What to Expect at a Meeting
The environment in a Toastmasters club is friendly and supportive. Everyone at a Toastmasters meeting feels welcome and valued—from complete beginners to advanced speakers. In a club meeting, you practice giving prepared speeches as well as brief, impromptu presentations known as Table Topics. There is no rush and no pressure: the Toastmasters program allows you to progress at your own pace. Anyone who speaks during a meeting receives a hearty round of applause and spirited cheers.
Constructive evaluation is central to the Toastmasters philosophy. Each time you give a prepared speech, an evaluator will point out strengths as well as suggest improvements. Receiving and giving such feedback is a great learning experience. In Toastmasters, encouragement and improvement go hand-in-hand.
A typical meeting follows the order listed below and as seen in this video. For a sample of our club's meeting agenda, please click HERE.
1. President calls the meeting to order
The president will make any announcements, relays the procedures of the meeting, and welcome guests.
(Please note that all cell phones should be turned off or put on vibrate prior to the start of the meeting.)
2. President introduces the Toastmaster
The Toastmaster is a member who has volunteered to be the meeting’s director and host for the evening. He/she is responsible to set a meeting theme, announce changes to the agenda, introduce the meeting’s roles, and ease transitions during the meeting. Sometimes a theme question is asked to the group, where participants (members and guests) provide an response in 30 seconds or less. These are generally light-hearted, spirited questions that help the club to loosen up and practice their "off the cuff" speaking. For a helpful guide that further explains the Toastmaster's role for the evening, please download our Toastmaster Role Guide.
3. Toastmaster introduces the Meeting Roles
Each meeting requires the participation of members to volunteer to fill evaluation roles. These roles and their responsibilities are as follows:
EVALUATORS: Evaluate the speakers based on the objectives in the communication manuals.
GENERAL EVALUATOR: Provides overall evaluation of the meeting and recommendations for improvement. For a helpful guide that further explains the General Evaluator's role, please download our General Evaulator Role Guide.
TIMER: Notifies meeting participants when they have satisfied their time requirement whether it is for speeches, Table Topics, or evaluations. For example, if a speech is 5-7 minutes (min), when the minimum time is reached (5 min), the Timer will hold up the Green card. At 6 min, the Timer will hold up the yellow card. At the maximum time (7 min), the Timer holds up the red card. The Timer also provides a report of each participant’s time at the end of the meeting. (Guests may volunteer for this role.)
PAUSE & FILLER COUNTER: Tracks participants’ use of filler words such as “uh”, “um”, “ah”, “but”, “so”, “you know” etc, as well as any effective pauses that are used. Pause & Filler Counter provides a report at the end of the meeting. (Guests may volunteer for this role.)
GRAMMARIAN/WORD OF THE DAY: Listens for proper use of grammar and helps the club expand their vocabulary by presenting a ‘word of the day’ that members and guests should try to use when speaking. The grammarian presents an overall report on grammar and who properly used the word of the day at the end of the meeting. (Guests may volunteer for this role.)
TABLE TOPICS MASTER: Challenges members and guests to answer an impromptu question in 1-2 minutes to help “think on your feet” and be able to answer questions “off the cuff”.
4. Toastmaster introduces Speakers - Speeches are Presented
1-4 speakers will present during a meeting. Their speech is prepared by following the guidelines set forth in the communication manuals. The speaker's evaluator will read the speech objectives and the time parameters to the club prior to the speech.
5. 5-10 minute networking session
To transition between the presentation and the evaulation portions of the meeting, a small refreshment break is offered for members and guests to network, discuss their goals and offer encouragement.
6. Table Topics
The Table Topics Master asks for volunteers (or calls on individuals) to come up to answer impromptu questions. Responses should be within 1-2 minutes, which will be timed by the Timer. This is one of the best ways to help conquer the fear of public speaking. There are no wrong answers - just people encouraging you to do your best. (Guests are allowed and encouraged to participate.)
Examples of Table Topics questions:
What lifts your spirits when life gets you down?
What is your most beloved childhood memory?
If a doctor gave you five years to live, what would you try to accomplish?
How do you define success?
Describe your favorite meal.
7. Toastmaster introduces General Evaluator
The General Evaluator calls up each speech evaluator, individually, to give their evaluation. Next, the General Evaluator asks each role (Timer, Ah Counter, Grammarian) to give their reports. Then, the General Evaluator gives their evaluation of the meeting and offers any recommendations for future meetings. For a helpful guide that further explains the General Evaluator's role, please download our General Evaulator Role Guide.
8. Closing the Meeting
The Toastmaster introduces the VP of Education, who in turn presents any awards, asks for guest feedback, presents details and call for speakers/roles for the next meeting. Lastly, the President is brought back up to adjourn the meeting.