The Club Success Plan
Toastmasters has a downloadable manual for the Distinguished Club Program and the Club Success Plan. It’s probably available in print, but the PDF download is just as good. It starts with the Moments of Truth, talks about the DCP, and then moves to the Club Success Plan.
This section contains several questions that Roy Monarch described to me as “thought-provoking.”
That’s a pretty good description. This version has a couple of questions that I’ve never considered: “How will the Club Executive Committee be held accountable for its responsibilities?”
I can honestly say I’ve never heard that question before now. It’s so obvious in the professional world – you might be fired for failing to do the work. But how does your Toastmasters club – a volunteer organization – hold someone accountable?
“How will the club executive committee and supporting members be recognized for their efforts?”
Do we need to recognize someone for their work? Well, yes, if we want them to do it again… but how are we going to do it?
My club’s answers are going to be very different than yours. With a different club culture, a different group of people – those answers change.
If you’re the new club president, I think taking some time to think up the answers you want to give to these questions in the manual is worth your time – before you take the gavel. Know in advance how you want your year to roll and you’ve created a framework for your club success plan.
VPE and Treasurer
Every club officer should take a moment to talk to their predecessor, especially 2 roles: Treasurer and Vice President of Education.
At the funniest treasurer training I ever attended, a club treasurer who was also a college math professor, gave a hilarious description of the role that was almost enough to make me want the job (one that I should never be permitted near.) Sam explained how important it is to start the year with an audit and clear idea of the financial status of the club. “You need to start the year with an audit… but you won’t need one at the end.”
Now, if I were club treasurer, you wouldn’t have an audit – you’d have to use a nuclear bomb and start all over again – but he makes a good point. The transition of the club monies and money management is critical. During this pandemic, talking to your financial institution about how to do that must be done before you try to walk in and sign the paperwork. I know my bank is handling a lot of that over the phone or by appointment in the office.
The Vice President of Education – who we lovingly call VPE – needs a clear idea of where the members stand in their Pathways progress. There are reports available in the Base Camp Manager site.
Yeah! Toastmasters answers their phones (Digression)
I spoke with someone at Toastmasters International this week – I’m going to digress here and say “YEAH!” that the offices aren’t open, but at least we get to talk to real people now! – and I was told there are club member status reports available. Since I’m not currently a club Base Camp Manager, I can’t see them. But if you’re the current VPE, how about getting together a list of the current members and what they’ve completed – and handing that over to the incoming VPE.
I can’t stress this enough: we’re here to serve our members by helping them go through and get the most they can out of the Pathways program. We do that by having good meetings with many opportunities for them to complete their projects and step into the meeting roles.
That’s the success you need to be planning – then the club will be successful.
Club Success Plan Meeting or Executive Meeting?
When I was coaching a club, we had no members who were not club officers. So hosting a club success plan meeting was pretty simple – we scheduled for our usual meeting time.
Our new club president was also a DTM who knows the program very well – and she laid it out in precise detail what we would have to do.
That became a tradition in the club. I remember watching people’s faces as they understood what the Distinguished Club Program measured and how they were a part of it. Their buy-in – their commitment – got us to Distinguished.
I’ve been a club officer for nearly my entire time in Toastmasters. This is the first year I’m not a club officer – I want other people to take the officer roles to learn what they can about leadership form the roles. I’ve been to many club success plan meetings – some more formal than others. I’m going to say – the most successful club plan meeting came out of the entire club meeting, reviewing, committing, and working the plan, not just the officers.
Take the Club Success Plan to the members early
Most members don’t know about the DCP until April. That’s when everyone starts worrying about the number of members and how many awards can we get before the deadline on June 30th. That’s too late. About 9 months too late.
Members want to be a part of a successful club. They know what they want to learn – how to conquer their fear of public speaking, how to be a leader, how to construct and deliver a compelling and interesting speech. Unless we tell them early on that their success is tied to the success of the club – they don’t know. Sometimes, that helps motivate them to work a little faster.
Every club has that member… that one member… who just doesn’t give many speeches. Personal encouragement by their mentors doesn’t seem to move them to give more speeches. They’re disengaged.
The club success plan meeting sometimes gets them motivated. When they have a sense of being part of the whole – then they start to work faster.
Why people are slow-movers – many reasons exist why Toastmasters take so much time between speeches. As long as they’re showing up, we tell ourselves, as long as they’re showing up, they’re learning.
Well, yes. But no. They have to move at a pace where they’re practicing new skills, learning to understand their pain points – how fear affects them and remembering the last evaluator’s point of growth. Otherwise, they’re moving backwards.
Slow Movers – a History
Yes, I’ve heard the stories about how long it took some members to get up and give their first Ice Breaker speech. I personally watched one member continue to come, infrequently, and pay dues for 4 YEARS. Then he took off like a rocket and completed several awards and served as an area director in about 24 months.
That’s a very comforting story – but we shouldn’t take comfort from it. Michael made choices – several of them, actually – that we, as his fellow club members, respected. But I look at that story and wonder – what could we have done differently to help him sooner?
That’s another reason I like the public club success plan meeting. Do we know what other people want to get from their membership? What are their goals? How can we help them? How can we encourage them?
Encouragement means standing beside someone
Several months ago, we had a very reluctant new member. He constantly mentioned his fear of getting up to speak. Getting him to commit to his Ice Breaker took a lot of talking. At one meeting, we needed evaluators. I told him I would evaluate with him. We’d both fill out an evaluation form for one of most advanced speakers. I made notes. He made notes.
He gave a better evaluation and a stronger point of growth than I did. But he never would have gotten up there without me standing right beside him.
Adam has made a lot of progress in his public speaking. He still says he’s terrified, but he also told us at the last meeting that he had to give a report at a work meeting and the only reason he could do it was because of us – because we have been supportive, we have given him the stage to face his fears, and we’ve given him the tools to move forward. Slowly – but he’s working at it.
Motivate your slower movers by finding out what their goals are. Link those goals to the Pathways program they’ve selected. Show them the links to the Distinguished Club Program. As a member of the club, they might want to contribute. They’ll never know if we don’t tell them!
Club Officers Meetings
Toastmasters 101 is a production of Toastmasters District 10.
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The work to change this world can start with you – if you’re willing, we’re here to help you develop the skills you need. Join us at the next Toastmasters meeting. You can find a club locally or an online club that meets at a time that suits you. Find us at Toastmasters.org.
Next week, we talk about evaluations and what we should do when we bomb a speaking project. Talk to you then on Toastmasters 101 podcast.