A Tale of Two Trainings: Towards a More Effective Toastmasters Leadership Institute

As a new Area Governor, I went to the first District Executive Committee (DEC) meeting of the new Toastmasters year, which goes from July 2014-June 2015.    The DEC meeting took place in the morning, and I carpooled with someone who had to stay for the afternoon in order to go to the make-up Area Governor training.    I had gone the previous month, but rather than just sit in the cafeteria while she went through her training, I decided to join in the training and my experience led me to the revelation that is the subject of this post.

The Area Governor training I went to in June was the tradition training that District has put on in the past.   We got a huge stack of documents, each of which was explained by a lecture given from a Powerpoint presentation.

The Area Governor training I went to today was a kind of experiment.   Since all the Division Governors had completed their training in June along with most of the Area Governors, the District leadership tasked them with taking over the training of the remaining Area Governors.    Their approach was more interactive, enjoyable, and left a deeper impression than the training in June.

1.  Interactive Training

Rather than present material from a presentation, there was a brief introduction to the material of each section followed by

  • questions from the Division Governors to individual Area Governors
  • breakout brainstorming sessions where each small group would come up with items that answered the question posed by the Division Governors to each group
  • more dynamic presentation styles where the Division Governor would move throughout the meeting space, and reflect back what each person said in order to reinforce it

2.  Enjoyable

One of the reasons why it more enjoyable was because the Division Governors would break up the hour-long sessions by small, five-minute bathroom or networking breaks, or sometimes short sing-a-longs to get the group to interact in a fun way.    This increased the attention paid to the material, and started the Area Governors to interact with each other.

3.  Impressionable

The breakout sessions created a lot of input from the various Area Governors.   For example, in answer to the question “what can you do to further your club’s educational and leadership goals”, I had thought of about half-a-dozen items to answer the question, but by the time we all put our heads together, we had about two dozen items, divided into six categories.    Then one person from the group had to present their findings, or a small summary of them, to the group.

Of course the material reinforced what I had already learned in the June training.   But the June training consisted of one source of information (District leaders) dispersing to individual Area Governors, who were left to struggle with the material on their own.   Here, Division governors were dispersing information to Area Governors as individuals and as small groups.   This had the Area Governors interact with each other and reinforce the material, or answer each other’s questions.   This ultimately saved time, because in the June session, a lot of the time at the end of the session was taken up by a lot of questions from confused Area Governors.   In today’s session, we answered a lot of our own questions, and so the number of questions the Division Governors had to answer at the end of each session was a lot fewer than in June.

I just thought that today’s way of training Area Governors could be carried over into the training of Club Officers in the Toastmasters Leadership Institute.    I hope that I can get involved with the next TLI and try to use these methods to enliven and enrich the TLI that takes place in the winter of this year!


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