Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Club Chartering Meeting/Ceremony - Agenda

Toastmasters Club Chartering ceremony is an important milestone for a newly formed club. Club Chartering meeting is the first "official" meeting of the toastmasters club, where the club officers are installed and members inducted. This article provides some guidance for you to plan your charter meeting.

Also read:

Steps involved in chartering a club
How to conduct a demo meeting?


Whom to invite? This is the first question that will come to your mind. You can consider inviting the following people for your toastmasters club chartering ceremony meeting.
  1. Management Representatives from your corporate (for a corporate club)
  2. Toastmasters Representatives
    • District Governor
    • Division Governor(s)
    • Area Governor(s) 
    • Club officers from other clubs in your Area/Division
    • Club mentors and sponsors
Sample Charter Meeting Agenda

What should be done during the chartering meeting. Here is a sample agenda that you can follow during your club chartering ceremony meeting.
  • Opening of the meeting by & Introduction of MC by Sergeant At Arms - 2 minutes (SAA just reads the vision/mission and describes the Codes of Conduct)
  • Setting the context of the chartering meeting by the MC - 2 minutes
  • Speeches by Dignitaries from Toastmasters International (2 minutes x two dignitaries) - 4 minutes
  • Speeches by Dignitaries from the Corporate (for a corporate club) - (2 minutes x two dignitaries)  - 4 minutes
  • Installation of club officers by Area or Division Governor - 10 minutes
  • Club President delivers the acceptance speech (3 minutes)
    • Acceptance speech typically has the President's plan for the club, at a high level for the next 6 months. You can look at the Sample Presidential Acceptance Speech
    • Recognizes the Mentors/Sponsors of the club
  • President introduces Toastmaster of the Day (1 minute)
  • Toastmaster of the Day runs through the meeting using the script  (45 mins)
    • Have just 1 or 2 prepared speeches
    • Have 4 or 5 table topics
  • Toastmaster of the Day hands over the meeting to President (0 minutes)
  • President adjourns the meeting (2 mins)
Download meeting role player templates from Successful Clubs Toolkit

  1. Area/Division Governor can present Toastmasters Pins to the club officers
  2. President can give a memento to toastmasters representatives and to the people who helped in chartering the club
  3. If you have more time for the meeting, you can distribute the charter certificates to the charter member during the meeting. President can invite a dignitary to the stage to handover the charter certificates/manuals to new members. If there is no time, you can hand them over to members offline.
  4. Take a picture with all the charter members and charter club officers

Monday, December 5, 2011

How to conduct a Toastmasters Demo Meeting?

Toastmasters International provides a number of materials which will help you to conduct "Successful Demonstration Meetings" for prospective new clubs. Conducting a Demo meeting is the first step to get new members to officially charter a toastmasters club.

Also read: 

Sample email response for the lead/request to charter a new toastmasters club

Before the demo meeting
  1. Ask the club sponsor 
    • to arrange for a projector, microphone, writing board etc.,
    • to make printed copies of meeting agenda available to everyone
    • to download Introduction to Toastmasters PPT and make it available in a PC/Laptop
  2. Arrange meeting role players 
    • Toastmaster of the Day
    • Table Topics Master of the Day, 
    • General Evaluator
    • Prepared Speaker (just 1 or 2. Speech should be from Competent Communicator manual and preferably, a CC Project 5 or CC Project 6. Helps the evaluator to cover all the aspects of public speaking)
    • Table Topics Master to pick some simple topics (NO SITUATIONS/ROLE PLAYS... may pick some funny quotes. Senior toastmaster to review this to make sure that the topics are audience friendly)
    • Timer, 
    • AH Counter, 
    • Grammarian
    • Sergeant at Arms
  3. The role players are HIGHLY recommended to use the Successful Meetings - Role player Templates
  4. Get timing cards (or) some Red Yellow Green props
  5. All role players have to be informed to be at the venue at least 20 minutes in advance to clear the security procedure.

Meeting Agenda

  1. SAA opens the meeting, introduces the presiding officer (1 minute)
  2. Presiding officer briefly talks about Toastmaster International and the two tracks - communication & leadership. Also tells the audience that they'll know more about Toastmasters after the demo session... when walking through the PPT (3 minutes)
  3. Presiding officer introduces Toastmaster of the Day and hands over the control (1 minute)
  4. Toastmaster of the Day introduces the 3 meeting segments (3 minutes)
  5. General Evaluator introduces his/her team (3 minutes)
  6. Prepared Speech (7 minutes)
  7. General Evaluator and his/her team presents their reports (10 minutes)
  8. Table Topics Session (5 speakers max * 2 mins each = 10 minutes)
  9. Toastmaster of the Day hands over control to the Presiding Officer (1 minute)
  10. Presiding officer to walk through the Introduction to Toastmasters PPT himself or asks a senior toastmaster to walk it through

Before the demo meeting

  1. Follow up with the club sponsor and help them to complete the steps involved in chartering a new toastmasters club by filling and submitting the club charter applications to Toastmasters International.

Steps involved in chartering a new Toastmasters Club

Toastmasters International website provides a lot of information about starting a new club. If you are interested in starting a club, submit your request using the form (or from www.toastmasters.org)

You can find a number of details regarding starting a new club at http://www.toastmasters.org/newclubforms.aspx

I've made an effort to "simplify" the procedure involved in starting a club - so that, you can understand it in just 5 minutes.

(Also read: Toastmasters in Chennai India - FAQ)

Always, refer to Toastmasters International website for latest information

Procedure to officially charter a new toastmasters club

1. Contact a District officer (District/Division/Area governor) or submit a request through Toastmasters International website to start a club in your community or corporate.

2. District/Division/Area governor will contact you and help you in organizing a demo toastmasters meeting.

(Also read: Sample email response to a new toastmasters club chartering request)

3. Download the chartering application from Toastmasters International website. You can look at the sample Club Chartering application to get an idea about how to fill the charter application.

4. Identify 7 club officers (President, VP Education, VP Public Relations, VP Membership, Treasurer, Secretary and Sergeant at Arms). You can see a summary of their roles and responsibilities at Club Officers - Roles & Responsibilities Summary. More information at http://www.toastmasters.org/clubofficers

5. Identify at least 20 members who'll be part of the new club (this includes the 7 club officers)

6. Assign mentors for the club (Get help from District/Division/Area officers)

7. Fill the Chartering application forms and submit it to Toastmasters International

8. Conduct chartering ceremony and start conducting club meetings regularly. You can look at the sample Club Chartering Ceremony Agenda to plan for the charter ceremony.

  1. $125 for chartering the club (one time charge). When you submit this fee along with the "Application to Organize", you would receive a set of manuals and a Gavel for the club from Toastmasters International. A club which is in the "establishing phase" can file an "Application to Organize" first, and then send the membership fee later-on, when you have the minimum of 20 members. 
  2. $20 for every new member (one time charge for registration of the member. Each member will receive a membership kit which includes CC/CL manual)
  3. $45 membership fees (recurring; once every 6 months)
For example, if you are chartering a new club with 20 members, here is how the calculations are done.

($125) + (20 members * ($20 registration fee + $45 membership fee)) = $1425

Payment options

- Credit card (you'll have to share the details over email or via phone) or
- Wire transfer (there will be an extra fee for Wire transfers)

Currently, there is no mechanisms for online payment.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Leadership Lessons - What WORKS when you are a leader?

Here are some lessons that I learned during my journey as the Division Governor for the toastmasters clubs in Tamil Nadu.
  1. If the team WINS, you WIN
  2. Volunteers cannot be fired
  3. Always look at the glass half-full - leaders are always optimistic
  4. Small things make perfection, but perfection isn't a small thing
  5. None of us can achieve what all of us can achieve together - TEAM WORK 
  6. Small actions x Lots of People = BIG Change
  7. Get committed people, give them responsibilities, and trust them to do their work
  8. When YOU do it, they'll FOLLOW
  9. Appreciate even the smallest of the accomplishments
  10. Stay connected with people and keep them informed
  11. Don't just THANK, thank them for a SPECIFIC REASON
  12. Your title is for a year, but the relationship is going to last longer (Don't let your title come in between YOU and YOUR relationship with people)
  13. Advices come for free - Like a "crane", decide what is appropriate for you
  14. & the list continues
Also read:

3Ps of Leadership - Purpose, Productivity & Passion
High Performance Leadership - Project Ideas / Requirements

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Importance of Communication when Leading without a Title

ACG Speech #5 - Speaking to Inform
The Abstract Concept
18th November 2011


Good evening to all the LIONS assembled in this hall. Assembling here on a Friday evening shows your commitment, and passion towards fellowship and service. LION is the leader of jungle, but YOU are the real leaders of our society. According to me, Lions are Leaders who Inspire by Offering Notable Service

(Also read: Leadership lessons - What works when you are a leader?)

Rabbit in front of a LION

To be honest, I am feeling like a rabbit to stand in front of YOU … the LIONS … to talk about LEADERSHIP. Today, I’m going to share with you some wisdom that I gained by serving as the Division Governor of Toastmasters International, an organization that helps people to improve their public speaking and leadership skills.

Setting the stage

Civil rights leader Martin Luther King … Father of our nation, Mohandoss Karamchand Gandhi … Social activist Anna Hazare

How do these individuals inspire people to work for a common cause?  How do these individuals mobilize support of a large number of people? 

1.      They are not the Presidents or Prime Ministers of the nation
2.      They are not CEOs of a large corporation or associated with any political organizations
3.      They were not born into a family of leaders
4.      They neither had large sums of money nor a formal authority over people

So, what are the tricks that these leaders used to attract people and influence them for their cause? How were they able to LEAD WITHOUT A TITLE? Friends, they know how to effectively CONNECT, COLLOBORATE AND CONGRATULATE.

(Also read: 3Ps of leadership by Prof. Debhasis Chatterjee)


I read a quote from your Lions International website “Whenever Lions gets together, problems get smaller. And communities get better”. What an interesting quote. It highlights the importance of team work in serving people. Our leadership skill is put to the best use, when we “Connect” with people and work together as a team.

So, how do you connect with your team, when you are a leader?

When you are in a gathering, take the first step to introduce yourself to others. Always, greet people with a warm and pleasant SMILE.
·         Make them feel SPECIAL
·         Make them feel IMPORTANT
·         Make them feel you CARE

Say, you are in a Lions club meeting and you see a fellow LION member entering the hall.

“Good morning Sir. Welcome!”

“Hello Mohan Sir! How are you? It is a pleasure to see you today. Welcome to the meeting. We were missing you so much” (or)

Staying connected with people is like farming. In farming you plough the land, sow seeds, water the field, remove weeds, and add fertilizer at the right time.

Similarly, you’ve to invest your time in maintaining the relationship and staying connected with people –
  • by appreciating their accomplishments,
  • by listening to their needs, and
  • by re-enforcing their belief that they are important
Even simple things like wishing them on their birthday or wedding anniversary or on their daughter’s graduation go a long way.


“Leadership is not about the Leader” said Wing-Kun Tam, International President of Lion. It is very true.

Verbal – “I/You” ratio.

When we collaborate with a team, we tend to create an impression that we are dominating, self-centered and egoistic. How do we avoid that impression?

There is a simple technique called I/You ratio in communication.

The most powerful communication combines both intellectual and emotional connections.
·         Intellectual means appealing to educated self-interest with data and reasoned arguments. We are good at that.
·         Emotion comes from engaging the listener and answering their unspoken question – “What is in it for me”? … by frequently using words such as "you" and “we”.

For example, don't say, “I met the Zone Chairman last week. I was asked to organize a blood donation camp. I have to form a team. I’m looking for people. If any of you are interested to join the organizing team, let me know”.

Instead, you can say “We have a tremendous opportunity to serve our community. Our Zone Chairman has given US the task of organizing a blood donation camp. We need volunteers. Each one of you is qualified to join this noble cause. Will you be able to join me in this mission to serve our society?

Look at the impact that it creates.

Leading by example

What I just shared with you is a verbal communication technique to inspire and influence your team.
Knowingly or unknowingly, we are doing much more communication non-verbally than verbally. How do you inspire people to follow your cause, without verbal communication – “leading by example”.

Let me give you an example. Joe Girhard is a Guinness record holder. Joe worked for General Motors and he holds a Guinness record for selling the most number of cars, not just one year, not just two years but continuously for 15 years in a row.  In one of the interviews, he was asked “Joe! How were you able to sell more cars, when your colleagues in the dealership had exactly the same opportunity as you?” Well! It was simple. He said, people watch what you do … much more than listening to what you say. Many of my colleagues were selling Chevrolet, but there were driving a Honda, Toyota or a Volkswagen car themselves.  But, I was selling a Chevvy and also owned a Chevvy. When my prospects see that I believe in the product that I sell, they tend to buy it from me. I just walk my talk and that made the difference.”
What an excellent example of leadership? Leaders just don’t preach the world to act; they “lead by example”. When you do it, others will get inspired and automatically follow you.


Genuinely appreciating the performance of your members!!

I read a book called “How to teach so that kids can listen”. The book talks about “How to motivate kids to get repeatable behaviors?”. The author says “Don’t just compliment your kid, but compliment them for a specific reason”.

For example, instead of just saying “Son! You did a fantastic job”, you should say “Son! I like the way you are keeping your room neat and clean. You are saving a lot of time for dad and mom. Great job”. When you communicate the specific reason for which you are appreciating them, they remember it better. They feel “I’m getting this appreciation because I kept the room neat and clean”.

You can use the same technique for adults also. After all, we were also kids once upon a time.
For example, instead of saying “Ramesh! You did a great job of conducting an eye camp”, you can say “Ramesh! You displayed extraordinary commitment, team work and service mentality by organizing the eye camp. You were able to make it happen despite the challenges you had in mobilizing funds. You are trustworthy and I can rely on you every time. Great job”.

At times, folks will come to you and ask for feedback on their performance. “How did I perform Sir? What can I improve?” Our, natural tendency is to either say “You did a great job” or to start listing a long list of mistakes they did. The specialty of LIONS is “You are serving not only with your money, but also with your energy and your time”. So, never hurt volunteers, because each one of them is trying to do their best.

When giving feedback to your team or team members,
  • highlight the areas they did well
  • highlight the areas they could’ve done better
  • end it with appreciation of their good work
The LAST impression is the LASTING impression. When giving feedback, always END WITH A HIGH NOTE.

Leaders can be MADE

How many of you think that you should be BORN with leadership skills to be a LEADER? How many of you think that you can acquire skills to be a LEADER? I strongly believe that leadership is something that can be learned. Leaders don’t have to be BORN.

Leaders can be made – all we need to have is the determination to be leader. If there is one magic pill that we can swallow before going to the bed and wake up the next morning as a GREAT LEADER, everybody will be leaders today. But Leadership requires constant practice with persistence, patience and passion, you can be great leader too. 

(Also read: 3 types of people taking leadership roles)

I want all of you to do an exercise. Close your eyes. Imagine, it is 2013 and it is your LIONS international convention. There are 100s and 1000s of people in the audience. The hall is filled with enthusiasm and energy. You are called to the stage – for your best performance as the LEADER WITHOUT AUTHORITY. Everyone in the audience are applauding you, when you walk to the stage. You get the award from your international president. Your dream will come true, when you follow these simple techniques to effectively CONNECT, COLLABORATE AND CONGRATULATE PEOPLE.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Youth Leadership Program at Anjuman School

High Performance Leadership
Leadership Excellence 
October 16th, 2011

This is the speech given at Anjuman School at the valedictory ceremony of the Youth Leadership Program (YLP) conducted there for a period of 8 weeks.

Also read: 

How to organize a Youth Leadership Program (YLP)?
High Performance Leadership - Project Ideas / Requirements

Abdul Kalam once said "The ignited minds of the youth are the most powerful resources on the earth above the earth and under the earth". We, the toastmasters from Division G made an attempt to create a spark in the minds of the youth in Anjuman School, by conducting the Youth Leadership Program.

Youth Leadership Program, shortly called as YLP follows a standard curriculum from Toastmasters International. YLP provides an opportunity for fellow toastmasters to give back to the community. YLP for Anjuman school students was funded and organized by US Consulate.
We had a group of 20 faculties - 15 toastmasters and 5 non-toastmasters. We divided nearly 100 students into 4 different groups. Each classroom had at least 3 toastmasters’ faculties and 1 non-toastmaster faculty.

We conducted the workshop for 6 days during the weekends. We trained the students on 6 different skills:

1.      Prepared speeches
2.      Impromptu speeches
3.      Evaluations
4.      Debates
5.      Listening
6.      Leadership

YLP workshops are similar to what we do in regular toastmasters meeting. The students come and do the various roles and the faculties guide them to effectively do their roles.
Ralph Smedley the founder of toastmasters once said "We learn best in moments of enjoyment". This is true in case of the YouthLeadership Program. The faculty in each class room ensured that there was enthusiasm and excitement throughout the session. The student felt very comfortable in the class rooms which maximized their creativity and learning.  

One thing that amazed me during the whole program is the commitment and sincerity of our toastmasters. I saw the PASSION in them to TEACH. I saw the DESIRE in them to SERVE. I saw the DETERMINATION in them to LEAD. I didn’t have to put any effort in managing them. They were all self-managed and self-motivated. I was just sitting back and enjoying the entire show.
Overall, the program turned out to be a HUGE success. It was the final day. We had a valedictory ceremony. We were all assembled in the auditorium in Anjuman School. The dignitaries were sitting on the dais - US Consul General Jennifer McIntyre, Sr. English Language Fellow Mary Kay Seales from US Consulate, Executive Director of Anjuman Mazharallah  and other executives from Anjuman management. The hall was filled with 100s of students and faculty members. The students came and shared their toastmastering experiences on the stage.

One student came to the stage, stood before the mike and confidently said “Today, I’m able to deliver this speech with confidence, because of toastmasters…  we learned to write a speech … we learned to do impromptu speeches, we learned to work as a team. This is the first time that I’m addressing a gathering of 100s of people… I don’t have any nervousness or fear. I’m thankful to toastmasters and I’m going to miss them”.

A drop of tear popped out from my eye. I realized the impact that we toastmasters can make on the society. I realized how we can put our communication and leadership skills to the best use.

Personally I learned 6 leadership skills during this project –

1.      organizing a project involving various groups
2.      delegation
3.      co-ordination
4.      leadership without authority
5.      leading by example &
6.      service leadership

A candle looses nothing by lighting other candles. We, the toastmasters of Division G learned a lot from Anjuman school students.

We learned to dream BIG,
We learned to LISTEN,
We learned that toastmasters can make a HUGE DIFFERENCE in the society.
We went there to inspire them, but we came back inspired by them.

We just created a SPARK. But the little candles that we ignited are going to create a forest fire. Imagine a world filled with such ignited minds… look at the difference they can make to their FAMILY, to their SOCIETY, to the COUNTRY and to the WORLD.

I am grateful to Anjuman school students who helped me to discover the LEADER in me.

Also read: Leadership Lessons - What works when you are a Leader

Humorous Manual Project 4 - Keep them Laughing - How to spot a judge in a contest?

ACG Speech #4 - Humorously speaking
Keep them Laughing
October 2nd, 2011

Thanks TMOD for that introduction. I’m glad, you correctly introduced me as the Division Governor. In the club meetings that I attended over the last several months, I’ve been introduced as the Area Governor, District Governor and one TMOD was very close to introducing me as the Tamilnadu Governor. Thank God Dr. Rosaiah didn’t hear that.
TMOD, fellow toastmasters and guests,

We just completed our club and area level contests. I personally had lots of fun attending various contests in our Division. Of all the roles played in a contest, the role of a Judge is very special. While the Judges spot who the winners are, the winners cannot spot who the judges are.

As you may know, judges’ information is typically kept very confidential. These poor souls typically come and go like undercover agents in CIA. When all the 99 other role players receive their certificates at the stage, poor judges aren’t called upon to the stage to receive certificates. Most of the times Judges are given a blank certificate and they have to write their names themselves.  Someone like my wife doesn’t trust those certificates because she can recognize my hand writing J

Typically Judges are invisible… but, some of them are visibly invisible… Hence, there are ways of finding who the judges are … in a contest.  Some of these are my own exaggerations… for the fun of listening.

How do you spot a judge?

Trick #1: You are in a contest. The hall is full and there was absolute silence. A new toastmaster plays the role of a contest master. He is visibly nervous and reads out the rules. After the rules are read, the contest master says “The speaking order has been finalized and I’ll read that out now for the benefit of judges”. “Contestant #1 Sunil Mukundan Contestant #2 Shivakumar Contestant #3 Jeyaganesh … Contestant #4”…  Now, one gentle man slowly rises from his chair, interrupting the contest master "Sir! Can you read it out slowly? It is hard for me to note down the names! “. The whole crowd now knows that he is a judge.

There are other methods too…

How many of you have seen this movie Armageddon?!  My favorite scene in that movie is when Bruce Willis and his crew … all dressed up in orange colored space suit and walking boldly with a helmet in hand to board their space vessel. You may be wondering what does this have to do with spotting a judge. Hold on guys. Typically, in a contest, the briefing of role players and judges happen in the last minute. So, right after the briefing you can see the Chief Judge walking into the hall with his army of judges in slow motion… like how Bruce Willis walks with his crew in the movie Armageddon. Instead of helmet, you can see judging ballots and a pen in the hands of the judges.  It doesn’t just stop there. These folks who are entering together do not sit together. They try to sit in different locations and definitely avoid the contestants who are sitting in the front row. Even my 4 year old daughter can identify them as Judges.

There are other easy ways of spotting who the judges are …

You go to a contest and you see a group of senior toastmasters standing outside the contest venue, as if they are planning for the crackdown of Al-Qaida’s top man - Bin Laden. The Chief Judge giving instructions like President Obama… and all the other judges will be seriously listening to the Chief Judge. When you say “Hi” to any of them, they will not even smile. They’ll look at you as an alien. Despite that, if you stand near them … immediately they’ll say “Hi… Can you please go inside…  You aren’t supposed to stand here”.

In one of the contests, we had a new Chief judge. He was methodically following the rules. He didn’t leave any stone unturned. He took every possible effort to hide the identity of judges.
  • He took the judges to a secret room in the contest venue and briefed them.
  • After the briefing, he asked the judges to leave the room one after the other and NOT as a group.
  • He didn't share the judges list with anyone including the person who writes certificates.
  • The judges were asked to occupy different seats in the hall.
  • They were told to not sit near contestants.
Despite all this extraordinary preparations, the whole crowd knew who the judges were. Guess what?! Why it would be difficult? Only 7 people in the entire audience were having this bright green colored wooden writing pad.

Friends, if you couldn’t spot a judge using any of the techniques that I shared with you… there is one last technique…  If you know that someone has a high probability of becoming a judge… say for example, our monkey Kartik Srinivasan … go to him and ask “Sir! What role are you playing today”. He’ll immediately tell you “I’m not supposed to tell you that”. Hey “HE is a judge!!”