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Stepping In or Stepping Up – A Toastmaster Area Director’s Diary

I went to Ferndown Speakers in my official capacity as Area Director this week.  An unbelievable example of people ‘stepping in’ at the last minute to ensure the meeting was an unmitigated success. There were no prepared speeches planned so the day before, Gill Hale put together a pseudo humorous speech contest as part of an education slot on contest judging skills.  Brilliant!


There is nothing wrong with impromptu sessions and/or speaking – indeed many of us joined Toastmasters on the back of Table Topics. However, the average number of hours it takes to prepare for a prepared speech is one per minute of speech. That means that when we take a role we should spend at least an hour preparing to deliver a great introduction to our roles.  Many more if we are to do proper justice to the Toastmaster, Table Topics, and Evaluator Roles.  

Managing a meeting off the back foot is a great accolade but what impression does that give to a guest and potential new members to the club?  Being prepared is so important – don’t you think?  The thing is – a great meeting and a great club is never down to one person but many working together hand in hand.  So … that means ‘stepping up’.

What if … the VPE set up the next meeting the day after the last so that the Toastmaster had a chance to prepare his/her theme and follow up with the speakers how they would like to be introduced?

What if … members let the VPE know that they were attending so he or she could allocate the prepared speeches and roles well in advance, giving everyone the time to prepare how they deliver a stimulating speech explaining the purpose of their role?

What if … the VPM encouraged current and lapsed members to re-engage finding out what they would like to achieve and let the VPE know how the club can support current members on their TM journey?

What if … the club secretary supported the VPE and the VPM to ensure that the Easy Speak data base had everyone’s contact details and encouraged new members to use the system to book their Icebreaker speech?

What if … members supported the VPE by posting their goals on Easy Speak, by requesting speeches on Easy Speak and by asking other members to evaluate their leadership roles (and the introductory speeches)?

What if … the VPL (an unusual role) created a buddy scheme that supported personal growth through prepared speeches and leadership roles and kept people engaged in the programme through the EasySpeak system?

What if … the VPPR had the support of everyone in the club (and his dog) to spread the word about how supportive Toastmasters is.  The VPPR role is a lonely one without the club’s full support.  Since growth is important, how can each and everyone of us get behind his or her lead?

What if … the Treasurer supported the VPM by following up with guests and helping to ‘close’ the sale?

What if … the club committee created an education agenda that challenged members to hone their speaking and leadership abilities.

And finally what of the Club President and Area Director?  Leading a team of volunteers needs passion and commitment.  Even when the roles have been ‘coerced’ – there is a pride in Toastmasters that makes it important to succeed. Neither role can lead without a committed ‘you’ alongside.

Be prepared to step in … but please do commit to stepping up.


PS Don’t you just love the look on Shirley’s face!

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