Toastmasters is made up of individual clubs. These clubs serve individuals by being open clubs (anyone can join) to closed clubs (usually a company sponsored club). Clubs meet in the mornings, at lunch time and in the evenings. Some clubs meet every week and other every other week. Each club has its own personality and they are responsible for how their meetings are organized and run. So, exploring a few different clubs is a good way to get to know about Toastmasters and identify a group of people that resonate with what you want to accomplish. The best part is its free to visit a club and you’ll get to see how others are building their skills.
The entire idea behind Toastmasters is to improve your communication and leadership skills. You can focus on communication or leadership or both. Every new member starts with a speech called an Ice Breaker. It is an opportunity to speak in front of a supportive audience on whatever topic is of interest to you. Most people tell a little about themselves, a hobby or a little life story. Beyond the ice breaker you’ll start project speeches. These include projects like “Get to the Point”, a project where a central theme is supported throughout the speech. The leadership track is combined with running the club and being part of the meetings by providing functionary services such as running the meeting (toastmaster) or timing a speech (timer). Essentially, everything you do in your club advances you on your communication or leadership journey. Another aspect of the club is impromptu speaking known generally as Table Topics. Most members love this part of the meeting as it challenges the speaker to quickly come up with a short speech on a topic they have no idea about. In business, we experience impromptu speaking often and to be good at it helps you stand out.
This video is 12 minutes and provides a comprehensive overview of a typical Toastmaster club meeting:
It is a good idea to consider what you want to accomplish as you visit a club. Are you wanting to overcome stage fright? Maybe you want to polish a speech that supports your passions? Maybe you need to work in front of a live audience to help you work the audience better? It could just about be anything and its a good idea to have considered this as you join Toastmasters.
All of the Toastmaster programs are self-driven. This means that everyone in the club moves at their own pace. The club will provide a mentor upon request who will work with you as your prepare speeches. The club leadership is there to help you as well, again, depending on what you want to do.
Becoming a member is the next step and that’s straightforward. When you visit a club, ask to speak with the Vice President of Membership. This person can answer all of your questions and get you started. Some people worry about costs and you’ll find the bulk of clubs are less than $10/month. If you have a company sponsored club, often they cover membership.
If you have any questions about Toastmasters, please identify a club you are interested in and communicate directly with them. You can also reach out to our district leadership at their email addresses listed on the left side of this page.