The First Mentoring Meeting: The Goals and the Plans

Busy Toastmasters Guide to mentoring. (Part V)

In the rest of the first meeting, I ask the Mentee about the goal they want to achieve in Toastmasters in general – and the goal they want to achieve by the end of our mentoring relationship. This is much more than small talk.

At the end of December, I had a free coaching session with a friend of mine (let’s call her Ivana). She is doing her coaching certification and needed someone to clock a couple of “coaching hours” with. Without expecting anything much, I agreed. She did not do anything magical with me, but for an hour, she asked me questions about my goals and walked me through a couple of exercises. For most of that hour, I talked to her about my goals.

I consider myself a personal development geek. This year, I will celebrate my 10th anniversary with Toastmasters. I know the value of coaching. And yet, I haven’t spoken about my goals in such depth with someone for years.

Just by asking a couple of questions, Ivana allowed me to clarify my thinking. She helped me name the obstacles I saw in achieving them. And then set actions to overcome them.

Again: She didn’t do any magic. Most of the time, she just listened. I’m sure you can do that too.

Before the end of the meeting, after you’ve had the informal conversation about your Mentee’s goals, I propose you give your Mentee an assignment:

  1. Write the goal in Toastmasters
  2. Write the goal for the duration of your mentoring – and make it measurable
  3. Set a progress checkpoint for each month so that at every future mentoring meeting, you will be able to evaluate the progress

They don’t need to worry about making it too precise. You will discuss this further. But it’s a good idea for your Mentee to start thinking about what is it they want to achieve.

For all the future meetings, you may want to refer to these three points and discuss them with your Mentee:

  • Whether and how any of the goals/checkpoints have changed
  • What progress has your Mentee made towards achieving them
  • What actions are needed to achieve them

 What to do with your Mentee?

One way to do the mentoring is to keep the distance, meet your Mentee just once in a month over a cup of coffee (Or a glass of schnaps? Depending on your local meeting culture!), and talk about your Mentee’s progress towards their goals.

If you want to, however, you can make it much more hands-on. My first mentor Georgi invited me to join his contest practice – he had a speech prepared and gave it in an empty classroom, recording on a camera. Even though I was not competing, I too recorded my speech rehearsal. We exchanged feedback, worked on our speeches a bit more, and then each of us gave our speech again.

 With my first Mentee, we met in a park and practiced Table Topics: We prepared 5 Table Topic questions and took turns answering them. Since we were just two, we were done in less than 30 minutes. Compare it to how long it takes you to give 5 Table Topics when doing them only in meetings!

One of our experienced club members met all (three or four) his mentees weekly on Sundays and was doing Improv games with them.

Another person I knew asked her mentees to record their speeches and upload them on YouTube (as private). Then she gave them detailed feedback on the video of their speech. All her comments had a reference time-stamp in them, so her mentees could trace exactly to what point their mentor was referring.

This list is not exhaustive. I shared these examples just to illustrate that there are various activities you can do with your mentees. It all depends on your Mentee’s needs, opportunities, and, most of all, on you – how much and in what ways you will want to get involved.

For even more inspiration, here’s a link to a brilliant document [75 Things to Do with your Mentee]. It’s not Toastmasters specific, but most of the tips are Toastmasters relevant!

 Closing and celebration

Even though they both start with an “M,” mentoring is not marriage. Mentoring should start with an end in mind! Whether that is a specific date or the moment your Mentee achieves their primary goal, don’t forget to plan a celebration!

A staggering 97% of mentoring relationships end without a celebration of any sort. Okay, I made that number up; but it is a lot!

Here are some of the usual ways mentoring relationships end:

  • They end without any official closing; they simply [fizzle out].
  • They end with an ordinary meeting when both parties agree that this is the end.
  • They end prematurely when one of the parties terminates the relationship (the reasons can vary).

If you’ve been in any of these, I think you’ll agree that none of them feels right.

I suggest you do it differently. At the very outset of our mentoring, you will agree on a date (or an event) when the relationship will end – and that the last mentoring meeting is going to be a special one. Think of your mentoring as a unique study program and the final meeting as small graduation.

This will achieve the following:

  • Your Mentee will have an end date in front of them. They will have extra motivation to achieve something worth celebrating.
  • The last meeting will be conducted in an elevated atmosphere that will spotlight their achievements and learnings.
  • Having “something special” at the very end of your mentoring will make both you and your Mentee remember the mentoring in the best way possible.

All life is about creating memories, and ending anything is a memorable moment by default. Why not make it a wonderful one?

The First Mentoring Meeting: The Goals and the Plans

Lukas Liebich DTM-Cafe4

Lukas Liebich DTM-Cafe4

Lukas Liebich

Click for previous articles:
Busy Toastmaster’s Guide to Mentoring
Before it, all starts: How to be a desired mentor?
Not for everybody: how to choose the right mentee