With 2016 winding down, clubs are wrapping up the year and hopefully planning ahead for a great 2017. One way to hit the ground running in the New Year is to recruit a committee to plan an open house. This is one of the best ways to spread the word about Toastmasters, bring in new guests, and tell the world why your club rocks.
Here are 3 tips to ensure a successful event. If you are looking for more inspiration, contact your Area or Division Director, or Club Growth Director Stefanie Chow at email@example.com. Happy planning!
1. Build the open house around a special event
Is your club celebrating an anniversary? Does your club throw its holiday party in January? Does your club throw a kick off meeting to celebrate the new year? Regardless of the theme, consider expanding the scope of this event to serve as an open house.
New year resolutions and performance reviews are top of mind. Many people will be interested in expanding their public speaking and leadership skills and a special open house might be the trigger they need to attend and become motivated to take action.
2. Encourage members to invite a special guest
Word of mouth marketing is still the strongest way to drive awareness. Get current members involved in making the open house a success by encouraging them to attend and bring a +1. It could be a co-worker or a friend. Ask them to post on their social media sites or tell at least five friends. They might inspire someone to join.
Plus, attending a meeting that focuses on public speaking can be nerve wracking. Facing that fear with a buddy, especially one that is already in Toastmasters, can calm anxiety, build courage, and help lead to a successful first visit.
3. Make guests feel welcome and wanted
For those who have trouble remembering names (or even for those who have no trouble) hand out name tags to both guests and members. Name tags can serve as excellent icebreakers. Invite everyone to share a fun fact about themselves — anything from 2017 goals to superhero names. The key is to have fun and reinforce the reason we’re attending Toastmasters.
During and after the open house, invite guests to join the club. Many guests will be too shy to raise their hand or sign up right away, but if members and officers make them feel welcome, they are more likely to join. Give them a guest packet with more information about Toastmasters and a membership application to take home. Follow up with them via email or phone call. A little hospitality goes a long way.
4. Start the event with speed networking
Speed networking is a tried and true method that brings everyone together and forces them to meet everyone in the room. It’s quick, it’s efficient, and can really helps the guests feel at home. The European Molecular Biology Laboratory recently put out a great video touching on, “How speed networking could work at your next conference.”
BONUS: Participate in the “Open House Challenge”
If you are looking for even more motivation to host an open house, District 4 Toastmasters is holding a special Open House Challenge, where your club can earn $50 in District credit. Clubs who hold an open house in January or February and add at least 3 new members within 3 meetings will complete the challenge.
Submit your promotional materials, meeting agenda, group photo, and proof of dues payment for the 3+ members to firstname.lastname@example.org.