by Kelley Rene PM4 Administrative Manager
The word Speechcraft captivated me the first time I heard it. I didn’t know what it was, but I knew I wanted one.
My club, Westlake Toastmasters, hadn’t hosted an Open House since being forced online by the pandemic. Our numbers were dwindling, and we wanted to get ahead of the trend. As VP of Membership, I did my homework. To my surprise there wasn’t a lot of information about hosting a Speechcraft, but I wasn’t dismayed. My club President supported the initiative. I purchased the Speechcraft package from TI and began the planning process.
Just as with most first-times, I learned a lot. So much of what seemed challenging, in hindsight, is now more clear. Here are six things I’d do differently next time around.
- Don’t rely too heavily on the training. Despite reaching out for help, I struggled to use the online videos. The technology was unreliable. If you regularly participate in TM club meetings, you have what you need to host a Speechcraft.
- Save all the resource pdfs to your personal computer in a Speechcraft folder for easy reference. The outlines were paramount in guiding the material to be presented. The before and after assessments were useful to help speechcrafters grasp their growth.
- Allow more than 5 people to sign up—create a waiting list—and expect that not all will attend. Charging a small event fee will ensure higher participation. People tend to value those things for which they’ve spent their hard earned money.
- Schedule each meeting to flow like a typical club meeting. The idea behind the Speechcraft is to help speechcrafters recognize they need TM. More specifically, they need to join your club.
- Encourage club members to volunteer in the necessary roles. Several of our new Toastmasters presented the fundamental topics. The best teachers are those who have just learned something for the first time. They understand what helped them grasp the new concept. The experience will provide a leadership opportunity and boost their confidence. (Not to mention, you want speechcrafters to get a sense of your club culture.)
- Keep the focus on the needs of your participants not so much on having the Speechcraft dashboard completed. Ideally, speechcrafters will chart their progress through the online portal (similar to Pathways.) But if they’re not interested, don’t get discouraged. Allow them to present their ice breaker (and other speeches) and give valuable evaluations just as you would in a club meeting. The idea is for them to experience TM. As Speechcraft coordinator, keep track of their progress so they can get credit should they join your club at a later date.
Being coordinator for our Speechcraft was one of my most rewarding TM projects yet. The feedback from our speechcrafters confirmed all our hard work was worth it. “I would’ve paid $100 for what I learned,” Daniel remarked when we asked about his experience. He appreciated the practical speaking tips/tools we taught and applied the feedback he received from his speeches to a subsequent presentation at work.
Hosting a Speechcraft is an excellent opportunity to hone your leadership and speaking skills. It’s a chance to pour into others and help them improve their public speaking. In a broader sense, it showcases to non-Toastmasters what we’re all about and why they need to join.
Grow your skills and grow your club. Organize a Speechcraft event.