By Celeste Castro, DTM
When I became a contest chair for Area 65 Division F in 2012-2013, I meet with Amon Carter Orators. Then I became Area Governor (which is now called Area Director) in 2014-2015, and I started going to the club as a Helping Hand. It was a long journey to make them understand the Toastmasters program and how it works. It’s not only the club itself, it’s being and doing things for the District so the club can stay active. Also, it was hard for them to understand what a Club Officer’s responsibilities were and how to conduct a meeting. They learned the importance of finishing meetings on time as well as not taking as much time explaining how Toastmasters can help you rather than using that time for the member’s speeches.
Turnover of memberships is hard on a club and often happens in corporate clubs. It was sad and resulted in additional work to teach new members. One shortcoming I found in the transition was that no one left a record/instructions of what they had done or where they stored the club’s materials. This resulted in the loss of the Club’s banner. I tried hard to encourage them to do things on a timely basis, in an effort to take advantage of District 25 incentives to earn TI gift certificates so to enable the club to purchase a new banner.
In 2017-2018, I became their Coach together with Tammy McCormick. I learned a lot from Tammy. She had new ideas about how to help the club. Tammy generously gave them all the materials they needed even a bag to store and carry club materials. She prepared sheets for each role that included what they need to do when they take these roles. But sadly, the group still was too comfortable in their way of thinking. When the year was getting close to finishing, the club was closed by International. That was a “wake-up” call for them. The club managed to get itself back into good standing with Toastmasters International. I requested to be assigned as a Club Coach for the 2018-2019 Toastmasters year. This time I used a new strategy of regularly calling and asking them what they needed to reach Distinguished club status. I made sure there was someone always prepared to do a “hip pocket” speech. These efforts enabled four members to finish their level one.
2019-2020 opens with a new Club President. She appears to have the enthusiasm to keep the club going. As of this writing, four officers have attended the training. I’ll still be a helping hand. They still need to know there is someone willing to be there when they need help.
In my opinion, Coaching is not something that can be done in one year. You need to be there for two or more years, especially for a corporate club. Since corporations keep moving their people forward to other locations, it’s hard to keep members and to have enough members to remain at Charter strength. They must understand the importance of officer roles, especially the President. You need to show them you have confidence in them and that they can do it. It is also essential that each member understands that as they complete speeches and progress through the Toastmasters program, they need to submit completed levels, projects, etc. for submission to Toastmasters International, so the member and club receive credit for the work completed.