Visiting Other Clubs

Personal growth is facilitated by stepping outside your comfort zone. With friendly faces we see on a regular basis, our home clubs may become a part of our comfort zone. To supercharge your personal growth, try stepping outside the walls of your home club to visit other clubs.

Other benefits of visiting other clubs include:

  • See how other clubs run their meetings and take fresh ideas back to your home club
  • Meet other inspiring people who are eager to help you improve
  • Expand your network of influence and make new friends
  • Learn more about other industries and cultures
  • Develop a greater appreciation for your home club
  • Challenge your communication and leadership skills further by participating in another club’s meeting

As you visit other clubs, keep the following in mind:

  • Other clubs have their own cultures and their own unique ways of doing things. Just because something is done differently, doesn’t necessarily mean it is wrong.
  • Refer to the meeting agenda to track the subtle differences in meeting programs.
  • Refrain from correcting the host club members on things that are done differently.
  • Be respectful of the club meeting time. When you are asked to introduce yourself and/or provide comments on the meeting, do not monopolize the time by giving a speech of your own. Keep your comments brief and positive.
  • If you see a need, feel free to offer to fill it, but ensure you understand how your host club treats that specific role before the meeting starts.

Some specific areas where club practices may differ:

  • Table Topics Speakers: Some clubs have participants stand and respond where they are while other clubs have participants go to the front of the room.
  • Functionary role combinations: Smaller clubs may combine ah-counter and grammarian or perhaps grammarian and wordmaster.
  • Speech Timing:
    • Morning clubs, lunch time clubs, or clubs with a large membership base in particular may be very strict on speech timing requirements. Some clubs insist on following manual timing guidelines and/or shortening all speech projects to 5-7 minutes while others may allow speakers to request alternate timing signals.
    • Some clubs follow contest timing signals, while others may reduce the 30 second maximum grace period time to 15 seconds, or reduce the table topics and/or evaluation times to allow for more participants.
    • Some clubs clap down (or buzz down) speakers who speak overtime (past the grace period) while others do not.
    • Some clubs have light signals while others use colored cards or folders.
  • Meeting Awards:
    • Not all clubs vote for awards at each meeting (such as best speaker, best evaluator, etc).
    • Clubs may have additional awards, such as best functionary or most improved. Some clubs have awards acknowledging an opportunity for improvement, such as the whitewash award or wizard of ah’s award.
    • Criteria for awards may differ from club to club. For example, many clubs require Table Topics speakers to use the word of the day to qualify for the best table topics speaker award; some clubs require speakers to meet timing requirements to qualify for awards; some clubs have members vote simply for the “best speaker” while others have members vote for the “speaker who best met project objectives.”
  • Optional Functionary Roles: Ballot counter, jokemaster, thought of the day (or word of wisdom / inspiration), greeters or secret greeters, cliche counter, and others.

When you return to your home club, be sure to share with your fellow club members how your Toastmasters experience was enriched by visiting other clubs, what you appreciated even more about your home club, and what great ideas you were able to steal from other clubs. Have fun!

Great Ideas Are Contagious

The first time I visited a Toastmasters club, I was excited by the massive potential for growth and friendship. It was like nothing I’d ever seen. I was hooked and I joined.

My home club was absolutely the best club in the world, second to none. When I finally visited another club, I went into a cycle of analysis and judgment. The first surprise was how much the two clubs were alike. The second surprise was that both clubs had exceptional practices. My home club owned my heart, but I discovered that other clubs did some amazing things. The friendly atmosphere connected me to new friends- so normal to Toastmasters. I got hooked on visiting other clubs.

Travel led me to visit clubs in other communities. A trip to Tampa Florida led me to Highrisers Toastmasters, located in Hyde Park on the bay. Thirty members met from 8 to 10 on a weekday morning, a time that was foreign to me but worked well for them. To cap off a stellar meeting, members invited me take a quick tour of historic old town Tampa and a ride back to my conference.

A trip to Maryland connected me to Redwood Toastmasters in the Baltimore World Trade Center. This small club was struggling in a very familiar way: low membership and high professional demands. In spite of the club size, they had a full agenda with manual speeches and interesting table topics. After the meeting, members showed off a lovely view of the Baltimore Harbor from their high-rise window.

I’ve visited many clubs in Arizona. Every club is the same, and every club is different. Each offers interesting speeches, different ideas for running a meeting, a host of new friends, and unique opportunities. I bottled wine at Epicurean Toastmasters, enjoyed Cochise Toastmasters where the club takes over the Landmark Cafe for weekly meetings, and was recruited to operate the cameras for TV Toastmasters Live.

Whether you travel to other countries, states, cities or just across town, visit other Toastmasters clubs. Without exception, you’ll be greeted warmly and maybe integrated into the meeting agenda. With a little communication and preparation, you might be invited to give a manual speech, or arrange a speaker/evaluator exchange with another club. Clubs are easy to find at in the section for Find A Club. Print a list, stuff it in your wallet, drop in, and prepare to expand your Toastmasters experience.

Marcia Roberts
District Governor 2012-2013