Toastmasters Teamwork is Tops

Kloof Toastmasters Business Club celebrated winning Top Club at the July Conference in 2019. The Club chartered in November 2015 and was the first Breakfast Toastmasters Club in KZN.

Five members are still with the Club after 5 years, Harry Thompson DTM, Bruce Page DTM and Joanne Schmitt DTM were members from Highway Club who moved across to start what is affectionately known as KTBC. The other two founder members are Tyron Smith was the first Club President and Cathy Stephen became Treasurer in her second year. We currently have 28 members.

Our members will tell you, we are like chosen family, we encourage and support each other and truly care. Moving online is a bit strange and we miss the hugs and warm hospitality and chats of our venue based meetings. This morning I spoke to Sithu Ngcobo, a new member who joined on 1 May 2020. She attended our last face to face meeting in late March. She says “I love the vibe and energy of this club. It even translates online. I can’t wait to be a member.”

I will always remember the District Officer Training and the celebratory banquet in Johannesburg in July 2019. There was an electric atmosphere and everyone was dressed in Africa themed attire, I met fellow Toastmasters from 9 countries in Southern Africa. During those few days I was blown away by the friendliness and being in such esteemed company of Toastmasters achieving their dreams.

At the Gala Evening I watched in awe as many Toastmasters went up to collect their Distinguished Toastmaster Awards. (I would only complete mine in December 2019.) Finally there was a hush and the much anticipated Derek Waite Gavel Award was to be presented to the Top Club in Southern Africa. This includes 9 countries, 250 Clubs and over 10000 members. As President of KTBC, I watched as Club Presidents and supporters were called to stand representing the Top 5 Clubs. We had really focused on having a successful year with members reaching goals. Yes! Our Club made it to the Top 5.

My heart was beating, could we be first? Maybe second would be great! And then I heard “Top Club of Southern Africa is…..Kloof Toastmasters Business Club! We did it!

My fellow Presidents asked me….”How?” This is where it is so simple and this quote says it all…

‘I am a member of a team, and I rely on the team, I defer to it and I sacrifice for it, because the team, not the individual is the ultimate champion” Mia Hamm

The first tip is to build a strong team of Club Officers who are focused on serving members, sharing a vision, supportive and loyal to each other.

The second tip is to know your members and motivate them to set and achieve goals. Listen to the members they are all individuals, some need prompting but others want to pick up the pace. Encourage participation.

The third tip, succession planning is a yearlong exercise. It starts with a Success Plan and set monthly Exco meetings. Identify members who have their sights set on the DTM, they need to perform Club Officer roles and District roles. They can understudy roles to prepare them a few months before take over.

There is no time like the present, promote the online meetings…invite guests as before. Our Club has upped our game to meet members’ needs. Shorter meetings every week. A Saturday Speakathon. Even more speaking opportunities and a fun vibe meetings. We still open early to network and chat and stay after to connect with those who want to.

As a Division as we move forward, connect online to form collaborative Councils, Club Excos and Clubs that share and communicate successes and challenges will be build a string foundation in uncertain times. Embrace online and embrace the opportunities that Toastmasters offers. Together we are stronger.

It was great achieving Top Club last year. We love the journey as the Kloof Toastmasters Business Club family and soon a new Club will win the coveted award.

 To end I share my favourite Zulu proverb.

“Umuntu Ngumuntu Ngabanu” – I am because you are. We affirm our humanity when we acknowledge the input of others. The team is greater than the individual – the key to success lies in a united team of individually talented people.

Joanne Schmitt DTM

IPP Kloof Toastmasters and P2 Area Director