A Breath of Fresh Air for Walk The Talk TM

A Breath of Fresh Air for Walk The Talk TM – Walk The Talk, a seven-year-TM club in Zurich, needed to grow its membership through creative marketing and promotion strategies. However, our Facebook (FB) page was not delivering the goods nor bringing in the reach and access to prospective members we hoped for. Not being able to pay for advertising, we noticed that our FB posts received very little attention, averaging a reach of between 4-8 people per post. We had heard of other TM clubs using Meetup to drive their recruitment and decided to try it.

Meetup for marketing

Meetup helps people with shared interests to connect online and then meet offline.

After about six months, the number of members signed up to our Meetup Page reached 100. How did we do it? We made sure to:

  • Engage every new Meetup member with a personal welcome message
  • Ask them why/if they needed public speaking skills and for what contexts. Show them the value of participation.
  • Inform them of our schedule of meetings, time, and place, and invite them to our
  • Eschew chunks of generic, boilerplate text in favor of detailed write-ups to announce each meeting
  • Please include as much interesting information as possible about how the evening will unfold to entice readers to choose us over other meetings. Adding intriguing speech titles and speaker information/qualifications/specific interests or background can only add to the anticipation of the evening.
    An example here: https://www.meetup.com/Walk-The-Talk-Advanced-Toastmasters-club/events/251060935/
  • Reach out to members who RSVPed to say we look forward to seeing them soon.

It’s no rocket science, but building connections with members pre-event tells plenty about who we are and what we care about. We want to attract quality prospects to our meetings and win them over through time to become active and committed Toastmasters at our club. Post-Event, we continue to nurture our connections with returning guests.

The results

A Breath of Fresh Air for Walk The Talk TM – More guests started showing up at our meetings than we had ever had in a long while, around 3-8 guests at a time. Most of them came through our Meetup Page after seeing our announcements and getting our messages.

Over the past 16-18 months, we grew our membership by almost 100%, going from around ten members (about half inactive) to 21 members. We ensured guests were warmly welcomed, inviting them to introduce themselves, and we asked for their takeaways at the end of the meeting. This makes our guests feel valued and appreciated, and manymented that they would return. We even had a handful of guests who joined after the first meeting.

Another strategy was to ask returning guests who showed a lot of self-confidence if they would like to take the stage to give us a 4-6 minute icebreaker speech. We were surprised at how well it worked out. The guests felt encouraged to show their best and gave us excellent speeches despite not having much previous speaking experience. About three such guests signed up as members shortly after. This was also a helpful trick, as we didn’t always have enough speakers on our Agenda at some meetings.


There’s too much “white noise” around us through email announcements or social media platforms. I get invitations to various events and activities daily and weekly, as I’m on many mailing lists. There are plenty of activities all week long but only five evenings. Multiple organizations and groups are clamoring to get public attention for their events, messages, and posts. We are not just competing with the other 15 TM clubs or other Public Speaking groups present in Zurich per se … but also with all other Meetup groups promoting an ever-expanding array of special interest activities in Zurich on the same evening, such as Hiking, Yoga, Robotics, Block Chain, Artificial Intelligence, Photography. The list goes on …

Spoilt for choice – breaking out from the masses

Whichever event one chooses to go to means sacrificing an alternate event, so we need to do all we can to excite people enough to select our event over what may be a myriad of at least 3-5 other choices on the same evening. Not forgetting that many of us have a healthy range of interests, of which public speaking is only one. And if you’re like me and don’t want to be out on the town every evening, making the proper selection for which interest group’s activity to participate in becomes all the more critical. Attractive announcements aside, we also rely on the passion and commitment of our members to deliver on our promise of having fun and insightful meetings.

Some meeting organizers assume that free events naturally draw crowds, so they don’t bother to say too much about their meetings for fear of losing the surprise element. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. You can never give away too much about an event if you have solid bedrock content. Zurich residents are a fussy, demanding, and well-heeled lot. The choice of what to do in an evening, whether a paying or non-paying event, is staggering. You are taking your chances on who will show up if you haven’t gotten the basics right.

Themed Club meetings

We have been focusing on theming our monthly club meetings whenever possible: some past themes have been Shakespeare Nite, US Election Nite, Mid-Autumn Festival, Valentine’s Day, etc, among others, and these branded events have been quite a crowd puller. Occasionally, we carried this theme into the prepared speeches, which was an absolute delight. They also encouraged some inactive members to show up again after long absences.

From time to time, we inserted themes into our Table Topics sessions to inject more variety and novelty, which added to the atmosphere of the evening and made our meetings much more refreshing.


We offer four workshops in a year where we engage more closely with our members and guests. Again, we go all out to attract maximum participation for each session. Furthermore, just because there are free workshops doesn’t mean people will descend in droves to break down our doors to be admitted. We do thorough write-ups detailing as much as possible:

  • The content, learning points, takeaways
  • Format of the session – group work or pair work
  • Why this topic? Why should the audience care? Why now?
  • Who is the trainer? Why is she qualified to address this – background, interests?
  • What are my takeaways?

And in doing so, we help readers decide whether it will be worthwhile to take their precious evening time out to participate. If the workshop doesn’t sound like it will deliver, I am the type that would much rather stay home with a good book on the sofa. This goes through many people’s minds in this day and age of the 21st century: information overload, decision paralysis, feeling overwhelmed, and stress. Do I need to go to another workshop?

Christina Kwok, ACB, CL

Walk The Talk Toastmasters, Zurich

Christina is currently VP of Public Relations @ Walk The Talk (WTT) club in Zurich, Switzerland after having previously assumed the roles of President and VP Education. She has been a toastmaster for 4 years and is keen to help WTT reinvent itself after having previously branded itself as a club for Advanced Toastmasters which led to difficulty in recruiting new members. Her interest in public speaking stems from her desire to lead and facilitate in-company workshops on change management, virtual teambuilding and leadership across cultures.