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Confessions of an Evangelist

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I sometimes get this question when I tell people about TechMasters, so I thought maybe it’s time for a blog post on the topic.

 

What is TechMasters? It is Open Toastmasters club for Geeks, with the focus of helping our members become public speakers for community developer conferences and user groups. We are an open club in that it is open to anyone, as opposed to being a company club. Because TechMasters is a fully chartered chapter of Toastmasters International, that means it has all the benefits of being part of that organization including manuals, certifications, a program schedule, magazine and a leadership program. We choose to meet weekly on Tuesday mornings and in the business portion of the meetings we promote calls for content and other external speaking opportunities. If you want to start your own chapter this is an approach that worked for us.

 

1.      Join a Toastmasters club (Find a club near you). To start a TechMasters club you should first have the experience of being a Toastmasters member, so you can see how the weekly meetings run.

 

2.       Get help. Tell your current club that you want to start a new TechMasters club. Ask for their support and sponsorship to kick it off. This may include doing some informational meetings where you recruit people to help show how a meeting runs.

o   Check out TM’s guide on starting a new club http://www.toastmasters.org/Membership/How-to-Start-a-New-Club

3.       Pick a name, that may include TechMasters in the title. We called ours TechMasters-Twin Cities, because we hoped to replicate the model in other cities. We also registered the www.Techmasters-tc.com domain and put up a site with info about what we’re trying to do. We chose to host it in Azure because that’s the greatest cloud solution ever.

4.      Hold an informational meeting where you invite everyone you can to try to get people excited about the idea.

o   When you hold the meeting have a suggested first meeting date/time (like Tuesday mornings)

o   Pick a date for a demo meeting…again get feedback, but it should be when you can get your current club members to be available to help out…

5.       Hold the Demo Meeting

o   Have a signup sheet for people to get on a mailing list and for participation in the next meeting

o   Keep the schedule short, with at most a single speaker and a couple table topics so people can see how it works, but leave 50% of the time for questions and discussion.

o   Get agreement to plan to have additional meetings, hopefully each week at a consistent time & place

o   Identify a leadership team to help with the chartering process. This should include at a minimum the following roles…you can add the other roles as you get momentum…

§  Sponsor – an existing Toastmasters person who can help answer questions and provide guidance. They get credit for it in the Advanced Leader manual, so ask for help when you need it

§  Club President, who will be responsible to keep the momentum going

§  VP Membership, who will be responsible to keep track of people who want to join and follow up with emails to interested people about upcoming meetings. They can use meetup to help promote thngs

§  Treasurer, who will be responsible to setup a bank account and track dues for when the club charters

6.       The next meeting…this time with new participants in some of the roles

o   Ask for people to commit to join the club and get membership applications for them to fill out

o   Have someone do an icebreaker

o   Run table topics and include interested parties

o   Signup for the next meeting…

o   Repeat

 

7.       Charter! When you get to 20 people you can charter.

o   Have a charter party!

o   Let me know that you’re chartered J and I’ll add it to an event map of TechMasters that I’m working on (similar to

http://www.benkotips.com/UserGroups)

 

While you’re preparing to charter there are some membership building things we did…

o   At local user group meetings and code camps we asked for a slide and if we could say a few words that we existed and what our charter is

o   Setup a Meetup group with info about when and where you meet

o   Use social media to promote upcoming meetings and events

o   Keep track of your mailing list!

o   Invite known speakers in the area to your meetings and try to get them to help spread the word

o   Try to hold additional demo meetings at different times and places to gauge interest … is the timeslot you choose the best one?

 

Questions? Email me at mike@benko.com. Posted on Thursday, October 8, 2015 9:58 AM | Back to top

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