Summer travel plans? Try Toastmasters

Summer is a time to get away from the drone of everyday life. Maybe your members are feeling a need to getaway from their regular club routine. So why not take your Toastmasters meeting on the road?

After you have decided on a Toastmasters destination, use these travel tips to make the most of your joint meeting.  Challenger Toastmasters did exactly that, when it hosted a joint meeting with Japanese-English Toastmasters (JET) several weeks ago.

  1. Illustration: Toastmasters planeMEET NEW PEOPLE. Members of both the Challenger and JET Toastmasters clubs were invited to come early and mingle beforehand, which helped us get to know each other. There was also time on the agenda for the clubs to introduce themselves. Finally, make sure to pair speakers with evaluators from the other club to provide unique and objective feedback.
  2. ENJOY A NEW CULTURE. JET has a range of members including people who were born in Japan or who studied in Japan to those with an interest in the country and culture. We even learned about an 80-year old Japanese DJ! This appealed to members of Challenger Toastmasters, which has a lot of creative energy, as displayed by a recent “whodunit”-style table topics one of its members conducted. Joint meetings are often a Toastmasters melting pot, and are great ways to entice members of other clubs to join your club too.
  3. KNOW THE LANGUAGE. The shared language of Toastmasters (i.e., roles, meeting structure) helped facilitated the combined meeting. However, just as anyone who has seen a football game in Great Britain knows that their football doesn’t have quarterbacks or touchdowns, some terms may have different meanings and require translation.  For example, Challenger has modified the Ah-Counter role. Make sure to clarify any idiosyncrasies in your Toastmasters dialect.
  4. PLAN IN ADVANCE AND COMMUNICATE THE PLAN. Try to plan at least two to three meetings or six to eight weeks in advance, and announce the details often and in multiple formats: in-person at meetings, in emails and on your website. Challenger Toastmasters set the date and started planning almost three months in advance. Co-pilots Emily Orr, JET president, and James Reeves, JET vice president for education, made sure that the club knew well in advance the time, date and location. Advance planning also meant that when Challenger Toastmasters’ vice president of education had an unexpected work commitment, we still had a solid agenda.

As the summer vacation mode sets in, pack your bags and get ready to explore new territory: a foreign Toastmasters club.

Pia Duryea, ALB/ACB, is President of Challenger Toastmasters, an evening club that meets in Courthouse Plaza in Arlington, Virginia, on the first and third Tuesdays. She also is Vice President of Membership for State of Speaking Toastmasters, a daytime club that meets the first and third Wednesdays in Rossyln, Virginia. Her favorite meeting role is as Table Topics Master. “I love the new things I learn about my fellow Toastmasters from (hopefully) thought-provoking questions.”