145th Meeting Presidential Speech – Outside In
One day, you went to a business networking event. The people there were friendly. They spoke English. But then you started to hear some terminologies only they could understand. The event went well. In fact, it was very interesting. At the end, you were asked to give your comment how you felt. Well, how could you say anything negative? Then they asked you whether you would come back. You said maybe. Then they asked you whether you would fill up membership form, pay membership fee, and join them as member? You started to wonder. You were just exploring. Why were they so pushy trying to make you a member? Ladies and gentlemen, I’m sure we can give our guests better experiences than these.
We know Toastmasters is a gift to the world. It is a system that changes everyday people like you and me into competent speakers and leaders. It is one most cost effective way to improve our public speaking skills. Just search on the Net, and you’ll find thousands upon thousands testimonials how Toastmasters has changed many people’s lives.
The question is, if Toastmasters is so good, why is it not selling like hotcakes? Why are people not queuing up to join us? What is it so hard for some clubs to get even one or two members? I feel there seems to be a little disconnect between Toastmasters and the outside world. We keep doing our own things, and are rightly proud of it. But people out there don’t know what we do, and why we are so much into it. We keep organizing demo meetings, open houses, but still wonder why many clubs are suffering from low membership.
Perhaps we should make our meetings even more comfortable for our guests? Perhaps we should think more from their point of view and explain what we do in a way that even a man on the street can understand?
Recently, I was helping in one campus club meeting. There were many students attending who knew little about Toastmasters. Rather than introducing myself as the “Toastmaster of the Day”, I first said I was the “emcee”. Rather than telling them about our communication and leadership “manuals”, I first told them these are our “textbooks”. Rather than the word “meeting”, which most people consider as boring, sometimes I used the word “event”. No, I was not trying to change our terminologies. But I was trying to first speak in a way that is more relevant to them, then only introduce them to how we say it in Toastmasters.
In the last meeting, I shared about starting with why by asking why we joined Toastmasters, and why we do what we do here. That is “inside-out” thinking and it’s very important. Today, I just shared about the “outside-in” thinking so that we are mindful of how people outside see us. It is much more than just terminologies. Is is also about knowing what people need so that we can package what we offer to satisfy them. It is also about reaching out to people rather than waiting for them to come, and expecting them to like us. It is also about knowing their psychology, and leading them smoothly in the process to know us, trust us, then join us. Time doesn’t allow me, but I hope to address these issues in upcoming meetings.
My brothers and sisters. I believe when we can connect better to the outside world, more people will in turn better able to relate us to their life. At that time, the law of attraction will work. They will be naturally amazed and attracted to this awesome Toastmasters system. I hope one day we all will sell like hotcakes, and our club will achieve even greater height.