How to Transform a Lackluster Toastmasters Club to President Distinguished Club in One Year

Ken Tan asked:

g Member’s Inner Force Using A-B-C (The simple and proven ABC ideas to make more progress in your Club’s DCP goals in less time)


Just slightly over a year and 9 months ago, our membership fell below charter strength and we were on the brink of deciding whether to return this Club to its former glory or let it crush into oblivion …..

Once the decision was made by members to revive the Club, we scrapped through 9 months, breaking the vicious cycle of low members’ turnout. We achieved more in just one year, than we had in the past 7 years since our Club was chartered!!

Our Club accomplished 10/10 DCP goals, attaining the President’s Distinguish Club status for the very 1st time in our Club’s history.

How does a Club which was in such severe recession swing itself upwards to such great heights in just a short period of one year? A Chinese proverb goes like this “Success is when opportunity meets preparation”

We analyzed and discovered certain strategies that were in place that contributed to the boom of our Club. We summarized and simply named it A-B-C ideas. These are no more than simple, practical, easy to follow tools, which aim to aid members, Clubs, Divisions or Districts to succeed in achieving their Goals.

1. Aim For The Stars

Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now – ALLAN LAKEIN

At the very beginning of the term, we set a precise goal and developed a comprehensive action plan. Our goal back then was to achieve 10/10 DCP goals by 30 June 2008.

We thought then it was already an impressive goal until our Area Governor, ACS Dennis Wee, called, “Hey, what if your Club could achieve 10/10 DCP goals by 31 December 2007 and be the 1st Club in District 51 to achieve it!?!?”.

That idea blew our minds OFF and it got us all excited and we set to achieve our goals by 31 December 2007. That is the starting point that empowered the members to such miraculous results today.

We also did something different that we announced our Club goals loud and clear in our Installation Dinner to all members and guests. Psychologically, this helps to held the EXCO members accountable to the goals.

Then to keep the momentum, we must first lead by example. A Leader Walks his Talk. A leader can’t motivate the members to progress if the leader themselves did not progress. Action speaks louder than words. Therefore, to live up to the standard we set, few of the “hardcore” members (Meyyappa, Derek, Kheng Chuan and myself) to achieved their goals in the first 6 months. Their relentless efforts have unconsciously set the momentum of the Club!!

Here are the elements we think are essential to formulate a Club Goal:

a) Excitement Drive b) Well announced c) Time buffer d) Lead by Example

2. Barter Trade Concepts

The beginning of a habit is like an invisible thread, but every time we repeat the act we strengthen the strand, add to it another filament, until it becomes a great cable and binds us irrevocably, thought and act – ORISON SWETT MARDEN

Prior to the use of currencies as we all know, in the past goods were exchanged on a one-on-one basis with the intent that the value was of relative equal hence the birth of Barter Trade.

One of our main challenge was to get the members to progress on their Basic Communication Manual. To overcome this we simply barter traded with them!!

I remembered when one of my fellow members asked me before I went on a vacation, “Can you send me a postcard for my personal collection during your vacation overseas?”.

I responded, “Certainly, but….. can you do a speech on either Jan 9 or Jan 23?” Whichever options she chose, she committed herself to a speech slot.

I’ve also barter traded in these for speech slots:

1. A drive home after TM meeting 2. Time spent on mentoring a mentee 3. An opportunity to attend semi annual TLI training 4. Helping a member to take up a pre-assigned role play (eg. Substituting as TME, Ah Counter etc) 5. Information or news sent to members

Currently, only few members in our Club discover this powerful concept and it had already brought us astonishing results. What if ALL MEMBERS acquire this as a habit? The effect would probably spiral up to other clubs, divisions and even districts.

Other crucial factors when encouraging members to do their speeches are:

i. Timing Ask at the correct time. We encourage member to take up a speech slot usually after our TM meeting, Club Visits, Contests or after the members completed their speeches, as these are the times when they are “H-O-T, High on Toastmasters”.

ii. Put them on a ferries wheels Schedule members for speeches early (a month in advance), to minimise the “last minute pulled-out syndrome”. The key is to communicate with mentor to do the follow up and remind the member again 2 weeks before the schedule date. In that case, the Club will get its speech slots filled continuously

3. Coaching and Connections

True success comes only when every generation continues to develop the next generation – JOHN C. MAXWELL

Mentor-mentee system was established in our Club to provide coaching for members. Our motto all members are keen to present their speeches until proven otherwise. All they need is guidance, like a toddler learning how to walk.

If members are prepared, they are more confident, and when they are confident, they are more willing to present their speeches, and this massively increases the likelihood of giving a speech.

But……. Will mentor be regarded as “pushy” if he keeps asking the mentee to do speeches again and again, one after another?

Possibly, and as such, we sourced and spread the mentor’s responsibility to others. For example, instead of encouraging the mentee directly, the mentor could indirectly encourage the mentee by asking the AG, Assistant AG, President, VPE or even ask TMs from other Clubs to invite mentee to do speeches in or outside of the Club!!

This may come as a surprise to you, but we found that many members are much more inspired and motivated when invited by TMs from other Club!! This also opens up the networking door for our members to flourish outside our home ground.


On its surface, the A-B-C ideas shared here may appear simple and provide a mere subtle effects, but if these ideas were put into practice it will yield astounding results as they did for us. Through the A-B-C ideas, we recruited 13 new members, achieved 6 CC’s, 2 AC’s, 2 CL’s and crowned President Distinguished Club, the very first since this Club was charted in Sep 2001, 7 years ago.

On behalf of the Club, I wish to express our gratitude to my Exco’s and all the amazing individuals that have contributed to this success namely Sue Ding, Dennis Wee, Meyya, Stephen Fernando, Vincent Hor, Bill Sim, Parames, Daniel Teh, Sheila Wong, Dominic Joseph, Ramdas Nayar and Ron Lau.

Alas.. I’m proud to say I belong to a President’ Distinguished Club

Ken Tan, President of Deloitte KassimChan Toastmasters Club 2007/2008

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