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Date: 31st December 2017
Category: Cover Story  

Our Conferences, the Master Orator Championship, the Membership drives, all these have one direction, one purpose - to spread the Toastmasters movement. To allow people to join, learn, experience and better themselves. We find new ways of getting more people on board all the time. This is one of those attempts...

Since the time I joined, in 2013, I attended every District conference (except for one in May 2014). Those were days when Whatsapp was not prevalent. Most times, I'd meet Toastmasters at the airport who happened to book the same flight. At least 30 to 35 each trip. Toastmasters of Andhra and Telangana have by default had good representation because of the sheer numbers.

As a member and as a District officer for two years, I have had this casual "we should do an in-flight meeting" conversations with others in the past. Never really went beyond that point. It remained a wishful thought.

This time was different...No, no...no bug bit me.

Confluence 2017 saw 60 odd Toastmasters from Hyderabad at Indore. Luckily for us, there was only one flight back to Hyderabad. As we boarded our cabs and headed to the airport I casually mentioned to Lasya Madireddy that we do a meeting. "Seriously?" Was all she said.

I didn't think it would be easy, what with the permissions and the protocol.

As the word spread within the group about the plan, like second nature, people started taking up roles and organising the meeting.

It took one quick conversation with the Lead Cabin attendant to get things rolling. We had no permission to use the PA system due to protocol. At that moment nothing could dampen our spirits. So...at 35000 feet, over the din of the compressed cabin and the chatter of the inflight service, I explained the purpose and presence of Toastmasters to flight full of curious passengers. Some basic questions answered and we were all set for the meeting to begin.

We had the role players and one Speaker - Toastmaster Subramanyam - who gave his ISC speech. We wanted to include Table Topics to let some passengers experience it. I know it was a tall order, but, no harm in experimenting. Needless to say,we could not do it as neatly as we wanted to. It was a short flight and we had to settle for a short meeting. However, our purpose was met. At least a 100 people got introduced to Toastmasters. We had a few passengers ask for details. Some new leads for Indore.

I look back at it and realise that if i had not been taught to ask, i would not have asked for permission. If I had not been told that this bunch will always back you up, I would not have take the chance. If I had not believed that this platform can change your life, i would not have taken the time to change someone's that day. Each day, Toastmasters has driven these points home subtly, yet deeply into many of us.

We took a chance. We had fun! We spread the word. Not a wishful thought anymore...

Next time...I aim to do get some passengers to attempt Table Topics!

Edited and compiled by Prathima

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