Toastmasters International is often at the first glance seen as just a Public Speaking platform but is actually a Leadership Development platform as well.
There are plenty of opportunities it will give you to develop your leadership abilities, right from club level to the area level and to eventually the district level.
The leadership roles range from various Executive Committee roles at a club level to area and Division Directors to Club Growth Directors, Mentors for other clubs, to the District Newsletter Team etc.
There is a role for everyone and each role an opportunity to develop leadership abilities. For most Toastmasters, they kick start their journey with the club Executive Committee and this article aims to throw some light on the roles and the responsibilities that entail them.
The elections for a fresh Executive Committee are usually held anywhere between the first week of May to the first two of June depending upon the frequency of the club meetings. The new Executive Committee begins serving from July 1 that year to June 30th in the succeeding year.
There, however are some clubs that in a bid to give more members a chance at leadership have semi-annual terms for their Executive Committee.
They have one set of elections in May and the then elect Executive Committee begins work from July 1 to December 30 and the next Executive Committee’s tenure is from January 1 to June 30.
At a club level, the Executive Committee consists of eight members who are elected by the club members who then for the next one term become the face of the club as they represent their club at various area and division council meetings. The eight members that comprise the Executive Committee at club level are
- Club President
- Vice President of Education
- Vice President of Membership
- Vice President of Public Relations
- Club Secretary
- Club Treasurer
- Sergeant at Arms
- Immediate Past President
The Club President is the highest-ranking officer in the Executive Committee and the chair of the Executive Committee as well. His responsibilities are to
1. Presiding over meetings
The Club President is required to preside over all club meetings and call the shots and also the Executive Committee meetings.
In his/her absence it is usually the VP Ed who takes the place of the Presiding Officer and calls the shots.
The Club President is also expected to hold regular Executive Committee meetings to monitor the progress of the club and its members.
2. Assisting other Officers with their roles
The President is usually responsible for guiding all members and especially the other officers on his team with their roles and responsibilities. He/She should be aware of all the happenings at the club and work his/her way around in a way that he /she maximises the potential of all members and officers thus ensuring the highest possible growth for all.
3. Represent the club at various events
The President usually is the face of the club and is expected to be there for various Area and District events and meetings to represent the club. The President often does this with the VP Ed and the VP Membership.
4. Responsible for the overall progress of the club
The Club President is the one who leads and guides all members to become better leaders and speakers.
He/She is the one who can along with the rest of the Executive Committee actually charts out the plans to achieve various educational goals and pushes the club to achieve greater awards at Toastmasters like Diamond Club, President’s Distinguished etc.
He/She should along with the VP Ed pushes the members to finish their projects on time and participate in contests.
Alongside the VP Membership he/she should strive to induct as many members as possible and support all efforts of the VP PR and VP Membership that count as Membership building exercises.
Vice President of Education
The VP Ed is the second ranking officer and perhaps the one who takes the most burden of work in a Toastmasters meeting. His primary job entails
1. Planning Meetings
The VP Ed has to plan for meetings in advance and has to ensure that before the meeting takes place the President presides over the agenda. The agenda for any Toastmasters meeting refers to the list of all role players and roles allocated to them.
2. Plan and conduct contests
A normal Toastmaster year has two contest seasons. The first is in September which is the Humorous Speech and Evaluation Contest and the second is in March which is the International Speech Contest and the Table Topics Contest.
The bulk of planning these contests, reaching out for the jury and getting the auxilary role players all lies on the shoulders of the VP Ed.
3. Planning Educational Sessions
Educational sessions at Toastmasters refer to sessions that are usually aimed at educating the members on a particular aspect of Public Speaking and Leadership. For e.g. A session on how to evaluate effectively.
These are usually conducted by either contest winners at Area and District levels or Experienced Toastmasters. It is the responsibility of the VP Ed to see to the fact that these are conducted regularly for the betterment of all.
4. Assisting in attainment of Educational goals
The VP Ed is responsible for pushing the members to finish their educational milestones and to participate in contests. He/She is expected to ensure that all members are regularly doing their projects and to push older members to start Pathways.
Every club also has a certain set of educational goals which is a bare minimum standard they need to attain to be a good standing club of Toastmasters. The VP Ed usually is expected to look into this.
5. Present Educational Awards
The VP Ed along with the VP PR should ensure that all members upon finishing their educational awards with TM are recognised.
This can be done in a variety of ways. For e.g., in my club upon finishing a level there is a poster sent out on all social media platforms celebrating the member and his/her achievement.
One can also choose to make an announcement in the meeting as well in the presence of all.
6. Facilitate the Mentor-Mentee Initiative
As John Crosby once very rightly said, “Mentoring is a brain to pick, an ear to listen and a push in the right direction”. A good mentor can make or break your experience at Toastmasters and therefore it is of primary importance that the VP Ed allocates a mentor to all the new members and the old ones.
It is usually the mentors who set the standards of the club and thus this is one of the most important responsibilities of a VP Ed
7. Change the formats of the Meeting
The usual format of a TM meeting consists of a prepared speeches section, a table topic session and then an evaluation section. This can sometimes get dull and thus, the VP Ed should ensure that they make these meetings more interesting.
This can be done by fun themes and obviously more different formats of meetings like that of a Speakathon or a Table Topic Marathon or a Debate or even joint meetings with other clubs.
8. Facilitate the Buddy Project
Toastmasters as an organization is all about the idea of creating more leaders. The Buddy Project is a manifestation of this idea. Here, every member of the Executive Committee is given a fellow member as a buddy who helps them carry out their duties and at the same time learn how to do them the right way. This ensures that they can take the baton forward next year.
This is an extremely fruitful exercise as it gives the new members a chance to understand the roles better and equip themselves with the skills that are needed to be on the Executive Committee and also reduces the burden of the shoulders of the Executive Committee.
Vice President Membership
The VP Membership is responsible for ensuring that the club has a healthy strength of members which is a culmination of retaining existing members and adding new ones. The profile of the VP Membership looks as follows
1. Being available for guests
The VP Membership should be reachable via phone, text, email so that the guests can speak to him/her before coming for the meeting.
2. Assist guests
The VP Membership is usually the first link that guests have to Toastmasters and thus they should always be around to guide the guests.
Ensure that you are there when they come, you welcome them along with the SAA and take their contact details so that you can keep in touch with them.
Assist them to the venue location as well if they need help and ask them post the meeting how their experience was and if they have any queries. Remember to hand over the guest kits to them upon arrival as well.
Ensure that you get the P.O. to ask for guest feedback before the award distribution ceremony towards the end of the meeting.
This makes them feel like they were an important part of the meeting and not just guests.
3. Orient informally post the meeting
This is something that I have seen in my club. The guests are asked to stay back after the meeting and the VP Membership usually briefs them about the organisation, its benefits etc. and then takes questions from the guests should they have any.
This usually leaves the guests with complete information and in a better place to make an informed decision.
Related article: 4 Ways to Network in Toastmasters
4. Follow up with the guests
Ensure that you send out a message a week in advance for every meeting so that should the guest wish to attend they know that they are always welcome. If a guest who showed an inclination but hasn’t become a member as yet feel free to reach out to them after a few weeks to check with them if they wish to still drop by.
5. Membership Building Exercises
The VP Membership can along with the VP PR undertake membership building exercises like going to colleges and orienting students about what Toastmasters is etc. A simpler example of the exercise could also be getting current members to tap into their network and get their friends and family to come as guests.
6. Process Membership Applications
The VP Membership has to work closely with the treasurer to ensure that all membership renewals for the bi yearly cycle happen without hassle. He/She has to collect the dues and submit them to the treasurer.
Vice President Public Relations
The VP PR is one of the most important positions in the club Executive Committee since he/she practically designs the face of the club. They are responsible for the branding of the club and the overall branding of Toastmasters in general. The responsibilities of the VP PR are as follows:
1. Club Promotion
One of the most important things that the VP PR has to do is to ensure that the club has visibility. They can use social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn etc. extensively.
They should make posters before each meeting, either related to the theme or a general one and share it online. The poster should contain details like the date, time and venue of the meeting among other things like name of the TMoD, the GE etc.
The VP PR is also expected to update the club website regularly should there be any and if it’s a corporate club use the notice boards etc. of the offices for better promotion.
The VP PR is responsible for the seeing through of the club newsletter or magazine should there be any.
It is his responsibility to along with the rest of the Executive Committee figure out an editing, curating and the design team.
The VP PR heads the teams and ensures that the work is done.
3. Branding Right
One of the main tasks of the VP PR is to ensure that he is doing the branding of TI and the club in the right way. He/She has guides to follow and must adhere to the guidelines given in them.
The secretary is the custodian of the club who keeps all club records and club files and maintains the minutes of the meeting of every meeting. He/She is expected to maintain the updated member rooster, ensure that the supplies needed are ordered and delivered. This includes things like PR and guest kits, awards and trophies for contests etc.
The treasurer is the custodian of all the funds that the club possess and no expense can be incurred without his/her knowledge. He prepares and oversees the club budget and manages the club’s a/c.
He collects dues and pays bills and purchases club promo materials for the rest of the members. Along with the VP Membership, the treasurer ensures that all member renewals happen on time.
Sergeant at Arms
The Sergeant at Arms is the one who is in charge of the physical possessions of the club like lecterns, pamphlets, posters etc.
His/Her job is to ensure that the meeting room is set up before the meeting commences and is reconfigured to its original state post the meeting.
He/She is in charge of opening every meeting and ensuring that there is no movement when the speaker is speaking.
Immediate Past President
The Immediate Past President is the official guide or mentor to the EC. He doesn’t necessarily attend all EC meetings but should always be around should the EC need his guidance.
What is the eligibility criteria to be on the Executive Committee?
To become a member of the Executive Committee one must fulfil certain criteria then go through an interview process conducted by the Nomination Committee.
The criteria for being eligible to stand for the elections the member must be in good standing, i.e. should have paid all dues.
Post this, once the current Executive Committee asks for nominations, the candidate should nominate himself/herself.
Upon sending the nomination, the candidate is then summoned for an interview by the Nomination Committee. The Nomination Committee usually consists of senior and experienced Toastmasters.
These members interview and evaluate the competency of each candidate against the post they wish to stand for and finally after all interviews are done, the Nominations Committee presents a Nomination slate.
The Nominations slate is a document that elucidates which member the Nomination Committee deems fit for what office. It is according to the Nomination Slate that the elections take place.
What does the Election Day look like?
The Big Day is finally here, and I will quickly take you through the process of it. Once the election commence they usually happen in the order of the highest to the lowest ranking officers. Therefore, it starts with the President and ends with the election of the SAA.
Anyone who is on the Nomination Slate irrespective of what role they have been deemed right for, can contest for any role from the floor should they wish to.
For e.g. If I had been deemed right by the Nomination Committee to contest for the post of VP PR, I can always be an on the floor candidate for Club President or any other office that I would have like.
In case of there being an on the floor candidate, he/she along with the nominated candidate supposed to give a short speech. The time given to them is not more than two minutes. They should use this to share a couple pointers from their respective agendas for the office.
Remember, the catch here is that you should have undergone the Nomination Committee’s interview process. If a candidate hasn’t undergone the interview process that he/she cannot be an on the floor candidate for any office.
To conduct the elections there has to be a quorum, i.e. at least 51% of the total club strength consisting of only active members.
In case of a tie during the elections, they norm is to keep voting till one person is declared the winner.
Once the elections are over, in the meeting around the end of June, an Installation Officer is called upon to official discharge the current Executive Committee of its duties and install the new one.
All Officers serving their term are to
- Attend both the District Sponsored Club Training Programs
- The Annual District Conference
- Attend and support all Division/Area level initiatives
This is obviously in addition to the other duties that they discharge as club officers.
Should I be on the Executive Committee?
Being on the club EC is not one of the easiest tasks but is defiantly one of the best learning opportunities. Considering that leadership is often better learned when practiced there can be no safer a place than that of Toastmasters to practice this.
If you are unsure about it, speak to you mentor or the VP Ed of the club for more information and guidance. Maybe, if it’s going to be a big dive for you than start with doing a SAA or a secretary. The best thing, buddy around a fellow club officer for a while and learn the nuances from him/her.
My advice? Just go for it. There is no better opportunity to learn and build yourself.
Pull up your socks and go battle it out in the next EC elections.
Recommended Reference Read – Club Leadership Handbook – A Guide to Effective Leadership