The low-down on how meetings work
Toastmasters is about more than just public speaking — it’s also about leadership and becoming more effective at running meetings of any kind. That’s why our meetings always have structure and always have an agenda.
Members take turns assuming the various meeting roles. As a new member, we might ask you to be a Timekeeper or an Ah-Counter. As you gain more experience, we’ll ask you to fill roles that require more responsibility, like General Evaluator or Toastmaster. To learn more about how a meeting flows and what responsibilities are involved, keep reading…
Our meetings generally follow the following structure:
- Opening Remarks
- Introduction of Guests
- Toastmaster’s Speech
- Introduction of the Evaluation Team
- Prepared Speeches
- Educational Speech
- Networking Break
- Table Topics Session
- Guest Comments
- Closing Remarks
In the opening remarks, the Meeting Chair gets the evening started on the right note and announces any changes to the agenda.
Introduction of Guests
Guests are important! Although members will have already introduced themselves to you and talked to you casually before the start of the meeting, we want to properly introduce you and welcome you to the club. We’ll also ask you to say a few words about yourself — why you’re interested in Toastmasters, for example.
The Toastmaster is the MC (master of ceremonies) for the evening. They introduce the speakers and keep the meeting moving along smoothly, all while maintaining an upbeat and supportive atmosphere. Their first task, however, is to deliver a short speech that puts everyone in the right frame of mind and introduces the meeting’s theme.
Here are a few Toastmasters in action…
Introduction of the Evaluation Team
Effective learning, genuine improvement, and sustained development happens only when we receive feedback on how we’re doing. The Evaluation Team includes:
- General Evaluator
- Speech Evaluators
- Table Topics Evaluator
At this stage of the meeting, the General Evaluator introduces the Evaluation Team and asks them to describe the purpose of their roles.
Prepared speeches represent the heart of the Toastmasters program. Members develop and refine their public-speaking skills by working through a foundational manual with 10 speech projects, then continue with advanced speech manuals of their choosing.
Speeches range from 4-6 minutes in length for Icebreakers to 10-14 minutes for advanced speeches. They represent many hours of preparation and practice, and may be touching and moving, inspirational and motivating, or even light-hearted and humorous.
Here’s an example of an inspirational speech:
Educational speeches are presented every once in a while on topics that help members improve their public-speaking and leadership skills.
Here’s a workshop on how to host a meeting (with zest!)…
Table Topics Session
Public speaking isn’t just about prepared speeches. At Toastmasters, the Table Topics Session gives both members and guests the opportunity to practise impromptu speeches of up to 2 minutes in length. Speakers are informed of their topic just prior to speaking at the podium. It’s a challenge, but also a time when speakers can be at their most creative, outlandish, and even downright silly!
The evaluation session is a time for feedback and motivation. Each prepared speaker has their speech evaluated by a fellow member, who will encourage the speaker’s strengths and offer suggestions for improvement. Then, the Evaluation Team presents their reports, before the General Evaluator provides feedback on the meeting as a whole.
This is an opportunity for guests to let us know what they thought of the meeting. We love hearing how you’ve been impacted by an evening at Liberty Village Toastmasters!
At the end of every meeting, club officers let members know about any club news and initiatives, while the VP of Education schedules roles for the upcoming meeting.
The Liberty Village Toastmasters Mentorship Program was initiated in the autumn of 2004 and has proven to be highly effective at helping new members develop their speaking skills quickly. A Mentor is a friendly, experienced Toastmaster who helps new members obtain the maximum benefit from their first few speeches.
Here’s how it works. The VP of Education will assign each new member a Mentor by the first club meeting after the member joins. The assigned Mentor will help the new member with their Icebreaker — their first prepared speech — as well as their second and third speeches, which help develop structure and flow. Mentors will also help Mentees succeed in supporting roles such as Timekeeper, Grammarian, and Ah-Counter.
The Mentorship Program is our commitment to new members to ensure they start well, start strong, and achieve their public-speaking goals as quickly as possible. If you’d like more info about the program, feel free to ask us during your visit to the club.
Any questions? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org