Much of my focus this month has been on the District Success Plan (DSP) and the District Budget. The DSP sets our goals for the coming year, and in particular how together we will support the creation of new clubs and increase membership; how we will focus on serving current members to improve retention; and how we can support every club to deliver excellence to all our members. The budget provides the resources to support all that activity. Both the DSP and Budget will be submitted to the District Executive Council (DEC) and District Council in September. Details will be on our District website.
I did manage to get away from the PC for a little while, and travelled up to Worcester to join in the demo meeting run by Malvern Speakers, hosted by Worcester Mayor Jabba Riaz, a former Malvern member, and expertly managed by Steve Birch DTM. I also visited Sandwich Toastmasters in Kent on the very impressive Discovery Park. Thanks to President Simon Teague for the very warm welcome.
I am writing this in my hotel room in Chicago, where the District “Trio” are attending the International Convention. Ahead of the actual convention, we spent Sunday interviewing the 18 candidates for roles on the International Board so that we can be better informed when casting your clubs’ votes. Monday and Tuesday were spent receiving our training as District Officers. It is really valuable to share ideas and experiences with our peers from all over the world.
On Wednesday we attended the Board of Directors’ Briefing, where we were updated on their decisions and actions for the year, and future plans. It has certainly been a challenging year, with the move of World Headquarters from California to Colorado, the outsourcing of supplies, and of course Pathways. Headlines include:-
- Over 144,000 members (42%) have enrolled in Pathways, with 12,000 already completing Level 1.
- Membership growth has been slow for two years: 2.1% in 2016-2017 and 1.4% in 2017-2018. Membership growth in our District was 3.38% in 2016-2017 and 6.44% in 2017-2018.
- There is concern that nearly half of clubs world-wide do not achieve Distinguished status, and the view is that Club and District Officer training needs to be improved. In our District over 77% of our clubs were Distinguished, the fifth best world-wide.
- There will be a global advertising pilot in California and Florida in early 2019. We await details.
- It has been recognised that the Distinguished programme excludes membership satisfaction or retention. There are plans to incorporate these from July 2020.
- There will be a fourth level of recognition beyond “President’s Distinguished” at all levels, to be known as “Smedley Distinguished”.
- Great emphasis placed on brand consistency. Further details expected soon.
Well, so much for a lazy summer! My attention is now on preparations for our first ever virtual District Council Meeting, with a potential audience of around 370 members. Look out for feedback on that next month.
The Heroes Journey 1 – 70 – 100
Recently I had the pleasure of seeing Nuala, of London Victorians, deliver her her first Club Officer Training (COT) session as Area Director. Also in attendance was our current club President Eleanor. Both joined at the same time in 2015. It was a true privilege to see both blossom into confident speakers and leaders through Toastmasters. Their club provided them with a safe space to undergo their Heroes journey into public speaking and leadership confidence. A safe and supporting environment made it happen, just like it also nudged them in pushing their comfort zone outwards month by month and year by year.
This Heroes Journey is one we would like each member to experience this year and in all coming years. This is why as a District, we set the 1 – 70 – 100 vision to enable everybody to do it!
You, our members are at the core of the vision!
We would like each and every one of you to achieve at least one educational goal every year. Sounds impossible? Not it’s not! It only takes 4 speeches to achieve Pathways level 1, just 4 speeches … Something that can be done in just 3 months. All of you can push yourself by setting yourself a goal and all of you can support a fellow member in achieving a goal.
Supporting each other in achieving more will inevitably leads to more members renewing their membership to continue their Toastmasters journey. It takes more than 3 years for someone to truly grasp the nettle of Toastmasters leadership opportunities. Which is why we would like you and your clubs to do whatever you can to retain at least 70% of your members every year.
Public speaking is at the core of Toastmasters but public speaking requires a supportive audience. Pushing oneself to achieve more requires a support network. Both things that successful clubs with 20+ members can provide. This is why we are encouraging every club to aim for Distinguished status or a membership strength of 20+ members. Successful clubs breed successful members.
Let’s all grow forward together by becoming heroes together this year!