A Toastmasters meeting is what makes a club thrive. If your meetings are run effectively, your members will be more enthusiastic and guests will be more apt to join. So here are some tips to help make your next Toastmasters meeting a huge success:
1. Start and end on time:
Effective time management shows everyone that you value their time as well as your own. If you always start the meeting ten minutes late, people will start showing up later and later. Likewise, if you end late, people will start getting angry and having negative feelings about the group.
2. Ask people to turn down their cell phones:
At the beginning of each meeting, politely ask people to turn off their cell phones or set them to vibrate mode. This is especially important because today’s cell phone ringtones can disrupt even an experienced speaker. Keep in mind that many new members have a difficult time as it is to get up and speak to the group, so try to minimize distractions.
3. Get back-ups for roles:
The most frustrating task that the person in the Toastmaster role faces is dealing with last minute cancellations. People get sick, things pop up unexpectedly and yes, people sometimes forget that there was a meeting. So it’s always good to have back-up speakers as well as members of the group that can fill some of the smaller roles in pinch if necessary.
4. Have theme meetings:
Shake things up every now and then with a theme meeting. Holidays, sports, pop culture and even regional themes can really spice up a meeting and get folks excited about it. Get people involved by creating special roles related to the theme — so if you were to do a murder mystery, you might want to add a coat master to check in people’s coats as they enter the meeting.
5. Send out reminders prior to the meeting:
At the very least, confirm that all the folks who signed up for roles are still planning on performing those roles one to two days before the meeting. A generic email to all the members who have assigned roles asking them to confirm is the bare minimum with the ideal situation being contacting all folks with roles via phone.
It’s also helpful to send out a note to all club members two to three business days before a meeting to remind them that it’s coming up. Two to three business days are necessary as people might use a work email address and may be out of the office for a day or two. It’s also helpful to use this opportunity to encourage members to show up. Including blurbs about snacks, milestone speeches, special guests, etc… will help build interest.
The good thing is that none of these tips require a large amount of extra work to do. Theme meetings require a little more prep work than regular meetings, but preparing for one that everyone is excited about is more fun than work. If you have some tips you’d like to share, please leave a comment.