Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A Toast to Toastmasters

I used to be a member of the Toastmasters International Club - the club that teaches people how to speak, think and listen (not necessarily in that order). But because my mom does not want me to expose certain details of my life to live audiences, I have stopped being an official member of the club.

However, I do get invited to attend their meetings - particularly that of Sultan Toastmasters Club - once in a while. It's always a joy to attend a Toastmasters meeting. There is so much camaraderie and friendly banterings.

The Theme for the Day was "Think Out of the Box". An overused term, we would say, but still useful.

The meeting started at exactly 7:30 p.m. and ended at 11 p.m. There was the usual call to order, invocation, salute to the flag, Toastmasters Promise, and Toastmasters Welcome.

Everyone introduced himself/herself and answered the question: "What is one moment of love that you will cherish forever." Since it was my birthday recently, I simply talked of how friends and loved ones greeted and treated me out on the day when I turned 48.

There was only one real guest who was a "walk-in participant", named Toots. (Same nickname as that of my brother-in-law.) Although he was "taciturn" [the word of the day], Toots turned out to be the National Sales Manager of a huge manufacturing company.

Table Topics was basically impromptu speaking and the topics were unforgettable life experiences: one's first job, first car, first time to operate a computer and first book. It was thinking out of the box, alright - i.e. thinking out of the present box.

There were three Prepared Speeches entitled "Songs in the Night", "Under the Sea" and "An Anti-Virus Proposal". Wonderful and interesting speeches, judging by the titles alone. But frankly, I wasn't listening too well because I was preparing for my evaluation of the Table Topics session.

Then comes the Evaluation portion led by the General Evaluator for the evening, no less than Madam Sonia Roco. I gave my Table Topics Evaluation quite nervously but the members of the audience were rather impressed with it. The other evaluators were also impressive as they obviously listened to the speeches. Then, there was the grammarian's report, timer's report, ah counter's report and finally, the general evaluation.

Closing remarks were delivered by the Toastmaster of the Evening. After some announcements, the meeting was adjourned. But participants stayed around to chat and exchange contact numbers.

If you were more confused than enlightened by my account of the evening, that was my objective. I wanted you to be more curious about Toastmasters International. Search for it online and look for a club nearest or most convenient for you to go to. Just like Toots, you can just drop in and join!

I believe I am a better public speaker, listener and thinker today because of Toastmasters.

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