Promoting your Toastmasters club?
Tagging in posts, ad campaigns, open house sessions: All good. They will bring guests to come & check you out.
But what will make them join the club?
The important thing to realize here is that guests and new members see everything with a different pair of eyes than experienced Toastmasters.
Three months ago, I was flirting with the idea to start learning Argentine Tango. I took a friend to a “Milonga” – a tango dancing evening. I did not intend to dance (I did not know how). I just came to “check it out”. I sort of liked it, and so one week later I signed up for the classes. At that point of time, I still did not have any “deeper” commitment. But a few weeks into it – I knew I wanted to go “all the way”.
Here are the elements that convinced me:
The teachers leading the classes were great – to put it simply, I enjoyed watching them dance – and I thought “one day, I want to dance like this”.
The classes were small enough so I always felt I can get the attention of the teacher when I wanted. And when I asked for clarification (e.g. “I keep stepping on my partner’s foot, why is this happening?”) they were always able to provide clear direction.
The people in the classes were easy-going and (in many cases) really curious to learn more about tango. I met there a colleague from work as well as a girl I met in Toastmasters 3 years ago. From the beginning, I was not alone among strangers. And in the classes, I kept getting invitation to additional events (practice sessions, milongas) that I could take part in on top of the “mandatory” classes.
How can you make it work for your Toastmasters club?
Begin with yourself. If you want to show your club is an inspiring place to learn public speaking, showcase your public speaking skills. Working through the projects is a good start – but don’t forget to add watching great speakers and reading books and blogs on presentation skills. Once you do that – you can invite the other club members to do the same. You will level up as a group and will become attractive role models your guests will want to emulate.
When you see a guest in your meeting, make it personal for them. Ask them: “What did you come to learn?” When someone fresh to your club gets on the stage, take notes and reach out to them after the meeting with tips and encouragement. It does wonders.
Show that Toastmasters go beyond the tight agenda of a meeting. Maybe it’s discussion over a beer after the meeting, maybe it’s a trip to the mountains, maybe joint travel to the District Conference. Make sure to always mention these – the quiet dark haired guy sitting in the corner is in the meeting for the first time to day – and so he does not know you’ve mentioned the invitation to the grill party the last time!
Once we ourselves “fully buy into” this whole Toastmasters thing, we have a tendency to forget that other people have a hundred-an-one other things they could do with their evenings. Thus we sometimes err on not paying enough attention to giving a good first (and second) impression – and leave many potential members unconvinced (and lose them in the end).
Don’t make this mistake. Be a role model, show your guests personal touch and include them in the community.
If you do this right, you’ll manage to make some of them go “all the way”.
That’s a win-win, big time.