It was this time last year that I was asked by the Toastmasters District Leadership if I would like to volunteer to become an Area Director. For those not fully aware of the Toastmasters hierarchy, an Area is a group of Toastmasters Clubs; typically between 4 and 6 in one Area. Here is a map of the structure:
My opinion of the Area Director role is to provide support and leadership in order to ensure the 100+ members of those Clubs in an Area are getting the very best of the Toastmasters experience; namely communication and leadership skills/exposure/experience. To achieve this I had to invest time in:
- Getting to know the various Club Committees and Members both during Club meetings and outside of the Club setting
- Organising and participating in events (both in my Area as well as cross Division and District)
- Attending training / planning / strategy workshops with the District Leadership to identify areas which are working as well as where we can improve
- Regular touch points with the Club Committees on updates from the District on strategy and execution
- A point of contact for any questions, queries, issues, risks etc.
The experience as an Area Director has been both challenging and rewarding (especially given my full-time role which includes a lot of international travel). In my career I have always been someone who says “yes” to any opportunity (FYI very good advice in my opinion to those early in their careers) and typically with no regrets. That said I have no regrets volunteering in this role as I have met wonderful people, learned more about myself and have made mistakes (and learned from them). The best thing has been to see the development of the Clubs and their Members. I have so many examples, however here are a few that come to mind:
- One member attaining Distinguished Toastmaster (aka DTM). This is the highest accolade possible in Toastmasters and culminates the hard work and effort he has put in over his years as a member
- Seeing my clubs complete in both the Club, Area and Division level contests. The calibre and quality of these members at the Division level was incredible and I’m looking forward to seeing them continue to grow and reach the next level
- One of the clubs in my Area has been struggling with membership and quality meetings. They are now a stronger club with solid membership base and consistent meeting execution
June is the final month of the 2017 – 2018 Toastmasters year. I have conducted sessions on Club Officer training, held Area Contests for the clubs, completed an election for my successor and visited my clubs multiple times throughout the year. I am very proud of the achievements the Clubs have made and am looking forward to seeing them continue their growth and success in the future.
July begins a new Toastmasters year and I’m excited to have been voted as the Division Director! My new role will be to focus on additional Clubs and Areas across my Division. I already know my team of Area Directors and the clubs in the Division (16 clubs and approximately 535 members) and am very excited for the next year! I joined Toastmasters primarily to become a better public speaker; I have achieved this and will always have more to learn (see here). That said, I have equally developed significant leadership skills as both a Club Committee Member and District Leader; something I never thought about but have benefitted from. I’d highly recommend any member to get involved in District Leadership!