Toastmasters: What does YOUR club need?

Have you ever gone into a situation expecting a certain outcome, and found that you misjudged the situation completely?

Recently, I ran a brainstorming session (Facilitating Discussion manual, project #2) at my Toastmasters club. The problem we were discussing was “Toastmasters Training”, and I was looking for input on what they, our club members, were most interested to learn. Toastmasters has a plethora of prepared topics we can use, ranging from 10 minutes sessions to four hour seminars. Plus, we have some experienced members capable of creating some awesome sessions on their own.

As luck would have it, one of those members had just presented a Leadership Excellence Series module on Resolving Conflict, so I had a great example to point to right off the bat.

Did they ask for Team Building, From Speaker to Trainer, or Organizing your Speech? Nope. Nearly every idea in the brainstorming session centered on one theme: helping new members understand (and benefit from) Toastmasters. The topics?

  1. Orienting new members to the club
  2. How to run special events (contests, open houses and our annual Christmas Party)
  3. How to use the club, district and TI websites
  4. Toastmasters organizational structure (Area, Division, etc.)
  5. How to be a Mentor (for new members)
  6. Goal setting for members

Also, they mentioned a need for a more robust welcome packet and some type of display of our member’s progress (see an example here)

Next step: I need to turn this into usable information for my club. That is, how do we meet this need? Goal Setting, Mentoring, and Orienting New Members each have modules that can be downloaded (free). In fact, there’s even supporting articles for some topics, such as mentoring.

Here’s the initial plan I will submit:

  1. Split Orienting New Members into multiple sessions
    1. The Toastmasters Education Program (successful club series)
    2. Meeting Roles and Responsibilities (successful club series)
  2. Split How to run special events into two sessions
    1. 12-15 minute session on Club Contests – related article here
    2. We  will need to develop a 12-15 minute session on special events (open houses and parties) – there’s a related TI manual called, Put on a Good Show.
  3. Split the How to use the club, district and TI websites into three sessions
    1. Using TI’s website to manage your profile, order items and find information
    2. Using the Club website
    3. Using the District website (calendar and resourses)
  4. Discuss the Organization structure, including the service chart and WHQ Org Chart. Could be a 5-7 minute speech, including projects 7 or 8 from the CC manual.
  5. Deliver the Mentoring module (successful club series)
  6. Deliver the Goal Setting and Planning module (leadership excellence series)

We will need to get a volunteer for each session, and work with the VP Education to schedule these periodically, like one per month. I think this is very doable.

Running a brainstorming session with your club can be an eye-opening experience. In a short 21 minute session, I compiled enough information from my club to make the plan above.

Do this at your club, and you can find out what your members have wanted and it may allow you to better support them in their goals.

You may not find the same request in your club. But if you go in with an open mind, you’ll find what your club needs and you can make a plan to support your members. Give it a try! Leave a comment with the results.

Editors note: This has been reprined from the District 22 Blog

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