Toastmasters catch-up

The end of the Toastmasters year is rapidly approaching and that probably makes this a good time to talk about where I am.

My club’s VP Education had to leave us a couple of months ago and I eagerly volunteered to step into her shoes. She’d been doing a fabulous job, especially with regard to pushing the Competent Leadership program so her shoes were big shoes to fill! I hope I’ve managed to keep going with the things she was working on and add a couple of new items of my own.

  • At the beginning of the meeting, after the functionaries have described their roles, I make a point of reminding people that if you’re performing a role you should pass your Competent Leadership manual to a neighbour for evaluation. It’s not hard and 80% of the work required for the CL award comes from just doing the normal things that you’d do in a normal Toastmasters meeting. Even the more unusual projects like Motivating People or Delegating are achievable within a 6 month time-frame, so there’s no excuse to not be getting that award.
  • We have such a good time in our meetings, I kinda feel sorry for the members who can’t make it on a given week! And also I know that, if you do skip a week, there’s a feeling of separation that makes you less likely to join us for the next week’s meeting. In an effort to solve both these problems, I’ve started sending out weekly meeting recaps. About 500 words describing the more significant features of the meeting: a sentence or two about each of the speakers, comments on humorous events or members who did something particularly worthy of praise, maybe a reminder about something important happening at the next meeting. I try to keep them short but there always seems to be a lot to talk about! In the long term I see this as maybe becoming one of the responsibilities of the meeting Chairman – take notes during the meeting and send out the recap, but for now I’ve taken it upon myself to do it each week just to see how it feels and if members find it worthwhile.
  • Functionary responsibilities. There’s lots of descriptions out there of what the various functionaries do. The trouble is that every club is slightly different. If it’s your first week as Chairman then the chances are that you’re going to base your tasks on what the Chairman you saw the previous week did. But it might have been their first time too – by learning like this there’s a danger that the functionary’s tasks becomes a game of Chinese Whispers. Also, in the heat of the moment, maybe you’ll forget to ask for one minute for written comments on a speaker or you’ll forget to call for a toast. So I’ve started writing a collection of one page job descriptions for the more significant functionary roles. I’m writing them as advisory frameworks i.e. “this is what we typically do but you’re welcome to tweak things or change things if you’d like to”. I think I’ll post them up here in the future.

We’ve taken on several new members recently and I’ve really enjoyed talking to them about the joys of Toastmasters and the ways in which it can help them. Our club is holding elections tonight for the next year’s Executive and I’m standing for VP Education. I’m hoping I can continue the work I’ve started and help to make the club, and all of its members, successful. It’s going to be a very exciting year!

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