In August 2010, I ran into a new Toastmaster, Miss Someday. She is a member of Status Quo Toastmasters in District 25. (The names have been changed intentionally.) She informed me that she had given her Ice Breaker (the first speech in the Competent Communication manual), the previous week. She even emailed me her speech. Last week, I ran into Miss Someday again. I asked her what speech she was working on. She told me that she has not given another speech. I was amazed to learn that she has not given a speech in 12 months. I checked the Distinguished Club Program (DCP) for her club to see how well the club is doing. The club is at charter strength. During the past 14 months, the club has had only one Competent Communicator (CC) completed and no Advanced Communicator completions. This simply means that the club members are not giving speeches during the meetings. Instead, the club is holding elongated Table Topics meetings. This club does not publish any member speech progress status.
If members are not giving speeches, they are not growing. If they are not growing, they will eventually leave the club. I believe that a Toastmaster should be giving a speech every four to eight weeks. At this pace, a Toastmaster can complete the Competent Communication manual (10 speech projects) in 10 to 18 months.
To ensure that members stay on track towards completion of speech projects, the Club President and the Club Vice President Education should check with each member at the start of the DCP year (July of each year) to determine which manual the member is working on and how many speeches they have completed. Each month, the VP Education should publish the status of members’ speech completions. The Club can also post the status at the meetings. Status charts are available from Toastmasters International. Members who keep on avoiding giving speeches should be encouraged and mentored.
I know there are several clubs in District 25, like the Airport Toastmasters, that publish Member Speech Completions Progress Charts on a regular basis. No wonder these clubs always maintain at least a Distinguished Club status year after year. When members grow and are successful, the clubs are successful. When guests attend the meetings and get to hear members give speeches, they are more likely to join. If they witness a meeting where almost everyone participates in Table Topics and there are no speeches, chances are they will not return.
Successful clubs do not let members not give a single prepared speech in 12 months. Help members complete an education level, like a CC, in at least 18 months. If they do, they will grow. Where members grow, the club grows.
By Jodie Sanders