One of the biggest challenges that leaders within Toastmasters face is the club slump. Clubs that are thriving one year are suddenly struggling to survive the next. Corporate clubs, especially those that restrict members to company employees, are the most prone to this as factors such as layoffs, relocation and company-wide initiatives can directly affect a club. Community clubs aren’t immune to this either as key people can leave a club for reasons ranging from job changes to changes in their family situation. Regardless of whether or not your club is in a slump (it’s good to be proactive), here’s six ways to revive and re-energize your club.
Plan an event or outing outside of your regular meetings:
Do something fun that gives your members a chance to really bond and remember why they have so much fun being around their fellow club members. This will boost morale with current members and impress guests. It’ll give the offers a chance to mingle with members and get to know them. Remember, your time for socializing is limited at club meetings so it’s hard to get a sense for everyone’s attitude.
These events don’t have to be Toastmasters related such as conferences and TLIs —in fact, it’s better to do something that’s not. My club once did a karaoke night at a local restaurant and everyone enjoyed it. But you can do a dinner, a barbeque at a member’s house, a trip to see a movie or go anywhere that people can talk.
Have someone do the Moments of Truth Presentation:
This presentation is a “reality check” of sorts for the club as it reminds everyone about the mission of the club. After this is presented, the officers should meet (and invite all members to attend) to discuss some of the points of the presentation to see if the club is lacking in any of these areas. If you find that you are lacking, create a plan to improve any areas.
Try a theme meeting:
Theme meetings can generate interest in a meeting — especially if it encourages everyone to get involved. Provide snacks related to the theme and encourage people to dress up. Plan it out at least couple meetings in advance to allow for adequate preparation and to hype it up. Some effective themes include Wild West, murder mystery and sci-fi. Get the club involved by asking members to submit ideas and discuss them.
Do a membership drive:
The best way to improve a club is to bring in new energetic members. There’s a number of ways to do this, but one effective way is to hold a guest night where members are asked to bring friends. Make sure your line up for the meeting includes speakers from all levels so all guests have someone to relate to.
To get people to the meeting, have each member contribute the names of at least five people they can think of that would benefit from Toastmasters. Then have the officers send invitation via the mail to these folks that include the date, time and location of the meeting as well as the benefits of joining clubs. My club did this once and we ended up having more guests attend the meeting than members.
Promote the club:
Create a flyer that has information about your club (meeting times and location, contact info for more info, etc…) as well as the benefits of joining. Then give ten of these flyers to each member and ask them to post them in visible locations such as libraries or company bulletin boards. Also add your meetings to the event calendars for local newspapers and websites.
Meet the President:
If your club is prone to being cliquey, this is especially important but it’s also a great way to get some of the shyer members involved. Have the president (or some of the other officers) set up one on one meetings with members outside of regular club meetings. This really helps you get to know your members, address any of their concerns and let them feel like they are part of the club. Start out with a general invite to the club and then mention it to people during conversations at meetings. Explain that the purpose of the meeting is learning how to help each member make the most out of his or her experience.
These are just a few suggestions to get you started, but share these ideas with your club officers and active members. You’ll be able to come up with even more ideas — especially ones that work well with your particular club. If you have any stories or ideas that you’d like to share, please leave a comment.