Why Attend Club-Officer Training?
Here are 9 good reasons.
By Shelia Spencer, DTM
I always look forward to our district’s bi-annual club-officer training sessions, and am surprised if I see any empty chairs. There are so many good reasons to attend these events!
However, when I speak to individual club officers, I sometimes hear indifference or reluctance to take advantage of this wonderful resource. Instead of, “of course, I’ll be there!” I hear, “Oh, I used to go to those when I first joined, but I don’t need training any more.” Or “Why bother? I have the manual, isn’t that enough?”
For the benefit of current club officers, their area governors and anyone thinking about serving on their club’s executive board in the future, here are some reasons to attend your next mid-year training:
1. Help your club earn a point in the Distinguished Club Program (DCP). Don’t think of it as a duty, but as an opportunity for you and your fellow officers to have direct impact on your club’s success for the year. Earning one DCP point – by having at least four current club officers attend both initial and mid-year training – means that you and your club’s leaders have demonstrated a unified commitment to achieve club, district and TI goals. What a great example you are to all your members!
2. Get direct access to your district leaders and the important information they have to share. Area and division governors, as well as other district leaders, attend the training sessions, often as facilitators. They bring news from TI headquarters, announcements of coming district events and a wealth of knowledge about our program. Don’t hesitate to approach them individually for advice. They have relevant personal experience, as well as access to resources that can help you achieve club and personal goals.
Don’t be a passive listener; bring a list of your questions and concerns so you can take advantage of this forum. (Note: Even if you’ve filled this same officer position in the past, some of the guidelines may have changed! Attend and review the current club officer manual to ensure you have timely information.)
3. Share your own ideas and experiences with other officers at your table. Personal growth is subtle; we often aren’t aware of how much knowledge and experience we are gaining while developing new skills and handling new responsibilities. But when we participate in our mid-year training session, we suddenly realize how much we have learned since July! Now, instead of merely receiving information from the trainer, you may find yourself sharing unique, practical insights with the other participants at your table. Appreciate this validation of the skills and wisdom you are acquiring in your role as a club officer!
4. Achieve your goals by networking with members from other clubs. A training session is the perfect place to connect with experienced, supportive individuals who can offer advice and assistance. Ask vice presidents of education who have scheduled their spring speech contests to help find seasoned members to serve as judges or other contest officials. After one club president training session in my district, the participants decided to maintain contact via e-mails and monthly dinner meetings. They continued to advise and support each other during the rest of their term in office. Not surprisingly, their clubs each achieved at least seven DCP points for the year.
5. Build on the personal relationships you formed at the last training. You may not have the same trainer, but you will see familiar faces. Socializing and nurturing relationships outside your club is a wonderful benefit of attending these training sessions. Not only do friendships make the event more enjoyable, they also enrich your experience within our international organization. The members of your extended Toastmasters family are eager and happy to share ideas, activities and growth opportunities that will nurture your development as a Toastmaster, communicator and leader. Some will become very special long-term friends.
6. Expand your network by meeting new club officers. Every training event is attended by a different mix of district dignitaries, trainers and participants. Your table is likely to include newly elected officers who will begin serving their clubs in January. Take time to introduce yourself, help newcomers feel welcome, and find common ground that will contribute to a friendly, supportive atmosphere for everyone. Don’t feel that you must restrict your conversation to Toastmasters issues; share your career goals and other information that will allow you to expand your personal and business network.
7. Revisit the goals you set in July, and determine the best use of your time and energy for the second half of your term. Your year is half over! Think of this meeting not only as training but as a time for reflection, review and reassessment. Share your progress and achievements to date and consider where you need to spend more time and focus. Based on the discussion you have with your trainer and fellow club officers, what is the best way to spend the remaining six months of your year in office?
8. Introduce your mentees to leadership opportunities. In a few months you’ll be handing over your club officer role to another member, perhaps someone you’ve already been mentoring toward that goal. Who has impressed you with their desire and potential to take on a Toastmasters leadership position? Why not invite that person to attend a training session with you, as a guest observer? While that person’s attendance does not count toward your club’s DCP credit, most sessions can accommodate interested members who would like to observe. With prior approval of your local training coordinator, offer to accompany your interested club members to a session, and introduce them to your friends.
9. Explore other Toastmasters leadership roles, so you can serve in a different spot next year. Whether you ask at your training table or approach other members during the social time, feel free to request input about the duties, benefits and challenges of serving in various Toastmasters leadership positions. If you would like to run for a different club position next year, consider attending a second training session. This way, you can hear more about the role of educational vice president, club treasurer, etc.
Also, don’t hesitate to ask, “What does an area governor do?” or “How does someone become a district parliamentarian?” Who knows? Next year you may not only be looking forward to attending a club officer mid-year training session, you may be leading it!
Shelia Spencer, DTM, has held all club offices and is grateful for the experiences of each. She is an active Toastmaster and freelance writer living in New York. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.