In early July 2010 I participated in the WA Youth Parliament program. This program allows WA people aged between 15-25 to meet for a week at Parliament House to discuss youth issues, learn more about our system of government and to improve their public speaking and debating skills.
Before going I purchased a little Toastmasters pin from Toastmasters International. This pin cost me about $4.00 and can be pinned onto a suit or jacket. The reason I did this was that in February 2009 at Club Officer Training in Subiaco, then Western Division Governor Ross Wilkinson told the officers in attendance about this pin and how we should wear it at formal functions as a way to advertise Toastmasters. Before I went away to Youth Parliament I thought this would be a good opportunity to wear the pin and to see just how much interested it generated.
Throughout the week long program I got on my feet many times to speak on whatever motion was being debated. As someone who has been in Toastmasters for two years it should not surprise anyone that I was able to speak very confidently, clearly and concisely and was able to make my speeches interesting.
During our morning tea and lunch breaks many other participants came up to me and asked me â€˜how did you get so good at public speaking?â€™ Naturally of course I gave them the talk about Toastmasters and how it had helped me and millions around the world.
However there were other times when I was having a casual conversation and the person I was speaking to would look at my pin and ask â€˜what is that?â€™ This gave me another opportunity to spread the world about Toastmasters. Some people had heard about Toastmasters before and were glad to hear of what we can do. One girl got quite hysterical when I said Toastmasters because she was aiming to join Toastmasters when she came to UWA next year. She was delighted to find someone she can contact next year when she comes to UWA.
Overall wearing the pin was a huge success! It helped generate conversations about Toastmasters with about 25 people. Many of these people are aged 17 and are likely to attend UWA next year, so I took their details down and will follow up with them between now and next year. I was also able to generate great interest amongst current UWA students.
As the UWA semester begins we have already gained one new member from my Youth Parliament efforts with several more intending to come along for a visit. I was also able to direct a young man from Mandurah to the Mandjar club in Mandurah.
The lesson I learnt from this experience is simple: use every promotional tool you have to get new members! Promoting your club can be as simple as putting on a pin or a name badge at a professional function to get people asking questions. Publicity does not have to cost hundreds of dollars in flyers. It can come in the simplest ways. So go out there and seize every opportunity that comes your way!
John Pawley ACB, ALB is the 2010-2011 President of UWA and Swan Clubs