by Gary Lee Web, DTM

On December 12, District 25 hosted a Club Success Workshop focused on improving our Open House events during these difficult times. For me, the timing was wonderful, since my Tuesday night chapter scheduled an Open House on January 5, 2021. Approximately 40 toastmasters participated in the 90-minute training, resulting in some excellent suggestions.

At 12:45 we began with a meeting of the Terrible Toasties, demonstrating how not to run a meeting. No surprise, but Bob Beideck did not tarry after the mock event to join the chapter. Tongue-in-cheek, but a good reminder that we can do better.

Once the mood was lightened, Marcheta Gardner led three panelists in a question and answer session regarding their recent successful Open Houses. Bill Smith of Something to Talk About in Mineral Wells focused on getting all members to invite, invite, and invite their friends. He suggested we leverage “open and friendly” and have a mixture of speaker experiences to demonstrate the improvements a visitor might achieve.

J. T. Auldridge of Longhorn Toastmasters talked about their sixtieth Charterversary and their excellent use of a history theme. Not something most of us can do, but it serves as a good example of how to build an Open House around a strong theme.

Les Condit of Savvy Sayers advised us to use corporate Human Resources departments (and corporate internal communications) to spread the word about our events to all new employees. Useful for any chapter supported by a business, and perhaps open clubs can interest companies near their meeting site.

For the last hour, the floor was open to questions. Suggested ways to advertise the event included flyers, word-of-mouth, direct invitation, the newspaper internal to a city government, checking with former members, and following up on any recent inquiries. People noted that zoom-hosted events do not need to be local, and some local Toastmasters attend meetings across the world.

I asked how to make a Zoom Open House work better. Some participants strongly suggested requesting an RSVP, since it allows us to do dry runs of the connection and send the potential guest a PDF visitor packet. They stressed including a partially completed application, including the current cost. As always, the guest needs to be warmly welcomed, and we should follow up on their visit afterward.

The training proved to be 90 minutes well spent. I hope to implement many of the suggestions soon.

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