Q: Are Toastmasters clubs in our division currently open for new members?
A: Yes, we are currently open for new members. Please visit as a guest, find a club that feels just right for you and let us know you want to join us. We’d love to have you join.
Q: Can I visit Toastmasters as a guest?
A: Yes. To visit the club as a guest is free.You can visit each club up to 3 times for free before you have to become a member.
Q: If I come as a guest, is there anything I should prepare?
A: No, there is nothing to prepare. You are there as our guest. Come along and enjoy!
Q: Are guests required to speak?
A: If there are roles available in the evening, we will often invite our guests to fill those roles. Guests are not required to speak, however we do appreciate a few comments or feedback at the end of the meeting.
Q: As a member, what if I can’t make a meeting in which I have an assigned role?
A: Club courtesy is to arrange for a replacement for your role by contacting people directly.
Q: Can I use one of my prepared speeches to practice a presentation for my charity or business?
A: Absolutely! Prepared speeches are a great way to practice for your “real world” presentations.
Q: Can I advertise my charity or business by doing such things as handing out business cards / pamphlets to everyone, or phoning or sending an email to everyone on the club’s list?
A: Member information is private and confidential and we do not allow the use the club or the email / contact list for charitable or business purposes.
Q: What if I’m not sure of what to do for a role?
A: You can download a PDF file with a description of roles here. As well, the majority of our members are happy to help describe individual roles. Please feel free to ask anyone in the club.
Q: What happens at a meeting?
The format varies slightly from club to club, but the basics include:
- The business meeting (usually very brief)
- Introduction of the Toastmaster of the Meeting, who presides over the program
that day. The Toastmaster will often explain the meeting as it progresses.
- Prepared speeches from members (of which more below)
- Impromptu speeches from members known as Table Topics
- Oral and written evaluations of prepared speeches
- Reports from other evaluation personnel, such as the timer, grammarian, the Table Topics evaluator and General Evaluator
Meetings last anywhere from one hour (especially at lunch or breakfast) to two hours. Some clubs meet every week, throughout the year. Others meet alternate weeks and some clubs take a break over the summer.
Q: What’s a “Prepared Speech?”
When you join Toastmasters, you receive a basic speaking manual with ten speech projects. Each project calls on you to prepare a speech on a subject of your own choosing but using certain speaking principles. Each manual project lists the objectives for that speech and includes a written checklist for your evaluator to use when evaluating the speech. Thus, if you’re scheduled to speak at a meeting, you generally pull out your manual a week, or two, in advance and put together a speech on whatever subject you like, but paying attention to your goals and the objectives for that speech.
Then, when you go to the meeting, you give your manual to your evaluator and that person makes written comments on the checklist while you speak. During the evaluation portion of the meeting, your evaluator then gives an oral commentary on how they felt your presentation went. The purpose of the extensive preparation and commentary is to show you what you’re doing well, and what areas you may need to work on.
Q: What is “Table Topics”?
Table Topics is fun! It’s also terrifying. Basically, it calls on members and even some guests, if they are willing, to present a one to two minute impromptu speech on a subject not known to you until the moment you get up to speak! A member of the club assigned to be Table Topics master will prepare a few impromptu topics and call on members of the audience to stand up and speak on the topic.
Topics might include current events, or philosophical types of questions, or even wacky questions that most often lead to very humourous presentations.
Q: What is an “Evaluation?”
The Evaluation program is the foundation that Toastmasters is built on.
All prepared speakers, should have their speaking manuals with them and should have passed them on to the evaluators before hand. During the speech, and after, each speaker’s evaluator will be taking written notes and furthermore, plan what to say during the two to three minute oral evaluation.
Evaluation is tough to do well because it requires an evaluator to do more than say “here’s what you did wrong.” A good evaluator will say “here’s what you did well and here’s why doing that was good, and here are some things you might want to work on for your next speech and here’s how you might work on them.” It’s important to remember that the evaluator is giving his/her point of view. Other members of the audience can, and should, also give you written, or spoken comments on aspects of your speech they feel are important.
Q: What´s all the emphasis on time limits?
As noted above, speeches have time limits, Table Topics have time limits generally 1-2 minutes and evaluations have time limits of 3 minutes generally. The exception to this regards both Table Topics and General meeting evaluations. The timing is intended to keep the meeting on time and to put practical limits on various parts of a meeting.
Time limits are rarely enforced to the letter, but you may be ‘clapped down’ if you go on an on. It depends on the style of the individual club.
Clubs generally use a set of timing lights to warn the speakers of the advancement of time. For an example:
If a speech is from 5 to 7 minutes. A green light will be shown at 5 minutes,amber at 6, and red at 7.
In two minute Table Topics, the lights would be shown at 1 minute, 1.5 minutes and 2 minutes respectively.
When the green light comes on, you’ve spoken the required amount, though you need notfinish at this point. When the yellow light comes on, you should begin wrapping up. By the time the red light comes on, you should be at the closing stages of your presentation. The only time you are actually ‘penalized’ for going over, or under the required time is in speaking competition; in speech contests you must remain within the interval, or suffer disqualification.
Q: What recognition will I receive?
Some clubs hold an audience vote for ‘Best Speaker’, ‘Best Table’, Topic Speaker’, and ‘Best Evaluator’ during the meeting. As well, it is a common occurance for clubs to award certificates of achievement at regular intervals, and opportunities to compete in contests and speaking engagements are always encouraged and recognized.
Q: What speech projects are there for me to work on?
In the basic (“Communication and Leadership” manual), there are ten speech projects:
- Icebreaker – 4 to 6 minutes – begin speaking before an audience, discover speaking skills you already have and skills that need attention.
- Organize your speech- 5 to 7 minutes – select an outline that allows listeners to easily follow and understand your speech.
- Get to the Point – 5 to 7 minutes – prepare a speech that has a general purpose (to inform, persuade, entertain or inspire) and a specific purpose. Project sincerity and conviction.
- How You Say It – 5 to 7 minutes – select the right words and sentence structure to communicate your ideas clearly and vividly.
- Your Body Speaks – 5 to 7 minutes – use stance, movement, gestures, facial expressions and eye contact to express your message and achieve your speech’s purpose.
- Vocal Variety – 5 to 7 minutes – use voice volume, pitch, rate and quality to reflect and add meaning and interest to your message.
- Research Your Topic – 5 to 7 minutes – support your points and opinions with specific facts, examples and illustrations gathered through research
- Get Comfortable With Visual Aids – 6 to 8 minutes – select visual aids that are appropriate for your message and the audience, use them correctly with ease and confidence.
- Persuade With Power – 5 -7 minutes – persuade listeners to adopt your viewpoint or ideas or to take some action.
- Inspire Your Audience – 8 to 10 minutes – The final speech in the manual calls on you to inspire your audience by appealing to noble motives and challenging the audience to achieve a higher level of beliefs or achievement.
As you can see, all ten projects above are wide-open for you to choose whatever topic you like. Even if you pick a controversial subject, Toastmasters audiences will evaluate you on how well you presented your subject, not on whether they agreed with you or not.
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