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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 by Yerlan Meirbek

Hello my dears!

Today we had another great meeting. We started a little late, because of unexpected big number of guests. Personally, I believe this is a good reason 😉

Meeting started with guest speaker Mr. Jukka Maksimainen, managing partner at McKinsey Kazakhstan. Every time, when I learn we have a guest, I’m confident it will be a topnotch speaker. Today I was impressed by the depth of his thoughts. My favorite one – “Nothing is sure, everything is possible”. I will use this idea, as a positive affirmation for the morning.

 

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The next speaker was Assiya Babayeva. Her storytelling is at high-level as usual: strong vocabulary, unique voice variety are her hallmarks.

We also had two icebreakers: Indira Kyilybayeva and Chandan Sarma. Indira talked about the choice that every woman in Kazakhstan should take when she grew up. It can be either a housewife or a business lady. When I look at Indira, I see the person who can and will achieve both things.

Chandan, on the other hand, is an example of an impulsive person. He agreed to come to Kazakhstan in 10 minutes! This is a real fact. I think that is an example of courage.

Anara Serikbayeva presented her “Naked facts” about the vegetarian life style. She showed advantages and disadvantages of this nutrition. The best part of her speech was the reaction of Bairam, I really liked itJ

Table topic session was led by Anara. She prepared a bright and positive presentation. My favorite answer was from Chingiz Matayev. Chingiz is a very shiny speaker. I wish he would read these words and come back.

Yerzhan Omirkhanov led evaluation session. The team of ah-counter (Aigerim Kosheken), timer (Chandan) and grammarian (Assiya) made and excellent job: vivid points and a lot of useful details.

The best speaker was Indira Kyilybayeva.

The best table topic speaker was Chingiz Matayev.

The best evaluator was Aigerim Akiltayeva.

In the end, we still have room for improvement. We came here to learn and become better, so this is a part of education.

P.S. Today we had 40+ guests.

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Follow-up note from Anuar Zhumabayev – Country Day – Spain

2nd of July was the special day for Astana Toastmasters Club in many regards. It was the first meeting for the new officers’ team. We opened the speeches session with the guest speaker – his Excellency Pedro Jose Sanz, the ambassador of Spain in Kazakhstan and it was the first meeting, when we did not have paper agenda.

The last fact was not a plan, but rather an improvisation, since toastmaster of the meeting got under 10 minutes of heavy rain on the way to the meeting, which destroyed copies of agenda in a split of second. Therefore, we decided to put agenda on the projector.

Five minutes after 12:00 pm guests started to fill the room and we started. After toastmaster’s routine in the beginning, we had a chance to listen to the ambassador, who spoke a lot about his country’s economics, culture and place in this ever-changing world. During questions & answer session, enquires about ambassador’s opinion on football, education and Kazakhstan-Spain relationships were coming from members and guests passionately. Overall, this session went quite well and got interest of members in guests in Spain.

What helped to induce this interest with additional spark was table topic session. Though some of the questions were quite tough and challenging, resulting in long pauses of awkwardness, when no one wanted to come to answer them, we had a revelation during the last two questions, when Kanat sang and Asset danced. The best table topic speaker award went to Asset Omirzhanov.

Then the “diamond part” of the meeting came around – prepared speeches session. Our ice-breaker, Assiya Kurmanova, shared her flame of love to Spain; Zhantuar Yertayev delivered science fiction story with human essence in what seemed were 1000 different words; Sogdiana Akhmetova showed us again that she is “one of a kind” girl with sharing her experience on climbing the mountains; and Yerlan Meirbek delivered bad news (his manual project) in the manner, which only he could.

The best prepared speaker was Sogdiana Akhmetova.

Evaluation session was led by Yerlan Meribek, and all speaker received useful feedback which I personally hope they will take into account for their next projects, but the “best” title went to the rising star of the club, recent competent communicator, Asset Abuov.

In its entirety, the “Country Day: Spain” meeting was a good example of one of our club’s main ideas: learn by practice, strive to excellence, but always remember – there is a room for improvement in even the most “ideal” performance anyone can deliver, and it is our job to not forget about it, when we step up on the stage, which ATC provides us.

Toastmaster of the meeting,

Anuar Zhumabayev

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Follow-up by Zhantuar Yertayev – 24 MAY 2016

Good day, fellow toastmasters and anyone who is reading this!

Take a glance at a recap about ATC Tuesday meeting which was held on 24th of May 2016 at Nazarbayev University.

The meeting was started 10 minutes later because our General Evaluator was stuck in a traffic jam and we couldn’t start without his laptop, so the current President Anuar Zhumabayev gave the order to adapt and start from a Table Topic Session (TTS) after his opening speech. Anuar Unaibekov was performing as a Table Topic Master and asked unusual questions about adventures in our lives. We heard a story of 30 years old marriage from Gabit Mataev (who was also an Ah-counter) and saw a great example of coming to a solution and problem solving. This sincere sharing brought him the Best Table Topic Speaker award. Yernar Zhylkaidarov made us burst into laughter with his story about scorpion and slipper. Assiya Kurmanova told the plan she would follow if she was stuck like Tom Hanks on an island; I wish I will be stuck on that island as well. Anuar Zhumabayev was reminiscing the adventure he had when he was 4 years old and how collective work can bring results. Indira Kyilybayeva told us that the best book and a movie about adventures is Harry Potter. I can hardly deny that. Korlan Bektassova shared her first experience with law representatives and now we know where to seek for relatives. Overall, The TTS was emotional and personal, maybe that’s why I remember it in details.

Then we moved to General Evaluator Yerzhan Omirkhanov presenting his team. Our timer was also late so I thank Yernar Zhylkaidarov for taking this role. Yerkenaz Zholumbayeva presented the word, quote and joke of the day.

The Prepared Speeches Session started right after that. Yerlan Meirbek was talking about the feedback in our lives and gave us two techniques to give useful advices. He had a scene with me where he shared his experience in choosing a spouse which made me drown in my memories and emotions so I forgot my duties. The second speaker was Indira Kyilybayeva who gave us methodology of raising and coaching your team. She also talked about leadership and filled the presentation with a lot of examples from her work, life and ATC duties. That evening she was the Best Prepared Speaker. The third speaker Yerzhan Omirkhanov raised an issue of Healthcare system and told us a sad story which left our hearts weeping that evening.

Evaluation session was led by Yerzhan Omirkhanov. Anuar Zhumabayev evaluated Yerlan Meirbek and pointed out his “scientific approach” in personal advices. Korlan Bektassova, who substituted Anara Serikbayeva, gave a constructive feedback to Indira Kyilybayeva and got the votes as a Best Evaluator. Anuar Unaibekov gave a positive and motivating feedback to Mr General Evaluator and speaker Yerzhan Omirkhanov.

The guest talk session was held by 4 yet non members and after it Yerlan Meirbek, Korlan Bektassova reminded everyone about upcoming election on 28 of May, Saturday.

In the end we voted for our new member Yerkenaz Zholumbayeva to join our family.

Me as a toastmaster made sure that everyone enjoyed the meeting by asking the audience in the end.

I would like to thank my mentor Asset Omirzhanov for giving me advices and guiding me throughout my ATC adventure and moreover reigniting my passion to the fooling around. You are the best lighthouse bro!

Thank you all for being supportive and friendly while my personal ATC journey, as Anuar Zhumabayev told I have ups and downs in my performance but I promise that I will continue aiming to the top.

Sincerely yours,

Zhantuar Yertayev.

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Follow-up Note from Nuni Asker 14 May 2016

Dear toastmasters,

I apologies for the late follow-up-note about the meeting we held on 14th May 2016.

First of all I want to mention that it was my first time of being a toastmaster, so I was nervous and excited at the same time.

Well, 14th May morning was beautiful and sun was shining. It seemed everyone was pleased.

We started our meeting a little bit later than usual due to some of our participants were late.

Usually, our meetings consist of 3 parts. But this meeting was not usual, it was dedicated to Speech Marathon, that was why we skiped over Table Topics session, and left just 2 parts – Prepared speeches session and Evaluation session.

We had 7 amazing speakers, and our 1st speaker was Zhantuar Yertaev with his speech “ The heart is the strongest muscle”. I expected his speech was going to be about anatomy and physiology of heart, but I was wrong. It was all about the love, his love, about a girl he loved once. He told us very personal, sincere story and described his girlfriends’ appearance in detail with enthusiasm. Second speaker was Anuar Unaibekov, who presented his project Uplift the spirit from Specialty speeches. Next speaker was Indira Kyilybayeva, who was concerned and gave a speech “ Why we have too few women leaders?”. Forth speech “ Blood donation” was delivered by Yerlan Meirbek. This one was encouraging and motivated audience to be a blood donor and save the lives. Fifth speaker was our long-distance runner Aigerim Akiltaeva with inspiring speech “ My 36 km of heaven or how to start running”. Next speech was delivered by Olessya Akimenko on title “ Cheating is bad… if you get caught”. The prepared speeches session was closed by an ice-breaker Aidana Koptileuova with her “ The fish story”.

Second part of the meeting was led by general evaluator Asset Abuov with his wonderful team of speech evaluators, ah-counter, grammarian and timer.

The best speaker and evaluator awards went to Zhantuar Yertaev and Assel Stambekova accordingly.

In my personal opinion, to lead the meeting was not easy but interesting, fun and full of warmth. I really enjoyed the meeting and the role of toastmaster. Also we managed to finish on time.

I would like to thank all of the speakers, role-takers, members and guests who came to support the meeting and making it lively! Special thank to Korlan Bektassova for her help and advices!

See you soon!

With love,

Nuni Asker

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Follow-up Note from Anuar Zhumabayev

On 17th of May, Astana Toastmasters Club held an additional meeting at Nazarbayev University Research and Innovation Center. New venue – new possibilities.

The meeting was structured in a usual way – with three sessions: one, dedicated to prepared speeches, second, to the topic of the meeting, which was “Make love, not War” and the evaluation session. The audience consisted of members, soon-to-be members and a couple of experienced guests and first-timers. Due to the new location and traffic on the left bank, some of role-takers were late, but at 19:45 we were ready to launch the meeting.

After a small introduction of the meeting format and crack laughing between couple guys from the audience to relieve tiredness after a long working day, we proceeded with the Prepared Speeches Session. First speaker, Zhantuar Yertayev, incorporated a lot of “show on the body” approach in his “The Two Dialogues” presentation about how people interacted with each other by their body language, adding Yerzhan and Tana to his speech, as “supplemental instruments”. I, myself, in my presentation spoke a little about coaching session and performed a role-play with Anuar Unaibekov. Our final speaker – Olessya Akimenko told us the original story about traveling adventures, as her “Moral of the story” project. All speakers received votes for the “Best prepared speaker” nomination and the winner with one-vote advantage was Zhantuar Yertayev.

The table topic session was led by Yerzhan Omirkhanov, who prepared provoking questions, which were mostly related to the emotional side of love. Impromptu speakers tried to share their stories about their relationship with love, as their lives go on, and we heard six interesting takes on “the secret crush”, “love at the first sight” and “the essence of the feeling itself”. The winner took home a “Twix” chocolate and the second place was awarded with “Snickers”. Two chocolate bars in one pack went to Tansholpan Seisembayeva, who shared the story about crushes and how we go from there.

Evaluation session was led by Olessya Akimenko and all speech evaluators were out of time in their respective time slots, though all of them provided useful suggestions to speakers, trying to be constructive and positive. The best evaluator award went to me for “not that judgmental” take on speech of our third prepared speaker.

At the end of the meeting, we almost forgot to vote for our new member – Aidana Koptileuova, but, fortunately, we didn’t. Aidana shared her desire to become a strong part of our club and invited all of us to the “Night at the Museum” event. And after that, we adjourned the meeting and went outside at approximately 21:15, where Yerzhan was amazed that light from the sun was still there. Summer is coming, folks! Let’s enjoy it!

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Follow up note/ 2nd of April

Dear toasmasters!
2nd of April, on Saturday meeting, we had a regular meeting dedicated to Jokes and Pranks. The meeting has started on time with some changes in agenda but overall it was smooth and very Fun. As I noticed, speakers are getting better and better. Very good job! Thank you to our excellent speakers for their outstanding preparation.
The prepared speech session opened VP Education Korlan Bektassova. She presented Storytelling Project 5, bringing history to life with the Title “The Warrior Princess”. She brought up a story about gracious Tomiris and brave Rustam as usual using great rhetorical devices and rich vocabulary. Thus quote stuck in my mind: ” Behind every successful man is a woman, behind every successful woman is herself”.
The second speaker, Sogdiana Akhmetova, has completed the 5th project from CC manual, Your body speaks. She shared us a personal extreme story, and she greatly involved us in experiencing the bungee jumping and we really felt like we were jumping with her too.
The third speaker, Indira Kyilybayeva presented Interpretive reading #4 The Play. Anton Chekhov, Backboneless. She made us laugh and cry. I was speechless after her presentation, nowadays it is so actual. Dear toastmasters, always know and protect your rights. Read a play.
Anara Issayeva completed Project 3, Get to the point with the title “Cheap. Effective. Easy.” Anara did a hilarious job! She persuaded us to make compliments and she proved us how effective they can be! Сheap, effective, Easy! Definitely!
Askar Aitymov, Anuar Unaibekov’s little brother made his first entertaining ice breaking speech! Very soon, he will be among ATC members, hopefully!

The evaluation session was lead by Damira Kulakhmetova. Her team: Ah counter – Bairam Orazov, Timer- Ali Akiltayev, Grammarian- Myrzakhan Omarbayev arrived on time and performed their duties very well.
Evaluators were all professional speakers and they gave very useful feedback: Asem Panova, Aidar Abrayev, Asset Omirzhanov, Anara Serikabayeva and Assiya Babayaeva respectively.

The tabletopic session was lead by humorous Asset Abuov. The audience loved his questions and laughed a lot. ATC loves a black humor, but some of them like Asset Omirzhanov and Korlan Bektassova spit further :)
It was very challenging for audience to make their choice because all the speakers were different and outstanding. However, Indira and Anara were chosen as favorites one! The best evaluator became Asset Omirzhanov. in this life no one can surpass him! The best table topic speaker- Samat Panov! The same thing as with Asset. Not in this life :)
With best wishes,
your toasmaster
Zhanna Kussainova

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Follow UP. March 29, 2016.

Dear Toastmasters,
Once Nuni said that when she first heard the ‘Toastmasters’ word it sounded for her like ‘Toastmonsters’. On this Tuesday, the 29th of March, we really witnessed speeches not from simple toastmasters, but from toastmonsters of our club.
Yerlan Meirbek opened prepared speeches session with his really entertaining speech. He cracked jokes about Yernar’s military service, his VIP haircut, ‘SIR YES SIR’ and stuff; about our best grammarian Banu and his own mistake on ‘imAgine’ word; about Anuar and his dreams of ending this presidency term; about myself and my belief that everything will be VERY GOOD, VERY GOOD, YEEEAH; and finally about Samat’s dream of 50th anniversary of our wonderful club. Although, as you see there was a lot of funny jokes, he managed not only to entertain the audience, but simultaneously to do an experiment and to convey a deep message that, if you set a long term goal, you will be much more productive than you are without it, no matter whether you are the person who does things ahead of required time, right on time or out of time. Thank you Yerlan, I always feel like a million dollars when I listen to your speeches.
The second speaker was Korlan Bektassova, with her own translation of Alexander Ivanovich Kuprin’s story about two loving dogs couple: Barbos, the dog that is kind of gangster of his district and the second character of the story was well-mannered Zhul’ka, which was real queen of the house and somehow she has less characters of dog than even some people have.))) Finally, truth be told, it was not a happy ending story. Nonetheless, Korlan definitely managed to touch hearts not only of those people who were able to understand her advanced level vocabulary, but even the heart of a person, who understood everything from her beautiful voice and touching eyes, I mean my heart, of course. By the way, I gave a try to find it in English and, probably I did it not thoroughly enough, but I couldn’t find the English version of the story. Probably, you are the first who did it. Thank you Korlan, that was amazing!
The last, but by far not the least speaker of the meeting was the best speaker of the meeting, Asem Panova, with her also very sincere and concurrently entertaining speech from far 1992. By that time, she was a sort of ‘bad’ girl of about 14 years old, who was really lucky to pass an exam and to enter a class with the highest level of English, while, from her own words, her English was literally hopeless. Asem said that most of the time, her life was easy for her and now, there is kinda balance in their family, because all the misfortune laid on her husband’s shoulders. ))) Anyway, I wish you both to be as shining as you are now and, I hope that Asem’s luck won’t leave you for the rest of your lives. Thank you Asem for such a beautiful story, it’s always exciting to open new edges of your astonishing personality.
Tana Seisembayeva led the Table Topic Session, where the best table topic speaker was Samat Panov. It was also very surprising to open some new sides of his life and one of the real sources of his enormous confidence. Thank you Samat for braveness of opening your heart to us and, I’m sure that now there is no simple hesitation in the fact that you are rather good man, as you can understand from my previous letter. P.S. Tana, thank you for your eagerness, you did it just excellently.
The Evaluation Session was led by Yerzhan Omirkhanov. By the way, I’m the only person who knows with what level of responsibility Yerzhan performed this role, calling me before the meeting and preparing to this role thoroughly in advance. The best evaluator of the meeting was Assiya Babayeva and she really deserved it. However, Anara Serikbayeva and Samat Panov gave very qualitative evaluations as well, receiving good numbers of votes from the audience. The Ah-counter, Timer, and Grammarian were Yernar Zhylkaidarov, Nuni Asker, and Banu Ibragim, respectively. Even though all the speakers were so experienced, Banu managed to find a bunch of mistakes in pronunciation and that was really useful. All in all, the evaluation session was held just smoothly, thank you all who contributed Yerzhan in this session.
By the end of the meeting, there was a great news from Yerzhan about cycling event that will be arranged by him in about 2 weeks. We are looking forward to this event Yerzhan and besides, you can write to our common chat, if you need helping with organizing the event, because we have an abundance of people who will be happy to facilitate you with this burden.
Overall, a lot of thanks go to all who took a part in building that warm atmosphere, which was in the air throughout the meeting. Thank you guys!!!
Best regards,
Anuar Unaibekov
Toastmaster of the meeting

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Follow up note on Speech marathon, March 26

Dear Toastmasters,

Today we had a speech marathon with eight speakers, great atmosphere and a lot of fun as usual. Let me describe everything step by step.

The first speaker was our ‘perfect’ man, Asset Omirzhanov with his project from Leadership Excellence Series Set aimed to motivate people. Asset presented us some basic and essential componenents of effective motivation. Then we had the 9th project of Competent Communicator manual, ‘Persuade with power’ by Aigerim Kosheken. She talked about wisdom in regret, particularly she encouraged us to pay more attention and dedication towards our parents which is needy to be mentioned and reminded.

The third speaker was Damira Kulakhmetova giving her project #7. Damira researched and tried to answer what made up a startup. Afterwards there was Aigerim Akiltayeva with project #2 whithin which she was supposed to make an appropriate outline. The title of her speech was “face to face with the world” or “travelling solo”: why to do it and how to do it unbelievable.

After a series of Competent Communicator projects we had 2 experienced speakers. The fifth one was Olessya Akimenko doing assignment #5 from Interpersonal communication manual. Olessya not only gave us some tips on how to assert yourself effectively but also with the help of Aidar Abrayev enacted a role play where asserting came into action. Then another experienced speaker, the best prepared speaker of 2015, Indira Kyilybayeva addressed project #2 from Speaking to inform manual. She shared with the audience some learning tips and tricks in order to get prepared for some tasks or assignments, especially exams, tests and other official stuff.

Our marathon was closed by two different speeches. One was the last project of CC, entitled “First goes happiness” and aimed to inspire the audience. Our “Macmillan dictionary” of useful quotes and phrases, Anuar Unaibekov presented this project in which he talked about the easiest and the most difficult notion as happiness. He used a great technique – made the audience stood up, did some exercises an laughed a lot. Good job! Finally we attracted a new potential member….by the way not potential, real one as he paid the fees )) – the ice breaker, Bairam Orazov who was talking about how he lost his weight through yoga classes held by a beautiful blond slim lady, found the real meaning and taste of life, his current values and many othe interesting things.

Guess who became the best…? The man who finally got CC off his chest :) My congratulations go to Anuar Unaibekov!

The evaluation session was lead by Olessya Akimenko and we also had a full house of evaluators, experienced, focused and quite critical. But…. it’s hard to compete with perfection…Asset Omirzhanov became the best, sorry the perfect one 😉

Overall thanks every participator for your role of the marathon and let’s get fit and prepared for the next one.

Assiya Babayeva,
Toastmaster