How a Toastmasters Meeting Works

The Club Experience – Example of a Toastmaster Meeting

Toastmasters meetings provide many opportunities for members to practice their public speaking and leadership skills. When you attend a meeting as a guest, you will have an opportunity to introduce yourself to the group at the beginning of the meeting but will not be expected to do anything too scary. We also traditionally ask our guests to give feedback at the end of the meeting about what they enjoyed, or found interesting.

The video illustrate some of the major events at a typical Arcadia Toastmasters meeting. The standard meeting structure works like this:

  • Invocation and Pledge of Allegiance
  • Members and guests introduce themselves
  • VP of Education’s “Educational Minute”
  • Toastmaster of the Day takes over from the President, introduces members playing supporting roles, and acts as master of ceremonies.
  • Table Topics (see video below): one of the highlights of every meeting, challenging members to practice their impromptu speaking skills.
  • Humorist (see video below): At most meetings, we have an opportunity for someone to tell a joke.
  • Formal speeches (see video below): A typical meeting includes up to three speeches of 5-7 minutes, although some can be longer or shorter. Members start with the Competent Communicator program’s series of 10 speech projects, beginning with the Ice Breaker (where you tell us about yourself) and progressing through speeches that focus on techniques like the use of body language and vocal variety.
  • Evaluations: For each formal speech, another member delivers an evaluation including both positive feedback and suggestions for improvement
  • Awards: At every meeting, we give awards in categories such as best speech, best Table Topics, and best evaluator.

Things that take getting used to: Throughout the meeting, the member playing the role of Ah Counter rings a bell whenever a speaker uses a “crutch word” like “ah” or “um” — the little meaningless sounds we make when we’re not sure what to say. The Ah Counter also presents a tally of these “offenses” at the end of the meeting. Don’t worry, you will not be subjected to this as a guest or during your introductory Ice Breaker speech. The point of this exercise is to help members eliminate these nervous utterances, which tend to distract from the substance of your speech. Most of us do this more than we realize, particularly when we are getting started.