District 29 Area Directors – it getting very close to the November 30th deadline to submit your Area Director Reports. In order for your Area to become Distinguished (or Select or President’s Distinguished), Area directors must submit Area Director’s Club Visit Reports for no less than 75% of their club base by November 30th.
Here are a few tips from a former District 29 President’s Distinguished Area Director on submitting your reports and how to achieve the honor of being a Distinguished Area.
TIPS FOR AREA DIRECTORS:
- Visit your clubs early (and often) – hopefully you have already done this part, but you still have a few more days. If the club doesn’t have any more meetings, try to have a meeting with the officers to help you get the information you need for your report. These reports might really help your clubs so if you missed them in this round, make sure to schedule an early visit in the next round so they can apply any advice you have early. You can often strategically time a visit for a period when you are looking for Area Contest volunteers and/or planning an Area Council Meeting.
- Talk with the officers before and after your visit. Maybe you are extremely observant or an excellent note-taker. Even still, it is likely when you return home after your club visit, there will almost always be some information gaps when you are filling out the report that will require some follow-up with the officers. Make sure to reach out by phone and/or email or by attending an officers meeting to get all your questions answered. (You can access Club Officer contact information by going to https://www.toastmasters.org/ then Click Leadership Central/ District Central / Reports and select the officers report in the drop down menu).
- Ask for Club Success Plans. Many club officer teams work on Distinguished Club Success Plans to map out their path to becoming a Distinguished Club. If the club is willing to share their plan with you, it coincidentally contains a lot of the information you need to fill in the Area Director Report! Sometimes just asking for their plan will trigger the club to create a success plan if they have not done so already. Then at least they will have this for you before your round 2 report AND it has the added bonus of getting your clubs on the path to Distinguished success.
- Don’t wait to submit your report. Considering the deadline is approaching in a couple days, this advice does not necessarily apply here. Just like completing speech evaluations, it is always best to fill in your report as close as possible to when you completed your club visit so that the feedback is still fresh in your mind.
- Fill it in online from the start. You probably have a paper copy that you have been taking notes on, or maybe you have even spent over an hour filling in a PDF copy. My advice is to just fill it in online on Toastmasters.org. This saves time and then you are putting all the information you need where it ultimately has to go. There are also space limits for the boxes, so have an easier time entering the information in the correct format from the beginning. To fill in the report online, go to Toastmasters.org / Leadership Central/ District Central / Area Director Visit Reports. Make sure to have your club names and numbers handy to look them up.
- Save your work. Every time you complete a question or section of the report, save your progress! If you leave your computer screen idle too long you might lose all your hard work. Don’t let this happen to you.
- It takes longer than you think. These reports take a good while to make sure they are complete (see next tip). Don’t wait until 11:50 pm before the deadline and expect to complete all your reports. Sometimes the website gets slower or buggier the closer it gets to the deadline. Plan for it to take at least 45 min – 1 hr for each report (possibly longer if you have a lot of information). Also, don’t forget, Toastmasters World Headquarters moved to Denver so the midnight deadline is in Mountain time not Pacific!
- FILL IN EVERY QUESTION. This is the most crucial piece of advice. You may end up spending an hour or more on each report, but without realizing it you left a few spots blank. Perhaps you have a club that does not have any thing to put down for an education award and did not have anything to put down. Just write that down. The important thing is that you write something in ALL the boxes.
- Make sure it worked. Double check after you submit the report that it is showing up as “Complete” in the Toastmasters International records. You can also check that you met your Area requirements at the Division and Area Performance Dashboard. Sometimes these take a day or more to update, which is a good reason to not wait until the day the report is due to submit it.
- Make sure you do it again for round 2. You don’t get to become a Distinguished Area without doing 2 rounds of visits and reports. Make sure to mark your calendar now to submit your next report before May 31st. Try to do everything earlier than you did it for round 1.
- Provide sound advice and support to help your clubs get to Distinguished. The path to being a Distinguished or a Select Distinguished Area involves having at least 50% or 50% plus 1 Distinguished clubs. Think of your report as a conversation with both the Clubs and District leaders that will be reading them. What are the clubs doing great? What would help them become Distinguished? What can the District do to help (e.g. Toastmasters Leadership Institute electives on a topic your clubs are struggling with)? Your reports can make a difference for the club’s success so put the effort in and everyone will reap the rewards.
- Ask for help. Stuff happens. The website freezes. Your internet service is having an issue right when you need to submit the report. Contact Toastmasters International or your District 29 Leaders BEFORE the deadline and they will find a solution. Sometimes you can email the PDF instead or you can have your Division Director (Division A, B, C, D, E) submit a report on your behalf. Whatever you do – don’t give up just because you had an issue. There is always a way to get your report submitted.
As always consult your District Leadership Handbook and Toastmasters International District Recognition Program guides for more information. If you have a goal of becoming a President’s Distinguished Area, it means in addition to the visits, reports, and supporting your clubs becoming Distinguished, you need to have a net growth of one club in your Area. Talk to Club Growth Director (CGD) Narayanan Doraswamy about how to start a new club in your Area. Net growth means that it will be important not to lose any clubs as well. If you have one or more struggling clubs in your Area, the CGD can also assist with finding club coach(es).
Are you a Club Member reading this and want to learn more about becoming a future Area Director? Serving in a District leadership position such as an Area Director is a requirement to becoming a Distinguished Toastmaster (DTM) in Pathways and/or the legacy* Toastmasters education program. Be sure to reach out to your current Area Director (Division A, B, C, D, E) so they can add your name to their Area Director Visit form as someone who is interested in future roles in the District.
Now, it is time to stop reading this and submit those reports! What are you waiting for?
Author Credit: Rachel Grandpre is the current 2018-2019 District 29 Public Relations Manager, and was a President’s Distinguished Area 12 Director 2016-2017, and Select Distinguished Division A Director 2017-2018. She is also a member of the Belvoir and Gribble Gatekeepers Toastmasters Clubs.
* If completing a DTM award in the Legacy education program, you must have completed all the requirements for the award no later than June 30th, 2020. District roles completed prior to June 30, 2020 and into the future can be used for a Pathways DTM award with no deadline.