My father is a Toastmaster and I spoke with him recently to learn more about how the Toastmasters meetings work.
So how do things progress and how do we learn more about public speaking once we become a member?
You grow in confidence with Toastmasters from Day One.
The membership fees are very reasonable. It costs $35 for six months to join. You can then attend as many or as few of that club’s meetings as you wish.
Every Toastmasters club is different. This is why it’s a good idea to look around and see which Toastmasters is best for you.
Different clubs will meet every week or fortnight or month.
Consider how fast you want to accelerate yourself or how much time you have. These are important factors when choosing your Toastmasters club.
You could also look at going to multiple clubs if you really wanted to speed up the process.
You then receive your first manual – “Competent Communication”.
That contains around ten speeches for you to work your way through.
The first one is quite simply called “The Ice Breaker“. It’s exactly what it sounds like. You stand up and talk to people about who you are so they can get an understanding of why you’re here and what you’re hoping to achieve.
And people come for different reasons. Some might be preparing for an upcoming wedding speech. Others may be trying to improve their work presentations. And some people simply want to gain more confidence in their everyday communications.
The second topic explores organising your speech. This involves structure – ensuring your speech has a clear beginning, middle and end.
The third topic is about finding your objective and getting to the core point of your speech without waffling on.
There are many other topics including using body language or visual aids.
Then after “Competent Communication” comes “Competent Leadership” and many other manuals. Each will strive to teach you important aspects of public speaking.
Essentially you will work through the list of contents in the various manuals and practise each of the skills being explored. The manuals provide advice and activities.
You then give a speech that utilises your new skills and you will be assessed. After working through these manuals you will have developed a fine understanding of the basics of public speaking.
Giving speeches at meetings
Usually four or five members will give speeches at each meeting. But there are many other roles to fill at Toastmasters.
Members have the chance to speak during Table Topics and to practise their impromptu speaking skills.
Someone will be needed to chair the formal business meetings held at the beginning. This is valuable experience for any member.
Or you might be sergeant of arms that week – in charge of setting up the lectern and making sure the supplies are filled.
There’s also the role of an evaluator. Evaluation is an important part of the club’s format. This provides the member with feedback on both the positive and negative aspects of their presentation and helps them build their confidence and skills.
Why go to Toastmasters?
Toastmasters will not only teach you how to become a better speaker but also how to obtain important skills involved in leadership and other effective communications skills.
It is a practical guide to becoming a better speaker and leader. They teach people how to be a leader because it’s such a good thing to have in life and to build that confidence.
The fact is that everyone is going to have to get up and speak in front of people at some point in their life. There would be very few people in the world who could avoid that. If you have kids then you’re got birthday parties and weddings. It pays to be prepared.
There is nothing else quite like Toastmasters.
It has a fairly simplistic structure. You can go as a guest and try your hand at impromptu speaking. You could then become a member if you choose to. And then you get the basic manual that takes you simply through the various steps.
And you’re getting help all along the way with salient advice and confidence-building feedback from your peers.
It’s a not-for-profit organisation that relies on and supports it members. It’s a lot of fun and a good outing where you can really improve your abilities. It will also give you a sense of community where you can build friendships for life.
Check out the Toastmasters website if you’d like more information. Or head on over to a meeting and ask more about it there.