When I was sixteen, I was hired for a job with no training, no onboarding to the job was provided. My new boss, Kevin, told me to go learn my role by observing another employee; an employee I was hired to replace because he gave his two-week notice and only had a week left. I also had no experience with a drill press, which was a major part of the work. I learned the best I could and started to excel at the job. Most of the job was data analysis using Excel which I was very familiar with. Within a month, I had created new data tools and short cuts which allowed for quick analysis of data. I quickly learned how to use the drill press, or so I thought, and I was pleased with my work.

One day, I came in and Kevin asked to speak with me in his office. He explained that he was firing me. Why? Because, I had made mistakes using the drill press and ruined some of the manufacturing product. This came as a shock to me. Here I was, at one of my first jobs, having to teach myself everything because I had no training on how to perform the work properly and I was being fired for making a mistake.

Who was really at fault in this situation? Most people would point the finger at my boss because he did not provide me the proper training to perform the job, and I would agree with them. I spent months of frustration trying to learn the job on my own, only to find out I was doing it incorrectly.

New Member Onboarding

I believe in many of our Toastmasters clubs, our club officers are “Kevins” when it comes to new member orientation and onboarding. Not because they do not care about the new member; it’s because we are a volunteer organization, we all have busy lives, and we all think someone else will do the work. I will admit, I have been a “Kevin” when my club has enrolled a new member. I have said to myself, “I am only secretary for this club, the VPE will handle the new member”, only to find that the new member leaves the club in two months because no one helped them. It is all our responsibility that new members get properly onboarded and set on their Toastmasters journey.

As a district, our new member Pathways adoption rate is 64%. This means that 46% of the new members in our district, members who have been in Toastmasters less than 6 months, have never signed up for a path. These members might even be giving speeches. However, they do not have access to the training and the tools that Toastmasters provides. In the past, we might have just handed new members the manual and tell them to read it. We can no longer do this with Pathways. We need to take the extra step of showing them how to login and how to navigate base camp.

Onboarding Checklist

To assist with this task, District 3 has created an onboarding checklist that can be found here. Every club is different, so please feel free to modify this checklist to work for your club. In the remainder of this article, I will discuss why each section of the onboarding checklist is important and how to use the checklist for best results. It is suggested that this checklist (not including completing level 1) be completed within the first month of a new member joining the club.

Club Introduction

  • Club resources and information (Phone Numbers, Emails) – Helps the new member to know who they can contact for help.
    • Explain club officer roles – Explain all the roles in the club and what responsibilities and support to members these roles offer.
  • A Toastmaster’s Promise – This sets the expectation of what is expected for the new member to be an active member of the club. Clubs might want to add club rules and expectations to this area of the checklist.
  • New Member Induction Ceremony – This welcomes the new member to the club and makes them feel special about joining the club.
  • New Member Profile Sheet – Understanding the members goals can help the club meet and support those goals for this new member. This can help the VPE to suggest a mentor for the member and can help the VPE set a speaking schedule for the new member.
  • Meeting Roles – Explain the meeting roles, why we do them and how they should be completed.
  • Discuss how to sign up for roles – Some clubs might review the roles at the end of the meeting, some might use a website, and some clubs might schedule the roles for the members. This is to let the member know how they can fill roles in the meeting when they are ready.
  • Mentoring Program (intro club’s mentor program, assign mentor) – This gives the member the support they need and a single person to call. It also relieves some of the responsibility of the club officers. The mentor can help the member work through this onboarding checklist.

Toastmasters 101

  • Pathways Getting Starting Videos – How to login and use Pathways. The new member should watch these videos and then review them with the mentor.
  • Pathways: Choose a Path (Paths and Core Competencies) – Can be used to help the new member choose the path which is right for them.
  • Overview of Distinguished Club Program (understand club goals) – Helps the new member to understand how achieving their personal goals also helps the club achieve club goals.
  • List of acronyms/glossary – Toastmasters love their acronyms but new members do not know what they all mean. Used this list as a cheat sheet for new members.
  • International Service Chart (understand org structure for support) – List of support service outside the club. This helps the new member understand the structure of the organization.

Member Achievements

  • Complete Ice Breaker Speech – Mentor helps the new member sign up and give their ice breaker.
  • Complete Pathways Level 1 – Mentor continues to work with the new member until they complete level 1. Some clubs might want to extend mentors’ roles into later levels or even switch mentors at this point.
  • Walk through the following websites – These are resources and support for the member. Clubs should add their club website and social media pages to this list.

Toastmaster’s Websites:

Toastmasters International Website:      http://www.toastmasters.org

District 3 (Arizona) Website:      https://aztoastmasters.org/ (especially resources & event calendar)

DCP Goal Reports:                           https://dashboards.toastmasters.org/


Facebook Pages:

Toastmasters International: https://www.facebook.com/groups/ToastmastersInternationalMembers/

District 3 (Arizona):         https://www.facebook.com/groups/151430084948754/


Toastmaster International:         https://www.youtube.com/user/Toastmasters

District 3 (Arizona):        https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCRqzsUSpcwIFNciHqVGW4oQ