Frequently Asked Questions
Toastmasters is an international non-profit community organization providing leadership and communication training through thousands of local clubs and their members. It is a safe place to learn and practice your skills in a nurturing supportive environment. resulting in greater confidence.
Toastmasters clubs may meet on a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly basis. The meetings are designed to give most participants the opportunity to speak, with various roles in the meeting in addition to prepared and impromptu speaking.
The only way to improve anything is through practice. The meeting is designed to give everyone an opportunity to speak at each meeting in some way. Those that don’t have an official prepared speech still speak by providing updates, reports and evaluations as well as impromptu speaking opportunities. Practicing in this way give you the confidence to speak and hone your skills. Improvement is dramatic with consistent effort.
Participating in a club with Toastmasters gives you the opportunity to serve as a club officer, or even at a higher organizational level to practice your leadership skills. Communication and interaction with others is one of the fundamental skills to leadership. Leadership is influence, and does not require any particular position, but how you interact with your fellow toastmasters will help you identify your leadership style and develop your leadership skills.
Each meeting has one or more prepared speeches, along with an evaluator for each speech. Speech framework is through the Pathways Learning System, each one concentrates on a particular aspect of speaking. The topic of your speech is entirely up to you. Subjects that interest you typically make good speeches. Prepared speeches typically last from 5 – 7 minutes.
Impromptu speaking, known as table topics, is a speech of 1 to 2 minutes on a topic given by the Table Topic Master. This is a great way to learn to speak without preparation. One can choose to answer questions with the truth, make up a story, or purposely redirect the answer to a related topic that is more comfortable.
Guests are asked if they would like to participate in the table topics session, and typically asked what they thought of the meeting at the end. However, you do not have to speak if you do not want to.
Toastmasters has two types of clubs: Community (open club) and Corporate (closed club). Typically a closed club is only available to those that work at the corporation. However, some company clubs are open to all.
Toastmaster’s clubs do not discriminate against race, gender, religious persuasion, sexual orientation or physical disability.
Guests are always welcome to visit a Toastmasters meeting. Some clubs, due to their location or security policies, require advanced notice to visit. When you are ready to visit a club, you can find the club’s contact information by clicking this link.
Toastmasters is the most affordable training for leadership, speaking and communication available. Since it is a non-profit organization, the costs are simply to cover administration needs. New members pay a one time fee of $20 for registration and the pathway for learning. Dues can be paid semi-annually ($60) in March and September: annually ($120), or a prorated amount depending on the time of enrollment. Some clubs may charge an additional minimal fee to cover the cost of supplies.
As with any organization, the members make your experience valuable and fun, and the skills you learn and improve on are real world skills for success in career and business. Toastmasters have a commitment to continuous learning and growth, to helping each other improve in a fun and supportive environment and develop lasting friendships with like-minded people. You can compete in speech contests, and even perhaps become a “World Champion of Public Speaking”. You speaking opportunities allow you to network with others, and improve your skills all around in marketing communications as well as speaking in public. You can attend educational trainings and conferences around the world and meet fellow toastmasters from other clubs. You can practice a second language with the use of teleconference (zoom type) meetings. The opportunities to get better are endless!
Toastmasters are required to pay their dues on time in the March and September timeframe. If the dues are not paid within 2 months, the member will be removed from the club roster. If a minimum of eight members in good standing are not met, then the club is no longer in good standing, and will be given 6 months to become reinstated.
The meeting roles can vary with different clubs, but the essence of all meetings will have the following:
The Toastmaster is the Emcee and leader of the meeting. The Toastmaster is responsible for administering the meeting and keeping it on time. The Toastmaster introduces each speaker and forms a bridge between the various parts of the meeting. Often, the Toastmaster has a quote, thought of the day, or introduces a theme for the meeting. Sometimes the theme for the meeting is known ahead of time and everyone will have a part in the theme.
The greeter is responsible for making all members and guests feel welcomed to the club meeting. As members and guests enter the meeting room, or online platform, the greeter greets them. The Greeter shows guests the guest log for in person meetings, helps prepare a nametag and provides a high level overview of what to expect.
The Wordmaster introduces a word of the day, defines the word and gives an example of it’s usage. The world of the day is used to improve the vocabulary of the club members. Members are challenged to use the word of the day when they have a turn to speak. This often makes the meeting more interesting and challenging.
Speakers prepare a speech based on the assignments in the Pathways Learning System. Each speech project within the system has specific objectives to focus on. Typically speeches are 5 to 7 minutes long, but may be as short as 2 minutes or as long as 20 minutes.
Each speaker has an evaluator assigned to provide feedback. The evaluator provides both written and oral feedback. Evaluators are encouraged to use the “sandwich method” which starts of with positives, then offers some areas for improvement and then follow up with positives. Prepared and impromptu speakers receive evaluations.
Table Topics Master
The Table Topics Master presides over the impromptu section of the meeting. The Table Topics Master prepares a set of unique questions and randomly calls on members to respond. Guests are invited to participate, but this is optional. This part of the meeting can get very creative.
The Ah counter monitors all speaking during the meeting and reports on teh use of filler words such as “ah”, “um”, “er”, “and”, “but” and “so” for example. These words can be annoying to listeners and make a person appear to be less confident. The ah counter will give a general report and let people know how the meeting went.
The Grammarian monitors all speaker during the meeting and reports on good and bad use of the language, and notes any unusual or interesting words or phrases being used. The Grammarian shares their report with their observations.
The Timer is responsible for monitoring the time and will record the time for each speaker and evaluator. The time will provide signals to the speakers to let them know when they have reached the minimum time, the middle time and the maximum time allowed for a spoken part. The timer usually uses green, yellow and red, respectively. The timer will give a report at the end of the meeting.
The General Evaluator presides over the evaluation section of the meeting. The General Evaluator calls for the reports by the Grammarian, Ah Counter, and the Timer, and provides feedback don the meeting in general. The General Evaluator provides feedback on the overall flow of the meeting, whether it started and finished on time, and any recommendations that could be improved.
Click here for resources to help fill these roles.