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Monday, July 11, 2011

Starting A New Toastmasters Club

In January of 2010, my family and I made a trip to St. Louis Missouri to visit family.  During the trip I discovered that Charlie was a Toastmaster and he recommended I look into becoming a member.  As I mentioned in one of my other blog entries Why Join Toastmasters?, I joined Toastmasters in February of 2010.   I became the VP of Membership in June of 2010. 
One of my goals as the VP of membership is to look for opportunities to recruit new members to our club.  I found that the majority of people I approached at the NOC Building (where I work) did not feel they had the extra time to walk to our club meetings at the Investor’s building.  I brought that back to one of our club officers and he said, “Tim, why don’t you just create a new club at NOC?   You would have a large pool of people willing to join the new club”.  My initial reaction to the statement was that I would not begin to know how to start a new club.  I stewed on that for a few days. Then I stepped back and thought:  My Wells Fargo job as a project manager often requires me to work on an activity without knowing all the steps to complete the project.  I decided to treat the opportunity  “Create a Club at NOC” as a project.
Discovery Step
I started to solicit various managers about the idea of starting a new club in the NOC Building.  I was pleasantly surprised by their positive feedback, encouragement and support.   I downloaded the “How to Build a Toastmasters Club: A Step-by-Step Guide ” manual from the Toastmasters International website.   The manual has very detailed steps of what to do, which made the process quite simple.
Get Others to Help
I asked Glen D. if he would be interested in helping me start the club, and Glen recruited Colbert F. to help.  Now we had a team and it seemed to be a normal project setting for me. 
Demonstration Meeting
One of the first tasks was to hold a demonstration meeting.  The format of the demonstration meeting is a simpler version of our normal Toastmasters meeting.   Glen, Colbert, and I then started to work on getting people to attend our Demonstration Meeting.   From my initial emails to various managers we had a list of about 10 people.  Colbert created a registration form to manage the people that would attend the meeting.  Glen mentioned that he knew someone from another committee that offered to send an email to a distribution list of just the people that worked in the NOC Building and 100 Washington Buildings.  Glen then drafted an email that promoted our Demonstration meeting with a link to our registration survey.   In just over a week we had 40 people on our list. 
We held our demonstration meeting on March 29th and had 48 people attend.  From there we had 22 people that expressed interest, and so we had the nucleus of a new club.  
Forming the Club
Each new club needs to complete a charter, new member applications, and hold a meeting to elect officers of the new club.  We got all our paperwork done by April 12 and submitted it to Toastmasters International.  We are meeting weekly with high attendance currently.  We have completed 10+ Icebreaker speeches so far and we are off to a great start.   A special thanks to Glen and Colbert for their assistance.   Another special thanks to Chris S and Jeff M. for repeatedly encouraging me to start a new club.  We hope to have our new club officially chartered by the end of May.   Our Club name is Stagecoach Speakers NOC Mpls .
Lessons Learned
Next time when someone asks you to go out of your comfort zone, try to bring it back to something you know, and ask others to help.   You would be amazed at what you can accomplish.

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