Looking for tips on how to be an effective Club Coach or Club Mentor? Maybe you are in a club that’s doing okay, but you’d like to make the member experience even better. The following series of videos was created a few years ago, but is every bit as relevant today. Scroll down to find the topics you are most interested in, grab a notebook and pen, and feel free to connect with our District Team on any points you would like help with. That’s why we’re here!
Are you wondering if you have what it takes to be successful at it? Well, if you have ever started a campfire, then Club Coaching may just be a potential Toastmaster path for you.
If you can relate to any of the following and have what it take to apply these same components to interacting with Toastmaster members who may just need a little help to re-ignite their spark and keep their flames alive within the ring of their club, then the Club Coach Coordinator of District 21, Joe Guenette, sure would like to hear from you.
Knowing what is needed:
A good campfire requires one to assess the contents of the cold ring. Is there any wood left over that can be used? Do the plastic bits have to be removed? Is it drowning from the last camper using too much water? Or, are all the components there and you just have to ignite it?
Once that is assessed, anything that is missing that requires one to go away from comfort of the ring to find it. Is the extra firewood close by or do you have go into the forest and haul it back? You are not going to have a fire without it.
Is there any kindle close by, do you need to dip into your paper towel supply, or are the store bought highly flammable Coleman sticks in your tote? How about some paper to write with? Without the kindling of any sort, getting this fire going is going to be tough.
Where did you put the lighter, is it by the propane stove or tucked away into the kitchen tote? Is it in your chair or your car? Better yet, did you forget the matches? If you forgot the light that gets a fire going, rubbing two sticks together is a chore so it is best to hope that you got friendly neighbours willing to lend you theirs. And if you are all by yourself, hope you get creative, have a push-start stove and be ready to throw flaming bread into the fire ring and pray the wood catches. Lighting seldom strikes.
If you are at the stone ring fully prepared with the key components, it won’t take long to have a toasty fire with dancing and playful flames in front of you warming you up.
However, if any of the components are missing or if the leftovers in the ring are prohibitive, such as too much water remaining in the bottom drowning out the embers or any chemical-based garbage scattered throughout with the potential to create toxic gases, then it may take longer to get the fire going. You may just have to put in more effort and patience to even get to the stage of igniting the fire.
Maintaining a beautiful thing:
Just because you get the fire going does not mean that you can keep it going or that the flames will even catch the wood. You have to keep a watchful eye over it, gently stoking the flame or blowing coarsely until the wood catches and the flames multiply and take on a life of their own. In the early stages, it will not take much for a single flame to die out without help, leaving nothing but smoke behind.
If you can keep the flame from dying out, if you can breathe new life into it, an early thrill of the task comes upon hearing that first crackle of wood catching fire. It sounds like a mini-explosion going off in the centre of the ring and sometimes casts sparks up into the air. Magnificent when that happens because a roaring fire is not that far behind.
Now that the fire has come to life, know that you are not done yet. Just when you are certain the kindling is roaring and can give off flames without you, when you can hear the cackling of the wood catching and everything appears to be going smoothly, you still have to keep a watchful eye to ensure the flame keeps going. Logs can oftentimes crash in on themselves and smoulder out all the flames. The fire can easily die. When that happens, it is time to either poke at the fire, or put a new log on top of the other wood. Keep doing this as long as you want that fire to last.
If done right, with proper planning and some care, the best part awaits. It is that moment when you can sit back, watch the flames turn an array of magnificent colours, and appreciate how those flames light up the night while reaching up for the stars. In that moment, basking in the warmth of the roaring fire taking place inside the ring amid the aroma of fresh cedar, that is when you know it has all been worth it. There is nothing quite as satisfying as that moment.
A symbiotic relationship:
If you can start a fire and keep it going, then there is a strong likelihood that you would make a fantastic Club Coach. The relationship between a struggling club and Club Coach has benefits for both sides filled with many memorable moments. It is an excellent way to give back to our community and affords room for growth for all involved.
Being a Club Coach can take quite a bit of planning, effort, determination, patience, and coaxing, but the rewards that stem from that work are worthwhile. Over the course of this year alongside Area F52 Director, Letty Louie, I have witnessed firsthand as the members of Kwantlen Toastmasters Club have shone brightly, owned the stage, risen to the challenges asked of them, and held some very successful events. It has been an enriching opportunity. I encourage you to try it one day soon.
Submitted by Area 54 Director Leah Cheyne
An interview with Joe Guenette DTM, D21 Club Coach Specialist, VP Education of Cowichan Toastmasters.
“Everyone in my club works on manual speeches” Joe said.
“Sometimes they are working on two or three manuals at one time. We have between 22 – 24 members and they are a bunch of go-getters.”
When I asked him about how the club keeps the membership up despite the inevitable drop-off at every dues renewal time he said “We have a ‘bring a friend’ night.
And we expect people to bring two friends. At our recent one we had a new speaker, a mid-experienced speaker, an experienced speaker, so people can see the progress. We made it a big showcase night with five speeches so visitors had a chance to see what we do. We had the current Table Topics Champion and D21 International Speech champion Tania Ehrman gave a speech and so did Alan Warburton. They were all evaluated too. No-one in our club goes without an evaluation. Visitors that night saw what we do and what we get out of it.
“Our members are not chair warmers. We have three DTM’s in the group. I was the first one in our club to become a DTM. My father-in-law was the second and my mother-in-law was the third. I don’t believe in sitting back when you get your DTM. Now it’s time to give back, now I have to work for the club.
“I have been awarded two DTMs and I’m very close to my third. For the High Performance Leadership project for my first one I co-chaired the Nanaimo D21 conference with Sylvain Houde. For my second HPL I was Division A Governor with the goal of bringing the whole Division to President’s Distinguished status. We achieved it and that level has not been achieved since.
“This year, as Club Coach Specialist for District 21, I work with the belief that every single club should be successful. If a club has less than 12 members I contact them and ask “Can I help you?” Most of them say ‘Yes’. At the recent Fall conference I had 21 coaches present and I picked up two more. Since then I’ve picked up five more coaches and been approached by six clubs asking to be coached. Contacting and keeping in contact is very important. I tell them about ‘bring a friend’ night and tell them to set out plenty of chairs and plan on signing up new members. With more members you’ve got more people to bring friends and the numbers build quickly. Even in a college club where you’re losing members at the end of each term we’ve found we can re-build membership that way and bring the club to nine or even all ten DCP points.
“The Distinguished Club Program (DCP) is every club’s report card. It shows what you are doing and helps your club to succeed. It means that every club needs to be a working club – no chair warmers! Each club should be getting 10 DCP points every year and at the same time they should be having fun. Meetings should be interesting with good fellowship. Members need to ask themselves ‘Where is the joy in our meeting? What’s going on that makes meetings interesting?’ If you don’t make it fun and light-hearted people will walk away.
“The VP Education is the key to strong meetings. You have to schedule meetings, preferably five weeks ahead, so that the club is aiming for the 10 DCP points. With good leadership and communication you can have strong meetings and not two hours of Table Topics. Nobody joins a club for two hours of Table Topics.
“Sometimes long-term members can feel a little bit stale. As VP Education I try to find them something worthwhile to contribute to the club in addition to doing speeches. Perhaps they can become mentors; they need to have a reason for being at the meeting, to get the fire back under them.
“As VP Education I take the position to heart. This is the person who takes the career of other members in their hands. In my club, they know I will do all I can for them because I understand that the communication and leadership lessons they learn will boost any career. I’m a motivator, and I love it!”
After half an hour talking to Joe Guenette I felt energized, feeling the positivity of the DCP program and the possibility of finding new members who will benefit from membership in TI. He is indeed a motivator and he clearly lives it and loves it.
Building a Club Community
Does this sound familiar?
We were down to about 12 members, financially the club was in dire straits, what with TI raising fees, the US exchange rate and the high cost of rent.
Kelowna AM Toastmasters found themselves in this situation, but they now have a steady base of 24 – 28 members. Their solution was Facebook! The idea of creating a web presence was born from desperation, when the club had less than $10 in their bank account. Reen Rose volunteered to start posting for the club to attract new members, but things really flourished when posting duties were handed over to Christy Webb a few months later. The club chose Facebook to be their online presence because they felt so many people use it to keep in touch with family, friends and business contacts. Twice a week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, the Vice President of PR, currently Deb Lawless, posts on the club’s Facebook page.
The club meets at 6:45 am (that’s right, AM) Thursday mornings at a hotel in downtown Kelowna. Christy will have her camera there and take a photo of, say, someone doing their Ice Breaker. The picture will be posted that day on Facebook. She tries to get at least one picture every week. The Tuesday posting will be anything that might interest members, for instance a screenshot of an especially interesting article from the Toastmaster magazine.
These regular postings have created a strong sense of community within the club. Visitors feel this and are attracted to join the club and to become a part of it. Because of the strong sense of community higher fees are not a problem because members feel “This club is worth it.”
The Facebook page is light-hearted and fun, always looking to the little things that make the club a community – birthdays are remembered, holiday pictures are shared, congratulations given for the achievement of Toastmaster milestones. And part of the light-heartedness is that they call themselves ‘Toasties’.
“The club is vibrant now” Reen says. “People notice that when they visit and they want to be part of that so they join. We get new people all the time so the club is not stagnant. We meet every single Thursday with no breaks. And we really know our club members. Facebook helps us with that and it has helped us build a club that people want to join.”
Reen describes herself as a speaker, author and educator. As a lifelong learner she joined Toastmasters to hone her speaking skills. “In the beginning I thought 6:45 AM was too early to be meeting but now I can’t imagine not being part of this club.”
Tips for using Facebook for your club:
- Consistency is key. Decide when you will post and stick to it. Don’t say you’ll post five times a week because you’ll slack off and lose the consistency. Once or twice a week is plenty, but stick to it.
- Use images – they attract more readers than straight text.
- Keep it light – make it fun to read, not a chore.
- Use items about people, their good news, their milestones. It’s all about connecting people.
Reen says “Any Facebook users reading the article, please like the page on Facebook if you want to see what we are up to. Search on Facebook for Kelowna AM Toastmasters or use the link www.facebook.com/kelownatoast.