You’d like to show the benefits of Toastmasters to the world, but you’re not sure how?
The Open House – a club meeting focused on external guests – might be an effective option.
Looking for some initial pointers? I’ve got 10 for you. Let’s begin!
1. Challenge Yourself
If you’re thinking, “why not just wait till we can meet face-to-face again”: Take it as a challenge to up your game. If you rock the online version – which is harder to pull off – doing it offline will be a piece of cake!
2. Endgame First
Why exactly do you want to do the meeting? New members for your club… I guess? Great. Maybe you’ll want to contact them after the meeting? What will your follow-up look like? Anything you need to do early on to ensure you get everyone’s email easily? Should you do anything in the meeting that will provide you with content for the email?
Stephen Covey was not kidding anyone when he said we should “Begin with the End in Mind”. The endgame will drive your preparation!
3. Come visit a fishing club!
If you’re organizing a Toastmasters Open House, you probably like Toastmasters. Maybe a lot. But you want to attract people who have just a vague idea about what Toastmasters is. Perhaps, right now, they don’t care at all. What could convince such people to come to your Open House?
What would convince you to visit a fishing club meeting?
4. Attractions before promotion
Get clear about what you’ll offer. Insightful speech on a timely topic? Chat with a local speaking champion? Feedback for everyone?
What will the people be able to do in the meeting?
5. Script it
It will be different than your typical Toastmasters meeting – write down the transitions and the key things to say for everyone!
6. Don’t talk about Toastmasters
The Toastmaster of the Open House should be the only person referring to Toastmasters, thus acting as the guide through the meeting. Nobody else should speak about Toastmasters. One speaker after another giving a speech about how their Toastmasters mentor changed their life… This may make Toastmasters look like a strange sect.
Ever heard such a comment? Let’s not have it after your Open House!
7. Table Topic for Everyone
Every guest who took the time to attend your meeting should have a chance to give a Table Topic and get feedback. It’s hard to do this face-to-face, but easy online. Create as many breakout rooms as you’ll need for the Table Topics – with a group of people ready to take the “Breakout Table Topics Master” role.
8. Candy for everyone!
Not every guest will join a Toastmasters club afterward – but everyone should benefit from visiting your Open House! Prepare a few links for interesting articles, your favorite TED Talk, a few book recommendations (ideally, for topics related to Toastmasters). It will be much easier for you and your club members to invite people, when you’ll know there’s candy for everyone!
9. Tell how to tell
Very likely, the biggest portion of your guests will be friends of your friends. Why not improve your chances by giving your friends a tip or two on how to invite their friends? How to raise interest, what to tell them in advance?
10. Surtout, have fun!
You and your team are doing it in your free time – so at least, it should be fun! Don’t hold back, take risks, try crazy things. Enjoy yourself – your guests will feel it and will want to join you again!
Go for it and good luck!
And if you’re feeling generous – take notes as your event preparations progress, and after it’s all done, meet up with your team to discuss, what went well and what can be improved the next time.
Maybe you can write it down and write your own point of view on how to rock an Online Open House!