Toastmasters International has what’s known as the Distinguished Club Program. Its purpose is to recognise which Toastmasters clubs across the world are run exceptionally well.
What does the award signify?
A club must show it’s run well in several key areas to win awards on the Distinguished Club Program. Performance is measured by:
- the number of members that complete their educational awards
- how effectively the club recruits new members and maintains its numbers
- collecting membership dues and paying TMI in a timely fashion
- electing a new committee and submitting those details to TMI in a timely fashion
- whether the committee attends club officer training events
How is performance measured?
A club has the opportunity to score 10 points:
- A maximum of 6 points are awarded for helping members achieve their educational awards
- A maximum of 2 points are awarded based on the number of new members recruited
- A maximum of 1 point is awarded for completing the key administrations tasks of submitting officer lists at the end of the TM year and collecting dues from members on time during the two renewal periods
- A maximum of 1 point is awarded for ensuring the requisite number of club officers attend training
Clubs that achieve:
- 5 points are awarded the Distinguished Club Award
- 7 points are awarded the Select Distinguished Club Award
- 9 points are awarded the President’s Distinguished Club Award, the highest accolade a club can recieve!
How important is this award to Spa Speakers?
Hugely important! As of 2018, we have achieved the President’s Distinguished Award 11 times over the last 13 years (we achieved the Distinguished and Select Distinguished Awards in the other 2). Earning the President’s Distinguished Award is a priority for the club; we wish to continue our incredible track record.
Here is the link to our official progress against the award on the Toastmasters International website. Click here.
How do we do it?
Good planning and lots of cajoling! The biggest challenge is to ensure the educational requirements are met. These awards depend on the current committee working not only to ensure they meet the educational DCP goals for the year they are serving, but also setting up their successors for the award by ensuring that enough club members make sufficient progress towards their award that they can complete them in the following year.
Because we are all so busy, it’s really important that all officers plan their schedules early such that they can attend both officer training events. If 4 officers do not attend at each of the 2 officer training events, they will lose a DCP point and that will likely result in the club failing to achieve the President’s Distinguished Award. To be fair and equitable, and also to ensure the committee can do their roles to the highest standard, ALL committee officers should attend both training events! Getting the dates of the COT events well in advance is therefore a really important factor!
Spa Speakers’ top tips for the committee to win the President’s Distinguished award
Winning the President’s Distinguished Award requires forethought, planning and commitment. Here are some hard-won lessons from previous committees’ experiences that, if you take heed of, will set you up for success!
- Have a thorough handover with the previous set of officers so you are well prepared for your roles
- Make sure you fully understand the criteria you must meet to achieve the President’s Distinguished Award at the beginning of your term!
- Read the Club Leadership Handbook and Distinguished Club Success Plan guidebooks before you begin your term as club officers, and always keep them handy
- Write a Club Success Plan within the first month of your term as club officers to make sure you have a clear roadmap as to how you are going to achieve success during your term
- Consult with the Immediate Past President for guidance and support at any point during your term
- At the start of the year, decide which members are best placed to complete their educational awards within the year, and let them know early that you need their support for the sake of the club!
- Book the speeches and projects your chosen members need to complete as early as possible in the year to maximise the chances of the awards being completed
- Have a pool of “back-up” candidates for earning awards in case those you thought would complete an award leave the club, experience a life change or are otherwise unable to complete their educational awards as hoped
- Your success will be partially a result of the previous committee’s forward planning: they should have left you a pool of members who have advanced sufficiently along their educational awards that they can complete it in the term you serve. Make sure you also forward-plan so the next committee are set up to succeed in winning the President’s Distinguished Award too!
- Get the dates for both the Club Officer Training events as early as possible (ideally before you start your term as officers) from the current area director and ensure all committee members have them so they can organise their schedules and ensure attendance. One occurs in summer (July/August) and the other in winter (Jan/Feb)
- Aim to have every club officer attend both training events. It’s only fair, and what you learn in those events may have a direct beneficial impact on the club
- Social media works to attract guests! Post regularly!
- This sort of message works very well to drive inquiries: “[if you have need X (e.g. fear of public speaking)], we might be able to help, book your free visit” and make sure you provide a link to our website’s contact form. We recommend sending variations of this message multiple times before each regular meeting to drum up interest
- Respond to email inquiries promptly, warmly, kindly and helpfully. Personalise your responses based on what they tell you in their initial inquiry. In short, treat them like a human being!
- Send reminders a day or two before meetings to all inquirers, and ask them to confirm if they intend to visit; we can then greet them by name when they arrive and show we truly value their interest
- Really focus on great hospitality for guests during the meeting. Click here for some tips as to how!
- Always follow up with guests after the meeting by emailing them to acknowledge their visit, and always encourage a second visit
- Begin the search for a new committee early February in view of holding the election before the end of April. This gives you ample time to find and persuade enthusiastic candidates to serve. A late search can result in a set of officers that feel ramroaded into serving, and may not prove to be as enthusiastic or committed
- An early search also provides a time buffer to fill any positions that are proving difficult to fill. The officer list needs to be submitted by 30th June, so an April election leaves 2 months to fill any gaps
- The most challenging positions to recruit are the VPE and president position; therefore think about who could assume these positions in the very first month of your term. Build up a good relationships with these members, and groom them to lead the club well from the outset. Have multiple candidates in mind!
- 1-2-1 face-to-face dialogue is a thousand times more powerful than bulk emails, newsletters and social media posts in engaging and persuading members to serve. Make time outside of regular meeting to talk to prospective officers. Make sure the whole committee is involved and coordinated in the process
- Make sure everyone is invited to nominate themselves or someone onto the committee. The club belongs to everyone, not just any established clique. This is where bulk communications come into the their own: they ensure everyone knows they are welcome to participate in club leadership
- If the treasurer makes the effort to really get to know each and every member of the club and build a good rapport with them all well in advance of the renewal period, then members will be far more responsive to their requests for funds when the time comes!
- Individual face-to-face contact at regular meetings, phone calls, personal emails and texts are far more effective than mass emails to get funds on time
- Start asking for dues 7 weeks before the official TMI deadlines for renewals
- Set the date for renewals a couple of weeks before the TMI deadline to help mitigate the risk of late payers
- Once you collect the dues, don’t forget to pay TMI before the deadline!
I hope this has been helpful. If you have any questions, speak to a member of the currently serving or previous committee and they’ll do their best to answer. The Club Leadership and Distinguished Club Plan handbooks are invaluable resources. Check them out! If you are going to serve, thank you! The club needs you!