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Toastmasters International FAQ part 4 of 5: Leadership and Organization

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See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge Frequently Asked Questions part 4 of 5:
Leadership and Organization

1. What leadership opportunities within the club are open to me as
a member of Toastmasters?

     All clubs have a staff of club officers.  These are elected
     once or twice a year, depending on whether the club meets
     weekly or every other week (or monthly, etc.).  Clubs that
     meet weekly usually elect for six month terms.  Elections
     usually take place in May for the term July 1 to June 30 and,
     where applicable, in May for the term July 1 to December 30
     and in November for the term January 1 to June 30.

     Club offices (and their rank within the club) are as follows:

          * President - chairs meetings and supervises all other
          * Vice President Education - schedules meeting assign-
               ments and works with members to see that their
               needs are met
          * Vice President Membership - runs club membership drive
               and also works to keep members satisfied and happy
          * Vice President Public Relations - makes sure club
               meeting listings appear in the media, puts posters
               up, etc.
          * Secretary - sends correspondence on behalf of the
               club, keeps club records and minutes
          * Treasurer - handles financial affairs, such as dues
               and purchases
          * Sergeant of Arms - sets meeting room up, puts stuff
               away, greets guests, etc.

     Club offices are open to ANY member.  There is no reason why
     a new member cannot run for President without serving in any
     other club office.  

2. What leadership opportunities are open to me OUTSIDE the club?

     You can serve as Area Governor, Division Governor, District
     Secretary, District Treasurer, District Public Relations
     Officer, District Lieutenant Governor Marketing, District
     Lieutenant Governor Education and Training, District Governor,
     International Director, International Vice-President, or
     International President.  To explain what all these mean, you
     need to know more about each level.

3. What is an Area?

     Clubs are grouped into Areas of three to eight Clubs.  Each
     Area has its own Area Governor, a member of one of the clubs
     appointed by the District Governor to serve the Area.  Area
     Governors are usually, but not always, members of a club in 
     the Area they are responsible for.

     Areas have Area Speech Contests several times a year, with
     winners from the Club levels going on to the Area Contest. 
     The winner of the Area Contest goes on to the Division.  

     Areas also share Area goals, determined by formulas set at
     World Headquarters, such as "x number of clubs at 20 members
     in strength" and "x number of CTM's in the various clubs."  If
     an Area meets or exceeds all its goals, its Area Governor is
     recognized for hard work motivating the clubs.

4. What is a Division?

     Areas are grouped into Divisions.  Divisions may be as small
     as one Area in size (rarely) or as have five, six, or more
     Areas.  Each Division has its own Division Governor.  Division
     Governors are usually members of clubs within their Division and
     are elected once a year at the Annual District Business
     Meeting.  The Division Governor works with his Area
     Governors to motivate the clubs to high membership and to have
     good, effective educational programs.

     Divisions have Division Speech Contests several times a year,
     with winners from the Areas coming together to compete.  The
     Division winners go on to the District level.

     Divisions have Division goals, just as Areas do.  A good
     Division Governor will work with his clubs and Areas to
     increase membership and educational effort.

5. What is a District?

     Districts in some cases are equivalent to "states" and in
     other cases are smaller or larger.  If you think of a District
     as "the state organization" you won't be too far off. 
     Districts are comprised of several Divisions.  Districts are
     the main level of organization outside the Club; Areas and
     Divisions are _sub-units_ of the District.

     California has several Districts because there are so many
     clubs there.  North Carolina, on the other hand, is a single
     District.  England and Scotland and Ireland are one District
     all together, and Australia and New Zealand comprise several
     Districts.  Smaller countries with only a few clubs each are
     Unincorporated clubs which report directly to World Headquar-
     ters instead of to Districts.

     Each District has its own set of officers, most of whom are
     elected at the District Spring Conference (or Fall Conference
     in the Southern Hemisphere).  The officers include: District
     Secretary, District Treasurer, District Public Relations
     Officer, District Lieutenant Governor Marketing, District
     Lieutenant Governor Education and Training, and District
     Governor.  The last three are always elected and the first
     three are elected or appointed depending on local preference. 
     If they are appointed in your District, it's the newly elected
     District Governor who does the appointing.

     And yes, Districts have their own District-wide goals.  The
     various District officers work with the clubs, Areas, and
     Divisions to build membership, start new clubs, promote the
     earning of CTM's and ATM's, and so forth.

     Districts have speech contests several times a year, as the
     Division winners come together at the District Conferences to
     compete for the District crowns.

6. Whoa!  That sounds complicated!

     It is, but that's the price you pay for:
          * having enough offices to fill that a lot of people get
          the opportunity to serve, and
          * having enough officers on the spot to help out clubs
          that have problems (e.g. low membership).

     Let's look at a made-up example to illustrate the organiza-

     Joe belongs to the Wide Valley Toastmasters Club (club 19521). 
     The Wide Valley Toastmasters club belongs to Area 4, Central
     Division, District 95.  Area 4 is the city of Wide Valley with
     four clubs.  The Central Division is Areas 4, 5, and 6,
     comprising the mid-state area.  District 95 is the eastern
     half of the state.  Area 4 has an Area Governor who works with
     the Wide Valley club and the other three clubs in the Area. 
     The Central Division has a Division Governor who works with
     all 12 clubs in his Division and with the three Area Governors
     under her.  District 95 has five Divisions and its own set of
     officers.  Joe goes to various speech contests in his Area,
     Division, and District and once a year represents his club at
     the Spring Conference to elect new officers and vote on other
     District policy matters.

7.  How do I get to be a District officer?

     If you want to be an Area Governor, show up at a lot of events
     outside your club and get to know the people around your
     District.  Work hard within your club.  Eventually, you'll be
     considered for appointment as an Area Governor.  It doesn't
     hurt to ask the people who are running for District Governor
     to consider appointing you.  If you want to be a Division
     Governor or other District Officer, you've usually got to run
     for the office.  Each club in a District gets two votes and
     the clubs that have representatives at the Spring Conference
     vote and decide who'll serve for the next year.  Terms always
     run July 1 to June 30, by the way, so elections are usually
     held in April or May.

     Another good way to get to be a District officer is to
     volunteer to help a District committee.  You don't get DTM
     credit for helping a committee or serving as a District
     committee chair, but you get *known* and that's usually all it
     takes to get asked to serve the next time around.

8. What levels are beyond the District?

     Technically, none -- just Toastmasters International.  The
     Districts *do* get together for *Regional* Conferences in June
     of each year, but the Regions are not formally constituted
     bodies.  They're just groupings of eight or so Districts. 
     Each Region is entitled to representation on the Board of
     Directors of Toastmasters International in the form of two
     International Directors who serve two-year terms, with one
     being elected each year, but it is the world body that elects
     these officers, not the Regions themselves.  The main require-
     ment for representing a Region is that you have residency and
     membership in a club in that Region.  Once you are elected,
     however, you serve the world, not just the clubs of your

     At the Regional Conferences, you also find speech contests,
     with the various District winners squaring off.  Only one
     contestant goes on to the World level; the humorous speaking
     and evaluation contests stop at the Regional level, leaving
     the International Speech Contest contestants to decide the
     World Championship of Public Speaking each August at the World

     Regions do not have regional goals.  They're not organized

9. What's the World Convention?

     The World Convention takes place each August in a North
     American city.  The main feature of the Conference, other that
     presentation of awards for effort during the preceding year,
     is the Annual Business Meeting, at which International
     officers are elected and policies are made and changed.

     The clubs have the voting strength at the world level, with
     two votes each.  Districts often wind up voting the proxies
     for clubs which don't make it to the Annual Business Meeting
     each August.  

     There are a dozen elections to be held each August: eight (or
     nine, if it's the year to elect the director from Overseas)
     International Directors, three Vice Presidents, and one
     President.  As there are eight Regions (with two Directors
     each) and one amalgamated Overseas area (with one Director)
     sending Directors to the world board, necessarily there are
     seventeen Directors, serving two-year terms each.  There is an
     International President and three International Vice-Presi-
     dents who serve over the whole kit and kaboodle.  They serve
     one year each.  

10. So the Board of Directors and the President and Vice Presidents
make all the decisions about dues and so forth?

     Yes and no.  Any proposals they wish to see adopted that
     constitute actual changes to the constitution and bylaws of
     the organization require a vote by the assembled clubs, with
     each club having two votes.  As above, the District officers
     gather proxies from any clubs that aren't going to be at the
     annual business meeting in August.

11. What do I get for serving as an officer?

     If you serve as a club officer, you earn credit toward an ATM. 
     If you serve as a District officer, you earn credit toward a
     DTM.  Service on the International level doesn't earn you
     anything in particular because you've usually already earned
     everything there is to earn by that point.  

     But, more importantly, you get tremendous leadership experi-
     ence.  With everyone a volunteer and no club HAVING to do what
     its District officers suggest, you have to develop powerful
     persuasive abilities to guide the clubs and members in the
     right direction.

There's a lot of opportunity to grow in Toastmasters.  Check it out! 

User Contributions:

Matthew Kleinosky
Report this comment as inappropriate
Dec 20, 2011 @ 7:07 am
fees are way out of date - need updating.

e.g. $16.00 New Member fee
should be

$20.00 New Member fee

and $3 a month should be $6

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