The Toastmasters values are Integrity, Respect, Service, and Excellence. The Area Director club visits are one way to spread those values and get a real feel for how our members are doing. They are an opportunity for two-way communication between the club and the District that helps us all achieve more.

Area Directors (AD) are responsible for visiting each club in their Area at least twice during the club year and then submitting club visit reports (AD reports) to TI after those visits. The deadlines for an AD to submit these reports are 11/30 and 5/31. Pre-COVID, the AD club visits were expected to be in person, where the AD made notes during the meeting about the club’s strengths and its opportunities for improvement. The AD would also have time before or after the meeting to talk individually with club officers and members to obtain information needed for the AD reports and get a feel for how the club was doing.

The new situation of online meetings does pose some unique challenges to fulfilling the AD role but also allows for greater flexibility. Online meetings may offer ADs the opportunity to visit their clubs more frequently than twice per year. The ease of simply logging on to attend a meeting can free up an AD’s time and make it easier for the club to accommodate the visit. It’s still a good idea for ADs to contact club officers a couple of weeks in advance to notify them of a planned visit. This contact could also be used as a chance to start obtaining the information needed to complete the AD report. ADs can even send the blank report to the club officers ahead of time so that they know what the AD will be looking at during the visit. Club officers can even help the AD by completing the section of the report that asks for the names of members who will be completing educational awards for the club year.

To make a club visit as effective as possible, ADs and club officers both can do some advance work. ADs should review the club’s Distinguished Club Program information in TI to see if there are some areas where the club could use extra support. The AD should also look at the club’s website and other public-facing outlets for accuracy and engagement. Club officers should think about who in the club is working towards educational goals. They should also consider areas where the District can offer the club support or help, and then communicate those needs to the AD.

Clubs are the heart of Toastmasters and District 32. An effective Area Director visit gives them a chance to be heard. While the current situation is not optimal, there are still places for members and leaders to shine in District 32.