Toastmasters–Scheduling Methods as a VP-Education


One of the key duties of the club officer VP-Education in a Toastmasters Club is to schedule people in advance of the meetings so that the Toastmaster meetings are conducted as effectively and efficiently as possible.    They should be effective in that each person assigned the role is prepared for the role, and they should be efficient in that each person should take only the allotted time given that role.   The end result will be a meeting that will not only be pleasant for those members of the club, but it will be impressive for potential members who come to your club.

1.  Club Scheduler

One method of scheduling uses a Club Scheduler or other software to plan meetings ahead of time.   The advantage of this is that it gives you as VP-Education the ability to schedule roles ahead of time, and it also is an effective back up to the Secretary role in that it can record who actually does the roles in each meeting.

2.   Excel

You can use a simple Microsoft Excel spreadsheet that you pass around to the members beforehand.   This requires SOME computer knowledge, or you can ask people to send you their requests for speaking, evaluator, or support roles and you can fill them in the spreadsheet.

3.  Online Agendas

Most clubs have a website where you can sign up for the roles online beforehand.   More and more clubs are doing this because of the convenience of being able to sign up anytime, and practically anywhere for a role in an upcoming meeting.

Okay, that covers the basics of the MECHANICS of scheduling.   How do these work in general?    Well, there are two basic philosophies of scheduling:

A.    Role Assignment

In reality, the Club Scheduler and Excel spreadsheet methods can be used by the VP-Education to assign roles ahead of time.   That’s what I did in one club as VP-Education.    This ensured that people not only did speeches, but also got a well-rounded experience by also doing evaluations and various support roles.    The VP-Education can judge if the person is a new member and can take relatively simple roles (Timer, Grammarian), or whether they have enough experience to handle a more difficult role (Table Topics Master, General Evaluator, or Toastmaster).    The VP-Education can judge if the person has not spoken in a while and needs to be encouraged to do a speech.

Of course, the other good thing about this method is that it can be used to produce a list of who has done speeches and roles in the various meetings so that the Educational Record of each member can be filled in and verified if necessary.

B.   Laissez-Faire (Self-Assignment)

Signing up online is an example of self-assignment.   This sounds really good in terms of the convenience to the member.  However, in reality I have found that it leads to the following:   everybody wants to sign up for speaking roles, but you find yourself going into a meeting with a lot of support roles left unfilled.

C.    Combination of both

What I have found works the best is a combination of both.    Set out an multiple-meeting agenda asking for volunteers for speaking and support roles for the next 3 or 4 meetings; ask if anybody knows ahead of time that they will be absent for a particular meeting.    Once you get this information, then record the volunteered roles (speaking, evaluation, or support roles) in some sort of spreadsheet or even a text document if you prefer.

The next thing you need to do is find out which roles are missing.    Ask for volunteers for the “missing roles”, and then if there are still any missing roles, then start assigning roles, and confirming with the people involved that it’s okay with them to do the role.

So the multiple-meeting agenda should be sent at least two weeks before the next meeting; then asking for volunteers for the missing  roles should be done one and a half weeks before the next meeting.    You can start assigning the remaining roles one week before  the meeting.   This gives you the week to confirm all the roles, and to be ready to make any changes if necessary.

This combination allows the flexibility of people volunteering for roles, but also makes sure that the agenda is firmed up AT LEAST ONE WEEK before the meeting.   This will ensure a meeting that is smooth flowing, allows for last-minute changes, and impresses guests.

I’ve done the Vice-President Education role twice now and this system works!

 

 

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