Membership Contests

Toastmasters Membership Contests Toastmasters 101

Where will you find a Toastmaster? Get new members in your club with  membership contests.

I went to a story-telling conference last week and discovered that one of the other attendees is a Toastmaster.  ( Hi, Alan!) Then I met another gentleman who has been in Toastmasters in the past.

You never know where you’ll find a Toastmaster – or someone who would like to know more.

Because of that, I’d like to ask a favor of you. If you like this podcast – would you tell one person about it? Someone who would like to know more about Toastmasters – or a current Toastmaster who needs to know more about the Pathways program? Thank you!

Why am I asking this?

Membership contests.

Intro

Can you spare an hour a week to change your life?  With Toastmasters, you can find the voice inside you and discover the leader you can become.  This is the Toastmasters 101 podcast.  I’m your host, Kim Krajci

I listened to an interview on another podcast about how to build your podcast audience. The guest recommended that the host of a show put an ask into his next 6 episodes. “Just tell one person about this show,” was the total request to that podcaster’s audience.

In 6 weeks, the podcaster discovered his statistics had gone up 35%.

Wouldn’t we like to see our clubs grow by 35%?

It’s the beginning of February and we’re at the start of the Talk Up Toastmasters membership contest.

Don’t know what that is? I’m not surprised. Many clubs don’t know much about the three membership contests per year.

Toastmasters Membership Contests

For 6 months of the year, Toastmasters has membership contests for clubs. They are not continuous months. We have the Smedley Award that runs from Aug. 1 to September 30. Talk Up Toastmasters runs February 1 to March 31. And the final Beat the Clock contest goes from May 1 right up to the end of the Toastmaster year on June 30th.

The goal for each of these membership contests is 5 new members to join your club.   That doesn’t sound hard… but it can be.

Half the year, TI wants us to work on building our membership.

I did a recent podcast about open houses, and another one directed to people to get them to go to a Toastmasters meeting. Do you think I’m stuck in rut here?

I don’t think so. When we think about it, membership recruitment is a place for us to practice our communications and your leadership skills.

Start with this question:

Why are you  in Toastmasters?

It’s likely that you know other people who are in the same place that you were before you joined. Or you’ll meet a guest who’s in the same position you were in, sitting next to you at the meeting.

You’ll never know unless you take some time to listen to people. Asking a question and paying attention to the answer. Taking time to respond to the person and their needs, not to prove how good Toastmasters is. Believe it or not, Toastmasters is not the solution to every problem… just most of them… right?

How do leadership and communication skills come into recruiting new members to our Toastmasters clubs? Let’s break both down.

Leadership

One of the signs I look for in a leader is pretty simple:  are they looking out for more than their own benefit?  Are bosses considering not only the company but also the employees?  For example, does my religious leadership focus strictly on what’s best for the organizations’s bottom line or does it take the long view to support the needs of the members?  Are politicians looking for my vote making promises based on policies that have no chance of being enacted but sound good on the campaign trail?  (Sorry, folks, it’s 2020 and the presidential race is already ugly here in the US.)

Good leadership isn’t only about being the top rank in the structure.  It’s about having a positive impact on the community and the people in it.  It’s about paying attention to the needs of those around you and making opportunities to support those people – whether in their jobs or in their personal worlds.

Positive impacts aren’t just being kind.  Sometimes, it’s hard to say, “you need some help” because that doesn’t sound very nice.  It can sound judgmental and intimidating and pressuring and mean.  That’s why the best leaders invest in others with concern, care, and attention.  They’ve earned the right to speak and advise.

That’s where the communication skills come in.

Communication

It’s a special set of skills that are needed to encourage someone to seek help in a place in their lives where they need improvement – and the ability to communicate has to be one of the more sensitive spots.  Who wants to hear that they can’t communicate well – when so many people already are afraid of public speaking? It’s like piling on – it feels unfair and mean.

That’s where evaluation skills become invaluable.  Using that same set of skills, to encourage, to point out strong skills and to bring in a suggestion for growth  – that’s how we need to pitch Toastmasters to people who need us.

Because it is us – it is we?  Grammar check! – it’s what we offer that they need.

Some people love the membership contests.  It’s a reason to invite people to the club and urge them to become members.

On the other side, I’ve heard a few pitches to bring people into Toastmasters that positively made me wince.  Cringe.  I don’t even want to join and I’m already a member level of bad pitch.  Those pitches aren’t based on listening to the person who’s looking at us – they’re based on what that saleman wants and what we think they need that we have.  It’s not an offer.  It’s a strong-arm tactic and it’s very easy to walk away from that!

This may be the problem I see most often with introducing potential members to Pathways.  We think we’ve got it all covered with all 11 Pathways and our online training – but let’s examine this.

What does Toastmasters offer?

What Toastmasters offers is

  1. a place to develop a physical skill – overcoming stage fright,
  2. training to develop a set of tools in leadership and communication, and
  3. opportunities to practice both

with other people who are committed to helping members grow.  That last thing is the most important.  I think we’ve gotten a bit tech-y – “everything you need is on Pathways” is the worst way for us to try to convince people to join Toastmasters.

We need to invite people to join other people who are in the same quest for self-improvement.

What about Pathways?

Pathways is a tool.  People don’t join for tools.  They join because they see the potential change for themselves.

We need to communicate that.

Which brings us back to the membership contests.

What’s your membership open house plan look like right now? I hope it’s a strong demonstration of how the members help each other to grow.  I hope you don’t focus on the tools but on the impacts that improving public speaking and leadership skills will have on a person’s life – and we’re helping them.

Oh – I know how to put this.  We’re not Luke Skywalker – we’re Yoda!

We’re not the focus – they are.  We are the ones cheering them on to success.

Evaluation skills only work after listening.  So take some time to listen and build the guest’s success into the pitch to become a Toastmaster.

Maybe Toastmasters 101 podcast is way to gently open the conversation – so you could suggest it to someone who needs Toastmasters.

Remember, you don’t have to wait for a membership contest or an open house to bring guests to Toastmasters.

Wrap it up, Kim

Our music is from incompetech.filmmusic.io.

Toastmasters District 10 sponsors the Toastmasters 101 podcast.