Here's a list of some of the roles and agenda items in a Toastmaster's meeting:
Not as inanimate as it sounds, being the Chair (man or woman) means leading the night's meeting. Starting the round of introductions, allocating tasks, keeping the meeting on-track, keeping the meeting flowing, covering the agenda and keeping the meeting to-time. It's a leadership roll that changes with each meeting. It's a role anyone in the club can take (and is encouraged to). Best of all though ... you get to bang the gavel!
Each meeting has a theme. It may be something in the news or part of human experience. At the beginning of a meeting we introduce ourselves and say a sentance or two about the theme, and the theme often becomes part of table topics.
In most meetings someone will do either a review, a rant or a rave. You can review a book, tv show, restaurant, gadget, movie - in fact anything at all. A rant is a passionate push-back and a rave is a passionate endorsement.
In Table Topics we are given one to two minutes to speak on a topic we're unprepared for. Scary but fun, Table Topics gives us practice at impromptu speaking. Can you think on your feet? Can you bluff your way through a topic you have no idea about?
From time to time we allocate the role of Grammarian. The Grammarian listens, takes notes and reports back on word usage (good and bad) throughout the meeting, and will sometimes do an Umm ... Arhh count. Illuminating.
The Toastmaster is the MC of the speech session. They introduce the speakers and the evaluators and segue from one speaker to the next. They tell us something about the speaker, the title of the speech, the timing of the speech and which Toastmasters Manual the speaker is working with.
The best part of a Toastmasters meeting. Prepared, short speeches from members - from five to eight minutes long (usually) - on any topic under the sun. Persuasive, entertaining, humorous, serious, intriguing. This is where we practise the art of rehearsed effective communication.
From time to time a member will present an educational. It could be on 'Body Language', 'How to present Table Topics', 'How to structure a Speech', 'Effective Comunication' or any other relevant topic.
Eveything in a Toastmasters meeting is evaluated - even the evaluations. Without contructive feedback it's hard to improve because we lack objectivity. All Toastmasters roles are evaluated, from the speeches to the Quiz Master to the speech evaluations. You'll find out what worked and a 'point for improvement'. It's always constructive and designed to make us better each time.
At Toastmasters we follow an default agenda but you'll also encounter a number of different events. We have guest speeches, debates, general speech contents, humourous speech contents, evaluation contests and educationals to mix things up.
The Quiz Master listens throughout the meeting, writes down questions, then tests everyone's listening skills. Toward the end of the meeting the questions are asked and the better your recall the more Minties you'll get!
We don't like things to drag on. We like our meetings to flow and maintain a certain pace. That's why we have the roll of Timer to keep us on track.
So, we have to be conscious of and adhere to time limits. Additionally, in competitions, there are time-guidlines we have to adhere to - or be disqualified.
Made from demi-precious perspex, the Clontarf Gem is the award given to the member who - in the opinion of the members present - has made the greatest contribution to the meeting. More prestigious than a Logie, but not quite as prestigious as an Academy Award, the fifteen seconds of fame bestowed on the winner of the Clontaf Gem is intoxicating.
Guests can contribute throughout the meeting, but at the end we reserve time specifically for them to have their say. We want to know what you think. What did you like? Was it what you were expecting? Do you think you'd gain from the experience? We value your feedback.