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Is Your Club a Learning Laboratory?


Have you ever been to a restaurant or hotel and decided never to return? When asked why, you said, “It just wasn’t worth the price.”

The concept of value for money (i.e., not paying more for goods or services than their quality justifies) is universal. So are you getting your money’s worth from your Toastmasters club?

I’ve visited many clubs in my more than 28-year journey, and the value of those meetings has varied greatly. I often ask members I meet, “What do you like best about your club?” and “How could your club improve?”

Many clubs I’ve visited are all about three speakers, three evaluators and three Table Topics. Sadly, some don’t even offer this. Clubs that offer only the 3–3–3 bare minimum may not maximize their potential. Clubs that add variety and offer high-quality, interactive meetings have better retention.

Yes, prepared speakers and evaluators, as well as Table Topics, are the backbone of our club meetings, but do your members know about and take advantage of the other life-changing opportunities Toastmasters offers?

 Toastmasters’ founder, Ralph Smedley, realized this long ago when he wrote in the February 1955 issue of this magazine, “While most of us may have entered Toastmasters to learn to make speeches, that benefit is but the beginning of the good which may come to us, and the good which we may do for mankind.”

“Clubs that add variety and offer high-quality, interactive meetings have better retention.”

Clubs that use their meetings as a learning laboratory enhance their members’ experience. When clubs concentrate on the transformative process of our program, they develop outstanding leaders and communicators. How often does your club have a presentation like “Moments of Truth” from the Successful Club Series or “Building a Team” from the Leadership Excellence Series? These modules offer great insight into evaluating, delegating, goal setting, conflict resolution and more.

Guests and members are eager to attend club meetings that are exciting, offer diverse topics, provide valuable opportunities and have great speakers and dynamic leaders. If your club is still focusing on three speeches, three evaluations and three Table Topics, it’s not too late to change. The first step toward change is awareness; the second is acceptance. Encourage your club to adopt a new and exciting format or theme for a future meeting and enhance members’ learning by creating a more dynamic and rewarding club experience.

Toastmasters all over the world pay the same amount for their dues, but do they all get the same value for their money? Your club can offer a long list of benefits to its members, but the most important must be real value for the time and money spent.


BALRAJ ARUNASALAM, DTM

International President