How do we structure our meetings? We typically follow the format as set out below:
An evening at our club starts with members arriving from about 7:00 onwards helping to set the room up, enabling us to be ready to go for our start time of 7:30pm. Just before 7:30, our Sergeant at Arms calls us to order, relaxes us with some introductory words, and the meeting is ready to begin!
Our Club President then takes over and formally introduces the meeting, bringing us up-to-date on club business. Any new members may now be formally presented with their club badge, before the President hands over to the Toastmaster of the Evening.
The Toastmaster of the Evening (or TME) is essentially your host for the evening! This is a rotating role, giving each member (who has gained the necessary experience) the opportunity and benefit to preside over a club night. After introducing themselves in their own style, the TME explains club protocols, introduces the Timer and Grammarian (two more rotating roles for each meeting) and then hands over to the Table Topics Master.
Again, the Table Topics Master (or TTM) is another rotating role – and this is the part of the evening where the actual speeches begin. With Table Topics, members are encouraged to develop impromptu speaking skills and learn the art of thinking on their feet. The TTM will typically announce a theme, and will then call a number of members up one by one to deliver a short, off-the-cuff speech on a subject relating to that theme. This is the fun part of the evening – the chance to deliver an impromptu 2-minute talk with no preparation, and let your imagination run wild! Once all these speeches are over, all TMs in the room are invited to vote for their favourite TT speech (the winner will be revealed at the end of the evening once the ballot slips have been counted).
The TTM then hands back over to the TME for the next part of the evening – the Prepared Speeches. There are typically 3-5 of these on a club night, given by members who are working through their respective manuals – delivering a speech covering the criteria of each respective speech assignment. These speeches can reflect a diverse array of subject-matter and styles. They can be serious, humorous, personal, informative, educational, a story, a PowerPoint presentation… the possibilities are endless! These speeches typically last 5-7 minutes, and upon the speech’s conclusion, each person in the room (members and visitors alike) are encouraged to fill in Feedback Slips to hand to the speaker later. All Toastmasters in the room are then invited to vote for their favourite speech as before.
After a half-time refreshment break and a chance to mingle with other members, we enter the Evaluation section of our evening. Another rotating role, the General Evaluator (or GE) will now be introduced and will then themselves introduce this week’s Evaluation Speakers. This is a key part of the evening – each Prepared Speech from earlier now receives its own unique Evaluation Speech from another member. This evaluation speaker will typically offer an overview of the earlier speech, incorporating praise of what they enjoyed (commendations) whilst also pointing out any areas where they feel the speaker could improve (recommendations). Again, all Toastmasters in the room are invited to vote for their favourite Evaluation speech. The GE then gives an evaluation of the entire evening, with the Evaluators themselves receiving a mini-evaluation!
Finally, our Club President returns to close the meeting and to present the respective ribbons for best TT Speaker, Speech and Evaluation, and invite any comments from the floor from members/guests. The President then formally closes the meeting, and we all go home feeling entertained, enlightened, and having usually learnt something new that uniquely only a Toastmasters meeting can give!
We have a proud history at Maidenhead Speakers’ Club of our members achieving successes at the annual Toastmasters Contests. In 2014, Chris Boden was the first member of our club to reach the dizzy heights of the finals of the International Speech Contest, held in Kuala Lumpur. See his personal insights into the event here: https://maidenheadspeakers.org.uk/2014/09/09/what-i-did-on-my-holidays
Here is an excellent example of a member’s speech from one of our club nights. It’s experienced Toastmaster Doreen Gowing, with her Competent Communicator speech #5 ‘Inside Out, Outside In’. See what you think!
Steve Catchick achieved success in the Humorous Speech & Table Topics Contest, progressing through the heats in 2014 to finish a very creditable second place at the Division H Contest. See his winning speech below!