When we get to the third moment of truth, Toastmasters reminds us that “The club retains members by providing a fun, friendly, and supportive environment that encourages enjoyable learning.” That feels a little off to me. It may be true that we want to retain members, but it seems to me that we should focus on providing the best educational experience we can. If we do that, we’ll build a club full of satisfied speakers and leaders.
However you approach this moment, the steps recommended by Toastmasters are
- Members greet guests and make them feel welcome.
- The vice president education (VPE) regularly plans enjoyable, dynamic educational programs with exciting, thought-provoking themes.
- The club enjoys regularly scheduled social events.
- Encourage club members to participate in area, district, and international events.
- Promote and encourage inter-club events.
- Issue a club newsletter regularly and maintain a website.
There’s plenty of opportunity there, and all we have to do is decide what kind of club we want to have and how we want to build it. We don’t talk about social events much in the club, but I can recall club outings to Peking Gourmet Inn, China Wok, Corner Bakery, Mr. Y, and a Malaysian restaurant downtown. I’ve wondered, at least briefly, how we might take advantage of the webcasts of the International Speech Contest finals, and this year we might be able to take advantage of the International Convention here in Washington. If we don’t attend Toastmaster functions as a group, what are some ways we can find for the members who attend to share the benefits with the club?
I’ll throw out just two ideas about meetings. We’re lucky to have a mix of experienced and brand-new members in the club. How can we tap the experience of the long-term members to the advantage of the new members? By my count, there are at least 11 presentations in the Successful Club, Leadership Excellence, and Better Speaker series. That’s a lot of learning that’s possible as well as opportunity for presenters to accumulate credit towards advanced designations. And how can we make better use of themed meetings? I’ve written here before about the way Creative Mornings uses themes—are there opportunities for us to do the same?