Toastmaster Club Meetings
This page outlines what happens at a typical Toastmasters club meeting, and the roles of the participants.
How long are club meetings?
Most Toastmasters meetings last between one and two hours.
Typical club meeting activities
At a typical club meeting, members are given a chance to practise:
- chairing a meeting,
- giving a short impromptu speech (table topic),
- delivering a prepared speech, and
- giving feedback on the speeches and other aspects of the meeting.
The atmosphere is always supportive, and usually light-hearted.
What is table topics all about?
In this portion of the meeting, club members (and willing guests) practice impromptu speaking by responding to questions or topics prepared by the Table Topics Master.
Sometimes the topics are simple, such as "My Favourite Holiday", and sometimes they are more challenging, focusing on issues of the day, such as Elections, the Olympics, Health, Education or Crime, where you may be required to give an opinion, or argue a point of view. Whatever the format, a good impromptu session should include topics that any member, irrespective of experience, can speak to. It not quite usual for first-time guests to be asked to introduce themselves with a little background and an idea of how they believe Toastmasters can help them.
Prepared Speeches have specific objectives
In this section of the meeting, Toastmasters practice their public speaking skills by giving a prepared presentation from the Communication and Leadership Programmes.
Each project has specific objectives in an area that helps you practice different speaking techniques.
These objectives are designed as guidelines to help you think about the various qualities that comprise a good speech.
Some speakers may be giving an icebreaker, while others may be trying to persuade you to their point of view, or inform you about technical issues relating to their hobby or occupation.
You'll learn something new with every speech you listen to!
Evaluations offer valuable feedback
During this portion of the meeting, you'll practice your listening and thinking skills.
Speech evaluators will give feedback on the prepared speeches. Their objective is to provide this in a positive, specific and helpful way, so the speaker can see ways to become more effective.
The General Evaluator comments on the running of the meeting as a whole, and evaluates those who have not already received feedback.
All evaluations provide valuable insights on how the evaluators saw the speakers and will point out the positive aspects of the speech and some possible areas for improvement in a helpful manner.
Many Roles in a Meeting
Other members fill a number of roles in order to help the meeting flow smoothly. Different clubs may have additional roles or perform them in a different way; that is up to the club.
- The Toastmaster prepares and leads the meeting as "host" or chairperson.
- The Table Topics Master leads the impromptu speaking portion.
- The Assistant Sergeant at Arms sets up the meeting venue and serves refreshments.
- The Timer supports everyone by reminding them of their use of time using lights and a stopwatch.
- The Um-Ah Counter tracks annoying speaking habits, so that speakers can become aware of and correct them.
- The Grammarian encourages correct use of language.
- Evaluators listen carefully to the speakers and give oral and written feedback.
- The General Evaluator evaluates the evaluators and reports on the conduct of the meeting.
Business Section is for Club Notices
During this section of the meeting, the club's business is handled, usually by the President.
At the same time, the club practices effective meeting management skills, so that club business can be dealt with quickly and efficiently.
New members are usually voted in to the club during General Business and are presented with their new member pack.
Other awards and presentations may be given during this part of the meeting.
Clubs that hold two-hour meetings usually have a 10 minute break at the half-way point for tea/coffee and something to eat. This is also an excellent chance for guests to ask any questions they may have. The home baking is sometimes the highlight of the meeting!