#Toastmasters—Retaining Membership through Mentoring


One of the key advantages of being a member of Toastmasters is to improve your own speaking and leadership skills. For those of us who have been in the program a while, another advantage slowly starts coming into focus:  the ability to improve other people’s speaking and leadership skills. This is done by passing on what you know to other newer members through the process of mentoring.

This post will explore what mentoring entails, and what benefits it brings to you, the person you are mentoring, and the club in general.

1. Why is mentoring important?

A new member is learning a lot by just observing what is going on at a meeting, but there is so much going on that the new member doesn’t even know the significance of it. I was in our club for over a month before I figured out that why it was important to bring the Competent Leadership manual with me to the Toastmasters meeting. I had heard someone mention that I should bring it for many meetings, but they never explained why. Eventually I just asked someone and they told me.

However, it was then I realized that I had already done two supporting roles at the club for which I could have gotten credit for in that Competent Leadership manual, but it was now too late and that effort had been “wasted” in my mind. If I had been assigned a mentor, that person would no doubt have explained the whole Competent Leadership manual system to me.  I was determined that I would make sure this did not happen to anybody else when they entered the club.

2. What does mentoring entail?

A new member is assigned a mentor, and sometimes we refer to the person being mentored as a mentee. The mentor has a half-hour face-to-face session with the mentee in which the Competent Leadership manual is explained. Also, the mentor encourages the mentee to start working on his or her first speech, the Icebreaker speech from the Competent Communicator manual. Then the mentor is “on call” so that the mentee can feel free to ask further questions whenever they occur. This mentorship continues until the new member has completed 3 speeches in the Competent Communicator Manual.

3. What are the advantages for the new member?

The new member understands the significance of what is going on at the meeting, and therefore feels more like a member of the club rather than an observer. Some members need help in preparing speeches, and some don’t. However, it is a real confidence-building measure to have the assurance of knowing that there is always someone there whom you can e-mail or call if you have any questions.

4. What are the advantages for the mentors?

  • You have the satisfaction of helping a new member grow right in front of your eyes for the first three speeches of their Toastmasters career.
  • You get credit in the Competent Leadership manual for Project 9 (out of 10).
  • You get credit towards your Advanced Communicator Gold award.

5. What are the advantages for the club?

This is where the title of this blog post comes in.

  • You will foster ties between the new members and the established members, making the club more cohesive.
  • You will increase your club membership by retaining the members you already have and thus reducing attrition of new members.

I can attest to this last point in our club, as we had someone who essentially joined two different clubs because she had a hard time deciding which she liked better. They both were attractive to her, but after being in the clubs for a few months, she made the decision to continue the membership in our club and drop the membership in the other. Why? Because of our mentorship program. She felt she was getting a lot more “personalized attention” because of our program, and so that’s what gave our club the edge.

In our club, it has become an important tool for the retention of new members, but it also it useful for members who are not new, but still feel lacking in confidence. One member after completing three months of being mentored, asked for another mentor so he could feel comfortable asking the new mentor any questions. He had come a long way in three months, but felt he still had a lot more learning to do, and felt having a mentor again would give him that additional confidence to more forward.

So in summary, for both new and existing members, the mentorship program is an overlooked but often powerful tool in making sure you retain members and boosting the camaraderie of the club. Learn about this tool and use it in your club!

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