Toastmasters Success: Ten Tips to Become Presidential Distinguished – Part 1

Public SpeakingWould you like to know how to make your club Presidential Distinguished? With the Toastmasters year rapidly coming to a close and clubs preparing to transition from this year’s officers to next year’s, I figured that this would be a great time to talk about ways to accomplish club goals. This is along the same lines as my prior post on Tips for Toastmasters.

My Toastmasters Experience:

During the 2003-2004 Toastmaster Fiscal Year, I had the pleasure of serving as my club’s President. I worked with six other officers (who each contributed significantly to the success of the club) all of whom could be described in one word: fantastic. It was because of this great team (as well as our club’s membership as a whole) that we had a perfect year – we achieved Presidential Distinguished by reaching all 10 goals (and we even reached some more than once).

There were a lot of factors that contributed to our success but the biggest was our active members. We had a small, but loyal and dedicated, core group of active members at the beginning of the year. We were able to pass our own excitement and enthusiasm on to most of our new members – one of the key factors in our success. Throughout the process, we all learned a lot about growing an organization so I thought it would be beneficial to share what I learned with others. So here are my top ten tips for club success:

1: Have regular and productive e-board meetings:

The operative words here are “regular” and “productive.” Sure, it’s fun to hang out and chat about the latest gossip in the club but keep in mind that the goal of each officer’s meeting is to deal with club business.

We held officer meetings each month and reviewed our DCP (Distinguished Club Plan) at every meeting. Each meeting had an agenda and we’d review our progress towards the DCP. Every officer was given objectives to help us achieve our DCP goals and we’d each report on them at meetings. And yes, we had fun while we were at it too.

2: Complete your DCP early on:

Our District Governor requested that clubs send him a copy of their DCP within the first couple months of the fiscal year, so we made completing ours a priority. Again, doing so helped us figure out how we could reach our goals and how each of us could do our part so we could get there. Many clubs make the mistake of not putting a lot of thought towards the DCP until a few months before the end of the year. Start early – as soon as new officers are elected is a great time!

3: Encourage all members to get involved:

You might not be able to get every single member involved and excited about the club, but it’s important to reach out to everyone. When I was Club President, I offered to meet with anyone interested in discussing how the club can serve them better. The VP of Membership would regularly call or fire off an email to members that hadn’t attended meetings in a while to make sure everything was okay. All of the officers would take the time to welcome new members and talk to as many folks as possible during our social time at meetings (before, after and during the break).

This benefited us because every member had numerous opportunities to raise concerns with the officers and we were able to address the needs of everyone.

4: Try new things:

Our VP of Education at the time came up with some creative theme meeting ideas. We found that the added hype that we put on these meetings generated interest in the meeting which helped with attendance. People participated, get involved and had a lot of fun (in fact, this past year the club made every meeting a theme meeting).

Remember that people get bored easily so try to make each meeting somewhat unique. If you have the same person telling a joke at the beginning of each meeting or the same three people giving speeches at every meeting, then you need to do something different. Bring in a guest speaker, have snacks (if you normally don’t), celebrate a birthday, anniversary or random holiday by bringing a cake and singing. Make sure you give your members a reason for not wanting to miss the meeting.

5: Work With Other Clubs

If theme meetings are too radical a change for your club (which is okay), try having social meetings with another club in your area. I became friendly with another Club President in my area so we each visited each other’s clubs and brought some members with us.

We learned so much from each other and got some great ideas so this is something I highly recommend. They were a corporate club and we were a community club and our meetings were at different times of the day so we really weren’t competing with each other for members – which made our relationship even more helpful.

So these are some ways to put your club on track for becoming Presidential Distinguished. We’ll continue with this in Part 2 which I’ll publish in the near future.

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