Grand Expectations

When you first came to a Toastmaster club, you arrived with expectations. You also have expectations of your Area, Division and District. As a new year begins, this is the best time to renew those expectations, so that guests and members are aware of their responsibilities within the club and the wider Toastmaster community.

Have you ever had an enthusiastic guest come along and become a member only to be shocked that they are expected to serve as an officer in their club leadership team when called upon? Have you ever had a long standing club member who was taken aback when your VP Membership called them up to discuss their waning attendance? It all begins with what is expected of your fellow members and preparing them for their respective roles.

As the then new President of Early Bird Speakers, I introduced a questionnaire for prospective members. It included ‘What would you like to get out of Toastmasters and our club?’ and ‘How do you see yourself giving back to the club?’ A key question was ‘Which leadership role will you stand for in the next leadership team elections?’This keeps everyone mindful of leadership roles. Yes, we have the Toastmaster promise “To serve my club as an officer when called upon to do so”, but sometimes it takes a club to embed these points into their member induction for the message to be driven home.

One could argue that a new member comes just to learn public speaking and has no interest to serve as a leader. But as a leader, you must ask: in the short and long term environment of the club, how is the member serving and supporting your club and the Toastmasters community? By just embracing public speaking, are they really getting their money’s worth?

The Toastmasters educational program provides us with an opportunity to learn things that we can take and use well beyond our own clubs. At club level, we can only grow together when everyone contributes something individually. By having club members commit to leadership roles as officers, this ensures that a club can be run smoothly and efficiently, whilst individual members are able to take away leadership skills that can last a lifetime.

Attendance. What do you expect from club members? Are you happy to have a club of 100 members with only 10 attending your weekly club meetings? Make known to members what you expect of them to make sure you have a thriving club environment. If members fall short of this, what do you have in place to engage with your members and face the challenges to ensure a ‘full’ meeting and a quality club environment?

Lastly, what do you expect from your team? A two-way dialogue between the team leader and member to establish the expectations of one another will help solidify what to expect during the year. Dialogue, encouragement, persuasion and building mutual understanding are key here. Take care of your team and demonstrate that these high expectations effectively improves the quality of a club, Area, Division and the entire organisation as a whole.

A curious guest who has the right mind-set embedded into them before they’ve become a member, effectively becomes a great club member and consequently, a contributing Toastmaster within our organisation. It all begins with them knowing what is expected of them and them from us.

Naturally, all change begins at the top, so demonstrate that which you wish to see in others. You want to see regularly attending, proactive, dedicated club members who are expected to serve on your leadership team? Then be that person!
Conclusion
1. Have high expectations of guests and members. Remind them if necessary.
2. Embed high expectations into the club recruitment and member engagement processes.
3. Demonstrate what you want to see in others.

Shaheen Jamshed Mufti

(Immediate Past President – Early Bird Speakers)

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