Late last year the call went out for members who were interested in becoming an Ambassador for Toastmasters International. There were no particular skills or experience required. The only thing I knew was that Ambassadors usually get to do exciting and challenging things and as I had always wanted to visit other clubs I thought this might create a perfect excuse for me to do that. So knowing nothing more than that, I volunteered. I now have about a dozen clubs to visit twice each over the next 6-8 months.
The strategic renewal that will make your Toastmaster learning experience more relevant is being undertaken right now as part of the implementation of the 2010- 2015 Strategic Plan. The objective is to ensure that Toastmasters is able to provide flexible and tailored learning opportunities balanced between communication skills and leadership capabilities and to ensure that new technologies for learning and communicating are harnessed effectively to this objective. The Toastmasters International vision is to make the membership experience of every member real, relevant and rewarding.
The Ambassador team has been recruited and is currently making presentations to clubs across the District. Our role is to ensure that members are well informed about this change process and have an opportunity to raise questions and provide their input to the process.
In order to make these visits I firstly had to contact the clubs I’d been assigned to and that is when I started to learn more about how the machinery of the organisation functions: you know all that invisible administrative and organisational work that is essential to the smooth functioning of any membership-based organisation like Toastmasters. Why this is interesting is that unless a new member is introduced personally to a club by an existing member, finding out about the club will mostly happen through the internet. And these days the critical information is not just about where and when the club meets and being sure that contact details are up to date. We need to think about practical matters such as access to parking and whether there are security procedures for access to the building.
Already after completing just a couple of presentations, I am seeing how much variety there is within the Toastmaster model and how each club develops a very distinct personality.
I am also seeing the energy and commitment invested into each club: the overwhelming value of mentoring and guidance for new clubs and for new members coming into clubs. I also see that important benefits could be realised from club officers working more collaboratively to support each other and share problems, ideas and solutions.
I have been made very welcome by the clubs I have visited. I look forward to having the welcome mat rolled out at other clubs in the future and I urge club members to make the most of this opportunity to have input into the revision and renovation process