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Summer - Close or Merge Meetings?

During the summer, many clubs stop operating due to their small turn out. Many people go on vacation. Big clubs with 20 or more members can easily handle this drop, but for clubs with less than 15 active members, it could be cause to close. One way to fill this two-month gap is holding social events such as barbecues and parties. Though summer is a good reason to enhance the socializing spirit of the club, it is not a good reason to stop functioning. A club that stops functioning can struggle in September to rekindle the momentum.

Club Interaction and Message Masters found the key to continue learning in the summer time: “merge meetings.” As a result of pioneer, open-minded and sociable members, our club members continue learning throughout the summer.

Before the summer, Message Masters and Club Interaction presidents start exchanging emails and plan for the summer meetings. Club Interaction will host the meetings in the summer time, because their location is sponsored.

The two clubs have different cultures, agendas and even languages; however joint meetings are very effective, organized and fun!! Clubs alternate chairing the meeting, so we alternate our agenda. For example, the first week of summer, Interaction chaired the meeting and we followed their agenda. We helped them to fill roles such as English joke, French joke, and Toast, which we do not have. The second week, Message Masters chaired the meeting and Interaction helped to fill our roles. In our club, we separate the roles of Grammarian and Ah Counter, so two members of Interaction volunteered. Other than different roles, Message Masters have round table feedback, whereas Interaction has “normal” evaluations. We also provide feedback right after the speech, but Interaction has their evaluations at the end of the meeting. One more thing, Interaction is a French-English club and we are just an English club.

These differences did not create problems. They enhanced the learning experience. We increased flexibility and broadened our language skills. As the result, we not only could continue our training program and enhance our skills in front of new people, but also we got inspired from each other. We also decided to help each other in the future in holding contests. We will exchange judges and contest chairs for upcoming contests, so we will continue our cooperation.

In compare ourselves with another club, we both decided to apply some changes:

1 - Message Masters will have themes for their meetings

2 - Interaction will have round table feedback following the speech

3 - Message Masters will change its agenda to indicate the location of meetings and add the Toastmasters logo

4 - Message Masters will create Timer and Grammarian report sheets for the meetings

5 - Cooperation in holding contests in two clubs

6 - Interaction will start recording their meetings and posting unlisted on YouTube

7 - Both VP Educations will increase inter-club cooperation

8 - Both clubs will endeavor to network and meet more Toastmasters

9 - Speaking in front of more than 12 people… is GREAT!

Next summer, we will continue this wonderful practice and turn merge meetings into a tradition.

How about your club? To surf through the summer, will you Close or Merge?

Firoozeh Ghobadi
Message Masters Toastmasters

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