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.
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.
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 😁
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.
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.