Going Beyond the Club
As you gain more experience, you realise that there are many more chances to learn than speaking before the same audience each time – no matter how supportive they are. When you are ready to give yourself bigger challenges, this page will show you what’s waiting for you.
Table of Contents
Volunteer in Small Steps
There are many things you can do at other clubs that build on roles you are familiar with.
Test Speaker in another Club’s Evaluation Contest
Not only do you get the chance to do an additional project, you will learn from experienced evaluators.
Judge in another Club’s Contest
Being part of the judging panel is a great way of extending your evaluation skills, and no experience is necessary.
Speaker-Evaluator Exchange with another Club
Every club is slightly different; this is an excellent chance to experience those differences.
Go to an Officer Training session even if you’re not an officer
Officer training is not just for officers, especially in the second half of the year. If you’re thinking about being an officer next year, this is a great way to get both information about officer roles and a sense of who to ask when you do. Besides, your contribution is as valid as anyone else’s!
You’re not limited to just one Club
You can be a member of more than one club – around one in 7 Toastmasters are. Each has their own reasons but many join Advanced clubs.
An “Advanced” club usually has some joining criteria – often, that you have finished the first two levels on a path. However, there are usually no restrictions on attending as a guest.
To find Advanced clubs near you, visit the TI Find A Club page, click “Search options” and select the “Advanced” status.
Help start or Coach a Club
Part of the District mission is to increase the number of clubs – the rest is to support existing ones.
Starting a club is important enough to get an entry on the International website’s home page. There are two roles associated with a new club:
- Club sponsor, who leads the building of a new club up to the chartering (new club registration) process
- Club mentor, who works with the new club to ensure that it can function on its own – and acts as a resource for as long as necessary
For many reasons, a club can find its membership shrinking to the point where it needs help. This is where the Club Coach comes in. Typically, a Coach works with the Club Executive to help build back members.
All three roles have additional resources on the International website, and all are managed by the District’s Club Growth Director, who should be your first point of contact if you are interested in these roles.
You motivation for taking on any of those positions is that they contribute to the requirements for Distinguished Toastmaster.
Run or Help with Community Programs
Toastmasters is more than clubs for members. In recognition that different people need access to what we provide in different ways, clubs have the ability to work within the community in several ways.
A Speechcraft course works because any Toastmaster can help. In essence, a meeting in a course is no different to a club meeting with one exception – the roles are shorter. For example, a standard 5 to 7 minute speech project will be 3 to 5 minutes long in Speechcraft.
Any club can run a course, often as a fund-raiser. All the details are on the International website’s Speechcraft page.
Youth Leadership Program (YLP)
Toastmasters restricts full membership to those 18 and over, but provides courses for younger people, often in conjunction with a school. Like Speechcraft, Youth Leadership takes a similar form to a club meeting – and asks for a similar level of energy.
One of the key characteristics is that, over the 8 week course, the participants develop confidence by progressively running more of the meeting – and every time, they will surprise you. To find out more, visit the International website’s Youth Leadership page or contact the District’s YLP Coordinator.
Unlike the short courses, Gavel Clubs have a life of their own. They are for people who can benefit from the skills and confidence we offer – but cannot be Toastmasters. For example, there are clubs in New Zealand whose members suffer from aphasia, meaning they have survived one or more strokes that have affected speech.
Gavel clubs follow the Toastmasters program but often more slowly. Working with such clubs is not recognised for Distinguished Toastmaster, but could be credited to various Pathways projects – and definitely carries its own rewards. For more information, visit their page on the International website.
Interpersonal Communication Program
This program is more specialised, designed for adults (such as teachers) who mentor teenagers. The program consists of a manual for participants (Team Members) and one for the coordinator, or Team Leader. Full details are on the International website’s Education section.
High Performance Leadership and the “DTM Project”
This section describes the Toastmasters High Performance Leadership (HPL) Programme which offers a unique opportunity to develop leadership skills and learn by doing. Under the Pathways programme, this section describes both the HPL elective project or the final “DTM Project” required to gain the Distinguished Toastmaster (DTM) Award.
Three-part learning process
The Toastmasters proven three-part learning process of study, action and feedback is used in a real-life project of your choice.
The programme involves recruiting a Guidance Committee, studying the learning materials, selecting a project, recruiting a team, working with your team to accomplish the goals, making presentations about the project, and receiving feedback and guidance.
Your Guidance Committee members do not have to all be Toastmasters. However, you will get the best learning if at least one of your Guidance Committee has completed the HPL award themselves.
Your HPL project can be within or outside of Toastmasters, and should be about making a notable contribution to Toastmasters, your organisation, or your community. Not all projects succeed and there is no requirement to do so; the emphasis is on learning about the components of effective leadership and how to build a team that is greater than the sum of its parts.
Successfully gaining HPL recognition is either a requirement or an elective project towards achieving Level 5 of a path in your education programme.
What are some High Performance Leadership Projects Toastmasters have completed?
- Organised a national Toastmasters event.
- Set up a recurring storytelling workshop in the community.
- Chaired a church rummage sale organising committee.
- Promoted Toastmasters in a local area through a variety of PR initiatives.
- Developed a District Operations Manual.
- Initiated one or several new Toastmaster Clubs.
- Organised the development of a local skateboard park.
- Organised several rounds of Club Leadership Training.
- Organised a Club “Evaluation Boot Camp” event.
- Set up a Civil Defence Readiness Unit.
- Organised a university class reunion.
Links to More Resources
The best resource is to speak to a current Distinguished Toastmaster, to find out about the project they completed. They may have some tips and ideas for you to consider.
While High Performance Leadership is covered well under Pathways, you may find the discussion on Service Leadership from the manual issued in the traditional programme useful. One of the key stages of an HPL is to form statements of vision and mission, and be able to distinguish between them; the discussion covers this well.
This section covers the mentoring process by highlighting when mentors are most useful, and what you can learn as a mentor.
When Is A Mentor Needed?
The short answer is “any time you get stuck”. In fact, a mentor is useful at any time the protégé needs to step up a level. This can be:
- When you first join and need to know the basics
- When you get to the point with Pathways when its no longer a simple 5 to 7 minute speech
- When you are looking to add new skills
- When you need help with a project, for instance forming a vision for its outcome
The key point is that the mentor needs different skills at each level as well – so you will have more than one mentor over time.
Traditionally, a mentor is regarded (for the purpose of receiving credit) as active for the first few speeches. However mentors can be used at any time by any Toastmaster when the need arises. For example, the role of Immediate Past President is to provide help and guidance to the new Club President and committee during their term. The key learning is that the mentoring relationship changes with time, but it is always there when needed – and that it is never wrong to seek mentors. There is no situation that cannot be talked out given the right person to talk to – and that is the role of the mentor.
Mentoring for Success
In Greek legend, Mentor was Odysseus’ trusted councillor. Young King Arthur had Merlin the Magician as his mentor. Generically the word means ‘a wise and loyal adviser’.
Through time, mentors have been an important resource allowing apprentices and new employees to learn from their experienced co-workers. Unfortunately, many people in today’s workforce have not had the benefit of a mentor. Those who have find the relationship to be rewarding and an invaluable resource.
While technology has placed plenty of tools at our disposal, such as illustrated manuals and comprehensive videos, nothing replaces one of the oldest, most valuable tools of success – the mentor. Some call a mentor “A person you trust to give you a straight answer”. You will not get that trust from a video.
Unlike a coach, a mentor will never tell you what to do. That is not their role. Their role is to help you decide, out of all the paths you could take, which one you will take.
What Makes A Good Mentor?
Good mentors are found and cultivated, not grasped and manufactured. Mentors can be located around your immediate working environment or professional circle and are chosen for being knowledgeable and, more to the point, approachable. One good mentor is worth at least a year of tuition expenses.
A good mentor provides the following qualities:
- Knows valuable organisational information.
- Shows interest in the mentee’s development.
- Offers emotional support.
- Cultivates talents.
- Offers praise and gives feedback.
- Demonstrates stability, patience and respect.
- Has good listening skills and flexibility.
- Leads by example.
What’s In It For The Mentor?
A good mentor receives the benefits of:
- Remaining productive.
- Sharing skills.
- Learning from the mentee.
- Honing organisational skills.
As author Steven Covey states “we only truly know something when we can teach it to others.”. Ernest Rutherford was of the opinion that “if you can’t explain it over the bar in your local pub, you don’t truly understand it”.
What About The Protégé?
As the recipient, a protégé has a responsibility to their mentor by being:
- Eager to learn – willing to accept new challenges.
- Receptive – being prepared to accept feedback as an opportunity to improve.
- Open to new ideas – able to see things from another perspective.
- Loyal – will not to violate confidences or trust.
- Grateful – appreciate the help their mentors give.
Over time, the mentor relationship will likely deepen and change affirming a richer friendship, while the protégé can in turn offer themselves as a mentor to a new member or employee.
Healthy mentoring relationships do not last forever, although they may commute to long-term friendships. The purpose of a mentor, as mentioned above, is to teach the protégé to think and act independently. When that has been developed the mentor is no longer needed for that purpose. In fact, the greatest compliment that can be paid to a mentor is for a former protégé to be recognised with a promotion or election to an office or position. At that point, the mentoring relationship has been fulfilled, and a new relationship begins. This is sometimes seen in sport, where the mentor takes their protégé as afar as they can, acknowledging that others may support their next steps.
Mentoring in Toastmasters
Most new members join Toastmasters because they have problems and/or needs that relate to public speaking. Research has shown that a majority of these men and women equate the self-improvement they seek from Toastmasters with career advancement or professional development. So it’s vitally important to most new members that they solve their problems and meet their speaking-related needs.
Yet many new members fail if simply left to “sink or swim” with no guidance other than that provided by speech evaluations. It’s a mistake to assume that they can succeed without psychological or other support. They need reassurance that their goals and the effort required to attain them are worthwhile. They need practical advice from someone who thoroughly understands the Toastmasters program. In short, they need someone like you.
Clubs are urged to conduct an orientation interview for each new member. This is normally the responsibility of the Vice President Education who completes a New Member Profile Sheet during the interview. On this sheet are brief biographical data, along with a summary of the new member’s needs and expectations. You should be given a copy of this sheet and should use it as a basis for establishing an ongoing dialogue with the new member.
If you don’t have a mentor, find one. If you aren’t a mentor, be one. It’s that simple!
Who Should Ask The Questions?
Many mentoring relationships simply peter out because the protégé runs out of questions to ask. While common wisdom relies on the protégé to ask questions, sometimes they are not sure what to ask. In cases like these, the mentor may need to ask questions themselves to restart the mentoring conversation. This is particular useful if the protégé is not approaching the mentor in the way they used to, is missing speaking opportunities or showing other signs of being lost. It is worth a mentor’s while to agree (with each protégé) to contact them every few months – and for the Vice President of Education to ensure that is happening. Members who are “drifting” tend to drift out of the club – no-one benefits from that, least of all the protégé.
The ideal situation is for the protégé to be able to approach the mentor at any time – and know that its OK to do so.