Motivated Failing Toastmasters Clubs to Succeed

Motivated failing Toastmasters club to succeed by inspiring members to align purpose, mission, and activities; and coached a club that had failed with an earlier coach to achieve Select Distinguished status, the second highest club award:

In Toastmasters clubs,  members teach each other to improve public speaking skills and to develop leadership skills. The Toastmasters International (TMI) vision describes reality: “Toastmasters International empowers people to achieve their full potential and realize their dreams. Through our member clubs, people throughout the world can improve their communication and leadership skills, and find the courage to change.” (TMI website,

One club near me was sliding towards failure because the two people were doing all the work and were burning out.  Another club was failing by having too few members, and continued to fail despite nine months’ work by another coach and Division officers. I present these problems together because I used similar methods to change matters.

Clubs are ranked each year by TMI by objective criteria that measure how much the club provides for its members’ success: not rated, Distinguished, Select Distinguished, and Presidential Distinguished. To succeed, each club needs enough members to spread work from meeting to meeting over the 6 months of each term and to provide a variety of perspectives in speeches, evaluations, and leadership. New members need to join to bring in new ideas and to replace members who leave.

In 2008, I was Area Governor for a group of Toastmaster Clubs.  The task was to help each club, to build on its strengths, to succeed, and to flourish. The first club was failing because there were only two committed officers.  They took most of the 7 or 8 roles in each meetings and they were getting tired and discouraged. Yet there were 20 or more members and new members joined at almost every meeting.

After attending several meetings and establish rapport, I got the club’s permission  to take half an hour at a meeting to discuss the club. Everyone gave input on what was important to them about a Toastmaster club and why.  We explored why each of those answers was important. I was careful not to comments myself except to agree and ask for more input.

The process inspired members to take on roles, to run for office and work hard at the officers’ duties. It inspired the exhausted officers to continue and to delegate. The Division Governor and I trained the new officers of the club. I continued to attend club meetings, and when asked, made suggestions from which the club chose solutions. Key members of adjacent clubs agreed to participate in meetings to set examples and they agreed to hold joint meetings. By the end of the year, the club was succeeding and now, three years later, it is flourishing.

In late January, 2010, I was asked to coach a club that had failed, and that again failed despite nine months’ work by another coach and Division officers. Clubs should have 20 members; this one had only four. It needed at least 13 to continue. After establishing rapport, I asked them what was important and why,  aligned them to want to succeed, set examples at meetings of how fill roles; and when asked, made suggestions from which the club chose its solutions. By late June, 2010, the club had 15 members and was Select Distinguished, the second highest level of excellence.


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