Starting a new Toastmasters club is a rewarding experience. Here are some helpful resources to help you get a club together, and get it up and running faster and better:
- Manual: How to Build a Toastmasters Club – A Step-by-step Guide (1.2MB PDF)
- Article: Building New Corporate Clubs – A Professional Sales Approach by Patrick McClure, ATMS/CL
- Presentation: Use to get would-be club sponsors started (such as members of your club who want to start a new club as a project), and it has excellent information for anyone who just wants to READ it: How to Sponsor a New Club (4.3MB PDF)
- New Club Forms – download and print, and bring to your demo meeting.
- New Club E-toolkit – Are you a club leader who recently chartered a new club? Use these tools to get started while you wait for your Charter Kit.
Tips for Starting a New Toastmasters Club
The following tips are adapted from a 2006 Toastmasters article posted by District 57 Toastmasters – it’s an oldie but a goodie! If you have participated in the start of a new Toastmasters Club as a member of the demonstration meeting team, or served as a New Club Sponsor or Mentor, most likely you have practiced some of the tips suggested.
1) Do Your Homework:
- Identify Your Target: Are you planning for a community, corporate, advanced or other Club? You will need 20 paid members (20 new members or a mix of 18 new Toastmasters and no more than 2 dual/transfer members) before submitting the Application to Organize.
- Get a New Club Kit: You can either order a New Club Kit via the Toastmasters website, or download all the documents and print them out from the New Club Forms page.
- Get More help: Inform District 57 Club Extension Chair Gary Wong (email@example.com) that you would like to start a new Toastmasters Club.
2) Make Your Game Plan:
- Build a Team: Identify key motivated people willing to serve as sponsors and mentors, as both of these roles are critical to a new Club’s eventual success. For example, anyone who is working towards their Advanced Leader Silver has “sponsor a new club or mentor one” on their list of things to do to get that award, so ask them to be on your team! In addition, a club can charter a new club as a project, and then mentor the new club to make sure they get off on the right foot.
- Plan Your Demonstration Meeting (a.k.a. “Charter Meeting”): A demo meeting is a specially-designed, abbreviated meeting that is presented before a group of prospective members, by one or more experienced Toastmasters. A demo meeting will include an overview of the organization, the benefits of membership, and how to start and operate a Club (including information about fees).
- Develop and implement a promotion strategy: If the club is going to be an open community club, get the word out – use flyers, newspaper ads (Patch.com, Contra Costa Times, etc.), social media and phone calls to let the community know about the demo meeting. For closed or closed-corporate clubs, email is effective as well as corporate newsletters.
3) At the Demo Meeting:
- Focus on WIIFT (What’s In It For THEM): Don’t talk about features, talk about the benefits! Features tell but Benefits sell. Emphasize why it is worthwhile to join Toastmasters, for example, the demo meeting speaker could tell a story about how Toastmasters gave them better communication skills and leadership skills that helped him/her in their career or in other areas of his/her life. Involve your demo team members, and get their testimonials about what Toastmasters has done for them. Keep it upbeat, positive, interactive and not too technical.
- Take a social break: Allow some time (if time is available) for socializing to get guests talking and interacting with one another.
- Plan the next steps: It’s a good idea to develop options for next steps in advance of the demo meeting. Make provisions for the full range of possible outcomes (i.e. from slight interest, to enthusiastic, “when-can we-start” commitment). Once commitment is confirmed by the attendees, be ready to suggest a suitable course of action. If fewer than 20 people sign up at the demo meeting, then you need to decide together whether to keep holding weekly demo meetings and get the word out to get more members.
- Identify the future leaders: Gauge which of the attendees come across as likely leaders of the future Club and enlist their involvement as soon as possible for positions of President, Vice President Education, VP Membership, etc.
- Get a financial commitment as soon as possible: Solidify the commitment of prospective members by having a “starting point” budget and collecting some level of dues at the first meeting.
- Respect their time: Stay within the prescribed time limits of the meeting.
4) After The Demo Meeting
- Follow up: Keep your new-found goodwill with the group intact by honoring your commitments.
- File the paperwork ASAP: Make sure you have everything filled out properly, all the dues are in, that you have the correct number of members (min of 20, of which no more than 2 can be dual/transfer members), and file that paperwork ASAP so the club can get their charter kit and the new club sponsors can get credit toward their Advanced Leader Silver award.
- Download/print the New Club E-toolkit: The new club can use these tools to get started while they wait for their Charter Kit.
- Remember: They consider you to be the expert.