Let's get started! Decide on a club name. You can name your club in any way you want, as long as it complies with the official naming rules and limitations. There's no need to include "Agora" in your club's name. Your club could just be "Advanced Speakers of Paris", for example. Club Logo Due to the way many materials (such as badges, certificates, evaluation forms, etc.) are generated, and also to prevent confusion between the materials that clubs create and the official materials of the Foundation, all clubs are required to have a custom logo. Plus, having a club logo helps improve the camaraderie between the members and makes it much funnier when participating in external events. There are two options: You may design your own club logo as long as it meets the brand guidelines and the club name requirements. Needless to say, the club logo and club name must be aligned and not contradict each other. For example, your club may not be called "Advanced Speakers of Paris" and have a logo that says "Agora Speakers Moscow". We can automatically generate a logo for you when you register the club, based on a standard design that includes the Agora square logo and club name. For example, if your club is called "Amman Speakers", the logos we will provide to you will look like these (except that we provide them in very high resolution). You can start with the logo that we generate automatically, then change it once the club is up and running. Decide your club's characteristics. Next, you need to "configure" the club by deciding some of its core attributes. Almost all of them can be changed once the club is up and running, so don't become blocked at this stage. Type of club Agora has different types of clubs, each of them with different characteristics, requirements, and fees. The most frequent type of club is the Public club, which basically allows anyone to become a member, and it's the one we recommend. Public clubs are completely free to create and pay no fees of any kind to Agora Speakers International. Online or Physical meetings? The club can meet physically, only online, or a combination of both. In this case, our recommendation is to have a physical club that occasionally meets online. Online meetings allow members around the world to participate and are a wonderful opportunity for meeting new people, having some fresh external feedback, and be exposed to different cultures, ideas, and language accents. Additionally, having an occasional online meeting simplifies recruiting new members since it makes it easier for curious people "on the fence" to visit the club without much effort or commitment. The full educational experience can only be obtained in a club that meets physically, so we encourage this option. Also, please note that some educational projects may not be completed online or have additional requirements in that case. Needless to say, physical clubs can move to online meetings in case of exceptional circumstances such as the 2020 pandemic. It's challenging to push a truck and to get it to move. However, once it's moving, it's relatively easy to keep it that way. A club is similar and also has a lot of inertia - it takes a lot of effort to get to a healthy and regularly meeting club. If you have a club that's meeting physically and regularly, and some exceptional circumstances arise, it's better and much easier to switch to online meetings and keep the regularity than to stop meetings altogether and then try to resume them. The official location of the club. Even if the club is purely online, it has to be registered for organizational purposes as belonging to a particular town or locality - the one in which the majority of the founding members live. Note that this is one of the very few things that cannot be changed once the club is registered. A club that was registered as belonging to Paris, France, cannot later be changed to Rio de Janeiro, Brasil. The Meeting Schedule Which days of the week are you going to meet? Agora Speakers clubs must meet at least once a month, except for the summer holidays. Of course, you can meet more frequently - once every two weeks, or even weekly. Some clubs even meet more frequently - twice a week no less!. Whatever the case, it's best if your club has a well-defined meeting schedule. Although usually, clubs opt for a schedule that is twice a month (something like "every first and third Wednesday"), if your club is Public, we recommend that it meets weekly. This will make things more difficult initially because it's complicated for people to have such a commitment. Unless you start with 20 or 30 founding members, there will be meetings where you will have only 4 or 5 members attending. That's ok - as a club leader, you also need to deal with these kinds of situations. However, in the long run, a club that meets weekly grows faster because the schedule is much clearer to potential guests. If the club meets every Wednesday, then everybody knows that if it's Wednesday, there's a meeting. However, if the club meets "every first and third Wednesday", one has to look up in the calendar which Wednesday is the next one going to be, then what happens on the fifth Wednesday of the month, then what if the first Wednesday was a holiday and is the meeting lost or moved to the second Wednesday, etc. If you decide that the club will meet on a weekly schedule, it's a good idea to remind guests that it's ok if they can't attend every single week. The Meeting Venue If the club meets physically, you'll need to find a suitable meeting venue. We'll talk about the meeting venue a bit later. Languages that will be used in the club. As mentioned before, we encourage Agora Speakers clubs to use not only English but also local languages. You can have a club that only uses one local language or clubs that alternate languages in meetings, or clubs that allow a selection of languages to be used in the same meeting. When choosing the club's language, consider whether Agora's Educational Materials are available in that language. We're open to adding languages to the wiki, and translations are mostly volunteer-based, so if you want your club to use an unsupported language, please consider helping with translating the materials first. Unless you expect all members to know all the languages used, we recommend that each club focuses on just one language (not necessarily English). If a club mixes two languages in the same session (let's say Spanish and English), some of the members might not understand half of the content and will feel alienated. Additionally, it is also stressful for a speaker to see that part of the public is not paying attention because they don't understand the language he's using. If a club alternates meetings between two languages, then what usually happens is that members just go to the session in the language they're more comfortable with - which effectively splits the club. Club fees will be charged to members. Although Agora does not charge any fees to open public clubs, your club can charge members to sustain its operation. Please note that if you charge fees, you need to comply with all the rules for club finances. Participation of non-members There are three types of non-members that may visit your club, and you need to decide what roles you will allow them to have at the meeting. A non-resident member is a member of any other Agora Speakers club. You can decide that you will allow these special "guests" to take any role except prepared speeches. We encourage that clubs allow that any Agora member is allowed to have any meeting role in any Agora club. This helps build confidence, as members can practice public speaking in front of many different audiences and not merely in front of the members of their home club. Guests, on the other hand, are people from the general public that are not members of any club, and most of the time, don't even know what this is about and are just curious about the organization. We encourage you to allow them to perform simple roles like the thought of the day or participant in hot questions to give them a feeling of speaking in public. Foundation representatives. Foundation representatives are members of the governing bodies of the Foundation, as well as Agora Ambassadors. For participation, they are subject to the same participation rules as any non-resident member. In other words, the title alone doesn't give them any special participation rights. Public clubs are required to accept guests and non-resident members in their meetings, subject only to space availability if the meeting takes place physically in a venue. Additionally, all clubs are required to accept visits from Foundation Representatives and Agora Ambassadors for guidance and ensuring that all clubs follow the Agora mechanics. Club contact information Clubs must publish two alternative forms of contacting the club, at least one of which must be an EMail or a telephone number. That information will be made public. Here are some examples of valid and invalid combinations Email and Facebook Phone and Website Phone and EMail Website and Facebook Instagram and Facebook Instagram and Phone You also need to designate a specific person to act as the contact person for the club. This contact person for a club can be any member (not necessarily a club officer) who will be in charge of replying to information requests by interested people. Recordings of Meetings One important decision you need to make is whether the meetings will be recorded and photographed and whether individual members will have the right to request being excluded from the procedure. Whatever the decision, make sure it's clearly documented on all of the club's sites, advertising materials, and event posts. We recommend that all meetings are recorded and photographed and the proceedings publicly posted. This provides a fantastic progression track of how members improve and helps attract new members to the club. If a club decides to adhere to the above recommendation, then it's fundamental that either the Meeting Facilitator, or the Meeting Leader, or the Videographer, or any Club Officer clearly states at the beginning of the meeting (of every meeting) - before the recording is turned on - that a full recording will take place. This is important because the meeting may have some guests or visitors unaware of the fact (although ideally, guests should have been informed in advance to avoid wasting their time if they don't consent). Agora Speakers requires all clubs to comply with the European GDPR privacy framework (regardless of the jurisdiction where the club is located), which means that the notification must state: That the meeting will be recorded The purpose of the recording Where the information will be posted Whether there's an ability to opt-out (or not) and how to exercise it. For example, this could be a sample statement: "Hello everyone, As in all meetings, I need to warn you that the meeting will be photographed and videotaped. We do this so that all members can view their progress and so that we can showcase our clubs to others. Videos are uploaded to the youtube channel of the club and are visible to the Internet at large. We also send some of our best videos and speeches to Agora Speakers International. Please note that once uploaded, there's nothing we can do to stop the propagation of the video. Unfortunately, video edits are a very time-consuming process, so we must ask that anyone who doesn't want their speech to be recorded to state that clearly at the beginning of the speech will stop the recording. If you change your mind after the fact, your only option is to do the video edits yourself with your own tools and provide us with the final video within one week after the meeting. Also, please note that this only applies if you take an active role. If you're simply part of the audience, we cannot remove you from the video, so your only option, if you don't want to be present in our recording, is to leave the meeting now. Anyone staying is granting their consent for their presence to be recorded and shared publicly." There's no shame to have a "no-opt-out policy". After all, both Agora and the club are providing an invaluable service to anyone that wants to join, virtually for free (or totally for free, if the club doesn't have any fees). Professional courses for the same set of skills start at over several thousand dollars. Rules of Order used in the club Apart from the regular educational meetings, your club will occasionally need to hold meetings for different kinds of issues: Use of club funds Election of club officers Disciplinary procedures Changing any of the parameters of the club from this section ...other topics of interest Although some aspects of how business should be conducted during these meetings are codified in the Agora Club Constitution (such as how votes are counted and how majorities are calculated), the club needs to decide on a set of rules to apply to guarantee orderly meetings. Here are some options to choose from: The always-popular Robert's Rules of Order. The Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure. Riddick's Rules of Procedure. Demeter's Manual of Parliamentary Law and Procedure. Bourinot's Rules of Order. Francis & Francis' Democratic Rules of Order ...any other that your club finds convenient. If your club chooses to pick a different set of rules than the ones suggested here, please note that the selected set of rules MUST: Give all club members equal importance Give all members an equal opportunity for presenting, supporting, opposing, and withdrawing motions. Give all members an equal opportunity and time for participating in orderly meetings without intimidation or fear of disagreement. Types of Speech Content One last thing you may want to set is the type of speech content allowed in the club. There are many scenarios in which you might want to set that explicitly. For example, you might want to have a club dedicated to History where only speeches about historical subjects are allowed. Alternatively, you may want to have a club exclusively for practicing sales pitches. If you want to limit the types of speech content allowed, make sure you read the specific article about the rules governing this. Legal Registration A final decision is whether you want to proceed with legally registering the club with the state's non-profit register. This is usually a cumbersome process that should not be taken lightly and may derail the whole club creation procedure. Unfortunately, we cannot provide specific information on whether that is necessary for your club and how it's done - you'll need to consult an expert in your local jurisdiction. In the general case, we do offer three suggestions (not to be taken as legal advice): If the law allows, try to get the club up and running and stabilized before attempting the legal registration process. We view clubs as the equivalent of "private study groups" - a private set of people that meet periodically to study and practice together some skills, not much different from the way students in a class would meet to study the subject and to practice before an exam. Some of these meetings might have costs (such as renting the study room) that need to be shared. Check if your local jurisdiction requires such a group to have legal registration. Clubs are legally independent of the Agora Speakers International Foundation. As such, any registration should be made as a local independent entity and not as any "branch", "representative", or "part" of a foreign Foundation. Public Clubs, PICs, and Restricted Clubs may not register as for-profit entities. If they wish to pursue legal registration, it must be strictly as a not-for-profit entity. Please also note that most of the time, legal registration will imply purchasing some civil liability insurance. Again, this is one of the areas where we can neither provide information nor help in any way - consult a local legal expert. Missing a decision? Use this handy form from our Asset Creator to record all the decisions made and make sure that you haven't missed anything.