One of the most anticipated activities on my long list of sights to see and things to do during my recent trip to London was attending a Toastmasters meeting. I thought it would be a fantastic opportunity to see how the locals lived and to experience Toastmasters in another culture – and my expectations were exceeded!!
I researched London options on the Toastmasters International website several months before my trip – there were quite a few meetings at times that were convenient for my schedule and location, but I was most excited about the Riverside Communicators meeting due to their Facebook posts. I reached out in advance, and a member responded quickly and affirmatively.
It was quite an adventure getting to and from the meeting in Twickenham — “just figuring out” public transportation in a foreign country, at night, and with a dead cell phone battery is not something I recommend – but fortunately for me, it worked out beautifully and made for a funny story to tell.
Riverside Communicators meet twice per month and have a two-hour meeting agenda. Their club has 60+ members, and over 30 people of all ages and nationalities were in attendance this particular evening. The meeting started with the Grammarian recounting her recent visit to Kathmandu on business and how she crashed a Himalaya Toastmasters meeting. Wow. So global!
There were four prepared speeches – content included a trip on the Blue Danube, an opinion about women wearing hijabs, a humorous speech about statistics, and a discussion about the recent Scotland vote on its independence.
|Nicole Smith from District 25 with
Londoners Heidy Ashley-Hacker, and Tudor Borlea.
The TopicsMaster skillfully made a timely current event, Scotland and politics, hilarious as evidenced by the prompt I was given: “it’s said that Scottish men don’t wear anything under their kilts”. I don’t remember exactly how I phrased my response, but I referenced the Texas saying about some men who are “all buckle, no cattle”. It got a big laugh and lots of votes – I won!
|Eel Pie Pub|
Several meeting differences included the General Evaluator was someone from outside their club who objectively evaluated the overall meeting, and they included the Grammarian in the “Best Evaluator” vote. Similarities included the overall meeting organization, the friendliness of the membership, the ribbons (I left mine there – as I was laughingly accused of stealing their ribbon and taking it “across the pond”), and the social time after the meeting (they go to a pub!).
Overall, it was a fantastic experience, and I highly recommend attending a Toastmasters meeting in every place you visit.