I’ve been a member of Toastmasters for eleven years and over that period I’ve become a big advocate of visiting other clubs. When asked why, I usually say that, all Toastmasters clubs follow the same basic meeting recipe yet each has its own unique and distinctive ‘flavour’.
I love meeting new Toastmasters, hearing their stories and learning about – well everything.
Visiting Toastmasters Clubs around the globe
It has always been possible for Toastmasters to visit other clubs abroad, but it’s suddenly become a whole lot easier (and cheaper). The rapid switch to online clubs has opened up the whole of the global Toastmasters community in a way that we could never have envisaged just a few weeks ago. I know because I’ve been club surfing while in home isolation.
Here’s where I’ve been
Since 23 March, I’ve been to 22 clubs on all 5 continents plus 4 Division Conferences and a D79 (Saudi Arabia) Leadership presentation.
The first was Paris Toastmasters, where I know fellow Toastmaster Carol Bausor. Vive la France!
Dnipro Toastmasters in Ukraine held a themed meeting “Cats & Dogs” introducing members’ pets on a slide show and carrying the theme through speeches and Table Topics. I was delighted when my impromptu story about our rescue dog won Best Table Topics award. I liked this quote:
“Don’t you feel like we are all trapped on the huge cruise ship called Earth
and there is nowhere to escape?”
The same day, I discovered Storytellers Sunday, an initiative by the Eastern Europe District Director which attracted 110 visitors in as many cities. We heard six stories on “The Meaning of Life” then an Open Mic session gave us three more tales. I have been twice more on “Lies, Lies, Lies” and “Oops, I did it Again”. You can find the group on Facebook.
Dun Laoghaire outside Dublin were charming with lilting Irish accents. I loved the fact that they start and end their meetings with an aphorism:
“What lies in the well of your heart comes up in the bucket of your speech.”
I also came across a new role, that of Poetmaster, who shared a poem about lock-down.
In one day, I visited three clubs. At lunchtime, I sat in on TK Maxx’s corporate club in London; the very polite and respectful Emerald Toastmasters in Nigeria; before finishing off the day at London Victorians to hear three mini-debates on Monarchy, legalizing drugs, and pros and cons of Artificial Intelligence. Wow, what a day!
As I speak fluent Dutch, I chose to visit Toastmasters Antwerpen in Belgium, a club I had visited many times in person when I lived there. Their theme was one of my favourites: “Personal Development books”.
Another day of three meetings: the energy-filled Bangkok Toastmasters in Thailand where I was Table Topics Evaluator and learned that they do not need to hoard toilet rolls as at home, they use bidet sprayer; Pinnacle Advanced Toastmasters in Sri Lanka where 50% of members are DTMs and finally, Experience French in London where I was Table Topics Master.
I met President “Tom in the Hat” at Eloquent Entrepreneurs in Denver, Colorado, a club for members with the entrepreneurial mindset. Three Toastmasters also visited from Taiwan. The next day, I attended one of my old Belgian clubs, Fonske Leuven, where I took on the General Evaluator role. I was a charter member of the club in 2009 and it was wonderful to be reunited with some of the other founding members including one, whose first-ever speech I heard and now he’s a DTM!
On Friday, I visited Singapore Online Speakers, where I had the privilege of hearing the 2001 World Champion of Public Speaking, Darren Le Croix, deliver a presentation on creating “Unforgettable Presentations.” You can hear this at the D91 Conference. The next day, I visited Gemstones in Nigeria along with visitors from several countries.
In the last ten days, I have visited clubs in Brussels (Anglo/Spanish), Marbella (Spain), Antwerp (again), Bangkok (different club), Baghdad (young professionals), Pinnacle Advanced in Johannesburg as Grammarian and this morning, Foveaux in New Zealand. Tonight, I’m going back to my first club, Toastmasters Hasselt in Belgium to give a speech and be Table Topics Master.
A great way to make more of your membership
As well as these international clubs, I attended Division H Conference where I picked up valuable online presenting tips from the Target Speaker in the Evaluation Contest, who gave a talk entitled “How to be a Zoom Director.” Division K had not one but three past World Champions as Keynote speakers. I gave my ACG Leadership presentation in the Division A Conference and was honoured to be invited to be the Target Speaker for Division J. I would not normally have travelled to these events and paid the entrance fee but now could benefit all for free!
In four weeks, I have visited all these clubs and events, met hundreds of Toastmasters, made new friends and made dozens of pages of notes, all for the price of my Toastmasters membership. International visiting online is a great way to make the most of your membership. Lock-down will not last for much longer so I recommend making the most of the opportunity.
Want to have a go?
By now, you should have some appreciation of the enormous range of Toastmasters experiences.
So how do you get started?
There are many different ways to find online Toastmasters clubs. Here’s how I do it:
- By Location
Go to www.Toastmasters.org. Select “Find a Club” and type in a location. Contact the club and ask for details of their online meetings.
- Via easySpeak
If you want to find clubs in the UK, log into easySpeak, click on Organization (left-hand column) then select D91, then Meetings. Now select Calendar (top left) and “All online meetings” in the drop-down menu (bottom left). You will see clubs listed on every date. Choose one, click on the meeting manager and send an email.
- Via Facebook
- Some unofficial lists that members are compiling:
Remember to check the time zone of the meeting against UK BST time. You can do this here: https://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/converter.html
No need to pack your suitcase. Enjoy your travelling.
President, Shilling Speakers
Immediate Past Area A1 Director