District Director’s Message

In a volunteer-driven organization like Toastmasters, motivating members is one of the biggest challenges that leaders at all levels can face. In the absence of motivated members, no plans or systems can work.

Daniel Pink, in his book Drive, excellently describes the right way of motivating someone. Below is the link to a 10-minute video visually summarizing his findings. I highly recommend you watch this.

We often come up with rewards hoping one would be encouraged to achieve something, but it doesn’t always work out that way. A person is highly engaged in achieving goals only when s/he has

  1. Autonomy – Freedom to execute, which gives them a sense of control over anything they do
  2. Mastery – Having the urge to do better with every iteration
  3. Purpose – Understanding their role in something bigger

If we analyze the above factors in our club meeting framework, we realize that it does provide us autonomy, mastery, and purpose, yet we are challenged in motivating members to participate. The answer to this, I believe, resonates well with The Law of Least Effort, Chapter 12 from The Atomic Habits by James Clear where he informs why some habits are hard to adopt. The higher the friction to do something, the more difficult it will be to perform. Generally, at a club meeting, we will find takers for playing a Timer, Ah Counter, SAA, General Evaluator as these roles generally don’t require much preparation. Other roles such as Speaker, Speech Evaluator, Grammarian, Toastmaster of the Day, and Table Topics Master require practice and effort; hence it is difficult to find takers. If you don’t follow a routine for yourself and don’t have an environment that encourages you to prepare for such roles, you end up avoiding these roles or backing out at the last moment. The author gives us a solution of prepping the environment for the habit we need to get into with the least effort. Keep things ready in advance so when the time comes to act, you don’t procrastinate. For example,for a morning jog, keep the required clothes and shoes ready the night before. For a healthy diet, stock your fridge and snack cupboard with healthy items that are ready to eat, rather than junk food. Organizations that have successfully focused on having a user do something with the least effort are successful.

If you need to be successful in Toastmasters and grow yourself, you need to find the friction points that are not letting you prepare for a speech or to play a role at the meeting. Once you figure the friction points, eliminate the waste from the process and reset the environment every time for your next action.


Niteash Agarwaal, DTM
District Director, 2020-21