Toastmasters Club Contests are an absorbing activity for every Club Excom. They are a necessary evil that must be organized to encourage competition, take the speakers to the next level and perhaps give them a jump start. In other words contest is paramount in Toastmasters program; they are a shortcut to faster and bigger improvements.
If contests are paramount why there are no identified structured training programs for Excom, to conduct contests? Rather the contests are organized with little experience gathered from past experiences. Organizing club contest attracts challenges of different colors such as
- Finding Contestants.
- Contestants training and awareness.
- Judges: Finding judges; qualified and numbers.
- Role players: Trained role players.
- Resources: Venue, Documentation; Trophies; Certificates and Awards
Having said that I believe that any contest phobia can be overcome by “five “activities and they are
- Planning: No sooner Excom is installed; the team should meet to decide on the most important date i.e contest dates and make an announcement to the club members and Area Governor. Then identify various activities for the contest.
- Timeline: Set timeline to complete identified activities.
- Delegation: Delegate identified activities such as TM1 for getting role plays ; TM2 for getting Judges; TM3 getting the resources; TM for getting contestants; TM4 for organizing the venue and others.
- Collaboration: Get Excom of “3” clubs involved and enter into an exchange program for Judges and role plays.
- Feedback: Set a feedback mechanism; monthly to start with and thereafter weekly, 60 days closer to the contest.
Once you complete Planning, Timeline; Delegation and Collaboration within first 15 days of the new term; half the battle is won. Now you can focus your attention on ensuring that you have a District Champion speaker.
Past International President Helen Blanchard once said “If you get out of Toastmasters all that there is to get out of Toastmasters, you will never get out of the Toastmasters”
Toastmasters’ program is a brilliant program that has benefited millions of members across the globe. It’s tailored to your lifestyle; progress as you want to progress. Having said that I would like to share “8” tips on getting the most out of Toastmasters Program..
- Read your manuals: Read your manuals; your CC, CL and other manuals received as joining kit. Underline and highlight content and draw your plan for the TM journey.
- Ask for a mentor: Request for a mentor, spend time to understand the program. Craft your projects and get your mentor guidance to improve and practice. For the senior members; create Smart group of 2 to 4 mentors and meet periodically to discuss your progress and feedback. And finally thank your mentor with a token of appreciation; coffee or a meal for every success. Let your mentor feel rewarded and make this a valuable experience for him. [we know TM is a non-profit organization but human sentiments prevail]
- Order complete set of manuals: Toastmasters is a wonderful program; every manual is treasure house. Order a complete set of “15” manuals, HPL manuals and craft your journey.
- Audit your stage time: The more quality time on the lectern, faster are the improvements. Hence audit your time on the lectern and explore areas that will allow you more time on the lectern. Maintain a log book.
- Feedback: Request feedback from key members on your deliveries and every role play. Winners feed on feedback.
- Retain written feedback and pin it to the respective project: Retain written feedback pinned to your project manuals and reference them often.
- Take up Excom role: Take up Excom role play specially President and Sergeant At Arms because they get time on the lectern in every meeting. Or take up other role plays to connect and learn to run team.
- Connect: TM forum has members from dfferent professional domain; business men, doctors, sales people, CEO, Managers and others. Connect and grow your network.
In conclusion I would reiterate; time is a scare commodity but your clever choices can double the impact of your time.
Running a full house in Toastmasters Club has become challenge but with right strategy and best practices you can run a successful Toastmasters club creating value and experience for the members. I am sharing “5” tips on getting the house full at Toastmasters club.
- Maintain records: Maintain records for the members to review at the meeting hall.
- Attendance register
- Role players list for the past meeting and role players list for the future four meetings.
- Minutes of the meetings
- Recognition: Recognize member’s achievements [Toastmasters, Professional and Personnel Achievements] and their special days during the meeting.
- Invite the key influencers: If you want to get a gathering of 50 people it’s not important that that you talk to 100 people and invite them to your club. Identify key “10” key influencers who have a serious larger circle of influence, to influence serious “50” other members. Give them the reasons why they should take up role play in your club or how their participation will help them. Then use their Klout to get houseful. Event managers are familiar with this methodology, hence they use this methodology effectively by getting key influencers to participate and attract the larger audience for events.
- Phone: It’s important to keep in touch with your members and likely prospect through email, social media but periodically pick up the phone and call. The good old way of talking to key members helps to retain participation and increase membership. This has many fold advantage such as
- Get verbal commitment to attend and participate.
- Make members feel important and special
- Get members feedback
- Proactively address any (-ve) feedback and concerns.
- Toastmasters Process: Getting members to attend and participate regularly in the club meeting is a science. And with religious practice of process defined by the Toastmasters helps to achieve the objective. Hence read, practice and conduct educational session on increasing participation and getting new members.
Enjoy practicing and reading………
Sharjah Toastmasters Humorous speech club contest was held on Dec. 21, 2011. The contest reflected energy ,passion and the desire to stretch and strut.
- The participation in the humours contest was 100% more than the standard club meetings. Why ? I cannot comprehend the reason, still looking for the motivation.
- There were 9 humorous contestants and many to applaud their endeavors.
- The contest participation was overwhelming and contestants flexed their humour muscle stepping out of their comfort zone.
- The deliveries had creative topics and am sharing the “9” titles.
ii) Tom and Jerry
iii) Seek leave, Sick leave
iv) How and why TM came into my life
v) Mr Perplex
vi) Happily Married
vii) Living with Time Bomb
viii) End of the beginning
ix) Health & Time
My salute & hearty congratulations to the first time participants.
Enjoy watching contestants sail through.
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There is so much happening in Toastmasters activities in UAE that sometime you feel overwhelmed . I believe around 80 clubs spread out in seven Emirates; every day there is an event and every event is unique. If you become the member of Toastmasters fraternity in UAE; you immediately connect with around 2000 toastmasters members in UAE.
Enjoy watching photos from various clubs a Unity in diversity.
After we set up the new Information Technology Company, it was easier to convert prospective leads to business but the biggest hurdle was to find new prospective leads FIRST. Hence to address the gap we defined our Marketing and Sales strategy. We
- Hired a tele-marketing who would call the industry and deliver the scripted massage.
- Created a business email with a link to benefits of technology and sent a marketing mail shot.
- Requested for referrals from our contacts.
- Put in free advertisements in the free online newspapers.
- Opened and activated a Facebook and Twitter account.
- Created buzz on our business wins on the Social media and free industry online newspapers.
- Set Sales targets, incentives and measurement process.
And subsequently we started getting trickle load of leads that started maturing into customers. Due to the continued measurable efforts business and cash flow improved.
In Toastmasters Club, New members are like the Cash flow and inducting them for your club follows a similar formula; an effective Marketing and Sales strategy. Hence follow the said steps
- Open up Facebook group account.
- Create a buzz about the past and the upcoming meetings.
- Open Twitter account and create a buzz about the upcoming meeting.
- Video record good meetings, educational session and events. And share it on Youtube. Send the LINK to prospective Toastmasters.
- Financials permitting; set up a www.meetup.com account else negotiate with www.meetup.com for special rates.
Human Resource Executive:
- Get in touch with HR executives of the organizations and invite them. Sell them the benefits of TM for their employees. After all one of the HR Executives KPI is to build up value for the employees.
- Ensure that club meetings are attractive because attractive people attract attention. So how do you make your meetings attractive ? I would say by adding value. Personally evaluate your meetings; what clicks and what could be chipped off. Note, planned meetings attract participation.
- Plan your meetings at least 6 meetings in advance and announce the TMOD providing enough time for the role players to deliver quality performance
- All project deliveries should be mentored.
- Respect time: start and end on time for the meetings and every role play.
- Special themes, Educational session and special role plays should spice up the meetings.
- Recognize members and guests. Make them feel important because people don’t care how much you know unless they know how much you care.
Set down policy and targets:
- Script process who will be your face to the guests and how will you convert guest to members.
- Set new membership targets and who will be responsible?
- Set incentive and recognition plan for getting new members.
- Set a yard stick to measure your progress.
- Don’t lose focus on retaining existing members and their participation.
And in conclusion, I would PARAPHRASE words of Past International President Helen Blanchard, “If your members and guests get out of Toastmasters all that there is to get out of Toastmasters, they will never get out of the Toastmasters”
T for Toastmasters and so is the TEAM. This Friday Oct. 28, 2011, the three divisions B, F and J of District 20 teamed up and organized a judges training at Business Village in Dubai. The session was attended by over 120+ Toastmasters and was graced by Chief Judges Training by 2nd Vice President of Toastmasters International – TM Mohd Murad.
The team effort by the respective Division Governors was commendable and speaks of new chapter of success by collaboration. And in the connected world the MANTRA is if you win I win and am reminded of a famous quote “Individually, we are one drop. Together we are an Ocean”. The event was a reflection of maximum impact with least efforts.
The tallest oak tree in the forest is the tallest not just because it grew from the hardiest acorn; it is the tallest also because no other trees blocked its sunlight, the soil around it was deep and rich, no rabbit chewed through its bark as a sapling, and no lumberjack cut it down before it matured. – “OUTLIERS the Story of Success” By Malcolm Gladwell.
However “Outliers” by Malcolm Gladwell is not about trees and forest; it is about opportunities and exercising those opportunities. And what Malcolm Gladwell shares is no rocket science to reflect why Toastmasters progress in life by leaps and bounds; they progress because the platform provides opportunities to become a better communicator, a better leader and a better person in life. The platform also provides the process and the motivation to lead and communicate with your audience and bring changes in your life and others.
Now my questions to you is, do you see those opportunities and exercise them? I recall relocating from Bahrain to Dubai in 1996. And being three months infant in Bahrain Toastmasters club, I joined then newly formed Dubai Toastmasters club. To show my commitment I paid-up my quarterly dues in the first meeting. However during the second meeting I started visualizing and comparing former with the current Toastmasters club meeting. And promptly rationalized that my new club will not benefit me and crafted an excuse to quit Dubai Toastmasters club.
Many years later in 2001 when I went back to Dubai Toastmasters club. The meeting was house-full, replete with energy and powerful speakers. My fellow Toastmasters of 1996 batch had progressed to CTM; ATM and accomplished leaders.
What happened ? Where did my visualization go wrong? Analyzing closely it dawned that my visualization cost me the opportunity time of five years because I looked outside to make a life changing decision. I set others as my benchmark, I rationalized my decision on performance of others whereas my decision should have been based on my needs and hence set my benchmark. I missed the opportunity.
Malcolm Gladwell in “OUTLIERS – The story of success” also shares another rule, to achieve the level of mastery associated with an expert in anything, a 10,000 hours of practice is required. So it is not only about opportunities, its also about putting in long hours into the process and the two steps are equally important in your life. My learning in Toastmasters started in March 2001 when I committed to take up the role play of assistant VP Education and then progressed to VP Education; Club President; Area Governor and Division Governor. During my journey in toastmasters many Toastmasters have crossed my path and every one of them has been a teacher in one way or the other. My challenge has been to identify learning from each one of them and exercise them and grow into the tallest OAK TREE.
Toastmasters International has changed many lives. People who swore to have no talent for public speaking are delivering keynote and motivational speeches. People who thought it was a waste of time have morphed into DTM’s and persuaded hundred of others to join the forum and people who believed in “I, me and mine”, have been mentoring and helping others to succeed. What can you expect to learn from Toastmasters Program? As an analogy let me share my five point learning.
Ripple Effect: It’s never too late when it comes to self development. Every small or big thing you learn has a ripple effect in other areas of your life.
Parkinson’s Law: It says that “The demand upon a resource tends to expand to match the supply of the resource.” Hence, plan your activities with a start and end time and stick to it. Because activities that have no time measure, will expand to occupy your valuable time.
B+ : You can choose your friends and choosing positive friends is a blessing in disguise. You are most productive when you are in the company of positive people, you learn better, perform better and your impact increases by many folds. B+ and maintain a positive company.
Pay it forward: Zig Ziggler once said that if you want to succeed in life, help others to succeed. An old saying also says….. “Teaching is twice learning” So go ahead help others succeed and share your learning with others.
Boomerang effect: Never under estimate the power of motivation, words of encouragement and how they can impact the lives of people. They cost nothing but have the most impact. Sprinkle your communication with words of encouragement and motivation, because what you give always comes back and it’s called the Boomerang effect.
And in conclusion, I would share words of Past International President Helen Blanchard, “If you get out of Toastmasters all that there is to get out of Toastmasters, you‘ll never get out of the Toastmasters”
This meeting was in disguise. I said disguise because the theme was “Mr and Ms United Nations” and the participants represented and dressed in “15” different nationalities including India. A pleasant meeting with a twist of interest and passion of the members to make it a colorful success meeting. Watch the “Mr and Ms United Nations” in action.