Toastmaster Meeting FAQ

1. What are the components of a typical Toastmasters meeting?

The Toastmasters meeting has three critical components: 1. Table Topics, 2. Speeches, 3. Evaluations. Some clubs may have Table Topics after the speeches. Meetings may also have additional features specific to the club, such as Word of the Day, Words of Wisdom, and Business meeting. Check the Meeting Agenda to see what each club’s meeting offers to its members.

2. What is on the Meeting Agenda?

The Agenda lists the members who take on the meeting functionary roles, along with a short description of what each role entails. Most of these roles were assigned at the preceding meeting. For Peninsula Toastmasters, one may also directly sign up for roles HERE. Click HERE to see Peninsula’s current agenda template. All members are encouraged to try out the different meeting roles. The agenda will also have all the speakers listed along with the speech titles and the timing for the speeches. For a more detailed description of each role, visit Toastmasters International.

3. Who are the Meeting Functionaries?

>Toastmaster of the Meeting  Facilitates the meeting and introduces the agenda and the meeting theme. He ensures that the meeting stays on track and on schedule, and can make adjustments as needed. He introduces each meeting functionary who speaks and provides a smooth transition between different speakers. In addition, the Toastmaster organizes roles for the next meeting, and may hand out award ribbons to the Best Speaker, Best Evaluater, and Best Table Topics Speaker. At the end of a meeting, the Toastmaster asks for Guest comments.

>Wordmaster / Words of Wisdom  Provides a short  inspirational story or quote to motivate and energize the members at the start of the meeting. To enrich the member vocabulary, the Wordmaster will also select a Word of the Day along with usage and definition. All who speak during the meeting are encouraged to use the Word of the Day, especially during the Table Topics, Speeches, and Evaluations. During the General Evaluation, the Wordmaster will report on who used the Word of the Day.

>Timer  Records the lengths of speeches during during the meeting. Like a traffic officer, the Timer will flash different colored cards or lights during the speech, evaluation or table topic:

GREEN – Speaker has reached the minimum qualifying time.
AMBER – Speaker is approaching the maximum time
RED – Speaker has reached the maximum allowed time, and now has 30 seconds to wrap-up.

Timing Examples:
Ice Breaker speech || 4:00 – 6:00  |GREEN 4:00 | AMBER 5:00 | RED 6:00
Typical speech ||  5:00 – 7:00 |GREEN 5:00 | AMBER 6:00 | RED 7:00
Evaluations || 2:00 – 3:00 |GREEN 2:00 | AMBER 2:30 | RED 3:00
Table Topics ||  1:00 – 2:00  |GREEN 1:00 | AMBER 1:30 | RED 2:00

>Speaker  Delivers a prepared speech. This is why people join Toastmasters. The speaker is afforded the opportunity to follow a program of 10 speech projects designed to develop public speaking skills. A prepared speech usually follows one of the exercises in the Competent Communication manual. Sometimes a more advanced speaker may even present an impromptu speech (without preparation). The first speech a member gives is usually the “Ice Breaker,” a 4 – 6 minute introductory speech with autobiographical elements.

>Evaluator – Provides formal feedback to the Speaker. The Evaluator will give an objective assessment of how well the Speaker achieved her speech manual project objectives. Speech evaluations are just as important as speeches. The Member can enhance listening and critical thinking skills, learn to be motivational, and become adept at giving encouragement.

>Table Topics Master  Announces an impromptu interesting or humorous topic first, and then chooses members from the audience to respond to the topic. The selected person then speaks on a topic prompt for 1 to 2 minutes. People who are not otherwise scheduled to speak are usually selected first. Guests are invited to participate, and many do. They may also pass. The respondent is encouraged to use the “Word of the Day”during their response. Table Topics help develop the ability to organize thoughts quickly and respond to spontaneous questions. Read more about Table Topics HERE.

>Grammarian  Listens to the use of language throughout the meeting, and notes both misuse and good use of language at the end of the meeting. These comments can also note creative or impressive use of language, as well as novel words and phrases.

>Ah-Counter  Counts the number of times every speaker says “Umm”, “Ah”, and other filler words. Reports the final tally during the General Evaluation.

>General Evaluator  Organizes and supports the Evaluation Team. He calls on the Evaluators to deliver their Speech evaluations; he also calls for reports from the Wordmaster, Timer, Grammarian, and Ah-Counter. At the end, he provides a general evaluation of the entirety of the Toastmaster meeting, such as how well the Toastmaster ran the meeting and other notable aspects from the speech evaluations or functionary reports.

3. Do Guests have to speak at the meeting?

All Guests are encouraged, but not required, to participate in the Speech or the Table Topics portions of the meeting. At the end of the meeting, the Guest may be asked to provide comments on her thoughts on the meeting. If we are missing some functionaries, the Guest may be asked to take on an easy role such as Timer. The Guest will be briefed on the responsibilities entailed. Guests are free to drop in or leave the meeting at any time.

4. How often does a Member have to give speeches?

The Member is encouraged to speak as often as her schedule and energy allows. Some members speak multiple times a week by attending different clubs! More typically, a good, sustainable pace would be one speech every three or four meetings until you achieve Competent Communicator. You and your Mentor can map out a plan that works for you.

When the Member is not giving a prepared speech, she can still take on a functionary role or participate in the Table Topics. Public speaking is like any other skilled activity: Practice makes perfect. While we don’t  force you to speak if you don’t want to speak, you must ask yourself why you are in the club if you never actually give a speech. We can give you a hand, but you must pull yourself up.


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