The purpose of Toastmasters is to help members overcome apprehensions about speaking in public and to improve communication skills.
This is accomplished by providing a self-paced, focused speaking programme with a supportive, experienced group of people to assist you. This mutual support will help you become more effective in several skills, including formal public presentations, individual communications, impromptu speaking situations, managing and participating in meetings, and leading and managing people.
The chief mechanism in developing these skills is through the typical club meeting, which is designed to provide an opportunity to practice various techniques in a variety of situations. A normal Toastmasters meeting will therefore contain a number of individual sections within the meeting, as described below. Table Topics
: During this portion of the meeting, club members (and sometimes guests) practice impromptu speaking by responding to questions or suggestions prepared by the Table Topics Master. These will consequently be evaluated by the Table Topics Evaluator. Prepared Speeches
: In this section, a few members of the club practice their public speaking skills by giving a prepared presentation from the Communication and Leadership Program manual (or from other advanced manuals). Each project in every manual has a specific objective in an area that helps members practice different speaking techniques. These objectives are designed as guidelines to help you think about the various qualities that comprise a good speech. Some members may be just starting out, while others may be further advanced. Remember, though, that all Toastmasters began just as you did, and as you learn more from each speech you make, you will be able to reach and exceed what you see in your first meetings. Evaluations
: During this portion, members practice their listening and learning skills. A few members will give evaluations of the prepared speeches, and of the meeting as a whole. These evaluations provide feedback of how the evaluators saw the presenters and will point out the positive aspects of the speech and some possible areas for improvement. Good evaluations are the hallmark of good Toastmasters. Roles in a Meeting
: Other members fill a number of roles in order to help the meeting flow smoothly and improve the quality of the meeting.
- The Toastmaster prepares and leads the meeting as 'host'
- The Table Topics Master leads the impromptu speaking portion
- The Time Keeper supports everyone by reminding them of their use of time
- The Grammarian tracks and highlight good and bad use of language used throughout the meeting
- The General Evaluator conducts those individuals who have not otherwise been evalutated