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Passing the Baton – A Toastmaster Area Director’s Diary

What are you doing to ensure the ongoing success of your club?

Planning an effective succession strategy for your club’s committee is not easy. We are all busy people, but if we allow time for regular conversations, it is much easier to manage. When we defer action, the point comes when it’s urgent and the smooth passing of the baton is at risk. So give yourselves enough time to plan a proper handover.  If your club hasn’t started succession planning yet then now is not too soon.

Here are five top tips:

1.  Check out the Club Leadership Roles and talk about them with club members 

2. Discuss how the club can ease new Toastmasters into leadership roles.  Imbed team working into the ethos of the clubs.  If the club promotes team working there will be many hands for the club’s leadership to call upon to help deliver the outcomes.  It will also assist in future succession planning.

3. Consider all club members, don’t make assumptions on their behalf. Sensible, open two-way conversations are key. Little and often works best.  (I hadn’t even considered taking on the Area Director role this year until Andrew Collinson, our immediate past Area Director picked up the phone).

4. Decide how your club’s experienced Toastmasters might pass on their leadership knowledge and expertise.

Induction – a thorough induction to their roles and responsibilities and those of other committee members by the outgoing committee members. 

Mentoring – Be available to discuss issues that might arise in the first three months whilst the new committee settles into its roles.

Resources – Ensure that you create a ‘pack’ of resources to handover to the new committee so they can easily access information that they ‘need’ to know. In the meantime encourage members to download the Club Leadership Handbook for more information.

Immediate past president – the immediate past president is an important role in the club’s committee helping a smooth transition and guiding with experience. If the club does not have an immediate past president then you might appoint a mentor to take on that role.  This is a non-executive role.

5. Be prepared to experiment; try new approaches, then evaluate how they worked. It’ll promote positive communication and collaboration.  Ferndown Speakers has a VP Leadership, Casterbridge and Chaseside have both had six month terms with varying success.


Succession planning is an evolving conversation not a binding contract. Both the club and individuals will need to flex with changing circumstances and if a person cannot do a full term then it is important to find a successor.  Whether you chose to handover with an ‘Upsweep’, a ‘Down-sweep’ or ‘Push Pass’ the success of the baton passing is in the hands of all its club members.  Everyone has a part to play in the relay.  Let’s talk!

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