By Shaheen Mufti

When you first came to Toastmasters, you had a set of expectations. That time when you visited your first Toastmasters club, you would have probably thought, “This is where I am going to improve my public speaking” or “This is the place where I am going to develop my leadership skills for work.”

Whatever you thought, you arrived with a set of expectations.

As leaders in the Toastmasters community, you also have expectations within your club, area or division. You have the expectation of members to uphold the four core values of Toastmasters – respect, integrity, service and excellence.

But stating those expectations is one thing. Implementing them is another. So how can club presidents renew those expectations so that guests and existing members are aware of their responsibilities within their club and the Toastmasters community?


Asking the Right Questions

Have you ever had an enthusiastic guest come along and become a member of your club only to be shocked that they are expected to serve as an officer in their club leadership team when called upon?

Have you ever had a long-standing member of your club who was taken aback when your vice president membership called them up to discuss their waning attendance?

Or perhaps you’ve had members on your team who don’t seem to know what they ought to be doing during the year?

It all begins with what is expected of your fellow Toastmasters and preparing them for their respective roles.

One of the things I introduced during my term as president of my club, Early Bird Speakers, was a questionnaire that was handed out to our prospective members.

The questionnaire included questions like, ‘What would you like to get out of Toastmasters and our club?’ and ‘How do you see yourself giving back to the club?’ Lastly, one of the key questions we asked was this – ‘Which leadership role will you stand for in the next leadership team elections?’

In effect, this questionnaire keeps guests and prospective members mindful of leadership roles within our club and the expectation to serve as an officer on the leadership team. Yes, we have point six of the Toastmaster promise – “To serve my club as an officer when called upon to do so” – but sometimes it takes a club to embed these points into their member induction for the message to be driven home.


Breeding Leaders

On the point of leadership, one could argue that a new member is coming just to learn public speaking and has no interest/time/commitment to serve in a leadership capacity. But then as a leader within the Toastmasters community, you must ask yourself this – in the short term and long term environment of the club, how is the member serving and supporting your club and the Toastmasters community? Also, by just embracing a small fraction of what Toastmasters has to offer (public speaking), are they really getting their money’s worth?

The Toastmasters educational program provides us with an opportunity to learn things that we can take and use well beyond our own clubs.

At the club level, we can only grow together when everyone contributes something individually. By having club members commit to leadership roles as officers (as well as taking on speaking roles at meetings), this ensures that a club can be run smoothly and efficiently, whilst the individual members are able to take away leadership skills that can last a lifetime.


Being There

Another case is the matter of attendance. What do you expect from your club members?

Are you happy to have a club of 100 members with only 10 attending your weekly club meetings? Or would you prefer to have a club of 35 members max with 25 attending regularly? The latter will certainly provide an enhanced meeting feel, quality and thriving sense of community as a majority of the club members attending regularly significantly contributes to the club experience. Whatever you expect, let it be known to your guests and club members what you expect of them to make sure you have a thriving club environment. Also, if members fall short of this, what do you have in place to engage with your members and face the challenges to ensure a ‘full’ meeting and a quality club environment?

Lastly, what do you expect from your team? A two-way dialogue between the team leader and team member to establish the expectations on one another will help solidify what to expect during the year. Dialogue, encouragement, persuasion and building mutual understanding are key here.

Above all, take care of your team and demonstrate that these high expectations effectively improves the quality of a club, Area, Division and the entire organisation as a whole.

A curious guest who has the right mind-set embedded into them before they’ve become a member, effectively becomes a great club member and consequently, a contributing Toastmaster within our organisation. And it all begins with them knowing what is expected of them and them from us.

Naturally, all change begins at the top (or front), so demonstrate that which you wish to see in others. Want to see the best out of your fellow Toastmasters? Then expect the best out of those Toastmasters and be the best you can be.

You want to see regularly attending, proactive, dedicated club members who are expected to serve on your leadership team? Then be that person!

3 point Summary:

1) Have high expectations of guests and members. Remind them if necessary.
2) Embed high expectations into the club recruitment and member engagement processes.
3) Demonstrate what you want to see in others.

Shaheen Mufti
Immediate Past President (2017-2018)
Early Bird Speakers