Toastmasters International is a non-profit organization run by volunteers across the globe with over 260,000 members, 12,500 clubs worldwide and around 80 clubs in UAE. The success of the Toastmasters International is success of Toastmasters members mirrored in their belief and Success.
The members participate in the program and help each other to succeed but in the journey members and clubs face many challenges such as
– Declining club membership.
– Poor participation in the club activities
– Quality of the meetings
– Clubs not meeting their DCP milestones
– Financially unhealthy clubs
– Members unhappy about their progress
– Confused members
– Not appropriate meeting venue
– Rivalry for the leadership roles. And many more that reflects the nuances of the demography.
Toastmasters program has a structured program to address such challenges but sometime a better solution may lie outside the circle of TM program influence.
Few months ago I bought the book “Switch” authored by Dan and Chip heath. SWITCH makes a fascinating study in bringing about the CHANGE. Fascinating because it is written in Simple, Unpredictable, Credible, Concrete, Emotions and Story format; ensuring that the book sticks and it’s lessons stick too. The author says, supported by scientific research that for a successful CHANGE to happen three things should happen; 1st change should happen in your head @ practical level; 2nd change should happen at an emotional level @ heart and 3rd target should clearly see the road map with measurable results. In other words SWITCH takes an analogy of a rider riding an elephant and the path. For example HEAD/RIDER knows he has to get up early in the morning and exercise to stay healthy, but on the flip side ELEPHANT/EMOTIONS that is huge, wants to sleep a little bit more in the morning and probably exercise next morning. Now in this case the two have to be motivated and also shown the end point to make an effective change. This is the philosophy of Book SWITCH narrated in 9 principals.
The philosophy outlined in the book is common across from bringing changes in Business, Sales, Personnel development and everything which necessitates introducing CHANGE for better. Read my translation of applying “SWITCH” philosophy to “Challenges in Toastmasters program” ……. The 9 principals of CHANGE like the 9 lives of a cat……. Read on……..
- Philosophy # 1(Head) : “Find out what’s working and how you can do more of it.”
- TM perspective: Explore which clubs have healthy membership and why so? Explore clubs that produce champion speakers and why ? Explore clubs that produce great leaders and why ? Ask why and you will have an answer to your challenge. Study them, script the steps and replicate.
- Philosophy # 2 (Head): Script the critical moves. “Don’t think big picture, think in terms of specific behaviour.”
- TM Perspective: Decision paralysis – A avoid giving multiple options to the Guests or existing members. Give them one option and a reason why this option is the best option. Inform guest that upon completing the application he becomes the member of the month. Club inducts only 1 or 2 members a month.
- Script the best practices steps towards welcoming the guest, inducting new members and also encouraging existing members to take up role plays. Script and let the responsible person follow best practices.
- Philosophy # 3 (Head) : Point to the destination. ““Change is easier when you know where you are going and why its worth it.”
- TM Perspective: Show them where they will be in 6 months – 12 months down the line. How it will enhance their professional value, business value, reputation and make them more successful in their work and earn promotion.
- Introduce them to the members who have benefited from the process and let them share their success story.
- Philosophy # 4 (Heart) : Find the feeling. “Knowing something is not enough to cause change. Make people feel something.”
- TM Perspective: Appeal to their emotions, four hours invested in TM in a month reflects compound growth in your career and promotion. When you take the first step you are already on the journey to becoming an accomplished speaker, an accomplished leader in radar for promotion in your organization. Your Toastmasters skills will differentiate and identify you as potential leader in your organization.
- Philosophy # 5 (Heart) : Shrink the change: Break down the change until it no longer spooks the elephant.
- TM Perspective: Break down the members and guest aspiration into small exercises. Such as attempt 1 project ONLY in three months, 1 role play ONLY in one month.
- Philosophy # 6 (Heart): Grow your people. “Cultivate a sense of identity and instil the growth mindset.”
- TM Perspective : Nurture leaders and speakers. Instil in them feeling of pride to achieve CC, ACB, ACS DTM. Show them they belong to elite and privileged group who others look upto. Show them they are the role model inside and outside the Toastmasters community.
- Philosophy # 7 (Shape the path): Tweak the environment. “Tweaking the environment is about making the right behaviours a little bit easier and the wrong behaviours a little bit harder.”
- TM Perspective: Recognise achievements and even a small initiative. Assign mentors for every member who will guide and coach to deliver quality speeches and role plays. Make this a team approach shrinking the pressure.
- Make educational materials available for members let them who and what to refer to participate in TM activities. Make it easier and fun for them to take initiative.
- Philosophy # 8 (Shape the path) : Build habits. “when the behaviour is habitual its free—it does not tax the rider. Look for ways to encourage habits.”
- TM Perspective : Set standards for your club meetings. Standard for time, standard for delivering speeches, standard for dress code, standard for greeting members and guests, standard for role plays and sooner members will adopt them as rule of thumb.
- Philosophy # 9 (Shape the path): Rally the herd. “Behaviours is contagious. Help it spread.”
- TM Perspective: Share Success stories among the club members because they inspires other members. Spread success stories in the club, across the Toastmasters community and outside. Use the help of social media and newsletter to achieve your objective. If he can do it so can I.