How a meeting runs
As we saw in the last blog post, Toastmasters International is a huge organisation with many members. However, all the activity is at the Club level - club meetings are the heart of Toastmasters as an organisation. NDG Leader is known for its warm and friendly atmosphere. We have many great speakers at our Club, but truly our strength is the inviting space and exciting energy we create for everyone who walks through our doors. What are our meetings like?
All of our meetings run essentially with the same components - I will cover these over several blog posts:
1. Opening by Sergeant-at-Arms
2. Introduction by Chairperson, including welcoming of guests
3. Business Session
4. Introduction of the Toastmaster
5. Prepared speeches
7. Table Topics®
9. Presentation of Awards & Guest Comments
All that packed into a 2-hour meeting once a week! Toastmasters stresses time management as one of the skills we help develop, and with an agenda for every meeting this helps us stay on time.
So how do we choose what to talk about at every meeting? This is where our education program Pathways comes in. Pathways has many different speech projects organized into different Paths and Levels that allow each member to follow along and track their progress as they become more confident speakers. The first speech of any Path, indeed everyone’s introduction to Toastmasters, is the Ice Breaker Speech. This first 4-6 minute speech can be on any topic, usually related to the speaker. This first speech can seem daunting to first-timers but once done, it’s a huge relief and a gateway to doing even more speeches. Speeches advance in complexity with each Level, and vary with each Path. There’s lots for everyone to choose from!
While prepared speeches are the beating soul of our meeting, Table Topics are the most fun. Here, a Table Topics Master asks participants questions they have never heard before, usually on familiar topics, to get them to come up with a mini impromptu speech on the spot. People get very creative, and certainly many are very shy to take part! But after a few participations people find their feet and with exposure everyone can become comfortable with this fun, challenging exercise. We encourage guests to participate - and some of them even take home top prize!
Finally, no meeting would be complete without evaluations. Here the evaluators put their skills to the test to deliver relevant feedback that is both pertinent and tactful - highlighting strong points while offering areas for improvement. It takes a lot of practise to become a seasoned evaluator, but the rewards are great. Think of all the times in your life where you need to interact with others and give feedback or suggestions - our evaluations help you handle these like a pro, increasing your ability to influence. Come and see it for yourself!
I’ll be covering more aspects of our meetings in future posts. Follow along, and of course, join NDG Leader Toastmasters every Thursday 7pm ET either on Zoom (first Thursday of Month) or in person at St Thomas Church, 4810 Rosedale Avenue in NDG (all other Thursdays)!