Ever since Agora Speakers was started, one of the goals was not merely creating a friendly club environment where members could learn and practice public speaking and leadership skills, but also providing them with speaking and leadership opportunities outside of the club environment. Furthermore, one of the goals of Agora was letting members have an impact in their community during the learning process itself, through leadership of local projects that make a difference to people.
We must also distinguish "Leadership" from "Management". While management can be learned to a degree by managing small teams, or a club, or a higher-level Agora event, Leadership is something that requires much greater and different skills and can never be learned within the constraints of a structured organization.
While we will strive to reach global – either country or worldwide - deals with different entities (commercial, governmental, educational, etc.), as well as increase the projection of our organization, there's only so much that can be done at a global level. In fact, probably most opportunities will be local events - fairs, conferences, exhibitions, interest-group meetings, etc.
In terms of leadership, we face the same challenge – most opportunities to help will be local, on a small scale, tackling specific problems.
The role of the Vice President of Community Leadership
The Vice President of Community Leadership (VPCL) will be a new, required officer, in all clubs. The VPCL will be in charge of centralizing all community leadership work and projects.
More specifically, the VPCL:
- Will act as a single point of contact between the club and any external organizations interested in cooperating, including local authorities.
- Will be in charge of finding both speaking, leadership and volunteering opportunities for members.
- Will be in charge of determining which eligible club members are suitable for the different speaking opportunities, depending experience and progress through the Educational Program.
- Will be in charge of coordinating the action of the club with other Agora clubs in an area.
- Will be in charge of approving proposals for leadership projects by members, including judging whether the scope of the project is appropriate (neither too big, nor toosmall) consideringthe leadership experience of the specific member.
- Will be in charge of suggesting and approving individual member participation in existing leadership projects.
As with all officer roles with the exception of the Club President, more than one person can have the role of VPCL if the effort and time so requires, and they can enlist the help of other members for a particular task. Also, a person can simultaneously have both a VPCL and other officer roles simultaneously for small clubs.
The VPCL should also coordinate with the VPCLs of other clubs in the area of interest to avoid duplication of efforts. VPCLs of all clubs in an area should act cooperatively and never in a competition of "who gets this or that project or speaking opportunity". Information about available options should be shared, and VPCLs who have problems finding community leadership or speaking opportunities should be helped by the rest of the VPCLs in the area. In fact, the end goal will be creating a worldwide database of opportunities created by VPCLs from which the members can choose.
External Public Speaking Opportunities
Members that have completed the first two parts of the Basic Educational Program are eligible for external public speaking opportunities.
Guidelines and suggestions on how to find and/or create external public speaking opportunities will be published once all the feedback and suggestions for this role have been received. In general, these will include:
- Lectures and workshops in schools, universities, and social action groups
- Club-organized open events
- Other public speaking organizations
- Conferences, Fairs and exhibitions
- Club / Agora YouTube channels and podcasts
- Business networking groups and events
- Social events (weddings, parties, etc.)
Rules Regarding Fees
- When the external public speaking opportunity is created by the club, no fees can be requested or accepted.
- When an organization approaches an Agora Speakers club with a public speaking opportunity for which there's no pre-existing budged allocated, no fees can be requested.
- When a member participates in a pre-existing for-pay public speaking opportunity provided by Agora, the fees must be distributed as follows:
- 60% for the member participating
- 30% for the Club that provided the opportunity
- 10% for Agora Speakers International.
Community Leadership Projects
There are two types of projects depending on the participation and involvement of members:
- Projects with individual member involvement.
- Projects with club or organization involvement.
Common requirements for projects
Note: The following are requirements for projects in which either the whole club is involved, or a member participates on an individual basis as an Agora Speakers International member, or projects that can be proposed by the VPCL.
Regardless of the type, leadership projects should be:
- Focused – The project must target a specific area of the social environment where the club lives.
- Attainable – Projects must have a scope that is compatible with the leadership experience of the member, as judged by the VPCL.
- Specific - The project must have a specific set of goals, and a specific set of actions to be performed. Preferably, there should be a way to measure how successful the project was.
- Lawful – Safety of members and of the organization are of paramount importance. Therefore, regardless of how members or clubs feel about a particular piece of legislation or the laws of a country, all community projects must comply with all applicable laws and must be done with the full awareness, acceptance, authorization and– if possible – cooperation with the authorities.
- Consistent with the mission and principles of Agora Speakers International. This means that neither members nor VPCLs can be involved in any projects that:
- Are discriminatory
- Promote any particular religious or political agenda or worldview.
- Promote commercial organizations, products, or services.
- Although participation as mere volunteers is a good and necessary starting point, clubs and VPCLs in particular should strive that the projects are actually created and led by members.
- Participation in projects need not be restricted only to Agora members; in fact the opposite should be actively encouraged – that Agora members lead community teams of all sorts of people.
As in the case of the External Public Speaking Opportunities, educational guidelines, tipsand suggestions on selecting, creating and leading community projects will be published once all the feedback and suggestions for this role have been received.
Projects with individual member involvement
Projects with individual member involvement are those in which one or members participate as individuals, not acting on behalf or in representation of a club.
Projects with club involvement
Projects with club involvement are those in which the club as a whole participates, devoting its resources (both in term of funds as well as effort and time of members) to helping a specific cause. Either the President or the VPCL can propose such projects. The proposal must be specific in terms of the project, the exact club resources that will be committed (funds, equipment or other assets) and the involvement that is required.
For a club to be involved in a project, at least 2/3 of members must vote in favor of such support, with a quorum of 50%+1 of the members voting. Clubs may set stricter conditions for getting involved in a project, but not more relaxed.
Please note that the fact that a club votes to be involved in a project merely means that members authorize the club to be officially involved as an entity with the project, and its assets used to the extend specified in the proposal. It does not mean that members are required to participate in that particular project. Participation of members in any project is always voluntary.
Projects with club involvement must have a specific duration of less than one year, they cannot be general causes. However, they can be renewed yearly if the members renew their support. The purpose of this rule is that whatever is voted by a specific set of members in one point of time cannot be imposed indefinitely for all other members that come down the lane.
Following the principle of neutrality of Agora Speakers International, clubs as a whole cannot be involved in any projects connected with political or religious agendas. For example, an individual member can lead and organize a specific religious event in a church if that is compatible with his or her faith, or help the political candidate of his choice, but the club as a whole cannot. This in particular means that – in unison with the branding guide - no club logo or name can ever appear connected to a political or religious logo.
Clubs can give monetary or equivalent aid to a project only if the project provides the same financial transparency as required for Agora Speakers clubs. Specifically, the detailed usage of the given funds must be published online for all Agora members worldwide. The aid must be specific and limited in quantity and duration.
Integration within the Educational Program
There are four points where External Speaking Opportunities and Community Leadership Projects can be integrated in the Educational Program:
- The first and most obvious one is as part of the Leadership or Advanced Educational Paths
- The second might be as a pre-requisite for some final projects of the Basic Communication Path
- The third one involves a proposal for creating a global, ranked "points system" (Leadership Points?), similar to the one proposed for debates, under which points are awarded to members for completing different leadership tasks and projects. Each Agora member would know how many LPs he or she has. Please note that this is not a "quality program" with goals and requirements - it will always be up to each member the degree of involvement with this program. Having a minimum amount of LPs can then be requested as a pre-requisite for some advanced projects or opportunities.
- The fourth one involves merit badges and award upon completion of leadership projects.