5 Ways to Prepare for Being a Club Officer at Toastmasters

For all of those who have been elected as club officers at Toastmasters, congratulations!   I hope whoever approached you for this honor did so in a way that conveyed the sense that they were giving you the verbal equivalent of a Hallmark card that says “Congratulations!” rather than “My Deepest Sympathies…”

I have been a club officer a few times but this is the first time that I have been the President of a club, namely, my home club of Homewood-Flossmoor Toastmasters.   I wanted to give some advice for the new club officers who are going to be serving the next term (July 2014-June 2015) with me.    However, I thought I would put down my thoughts on this blog so this advice would be useful for ALL Toastmasters out there who are going to be club officers, ESPECIALLY for those who are doing this for the first time.    All five of these should be in June, so that July 2014 starts off smoothly…

1.   Download the Club Leadership Handbook

At the Toastmasters International website, there is a handbook you can access and download for free:

http://www.toastmasters.org /CLH

I recommend that you print it out or print out those portions that have to do with your role.   The following sections are particularly helpful:

  • Anatomy of a Club (shows how the various club roles and club officers interact)
  • Club Executive Committee Meetings (shows their importance and how one should be conducted)
  • The Club within District Structure (shows how the club fits into the area, division, and district)
  • Club Timeline (shows the timeline of when certain deadlines and milestones occur within the Toastmaster’s Year)
  • Club Leadership Roles (describes the roles and responsibilities of each of the club officer positions, including a  checklist for the duties pf each position)
  • Distinguished Club Program (describes this program, which should be the core of the club’s goal planning for the year)
  • Toastmasters Educational Program (explains the awards within each of the two tracks, communications and leadership)
  • Club Finance, Public Relations & Marketing (further information for the Club Treasurer, VP-PR and VP-Membership club officers)
  • Club Events (including Club Officer Elections, which have obviously just concluded, and the Club Speech Contests, which will start VERY soon after the new year starts)

2.  Choose Which Toastmasters Leadership Institute to Attend

In June, most districts have two opportunities to attend a Toastmasters Leadership Institute or TLI, which is a requirement for club officers to attend.    You should determine which club officers intend to go to which session, so that at least four officers are trained by the end of June, and at best all seven are trained.    If the location of the training is a bit of a commute, you can make things easier by organizing a car pool.

There IS make-up training that is offered, usually in July, but I would encourage all club officers to make it to the TLI if at all possible.   It is not just club officer training that is offered there, but also training to be a judge in a speech contest, and additional educational opportunities.    For example, in the TLI being held in the first half of June in District 30, there are opportunities to go to educational workshops on speech writing, using improvisational techniques in your speeches, and the session I am hosting, which is obtaining resources for your ESL members of your club to improve their pronunciation.

3.   Plan the First Club Executive Committee Meeting

Each Club Executive Committee Meeting should ideally be held one a month, preferably either before or after one of the chapter meetings.    However, the first meeting should be two hours long, so that you can use it to plan out the Club Success Plan.    Therefore, it most likely will be held on a Saturday or Sunday.    Now since the TLI is already going on in June on Saturdays, I recommend finding a Sunday on which at least the following officers can be present:

  • President
  • Vice President Education
  • Vice President Membership
  • Treasurer

Ideally, all seven officers will be able to be present.    The reason why I specified the above officers is that the President will lead the meeting, and the other three are needed to help create the Club Success Plan, which needs the input of these officers at the very least.

4.  Have the Current Club Officers meet with the New Club Officers

You should have the current club officers meet together with the new club officers sometime in June.    This can even be done by phone call, but after each club officer reads the club leadership handbook BEFORE the club executive committee meeting and BEFORE the TLI, the new club officer may have a lot of questions which are most easily answered by the current club officer.

Rather than having a mass meeting, I suggest a one-on-one meeting which can either be face-to-face (the best option), or by conference call.     This will not only serve the function of answering the new club officer’s questions, but it will also establish the relationship between the two “generations” of club officers as being a mentor-mentee relationship.

In particular, it is necessary for the Vice President Education to get the educational records of the various club members from the previous VPE.    Only if you know how far each member has gotten in the Toastmasters Educational Program can you properly complete the Club Success Plan.   The VPE needs this information BEFORE the club executive committee meeting in June.

5.  Have a Club Officer Ceremony

This ceremony should be held in June, and the contents of the ceremony are listed in the Club Leadership Handbook.  You need to order a set of club officer pins NOW in order to have them arrive before the ceremony either in the first or second meeting of June.

This is not just a superficial formality.   It emphasizes the fact that the new club officers are not being pushed out on an ice floe, only to drift with the currents.    They are going to be actively supported by the current club officers, and the ceremony itself reflects that.    The pins are badges of respect, authority, and gratitude towards these people for having stepped up and taken a leadership role.

In short, if you engage in these five activities STARTING NOW, you will, by the end of the month, have a series of club officers who do not look like they are deer staring in the headlights of their approaching responsibilities, but rather are leaping at the chance to take on their new roles in the club!






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