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Providing Value When Time Is Short

How to contribute to your club in big and small ways.

By Bill Brown, DTM

Illustration of orange toolbox with Toastmasters logo

Click play to hear advice on member participation from the author Bill Brown, DTM

Zoom has been a benefit to many Toastmaster clubs, especially when it comes to expanding their membership. The online format even gave me an opportunity to investigate and join a club before I made a planned move to another state. But the pandemic has introduced issues as well.

Some members now have more responsibilities at home, such as childcare, that impact their ability to be as involved as they would like to be. Others have greater pressures at work that demand more time on the job.

It takes time to fully prepare a speech or to be a club officer. Time that some people may no longer have. Perhaps you are at a point where you need to scale back. Maybe, for a time, you need to be in the background. How can you still contribute to the club?

In a general sense, the answer is easy—attend as often as you can. Just being there contributes to the team. As you may have noticed, a meeting has more energy the more people attend. Your being there contributes to the overall experience.

But, of course, there is more.

You can be a strong encourager. Cheer on each speaker. If they did a great job, tell them. And encourage them as they reach for a higher level.

What about newer members? When they give their Ice Breaker reach out to them before and after the meeting. I have seen many new Toastmasters fret about doing their Ice Breaker, so I have a statement that I say as they prepare to go onstage. I point out that their only goal is to survive. I have a cell phone. If I don’t have to call an emergency number, they had a successful speech. They usually laugh and, as a result, relax. You could do something like that to put them at ease. And it doesn’t take much time or effort to do it.

Perhaps a new member is performing a role, like timer, for the first time. You could sit next to them and offer to guide them through the experience.

Another aspect of your involvement is the meeting roles. When you are assigned a role, do it to the best of your ability. If your club uses a sign-up system, don’t be reluctant to take on a role.

When you are the Toastmaster of the Day, be the best one that you can be. You are setting an example for the other members and are encouraging them to reach for a higher level. If you are responsible for the Word of the Day, make it a good one, and a fun one, at that. If you are a speech evaluator, give an encouraging and constructive evaluation.

And if you can, present a Pathways speech now and again. That can help your club achieve their goals in the Distinguished Club Program.

There is also a way that you can help your club outside of the regular meetings. Each one of us has a life outside of Toastmasters. (Shocking, I know, but true.) That could be at work, your child’s school, the gym, you name it. We all have some sort of interaction with others, even if it is over Zoom. You can spread the word about your club—simply talking up Toastmasters can help your club get new members. And you would be helping your contacts improve themselves through the organization.

You might be thinking, Wait a minute. All of these involve my giving. What do I get out of it? Why should I take the time? Your involvement results in you growing in the process. You grow in speaking skills. You grow in training skills. And, most important, you grow in leadership skills. You receive many of the benefits of Toastmasters even though you are on a limited time schedule. That is real value.

At a minimum, I suggest that you look for a unique way to help your club, even if it is encouraging a new member as they nervously prepare for their first speech. Sometimes the little things are actually the biggest. And it is a way for you to continue to grow.


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