By Greg Pick, DTM, Pathways Coordinator
Have you read or heard the following statements?
- It is easier to keep a valued member than to find new members;
- Get members involved early to keep their interest and allow them to see the value in our program; and
- Toastmasters provides an excellent program that leads to better speaking, improved leadership skills and a better you.
Human nature dictates we do things that we determine are a priority, interesting, fun, or valuable for a variety of personal reasons. According to a July 2019 Toastmasters survey concerning nonrenewing members, the number one reason members don’t renew is directly related to the amount of time available for the individual to participate. Other data indicate that 48 percent of members who join do not select and begin their path.
From the above statements, one could conclude that to ensure members get the most from Toastmasters we should make it easier for them to select and begin their Pathways Experience. How do we do this? Two ideas come to mind: develop a consistent new member orientation and provide aid with navigating the Pathways projects to ensure that the most learning occurs.
Toastmasters works when we work the program – we develop the skills and confidence related to public speaking through reading and working the projects presented. These projects were specifically designed with adult learners in mind. The first task is to get members involved so they can see the value in expending their valuable time.
I recommend that a club assign someone to contact new members and arrange a time to assist with path selection and beginning their Icebreaker project. Encouraging a quick start, with help, demonstrates the perceived value of the program. If the current members rearrange their schedules to participate, the new member is more likely to follow the example.
Have you experienced the following scenario? A member joins and you schedule them for their Icebreaker speech. They prepare and deliver the speech and get feedback but did not bring their evaluation sheet. Subsequently, it is discovered that they did not know where to find the evaluation sheet because they had not launched and read their Icebreaker project.
As one potential solution, I recommend that each club establish an expectation that a speech not be scheduled and delivered without the member progressing through the Icebreaker project. This helps them get used to accessing and reading every project and finding where evaluation sheets are found.
These are two idea to assist new members with getting immediate engagement of Pathways. A little discussion among your members will likely produce more ideas. These actions, and others, can help us meet our members needs in an effective and efficient manner while helping them get the most out of their experience.