Is your Toastmasters Club a model for success around the world?
It’s a question worth pondering. Over the past few years, I’ve had the chance to interact with hundreds of Toastmasters Clubs. I’m always astounded by the innovation and effort of our members, but some clubs set themselves apart in truly unique ways.
How do they do it? They treat Toastmasters as more than a path to personal development — they treat it as a community. Members are valued and honored. Growth isn’t just encouraged, it’s viewed as essential to the club’s stability and longevity. Every single person realizes that they have something to contribute to the Club and to the world at large.
Here are some of the ideas that have propelled average clubs into trailblazing clubs.
Start a mentor matrix. I was impressed with a tactic used by a Toastmasters club in Delhi: During every meeting, club members break off into one-on-one pairs and spend 10 minutes mentoring each other. This happens meeting after meeting until every club member has spent time with each other. They call it the “mentor matrix,” and it’s a great way of emphasizing learning, focusing on goals and honing focus.
Give members a bit of homeplay. Most Toastmasters meetings feature a word of the day or word of the evening that members are encouraged to use in the meeting. But why not change things up? Instead of announcing the word of the day in the current meeting, share it the week before or email it a few days ahead of time. That way, members will have a chance to practice using it on social media, in conversations, and in their messaging groups. By the next meeting, everyone will have the satisfaction of mastering a new word! This approach elevates the word of the day into an action item beyond the confines of the meeting.
Ensure information is really sinking in. Toastmasters meetings are thought-provoking and informative. But how can you be sure your members are maximizing their learning opportunities? One simple way is to at the end of the meeting use a trainers’ technique and ask every member to turn to the person beside them and summarize the most important learning of the meeting. Best place for this activity is during the general evaluation. The repetition will help members retain what they’ve learned while building a positive culture at the same time.
Nurture traditions. The oldest Toastmasters clubs in the Bahamas, Club #1600 has a special lectern decorated with a plaque bearing the names of every club president since its inception — more than 50 in all! It’s a conversation piece, a place for recognition, and a beloved part of the club’s history. Small traditions like this one make members feel special and can be the difference between joining a club and belonging to a club.
Healthy clubs are the backbone of our organization, which is why it’s so critical that every member commits to enhancing the club experience. When you help your fellow members grow, you build your own bridge to new achievements. How is your club moving the needle for its members and Wowing guests? I’d love to hear about your own ideas and solutions.