Welcome Back! How to engage and invite back former members

By Kevin Markl

I don’t have time. Work’s too busy. I’m traveling too much.

We’ve all heard before from our Toastmasters members, because let’s face it, life happens. Life doesn’t stay that way forever though and members often do return. Below are some tips and tricks I’ve learned as a Toastmaster for more than 8 years to keep your former members involved and engaged until the moment they are ready to join you or another club.

Create FOMO with a Club Newsletter

FOMO stands for fear of missing out. People experienced it when they couldn’t attend our sold-out Annual Conference with 300 attendees and your former members can experience this to. How? With a weekly or monthly club newsletter.

Warehouse Toastmasters has a great newsletter here which illustrates this. Just because former members can’t attend, doesn’t mean they aren’t interested to hear about what’s going on in their club. Your club newsletter can highlight the latest speeches, topics and life events of your members.

Send your newsletter not just to your guests, but also your former members. Keep them aprised on the latest and remind them what they are missing out. When life get’s easier – they are traveling less and working more – they’ll be excited to return and pick up right where they left off.

Welcome Back Open Houses

Never run an Open House before? Don’t know how? No problem! The District has a fantastic guide to running EPIC open houses here. The question is – how can you run an open house that focuses on Welcoming Back former members. Here are three ideas to consider:

Members and guests pose at the open house for the ToastED club in Cape Town, South Africa.
  1. Make the invitation back personal. You can accomplish this by having a friend of the former member make the ask personally. Don’t just send an email. Give them a call. Let them know they’ve been missed and it would be great to see them at the club, even if just for that one meeting.
  2. Make it an EPIC experience. Don’t just have some food and snacks (our club would do a potluck atleast every quarter that everyone looked forward to) to draw them in. Invite your former members to speak. In Table Topics you might ask what they miss most about Toastmasters, how it’s helped since they left, what’s changed in their lives since they left and more. The experience doesn’t end when they leave the meeting with a smile on their face. Sometimes a small gift/takeaway can make all the difference. In our club, someone burned an audio CD with songs about returning home, like these, which let’s them know they are missed everytime they listen to it in the car or elsewhere.
  3. Get their feedback. We typically always ask members WHY when they leave. We also asks our guests what they thought about the meeting and if they’ve seen the value of Toastmasters. Take this one step further and find out if your former members have time again to return. If not now, when. Would another club closer to work or home make better sense? Do they see the value of Toastmasters since leaving and life changes. Can you dispel any myths they have about the Pathways Learning Experience and provide resources that show how much easier it is to navigate since the 2017 launch? Is there something about their club experience that caused them to leave in the past that’s been resolved now?

Research has shown it’s much easier to hold onto an existing member than to try to find a new guests. Even if a member has left your club, that doesn’t mean they have left forever. Make sure your former members know they are missed. A newsletter is a great way to keep them involved in your club until they are ready to return to a regular club meeting or an EPIC open house that welcomes back all your former members.