What is Toastmasters?
Toastmasters International is a non-profit educational corporation headquartered in Rancho Santa Margarita, California. Its mission is to improve communication and leadership skills of its members and in general. Mainly, this works out to improving public speaking skills but there is also a potent leadership and management aspect to the organization if you aspire to reach that level.
What happens at a meeting?
In a standard meeting, there are 4-5 prepared speeches, an impromptu speaking session (called “Table Topics”), and speech evaluations.
What is a “prepared speech?”
When you join Toastmasters you receive a basic speaking manual with ten speech projects. Each project calls on you to prepare a speech on a subject of your own choosing but using certain speaking principles. Each manual project lists the objectives for that speech and includes a written checklist for your evaluator to use when evaluating the speech.
Thus, if you’re scheduled to speak at a meeting, you generally pull out your manual a week or two in advance and put together a speech on whatever you like but paying attention to your goals and objectives for that speech.
Then, when you go to the meeting, you hand your manual to your evaluator and that person makes written comments on the checklist while you speak. At the end of the meeting, that person (your evaluator) will rise to give oral commentary as well. The purpose of the extensive preparation and commentary is to show you what you’re doing well, what you need to work on, and driving these lessons home so you’re constantly improving.
You can find more information about speech projects in Education: “Communication Track”.
What is “Table Topics?”
Table Topics is fun! It’s also terrifying. Basically, it calls on you, the guest or member, to present a one to two minute impromptu speech on a subject not known to you until the moment you get up to speak!
A member of the club assigned to be Topicsmaster will prepare a few impromptu topics and call on members (or guests, if they’ve given assent in advance to being called on) to stand up and speak on the topic. Topics might include current events (e.g. “What do you think about security checks at airports?”), funny stories or personal experiences.
What exactly is the evaluation session?
The evaluation program is the third of the three main parts of a Toastmasters meeting. All prepared speakers, as noted above, should have their speaking manuals with them and should have passed them on to the evaluators beforehand.
During the speech, and after, each person’s evaluator should make written notes and furthermore, plan what to say during the two to three minute oral evaluation. Evaluation is tough to do well because it requires an evaluator to do more than say “here’s what you did wrong.”
A good evaluator will say, “Here’s what you did well, here’s why doing that was good. Here are some things you might wish to work on for your next speech, and here’s how you might work on them.” It’s important to remember that the evaluation is just one point of view, although one that has focused in on your speech closely. Other members of the audience can and should give you written or spoken comments on aspects of your speech they feel important.
Can I come as a guest?
Yes or course! We would love to welcome you at one of our meetings. It’s best to let us know in advance by filling in the “Become an Expert Speaker!” form in the right-hand column of every page on this site. If you have any questions, please contact us. We look forward to welcoming you to our club.
How much does a Toastmasters membership cost?
The Membership fees may vary from club to club and from country to country.
The fee structure for Vienna Toastmasters in Vienna, Austria is as follows:
New members pay a one-time registration fee of € 50.
Toastmasters membership costs € 192 per year.
I can’t commit to coming every meeting. Can I still join?
Attendance is of course voluntary.
How can I join Toastmasters?
Just attend one of our meetings and talk to any one of our members. We will guide you from there.
In which language are the meetings held?
Vienna Toastmasters is an English-speaking club. Many members use it as an opportunity to improve their English and English-language presentation skills.
How is Toastmasters more beneficial than other forms of speaking improvement?
College and high school courses in public speaking usually involve the students sitting through dozens of lectures followed by one or two speaking opportunities. When the speeches are over, you get a grade. Often, you get graded on what you did wrong. This isn’t a way to build reassurance and motivation. Then too, you rarely get much of a chance to practice by doing. You get up at the end of the semester, give your speech, and sit down. Toastmasters is constant reinforcement and constant improvement. You learn by doing, not by sitting there while someone lectures for hours.
For-profit courses can be very good for their participants. They also cost a lot and when they’re over, they’re over. Toastmasters costs €150 per year (plus one-time new member registration fee of €50) and it can last a lifetime.
Do I have to start speaking as soon as I join a Toastmasters club?
One of the nice things about Toastmasters in that you progress through the educational program at your own speed. Members generally start out by taking meeting roles such as Timer or Jokemaster.
What is the mentoring program about?
A mentor is an experienced Toastmaster who has volunteered to help a newer member. It is up to the mentor and mentee to decide between them what the extent of this help will be. It is common for the mentor to help the mentee with his/her first three speeches. If you would like to have a mentor or a mentee, please contact an Education team member.
Will I be able to learn tips and information on how to make specific speeches?
The educational program includes information and projects on all aspects of speech including doing introductions, evaluations, etc.. Members receive a monthly magazine The Toastmaster which contains articles and tips on public speaking. As well as news about Toastmasters.
Do I need to be involved in public speaking?
No. If you’ve ever been on a job interview, tried to convince your boss of an idea or wished you could think faster on your feet then the skills you learn at Toastmasters can help you.
What is the original meaning of the word “Toastmasters”?
Original meaning: Within a banquet he or she announces a toast by standing up and holding a glass as well as introduces other speakers.
Where can I get more information about Toastmasters?
You can either visit a Toastmasters meeting in one of our clubs or use the contact page to get more information.
You can also visit the Toastmasters International website.