While we are about to prepare for a spring Provincial Election there is another election Toastmasters across District 86 should be preparing for. I am talking of the Club Elections that are held every year in May. This is a big club event as it will set the club up for success for the coming year. Holding a smooth election where every executive position has at least one nominee is a hallmark of a quality club. An engaged and energized executive is a great way to keep the energy from one year to the next. I would like to share with you some information on how you too can hold robust elections and make sure you executive is as strong as it can be.
One of the first tasks that needs to be undertaken is to set your election date. Toastmasters International suggests that date be the first club meeting in May. I am a dual member (Port Credit Toastmasters and Great Minds Advanced Toastmasters) and my club elections will take place on May 7th and 8th respectively. This date should be announced during a club business section and then followed up with other forms of communication. The goal here is to make sure the entire membership is aware of the date.
Once the date has been set the next task is to strike up a nominating committee! Who strikes up this committee? That duty falls to the Club President to select three active members to form this committee. The Immediate Past President should be the committee chair (unless the best interests of the club require otherwise) and the other members should be familiar with the club executive positions. According to the Club Leadership Handbook (Item 1310) this should be done at least 2 weeks prior to your club elections. In my experience it should be announced sooner then that for the committee to get candidates for the various executive roles.
Now that the committee has been selected the real work can start. First the committee should be providing information during the business section of the club meetings. Letting everyone know who is on the committee and what to expect in the coming weeks. This committee has important work ahead as the goal is to make sure that all positions have a nomination (or two).
The committee may consider active members who have announced their desire to serve in office. (current members of the executive or others who are proactively seeking office) The committee may also seek out qualified candidates. In either case, only Toastmasters who accept the nomination may be placed on the committee’s report. The nomination committee report is due the meeting before the club elections and should be presented during the business section of the meeting.
The committee is looking for Candidates for the following positions: Club President, Vice President of Education, Vice President of Membership, Vice President of Public Relations, Secretary, Treasurer, and Sergeant at Arms. A member can run for more then one office. At a minimum a club must have three officer positions: Club President, a Vice President, and the Secretary or Secretary/Treasurer. In this case each office needs to be held by different people. This should be avoided if at all possible as without a full executive the risk of burn out is high and the work load would be too much for just three.
It is important that the nominating committee report is presented at the club meeting before the elections. Otherwise all the hard work of the committee will go unrecognized and the stress on election night will be high as candidates will be running for office without vetting.
The work of the nominating committee is important. If your club hasn’t followed this process I would strongly encourage you to consider following this direction. In my experience this process allows for members to feel comfortable about running for office. It takes the stress off the club that occurs when an election is held with little to no candidates for office. Finally, it gives the toastmasters on the committee some new skills to learn and enhance.
In my next article I will detail what the committee should be looking for in successful candidates and how to have a robust election!
Steve Elliot is currently serving as Area 83 director, immediate past president of Port Credit Toastmasters, and Vice President of Education of Great Minds Advanced Toastmasters.
How To Find Leaders
By Steve Elliot ACS ALB
In my last article I shared how you should strike up a nominations committee and how the process with the club elections should unfold. In this article I am going to focus on how to get candidates for the various club executive roles. After all a committee is great, but if they fail to deliver nominated candidates for the roles then the work is for naught.
A great idea for the weeks leading up to the election is to have the current executive stand in the business section and detail what they do, what they’ve learned, or even answer questions about the role. This can help the club members to have a better understanding of the various roles. It also helps grow the executive as they must speak briefly on what they do and what they have gained from the role. I think it can be very powerful to hear what skills have been learned in the role as this allows the members to see what roles will cause them to grow or stretch some leadership skills.
How should the nominations committee begin their search? First step the current executive. These are Toastmasters who are already aware of the executive. Chances are high that a few of them might want to stay on the executive and take on a different role. It is strongly encouraged that members don’t repeat a role on the executive, however in some cases it may be needed due to the level of members. Every effort should be made to have the current executive take on a new challenge for the coming year. The only person who can’t repeat in the role is the Club President. This person must only hold office for one year.
Once the current executive has been interviewed, the next step is the club at large. Here it would be a good idea to look for keen members.
- Is there a Toastmaster who has helped at Area or Division Speech contests? Maybe this person would like a year long challenge.
- Maybe a person who is eager to complete a Distinguished Toastmaster (DTM) award in the legacy program? (if they take a club executive role this year, and a district role the following year and make their communication track they should have enough time to earn a DTM).
- If you are a corporate club, is there someone wanting to learn new skills? What a great way to try an executive leader role.
- Does your club have an longer serving member who’d like to get back into the club executive after a break?
Those are some good questions that might lead you to a Toastmaster who would be interested in filling a role on the executive. The committee should look to approach the interested or suggested candidates one on one. To send out a generic email and blast everyone who may be interested in a role makes it look like the committee isn’t interested in everyone. The committee should divide the candidates up between them and approach them one on one. It would be a good idea to schedule some time with the candidate. This needs to be a two-way conversation. The interested Toastmaster will most likely have questions. The committee member should come with some questions. Note taking and listening skills will be required.
What sorts of questions should you ask of an interested Toastmaster?
- What attracts you to the role? Do you have questions about what you will be required to do in the role?
- Why are you interested in being on the executive? How will you balance your Toastmasters commitment with being on the executive? (we don’t want someone feeling they have to stop their Toastmasters journey to serve as an executive.)
- What plans do you have after the coming year? (ideally, we would like people that wish to stay on the executive in a different role. It will lessen the work of next year’s nomination committee!)
- What’s a strength of our club? What’s a weakness? How will you address them in your role on the executive? (these questions gauge whether the person can see the big picture and is truly engaged in the club.)
Once all committee members have met with the interested parties the notes and thoughts need to be complied and discussed. Each member should present who they met with and provide the committee with the details of the interview. Once all candidates have been discussed the Nomination Committee Chair would write a report stating the various roles and those who the committee supports being nominated. Remember you can have multiple candidates for the roles. The committee is not to choose who should be on the executive, but rather who is fit to be on the executive. The Election Night is the meeting where votes will be held, and the club will elect their incoming executive. If the committee doesn’t have a candidate for all the roles, don’t fret members can run from the floor within the meeting.
Following these steps and suggestions should result in the club having a smooth election process. Remember the role of the Nominations committee is to help in the process of discovering candidates, not choosing who is on the executive. The result of an engaged committee will be an engaging and stress reduced club election. I wish you much success as you take steps to prepare for the coming Elections.