To Host, Or Not To Host? That Is The Question…
… you might ask when thinking about organizing an open house for your club.
If you answer 'YES' (like I did!), be warned thou might end up like Prince Hamlet, contemplating your demise and doom:
Whether 'tis Nobler in the mind to suffer - (you'll end up seeking professional help).
The Slings and Arrows of outrageous Fortune - (no fortunes to be made you'll lose money on the nibbles everyone will ignore, as they head straight for the booze).
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles - (more like a Tsunami).
And by opposing, end them – (the only thing to end is the thought it would be easy).
When I became president of my club, I planned to host an open house so elaborate, so magnificent it would rival the Royal Shakespeare Company's production of the Danish play.
Unfortunately, it turned out more like a low budget version of 'A Midsummer Night's Dream', filled with chaos, comedy and confusion.
And before you quote, 'The lady doth protest too much methinks…' let me tell you why, compared to hosting an open-house, Hamlet has it easy.
First of all, he's from Denmark, a country that has scored among the top three nations in The World Happiness Report for the past ten years. No offence, but if you're a Dane and insist on moaning, you deserve to be miserable.
Yes, it's terrible news Hamlet's uncle kills his Dad and marries Mum. Still, at least he doesn't have the Keynote speaker fooling around with the helium balloons and then saying he has no idea why his voice sounds funny …!
In Hamlet's words: DOUBT truth to be a liar.
Plus, his Dad mentors him! OK, Dad's a ghost, which is scary, but not as frightening as the District Director showing up saying, 'Oh ignore me … imagine I'm just a guest. GULP.
Its true Toastmasters provides loads of help, but there's no time for coaching on the night. You're the coach, and just like in a football match, if the open-house goes well, 'What a fantastic night, the speakers were wonderful!', if it turns out bad, 'The club could use some help'. Toastmaster speak for, 'Who picked her as president?'
I felt like José Mourinho, loved one minute, hated the next, and no one could pronounce my name correctly.
Lastly, the Danish prince moans endlessly but doesn't do much, does he? As a host, you have loads of work, never mind organizing the night!
I was a marriage counsellor, 'We've been married for 35 years, will this help?'.
a nurse (helping Keynote with the helium balloon situation),
a shrink (helping the speakers get over themselves),
a motivator (helping me get over myself),
a detective (assisting guests to find glasses, car keys and husbands),
and finally, a politician, 'We've heard Trojan Speakers is a better club, what do you think?'.
When sorrows come, they come not single spies. But in battalions!
So, if it's that difficult, why do it? Well, it's for those magic moments, like when a famous soul singer came on stage impromptu, and a Toastmaster (me) ruined it by joining in with a tambourine.
It's also about worldwide recognition, 'Is this the Toastmaster thingy? Does it include free drinks?'
To Host or not to Host?
My advice is to go for it! Give it all you've got. Despite everything that went a little wrong, thanks to the incredible open-house team and our club mentor, we signed up five new members on the night and six more later that month.
Through this be madness, yet there is method, in't.
In summary, every club is unique and remarkable; an open house is an excellent way to SHOW-OFF!
Sorry, I meant, 'Show members of the public what Toastmasters is all about.
So be brave! Be bold! Be brilliant! Above all, be yourself, because as Shakespeare writes, "To thine own self be true", which is the best advice of all.