I have been a member of Toastmasters International since 2003 and have reaped the benefits in all facets of my life, and it helped me discover my love of teaching and training. I was asked by numerous people how to get a club started, so read on for my brief step by step guide.
- Go to the Toastmasters International website and click on “Start a Club” just below “Find a Club” on the left hand side of the screen. After you submit the requested information you will receive a kit containing loads of information about starting a club. You will likely be contacted by someone in your local area who will work with you to determine interest in the club and get it chartered (started).
- Because it may take some time to be contacted by local Toastmasters officers, use the “Find a Club” search function on the Toastmasters website to find clubs near your office. This will give you an opportunity to see how the clubs conduct their meetings while giving you a chance to network. Introduce yourself to a club officer as someone who is interested in starting a club. They can put you in contact with individuals who can ensure you get the support you need from local Toastmasters officials.
- Hold informational sessions for your business unit or department. Use monthly or quarterly meetings to provide promotional information and give people a chance to express interest.
- Hold informational sessions for groups within your office. These sessions should introduce the benefits of Toastmasters for the company as well as the benefits for potential club members. Have promotional materials available and collect the names of those who are interested. This is a great opportunity to hold a “demo meeting” to show attendees how a meeting would run.
- Present a similar presentation to executives and/or the members of the office management team. Someone from that team may have funding available to help defray (or fully cover) startup costs.
- Once you have collected the names and contact information of interested parties you should begin holding meetings. If the number of interested people is less then 20 don’t worry – you can still meet as an unofficial club and work to get 20 people.
- Once you get 20 people committed to membership you can submit the charter paperwork to become an official club.
- Utilize the contacts you made while attending other club meetings. They can offer unique ideas about building membership, promoting the club, and more. Your local Toastmasters officers are good resources as well and will be happy to attend informational sessions, assist with demonstration meetings, and connect you with training opportunities.
Starting a club can be time consuming, but you will learn a lot and help dozens of people improve. Good luck, and feel free to contact me with questions.
Toastmasters International is a nonprofit educational organization that teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a worldwide network of clubs. The organization currently has 250,000 members in 12,500 clubs in 106 countries. Since its founding in October 1924, the organization has helped more than four million men and women give presentations with poise and confidence. For information about local Toastmasters clubs, please visit www.toastmasters.org.