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Author malw  Date 10 Sep 06, 16:27  Views 9769
Description An audience-orientated approach to club meetings
Category Meeting Ideas  Type Information

Better than TV!

The success of any organisation depends upon how favourably people regard its product. The product of each club is its meetings.

You can have great publicity … but without good meetings people won’t join. You can have excellent administration … but without good meetings people won’t stay. We need to get our product right before anything else.

Where should we start?

One approach is performer centred: planning club meetings for the member as performer. Each member is simply plotted in forthcoming meetings for the speeches and other roles most suited to them.

This sounds reasonable but I don’t think it goes far enough. If, for example, 40 attend a meeting - the speaker is only 1/40th of those present at any moment. Even if just 10 attend, the speaker represents only 1/10th. What about the people in the audience? Are they just waiting for their turn to perform?

I suggest a better approach is audience centred: planning a programme for everyone. This involves adopting the attitude of ‘putting on a show’. It is not only better for the audience but, I believe, the speaker also because it provides a better environment in which to perform.

To put on a show we can learn from television. TV attracts enormous audiences because serving the audience informs all of their decisions about programming.

It is also our main competitor. Absent members and, more importantly, potential members are most likely watching TV rather than attending club meetings.

These are some of the tricks of televsion we can learn from:

Programmes have a variety of content, are balanced and aptly sequenced.
Guests are invited for their speaking proficiency rather than status.
(And, incidentally, programme details are printed in comprehensive and clear schedules.)

That television output is professional (i.e. smoothly run) is such an essential pre-requisite for enjoyment that we take it for granted.
The test of professionalism is that the background organisation does not show.

Television shows are:
Nearly all programmes contain a combination of all three ingredients reflecting the view of Ralph Smedley (founder of Toastmasters International) that we learn best at times of enjoyment.

At Toastmaster meetings we have three important advantages over television.

We are:
- local instead of national or international;
- live instead of sterile;
- personally interactive instead of passive.

If we adopt the tricks of television we can not only compete with them on an even basis but, because of these advantages, have the edge. We can be better than TV!

Nick Benning

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