Your Toastmasters Club Website Can Help With Recruiting

When guests visit Club Awesome, one thing we often hear from them is, “I looked up a few local clubs, but I really liked what I saw on your website” … which is my cue to beam with pride.

There are certainly limits to what a website can do for you as a recruiting tool — what guests experience in person has to measure up to what they saw online — but a good website can attract guests and, ultimately, members. A bad website can also scare them away. And while I promote WordPress for Toastmasters and have considerable ego wrapped up in the idea that it is the best online platform for clubs, the software is less important than what you do with it. I’ve seen some very uninspired WordPress-based club websites, as well as some good Free Toast Host examples.

I’m only sharing the positive examples, but here is what makes the good ones good:

  • They tell an attractive story, in words, images, and maybe video about the club experience.
  • They clearly explain, right up top, where and when meetings are held, how to attend as a guest, and that guests are always welcome.
  • They focus on answering questions people with little or no knowledge of Toastmasters are likely to have, rather than on insider information for current members. Particularly on the home page, avoid navel gazing.
  • The images, videos, and colors used are carefully chosen to support a clear, welcoming message.
  • Bonus: More depth beyond the home page. Examples: Member directory, blog articles, link to an active Facebook Group or Facebook Page.

I like the Miami-Wynwood Toastmasters example shown above because it features a collage of dynamic images: four Toastmasters in the act of speaking, not posing woodenly with a ribbon or a certificate.

In fact, it inspired me to add a semi-similar image at the top of the Club Awesome home page.

Top of the Club Awesome home page as of Feb. 2020

My version does feature a ribbon-passing photo (with smiling, friendly faces), but also some images of club members in action. As is true of the Miami-Wynwood home page, the image is followed by a couple of paragraphs of “why this is the right club for you” copy, then details on where and when we meet. We include a Google Maps link, and they embed the actual map.

What to Avoid

The negative examples I cite here might not necessarily scare a potential visitor away, if your club has established a good reputation in other ways (offline word of mouth) and meets at a convenient place and time. However, we know how important first impressions are, and these days someone’s first impression of your club is likely to be an impression they get online, before you even get them in the door.

Things I recommend against:

  • Outdated information, like a message congratulating the “new” officers … from 3 years ago.
  • Insider messages that only make sense to people who are already in Toastmasters.
  • Home pages that are all text, no images, video, or other eye-catching elements.
  • Group photos and ribbon/certificate passing photos that fall flat. Not all group photos are bad, but if the group is small and the members don’t look particularly happy, ask yourself why you’re sharing it. Try to feature dynamic, engaging images, particularly at the top of the page.
  • Photos where no one is smiling or looking at the camera. One local club prominently features a photo taken from the back of the room where everyone is looking in the other direction.
  • – don’t think you should use every available font, or make everything bold and italic (the whole point of those is emphasis, and you can’t put equal emphasis on everything).
  • Wild, random color choices. A simple, consistent design tends to be much better.

Let’s get back to the positives.

Using Video

Video is one of the best ways of showing Toastmasters in action. Here’s a good use of video, right at the top of the home page of Hobe Sound Toastmasters. The still image is eye-catching, making it more likely that a visitor will click “Play.”

Club Awesome uses two video clips, not at the very top of the page but a short scroll down. home page, you find a video of club members endorsing the club experience, and another showing what it’s like to receive a standing ovation (which we customarily give to every Ice Breaker).

Club Awesome videos

We also often post blogs that feature speeches that the speakers were particularly proud of, as well as contest-winning speeches (with the speaker’s permission).

See my article on How to Routinely Record and Share Toastmasters Speech Videos for tips on both the mechanics and the etiquette.

Shooting video is also a way you can get better photography for your website because you can pull still images from the video of a speaker to capture a moment where they are making a dramatic movement. Here are how-to instructions using free tools for Windows and Mac.

Going Beyond the Home Page

A good club home page can do a lot for you, but adding additional web pages or blog posts does a few things for you:

  • Gives the interested website visitor more to explore and an impression of the club that is more than skin deep.
  • Creates alternate entry points: a website visitor may start with an interesting page or post found through search or social media, then navigate to the home page to get the basic details.
  • Gives you an alternate link to promote on social media, beyond your club home page.

Plantation Toastmasters has created a Speakers Gallery where their most accomplished / ambitious speakers have their own pages. You can see they use a group photo on their home page, but it’s an impressively large group where people are smiling and looking into the camera.

Club Awesome sometimes builds blog posts around videos of outstanding speeches, like this one from Dr. Andrew Bern.

When you feature an individual club member, you create an opportunity for that members and their friends to share and like any social media postings of the article. Website visitors who read the blog and / or watch the video will have a point of reference when they come to the club and meet that person.

You can also encourage members who like to write (or, at least, are willing to write) to share a blog post about how to write a speech, lead a volunteer organization, or any other topic on which they have expertise. They can get Toastmasters credit for the Write a Compelling Blog Pathways project.

Access to a built-in blog is one of the reasons I recommend WordPress. However, if you’re on Free Toast Host or some other platform, you can also post links to articles on LinkedIn (which has its own blog-like tool for publishing articles), Medium, or some other publishing web publishing platform.

More Positive Examples

Creative framing of a group photo, with Spanish language content to emphasize the nature of Broward Bilingual Toastmasters Club.

Home page photo taken from an interesting angle: Delray Newsmakers.

Do You Really Need a Website?

The next two examples, the official website you get directed to from Find a Club on are a Facebook page and an Eventbrite page.

One Voice Unity:

Young Professional Entrepreneurs:

In both cases, I think these clubs do a good job of sharing images and information that might entice someone to visit. On the other hand, I would argue these options inherently limit the kind of content you can post.

I absolutely think you should take advantage of Facebook as part of your club marketing plan, and it has a lot of advantages. Posting an image and a couple of sentences to Facebook is easier than creating a blog post; on the other hand if you want to post more in-depth information and control the presentation of your content, that is not as easy on Facebook. Also, not everyone is on Facebook, and some of the people you want to reach may actively dislike the service.

In other words, I think it’s better to use online services like this as an extension and amplifier of what you do on your website, not as a substitute for it.

Worth the Effort

Maybe you don’t have time to write a dozen blog posts per week, or share tons of videos on your website. You don’t have to go crazy. But I hope I have convinced you it’s worth investing some time and effort in making your website more attractive and interesting for potential members to explore — and eliminating the negatives that could be scaring them away.

Storytelling for Speakers

Stories are the speaker’s most powerful communication tool, but how does storytelling work? Why do some stories connect while others don’t? I share the answers in the video from my February, 2020 workshop on storytelling and in the text below.

When I was a young man still in college, I found myself—quite through happenstance—in the company of an odd band of folks who lived aboard their sailboats in the free anchorage in Miami. The stories they told about harrowing adventures in faraway places captured my interest. Up until that time, I’d been a private prep-school student headed toward some sort of advanced degree and the career that followed, but when I realized that stories of adventure at sea were not just the stuff of books and movies, I resolved to find stories of my own. Thus began my storytelling journey.

Stories inspired me, and the secret floating village of Miami’s Dinner Key anchorage was a storybook Steinbeck himself would have envied. I took notes and photographs and began to develop my “story consciousness.” I didn’t know exactly what stories were, but I made it my business to look for them. My first big realization was that no matter how grandiose the setting or how severe the storm, stories are always about people. This is the golden rule of storytelling. Put colorful people in a colorful setting and give them colorful things to do, and you’ve got stories to tell. Take away the people and you’ve got nothing. If a tree falls in the forest and there’s no one around to hear, does it make a sound? No.

Continue reading “Storytelling for Speakers”

Table Topics Tips

Lois Margolin leads a Table Topics workshop at the Division B TLI

At Division A and B, I was honored to be asked to provide a session on Table Topics. Actually, I begged to do this. Regardless of how it happened, we discovered that Toastmasters are hungry for information on Table Topics.  With John Schneyer as the Table Topics master, we created an experience where each volunteer had 45 seconds to address a topic. The audience would then tell them what they did that they loved. Then we discussed a tip they could use to enhance their story. 

Great speeches are those where the audience connects with the speaker. In our 40-minute sessions, we heard 30-35 Table Topics, and each tip was different.  Some tips included how to enter the room, appreciate a punch line and determine where to put your hands. Throughout both sessions, I felt three tips stood out that can benefit every Toastmaster. 

Continue reading “Table Topics Tips”

Talk Up Toastmasters Membership Drive, Through March 31

The “Talk Up Toastmasters” membership program provides the opportunity for you to invite guest to a special meeting, where prospective members can learn about Toastmasters’ many benefits. Then add five new, dual or reinstated members with a join date between February 1 and March 31, and you’ll receive a special “Talk Up Toastmasters” ribbon to display on your club’s banner. Qualifying clubs can also earn a special discount code for 10% off their next club order. 

District Conference: See How Keynote Speaker Darren LaCroix Became a World Champion

The 2001 World Champion of Public Speaking Darren LaCroix used his win to catapult himself into a career as a professional speaker, coach, and trainer on topics including the power of humor.

He will be a keynote speaker at the Toastmasters District 47 Conference, coming up May 1-3, 2020 in Fort Lauderdale.

Here is the speech that made Darren LaCroix a world champion.

Learn more about the district conference and register today to see our own future world champions compete in the district’s International Speech, Table Topics, Humorous, and Evaluation contests. The conference will also feature educational workshops (workshop presenter applications being accepted until Feb. 15) and other opportunities to network and learn from Toastmasters leaders.

Continue reading “District Conference: See How Keynote Speaker Darren LaCroix Became a World Champion”

Contest Chair and Chief Judge Briefing Scripts for Winter 2020 Contests

Thanks to District Contest Chairs Lois Margolin and Patricia Hamilton, contest organizers have 2 new scripts they can use as the basis for their contest briefings — designed to help ease contest-day jitters.

See also the Contest resources page.

Call for Nominations, 2020-21 District Officers

It’s that time again….time for nominations for District Office.  Under the guidance of Past District Director, Antionette Fox, DTM the District Leadership Committee is tasked with nominating individuals for the positions of:

–       District Director

–       Program Quality Director

–       Club Growth Director

–       Division Directors

For consideration as a Candidate for Elected District Leadership Roles in FY 2020 – 2021, please submit the following by 11:59 p.m. ET on January 15, 2020, to in one (1) PDF attachment. All Members must declare their intent to run and submit the required documents by January 15, 2020. Per Toastmasters Guidelines, anyone who wishes to run from the Floor must have gone through the DLC Interview process. Those persons not nominated by the DLC but wish to run from the floor must notify the DLC Chair of their intent no later than 1 week prior to the Business meeting, deadline April 25th, 2020.

District Leader Nominating Form
Officer Agreement & Release Statements
District Leader Biographical Information
Elected District Leadership Roles in District 47:

  • District Director
  • Program Quality Director
  • Club Growth Director
  • Division Director

A Panel Interview by the District Leadership Committee will be conducted on February 15, 2020 in Fort Lauderdale at Keiser University. Candidates will be notified via E-mail regarding available Interview Time Slots on February 3, 2020. Please review the following prior to your scheduled Interview Session:
District Executive Committee Roles
District Leader Competencies
Protocol 9.0 – District Campaigns & Elections
Elections Toolkit
Note: Call for Nominations for Appointed District Leadership Roles is scheduled for April 2020. Appointed District Leadership Roles: Administration Manager, Finance Manager & Public Relations Manager. The District Leadership Committee will provide feedback and recommendations to the incoming District Director, upon election, for all appointed District positions. Appointment is at the sole discretion of the incoming District Director. The Area Council for each area is responsible to recommend Area Director’s for the upcoming.

Please do NOT submit Nominations for these Roles until then.

For questions or additional information, please contact:
               Antionette Fox, DTM
               District Leadership Committee Chair, District 47

Hall of Fame Awards 2018-2019

Congratulations 2018-2019 Hall of Fame Awardees…

Your contribution played a significant role in District 47 celebrating Distinguished status for the year 2018-2019.

Thank You!!!

Download the program to see the list of names and club winners. Please share it with all your club members. The Bahamas’ prestigious Hall of Fame event took place in October on the island. Many pictures are available in our District Facebook page.

Thank you all for your committed work. We look forward to more success this year.