Club Excellence

Listening: The Path to Sustainable Corporate Clubs

To build sustainable corporate clubs in Toastmasters, we must focus on one fundamental element: listening. By truly understanding the needs of corporates and club members, we can create an environment that aligns learning and human resources objectives with the preferences of the employee members. 

Aligning with Corporate Sponsor’s needs:

Listen closely to corporates’ needs. Most learning and talent professionals have objectives to meet – know them! Ask about the business challenges affecting them, continuing education and accreditation objectives, ask them about imminent key conferences or events. 

I would love to see Toastmasters programmes to be developed in line with some of the more recognisable accreditations and standards that industry recognises, giving participants tangible benefits and advancing their careers. However, there are still many more ways you can help the corporate sponsor achieve their objectives. I remember, one corporate partner we had in the banking sector that hosted a big annual trade show which the in-house Toastmasters club became the main vehicle for all presenters – how does a corporate sponsor not let this club to keep going? 

Embracing Instructional Learning:

Toastmasters clubs present a great opportunity for talent leaders to spot the self-drivers. However, usually in learning programmes corporate has, the self-run system is not enough especially in closed clubs. One tweak that I hear is the desire for instructional learning. Tailored workshops, led by experts, enrich the experience. At one of the multinational vehicle companies, we have used talented experts in the organisation to deliver programmes like the Success Communication/Leadership Series programmes which contain key development skills needed in corporate and the transferable skills can make a big difference for participants and the corporation alike.

Listening to Members’ Needs:

Don’t forget the needs of club members. Truly hear their voices. While they may not pay to be a part of the club or they may be mandated by the company to pursue the programme, it is easier to have a successful club when we have buy-in and members are motivated to pursue the programme and see the personal and professional needs. One complaint I hear from some corporate members is how the club is an extension of work. Design fun and practical learning experiences that tackle personal and professional challenges head-on. Role-playing, group discussions, and real-life problem-solving create a supportive and collaborative atmosphere. We had a big delegation of corporate members that came to our recent conference in the Victoria Falls, now they want to come to next one. They will pull all stops to keep the club going and impress management to keep the club going. 

Listening is the heartbeat of sustainable corporate clubs. Truly listen to corporate sponsor’s needs and tune in to the needs of members, creating a space where their voices are heard. Together, they will forge a path of engagement, growth, and sustainability together with us who are already very enthusiastic to help.

In your experience, what are some of the tactics you have used to improve sustainability of corporate clubs? 

Club Excellence

Does Your Club Need a Model?

Toastmasters clubs around the world are not a good open house away from solving our membership issues, we need something more.

As a Toastmasters club, have you ever considered your business model? You may think, “Business model? But we are a non-profit organisation!” However, every organisation, whether for-profit or non-profit, has a business model that defines how they create, deliver, and capture value. And for Toastmasters clubs, this is no different.

A clear business model can help your club deliver more value to its members and assist with personal, professional, and business development. Let’s look at some case studies of Toastmasters clubs that have successfully implemented a business model to achieve these goals.

I am a member of Entrepreneurs Toastmasters. This club is made up of business professionals who use Toastmasters to network and develop their skills. A big part of our club events is the networking time before and particularly after our event. At each of our club events, we run masterclasses or roundtable sessions to address our member’s business’ challenges through the Toastmasters programme. Then we encourage the formation of dynamic mastermind groups from time to time to help our members intimately collaborate on solving business challenges. Members have reported finding new clients and partners through the club, as well as significant personal and professional growth including much needed company and mentorship which many solopreneurs lack.

I am also a member of an Anglo-Francophone Toastmasters club meant to help French natives looking for a place to practice speaking English, or English natives wanting to practice or protect their French to do so. We don’t teach language – we partnered with our local Alliance française for that, we just offer a platform where both native French and English speakers practise speaking in the other language creating a space where all of us as adults practise being comfortable with being uncomfortable like we were when were kids to open the doors and opportunities that await us by connecting with another culture.

I have visited a mid-morning club for work at home mums, helping them escape the pressure at home and develop themselves, I have visited a club for drinking people with a speaking problem helping them become better partners and parents, I have visited a singles club for single people looking for a place to fellowship. There are many interesting Toastmasters clubs around the world with unique models that can make them tick.

The beauty about having a club with a defined model like my Entrepreneurs club, at the time of writing this, is that as we are currently struggling as a club, it is easier for us to find out where the wheels are coming off. We have not quite been able to replicate the networking value we offer in-person at our online meetings yet for my Anglo-Francophone club, online meetings have opened doors to French speakers who want to practise their English in front of native speakers especially.

So, how can your club develop a business model that delivers value to its members and assists with development? Start by defining your club’s value proposition. What unique benefits does your club offer its members? Next, think about ways you can enhance this value proposition through your club events, events outside of club events and partnerships with other clubs and organisations.

In conclusion, every Toastmasters club should have a well-defined business model. By doing so, your club can provide more value to its members and assist with personal, professional, and business development. So, does your club need a model? Share your views with me?

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