Being a Good Club President
Many believe that the Toastmasters club President has to do many tasks and that it will take a lot of time. That thinking is partly why few club members want to be club President. Actually a club President has only a few specific tasks that must be done. But they are important ones.
A good club President should be visionary, someone who can look at what the club might be, and could be, in three months, in six months and in twelve months. And that vision should be shared with the other club officers and with the entire club.
A good club President should attend most meetings vs. being a frequent absentee. That means presiding over the business meeting portion of regular club meetings. Sometimes all that means is to recognize guests, inform the members of upcoming events, particularly district events, and assure that club members have a voice in how the club functions and handles its business.
A good club President is the conduit between the district officers and the club members. The President should get to know the Area Director because that person should be passing along district information and asking how s/he and the district can help the club members.
A good club President will have a monthly or bi-monthly meeting with the other club officers. The purpose of the club officer meetings is to take a look at how the club is functioning and verifying that it is serving the members. That means finding new and better ways of doing things instead of just doing things the way they have always been done.
A good club President makes sure that the other officers are doing their respective duties and serving the members. The club officers are a team and the club President is the coach of that team.
Successful clubs have members giving speeches and earning awards, a sufficient number of members present each meeting to handle all of the meeting roles, current members are renewing their dues and new members are joining the club. I often teach TLI (aka. club officer) sessions. At the beginning of the session I remind the audience of “The Chicken and the Egg” paradox. Then I ask them to ponder this question: which comes first — a good club produces good club officers, or, good club officers produce a good club. At the end of the session I ask for their answers. Nearly 100% say good club officers produce a good club. So if that is true, then a good club President is one who is engaged with the members and leads by example and assures that the other club officers handle their duties. And that will go the furthest at making the club be special for its members.
The best lesson I got from when I served as a club President was offering praise. Find ways, OFTEN, to privately praise members for things they did well. And find opportunities to recognize, in front of the entire club, member accomplishments. Consistently and sincerely doing this will have positive results, I promise.
Serving your first term as club President has benefits. For one, you learn much about yourself and how effective you are as a leader. Two, your Toastmasters knowledge will grow in ways you will not foresee or imagine. Three, your commitment to, and belief in, being a Toastmaster will most likely become stronger (unless you have a really tough year!). Like many things in life, this could be one more situation where you were hesitant at the beginning, wondering if you should even do it, but afterwards you are definitely glad for the experience.
So if you currently are serving as a club President, hopefully you are doing what you can to make your club, and yourself, better. If you are not currently a club President, then take time throughout the year to observe what the current club President is doing. Ask him/her questions about the duties and the challenges s/he has and what s/he is learning. It just might be your opportunity to see first-hand what the role involves and maybe you can “shadow” before being the next club President.
Larry Wilson joined Toastmasters in 2004. In his almost first five years he served all club offices and several district offices and positions. Upon returning to Toastmasters in 2013, he became district secretary then district public relations officer/manager. He is currently a member of the Bluejacket club in Shawnee, Kansas where he is the vice president of public relations. Larry also is Secretary of the newest advanced club Victory Toastmasters.