5 Ways to Prepare for Being an Area Governor in Toastmasters

A couple of weeks ago, I was informed by the incoming District Governor Donna Weston that my nomination as an Area Governor was approved.    Today the Area Governor training takes place, and I wanted to give some advice passed on to me by the previous Area Governor for my area, Felton Armand.

1.   Be an Assistant Area Governor

What if you are not an Area Governor now, but would like to be some time in the future?    The best way to prepare is to become an Assistant to the Area Governor.    It’s not an official position in the sense of getting credit for it towards your DTM, like you do when you are an Area Governor.    What you do is you essentially shadow the Area Governor, f0llowing his or her lead when it comes to

  • Reviewing Club Success Plans for the various Area Clubs
  • Creating an Area Success Plan
  • Visiting Area Clubs and filling out Area Visit Reports
  • Conducting Area Speech Contests and assisting with Division Speech Contests
  • Following leads for new clubs in your Area

Each club has a Club Success Plan, which essentially picks a goal for the club to make the designation of Distinguished Club by the end of the Toastmaster year.    This is achieved when a club gets 5 out of 10 points in the Distinguished Club program.    If the club gets 7 out of 10 points, then it is Select Distinguished, and if it gets 9 out of 10 points, then it is President’s Distinguished.

The Area Success Plan is built from the building blocks of the Club Success Plans.   If 50% of your club base in your area is Distinguished or higher, then you are a Distinguished Area.    If MORE than 50% of your club base in your area is Distinguished or higher, then you are a Select Distinguished Area.   If MORE than 50% of your club base in your area is Distinguished or higher, AND you start a new club in your area, then you are a President’s Distinguished Area.

Here’s an example.    Our Area, S56 in the South Division of District 30, had 4 clubs.   So in order to make Distinguished Area, we had to have 2 clubs that were Distinguished Clubs or better.    In order to make Select Distinguished Area, we had to have 3 or 4 clubs that were Distinguished Clubs or better.    In order to make President’s Distinguished Area, we had to have 3 or 4 clubs that were Distinguished Clubs or better PLUS we had to start a new club.    We were fortunately able to have 3 clubs reach their goal of being Distinguished Clubs or better, AND we had a new club open in our area, so we made it to that goal.

The Area Success Plan for next year which have to show which clubs are going to go for which level of Distinguished Club designation, and how they are going to achieve it.

Once you have helped the Area Governor run Area Speech Contests as an Assistant Area Governor, the process isn’t so mysterious, and you can essentially use the best practices from the previous year as a springboard on how to run your own contests when you become new Area Governor.

2.  Get to Know the Division Governor

Usually the Division Governor puts that “hat in the ring” to become the Governor starting around the time of the Spring Contests, so if you have a chance to meet a prospective Division Governor, especially one that is running unopposed, get to them early on and indicate your interest in being an Area Governor.   In that way, if more than one person wants to be the Area Governor, it is the Division Governor who ways heavily in the deciding vote by the District leadership.

Indicate to the Division Governor that you are just there to make sure your own goals as Area Governor are fulfilled, but you are there to assist other Area Governors in the same division, particularly with club contests.

3.  Get to Know the Other Area Governors

This is important because when it comes time to look for Chief Judges and regular Judges for your Area Speech Contest, it is easy if each Area Governor agrees to be a Judge for all the OTHER Area Speech Contests.    It is the most painless way of getting the requisite amount of judges or other assistants for your own contests.

Also, if you miss a District Executive Committee meeting, you can designate another Area Governor to get a copy of the meeting minutes and other documents discussed, with the understanding that you will do the same for them if they have to miss a meeting.

4.  Get to Know the President and Vice President Education of Each of the Clubs in your Area

If you have a President and Vice President Education who are unresponsive to your requests, it can make your job a lot more difficult.   But looking on the bright side, if they ARE responsive, you can get a lot of the Area Visit Reports done BEFORE and AFTER the area visits, leaving the area visit for networking, establishing relationships, and close observation as to how the club is doing.

You need for them to set up a Club Success Plan as soon as possible, so that you can in turn set up your Area Success Plan.    This needs to be done BEFORE the area visits.

In addition, setting up a regular monthly meeting with the President and Vice President of each Area, particularly when it comes to time for the Area Speech Contests, is an excellent way to make sure they are continuing to follow the Club Success Plan.   If problems regarding membership levels starts to occur, you can address the issue proactively rather than waiting for a club to require a Club Coach.

5.   Search for your own Assistant Area Governor

This will serve two purposes, it will reduce your work load, but it is also a good risk management strategy, because if you are transferred due to a job change or promotion that requires you to move to another District, or if there is some personal matter such as the death of a parent, spouse, or child that requires your attention for months at a time, you can rest assured that the Assistant Area Governor will continue getting the work done as required by the position even if you are temporarily incapacitated or permanently removed from the position due to circumstances beyond your control.

If you establish vertical relations (to the Division and District leaders going upwards and going downwards, to  the club Presidents and Vice Presidents of Education) and horizontal relations (to other Area Governors), and get to know the previous Area Governor as well as grooming an Assistant Area Governor to take over your position in the following year, you will make sure that your Area does well and that you achieve the maximum growth not only of your Area, your Division, and all the clubs in your Area, but of your professional development as a leader within Toastmasters.


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