A couple of months back, I came across an e-mail about “Travelling Toasties”. The idea is for club members to visit other clubs, with the aim of supporting them and also gaining insight into other ways of running their own meetings.
“What a fantastic idea!” I thought. This coincided with the start of my Master’s degree, which is at Salford University, North Manchester. I would never travel that far without a specific reason, especially to a large city!
Finding a Suitable Club to Visit
I researched which groups were in the area, when they would meet, and when I would be in Manchester at a suitable time to visit. Once I had found two suitable groups, which I would be able to visit, I contacted them and asked about visiting. Just as Toastmasters expects from us all, they were friendly and gave me information to make it as easy as possible
Similar, but Different!
I visited Manchester Orators. Based in the centre of a large city, it draws a large, varied group. I was asked to make notes and share any thoughts, and so I diligently recorded every variation in methods I could spot, both positive and negative. It was amazing to see a different group in action. While it was essentially the same, small differences were apparent, which made the meeting feel very different. The atmosphere was so different too. It was a much more varied age range, with a much younger average age. This really came across in the energy of the room.
The current president was very friendly and inviting. He really knew how to make a meeting engaging. I enjoyed it so much, that I have been to all but one of their meetings since then. Since they are such a large group, with so many guests every meeting, they have a third meeting every month, open only to members. The third meeting is a lot more relaxed, with more time, more opportunities, and even a jokes master slot available!
Alas, Fate Intervenes….
In a month I will not be visiting Manchester on Thursdays, due to a change in timetabling. This brings about an end to my visits to Manchester Orators. While I am sad to no longer make it, I will make one speech on my final visit, and be grateful for my chance to meet some great people, and make many new friends.