What positive influence has being an Executive Committee (ex-comm) member had on your career?
This is the second part of the Ex-Com blog post series.
Let us understand the significance of being the VP-Public Relations and Secretary of a club.
Vice President – Public Relations:
Ishan Desai, the president of Fogo VIT Toastmasters, has held big roles in Toastmasters. He is currently the president of his club as well as the PR-chair of Reverberations 2016. His charm and no-nonsense style of working makes him an ideal person to work with.
We wanted to know his thoughts on what the role involved, beyond text book definitions. In his words, “Often, people think that the role of vice president of public relations is to promote the sessions that a club holds. A public relations role, obviously, is about marketing. But in my opinion, it is extremely important for a VP-PR to also ensure that the club has a strong public image and presence. When you are a part of something, you believe that you belong there and this feeling of belongingness only strengthens when you realize the amount of positivity it brings you. There are many others in your immediate surrounding who have similar interests. But, how would they know that they would be interested in doing what you are doing? They would know that only when they see a strong image of the club that you are part of. Hence, I believe that creating an image of your club is vital.”
Ishan likes to go beyond the usual responsibilities in performing an ex comm role. He says any role is open to innovation. And successful implementation of ideas gives an enormous amount of satisfaction. However, they don’t come without challenges. Given his experience, we asked him what those challenges were and where the excitement came from. He says, “If you ask me what the exciting parts of being an officer were, I would say that the challenges ARE the exciting part. Because, it really wouldn’t be fun or enjoyable if everything was easy. The challenges for a VP-PR could be anything – right from HOW to publicise to WHAT to publicise, and to understand what kind of public he/she is advertising to.”
Is there a standard strategy for promotion?
He says the answer lies in understanding the target audience and designing appropriate outreach programs. As a club made up of students, he knew what a group comprising students aged between 18 and 24 years gravitated towards, i.e., their interests. Given that they were likely to be active on social media, particularly Facebook, he ensured that every time he did a PR activity, it was available on Facebook too. That way, a massive amount of audience could be reached. “This helped me improve the attendance of our club meetings to a great extent”, he says.
When asked about the importance of promoting one’s club, Ishan provided an interesting insight. “It is important to have people of similar interests in the club.” But why? “Simple. This will not only ensure a club that is always growing but will also ensure that every single person has something to learn from another person in the club. And the more like-minded people we add to a club, the more people we get to learn from. It forms a beautiful system in which new members are added to the club, they learn from us, we learn from them and in turn, the club grows to be better than it has ever been.”
And now the crucial question: How did being a VP-PR help in furthering your career ambitions?
“I have always been someone who is eager to develop his skills at marketing, networking and designing. I wish to pursue a career in a field that lets me employ these skills of mine. If I get into such a field, I would definitely look back at the time I served Fogo VIT Toastmasters club as the VP-PR. I would like to thank my club for having voted me in as the VP-PR for the club. It has really helped me learn a lot.”
For understanding the role of a club secretary, we spoke to someone who has not only accomplished a lot, but also knew the role inside and out. Who better to ask than Ramyaa Rajasekaran of the Chennai Wordsmiths club! She has not only chaired several club events and contests but is also known for conducting four secretary trainings at four different OTPs.
We asked her about the role of club secretary. She says, “The secretary of a club is an unsung hero. The primarily responsibility of a secretary is to draft minutes of the club meeting and ex comm meeting, to prepare agenda for ex comm meetings and to track the status of every action point discussed. It involves supporting the president and the entire club and thereby driving club growth.”
How important is it to have good organization skills as a secretary?
“It is very, very important to have organizing skills and discipline to succeed in any role. As a secretary, organizing skills and delegation is very important to perform the role.”
Ramyaa acknowledges that the role of the club secretary has helped her in articulating ideas and presenting them in an effective manner. It has helped her hone her written communication skills, become very observant and recall the contents of a meeting with clarity (business meetings in professional life), proofread MOMs (business emails and documents) and redefine action points. Additionally, jotting down points (as a secretary) became a habit.
When asked about advice she has for those eager to take up this role, she says, “While taking up this role, commit to it for the next 6 months. Fix the number of speeches, leadership roles, contingency roles (often ex comm members would back up any role) you plan on. Remember to delegate MOM preparation while taking up other roles. This would help with consistent progress in (your) Toastmasters’ journey. Learn to say ‘NO’ at times.”
Her mantra – “It is wise to target one rabbit at a time.”
Before signing off, we asked her about the expectations she had when she took up the role and how it changed towards the end of her tenure. Ramyaa answers, “In the beginning, I thought it was just a role. I realized that it was quite a serious affair when I attended OTP. At the end of the term and even later, I realized I was performing better in professional and personal life. After all, that’s what communication and leadership is all about.”
Other Ex-Com roles to be continued in the next post. Stay tuned. In the meanwhile, you can find Part 1 here.