by Sam Mehta, DTM, PDG
Corporate clubs are comparatively quicker and at times even easier to build than traditional community clubs.
When an organization or a corporation initiates and communicates their interest in having a corporate Toastmasters club at their place of business; it’s always a slam-dunk!
It is always good to have a good point of contact established early-on to have ongoing communications. As a result of initial communications, the level of interest coupled with the extent of their need to form a Toastmasters club can be quickly determined.
Preplanning before the actual DEMO meeting is crucial, in order to establish what the two parties working in harmony will bring to the table in starting and forming of a Toastmasters Club. The corporation will generally [a] provide the facility for the meeting place; [b] make internal announcements communications, re: the Toastmasters program, including distribution of TI promotional materials, etc., and [c] provide the critical mass of employees [preferably between 20 to 30 members] to attend the DEMO meeting at a given date and time.
Ideally, the DEMO meeting should be between 45 minutes to a maximum of one hour, including at least 5 to 10 minutes at the end for Q&A. Toastmasters will provide [a] the expertise in starting of a new Toastmasters club; [b] support for the club with two experienced mentors for the first six to as much as twelve months, if needed; [c] hands-on training for the individual club officers, and [d] support of the Area and District leaderships to ensure smooth transition and success.
Here is a three-step approach in building and chartering a corporate Toastmasters club.
The DEMO meeting team ideally should have a combination of some experienced as well as newer Toastmasters. The DEMO team can have between 5 to 7 Toastmasters roles as follows: an experienced Toastmaster, a fairly proficient speaker, a dedicated evaluator, a Table Topic Master, a General Evaluator, with a Timer and a WAG Master [Word master, Ah Counter, Grammarian] as optional roles/positions. The purpose of the DEMO meeting needs to be explained upfront and the benefits of Toastmasters need to be described throughout the DEMO meeting event. In special circumstances and with prior consent, an employee or two may be invited to participate in the Table Topic session. [When at least 17 or more employees are ready to join, as a result of the DEMO meeting, the follow-up date for step 2 needs to be put in-place, immediately at the end of the DEMO meeting and/or within a week.]
At the “organizational meeting” the following items are conducted [a] decision regarding the name of the club by vote; [b] decision on time, place and frequency of the club meetings, by vote and consensus, [encouraging weekly meetings vs. twice a month and/or every other week meetings]; [c] decision on the subsidizing of the membership dues, if any, etc.; and [d] election of the club officers, by vote. [When step 2 is completed, step 3 can be done immediately on the same day and/or within a day or two.]
Actual collection of membership dues, signing of the club constitution and club by-laws, membership and club officer listing, and mailing of the final documents to TI, can be accomplished in this meeting.
Please note that in certain circumstances it may become necessary to take the ATO [Application To Organize] route/approach in chartering a corporate club, especially when the respective corporation is not fully ready and/or committed to start a new club and/or does not have the critical-mass of members required to start the club. Patience and perseverance are required when dealing with low-member clubs.
The key to success of the three-step approach requires comprehensive preplanning, a dynamic DEMO meeting, and keeping the enthusiasm alive immediately following the success of DEMO meeting in organization/execution of the new club.
Sam Mehta, DTM, PDG
Sam has been personally involved in building and sponsoring over a dozen corporate and community clubs. Sam has used the above three-step approach in forming corporate clubs successfully and many of these clubs are still thriving today.