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Xplorers club in Milan, Italy

One of the activities every toastmaster should certainly engage yourself with when traveling abroad is to visit other toastmasters clubs to share experience and meet like minded people.
During my short stay in Milan,Italy I was lucky to have a chance to visit a meeting of the bilingual Xplorers toastmasters Club. It was their first meeting after a month of vacation in August. (Everybody in Italy is on vacation in August).
VP membership coordinates the visitors to the club since the space is limited. There were about 30 people present and at least 10 of them were visitors like me.
Since the club is bilingual only one speech out of four prepared speeches was in English. Everything else was in Italian. As one of the members sitting next to me said and I quote : “we are too lazy to
speak English” 😉
However, I still managed to grasp the main idea of the speeches delivered and now I’m 100 percent sure that our body language and vocal variety are strong tools in delivering any message.
The general evaluator of the meeting who is also the president Catherine Balavoine performed her role in English as a courtesy to me.
The agenda is very informative: I liked that it had project objectives and indication of min-max time limit.

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So here are the highlights of the meeting, some details which members of Astana Toastmasters Club may find interesting to know and perhaps later to implement in the club:
1) Everyone, even the visitors had a badge with his/her name which is really helpful when meeting new people. VP membership prepares and prints our all badges beforehand. Since I was not sure if I would be
able to make the visit: my badge was filled at the spot.

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2) Timer is equipped with a special device with green, yellow and red lights, as well as a bell which he rang from time to time to remind that, for example, it is time to move to the next point of the agenda.
The timer also rings the bell when a Speaker exceeds the maximum time limit for more than 10 seconds (I believe). There was also a honk which was not used. I guess it is used when someone severely violates
the time limit 😁

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3) All visitors receive the agenda and evaluation guides for all of the speeches. So everyone gives feedback following the guidelines on evaluation sheets. Three minutes are spared for that after each speaker. All feedback is collected by sergeant of arms and given to the speaker at the end of the meeting. Personally I found it too complicated to write a feedback for the speaker according to the evaluation guide, since there is an assigned speech evaluator and not everyone in the audience might be experienced enough to give such evaluations, especially it might be too much for the newcomers.

4) Voting is at the end of the meeting. And the votes are counted by the vote counter.
5) There were two grammarians: English and Italian. Each of them give their feedback at the end of the meeting. I especially liked how English grammarian explained the new word.

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6) There were two people in the agenda assigned as leadership evaluators. I didn’t have a chance to learn what their responsibilities were, but I guess they were responsible for filling out competent leadership manuals.
In general, I loved the meeting. The atmosphere was super relaxing and supportive. Everybody was so friendly and invited me to join for dinner after the meeting.
I wish I could stay to talk to people and share our practices but I couldn’t.
Though I don’t speak or comprehend Italian, two hours spent with Xplorers toastmasters made me once again understand that Toastmasters unite people around the world.

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Meeting Follow-up 5 December 2015 by Korlan Bektassova

Dear Toastmasters!
On Saturday December 5th Astana Toastmasters Club hosted a meeting dedicated to a beautiful country – Italy. Our guest – Ambassador His Excellency Mr. Stefano Ravagnan – gave a short speech about his diplomatic mission in Kazakhstan and current and future relations between our countries. His speech was followed by Q&A session from the audience. Questions varied from “Are there places in Astana where you can have genuine Italian food?” to “What are perspective spheres of Italian-Kazakh economic relations except energy?”

The regular Prepared Speakers Session began with Azamat Khamza giving his speech number 6 on Vocal variety. He talked about the importance of health using different vocal techniques.
Anuar Zhumabayev gave an after dinner talk about relationships between men and women and the importance of falling just not for the looks.
Azamat Makhsudov gave his second speech in ATC and it was about juggling and how using juggling techniques one can tackle a problem.

Our Ice breaker Gulzhanat Bekkaliyeva gave an ice breaker and we were surprised to know that this was not her first one. We hope that Gulzhanat will stick around and stay with ATC longer as we all look forward to hear her speeches in the future.
Everybody got votes but the majority (18 votes) went to Azamat Makhsudov who was named the best prepared speaker.

Table Topics Session was led by Diana Nutlessova who has prepared interesting questions about Italy and put them on colorful slides. Her questions were about Renaissance, culture, food and traditions, similarities between nations and so on. Our guest and active participant of Naiza Toastmasters Club in Kazakh language Fariza Makhai has won the best table topics speakers for describing her vision of Kazakhstan in 130 years where everybody speaks Kazakh and live in a prospering country.

Evaluation session was masterfully led by Yerlan Meirbek, whose team of ah counter Damira Kulakhmetova, grammarian Zhanna Kussainova and Timer Malika Kurmanalina did a good job and provided concise reports in the end of the session. Speech Evaluators Sholpan Keneskhanova, Asset Omirzhanov, Anuar Unaibekov and Yerlan Meirbek, provided their feedback to speakers and it turned out that Sholpan’s evaluation was most liked by the audience and the Best Speech Evaluator Award went to her.

Overall it was a wonderful meeting. We started and finished on time! I was glad to see former members of ATC (well there is no such word as former toastmaster) such as Chingiz Matayev and Aidyn Mambetov. There were many new comers and guests who hopefully will become future members.

P.s. Photos from the event are posted on ATC page on Facebook

Yours
Toastmaster of the meeting
Korlan Bektassova