Don Zurakowski and Glenn Walker like challenges.
The current and future District 99 Directors are eye-balling a big challenge for the year ahead: Attract more people, different people, and younger people to the organization. “We have to get out of what we’ve done and change it up. Next year we’ll get a speaker who’s relevant to the Millennials,” current District Director Don says.
And their goal is ambitious. “We will target newcomers. Our target is to get 300 people there and 100 of them to be newcomers, Don says.”
The challenge that the leadership team is tackling is that 80% of toastmasters at a convention are repeat attendees. Conventions area great place to network and visit with friends from across the district. “We have our die-hards who’ve been going to conventions for 20 years,” Don says. There are even a few from District 42 that make the trek each year.
No two conventions are the same – each has its own culture and 2018 set a benchmark. “The committee tried to do something really different with the tie-in to Star Wars characters. It was really great to see so many people show up in costume.” says future District 99 Director, Glenn Walker DTM.
He thinks we have to continue to think outside the box to encourage younger members to come to conventions to learn about opportunities outside of the club environment. “Keynote speaker, Lance Miller, really gave us all something to think about with his session on Building a Championship Club. Many probably thought it was going to be about building championship speakers,” Glenn says.
Lance really drove home the message of how to build quality in your club and grow your membership. Coming from a club who has had peak membership of 90 people, he demonstrates that having a healthy and vibrant club can be achieved if we work smarter in the way we organize our clubs. This is the kind of session that has a wider appeal to members.
“We’ve had a year with a lot of changes and we’ve made a lot of progress – from my perspective this is where we’re at,” Don says.
Glenn saw a lot of activity going on this year. “The reality is that the world around us is changing and we need to change with it. We need to figure out how to make our program appeal to the next generation. Our new Pathways Learning Experience will help with that by providing a more targeted learning experience right out of the gate.”
He also has plans for the coming year. “For next year’s convention, our focus will be promoting Pathways for all members. By then, we will be well into the rollout of the program and I am sure there will be lots of questions.” At the same time, it is also time to have our keynote address relevant topics. We don’t all want to be world champions. Many are struggling to advance their leadership skills and that will be a key focus of the next convention,” he says.