At our Changeover meeting next week, I have been asked to be the Master of Ceremonies. The last time I had this role I believe was back in 1997. This has caused me to reflect on the state of the club both now and back then.
Members might think that the club at present is at the height of its performance and achievement. And indeed there are grounds for saying so. With 62 members we are far and away the biggest club in our Region (Australasia), with there being only a few other clubs with membership of just over 40. We have achieved 4 CCs and 6 ACs this year, run 4 Speechcraft courses and added 8 new members. More significantly we have sponsored Parramatta Pioneers and directed many new members into them and Winners Circle.
Thus members might be surprised when I say that we are not as good a club today as the last time I had the MC gig. This is because we lack the involvement, the excitement and the enthusiasm of the club in those days. To illustrate I have looked up the Parra-Natta that followed the June 1997 changeover. In regard to member involvement it reported the following achievements for the year – 25 regular meetings complemented with many Sunday Forums, 114 visitors with 14 joining taking the membership to 67, 22 members earning CCs, 10 earning ACs and 2 earning DTMs while during the year the club completed 8 Speechcraft courses and 2 Youth Leadership programs.
In describing the meeting, the 1997 Parra-Natta reported that “Parramatta Toastmasters whooped, clapped and whistled their way through the meeting”. You wouldn’t say that about our meetings today. The difference in excitement and enthusiasm between then and now is also noticeable in the way we recognise achievement. These days our outgoing Executive will stand out the front and be applauded, not even usually given a standing ovation. In contrast that 1997 Parra-Natta reported;
“As members and guests marched (swayed??) past (albeit not in a straight line and certainly not quietly!), the ex-executive took a well-earned salute.”
What this was reporting was that everyone present, some perhaps slightly lubricated, formed a conga line and marched around the room and in front of the executive to the accompaniment of cheers, whistling and hooting to salute their endeavours. Because the key to those meetings perhaps lay in one word – “noise”.
During that year the club, to my surprise, presented me with a treasure chest full of objects that reflected that key and which were intended for use at the Changeover. After some years of use, this treasure chest has sat gathering dust at the bottom of a cupboard. In that treasure chest though there are over 30 objects that the Executive of the time selected as being representative of what is needed to liven up a meeting.
The contents of this treasure chest will be revealed next meeting where, as MC, I will try and re-introduce the Parramatta spirit that so enthused the club those many years ago. The need for this was brought home to me when we didn’t win the brand competition photo. I wrote to Toastmasters International for an evaluation of our effort and an assessment of why we didn’t win. A key point in the judging they said is “members enthusiasm displayed”! Having another club being seen to be more enthusiastic than Parramatta really hurt.
So come on Thursday prepared to ACT excited and enthusiastic at our Changeover and in our photo, however you may be feeling.
GARY WILSON, DTM
Gary Wilson, a past District Governor and a Past International Director is a 43 year veteran member of our club. He has seen the highs and the lows of the club over those years and has some surprises in store for Thursday night as he revisits the past.