To steal from the greatest, in my mind, I had a plan…. I was going to write to every Area Director with feedback on their visit and for the first few it worked brilliantly. However, being a maths teacher I worked out that this would require 130 emails and as fast a typist as I am, my fingers would get way too sore before I could say everything I wanted to say to each individual. Also, there is invariably some repeated content and learning that could be shared with others, hence the birth of this article.
What we do well
Our clubs are places where people have fun! They are warm, welcoming and generally well-organised. Meetings are planned in advance using EasySpeak or another planning tool, club officers know what they’re doing and members know how to carry out their meeting roles. All these factors add up to Club Excellence across the District.
What could be improved
However, there are always aspects that can be improved…
- Educational awards should be submitted in a timely fashion – we all like to receive recognition for our achievements sooner rather than later..
- There are some clubs which have difficulty engaging with all their members, and these tend to be the very large clubs of over 50 members. Members attend infrequently and there are difficulties in filling roles in advance, although people always step in at the last moment. Perhaps larger clubs need to consider spreading or meeting more often…
- Several Area Directors have noted that clubs need to run regular educational slots – evaluation, membership/club growth, and mentoring are frequently mentioned. Early Birds Speakers was mentioned as an exception to this, they do very well with mentoring – let’s find out what they are doing and share it with other clubs. Some members don’t feel qualified to deliver educational slots. You are – delivering the educationals is required for advanced communication awards. All the materials are available for free download from Toastmasters.org, just search for Better Speaker Series, Successful Club Series or Leadership Excellence Series. Alternatively you can email Elizabeth Toohig, she is looking after the Trainers Bureau and will be able to find someone to help you.
- There are challenges around retaining advanced speakers. There is so much more to Toasties life than the Competent Communicator manual and we need to provide opportunities in our clubs for advanced speeches and educational slots to be delivered.
- Many Area Directors recommend greater cooperation and communication between clubs. Club Officer Training and Area Contests are a great opportunity for clubs to meet and exchange ideas during the year, so do promote your events frequently.
- Visits to our closed clubs often mention the need to highlight the benefits of Toastmasters to the business world. This can be done through Club Officer Training delivered at company offices and closed club officers being encouraged to attend Club Officer Training and Area events.
Several ideas have been suggested by our Area Directors…
- We need to make clear the distinction between toastmasters.org, d91toastmasters.org.uk and EasySpeak – there seems to be a lot of confusion out there. Toastmasters.org is the world site. It’s where you can find the TI shop, lots of information on the educational program and training materials and it’s where all club and district business is conducted. D91toastmasters.org.uk is the District website for members. It includes our calendar, lots of news and events and information our leaders need to carry out their roles. Information about the District Conference will also be made available here. EasySpeak is the club management tool, sometimes referred to as D71 or D91 – it’s neither of those!
- Competent Communicator/Competent Leader orientation videos. We think this is a brilliant idea – anyone want to create one?
- Cost of postage/requests for district to provide free materials/banners/pins etc. This comes up a lot. The District is not allowed to provide educational materials for clubs, because clubs are independent legal entities responsible for their operation. The cost of materials, postage etc. should be factored into club budgets and inform the level of dues paid by each member in each club. The District is able to spend some of its budget on recognition, and we do provide a president’s ribbon, club officer pins and a club banner to newly-chartered clubs.
- A suggestion from Area Director Florian Bay: clubs looking for a new home could partner with Grange/Marriott hotels as we have our district conferences with them. Worth looking into, thanks for the suggestion, Florian!