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Archive for the ‘Club meetings’ Category

Video – District – 20; Div B, J, F, P – Club Officers Training


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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.



TM-SMMany a time I receive a request from a prospective member “which club should I join? ”    And the question cycle begins where do you stay, what is your profession and what is your objective?   Many a time Toastmasters come back after a long SABBATICAL and request is for a similar advice.  The recommendations could be wrong or right but presumably coloured by the glasses you are wearing. 

What if we could automate this process?  Automation is not about reflecting where the club exists or the contact details.  What if we use the power of SOCIAL MEDIA and going forward request every member who is joining to concur to share or not to share his LinkedIn or Facebook profile? 

And I am positive 90% of the members would not hesitate to concur.  Based on the trend mobile application can be developed that is interfaced with LinkedIn and Facebook to pick up relevant data. And this Mobile app can be made available to Toastmasters on subscription model wherein if members can search members with relevant skill, qualifications, Title, industry and all those criteria that are available on LinkedIn and Facebook platform. 

I see tremendous benefit in the application. Imagine I am visiting Turkey and want to visit club with members from IT sales professionals, Imagine I am visiting Malaysia and would like to visit members from Finance background?    Imagine club membership is going down or shooting up – the membership profile can intelligently predict why?

Please share your comments.



Medical science says that human body produces 4 types of happy hormones/neurotransmitters.  And when our body is under producing or not producing those hormones; medical practitioners prescribe external drugs to supplements those happy hormones.  They are 

  1. ENDORPHINS: These are strain, pain and fear masking hormones or neuro-transmitters.  When a marathon runner is competing Endorphins masks the pain creating a high to complete the run.  That’s why runners feel the pain next day or after some hours of completing the run.
  2. DOPAMINE: Dopamine controls the brain’s reward and pleasure centers. Dopamine enables us not only to see rewards, but to take action to move towards them.  Such as when we complete the marathon.  
  3. SEROTONIN:  You feel the surge of Serotonin when you receive applause for your achievements.   The good thing is that the receiver and provider both feel the surge of Serotonin when applause takes place.  Serotonin is a mood enhancing neurotransmitter/hormone.
  4. OXYTOCIN: This hormone/neurotransmitter is responsible for creating bond between friends, family and loved ones.   You feel surge of Oxytocin when you are among the loved one.

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marathonIt’s good to feel stupid sometimes and do things that are out of your comfort zone”   said Mary-Louise Parker

Inspired by the quote, I resolved to participate in maximum number of Toastmasters meetings in a day.  And observe my emotions.   Finally I succeeded in my mission.

  1. Four Club meetings in a day
  2. 8 Roles in four club meetings including 3x Education session on two different topics, 1x General Evaluation, 2x Evaluations and 2 Table Topics ( Table Topics is the easiest to duplicate since you can volunteer)

How did I manage; well that is not the objective of the post.  But how did I feel Before, During and After is objective of the post.

BEFORE:  No matter how prepared you are, your mind spins into an anxiety mode especially when you begin imagining further lineup of  role plays till 9:00 in the evening.  Probably this feeling creeps in due to four different sets of audience.  You move into stress mode in your thought process; your facial expressions and enthusiasm go for a toss.  Another challenge is to rush and be on time for the next club meeting; when you begin cursing the traffic and non-availability of parking space.

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no showsThe attendance was 200%; participation was 100% and the Toastmasters club meeting was a super success.  Fast forward 6 months, attendance was 30%, participation?  …. 50% role play dropped out in the last 24 hours and the meeting ended on a somber note.

What went wrong?   Excom decided to call on the absentees and the following “7” reasons came up for no shows.

  1. Time: No time
  2. Place: Meeting place too far away from the office & residence
  3. Day: Meeting day is not convenient day
  4. Time: Meeting time is not convenient
  5. Priority: More pressing priority came up
  6. Learning: There is no learning in the club meeting
  7. Ambience: Don’t like the meeting ambience

Club “A” compiled the list of reasons and decided to focus on building NEW members.  The exercise is still continuing and results are disaster.

Club “B” decided to probe further and dig out the real reasons of no shows.  And they questioned the response further.  More number of times the real reason was not the obvious response i.e No time MEANT I have found a better activity to use my time ( I  did not understand the real value of TM Program.)   There is no learning in the club meeting MEANT poor quality of performances in the club due to non-preparation or on occasions it MEANT not getting enough opportunities to speak.   Don’t like the meeting ambience MEANT they did not connect with the members neither Excom made an attempt to connect with them.  And when the Excom critically evaluated the NEW found reasons for no shows; they came out with solution and connect with members.   The club initiated necessary changes.  Sooner the attendance shot up, quality of meeting shot up and so did the quality of participation. 

My message is TM is the most attractive program and every one of us wants to become ATTRACTIVE.  Hence question why are there NO SHOWS?




gureilaThis week I was attending a Toastmasters club meeting.  And guess what?  Holidays, Ramdhan and host of other reasons; the participation was down to 6 Toastmasters.  What should we do? Chat, exchange pleasantries and quit.   Somehow decision was taken to attempt Table Topics and format would be as such

  1. Every members will attempt Table Topic for  5 minutes
  2. Speaker would be evaluated by every member between 1 – 2 minutes
  3. Finally,  speaker will share his learning from the feedback.
  4. Speaker will remain on the stage/lectern till he has delivered his learning.

The participants agreed and the game began and ended, I reiterate ended because time flew by.   Sooner it was time to recharge the 2 hours parking time.

My feedback is,  in those two hours I received the maximum sticky learning and am certain others participants share the same feeling.  Let me share my learning from the Table topics exercise

  1. Deliver Guerrilla opening and if possible a Guerilla closing ( An act or statement that will surprise the audience)
  2. Deliver your talk with energy and passion
  3. Attack the topic and don’t waiver if it’s a closed ended topic.  Else you will miss the point.
  4. 5 minutes is a short time, so don’t beat around the bush to complement the time.  Get to the point and then weave your story. 

Every cloud has a silver lining and behind every cloud is the bright sun shine.  I am sharing this incidence so other clubs can take a cue and if not Table Topic they can run a ditto with project evaluation.




CompWhenever I ask what will enhance your performance?  Among many answers I get is “Practice, Practice and Practice.”   Having said that some time you participate in a club meeting and you are hit by a bolt of lightning and “wow”  why did I not think of that?

Well my answer to the above question would also include “TOUGHER COMPETITION.”   And this is no guess but tested and proven response.  When you have the TOUGH competition, somehow you perform better than what you had ever dreamt of performing.   It’s like you had that reserve presence of mind, reserved stamina or hidden insight that was taken out of closet to resonate your performance many fold.

Next time you want to deliver a PROJECT SPEECH, a TABLE TOPIC or an EVALUATION; think of attracting the best performers for the spot of contest.  And then RECORD your performance, I am certain you would be amazed and say “IS THAT ME?” 

energyLast week I participated in Oasis Achievers Toastmasters Club meeting.  The meeting started @ 8:00pm and the hall was full.  President delivered the message and TMOD took over the mantle. But there was something different in the ambience, audience were fired up.  What was happening? 

How come a Toastmasters Club is over flowing with participants whereas the next door Toastmasters club is gasping for the participants?  This question always comes up in participants mind.   So what is the secret ?  I would say there is one word that separates the two clubs and that word is ENERGY.   Energy differentiates the participation between the two clubs. The energy defines the quality of meetings and participation during the meetings. Now your next questions would be, how do you create energy in the club meetings?  I would share my OPINION on the subject. 

  1. Read the rest of this entry »


In the past 10 days have visited few Toastmasters clubs which led me to rewind a decade earlier and explore what has changed over the decade.  And I observed ………

  1. There were fewer clubs but more participation. 
  2. There was less awareness but more enthusiasm. 
  3. There was no Facebook page but serious communication. 
  4. There were fewer connections but more connected.

Happy Toastmastering

Yesterday I was at Area contest – 57 with the most simplistic role play of Chief Judge.  Simple off course that’s what I believe; until I found a detour.

I believe every role play is simple and straight forward until you find a detour.   Because in times like these is the test of your capacity to extend justice to the role play.  And yesterday was the day I found two detours.  Having said that incidences like these bring in the learning and maturity.

Yesterday I learnet few things:


  1. When briefing don’t assume your team knows or would remember everything.  Hence share important instructions even at the extent of sounding trite and boring.
  2. Request for feedback after sharing instructions.
  3. Invite questions on the role play.  And if no question is forthcoming and to encourage initiative, bundle important information in a question format such as “I am sure you are aware that your ballot will be rejected if it does not carry your signature?”
  4. Invite suggestions and caveats from your team members.  Trust the wisdom of  Crowd Sourcing.
  5. Finally write down the list of instructions on a piece of paper you would like to share after all I don’t expect myself to remember it verbatim.

Wishing you a superb day ahead.

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