How does a Toastmasters meeting work?
Toastmasters Gent meetings usually start at 8pm and nearly every meeting follows the same structure.
Our meetings always start out with the presiding officer (usually the club president) who welcomes all members and guests. Then the word is passed on to the toastmaster of the evening (often called TME). To describer the TME role the best, is to compare it television show host who introduces all the guests and makes sure everything goes according to plan.
The TME decides the theme of the meeting and does the introduction of the meeting. After the introduction, he introduces all the Competent Leadership (CL) roles for that evening: CL Coordinator, Timekeeper, Uh Counter, Grammarian, Word of the Day, Skill master and General Evaluator. Each of these people will then come on to the stage to explain their role during the meeting. Somewhere before the speeches, the TME will also ask all the guests how they found out about Toastmasters and what brought them here.
After this, it’s time for the prepared speeches. As the name suggests, these speeches are planned in advance. These aren’t just random speeches: they originate from assignments in your toastmasters manual. If you are starting out in Toastmasters Gent, you will be preparing speeches from the Competent Communicator (CC) manual.
When the prepared speeches have been given, there’s room for an optional freestyle speech. If there is nobody who wants to do a freestyle speech, the meeting continues with the evaluations of the prepared speeches. These evaluations are short speeches in themselves, which are prepared during the meeting. It’s important to note that in Toastmasters, we aim for constructive criticism, which means evaluations will always contain positive points and some points to improve. Nobody’s perfect and we are all here to grow.
When the evaluations are all said and done, it’s time for the table topics. During these, the table topics will give random topics/statements, on which the members have to give an unprepared speech (improvise!). These speeches should range anywhere from 1 minute until maximum 2 minutes and 30 seconds. When these are done, the table topics are also evaluated and as the meeting draws to a close, it’s time for some more evaluating to occur.
The CL Coordinator will remember everyone who took up a role to get their CL manual filled in, the Timekeeper will report on the times of the speeches and evaluations, the Uh Counter on the number of uh’s. If you get over 10, we say you have a cluster, so there’s no need to feel embarassed. The Grammarian will remark on grammatical errors and great use of words, the person who chose the word of the day will say who used it the most and the General Evaluator will evaluate everyone who has not yet been evaluated as well as the general flow of the meeting.
The TME will then ask the guests what they thought of the meeting, followed by some closing remarks, after which he will let the presiding officer close the meeting (and then everyone goes downstairs to the bar). If you want to see what the next meeting will look like, take a look here and don’t hesitate to sign up as a guest or take up a role if you are already a member.
How will I learn with Toastmasters?
At Toastmasters, there are no lectures and there are no pop quizzes, tests or examns. You learn by giving speeches and listening to the feedback you get in your evaluations. These evaluations always contain some positive points and some points for you to improve. That way, you’ll always know what to work on for your next speech. Never worry about the level of other speakers, always compare yourself to yourself.
It all starts with your first speech: the ice breaker. If you haven’t received your Competent Communicator manual yet, but want to get started on writing your speech right away, you can find the assignment on toastmasters.org.
Should I be able to speak Dutch?
Not necessarily. We are a bilingual club: both English and Dutch speeches are allowed. It is, however, common to evaluate Dutch speeches in Dutch and English speeches in English, but it’s no problem if you evaluate a Dutch speech in English (or the other way around) if you do not yet feel comfortable enough with the language.
Most Toastmasters of the evening (TME) will conduct the meeting in English in order for everyone to understand. For some of our members, Toastmasters even presents a good opportunity to practice their English/Dutch.
Can I be a guest at a meeting?
You sure can! Just send a quick email to firstname.lastname@example.org so we’ll know how many guests to expect.
Will I need to speak as a guest?
As a guest, you may be asked how you found Toastmasters and why you chose to attend the meeting. You can also be asked for your opinion about the meeting at the end. Guests are normally not allowed to bring a prepared speech, but you are very welcome to join us during the table topics.
Where do the meetings occur?
How do I become a member?
Becoming a member is fairly easy. If you’re attending a meeting as a guest, you can talk to our VP Membership when the meeting is done or if you’re already sure you want to join, you can send an email to email@example.com.
When should I become a member?
You should become a member the moment you decide to give your Ice Breaker speech.
If you haven’t received your Competent Communicator manual yet, but want to get started on writing your first speech right away, you this part of the manual on toastmasters.org.