…you never know where the next step will lead.
February marks the kick-off of a series of exciting events and activities for Toastmasters Clubs across the province so the public can learn about the many benefits of joining a Toastmasters Club. And…it’s the perfect opportunity to ramp up a sense of urgency around our goal “Building our membership together for success’. Yes, we’re kicking it up a gear. Leaders around the District are inspiring club members, bringing in fresh ideas, and turning outward to look at opportunities and creative membership building ideas.
Club Coach Specialist Distinguished Toastmaster Joe Guenette says, “Membership is always at the forefront of clubs. We have too many clubs right now who are down in membership. So please allow me to share with you a simple yet very successful plan for membership growth.
“Guest nights or Open houses are always nice; however the truth is they are unpredictable. Sure you spend a lot of money on advertising and having some snacks for the break, but there is no guarantee. What we like to do is have a ” BRING A FRIEND NIGHT”. No costly advertising, but certainly have a snack table available. Bring a friend is just that: a personal friend, perhaps a relative or a co worker. These people have seen a change in you…your communication is better, your leadership is amazing. They may not say it, but they see it. Now it’s the member’s turn to offer the guests something, e.g., “Let me show you how I have changed. Let me introduce you to the people who have worked with me in improving my communication and leadership skills.” This helps the member to OWN the CLUB. Take responsibility and bring a friend. How will it look?
- “You have ten members, bring a friend, you have ten guests…there’s now twenty people in your chairs. They’re listening to (hopefully) three speakers, a new member, a member who has been there for a year or so and is available, and a DTM.
- “Your evening will have evaluations as well and table topics if there is time. When I had my last session I invited our District Director and Current District Table Topics Champion Tania Ehman to speak as well as the three members.
“I had fifteen members when we did this– two months later, we had twenty-two members. It works and your new members are so excited that they are letting their friends know as well.”
More Membership Building Ideas from around D21…
“Provide a quality experience, then make sure members are reminded every meeting- ‘Improve the lives of others by inviting guests. It is our responsibility.” Cowichan Toastmasters President, Rob Chapman.
“Make your club website presentable, have good documentation for guests and new members, etc.) and try multi-channel marketing.” Birdcage Toastmasters VP Ed, Chris Mutadi.
“Our top tip is to stand out and create a culture within your club. Standing out, like our website islandexcellencetoastsmasters.com does, allows you to give a great first impression to anyone googling around the internet for an opportunity to join something like Toastmasters, and then carefully cultivating a strong culture within your club will attract and retain people who fit the culture you are trying to create and that is the best recipe for exponential growth. The culture at Island Excellence is one of warmth, vulnerability, fun and is personal growth oriented.” Island Excellence Toastmasters President Hersh Kalles
“Here are the things I did to increase the membership for my club:
* Get a coach: We started out with 11 members last summer. We had one DTM, some seasoned Toastmasters, and some of us who have been with Toastmasters for a few years. Lyn reached out to get a coach, and Sophie was our unofficial coach. Sophie put us in touch with some experienced Toastmasters, who later joined our club. Sophie was also instrumental in our Open House, which attracted a few new members to join.
* Have an Open House: Hosting an open house is a critical event to meet new people, expand members’ speaking skills in front of a new group of people, and share our success stories with others, and influence people to join this amazing adventure. It’s imperative for the club officers to “spread the word” prior to the Open House. Use all kinds of vehicles: word of mouth, family members, business partners, colleagues, coworkers, office posters, email, Facebook, Twtitter, Instagram, whatever you can think of, use it. I know the feeling where people can say, “oh, we are fine with membership. Membership is not our problem.” But it is! It’s everyone’s problem. Put those feelings away. Share the love. Go out there and let the world know how wonderful it is to experience the Toastmasters transformation.
* Build your roster: You can’t attract a group of investors with a bag of change. I kept that statement in mind when I was building our membership. Sophie introduced me to a group of very experienced Toastmasters. I connected with them and invited them to our club. After a few meetings, some of them joined our club. We now have two DTMs, two Area Directors, and two past Area Directors in our club. When your roster is stacked and guests can’t wait to hear members speak, you just smile, soak in the high energy in the club, and enjoy the growth of the members.
* Focus on education: Running a quality meeting is one of the most important things to guarantee members’ and guests’ experience, and one can’t run a quality meeting without a world-class education-focused program. All members should have a mentor. Have mentors engage their mentees. Write short, medium and long term goals down. Make plans to achieve these goals. Hold mentees accountable for their goals. Celebrate their success when they reach their goals, even if it’s a really small one like participating in a 2-minute table topics speech. Focus on building your members’ education and development. The Law of Attraction will take care of the rest.
These four points have been my guiding principles as I work with my club officers throughout the year. Obviously there are other smaller things such as always greet a guest, share application form with guests, share meeting recaps with guests after each meeting, reach out to guest to see if they have any questions, and invite them back again. These are smaller tips, and most of us already do these. I tend to be more personal with our guests. If I see a guest that I think it’s a good fit with our club, I would go out for coffee with him/her after our meeting, preferably that week.
It sounds weird to say this, but I have to share it. Growing our membership was never our priority. Developing our members’ education and ensuring every meeting is a quality meeting were, are and always will be our priorities. It’s almost like membership growth is a by-product of members’ education and improvement. When guests see our members develop and grow, they want to be a part of it.” Belmont Babblers President, Will Yang
Armstrong Toastmasters President Sheila Procter says, “Have fun and create an atmosphere of joy to attract new members!”
Go BIG! Great stuff is happening in Division K.
Kelowna AM Toastmasters President, Ross Freake, is currently organizing a series of articles in Castanet to promote Toastmasters. Check out the latest column for The Art of Speaking, on the value of Toastmasters.
What about offering a gift certificate? Here’s the pitch: If you’re looking for a Unique Gift for someone special, why not consider buying a Gift Certificate from our Toastmasters club…the recipient will enjoy UNLIMITED OPPORTUNITIES TO DEVELOP FULL POTENTIAL… PRICELESS.
It’s a win-win situation. Several years ago, someone (a past Toastmaster) was looking for a gift to give to her husband for his birthday. He had always talked about needing help with public speaking, so she bought him a six-month membership. He joined the club and became a strong team player who gained confidence and competed in a humour contest at the district level.
Please note: Toastmasters International makes CLEAR club funds MUST NOT be used to pay membership dues for someone. The only option is private sponsorship.
Do you have an interesting Toastmasters story? (e.g., Someone in my club went from being terrified of speaking before an audience to being transformed into a poised, confident, effective communicator who stood before a group of 500 people in five short weeks.) Submit a news article about the person as a jumping off point to discuss the benefits of Toastmasters. Send a press release (include photos whenever possible) to local media on all special events and on member’s accomplishments. Check here for TI templates for press releases. submitted by VP Publicity, Evening Edition Toastmasters, Ros Hansen.
Think about groups that may not yet be served by Toastmasters in the community: seniors, physically challenged, unemployed, non-English speaking communities, women in transition, local business or vocational schools, etc. Can you start a club for them? Can you invite them to a club meeting? Provide a leadership seminar? Sponsor a Speechcraft?
Enhance membership retention by ensuring that every member is a stakeholder in the success of the club. Put every member on a committee, and make sure that they have a specific job to do. There are many benefits to this besides membership retention, including an opportunity for leadership experience.
If you have a strong club, consider partnering up with a struggling club. Help out with speakers, evaluators, and just being an audience member.
Break down your annual goal for new members into a monthly goal. It will seem much easier to meet that way.