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The Year Ahead: Growth, Quality, Innovation

August 14, 2010

A recurring theme in all Toastmasters clubs, trainings, and meetings is that of members.  Members create the club, determine its direction, and provide the effort behind progress.  So when the time came to embark on a brand new year of Talk for Change, we started with the goals and concerns of its members.

When polling our fellow toastmasters, we discovered that their wishes for the year fell into three broad categories: growth, quality, and innovation.  For the next ten months, Anna, Adrienne, Rahul, Dianne and I will strive to guide Talk for Change toward progress in these areas.

Into the Sunrise

Growth

The first of these areas, growth, includes higher membership and expanded visibility.  Both stem naturally from our mission and our desire to improve the world around us.  As a niche club created to support positive change, it is in our interest to provide the public and nonprofit sectors with as many talented speakers and leaders as possible.  This means recruiting more members, and helping them to become inspiring and effective communicators.  It also means building up a brand and reputation that people will trust and approach for their speaking needs.

Growth is also necessary to keep Talk for Change healthy.  We need people to time and evaluate speeches, run meetings, and compensate for member turnover.  Since members are the reason our club exists, retaining a well-rounded group remains a priority.

In order to achieve growth, we will continue the workshops that brought many of us here, and offer them to other organizations as well.  We will pursue partnerships with local nonprofit networks with the aim of becoming their go-to for speech training.  Finally, we are making a strong commitment to retaining new members, characterized by increased attention to the needs, concerns, and goals of beginners.

Quality

Without a solid educational program, however, growth in itself will neither achieve our mission nor ensure success.  We are determined not to trade quantity for quality, which will also be a priority for the year.  Creating effective speakers requires meaningful opportunities and plenty of practice.

In our member surveys, there was an overwhelming call for more speech manual completions and advanced speaking opportunities.  As a first step, we want to leave enough time for 3 speeches at regular meetings so those who want to complete their Competent Communicator manual have a chance to do so. We are also working on speeches and meeting formats that address evaluation, table topics, and the Toastmasters program, as well as optional debates, high-pressure situations, and impromptu speaking opportunities.

Innovation

Finally, we have innovation, the creative pieces outside of the Toastmasters box that give our club its unique personality.  We strongly encourage all members to keep ideas coming.  Even if they are a bit unrealistic, your inspirational musings and daydreams can open up similar avenues for progress.

In response to member requests so far, we will offer more social events, host guest speakers, and organize new meeting formats.  Other ideas include speaking at schools, speaking resumes, critiquing local talks, speaking outside, and hosting a speechwriter.  The wish list represents a wide variety of ideas, many of which we may never get to, but it leads the way for new programs by offering a set of opportunities to draw from; we hope members will continue to feed the list with their thoughts, opinions, and reflections.

Past, Present, And Future

The case for growth, quality, and innovation is clear enough, but with such an ambitious plan, it is possible that not every goal will be attained.  Despite the magnitude of our plans, however, three factors will work to our advantage.  The first is the work of our past officers; thanks to their efforts, we start in a better position than the year before.  The second factor is another talented executive team.  Their diverse backgrounds and collaborative attitudes have allowed us to develop projects that incorporate technology, marketing, finance, program development, and more.

The third and primary element of success, however, brings us back to the beginning of this post.  Ultimately, our club’s mission depends on you, the members.  What do you need to do?  Simply what you came for in the first place: give speeches, lead meetings, evaluate, and spread the word.  For members who want to do more, we even have opportunities that include officer roles, special projects, and advanced speaking opportunities.

Thanks to our predecessors, we start this year with a solid program to build on.  Our duty now is to dream big, continue the journey that previous members started, and take Talk for Change to a point where future members will dwarf our ambitious plans with an even brighter future.

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