By Samanvitha Basole
This year’s Summer TLI is entirely online! Toastmasters Leadership Institute (TLI) is a half-day program designed for officers to start their transition into their new roles. The program started on July 18 at 8:00am sharp. It was amazing to see 350+ participants (club officers) attend this training so early in the morning, that too on a Saturday! Registration had topped out at the maximum 475 virtual seats, a new record, while attendance close to 400 also set a new record.
The training was divided into four sessions:
- General session with all attendees in it;
- Seven parallel tracks for club officer training: President, VP Education, VP Membership, VP Public Relations, Secretary, Treasurer, and Sergeant-at-Arms;
- Four parallel tracks of extended education topics; and
- Nine parallel tracks corresponding to the nine divisions of the district.
The General Session
The first session kicked off with Bett Bollhoefer, our District Director, discussing the theme, values, goals, and knowing your “why”. The theme of this year, set by Bett, is “finding your voice and making a difference”. I’m super excited about this theme because it resonates with my personal goal of finding ways to create an impact. One of the values she discussed is “Run gracefully”. She explained how clubs should run without stressing out. “No one has to do all the work,” she said. Later in the event, Bett showed us her two little kittens!
Next, George Marshall, our Program Quality Director, informed us different ways to improve the quality of our clubs. He encouraged us to start by evaluating our club using Moments of Truth (the materials are available on the TM website). Then, he discussed a few different goals a club can achieve to become a Distinguished Club or go beyond that.
Julie Garrett, our Club Growth Director, explained the importance of building club memberships, growing existing clubs, and starting new clubs.
The first session ended with Lisa Fairchild, our TLI Dean, going over the event logistics and thanking volunteers and organizers.
The Club-Officer Breakout
As President of Newark Toastmasters, I attended the President’s training hosted by Michelle Peticolas in the second session. The participants of this session were club presidents from District 57. At some point, we were split into break-out groups, and we got a chance to hear from other presidents about their challenges in maintaining and growing their clubs. It was full of ideas, and I took a lot of notes for this session.
A few of my notes taken during the President’s training session
The next session I attended was “Growing a Toastmasters club during a pandemic”. One of the key things I noted is that guests play an important role in the growth of a Toastmaster’s club, so it’s crucial to welcome guests, get to know them a little, and follow-up with them after their club visit to see if they are planning to join Toastmasters.
The Division Huddle
The last session of the event was the Division I meeting. In this session, every club president from each area belonging to Division I introduced their club and presented why their club is unique. It was interesting to get to know these clubs. I think I’ll go to one of the meetings of another club to see how their meetings happen and understand some of their best practices.
This event had a lot of takeaways for me, and here’s the first set of to-do items I captured for myself to get me started:
- Download Moments of Truth (Evaluate your club) materials from the TM website
- Discuss with officers and create a plan for improving club website and meetup pages
- Brainstorm a plan with officers about retaining membership
- Introduce club members to OATM and Triple Crown awards
- Figure out a common time to schedule executive meetings with officers
- Understand the “why” and the goals of my club members (present as a table topics question or as a google form)
- Share the Officers Handout 30-60-90 days plan with other officers
- Explore FreeToastHost website and see if it fits with my club needs
It’s my first time taking up an officer role and my first time as a president of a Toastmasters club. To start my role as a president, I need to be proactive, meet with other club presidents, actively discuss solutions to club problems, and know the resources that are available to me. Fortunately, the TLI was all about that, and I found it to be extremely informative and inspiring. This online TLI is an example of how leaders need to be dynamic and adapt to situations. I honestly can’t wait to see how other leaders are adapting due to this stay-at-home environment and the pandemic, and what we as a community would have to offer to make the world a better place!
Lisa, as TLI Dean, recognized the large set of volunteers that lent their services to make this entire event flow smoothly and help train the officers of the district. Below are the screen captures during her presentation.
Congratulations to Lisa Fairchild for pulling off a successful, first-ever virtual TLI, and our gratitude to all the volunteers for helping with this success!