Do you belong to a corporate Toastmasters club and want to build membership? Perhaps the club is experiencing stagnant growth or struggles with membership retention. The good news is: this is completely normal. Life and work events cause membership in all Toastmasters clubs to fluxuate.
Clubs, whether corporate or community, are successful when they can attract a consistent flow of guests while keeping existing members engaged. Consider the following tips:
1. Host an Open House
This is a great opportunity to introduce guests to what Toastmasters is about and potentially add some new members. It also allows guests to participate in a relaxed, casual setting where they can ask questions, meet members, and get a sense of what a Toastmasters club is like and what value it can give to potential members.
To set yourself up for success, focus on a few key items:
- Set the date and location well in advance. Make sure you have enough time to prepare, plan, and to get the word out.
- Create a committee. It’s important to have a group of people focused on achieving one singular goal. Get your whole club involved. Have your club members help with different functions. Don’t do it alone.
- Invite company leadership. If there’s an executive revered for their communication and leadership skills, ask him or her to give remarks on the importance of professional development. Perhaps they’ll want to give the keynote. Promote this to other employees.
- Promote the event. Post flyers in the kitchen or break rooms, place an ad in the company newsletter or bulletin board, and send a meeting invite out to the company.
- Bring in the big guns. The more people that participate, the more it feels like a special event — not just an ordinary meeting. Contact your Area Director for guidance. They can suggest resources and seek help from other clubs. You can even try a multi-club open house!
For information on how to run a successful open house, check this link.
Finally, after concluding the meeting, thank everyone for coming and remember to invite them to your next meeting. Always include that call-to-action.
2. “Start ‘em young!”
New employees are perfect prospects for Toastmasters. It’s a great way for them to immediately discover a group of people with a common goal of improving themselves. It’s also a way for the company to show that they’re serious about investing in their employees.
Speak to your human resources department about including information about Toastmasters in the new employee orientation packet. Cover what it is and what values will be learned, like thinking quickly on your feet, running efficient meetings, confidently speaking in front of large crowds, polishing leadership skills, experiencing an enjoyable environment to network, and of course, communicating effectively.
For employees that have been at the company for awhile, all-hands meetings are a great place to promote the corporate Toastmasters club. So, that’s the first step: getting the word out about your club. Once you’ve attracted them to your club, the next step is to keep them coming back for more. That has to do with your club culture and environment.
3. Foster Culture
Let’s say you have a healthy number of members who just joined. How can you provide value so they keep coming back and help recruit others? Start by assessing your club culture — things your club does well and where it can improve.
Ask your club officers (and yourself) a few questions:
- Are you having fun? Have the meetings gone stale and predictable over time? Inject a bit of fun to your club by having a fun theme for each meeting or change the meeting format to add spice. Add silly innovation to your table topics questions. By making it creative and enjoyable for your members, you develop positive emotions and a sense of community.
- Is it safe and supportive? Members stay because we feel safe and free to express our thoughts comfortably. While topics should be appropriate in a work environment, is everyone encouraged to fail? When we support instead of shame members for making mistakes, we learn to be more accepting of others as well as ourselves.
- Are you getting value out of it? Some members might not be able to identify what their needs are, so it’s up to the club officers to guide them towards their goals and keep challenging them. Ask questions, and get to know the members. Someday they’ll be officers, too. If you can do that, they’re more likely to stick around.
Even though orientations and open houses are great ways to introduce a potential member to the club, one of the most important factors in why members choose a club is its culture. So, make sure it’s a club that people are happy and proud to be a part of.
Corporate clubs have a unique challenge because they’re not open to the public, so its pool of membership is limited to only within the company. But even if the challenges are a bit different, the ultimate goal of what people want for themselves is the same: to become a better version of ourselves. And if you can make members believe in that vision, you’re on the right track.