A Different Perspective
7th April, 2017

Oddly enough, by the end of my term, I have decided to start keeping the secretary’s diary. If it goes well, I hope to continue it with the diary of VP PR.

I joined the Moscow Free Speakers Club in spring 2016, and soon became a Secretary of the club in the following summer. I have witnessed the growth of my club and some changes that happened since then, some of which occurred with my personal involvement. Being enrolled with such a social enterprise takes effort and self indulgence. Not only does it teach me communication and leadership skills, but also gives the opportunity to learn how to work in a team and take criticism.

However, focussing solely on the club that I am part of narrows down my outlook and makes critical thinking difficult. To be more specific, when I was a General Evaluator last time, I found it problematic to see what people could improve in their performances. Having reflected upon that, I realized, there were two basic issues in my judgement. First, unconscious bias in favor of my club in general and of the meeting attendees in particular. The cause of the bias, I believe, lies partially in my personal involvement with the club, and also in my responsibility for managing minor roles. The second issue is the lack of basis for judgement, as it were. To my view, that basis can be developed by constantly looking at good and not so good examples of roles performing and speeches delivering necessarily followed by comprehensive evaluating. Hopefully, there are other clubs out there, besides MFSC, with experienced speakers and even more experienced evaluators that can help increase the number of examples to follow. Breaking the bias might be a more complex problem. However, I think that with developing critical thinking its effect will diminish and eventually the bias will be taken under control.

That is why, for such a long time, I decided to pay a visit to the Toastbusters club’s meeting last Wednesday. Another reason for that, apart from those mentioned earlier, to take a look at how Toastmasters practices might be done differently.

So, was it worth it? It surely was. First of all, listening to the speakers and, more importantly, their personal evaluators’ approach to giving feedback on the projects may and will result in better understanding how I should and should not develop my own approach to future projects and evaluations. It was also great fun to feel like a newcomer again, when I went up on stage among other newcomers and told the audience about myself, my goals and objectives.

It was also interesting to realize that visiting other clubs may help see my own club from a different perspective, discovering, by the way, that my club is not perfect at all, but at the same time, others are not that perfect either! ^_~

In conclusion, I would like to encourage everyone who is reading these words, especially the new members of Moscow Free Speakers: plan you visit to the other clubs to see how people perform there. Not only will it help you grow personally in terms of public speaking and leadership skills, but also it will increase your involvement in the great Toastmasters community!

So there are plenty to offer besides Moscow Free Speakers / moscowfreespeakers.ru

The English speaking clubs:

If you speak other languages:

And the cherry on the cake is the newly registered Russian speaking club Zlatoust Masters

So what am I going to do next? Keeping on visiting the other clubs more often!

Author: Sergey Balmashov

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