Club Success Plan Meeting

The Club Success Plan for new officers Toastmasters 101

Are you a new Toastmasters club officer?  Have you heard about the club success plan meeting?

I got a message on Linked In last week from Roy Monarch, a Toastmaster from the Word Doctors club in Texas.  He asked, “Do you have a plan what we could model as we work on our first DCP plan?”

No, I didn’t plant that.

It’s gratifying to hear from a listener – and then to be asked such a good question just at the time we need to answer it makes my day.

Today, we’ll talk about the Toastmasters club success plan.  What can new club officers do now to become a distinguished club that is serving its members well?


Do you want to change the world?  Do you need to develop the leadership skills to do that?  Then Toastmasters can help you achieve your goals in a proven program that teaches public speaking and leadership skills.  This is Toastmasters 101 and I’m your host, Kim Krajci.

The Club Success Plan

I know some people don’t like the Distinguished Club Program because they feel that some clubs want the title and short the members in the process.

Maybe some do.  Maybe some people cheat the system.  Frankly, it’s not very hard to save club awards from being posted to the system until next year.  Or a member can choose to not submit an award until the new Toastmasters year.

None of that changes that the Distinguished Club Program, as it stands, is a fine metric to show what a Toastmasters club should do to serve its members well.

Recently, I talked extensively about the DCP and each of the goals or points.  This week, I want to look at the mechanism a club needs to work to achieve these goals – and why.

Roy asked me about what new officers can do to make sure a club is successful.

My answer is pretty succinct:  work the program and earn awards that benefit you.  That means don’t do speeches that aren’t projects and get the evaluations so that you will improve.

Being a club officer doesn’t mean you sacrifice your own purpose to learn public speaking in being a member of Toastmasters.

In successful clubs, I’ve never seen a single club officer fail to work on their own skills.  I’ve seen some unsuccessful clubs – where speeches are given without being part of a project to get credit – those clubs often fail their members in other ways.  But what we often see is that the lack of project progress is a sign of a club that may not be taking seriously the growth of the members.

Remember – each project has a purpose.  Pathways education system is based on the objective to learn and practice a new skill.  When that purpose isn’t recognized by the speaker or the evaluator, the member will not progress in their skills.  We should probably do a show on that purpose statement on every evaluation form… but let’s get back to the club success plan for now.

So, if you’re a club officer – work your Pathway and reap the benefits that you joined Toastmasters to get.

Make the Club Succeed

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.”

We howled.

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.

Slow-moving members

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

As a club officer, I’d say that your job as an officer is to monitor the current status of the club DCP monthly, to pay your dues on time, and to attend all club officer trainings.

Your club should have a monthly meeting – in person or online – of the club officers with a financial report and an update of the education awards by the VPE.

I know one club president who always motivated us by buying us coffee at Starbucks if we were there before him – at 6:30 in the morning before our 7:30 a.m. meeting.  Dan remains one of the most effective club presidents I’ve ever worked with – mostly because I still don’t have a clue how he did it.

Ok, I know now.  He worked the Club Success Plan.  He asked his VPE to be sure that the members were working on projects that gave them credit in the education program.  He encouraged the vice presidents to do their jobs with open houses.  We had monthly meetings with club officers and he was open to all ideas – and to spend the money we needed to accomplish what we saw as important.  Dan remains a leader who I greatly respect – someone I enjoy working with.

Having a monthly meeting with the executive committee and making the DCP a regular part of the agenda will help your club succeed.

Building on the Past Year

Who does the Toastmasters year beginning and end affect the most?  The club officers.  The rest of us are focused on our goals.

But taking what was done in the past and building on it – that’s just smart.  You’ve got a good foundation to know what you can look forward to.

In my club, we have at least 4 Distinguished Toastmasters.  We stay in Toastmasters because we see how powerful it is and we want to share that with our new members – pay it forward.  We are likely going to complete those Pathways Levels 4 or 5, or maybe even get another DTM because we’re crazy like that.  Our new club VPE can look at our history and see the probability of us getting those points on the DCP.

The VPE can also look at the records of other members, but I think the most important task isn’t knowledge – it’s conversation.  What do people want to do?  When do they want to do it?

By helping newer members get on the stage and to take on club meeting roles on a regular basis, we help them by letting them get more experience quicker, which reinforces their skills in public speaking and leadership.

Isn’t that why we’re all here?

Be sure to share this podcast with your club’s incoming officers!

My thanks to Roy Monarch for reaching out and suggesting this topic for the podcast.  If you have a topic you think I can cover here on Toastmasters 101, drop me a line at the Toastmasters 101 Podcast Facebook page.

Wrap it up, Kim

Toastmasters 101 is a production of Toastmasters District 10.

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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.