I was going to Perth for a holiday and wanted to check out how a Toastmasters meeting was conducted in a foreign country. From Toastmasters International website, I found that out Victoria Park Toastmasters Club is near where I would be staying. I decided to send an email requesting permission for a club visit on 15 November 2010. Within hours, Gerry Prewett replied with a warm invitation to visit his club.
Thanks to Gerry’s map, I managed to locate their venue easily. Not only was he helpful and efficient, he even waived my guest’s fees and proudly gave me a 5 minutes slot as the inspirational speaker, to talk about Malaysia and District 51.
The club meeting was held at The Homestead, a senior centre in Victoria Park. I learned that this was a senior centre hall where the public can rent and hold activities such as talks, games and functions.
I reached the place earlier to check it out and helped them set up the meeting room. The hall was very spacious and clean, and we were seated in a horse shoe style arrangement. The Victoria Park members were very punctual and the meeting started on time.
The Toastmaster of the day Robyn Lloyd introduced me as their special guest and after the Grammarian informed everybody the word of the day, I was invited to present my 5 minutes Inspirational talk. I introduced Malaysia and told them about our tourist attractions and what we are famous for, our diversified culture and our 3 main races. Then I shared a little about District 51, the history of how we started in 1985, how we went through our reformation in 2003 with a new District 80 born, and in 2009 how we saw a rapid growth in District 51 that made us undergo another reformation whereby District 87 was born.
The meeting then continued with 2 speakers giving their project speeches. I was engrossed and was amazed on how well they presented their speeches with no speech crutches and managed to capture everyone’s full attention. I learnt a little trick from Sandra Morton’s CC speech no. 2 - Speaking Off the Cuff. She taught us that in Toastmasters, it is always easier to relate a project speech back to one’s personal surroundings and experiences. She quoted “I can talk about my supposedly billionaire uncle or grandma who witnessed the World War 2. Nobody would ever notice if I went a little off topic about the stories I tell, because it is all about me. No one can ever challenge topics relating to me because no one would know the truth better than me, myself and I.”
After the 2 project speeches, they had their Table Topics session followed by Table Topics evaluation. Another 2 speakers then proceeded to present their project speeches. After the project speeches and reporting from the role players, I was given 5 minutes to share my experience of attending this meeting. I took the opportunity to present gift and souvenirs I had bought from Malaysia, to the club and members attending this meeting. The meeting ended on time followed by a short tea session where I got to interact with fellow Toastmasters.
Overall I managed to bring home a wealth of knowledge gathered from the meeting, their presentation of speeches, their cheerful spirit and professional conduct throughout the meeting. On top of that, I even made some new friends. We exchanged name cards and Facebook contacts and we have kept in touch since then!
Contributed by Michelle Yip, KPMG KL Toastmasters Club