Saturday, March 25, 2006

Guest Blogger ... Ann Bloch, "What Makes a Club a Toastmasters Club?"

What Makes a Club a Toastmasters Club?
by Ann Bloch

At the District officers meeting a week ago, three Area Govs mentioned visiting clubs that were “doing their own thing” and not necessarily “doing it the TM way.”

Since then, I’ve pondered what that means: the TM way.

The steps to run a club and a meeting are proven -- they work. If your club is thriving, tell others via these messages what’s worked for you. If your club is not yet thriving, ask yourselves whether you’re using the tried methods.

Sometimes, motivation means just being honest among ourselves.

Following is a message from the president of a once-vibrant club in Division E that recently folded after 10 years. Poet's Seat is no more.

Thinking back, I am not certain just when things changed; however, I can speculate. For much of its history, Poet's Seat had at least a core groupof members who followed the club by-laws, thus maintaining the club as a trueToastmasters club. Gradually, these people left, leaving the club in the hands of people who did not care about rules, formalities, or rituals. I recall my first board meeting as club president. I decided to make membership (retention and building) the focus of my term. However, when I started the meeting by citing some of the by-laws re: membership, the other officers jumped down my throat.

They were not interested in being part of a club which was like a country club -- a private association where new members had to be voted in or existing members could be asked to leave. The others were for a casual, informal club with no rules, which anyone could join.

There were consequences to that approach. People joined who had no commitment to the Toastmasters program. Guests, of which we did have a fair number, rarely joined. Some guests expressed a desire for a more formal setting. In the end, a sizeable portion of our membership were people with little or no commitment to the educational program.

Without commitment,there was no desire to try to keep the club going. I feel sad about the demise of Poet's Seat. I am keeping the banner as a memento.

***Part of the response to him from the LT. Gov of Mktg:
Reports also indicate that only one officer was trained. We know from experience that there's a direct correlation between officers trained and club health.

Question to ask yourself: How do you feel about the president’s message? How does your club feel about “voting in” members? (I’ve never been in a club that did that or that really asked for a commitment. Maybe we should.)

Do your officers know their roles? If not, get your AG to review them. Poet’s Seat apparently had enough guests to flourish. Why didn’t they join? What a missed opportunity!

As we enter the final quarter of the TM year, ask your club members the one thing they can point out to change that would make a difference. Let me know what’s working so that it can be shared among clubs.

Ann Bloch,
Assistant to Club Coach Chair
Ann Bloch Communications
73 Birchwood Lane,
Lenox MA 01240 USA
413-637-0958 / Fax 413-637-4757 /

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