Don’t visit Toastmasters International clubs, if…

Toastmasters Club MeetingIn a country where there is no police, would theft be considered theft if there was no system to deal with a thief (police arrest, jail cell, courts, juries, trial judges)? The way we respond to societal behaviors affect the way society responds and adapts. Society is constantly evolving and changing, but operates based on sets of silents rules that we all seem to agree to, without ever having to discuss or concert about most of them. For example, when observing how queues form at checkout lines in stores, even someone who has never been to a store knows instinctively that he has to join the back of the queue, no one has to tell him that. In email communications, it feels uncomfortable writing complete email messages in all capital letters (caps), and rightly so because as per email communication etiquette, all caps is the equivalent of  verbally shouting. No no.

Toastmasters International (TI) is the leading non-profit organization worldwide to help people improve their communication and leadership skills. TI is organized in clubs holding regular meeting for members, and non members (guests) alike. One of the unique benefits of TI is that a member of a club can visit any other club to experience a different club culture and meet new people. There are silent rules that must be followed when visiting any club as a Toastmaster, and I believe what I will share applies to anyone going out to visit any group, organization or individual. Don’t visit a TI club if:

  • You are not clear about your purpose. People value their time more than most things. If you don’t know exactly why you are visiting a club, don’t visit the club. There is nothing wrong with visiting a TI club just to see how things are done and what happens during meetings, but that in itself is an purpose. Be able to tell openly what you expect to achieve by visiting a club.
  • You are not dressed appropriately. I do not mean a suit and tie (which would work), but dressed in a way that shows you are conscious of your image and how you’re perceived by others. Put yourself in the shoes of your host and ask yourself: how would I feel about a guest dressed like this or that? The appropriate attire for most TI clubs is business casual, unless otherwise explicitly specified (which is possible with specialty clubs).
  • You will not be able to stay for the full duration of the meeting. If it will be your first visit to that club and they don’t know you, it will be rude for you to leave before the meeting is officially adjourned. Don’t. If you can’t be there from beginning (on time) to end, don’t go at all.
  • You have a sharp eye for identifying what’s wrong. TI meeting are positive learning environment. If you have a negative attitude and you cannot leave it home before going to the meeting, please don’t go. If you carry your negative attitude into a meeting with you, one of two things might happen: 1) You will make everybody feels uncomfortable or 2) You will be asked not to come back until your change, or never (fortunately it is possible).

There are probably more rules of etiquette that would be worth mentioning based on your experience, either with Toastmasters International or with any other organization. What are some of the silent rules for meeting attendance that you have seen broken before?