Sunday, July 22, 2012

Moscow Free Speakers

Hi there,

As your new club president, I would like to keep our blog a little more lively by posting at least one post a month about things concerning our club life. Today, I'd like to share with you an example of  just how global Toastmasters movement.

In my recent trip to Russia in February this year, while researching TI clubs in Russia, I came across a blooming English-speaking Toastmaster club in the heart of Moscow going by the name of Moscow Free Speakers. Despite the fact that I did not get a chance to join into their meeting, their Internet presence is remarkable so I learnt a lot about them.

An undistricted club #6386 was charted on April 1st, 1990 as this history page mentions, and the cause for their title was chosen by an American founder because: "“that there was not yet freedom of speech in Russia, but I was giving the club members back then a goal to aim for and a title that would remind each member of that goal, no matter how difficult or how far away it seemed”.

If you flip through the website, you will see that Moscow Free Speakers do a lot of things differently. Some things look strange (strict membership rules, although this is not a corporate club) but are easily explained by the fact that this club operates in a country where English is not the first language of people. Other things are a great example of creativity and the willingness of the executive team to work hard to provide quality meetings (formal minutes for each meeting, award ceremonies, amazing website).

What I liked the most about this club though, is the fact that they videotape the  entire meeting and publish it on their YouTube channel. If you have a minute, look at some great speeches and table topics that have been delivered in this club over the years.

Advanced speech on a controversial topic about Nina Tsygankova:

Alexandra Borissova's club contest winning speech:

And a great Table Topics answer by Denis Shevchuk: