No two Toastmasters clubs are alike. Each has a unique personality. Yet they all have at least two factors in common: They follow the Toastmasters program, and they want new members. Is your club doing everything it can to attract those members?
From time to time I have searched for a new club, and I’ve noticed that many clubs do not do a good job grabbing my attention. The primary place I look when searching for potential clubs is their website. I look for specific information on a site, and if I don’t find it, I am off to the next club.
What exactly do I look for? Here are a few key features.
Essential Elements of Your Club Website
The first page that comes up is, of course, the club’s homepage. I like to see a brief statement about what makes this club unique. That might be a specific focus like humor or rigorous evaluations. It might be the type of person who primarily attends, like certified public accountants (CPAs), entrepreneurs or engineers. Or, if it is a club made up of newer speakers, it might be that it is a friendly, low-pressure environment for new speakers to spread their wings.
If the club is using FreeToastHost 2, a website template available through Toastmasters, the second page I look at is the “Meet Our Members” section to see if I recognize any names or pictures. Even if the person viewing the site is new to the area or to Toastmasters, this section is important. All too often I see only two or three names, which makes me think no one attends, so the club must not be very good. If this is the template your club uses, I recommend that you get as many members on that page as possible. When writing about yourself, mention any experience or expertise you have in Toastmasters, personally and professionally. If you have a strong credential like a speech contest trophy, include it. If you are relatively new, you can talk about how friendly and helpful your club is and include a short testimonial about what you have accomplished in your brief time with the club. New speakers will be attracted to a kindred spirit. Help them feel as though they can learn a lot at your club.
Don’t Forget the Details
Other considerations when creating an online presence for your club include ensuring that meeting information is up to date, both on your own site and on the “Find a Club” portal on toastmasters.org. If you include a map, make sure it’s updated from an old location and verify that it is leading your visitors to the right place. In addition, be sure your color combinations are easy to read. On one website I visited, the “Meet Our Members” page had white letters on a light-yellow background. It was so hard to read I was gone in two seconds flat.
Some clubs include an outline of the Toastmasters program on their website. I saw one example that had a nice description … of the old manuals. If you do discuss the education program, be sure to update it to describe Pathways. And ensure your club’s website reflects official Toastmasters branding. If your visitors are new to the organization, chances are they found you through the Toastmasters website’s “Find a Club” portal. A logo ties the two together and tells them they are in the right place. You can get official, up-to-date logos and other graphics under the “Resources” tab at toastmasters.org.
I encourage you to explore the websites of numerous clubs to see what they have done. Observe how they market themselves. Read their member bios. This should give you some ideas.
Your club has its own personality. If you don’t know what that is, ask your area director to help you identify it. Then let it shine on your website so you attract visitors who are a good fit with your club. Your club’s website is an incredible tool for networking and recruitment. Make sure it is working for you.
Click here for more information on building a website for your club or to submit a request to create a free club website.
Bill Brown, DTM is a speech delivery coach in Gillette, Wyoming. He is a member of Energy Capital Toastmasters in Gillette. Learn more at www.billbrownspeechcoach.com.