Submitted by Area 54 Director Leah Cheyne
When I saw the email from our District’s Quality Program Director, John Sherber, requesting assistance with changing the name of Club Officer Training, the first thing that traipsed across my mind was, “Why the push to change the name of Club Officer Training now?” Ever since I became a Club Officer the training has always been known as COT. I did not understand the point of the exercise.
Within seconds of this question floated another idea, and suddenly I saw his email for what it was. An opportunity, a challenge to make a small but significant change. It provided a chance to put on my creative cap and have a field day playing with acronyms. After all, what difference can three little letters make from three other little letters, right? With my computer on and ready to go, I sat down and thought about what COT means to me and what would sell me on the fact that attending these training meetings would be beneficial. Then I created some acronyms.
It struck me that MELE as our Toastmaster neighbours have called their training sessions is far too close to melee, and our district needs fewer melees, not more. The main recurring thought that struck me was this: If you really want to change the acronym, then it should be changed to one with a positive vibe, something like UP, LIFT, ACT, or TURN. Something that indicates positive change through movement or action. In short, it needed to be motivational.
Accredited Club Training (ACT) was the only one that resonated with me when I finished brainstorming. On a professional level, it spoke to the very heart of the matter. We need club officers to know that their training matters to the health of our members, our clubs, and our district. It is a stepping stone to ensuring that we leave the district in better shape than when we entered into it. We need club officers to know that in exchange for eight hours of their precious time over a Toastmaster year, they would be working on their own leadership success and helping their club to receive credit towards the Distinguish Club Program.
“Now is the time for all club officers to ACT and help the clubs achieve distinguished status. Find out what it takes to make your club distinguished and get the resources you need to get your club there. Register now and don’t miss out!” I could see how changing three little letters could widen the range of promotional possibilities for advertising these events to Club Officers in our district. And then came this, “ACT for success because every Toastmaster deserves to be part of a Distinguished Club, their success starts with you, the Club Officer.”
Even though I thought it was the best acronym with the widest promotional possibilities it did not necessarily mean that everyone else would agree. At District Officer Training on February 11th, about 20 acronyms from all over the district were put on a board and the officers in attendance voted on the name change. It was great to see democracy at work.
Now I am looking forward to seeing exactly how this new name will be used in upcoming promotional material for the training sessions. May it be successful in obtaining the highest attendance rate for all our future ACTs as we all work together towards becoming a Distinguished District.
Editor’s note: The contest challenge went out at the Fall Conference, and the winner was picked at DOT (District Officer Training). Alan’s submission, HOPS-‘Helping Officers Prepare for Success’ set the bar, and the brainstorming session generated a flurry of highly creative possibilities. Congratulations, Leah, for winning the $50 TI incentive for your club.