Digital Transformation (DX) is not a buzz word. It’s how Technology is shaping our lives including Health, Self-development, Education, Entertainment, Finance and Toastmasters. Simply to understand requires replacing our legacy mindset and having a Foresight.
Technologies such as CLOUD COMPUTING, SOCIAL MEDIA, VIRTUAL REALITY, AUGMENTED REALITY, ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE, BIG DATA, FACIAL RECOGNITION, BOTS, ROBOTICS and many more are converging to disrupt our lives. However, in this Blog, I am sharing my Opinion – “How I see Digitalization Impacting Toastmasters Program in next 2 – 4 years times.”
- TECHNOLOGY WILL FIND FOR YOU THE RIGHT CLUB: (BOT) You are flying from Dubai to Paris on a business trip. You land in Paris, finish your business meetings by 3:00 pm and your flight is at 4:00 am next morning. You ponder and decide to attend a Toastmasters club meeting. You speak to your VIRTUAL ASSISTANT (BOT) and ask him “ Please research an English speaking Toastmasters club within 10 Km radius of my Hotel that has members from Banking community in the age group of 30 years – 45 years.” Your Virtual Assistant promptly finds a club within a 10 KM radius, calls for a taxi and also alerts the club president that you are visiting. And this is done seamlessly in a Flow.
- TECHNOLOGY WILL ACT AS YOUR INTERPRETER: You reach the club venue but need directions to reach the club location. You stop a passerby and ask him for directions. Since you don’t speak French you take the help of Mobile App. Now your Mobile App Communicates with passerby and translates French response in English to you.
- TECHNOLOGY WILL PROVIDE YOU A VIRTUAL AUDIENCE TO PRACTICE YOUR SPEECH: ( Virtual Reality – Oculus Rift, Sony PSV, HTC vive, Samsung ) You are expected to deliver PROJECT 1 – ICE BREAKER next week. You have a fear of Public Speaking. You put on your OCULUS Rift and instruct it to download your club audience. Now you can practice delivering your speech to your club members in a virtual club environment. Your mind does not differentiate between Virtual experience and actual experience. You can choose to deliver your speech to any type of audience including Heads of Asian countries or at the World TM international platform. Virtual reality is being currently utilized to treat people of common phobia such as height, water, and others. Virtual reality is also being utilized to alleviate the pain of burn patients during treatment.
- TECHNOLOGY WILL PROVIDE YOUR AUDIENCE EVALUATION: (Artificial Intelligence) You want unadulterated feedback from your club members. You download an appropriate Mobile app on your iPhone. The Mobile app captures club member’s gestures during your project delivery and provides you deep analytics on how did your audience evaluate the speech and scope for improvements.
- TECHNOLOGY WILL SELECT THE RIGHT TOPIC FOR THE TARGET AUDIENCE: (Artificial Intelligence, Social Media, Big Data): You are expected to deliver your Project -9 – Inspire your Audience speech but not sure what Topic to choose. You request your Virtual Assistant to recommend you the right fit (Topic) for the Club audience. Virtual Assistant runs through social media profiles of your club members and shortlists the Topic that will most likely appeal to the club audience. Many heads of the nations have utilized services of technology companies to read sentiments of voters and shape them. Check out “Big data and psychographic profiling helped Donald Trump win the US presidential election”
- TECHNOLOGY WILL CRAFT YOUR PERSONALISED SPEECH: (Artificial Intelligence, Social Media, Big Data): Your Project Speech topic is ready; now you have to craft the speech. You scan the objectives of your speech into the Mobile app and instruct it to create 750 words speech and enrich it with your experiences experienced in the year 2014 – 2016. Mobile apps scan your Social Media engagements between 2014 – 2016, picks up two incidences and immerses it in your 750 words speech.
- TECHNOLOGY WILL REVEAL YOU JUDGES DECISION: (Artificial Intelligence, facial Recognition, Big Data) You are competing in the Area Contest and eager to find how judges have marked your delivery. Simply let Mobile app read the Judge’s gestures and it will reveal Judge’s verdict before its announced at the close of the contest.
Now what I have shared in my blog post is not SCIENCE FICTION but a SCIENTIFIC FACT because its happening in some form in our world. And time is not far when you will have easy access to such TECHNOLOGY CONVENIENCES to make you a better speaker.
Dec. 13, 2016 – I attended club officers training for Division B, J, F, P – District 20 @ Emirates Auditorium. During the panel Q&A session numerous questions were put forward including – How to ….. increase membership in advance Club, raise funds, Increase membership, INCREASE PARTICIPATION, practice of using photo copy of manuals and DCP points.
Sustained participation of members caught my attention which is a perennial problem in the clubs. Clubs may have 30 – 60 members but participation is limited to 15 – 28 members in most of the club meetings. Declining participation is a trigger that it is time to bring in a change. Question is what can you do to prevent drop in member’s participation in the club meetings?
Everything is in the mind and am sharing “10” practical hooks to increase DNA (Do not Attend) members participation in the club meetings
- REMOVE PHYSICAL IRRITANTS: Choose professional premises for your meetings. It must have necessary equipment for speakers such clip mic, flip chart, white board, LCD projector, pen, pad and table to write. Chose a place that is conveniently located and has adequate free parking slots.
- LEADERS PARTICIPATION: Club members have elected you to lead. You have taken the onus to lead the club hence encourage every Excom member to performs their duties diligently and participate. Half the battle is won when Excom is active. To involve more club members, nominate an assistant to every Excom role play.
- “FUTURE LOCK IN” : Plan your meetings 3 months/ 6 months in advance and nominate TMOD. People think differently for DISTANT FUTURE and NEAR FUTURE event. Near future is evaluated in terms of concrete ideas whereas distant future are evaluated on abstract terms. Hence it’s easier to get a commit for DISTANT FUTURE event.
- COMMITMENT & CONSISTENCY: Request written commitment such as role player’s introduction, project details or activity commitment (such as ordering food, arranging room, bring in two guest, role play and others) for the meeting day in advance of meeting date. Once they have committed in writing; the probability of last minute drop-out reduces considerably.
- SIGNATURE MEETING: Every meeting should be a signature meeting of respective TMOD. When meetings are routine members go into sleep mode and when meetings have variety they move into participatory mode.
- VALUE: WIIFM (what’s in it for members) Think from members perspective. Are they getting value out of the meeting? Brainstorm and include perceived value in every club meet.
- THINK TANK: Your members are your think tank. Every head count is a bucket-full of ideas. Tap into it and regularly capture their suggestions on an online platform.
- COLLABORATION TOOL: We are in a connected digital world. Use a collaboration tool for member’s communication. Email or WhatsApp can be aid whereas collaboration tool can be the primary tool that will retain threads of communications on a single platform. Use collaboration tool to include meeting’s agenda, meetings feedback/suggestions and new ideas, DCP points, finance and others. Evaluate collaboration tools such as Slack, Basecamp, Taskworld and others.
- NETWORK TIME: Allocate 30 minutes before meet for networking. Probably define how members can benefit from 30 minutes of network time. Club may also utilize this time for most feared activity i.e. Table topics practice session.
- BROADCAST YOUR MEETING: Get internet connectivity and broadcast your meetings to the world outside. This is a powerful tool that can impact at four levels. (1) Marketing of club activities (2) An opportunity to learn technology (3) Absent members can view the meet (4) it will bring seriousness in the quality of meetings.
The above are simple suggestions that may help club to increase (DNA) member’s participation.
I could observe one thing when I visited a Toastmasters Club meet last week; THIN ATTENDANCE. And during break time the topic of discussion was also “WHAT IS THE ANTIDOTE TO THIN ATTENDANCE.”
In this post I would share my thoughts which are easier said than done. But if you begin right you are most likely to end right as well. Most Toastmasters club face dwindling attendance and the best road map to reverse the attrition is to adopt BI-MODAL STRATEGY. Bimodal strategy is to have strategy focus on two membership areas.
- RETENTION OF EXISTING MEMBERS: Existing members attend the club meet by ensuring that their individual needs are addressed. The needs could be Education, Growth in and outside the club, right participation opportunities, recognition, involvement in decision making, role models, Mentoring, Quality meetings, innovative meetings, easy to reach meet location, available parking and so on.
- ACQUISITION OF NEW MEMBERS: Allocate a budget to acquire new members. Define 2- 3 ideas and steps to invite guests in every club meet and measure your conversion rate from guests to members. How can you improve on the rate of conversion by 10% or 20%. Identify a team to convert guests into members. On the flip side conversion of guests to member should be a collective responsibility of every member of the club.
A caveat; even if your club is thriving with membership attendance of 40 – 50 or 60 members in every meet. Do not slack on inviting Guests because Guests are life line of every club longevity. Final word of caution – in the beginning of the year set number target in three areas; every CLUB MEETING ATTENDANCE; MEMBERSHIP RETENTION and ACQUISITION. And measure your efforts. Because what gets measured gets done.
Last Friday Dec. 4, 2015 I attended District 20, Division J – Debate contest. Around 21 Clubs participated competed and enjoyed. Like every event, this event reflected semblance of tranquility as if event organization was a cake walk. But like any other event it had its ups and down but dexterity of organizer did not show the dark shadows of hardships.
Every event has five Pillars i.e
- Execution and
PLANNING: This Pillar is the foundation of an event that constitutes conceptualizing the event framework. Such as
- What is the event
- who will participate
- where will it be held
- when will it be held
- Defining Roles and responsibilities
- Defining time lines
- Who is the executive team members and back up team members
- Expenses and where to get funds
- Check the legal implication of conducting the event including emergency drill.
- Risk mitigation and backup plan. ( What if Judges drop out, a team drops out, out of the box protest, internal friction and disagreements and so on – Nominate someone who can address risks)
Rather Planning is thinking and putting the plan on paper for litmus test. If planning is right the subsequent steps becomes easier to perform. And if planning has gaps it could result in sinking boat or last minute runs that eventually shoots up your stress level. Hence spend 2 – 4 days on planning and run it through the key stake holder.
TEAMWORK: This is the second Pillar, when you bring together the team heads.
- Give your executive team the overview and share your vision
- Define roles and responsibilities
- Define time lines
- Give them a free hand to organize their team members and achieve results
- Request for their feedback on planning and how it can be executed better in a more efficient manner.
- Invite fresh and young blood into the team to add variety and spice.
- Having said that meet with them periodically to review the progress
- Teamwork is an opportunity for a leader to test out his leadership skills through effective delegation. Rather once planning is done, subsequent activity of a leader should be to give free rein to the team members and to track periodic progress on periodicity.
ORGANIZATION: This involves getting the ball rolling.
- Set up a communication systems among your team members
- Set up a communication system for audience and performers
- Get the team heads and team members under one roof and address them
- Organize and invite participation from audience, performers and executive team.
- Sharing events details
- Creating event awareness
- Organize permissions where required.
- This block ensure that you are equipped to deliver the plan on the event day
EXECUTION: This is WHERE RUBBER MEETS THE ROAD. Execution is about ensuring things happen on time and as per your planned expectations. And if you deliver within time and exceed expectations; you create a wow factor. Be positive
FEEDBACK: Request feedback during the event and after the event from audience, participants and executive team members. The objective is to see what could have been done better, efficient and at less cost/resource.
Good luck for your next event.
I joined Toastmasters in 2001 @ Dubai Toastmasters Club. I was impressed with educational manual that has shaped many careers. And am still impressed with the Communication and Leadership educational course content that has virtually remained unchanged.
During the period new waves have come and communication paradigm has changed such as 2004: LinkedIn was launched, 2003: Facebook was founded; 2004: Twitter was found; 2005: YouTube was founded; Google + and list is endless.
Nothing much changed in Toastmasters Educational manuals, it stood the test of time. But I believe changing technology and shrinking world, demands introduction of new technology and new paradigm of conducting meetings. Such changes would bring in the spirit of entrepreneurship and attract Millennials to the program. If I may say Toastmasters should introduce new educational manuals with 5 project speech to address the Digital world.
PROJECT # 1 : YouTube: The project objective would be
- To record and edit 20 minutes of an educational session conducted in the club meeting.
- Use necessary tools to edit and publish on YouTube
- Use camera facing techniques
- Current Smartphones are equipped with powerful camera and editing software to make the movie. Such as movie “Tangerine” was shot on iPhone 5S and done professionally.
PROJECT # 2: Hangout, WebEx, Skype: The project objective would be
- Conduct a webinar for 20 minutes for the club members
- Use the right technology (Hangout, WebEx, Skype) & techniques to invite and broadcast the webinar
- Invite general public and other Toastmasters
- Learn the proper webinar techniques
PROJECT # 3: Sound Cloud: the Project objective would be
- Record 7 minutes speech and make it available as a podcast
- Learn and use the current technologies for Podcast
- Learn to use the microphone for voice modulation.
- Play the Podcast in the club meeting and evaluate.
PROJECT # 4: WordPress; Tumblr; Blogspot: The Project Objective would be
- Learn to Blog
- Share techniques and Experiences to write a Blog post.
PROJECT # 5: Upstream: The Project objective would be
- Live Stream the meeting proceeding to the external world
- Use Proper audio and video Techniques.
Above necessitates use of technology and address the Digital economy. The above project will also help people monetize their toastmasters skills from anywhere around the globe. And that could be the next manual – “Monetizing Toastmasters Skills”
Content is the currency of future. In this blog I would share PROVEN TIPS on creating hooks for your content
- YOUR NAME: Grab your name and purchase URL. Begin writing blog post. Integrate your Blog with Social Media platform such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Google+
- CURATE CONTENT: Subscribe to people.li and enter your keyword/title. Site will search and generate a newsletter on your keyword/topic. Share content on your Social Media Platform.
- LENGTH: For blog – longer 500 – 750 words length is permitted. For LinkedIn 200 – 400 words is enough whereas for Facebook 150 – 200 words post is tolerable.
- TITLE: Have a catchy titles such “7 – Tips …”; “3 Reason Sales people Fail”; “Best kept secrets…”. Title is the first text that catches eye balls and people make snap decision whether to read or not.
- TIME: Post at appropriate time.
- KEYWORDS: Sprinkle your post with keywords. Keywords are the secret to how you are found?
- LINKS: Insert third party link in your post.
- COMMENTS: When you post link to Social Media platform add your comments in the visible column to create interest.
- CTA: Include Call To Action in your post or ask for opinion.
- Hashtag: Hashtag is a keyword with a hyperlink. Include Hashtag at the end of the post, it allows your content to be found.
Content is king and more hooks you include in your content, more views you will capture.
- Organize contest between the best speakers of the Divisions in the District.
- Hold elections for the next District Council.
But why should you attend DTAC 2015 is a questions that you must ask yourself? And am sharing my power tips – why?
- EDUCATION: Three days of watching Districts best speakers on stage is equivalent to 365 days of learning from club attendance. A perfect opportunity to pick up nuggets on speaking, body language and content creation skills.
- LEARN FROM CONTESTANTS: Connect and Interview contestants. How did they Participate, Prepare and Practice for the contest. Learn from their experience.
- BE THE JUDGE: Learning happens when you are involved and having fun. Hence bring Judging sheet along and Judge the contest. Predict winners. Its fun.
- NETWORK: Great opportunity to network with TM across 7 countries. Network with 30 New Toastmasters every day of the 3 day event. Your network is your net-worth
- NETWORK OUTSIDE THE TM BOX: Don’t limit your discussions to Toastmasters but probe what others do professionally and is there any common denominator you share professionally with others? Take your discussions outside the TM domain.
- FUN: DTAC 2015 has a Gala dinner on May 29, 2015 – a perfect opportunity to unwind with Toastmasters community across the 7 Countries.
- DISTRICT COUNCIL ELECTIONS: Every club President and VP Education participates in the District council elections. And they must attend to exercise their voting rights on behalf of the club members. It’s a brilliant opportunity to witness Parliamentary machinery in action. (Valid for TM Carrying Voting Ballots)
Good Luck and Great – Education, Fun and Networking at DTAC 2015.
Idea of this blog post triggered in my mind after I requested a speaking slot in DTAC 2015 “. I began wondering what I can give back to Toastmasters in this blog Post. And it boiled down to “A Teaser on BRAND building.”
Brand has numerous scientific definitions but in simplistic terms it is what your audience speaks about you. And what audiences speak about you is a direct reflection of
- Your EXTERNAL self-i.e. PHYSICAL; how you dress, behave and interact
- Your INTERNAL self – INTELLECT – What you write, share and Express
Once you have covered the above two points; 50% of the battle is won. The other 50% is PRESENCE & VISIBILITY i.e. being seen, heard and felt among your audience. Let’s step back and wonder how you can practice BRAND building sitting in the comfort of your home. Remember we live in a collaborative economy and by 2025 – 75% of the workforce would be millennials who are digital natives consumed by Smartphone 24×7. Hence subscribe to Facebook and LinkedIn and practice following steps online …..
- EXTERNAL: 25%: Post a clear head shot and a profile that markets your credentials.
- INTERNAL: 25%: Share content with insight. Your content could fall into three categories Entertainment, Education and Experience.
- PRESENCE: 25%: Being where your audience is. Become a member of Facebook page “THE OFFICIAL TOASTMASTERS INTERNATIONAL” with over 11,706 members and other regional Toastmasters Groups on Facebook. Become the member of LinkedIn Group “THE OFFICIAL TOASTMASTERS INTERNATIONAL GROUP” with over 42,837 members
- VISIBILITY: 25%: Post content with insight at least once a day and do it at an appropriate time I.e. early morning before people reach office or late in the evening after dinner time when your audience is most likely to surf the net.
Now is the time to MEASURE your BRAND. You can subscribe to www.klout.com and link all your Social Media platforms to your Klout account. And Klout will dynamically measure your brand value ranking.
Good luck and look forward to sharing more on “BUILDING YOUR SOCIAL BRAND IN 90 DAYS” @ DTAC 2015 in Dubai.
Raising funds for an event shares many similarities to raising equity for an enterprise wherein you are expected to persuade the financier to bet on the future of the company. And am sharing my lessons on raising funds for DTAC 2015 that will guide prospective fund raisers.
- REVENUE TARGET: Foremost identify what is your target to raise funds. Identify the upper and lower limit.
- EXPENSE HEADS: Broadly identify the expense heads such as meals, entertainment, printing, Newsletter for the event. And explore if any of the expense head can be directly sponsored by a corporate. Few corporates may like to pay for expenses rather than write out a cash cheque.
- TEAM: Get a team on the SPONSORSHIP BUS. Choose members who are passionate for the cause and philosophy of the event. They may not necessarily come from the sales or marketing background but are self-motivated.
- PLAN: Sit down with the Team Members
- SPONSORSHIP PACK: Create a sponsorship pack wherein various sponsorship value brackets and benefits will be scripted reflecting total amount to be raised.
- LIST One: Create a list of 100 potential corporate. Prioritize them and distribute among the team members with measurable target (Time and value).
- LIST Two: Create a list of 20 high value potential leads for Title sponsorship.
- SALES CYCLE: Identify the sales cycle time right from first contact to money in the bank. This is important to mitigate the risk. Normally for such projects sales cycle is 3 months and more.
- TRAINING: Conduct a training for the team members; share your sales pitch and likely target title within the corporate. Explain sponsorship pack with benefits, mode of payment, terms & conditions and what is expected from the corporate, post receiving the sponsorship amount such as logo, advertising message and other guidelines. Train your team members to handle OBJECTIONS – we don’t have budget; VP is out; we sponsored an event last month or a similar event; We don’t benefit from such event; This event has no value for us; We can sponsors X amount (Peanuts ) for Title sponsorship,; the benefits are not enough, my boss is not convinced and so on.
- BACK PLAN: Think and document a backup plan. Secondly when, how and who to raise the red flag when anything goes wrong.
- BANK ACCOUNT: Open a bank account and document the process to remit sponsorship amount.
- REVIEW MEET: Arrange a periodic meet with your team. The meet motivates team members and you will observe the most vital results come immediately after the review meet.
- NEGOTIATION: People will negotiate hence Create your negotiation bucket list
- CORE TEAM: Other than sponsorship team ensure everyone in the Core Team is acquainted with and contributes towards raising funds. They are your strongest allies to raise funds.
- VOLUNTEERS: Spread the word among volunteers for potential leads.
- CORPORATE TOASTMASTER CLUB: Go back to Presidents of Corporates Club and request funds. They are the soft target or let’s call it low hanging fruits.
- DISTRICT OFFICERS: Speak to and share sponsorship document with District officers such as Area and Division Governors.
- CLUB, AREA AND DIVISION: Take a speaking slot at Club level, Area level and Division level and appeal for funds and leads. Go back and remind them again. Show them how they can raise funds or identify leads. Do the thinking on others behalf.
- DIGITAL WORLD: Get your web site and Facebook page up. Use them to increase awareness and request for sponsorship. This is your 24×7 marketing engine.
- THANK YOU: Acknowledge in writing people who influence indirectly or directly to raise funds.
- Have a plan, a backup plan and time to raise red alert.
- Begin prospecting early.
- Request help, leads and ideas for raising funds from your toastmaster’s community and friendly corporate.
- Learn from the lessons of the past events. Speak to the last team who raised funds.
- IDENTIFY WHAT’S NOT WORKING: Go back review and revise DELETE what’s not working and focus on what’s working.
- Remember sponsors may commit and back out. Deal is not done until money is in your account. And when money is in the bank give your sponsors exceptional service and assure them of the value out of the event.
- Don’t be disheartened if nothing seems working. Adjust your SAIL because SUCCESS is round the bend.
Please feel free to add comment to improve fund raising.
You have taken up the challenge to drive the next meeting and now is the day to perform THE role of TOASTMASTERS OF THE DAY. Audience is looking forward to a great time. How can you help them? Here are few tips to enchant them
- TIME MANAGEMENT: Help Begin, Carry and Close the meeting on Time.
- Meet, Greet and Shake hands with members and Guests. Connect to make them comfortable and confident.
- GUEST INTRODUCTION: If the guests are not recognized by the presiding officer, take it upon yourself to recognize the guests and give them a brief on what is expected from the meeting. At the end of the meeting ask them for their FEEDBACK.
- TMOD: The best TMOD is the one you don’t remember. He invests energy in making participants look great and feel appreciated.
- THEME: Give a theme to your meeting and be consistent with it from the beginning till the end.
- APPLAUSE: Lead the applause when a speaker comes or leaves the podium.
- LEAD: Lead the charge to making the meeting exciting. Get everyone pumped up and keep them up during the meeting. While the speakers are the stars of the show, you are the lead cheerleader.
- STAY IN TOUCH: Get in touch with every role play and brief him what is expected and find if the role player needs any help or special considerations.
- BACKUP PLAN: Avoid delay in meeting because a role play has not turned up on Time. If a member with a role is late – even if you’re still expecting them – get a backup for the role in case they don’t make it.
- CONTENT: Find interesting facts, quotes, trivia related to the meeting theme to interject throughout the meeting.
- Me Me and Me: Avoid loads of personal anecdotes.
- STARS: Your speakers, evaluators and Table Topics participants are the stars to make the meeting memorable. Your job is to make sure they feel comfortable, confident and connected when come to the podium.
- INTRODUCTION: There are three things you must include in the introduction: Presenter name and TM title, Project manual and name, Title of the speech.
- OBSERVE: Finally strictly observe members and guests before and during the meeting. Identify one good thing or initiative taken up by a new member or guest and recognize him during the meeting. For example if a new member extends a helping hand in setting up the room or a guest helps distribute the agenda.
- FEEDBACK: Finally request written feedback from your audience on your role play. reward every feedback with a small token of appreciation. ( It could be any stationery items such as a pen, stick on or others)
Good Luck for your next TMOD role play