Tuesday, November 20, 2012

10 ways of identifying role players for club meetings - VP Education

When you begin your term as a VP Education, the first challenge that you may face is "How do I get role players for the club meetings". In established clubs, it is going to be a easy job. Most likely, the club may have some role scheduling systems such as www.sandyeast.com. In a club that is doing well, members will sign up for roles automatically.

(Also read: My pitch for VP Education during club elections)

The real challenge is when you are sworn-in as the VP Education, when your club is not doing GREAT. VP Education should become creative in lining up role players for the meetings.

The most common practise that VPEs do is send repeated emails to the club mailing list or Facebook group regarding roles availability. It helps to some extent, but doesn't help in filling all the roles at the club.

What would members think when they receive such reminder emails for VPEs to sign-up for roles:

1. Senior toastmasters will think "OMG ! It is so sad to see that members aren't signing up for roles. Poor VPE ... I pity her... Anyways... I'll let one of the new toastmasters to sign up for roles and improve. I don't want to grab the slot and deny opportunity for a new member".

2. New toastmasters will think
"I'm not sure if I can take up the role of a Table Topics master. I don't have enough experience. I'll wait for some other toastmaster to take it". (or)
"I've played the role of AH Counter several times in the past. What am I going to learn if I do the same role again?" (or)
"Somebody will sign-up for the role... If I sign-up for a role, I'll have to definitely go to the meeting. I'll want to keep my options open" (or)
"Let me wait for some more meetings before I take any of these roles".

So, how can a VPE really fill all the meeting roles?

1. Send emails directly to members addressing them and asking them to volunteer to take a specific role. Sending an email direct to a few members will force them to reply and make them more accountable. Normally, members think group emails are for "others" to respond back. Some people may not be checking emails or may be traveling. Sending an SMS will help too.

2. Talk to the new members of the club directly and help them answer some of their questions/concerns regarding the role. You can also give enough confidence when you talk to them directly. VPE education is a career coach for new members.

3. You should also ask the mentors to talk to their mentees directly to encourage them to take up roles. (Also read: Mentoring a new member - Checklist)

4. Towards the end of the club meeting (before the meeting gets adjourned), VPE can fill the various roles that aren't already taken up. Before coming to the meeting, VPE can come prepared with a list of available roles for next week.

5. Conduct a orientation session for new joinees and walk them through the procedure to sign-up for roles, online. Make the procedure publicly available in your club website for quick reference.

6. Cultivate the habit of scheduling the meeting roles at least 3 - 4 weeks in advance. It will help in bringing some discipline and will encourage the members to plan in advance and prepare adequately for the roles. Use www.sandyeast.com, if you are not already doing it.

7. Establish and maintain contact with VP Education of other nearby clubs. If you are not able to fill all of your roles with members of your club, ask the neighbor clubs to provide speakers/role players. It will help the members of other clubs to perform a role in front of totally new audience.

8. Create a system to reward people who sign-up for roles regularly and appreciate their performance once a month by giving award (say, "Star Role Player" of the month). Include their picture in your club newsletter and website. It will encourage more of your members to actively sign-up for roles.

9. Get help from VP Membership & President to follow-up with inactive members. A call to an inactive member can easily bring them to the meeting and make them play a role. Everyone has some starting trouble. When a fellow toastmaster doesn't show up for the meetings continuously for several weeks, he/she may have some starting trouble. You may have to give them a jump start.

10. Use Facebook to promote your club meetings - post pictures, and circulate flyers before and after the meeting. It will help in creating an audience for your meetings and keeping the crowd engaged.

I'm sure there are other ways of persuading fellow toastmasters to sign-up for roles. I've tried all the above techniques and they are very successful.

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