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The Club is the Hub
The Many Ways Districts Support Their Clubs

By Craig Harrison DTM PDG

 

Just as any sports franchise is served by a league, or a branch office is served by its corporate headquarters, so too is your Toastmasters club served by something bigger, its District.  In fact, every one of the 8,700 chartered clubs throughout the world is supported by one of 75 Toastmasters Districts.  Were you aware of the many resources of your District that are focused on helping your club succeed?  In days of yore, all roads led to Rome.  Today all roads lead to your home club.

 

Coming Attractions

Your club seeks new members. Your District helps deliver them.  Here's how: Your District receives phone calls and written inquiries on a weekly basis from potential members looking for clubs. Whether through a toll free number or general voice mailbox, strangers ask your District about clubs near their home or work. Your District, in turn, regularly refers guests to your club.  That's why it's important your club's Officer List is sent to your District leaders as well as to World Headquarters (WHQ) every six months. When strangers contact your District they can be referred directly to your club for invitations to visit.

 

InterNet Gains

Other strangers in your community seek a Toastmasters club through your District's website.  Whether your club is listed online or has its own web page linked to your District's site, the District site also funnels members to your club electronically.  More and more strangers seek current club information from your District's website.  In this way too your District is helping your club grow.  It's a Net gain.

 

The Pros of Contests

The series of contests held by your District every six months help your club in a number of ways.  Not only do contests offer your club's members a chance to compete, but also to speak before larger audiences in an exciting and more challenging environment.  Whether at Area or Division contests, or your District Conferences, these District-sponsored events are growth opportunities to help your club members become more confident and adaptable communicators.  Your District is providing venues and opportunities to enhance your club members' experience.  For some club members that means competing. For others, it means serving as a judge, emcee, sergeant-at-arms or contest chair.  Each experience offers members a chance to further develop their communication and leadership abilities.

All Aboard: Training is a Round Trip Excursion

Every six months your District provides training so its club officers and other leaders can learn how best to serve their club members.  Whether done at a District, Division, Area or Club-level, trainings enhance attendees' leadership skills, teach tools for successful club administration and help officers know how best to strengthen and grow their club.  Over time, the training of club members by your District also helps the District.  Ultimately club officers in turn take on leadership roles within Areas, Divisions and in other at-large positions within the District.)

Here Comes the Area Governor!

Once a year your District also trains Area Governors, who in turn serve your club. What a valuable resource to your club they are.  Initially your Area Governor may arrive to recognize incoming and outgoing officers during your club's officer installations. Your Governor will likely return to promote upcoming contests, recruit volunteers and solicit support.  Your Area Governor will also provide support when he or she returns to conduct their club visit and fill out the all-important Club Visit Report.  As experienced Toastmaster leaders they can assess ways your club is strong or in need.  They can team-build with your officers, troubleshoot club challenges, and refer District resources to assist your club.  Sometimes they conduct coaching sessions with new or challenged leaders.  Area Governors also expose club members to other opportunities, including the leadership track beyond Toastmasters.  And they are the conduit through which the Division Governor, Lt. Governors and District Governor stays abreast of your club's vitality.  Two-way communication insures that your District monitors club success, identifies new leaders, current challenges and anticipated success.

Team Toastmasters

Did you know your District has a team of talented specialists waiting in the wings to support your club?  Is your club's membership flagging? Enter the District's Speechcraft Chair to assist you in conducting one of these membership building educational programs.  If your club is perilously low in members, your Club Rescue Chair will recommend your District Governor assign a seasoned Club Specialist to resuscitate or even rebuild your club. Many Districts have designated chairs for CTMs, DTMs, and the Distinguished Club Program (DCP). Depending on your club's need, one of these may work with you or assign someone else to, so as to help you achieve your desired goals.

Your Speakers Bureau's Addressin' Your Club's Needs

Even the District's Speakers Bureau can support your club. Every time it sends a member to address a non-toastmasters audience the opportunity exists to attract new members to your club.  Some members even speak to outside groups about Toastmasters. Whatever their topic, they are eloquent spokesmen and spokeswomen for the power of the Toastmasters program.  Every outside speech your District bureau arranges exposes more potential new members to Toastmasters clubs, including yours.  And when your own club members speak on behalf of the Bureau, it most directly spotlights your club.

Start Spreading the News(letter)

Your District's newsletter supports and serves your club in a number of ways.  It focuses on recognition of its clubs, including yours, and their members' accomplishments. District newsletters also spotlights District programs and resources designed to help your club meet its goals. In a given edition you might learn about upcoming training for judges, special learning materials available to help clubs, about a community outreach effort or other special events.

Conference Calls

Twice a year your District marshals resources from throughout its midst to create an extravaganza whose benefits directly support and serve your club. The semi-annual District Conference can be an all day or multi-day tour de force for bolstering your club. 

At its business meeting your club proxies give voice to your needs and wants, while also approving budgets and electing new leaders to best serve your club's needs.

Exposure to world class keynote speakers, your Region's top educational presenters, and visiting International Directors and President, all model excellence for aspiring club members. 

 

The excitement, pageantry and synergy that come from gatherings of hundreds of like-minded communicators, creates an energy and excitement exceeded only by Regional Conferences and the International Convention. District Conferences offer concentrated learning and laughter, teaching and teambuilding, excitement and esteem. Members return to their club with tools and techniques to strengthen their own club, and the motivation and inspiration to do so.

Your District and Your Club: Friends Helping Friends Succeed

When you examine your club's mission and your District's mission, you immediately see their common alignment.  The club's mission is to provide a mutually supportive and positive learning environment, in which every member has the opportunity to develop communication and leadership skills, which in turn foster self-confidence and personal growth.

In its own way each District supports this mission through insuring that each club effectively fulfills its responsibilities to its members, providing effective training and leadership development opportunities for club officers and members, and otherwise strengthening and supporting each club.

Cassandra Cockrill DTM, District 57 Governor, states it well: "The club is at the center of everything.  Everything done by the district outside the club is intended to nourish and protect the core the club. If the clubs become weak, the district becomes weak and crumbles.  Resources such as speakers bureaus, toll free numbers, lending libraries, conferences, etc. would be tough for clubs to develop independently. In these and other ways our Districts can support each club. Together we support each other."

Yes, in these ways and more, your District serves your club.  It's really true, a District runs to it.

 

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Craig Harrison DTM, is a past District Governor who speaks and trains professionally on leadership, communication and their inter-relatedness. He gets rave reviews when speaking at Convention, Regionals and District Conferences!  Contact him at 510-547-0664 or Craig@ExpressionsOfExcellence.com to receive help in leading your district to president's select distinguished status!