Fraser Heights Cornerstone Toastmasters club members raided Toastmasters by the Sea club’s banner in their hybrid meeting on August 20, 2023

In the world of Toastmasters, the journey to becoming a confident communicator and a poised leader is one filled with camaraderie, support, and the thrill of personal growth. While weekly club meetings offer an excellent platform for members to hone their skills, explore their potential, and expand their horizons, there is a unique and exciting activity that takes this experience a step further – the Toastmasters Banner Raid.

What Is a Banner Raid?

A Banner Raid is a delightful tradition in the Toastmasters community where at least 5 members from one Toastmasters club visit the meeting of another club, bring along their club’s banner, and raid the other club’s banner. To retrieve the banner, the raided club must assemble 5 members to attend the meeting of the raider’s club and raid back their banner. To up the ante, the raided club may bring 10 members. In doing so, not only do they reclaim their own banner, but they also get to raid the other club’s banner!

The goal is not just to display the banner but to share in the spirit of learning, networking, and camaraderie that is at the heart of Toastmasters. It is a way to break the routine and experience the diversity of the Toastmasters world while building bridges of friendship and collaboration.

Toastmasters International District Director Gene Vickers was like: “What happens is you are going to that club seeing all the things they do well, and you witness that, all of a sudden, your members are fired up, inspired, ready to move forward. The neat thing is that the club does so many things right, they are going to your club to get the banner back and once again you are going to get some help.”

 

The Art of Processing

Banner Raids are more than just a fun outing; they are an art form that encapsulates the essence of Toastmasters’ core values – respect, integrity, service, and excellence. Here is how it has typically done:

  1. Plan: Before embarking on a Banner Raid, the visiting club communicates with the host club to arrange the visit. This helps ensure that the host club is prepared to receive their guests and can allocate time to the banner presentation meeting agenda.
  2. Prepare a Script: Members from the visiting club often prepare a short script or speech to introduce themselves, their club, and the purpose of their visit. This is a fantastic opportunity to showcase the uniqueness of each club and share stories or achievements.
  3. Banner Exchange: The highlight of the raid is the exchange of banners. The visiting club presents its banner to the host club, which is then displayed prominently during the meeting. The host club reciprocates by presenting their banner to the visiting club.
  4. Engage with Members: Members from the visiting club participate actively in the host club’s meeting, taking on roles such as Table Topics speakers, evaluators, or even functionary roles if needed. This is a chance to experience different meeting styles and foster a sense of unity among Toastmasters.
  5. Share Experiences: After the meeting, there is often a time for informal networking and sharing of experiences. Members from both clubs can interact, ask questions, and build connections that may lead to future collaborations.

Creating Unforgettable Memories

The joy of a Banner Raid lies not only in the exchange of banners but in the lasting memories and experiences it creates. It is about the laughter shared during Table Topics, the warm applause for a well-delivered speech, and the sense of belonging as you discover that, regardless of the club, we are all united by our commitment to self-improvement.

Imagine visiting a club in another city or even another country, exchanging banners, and feeling an instant connection with people who share your passion for personal and professional development. These experiences are the heart and soul of Toastmasters.

Here is an example of two clubs, Toastmasters by the Sea and Fraser Heights Cornerstone Toastmasters, they have held several Banner Raid events in July to August of 2023. There were three flag-capture tug-of-war sessions between them. Members of both clubs participated in a variety of meeting formats jointly organized by the two clubs, a park meeting, a hybrid meeting, and an online meeting.

“It’s a lot of fun.” Torsten Lenk, D21 PR Manager, sees Banner Raid as a fantastic opportunity to promote their clubs and activities. “Sharing success stories, achievements, and the culture of your club can inspire others and potentially attract new members.” For their part, Victor and JIA, Presidents of the Fraser Heights Cornerstone Toastmasters Club, believe that this event not only hones the abilities of the club’s members but also greatly enhances internal cohesion. Gathering at least 5 members at a time to attend a sister club’s event and sticking around until the end of the full meeting is a sign of team strength.

Toastmasters by the Sea joined Fraser Heights Cornerstone Toastmasters club’s meeting in the park for a Banner Raid event on July 20, 2023

Virtual Banner Raid

In addition to in person meeting, Banner raid is also available for online meeting. On August 18th, 2023, Fraser Heights Cornerstone Toastmasters Club called 6 members together for Spotlight Speakers Club meeting. The former is in the Vancouver area of Canada and the latter in Tokyo, Japan. The two clubs connected by way of a Zoom meeting and had a successful virtual Banner Raid event.

How will the club banner or flag be displayed at the online meeting? The raiding club came up with an original way to do this by creating a uniform background image with club logo that each member uses as their virtual background. WOW! What an imposing sight!

Hiromi Yano, President of Spotlight Speakers, wrote a thanks letter to JIA and all the members to express her heartfelt gratitude for their participating after the meeting. She wrote:” I was totally overwhelmed by your members’ motivation and enthusiasm! I’d like to deepen the knowledge of each club and to get familiar with your club members.” Even more thrilled to her, she and TM Young Liu met again at this event. Six months ago, the two of them competed on the same stage at District 21 contest.

On Aug.16,2023,The Word Toastmasters Club visited Unicorn Tribe Toastmasters Club for a virtual Banner Raid.

Benefits from Connection

From these living examples, it’s easy to see that both the club organization itself and the members who participate in it can benefit greatly from banner raid events. It is perfect for clubs that don’t have enough members. They can organize a joint meeting with more people, that creates more excitement. When the other club returns the visit, both clubs had a big meeting. One way or another, two meetings, Win-Win!

Furfure more, when the horizons open up,clubs can check out each other’s equipment and decide who is best suited for hosting a hybrid Area Contest. Clubs form connection and will help each other during contest season, outreach events. Clubs can answer each other’s questions around hybrid meetings, running a speechcraft class or pathways. Torsten Lenk recalled the joint meetings with the other clubs, “Some officers asked me lots of questions about Speechcraft. That was such a valuable outcome.”

Tips for Hosting

If your club is planning to host a Banner Raid event, here are some tips to ensure it is a memorable and enjoyable event:

  1. Welcome with Open Arms: Embrace your guests with warmth and enthusiasm. Make them feel like an integral part of your meeting.
  2. Prepare an Agenda: Allocate specific slots in your meeting agenda for the banner presentation and Table Topics. Ensure that your guests have a chance to participate actively.
  3. Facilitate Networking: Encourage members from both clubs to interact and get to know each other during the meeting and afterward.
  4. Showcase Your Club: Take the opportunity to showcase your club’s unique culture, achievements, and upcoming events. This can inspire your guests and potentially lead to collaboration.
  5. Express Gratitude: Thank your guests for attending and making the Banner Raid successful. Consider sending a thank-you note or a token of appreciation to their club.

Join the Movement

Banner Raid is not just a delightful tradition; it is a testament to the inclusive, supportive, and enriching nature of the Toastmasters experience. Whether you are a seasoned Toastmaster or a newcomer, consider participating in a Banner Raid – or even better, hosting one. It is an opportunity to step out of your comfort zone, make new friends, and strengthen the bonds of Toastmasters worldwide.

Toastmasters, let us continue to build bridges and celebrate the diversity that makes our organization so special. The next time you see a Toastmasters banner proudly displayed at your meeting, remember that it represents not just a club, but a community of individuals dedicated to growth, excellence, and the power of effective communication.