This article was submitted by Paul Shaw at Monash Toastmasters. Well done, Paul!
It was a regular Tuesday night at Monash Toastmasters. There was a solid crowd of about twenty people, and the room was nearly full. The theme was one familiar to all too many of us—overcooked food.
During the round robin, a group of three guests walked in, and sat at the back. That wasn’t usual. Guests arriving late happens all the time.
After our second guest spoke, he pointed to his friend, a humble looking man dressed in a well cut suit.
Probably a businessman interested in Toastmasters, I thought.
I asked him the question.
‘Please tell us your name, and about a time when you have burnt food?’
The man said his name was Balraj, and responded with an interesting tale about when he first met his wife. Balraj told her he couldn’t cook, and because of that, he’s rarely had to cook, let alone burn food! He also spoke fondly of the wonderful dishes his mother made for him as child.
The meeting proceeded. At the half time break, we were all enjoying a cup of tea when the three guests approached. One was wearing an excited expression.
‘I’d like to present my friend Balraj Arunasalam,’ he said. ‘Balraj is the International President of Toastmasters!
I stared at him.
Huh? I thought. This can’t be real!
I focused on the man. After a couple of seconds it dawned on me that this was indeed real. I recalled seeing Balraj’s picture in the Toastmasters Magazine. He told us he was in Melbourne for one night on his way to Sydney and had wanted to visit a local club. He had chosen Monash Toastmasters as it was close to where he was staying. In preparation for his visit, Balraj had done some research on the club, and knew of its history and current membership.
A huge buzz spread around the room as word spread that our International President had come for a surprise visit. We asked him if he’d like to address the members, and he gave us an inspiring speech about taking Toastmasters further, and what Toastmasters can do for you in your life. For example, members can take work presentations to Toastmasters and get a round robin evaluation from the entire club.
Where else can you get feedback like that?
This was a remarkable night for our club. I particularly liked that the visit was unannounced, and that Balraj simply walked in as any guest would do.
It gave us an unbelievable buzz, and I hope Balraj does more surprise visits to other clubs around the world!
Monash Toastmasters Member