My Toastmasters home club is not a big club. Like all smaller clubs, we double on roles when necessary and we have a few meetings that are pretty scrambly – as in we scramble to fill the roles and improvise a bit more than is good for us. At the beginning of the contest season – early for us this year – we asked for volunteers who wanted to compete. But by the date of the contest, all but two had dropped out. We ended up appointing those two contestants to represent us.
But when I got the agenda for the day’s meeting, the contest was still listed.
And our meeting room was usurped by the store where we meet and we were moved to…
The open café.
Where other people, mostly store employees, eat their lunches.
Do you sense disaster too?
Can’t we all participate? someone asked.
I’m as creative as the next person, but I couldn’t figure out how we could all participate, all judge, have a timer…
“Let’s run a trial contest,” said our awesome president. “Let’s learn how to do it.”
What a great idea! The timer got her papers, and the contest chair had three copies of the Judge’s Ballots.
In the middle of a slightly noisy café, we ran a contest. How to time – our timer had never been to a contest and didn’t know to keep the “ONE MINUTE OF SILENCE” timer going. The ever-popular “How to Fold a Judge’s Ballot” required a couple of minutes to master. Having the contestants leave the room and repeating the same prompt simply would not work, so our contest leader used a variety of prompts.
It was a fun meeting. It gave our contestant preparation for the upcoming area contest. I’ve now got timers trained for the future and three potential judges who could go to other clubs. I feel like our club, while not exactly providing a contest, has provided contestants with some contest experience. Our Contest Chair got her credit in her Competent Leadership manual.
When we have to hold our meetings in the café, (yes, that’s where we meet when we get bumped on a semi-regular basis,) we can consider it a “recruitment” meeting and make sure we have our pamphlets out and our banner prominently displayed. On those odd days when the store can’t give us the enclosed meeting room it’s too much work to announce a different location. Sometimes, when we’re not scheduled to get the room, we do get it. It’s simply not worth the effort for four or five meetings per year. This forces us to be creative.
If you’re an Area Governor, a Division Governor, or just a member of the club, thinking outside of the meeting room makes you creative. You may find that with some flexibility, the new venue will spark the meeting to new heights – and not go up in flames.by