Toastmasters Secretary training

Feb 8, 2021 2:52 AM

I went to my first officer training yesterday for my new(ish) role as the club Secretary. The training was hosted on Zoom by District 101 and was useful for the uninitiated. After a brief introduction and keynote speeches by the District President and the Program Quality Director, it was time to go into the breakout sessions. A Toastmaster of 56 years and current Secretary of 4 ran the session, who was also fulfilling their training by being a trainer.

An overview of duties

The first matter of business was to make sure that we were aware of the officer’s manual. He quoted a mantra of a past District Governor: “Read the damn manual.” We then went over the four primary responsibilities of the Secretary:

  • Recording Minutes
  • Communicating Minutes
  • Maintaining Club Records
  • Submitting the Officer’s List

Fun fact: the President and Secretary MUST be filled at all times for a club to remain in good standing, alongside any Vice-President. It’s nice to be vital to the well-being of a club.

Recording Minutes

The Secretary has a basic but detailed job of ensuring that significant events are a matter of record. It’s up to them to write down events like the decision to raise dues or the arrival of a new member. He notes that it should take about 15 minutes to fill out relevant information about the meeting. For executive meetings, he recommends an agenda structure based on Robert’s Rules of Order. Finally, if the Secretary is unable to make a meeting, they should reach out to the President and find a replacement for the meeting.

It takes me about 25-50 minutes to revise the notes that I take during the meetings because of the detail in the summary of speeches and evaluations. I take detailed notes because I want to improve my note-taking process, but 15 minutes seems like an appropriate lower-bound based on the amount of information that needs to be kept track in every meeting. Just taking down attendance and writing down the speech roles and titles takes quite a bit of time.

Communicating Minutes

This section was brief. As long as there are explicit expectations and a route to communication, then the particulars don’t matter all that much.

At Mountain View Toastmasters, I distribute minutes before the next meeting to a club mailing list. The club maintains an archive of minutes that goes back to the club’s inception. As far as I know, the archive is only available to officers.

Maintaining Club Records

We went over some of the files to be aware of, like the Club Constitution and the Addendum of Standard Club Options. Everything that you would ever need is on the Toastmasters International website. Imagine a world where you don’t know where to find things like the liability insurance policy. The horror.

Submitting the Officer’s List

Submitting the Officer’s List is the single, most important responsibility of a Secretary. If the list is not updated, there’s the possibility of a former president who’s moved to Florida ripping up communication vital to the club’s good standing. Or so it goes.

And the rest

After we covered all of the material, we spent the last 45 minutes going through Club Central. This is where you can find all of the relevant administrative tools for club officers. Here are a few of the relevant routes:

  • Club Roster
    • This is necessary to change an address, and also tells you whether someone has enrolled in Pathways.
  • Club Officer Assignment
    • Ensure that this is up to date.
  • Club Demographics
    • Set the mailing address, which generally goes to the President.
  • Club Contact and Meeting Information
    • Check that the club email is up to date.
  • Addendum of Standard Club Options
    • There’s a series of drop-downs for relevant information unique to clubs. Ensure that this is correct.

After sending us a link to the District 101 Toastmaster’s Club Officer Resources, we were free to go. I thought this was an informative overview of my responsibilities, with interesting perspectives from other Secretaries within the district.