nature is being refreshed by the first showers of May, we cordially invite you to our traditional Shower of Coaching meeting.

Our collective feedback will support the contestants representing our Division at the District Spring Contest in Winterthur. The Shower of Coaching session will have a very interactive and fun workshop format, in the best Artful Orators tradition.

An early attempt of integrating a computer application in a shower of coaching session.

Moreover, Wim ‘Wolf’ Woittiez and Thomas Vervaet will deliver a short preview of the workshop on Minopio they will host in Winterthur. Minopio is an app that enables speakers to gather razor sharp feedback from their audience. Wim and Thomas couldn’t dream a better test bed for their innovative speaker tool than our Shower of Coaching!

Additionally, we plan a Meet the Candidates session in which the candidates for the office of Division Director, Em Ajogbe and Lucien Bollen, will present themselves. If you will be representing your club at the District Council in Winterthur, this session will be most informative for you.

If you’d like to join us on 12 April, please register on easy-Speak.
Please note that guests pay 5 euro to cover costs of room rental. Members have it all included in the fees!

Powerful Visuals

Meeting of Wednesday, 12 April 2017
Start: 19:30
Venue: Het Goudblommeke In Papier / La Fleur en Papier Doré
Pre-meeting dinner starting 18:00

As an Artful Orator, you know visuals are like having a second presenter on stage. You’ve worked on overcoming the common obstacles and on delivering a good presentation. But what about going further than that and reaching for the top of the mountain?

In his workshop on Powerful Visuals, Alexis Brouard will provide you with three travel companions which will help you move forward on the journey towards powerful visuals:

  • a backpack full of tools, principles and tricks;
  • a compass to know what to reach for;
  • and a map to weave it all together.

To name just a few of the topics that Alex will tackle:

  • Graphic design principles for non-designers (including most seen mistakes)
  • Before/after comparisons of visuals (including charts)
  • Simple yet powerful Powerpoint tricks on manipulating pictures
  • Weaving visuals into a story or theme (including the identification of visuals to use during preparation).

Alex’ workshop on Powerful Visuals is this month’s Artful Orators Special, the highlight of our monthly club meeting. Furthermore, you will be treated to prepared speeches from advanced Toastmasters manuals, followed by cutting edge feedback.

If you’d like to join us on 12 April, please register on easy-Speak.
Please note that guests pay 5 euro to cover costs of room rental. Members have it all included in the fees!

Celebrating International Women’s Day!

by Sandra Lizioli

Where better to have celebrated Women’s Day than at Artful Orators? To mark the occasion, which coincidentally fell on the same day as our March 8 meeting, we invited Michèle Mees, founder of the Centre for Balanced Leadership, to host an Artful Orators Special session on gender balance in the second half of the meeting.

Now in its tenth year, Michèle told us why she started the company. Described by some as a man in woman’s clothes, she was often the only woman in the room. This got her thinking: why? What are the qualities of a good leader? How is a female leader different? Is it simply about men versus women, or more about feminine versus masculine traits that, when balanced, bring out the best in all of us as leaders?

She asked us the same questions. Here’s how we answered:

Masculine traits: I speak, I’m goal-oriented, results and action driven, competitive, risk taker and assertive.

Feminine traits: I listen, I’m nurturing and caring, collaborative, intuitive, creative, holistic big-picture, asking “Why?” and “How?”

As you’re reading this, do you recognise these traits? We all demonstrate both and they’re interchangeable. At times we can be competitive and driven, at other times we can be collaborative and nurturing. This is why Michèle talks about balanced leadership: being able to identify the differences between the masculine and feminine traits in a leader and balancing both depending on the circumstances and environment.

To end the session, we all did a self-scan to discover how balanced we really are and where we are on the balanced leadership spectrum. On a sheet of paper were statements of opposing energies: masculine to the far left, feminine to the far right. E.g.:

Masculine energy: I perceive what differentiates us, I take risks, I decide based on facts and figures, I like to take action, I want to compete/win.

Feminine energy: I perceive what connects us, I act cautiously, I rely on my intuitive sense, I like to reflect, I want to share/cooperate.

The closer to the dotted line in the middle, the more balanced we are as leaders. Most of us had squiggly lines, moving from masculine to feminine traits.

It was a fun exercise that got us all reflecting on where we see ourselves versus how others see us! In only a short session we covered a lot of ground and everyone agreed: feminine leadership traits are undervalued!

It’s contest season!

Yes, we had a Club Contest at Arful Orators! And Hilary Peden was a wonderful Contest Chair. Marzena invited judges from other clubs to cast their votes. And we even had a General Evaluator, Valentina Caimi, who gave excellent feedback to each of the contestants (speakers and evaluators) as well as the target speaker, Zsuzsanna Corridori. We like to do things differently at Artful Orators!

From left to right: Carsten Wendt, Sydney Schreiber, Hilary Peden and Sandra Lizioli… photobombed by our President Kirsten Ujvari!

Sydney was our speaking champion with a moving speech about regret.

Sydney, Carsten and Sandra gave in that order three insightful evalutions of Szuszanna’s target speech about Max, her dog … no sorry, cat, which was an entertaining and dramatic speech! Sandra won the judges’ hearts coming first, with Carsten second and Sydney third.

Sydney and Sandra will represent us at the Area Contest B1 at ToastMasterCard on Saturday 25 March. Congratulations to both of you! Break a leg!

Our next meeting is on Wednesday 12 April: the theme is Powerful Visuals with guest speaker Alexis Brouard. And two invited guests from the Brussels and Armada Clubs to experience our Advanced Club: join us!

Register on easy-Speak.

Activating our creative minds and abilities at the Artful Orators improvised storytelling challenge

by Owen Stafford

Once again I had the privilege of attending another amazing Artful Orators evening, once again in the beautiful, classical and historical La Fleur en Papier Doré. The event was billed as an Artfully Improvising meeting – a night where imaginations could be unleashed and creative storytelling abilities tested to the max. It would be the first time I would attend an improvisation workshop, so that aspect was particularly appealing. But maybe it wasn’t the first time I witnessed someone improvising per se. Because isn’t it already something a lot of us do, try to do, or need to do in daily lives? If so, then isn’t it best to learn through studying improv experts at their work?

While of course such an evening is full of fun, games, and storytelling, improvisation is a skill that can benefit all of us. It can help us to better think on our feet, increase our self-awareness, foster collaboration with others and help to throw off that veil of shyness which can easily inhibit us from expressing our thoughts and views, be it socially or professionally. Also unexpected issues and problems can occur anytime. Given the ‘spur of the moment’ nature of improvisation, this is a valuable exercise to teach us how to tackle the unforeseen and to do it with confidence.

For this workshop, the Artful Orators brought in Kelly Agathos, the driving force behind ATC Improv, Brussels’ first Anglophone improvisation society. Kelly is a member of the Brussels’ American Theatre Club’s resident improv troupe, The Ghost Sheep, and organises and hosts improv workshops regularly. Invited along for the evening by Artful Orators’ Jo Ann Broger, Kelly explained how to gain various improv skills in a series of fun and enjoyable games.

But before the improv workshop, we had a couple of entertaining and heartfelt speeches. The first was from Sabine Schoenangerer who tackled the theme Comfy or Crazy.  She did this with a personal story about love, informing the audience that she would soon be leaving Brussels and moving to Malmö in Sweden, for love. The audience congratulated her on this news, wishing her the very best. Yet there was some sadness that they will be losing their friend and fellow orator. But, as they say, love does conquer all.

Following that, new Artful Orator Zsuzsanna Corridori shared with the audience an amazing and powerful poem The Bards of Wales by Hungarian Poet János Arany, as part of the Specialty Speeches manual.  Dating from the 19th Century, it concerned the legend of King Edward I of England sending 500 Welsh bards to the stake for refusing to pay homage to their new monarch. It was their way of passively yet ardently resisting his rule, even if it meant their deaths.

Hilary Peden and Kirsten Ujvari respectively gave their evaluations with both words of praise and constructive advice on improvement.

Then came the main event: the improv workshop, where imagination and creativity were given free reign.

Kelly began by getting everyone into pairs for a bonding game called “bing bong”, which was something akin to performing in sync with a partner on the dance floor – both partners shout “Bong!” when they copy the same movement, thus increasing their bond.

It got all the orators suitably warmed up for the next session, dealing with word association. All the orators had to form a circle and were given a word or term to think about, for example sunshine. In turn they had to shout out the first word that came into their heads that best related to this term, such as beach or seaside. It was truly amazing to see how far meanings linked to a particular word can change and evolve, but also to see how people’s minds can both think alike but also very think so differently.

The next game up, possibly the most interactive of them all, was a bit more physical, involving orators improvising through actions. Again, everyone formed a circle and the game went as follows: when one person entered the ring pretending to be, for example, a tree, another would enter playing the part of a branch and then a third would come in pretending to be an apple.  The tree would then leave the ring, choosing to bring the branch or the apple along. If the branch were left then someone else would need to enter in a related role, such as a leaf or a bird.

This gave everyone the chance to let their creative juices flow. It was not just a game suited for quick-thinking talented improvisers. For some others – present company included – it allowed us to throw caution to the wind, get out there and feel comfortable about it. Earlier on, Kelly had stressed that this was the environment to say and act out whatever was on our minds, so the courage was plucked up and any lingering shyness or hesitancy quickly disappeared as everyone dived in.

The next game saw everyone split into groups of three or four, where one member would tell a story and would have to improvise depending on the instructions from other group members. If the story they told was interesting, they were instructed to continue; if one member felt it was boring, they would have to add details required to make it more interesting.

The next game was called ‘story, colour emotion’. All orators reverted back into a large circle. A member was picked out to tell an interesting story, adding extra layers of description and emotion. The speaker would be directed by his or her peers, with ‘emotion’ being shouted out if there wasn’t enough feeling in the narration, ‘story’ if it got boring or bogged down and ‘detail’ if it was really interesting and needed more. This was probably the most testing session of the night, especially for the chosen speaker who had to make up the story on the spot, from suggestions given by colleagues. Such topics on this occasion included heroine nurses, a heroine librarian teaching the President of the USA how to read and write properly on Twitter, and a story about… er… ‘the world’s greatest pizza lost in the toilet’ – most certainly challenging!  However, Kelly did highlight the usefulness of this game for Toastmasters in terms of learning how to properly use pace and pauses when giving a speech.

Sandra evaluating Kelly’s workshop.

Sadly, before we knew it, time had flown by and the workshop came to end, with everyone expressing their deep thanks to Kelly for her time and input. Sandra summed up everyone’s feeling in her evaluation, describing it as a fantastic experience and a treat for Artful Orators to host such a session, as well as wishing there had been more time to play more games.  She especially appreciated how relevant the workshop had been to Toastmasters and hoped they could do improvisation more often.

Marzena noted how everyone enjoyed the workshop and how it activated the audience’s brains with its benefits.

Kelly concluded that, while improvisation may be new to many Toastmasters and that time would be needed to get to grips with it, the games played throughout the evening could easily be practised – the more time put in to learn them, the more people could improve and increase their skills and techniques.

For more information on Kelly Agathos and her improv workshops and shows go to